after miscarriage · appointed time · Infertility · iui · pregnancy · Uncategorized

Updates

My repeat labs a week ago showed an increase in HCG (from 80 to 252 in 3 days!) and a very comfortable progesterone (44.2). My first ultrasound is scheduled at the clinic on March 6th; I’ll be 6 weeks and 3 days.

Symptoms so far have included mild cramping, sore breasts, intermittent fatigue, and a desire to eat constantly. In a twisted way I’m eager to at least have the morning sickness start (though it doesn’t have to stay!) just so I’ll feel more pregnant.

I’ve continued taking tests every couple days just to monitor the lines (I know, I should stop…it won’t do anything either way…but seeing them get darker is just so reassuring). The line yesterday was almost identical to Friday’s line, but I think I’m more on a ‘every 72 hours’ sort of schedule so I’m hoping tomorrow’s test is darker.

At this point, I’m pretty sure that I’ve already made it farther than the first time. I thought I was 5 weeks and change when I miscarried based on my period dates, but given how faint my tests were (and never got any darker all week), I’m beginning to think that the fertilized egg attempted to implant, released a little bit of hormone, and didn’t stick. Just enough to register on a test, but barely. Hence the light tests and the low blood levels the day I started bleeding. I can’t have even been 4 weeks; it must have been a true chemical miscarriage.

So if I’m already at a definite 5 weeks (since I know my ovulation date this time), the embryo has already firmly implanted. So that risk has already gone away. The question now is whether it’s growing. And there’s no way I can know that until next Wednesday. I’m so desperately hoping baby EL measures where it needs to be for 6 weeks and change, and that maybe we’ll even get to see the heartbeat.

I wanted it before; I’ve wanted to be a mom forever. But I want it so much more now that we’ve worked so hard to get here. There’s a deeper attachment to this little one already. I know I’ll be okay even if things don’t go the way we hope…I still trust that God is good and faithful…but it’s going to be so much deeper of a loss since this one feels more real and more sure somehow.

In the meantime, all I can do is try to stay as calm as possible (which work is making difficult…I need to talk to my manager this week and explain my situation so she understands why I’m pushing back on taking certain assignments), eat as healthy as possible, and stay hydrated.

And be grateful for each day that I am still pregnant. We’re at 12 days of knowing. Already 5 days more than last time. So every day is a gift, every week is a new milestone and I’m trying to rest in that.

appointed time · Infertility · journal entry · trying to conceive

On bitterness

I found something out this week that made me feel very bitter. I had to have a long talk with God about it to even start to come to a place where I can be at peace with the situation. In the event that this blog somehow does not remain anonymous I cannot share any more than that. I wish I could, but what I found out is not my story to tell. I’ll touch on that again at the end of the post.

I went through the list of things I know to be true; then proceeded to have it out with God for the ‘unfairness’ of it all (which turned into a general meltdown about being so worn out from this journey of infertility and just crying out that frustration and pain). Then I cycled back to the initial truths and let them ruminate a little, and this is what it boils down to.

1) Blessings from God are not dependent on our behavior. Thank goodness for that; if it was, none of us would have anything good. We’re all pretty broken and rotten…my very bitterness and negativity already merit some degree of punishment. We may not understand why God chooses to give blessings to certain people who have done ______, and we may not understand why God doesn’t give us certain blessings when we have done ______, but at the end of the day; any blessing we are given is God showing his grace to us.

And I of all people should know that to be true. I was ashamed to realize that if it came down to not deserving something because of a previous action or decision…I should not be married right now. I rushed into my first marriage, disregarded my parent’s wisdom, and ended up getting divorced. Yet I got a second chance, I was given so much grace…and have been blissfully married for 17 months to a man who is everything I could have ever imagined. But some people, especially those who may still be waiting on their first love, may look at my story and think, “seriously? She gets that? Look what she did!”

