five years

I realized the other day that it’s been five years since we were going through all our infertility treatments.

FIVE years. In some ways I can close my eyes and catapulted myself back into that time and feel like I am still in the middle of it all. And in other ways, it feels like that time of my life was a lifetime ago.

For the most part that time seems long ago, but I don’t think there will ever come a time when I won’t be able to easily go back in time and feel like I am in the middle of it all. I will forever remember that season of my life. That time of my life was monumental to who I am today. God used those years and the experience of going through those treatments to mold me into who He wanted me to be today. That time was truly life-changing for me.

Life is so different now than it was back in those days. I try to remember how I spent my time. My house was immaculately clean. I do know that much. There wasn’t a speck of dust anywhere and cleaning the blinds was on the weekly cleaning list.

I still haven’t cleaned the blinds in our house and we’ve been in it almost 6 months now!

It’s funny how priorities, goals and life in general changes as time goes by. Cleaning the blinds is just no longer on my priority list, and I’m so thankful. Not because I disliked cleaning the blinds. With a Swiffer duster, it is actually kinda fun and easy to clean blinds.

But I’m thankful because it means my focus is elsewhere. On my daughters.

The little girls that, five years ago, it seemed they would never be. It is hard to sometimes go back to those desperate times when I wondered if I would ever be a mother. Maybe because in all honesty never becoming a mother just didn’t seem like an option for me. I truthfully believed that I would one day be a mother.

Up until that fateful day on the examination table in the doctor’s office when we learned our IVF cycle wasn’t working quite like we had hoped, I believed one day I would see those two pink lines.

I figured we were just having to go the long route to finally see them. But, eventually, they would be there.

I sometimes wonder if we had continued trudging along on the infertility treatment path, would we have eventually seen those two pink lines?

It is really a mute point because God lead us elsewhere and the what ifs truly don’t matter because we received God’s perfect plan and there is nothing more amazing than that.

Looking back on that time five years ago, I am so thankful God brought us through those treatments and taught us what He did, and then put a stop to them when He did. I am not sure how much more I could have physically and emotionally taken.

The road of adoption certainly wasn’t a cake walk, but strangely enough, it was a breath of fresh air once we knew the treatments were over. Sure I still had to mourn the loss of pregnancy and a biological child, but knowing the treatments were behind us was such a relief.

I am five years removed from that time in my life. It is not even something I think about every day anymore. It is a season of my life that I remember and always will remember. But I am no longer living those days. I have not forgotten that, for some people, maybe someone reading this blog right now, they are living these days every single day.

First of all, I am so sorry you are going through this. The pain of desiring a child and not becoming pregnant month after month after month when everyone else around you seems to become pregnant so easily is so very hard. I remember the pain of those days. I remember not being able to go to baby showers because it hurt too much and I was fearful I would start crying in the middle of someone else’s celebration. I remember being happy for others who became pregnant but inside it felt like a knife had just stabbed me in my side. I remember falling to a heap on the floor and weeping when we’d get another call that another treatment had not worked. I remember being angry when thinking about all the money we were spending just to attempt pregnancy. I remember feeling angry at my body because it wasn’t working right to be able to conceive.

I remember…

I also remember everything that God taught me during that trial in my life. It’s too much to even begin to type it all out into one little paragraph on this blog post. But, I remember when I started to realize that all this suffering and pain wasn’t about me. It was about God and what He wanted to do in and through my life so that others could see that God did this; not man. I remember when I realized I had a choice to make: was I going to choose to put my trust in God or choose to be angry and bitter about the less than ideal circumstances that I was currently dealing with in my life? I remember when God’s Word (the Bible) spoke to me as I read Jeremiah 29:11 and I knew that I could trust God to keep those promises for me, too. He did have plans for my future, plans that would prosper me and not harm me, plans that would bring me hope and a future. I remember clinging to the words in that verse as if my life depended on it. And, really, my life did depend on it. I was at the bottom of the barrel of hope and those words revived my soul and gave me true hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ. I remember when my outlook on my circumstances changed and I stopped thinking woe-is-me-thoughts and started thinking, Ok, God, how are you going to use all this for your glory!? I am a willing vessel. Use me! Show the world you are God.