2) I am only living in my story. I don’t get to know all the details of everyone else’s. I kept thinking of something Aslan says to Shasta in the Chronicles of Narnia…in fact, it’s so succinct and appropriate that I probably won’t even say much else. Shasta wants to know why Aslan wounded Aravis earlier in the story, this is the response. I imagine he says this very gently and kindly, but also in a no-nonsense, firm tone.

“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

And honestly, we won’t even get to know all of our story until it’s done. How silly am I to think that I would ever be given the inside scoop on someone else’s. I can’t know what’s going on inside their heads or hearts; and I am not privy to what God is choosing to work on in their lives. If I truly believe that his timing is perfect, that doesn’t just apply to my story.

So I’m trying to let the bitterness go. I’m trying to rest in how God showered blessings on me when I didn’t deserve them, and letting him gently but firmly remind me that he doesn’t tell me any story but mine.

family · Infertility

On family

I ordered a book a few weeks ago that finally arrived the other day and I’ve basically just been inhaling it; it’s got short chapters so it’s hard to not just go on to the next and the next even though I should probably let each one ruminate for a while. The downside of being a fast reader *shrug*.

Anyway, the book is “Empty Womb, Aching Heart,” and it has stories and reflections from multiple women (or couples) who have struggled with infertility. Once I finish my first read I’ll probably go back and take each chapter a bit slower and write down the takeaway/lesson/attitude adjustment technique in each one…future blog post, perhaps?

One of the chapters especially jumped out to me yesterday. The writer was reflecting on how hard it is to be childless in a church community that is centered around the “family,” family ministry/resources/events were all geared towards the typical parents/children structure.

She went on to share that she taught a Sunday school lesson on the 6th day of creation; and the children drew pictures of animals and then Adam and Eve on a large piece of butcher paper. She told them that this was the point at which God said it was “very good,” and then rested. One of the little girls pointed out that there weren’t any children in the drawing.

“No children, not yet…and still God called it very good. Not….’good-but-it-would-be-better-if…’ After he made man and woman, he proclaimed his work finished. It was complete. They were complete.” 

She comes to realize that a family is not formed once children arrive. The family of two is just as valuable, just as complete.

And she closes the chapter with her new response to those prying “when are you going to start a family” questions. Her answer is essentially this:

“We already have. We’re just waiting to see if God chooses to add to it or not.” (my edit)

-quotes and paraphrases taken from Empty Womb, Aching Heart (chapter 10); book compiled by Marlo Schalesky

how to · Infertility · journal entry · sermon takeaways

When your post has a mind of its own…

I don’t know if this counts as my ‘creative’ activity of the day since I’m just planning to vent a little bit…but I’m technically writing so I’ll probably count it.

I’m actually in pretty good spirits today. The sermon this morning was very encouraging and challenging; especially the bit about “rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.” More on that another day perhaps…

Or not. Suddenly I don’t think I should use today’s post to vent. I can save that for another time.

We’re going through Romans in church; and we finally reached Romans 12. That’s been a journey in itself; and we’ve been in Romans 12:9-16 for several weeks now. Today was focused on verses 14-16.

Paul calls us here to humility…humility being a state in which we consider others above ourselves. If we are considering others above ourselves, the natural result is that we sympathize with others. We take our eyes off our own situations and fully enter into the joys and the sorrows of others.

Rejoice with those who rejoice: as an early church father pointed out, perhaps Paul put this one first because it is actually harder than it sounds. Especially for a girl on a journey of infertility. I don’t want to rejoice with yet another acquaintance or friend or family member who is pregnant. But if I’m thinking of others above myself, then their joy should be mine as well.

Mourn with those who mourn: easier to understand. Not always easy to do; especially for the fixers who don’t know what to say or do to ease pain. But as I’ve already learned and experienced, in times of grief it is almost always more effective to just sit with, cry with, be with. Pastor read a reflection from someone who’d experienced loss, and the takeaway was the realization that people who come bearing platitudes and messages of hope and redemption are often the ones that we wish would leave. It’s the ones who “sit quietly, listen carefully, and pray simply” that bring the most peace and comfort.