I remember…

And then, how could I ever forget what God did next? I can’t and I won’t as long as I ever live.

I will never forget working on our adoption paperwork with renewed hope and expectation that God was going to do something marvelous. I will never forget walking into the adoption agency and then texting my husband moments later, Do you want to be a daddy in June?! I will never forget our first meeting with Little Bug’s birth mother sitting there at the adoption agency. The nerves were high on both ends, but as we talked, there was such tremendous peace. I will never forget walking into that delivery room just in time to see Little Bug enter this world. Poor Tracy had delivered naturally and she was still screaming in pain saying that hurt more than anything she had ever done, but she still had the presence of mind to ask the doctor to let me cut the cord. Such a beautiful gift she gave me to be there at the birth of Little Bug. And I remember what it felt like for Little Bug to be placed in my arms for the very first time. Arms that were once empty were completely full with the expectation that this baby girl was going to be my little girl, always and forever.

And then, not two years later, we found ourselves in the adoption process again! Pregnancy came hard for us (they never came!), but adoptions seemed to just fall in our laps. It was a very clear reminder to me that when God has a plan, He brings it to fruition in His time and in His way. Within two years I became the mother of two little girls.

I remember holding both of my daughters for the first time, one of them still hooked up to all the NICU machines, and just thinking, So this is what my infertility was all about?! God wanted to perform these miracles and He used my broken womb to do so! Wow.

DSCN0613

In those moments all the pain and heartache of infertility made sense. We serve a God that is BIG and desires to do BIG things in our lives, if we are surrendered and allow Him to do His work in our lives. I didn’t go in to the details about how we were matched with our daughters’ birth mothers but each story is a clear picture of the hand of God at work in the lives of everyone involved. He alone is the one who orchestrated the adoptions of my daughters. I had nothing to do with it, except the fact that I surrendered to His plan laying on that examination table. He did the rest and I just happened to have front row seats to the show.

Five years removed from infertility and I can honestly say it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I still have a broken reproductive system. I don’t need a pregnancy to feel complete. I can sit among a group of women talking about pregnancy and childbirth and not feel like I need to escape now. God has done a work in my life only He could do and I am just so thankful.

If you are reading this and going through infertility or some other trial, there is a purpose that goes beyond you. God desires to do something marvelous in your life! Something beyond anything you can see at this moment. You see hopelessness and despair but God sees a miracle waiting to unfold. God takes bad and makes good as only He can do.

Let the work God has done in and through my battle with infertility serve to bring you hope today.

To God be the glory!

3/8/09

It’s here again.

The anniversary of 3/8/09.

It’s a date that won’t ever go by without me remembering the events of that day.

It was the turning point of my journey through infertility.

It was the day that separated infertility treatments and adoption.

It was a devastating day for me.

It was the platform God used to perform a miracle …

The Miracle of Little Bug.

On that day, March 8, 2009, I didn’t know how I was going to make it past that day, but now, two years later, I look back on that day with thanksgiving in my heart.

If God had allowed that IVF cycle to produce more than just The Lone Ranger, or if God had prompted us to give IVF another try instead of turning in adoption paperwork a month and day later, I wouldn’t be the mother of this precious little girl.

Sheldon2010 459 edited 5x7 FINAL

God knows what He is doing! I will be the first to admit that I questioned God on that day. Nothing made sense on March 8, 2009. Nothing.

There were tons of people praying during that IVF cycle. We had already gone through three failed IUIs. Four months prior, I had undergone surgery to remove endometriosis. My doctor had given me high hopes of finally achieving a pregnancy with this IVF cycle.

And then everything that could possibly have gone wrong, went wrong! I left the doctor’s office a total mess, totally clueless what God was doing and with my head filled with a million and one Why? questions.

And then, just when things couldn’t get any worse God was asking me to lay my desire for pregnancy at His feet and pursue adoption immediately.

What? Are you crazy, God? Don’t you know this has been my desire since I was a little girl? Surely, you are not serious about this?!?!

Oh, He was serious alright. I knew there was not going to be another try at IVF.

I praise God that He didn’t make me wait long to find out just what He was up too.

Twelve weeks later, instead of staring at a tiny, flickering heartbeat on an ultrasound screen, I was staring at this:

09854 - 100_4691

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

Staring at Little Bug’s tiny little face almost two years ago allowed me to see why I had to live 3/8/09.

Oh, God’s love for us is deeper and wider than our human minds will ever be able to fully comprehend!

I praise Him for this journey!

journey to #2

Not sure if you read Mrs. Hammer’s blog. My heart breaks for her today.

Four and a half years of trying to have a baby while battling infertility. Four cycles of IVF. Three beautiful embryos were placed in her womb during her fourth, and final, chance at IVF. They were the best embryos they had ever had and they were so hoping this would be their miracle.

But today her beta came back as negative.

Man, why do people have to go through this?!?!

And then an even weirder, odder question is this:

Why didn’t I have the chance to go through that?

I know that calls for a little explanation.

You remember March 8th, 2009, I was told IVF wouldn’t even help me conceive. Truth be told, I’ve always been a little leery of that “diagnosis” because it wasn’t my RE who told me that – it was the other RE in the practice because my RE wasn’t on call that fateful day. Logic tells me that obviously the other RE knows what he’s talking about because he’s been doing this since before I was born. But my heart wants to cling to the hope that maybe, just maybe, he was wrong and my RE could figure out something that just might work to finagle around the obstacles the other RE says make conceiving through IVF very unlikely because he’s the best RE in the entire Universe.

And so, as the time approaches for us to start thinking (yes, thinking, not necessarily wanting…yet 🙂 ) a second child, I can’t help but let my mind wander.

There are so many stories out there of women who had a poor response many times but, finally, after three, four, five tries, they got their miracle.

T’s blog is private, but her story is amazing. After many tries at IVF her last try was filled with miracle after miracle! It was her last try. She went it to it knowing if this failed, they had done everything possible to try to conceive. They prayed for a miracle as they had done with their previous cycles. She was a poor responder, but this final cycle, they had beautiful embryos transferred. More beautiful than they ever imagined. Beta day came and her beta was negative, however, against all odds, the clinic called her back several days later and told her there had been a mistake in her first beta and they needed to recheck her. Trying not to get her hopes up, she went in for another beta draw. And lo and behold, that beta came back indicating she was pregnant! Her numbers were extremely low, but with every beta draw after her second one, the numbers kept doubling and tripling. Around 5-6 weeks into the pregnancy she saw the most miraculous thing on the ultrasound screen: the tiny, healthy heartbeat of her precious baby!

So how does all this tie into me?

I honestly don’t know at this time.

I’m trying to figure it out myself as I seek the Lord about why He has me wondering about all this.

I guess, if I could have things my way (which I know full well may not be God’s way AND I know full well that I ultimately desire God’s Will because I know full well HIS WILL is best and perfect and better than anything I could ever wonder or dream about) I wish I could have a second try at IVF.

We didn’t give IVF another thought after our first cycle where I responded very poorly and we ended up converting to an IUI mid-cycle. The reason we didn’t give IVF another thought is so obvious now.

At the time, getting up from that examination table and walking away from it all just like that was nerve-wracking and it felt like I was just giving up prematurely.

But I knew I had to say no to another try because of one reason:

God was telling us to move to adoption because he wanted to give us Little Bug!

Obviously, what I am saying here is I do not, for a second, wish we had given IVF another try back in the Spring of 2009 because I would not ever trade my Little Bug for 10 biological children!