And interestingly enough, that last bit leads into what I initially wanted to write about. I’ll close with this as a reflection instead of creating an unnecessarily long tirade. Perhaps the ‘sit quietly, listen carefully, and pray simply” is why I’m feeling so tired of all the people who want to tell me about every so-and-so they know who “tried for _____ and then got pregnant”, and especially when that includes a “maybe you should try ______.” I’m not in a place right now to hear that. It doesn’t help. I just want the people I share this struggle with to show up, listen to me vent, and then pray simply with me for patience in God’s timing (and for his timing to be soon!).

advent · appointed time

Reflections on Advent

I’m going to leave this post to the words of others wiser and more eloquent than I. But the first excerpt is from a blog post I read yesterday that really touched my heart and it made me think about the season of Advent in an entirely new way as we navigate this journey of infertility and a season of waiting. So here’s to remembering to wait joyfully, to wait trustfully, and to allow God to act in his appointed time even if it isn’t mine.

——

“Advent is about longing. It’s a time we prepare to celebrate His birth and acknowledge that we are still waiting for His second coming, when broken will be made new and every tear will be wiped from our eyes. It’s such a beautiful season in our faith because it takes intentional time to pause and focus on the waiting. Advent is tender, hopeful, and builds on anticipation. You see, from the end of the Old Testament until the start of the New Testament, there was 400 years of silence. Every year I share that and it never gets old, because I cannot fathom the anticipation, wondering, silence, and waiting the occurred in those FOUR HUNDRED years…

And then, the anguish of waiting was over. When the time was right, the answer came. The advent season gives us time to prepare for that celebration. To focus on the upcoming arrival. To sit in the wait.”

Chelsea; https://trialsbringjoy.com/2018/12/01/the-weary-world-rejoices/

—–

“Advent accepts the tension of the already and the not yet. It welcomes waiting. It is merriment and melancholy together, beauty so sublime that, like the best art, it simultaneously comforts and rocks us to the core.”

Barry Corey; Biola University Advent Project

—–

  1. WAITING REMINDS US THAT WE ARE NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.
  2. WAITING REMINDS US THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL.
  3. WAITING REMINDS US THAT LIFE IS A GIFT.
  4. WAITING REMINDS US THAT THE PRESENT MATTERS.
  5. WAITING REMINDS US THAT THE FUTURE IS BIGGER THAN WE THINK.

Marc Cortez; https://www.westernseminary.edu/transformedblog/2012/12/17/forced-to-wait-an-advent-reflection/

—–

“Advent is about more than waiting for Christmas. The word “advent” means “coming.” During Advent, we not only remember that Jesus came to earth as a man; we prepare our hearts for his second coming. When we sing, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” we are not role-playing what the ancient Israelites must have prayed before the coming of the Messiah. No, we are praying that Emmanuel would return and make right all that is wrong with the world

If your heart is heavier than you’d like this Advent season, take hope that the joys of Christmas aren’t ultimately what you wait for…Let the fact that your heart aches point you beyond Christmas to the better celebration still to come. Join with the voices of Christians around the world, who together pray, “O come, O come, Emmanuel.”

Betsy Howard; https://www.crossway.org/articles/how-advent-teaches-us-to-wait-well/

—–

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn”
John S Dwight; O Holy Night
—–
Uncategorized

Always Good

Do you remember how Mary was grieving?
How you wept and she fell at your feet?
If it’s true that you know what I’m feeling
Could it be that you’re weeping with me?
Arise, O Lord, and save me
There’s nowhere else to go

You’re always good, always good
Somehow this sorrow is shaping my heart like it should
And You’re always good, always good

It’s so hard to know what you’re doing
So why won’t you tell it all plain?
But you said you’d come back on the third day
And Peter missed it again and again
So maybe the answer surrounds us
And we don’t have eyes to see

You’re always good, always good
This heartache is moving me closer than joy ever could
And You’re always good

My God, my God, be near me
There’s nowhere else to go
And Lord, if you can hear me
Please help your child to know

That you’re always good, always good
As we try to believe what is not meant to be understood
Will you help us to trust your intentions for us are still good?
‘Cause you laid down your life and you suffered like I never could

And you’re always good, always good
you’re always good, always good

appointed time · Infertility · trying to conceive

On an infertility consult: part 2

My husband was a lot more overwhelmed by our experience at the infertility clinic yesterday. He was much less prepared for the invasive/personal questions, the rapidity with which we moved forward with testing, and the unfamiliarity of all the medical (and infertility) terminology.

Once we got home and he’d had a chance to process a little bit…in addition to sharing the above he went on to express some of his emotions. The most prominent theme was sadness and burden. After all, this is not how babies are supposed to be made. It’s supposed to be fun and romantic and the result of two people’s love for each other. Turning it into a science experiment (IVF)…or even just removing the component of intimacy (IUI) just feels…sad.

There was also a heaviness on his heart in general that this has been something I have focused so much on (ouch!). He expressed missing the times when we just spent time together and enjoyed being us…when every conversation didn’t revolve around having/making a baby…and when having sex was only meant for fun and romance. He expressed sadness at watching my cycle of emotions every month. He has verbalized this before but somehow it felt deeper last night; and in light of suddenly being realistically presented with these new options for conceiving a baby….I suddenly felt as though I have to a degree forced us to this point.

Thankfully he puts no burden of blame on me. He just wants me to know how he feels. We were (ultimately) able to have a good conversation about these emotions, and we prayed together last night which was really helpful for both of us. I will try to let go (again) of the excessive tracking and work on my trusting…and hopefully have a good month of just enjoying each other.

And while we likely will have some decisions to make in the next couple weeks…if everything comes back normal I think we will both be on the same page with waiting a little longer for God to bless us with this in his timing and praying we will have the privilege of making a baby without any assistance.

But if we end up requiring medical and scientific interventions at some point in the future, I will be infinitely grateful that we have these as options. I just so deeply wish that it didn’t have to be this way for anybody.

 

trying to conceive · ttc

A TTC playlist

I’ve been listening to this playlist a lot lately as I continue to try to be patient in the waiting. I may delve more into some of these songs in later posts but I thought it might be helpful to just list the songs that have been encouraging my heart lately with a brief note/lyric that touches me from each.

Miracle (Unspoken)-reminds me to keep waiting for a miracle

  • “Feels like the prayers and the words you’ve spoken/They go unnoticed like drops in the ocean/Just beyond the veil of your vision/Your mountains are moving…/Remember the works his hands have done/Where you once were and how far you’ve come”

Not Even Now (Alisa Turner)-God is never done working, even when it seems like he has left us alone.

God of All My Days (Casting Crowns)-God is enough every day no matter what we are feeling

To Those Who Wait (Bethany Dillon)-God is good to who those who wait.

Worn (Tenth Avenue North)-an honest cry of a a heavy heart

Do I Trust You (Twila Paris)-rhetorical questioning to remind a heart that it does trust God

Make A Way (I Am They)-God brings us to difficult places so he can remind us he is enough

  • Wherever you lead me, I know you won’t leave me/Wherever you call me, You will make a way/Wherever we’re going, I will be holding/To the promise you have made/You will make a way

As Long As It Takes (Meredith Andrews)-another song on waiting and trusting

Always Good (Andrew Peterson)-this one will definitely have it’s own post since there are so many beautiful lines and such a powerful message. But in summary it speaks to the truth of God’s constant goodness and his use of sorrow to shape us and bring us to greater joys

Cast My Cares (Finding Favour)-cast your cares on the one who is your anchor and the one in control

Control [somehow you want me] (Tenth Avenue North)-just the fact that God loves us and pursues us frees us to trust him and surrender control of our lives to Him

Be Still My Soul [In You I Rest] (Kari Jobe)-favorite hymn, lovely additional chorus. Previously posted this hymn with all four verses and highlighted favorite lines

Have Your Way (Andrew Peterson)-a song about submission to God’s plan, no matter how painful that process might be

One Thing (Tenth Avenue North)- Everything – Christ=Nothing. Nothing + Christ=Everything

  • If I’ve got nothing but You/I’ll still have everything I need

Don’t Stop the Madness (Tenth Avenue North)-another reflection on God’s using pain and suffering to draw us closer to his heart

Even If (Mercy Me)-this is another one I may do it’s own post. Reminds me of the story of Shadrach/Meshach/Abednego: Our God is able…but even if he does not…we will not lose faith.