What I am saying is this: When I think of adding to our family, excitement pours into my soul because now, more than ever, I know God has another miraculous plan ahead for us in building our family and I am so excited to see where He takes us on our journey to #2. I am not naive to think the journey will be filled with only joy and no heartache and pain. Unfortunately, when you mix infertility and trying to add to your family, there is bound to be some pain and heartache along the way. But now, more than ever, I know God has a plan bigger and better than all the pain and heartache I will ever experience in my lifetime. I know that what is required of me on my journey to #2 is trusting God and patiently waiting for Him to reveal HIS PLAN. The waiting is bound to get hard (waiting is never easy!) but every day I will have a blue-eyed, blonde haired little reminder that His ways are perfect and His timing is impeccable.

So I guess, right now, my heart is just open. Open to whatever way God would choose to add to our family. I wouldn’t say any of this stems from a desire to experience pregnancy but it stems from a curiosity and wondering if what I was told on March 8th, 2009, is really what would have happened had we pursued another IVF cycle.

Which means all this will probably be just what it is today: my wonderings. Because I can’t see giving IVF another try simply because I am curious to see what the outcome would be. That is how I know this is not a “pregnancy desire” speaking. Sure, if I was told I could do an IVF cycle free of charge, I don’t think I’d have to think twice about jumping on that offer! But, we all know IVF isn’t free.

And so, I guess I will always just wonder. But I can live with that because I do believe if God wants to build our family by a biological child, He most certainly does not need IVF to do it.

My God (our God!) is just awesome like that.

going to the archives

I love coming to my blog, going to the archives and reading posts from months ago.

I did that last night and came across something I wrote back in February of this year. I was days away from starting my March 2009 IVF cycle.

Here is a piece of what I wrote:

I feel so weak right now. Honestly, I feel like I want to run to the side line and quit. I’m scared and nervous. I want everything to go perfectly and at the end of the month I want to finally see two pink lines and one word: PREGNANT. But I may run this race at full speed and not end up with that result.

It’s all about focus and keeping my eyes on the Lord. I can’t take my eyes off for a moment or I will stumble.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I can do whatever is coming my way in God’s strength. Whatever God is going to ask of me next I know He will equip me with the strength and power – HIS STRENGTH AND POWER – to do it.

God, I want a baby at the end of this marathon!! But not my will, Lord. Not my will. May Your will be done.

On this very night I surrender this cycle to you, God. When something “doesn’t go right” I can know I’m not the one in control. You are.

God, give me strength to run this race in a way that only serves to point people to You. I pray this IVF cycle will be used for your glory.

The time has come. It is time to do IVF. I’m at the starting line just about to take off.

 

This sentence stuck out to me: When something “doesn’t go right” I can know I’m not the one in control. You are.

Every single aspect of my IVF cycle went wrong! Nothing went my way at all!

But, I wasn’t the one in control and neither was my doctor.

Through that situation I have learned that when life seems to be falling apart (and that is certainly how I felt as I learned IVF wouldn’t even work for us), God still has a plan. Sometimes God has to take us to rock bottom before revealing that marvelous plan.

We can find rest in that we don’t have to be in control of anything! God hung the moon, rotates the earth and keeps the universe in order. He has a plan for our lives even when it seems nothing is going right.

God had a plan for me that went beyond a successful IVF cycle.

And now, six months later, I wouldn’t take a successful IVF cycle over what God gave me for anything!

be still and know that I am God

I want to share something I wrote in my journal on March 6th – two days before March 8th, the day we learned my ovaries would most likely never respond well to even IVF fertility drugs.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately going back and reading previous posts in the blog and the personal journals I have kept throughout this time.

Here is the unedited version of what God laid on my heart and spoke to me on March 6th…

It is quiet. The girls are in bed, the dishes are washed and put away, the toys are cleaned up. All is quiet. So peaceful and quiet. I can feel God calling saying, “Just be still and know that I am God.”