  • I know You’re able and I know You can/Save through the fire with Your mighty hand/But even if You don’t/My hope is You alone/I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt/Would all go away if You’d just say the word/But even if You don’t/My hope is You alone

Braver Still (JJ Heller)-I just appreciate the reference to a miscarriage in verse one and the validation of grieving for that life, as well as trusting God to make something beautiful out of the brokenness

Anchored (Enfield)-an anthem reflecting on God’s power and provision

  • Your steadfast love will lead us through the tempest/Grace and strength are ours/Your faithfulness will see us through the storm/And give us hope to carry on

While I Wait (Lincoln Brewster)-another reminder to keep worshiping and trusting even in a season of waiting.

 

appointed time · Infertility · trying to conceive

Easing into no

I had a conversation last night with my pastor. I didn’t like the realization that I wouldn’t be okay with the answer being no so I just wanted to share that with somebody.

His most helpful insight during our conversation (after reassuring me that he didn’t believe that the answer is necessarily going to be no…but of course, everyone will say that) was essentially this:

Getting to a point where no is obviously the answer isn’t necessarily going to happen overnight. God doesn’t just take us to the edge and drop us like that if the request/desire is something so deeply important. He works in us over time and prepares our hearts for the no…and most likely brings into the picture beforehand other things that we wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

God eases us into no. That’s what a good shepherd does.


TTC update: AF showed Monday morning. So it was a real negative. At least I’d already had my meltdown; if the negative and the start of AF had been a few days apart I’d probably have had another good cry. Small blessings.

journal entry · trying to conceive · ttc

Reminders and motives

My husband has a knack for saying the right things to help me navigate this journey. He wants to be a dad; but he is able to be strong when I break down and he helps me refocus on the things that are true.

  • He reminds me that God has done something beautiful with our story and that this is just another chapter
  • He reminds me that God has already blessed us both so richly in bringing us to each other after both of us experienced having a spouse who no longer wanted to be married.
  • He reminds me that he is happy for now just being with me and thankful that we have each other.
  • He reminds me that we still have so much ahead of us.

So that alone should be enough to snap me out of my funk. Which it usually does, and that’s why I keep talking to him when I have bad days or weeks.

But the last few times it has come up he has asked me, ‘what is motivating this desire to be so strong and to take so much of your attention?’

My first and most obvious answer is, “I just want to be a mom, I’ve wanted it so long and now it’s finally a possibility.”

Another answer is just that honestly, it’s been a lonely season (and husband being extra busy at work the last few months hasn’t helped)…so having a baby to focus on would distract me from some of that loneliness. And yes, I know that’s a horrible reason; but at least it’s not the only one.

But the other day I verbalized what I think may be the deepest reason of all.

I’m afraid it’s never going to happen for me. 

I’ve always had very irregular cycles, so I’ve expected for most of my adult life that I would have some difficulty conceiving. But as I’ve begun tracking my cycles and monitoring parameters and all that…I worry that my body just doesn’t have the right balance of hormones to produce and sustain a pregnancy (I’ll probably go into all my stats another time).

So I have to keep going back to the reminders at the top. But recognizing and verbalizing this deeper fear…maybe that will help me in the journey.

In the meantime; I realized I can’t not track at all. Not having any idea if I might be ovulating is making the waiting so much harder because I don’t know how long I even have to wait. So I started opks yesterday on cycle day 20. I think it may have been positive. Today it may have been a little lighter. Who knows what that even means. But at least I feel like I have an estimated end date for this cycle and that makes it a little easier to hurry up and wait.