Know that I (God) love you and created your very life for a purpose. And in order for your life’s purpose to be played out in the way I have planned since time even began, you must trust me and follow my leading. Know that I (God) have a plan for you concerning infertility and motherhood that is far greater than anything you, or anyone else on this earth, could plan for you.

Know that I (God) have placed this strong desire in your heart to be a mother to many children. I created and molded you that very way so that I (God) could take your deepest desire to be a mother, give you infertility and use your infertility to mold and shape your character and your dependency on me. I know once you are dependant on me and trust me with all your heart, it is then that I can bring about the fruition of the marvelous plan I have for your life.

Know that I (God) am with you wherever you go – even as you walk and climb the mountain of IVF. I am here. I travel with you. You are not alone, so do not be afraid. Take my Word and bind it to your heart so that when Satan tries to attack, you will have weapons against him.

And don’t forget for one moment … this battle is already won and you are the winner! Keep your eyes on Me and I will bring you through this valley so you will one day stand upon the mountaintop with Me.

I think it should be noted that it was exactly a week later (March 13) that Satan attacked me like he’s never attacked before.

I believe the message here is that God is at work, even when at the time we see no evidence of that.

Goodbye, Lone Ranger

I’m glad I didn’t waste time yesterday going to get blood drawn.

The unwelcome visitor arrived this morning, right on time.

So where does this leave me?

Even though I lived the past few days with the mindset of the visitor would arrive any day now … it still hurts … because there is always at least just an ounce of hope every month, no matter how much you’ve been through, that maybe, just maybe, this will be the month.

Then when the visitor arrives … that ounce of hope is crushed … and life moves on.

Where my life is moving beyond this day is very scary to me.

Before March 8th, I honestly didn’t think everything would come to this.

Goodbye, Lone Ranger.

Goodbye, Dream.

but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails

I recently saw the following statement in a frame hanging on someone’s wall:

Faith is not believing that God can but that God will.

I left that house thinking about that statement and decided I do not believe that is what God requires us to believe when our faith is in Him.

Sure, with God all things are possible. Every month I believe with all my heart that God can create Baby that month. I know that God does not need IUI treatments, surgery or IVF to make it happen. I know God is the creator of life and He can allow me to conceive any month, regardless the circumstances.

But to say that God will make it happen doesn’t fit right with something else God has taught me along this journey.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

During every single one of my IUI treatments I have asked people to please pray that God would create Baby that month. During every single IUI treatment, there were people from all over praying that God would do this.

Looking back now I can see that God’s purpose in those three previous IUI cycles was not a pregnancy. Instead, His plans were to do a work within my heart and soul and not in my womb.

I cannot begin to even summarize what God has taught me through those three failed IUI cycles. God does sometimes answer our prayers with a “No” – and sometimes more than once – because He has plans for our lives that will prevail because He knows they are best and the best is what He desires for us.

Was it hard to accept “No” as the answer three times in a row?

Do I even need to answer that question?

And here we are again praying God will choose to create Baby with The Lone Ranger.

Once again, God’s will will prevail.

If I am pregnant, I will praise God for performing a miracle. If I am not pregnant, I can still praise the Lord because I can rest in peace knowing God is still doing a work within my life using these circumstances and His work is not complete.

I’ll be the first to admit that keeping this mindset is extremely difficult. I’ve been on this road now for almost 2 years and the possibility of ever achieving a pregnancy grows slimmer with every treatment we undergo. With each treatment, we have discovered another obstacle that stands in our way to achieving pregnancy.

Not a day has gone by since March 8th that I haven’t thought about the possibility that I very well may never have a biological child.

But I do believe that God can make this happen. He will – if biological children are a part of His master plan for us.

Will I pray and continue to ask others to pray that God will allow us to conceive?

Certainly.

Because God can if He Wills and His Will is best.

It’s a win-win situation, really.

Waiting

We are back from the funeral and are now over here at my Grandmother’s house for dinner tonight. I found a few minutes to update my blog and came here with the intent to say that I am bracing for the arrival of a very unwelcome guest that visits me on a very regular basis every single month. Some people refer to this unwelcome guest as Aunt Flo.

As I sat here at my Grandmother’s computer I happened to see this written on a card lying very near the computer …

You have to be POSITIVE always, never negative.
Wonderful advice, really. However, at this point in the journey, I can no longer allow myself to get hopeful, no matter the circumstances. And so my mindset is one of waiting … waiting for Aunt Flo to once again arrive.
I am not saying that I feel hopeless. As long as my faith and trust are in the Lord (as they will ALWAYS be), I will always have hope. My hope is not necessarily that I will one day conceive, but my hope is in the promise of Jeremiah 29:11.
No matter how bleak my circumstances continue to be, there is hope, because I know God has a plan. It is most definitely NOT my plan. However, I rest in God’s love knowing He will bring everything to fruition and one day I will see the reason behind all of these trials.
I do find myself at a very weary stage of this journey. I’m tired of failed treatments and hard decisions. If God chooses to once again not allow conception to happen through an IUI treatment, I know we will face another hard decision to make – quite possibly the hardest decision we’ve had to make thus far.
I was telling my family in the van as we were on the way home last night that sometimes I ask God if He isn’t ready to move on to someone else and teach them some things! I know my journey won’t be complete until God’s work is finished and I just have to keep plugging along knowing His grace is sufficient for whatever still lies ahead.
It’s overwhelming to sit and think about what may lie ahead. As we were traveling home yesterday God spoke to me through a certain situation on the trip home.
We were not certain which direction we needed to head on the highway. My dad was driving. I was just a passenger in the van. Had it been me in the driver’s seat I would have been in a panic. I hate not knowing where I am and I hate getting lost on the road. Here I was in the middle of who knows where, we didn’t know which way to go but there was not an ounce of panic in me. Why? My Daddy was in the driver’s seat and I knew without a shadow of a doubt he would figure out which direction we needed to go. I literally put my headphones on, turned on the music and enjoyed the ride through the countryside of North Carolina.
This reminded me that as I am on the road of infertility and at a loss for where we need to go next, my Heavenly Father is in the driver’s seat and I can sit back and relax as He leads the way.
I don’t need to know RIGHT NOW where I will be going a week from now, or even a day from now. He will guide us at just the right time and tell us where to go next.
That’s hope.

Family, Travel and another impending decision

Exactly 21 months ago we were in Brazil for my cousin’s wedding. I have not seen Cristina since she got in the limo the night of her wedding and drove off.

I am very excited because today at 4pm, she and her husband, Marcio, will arrive here! Even though the time spent together is only a fraction of the time we have been apart, we are very close, and I am so grateful to have this time with her this week and to be able to get to know Marcio better.

Saturday afternoon my great aunt (Aunt Helen) died at the age of 89. Last October on her 89th birthday she announced that she did not want to live to be 90. Aunt Helen lived a good life of service to the Lord.

Tomorrow my parents, Grandmother, Cristina, Marcio and me will travel to North Carolina to attend her funeral. Dave can not go because of his work so he will stay behind and take care of Puppy and Ellie. We will return on Wednesday after the funeral. So if I am MIA over the next couple of days on this blog…you’ll know why.

*****

I’ll definitely be on here at some point to let you know the results of the IUI. I’m still planning to not go in for blood work on Friday, so I may not know anything until Monday.

At this time, making a decision of “what’s next”, should the results of this IUI be the same as the previous ones, is quite possibly the most overwhelming decision we’ve had to make thus far on this journey.

The obvious big question is … Do we try IVF again?

There are so many factors that go into making this decision. I’m not going to get into them right now.

I am just once again asking people to please pray heavily that God would clearly make known what our next step is to be.

Can I just say that I am tired of all this? Tired of … everything. But when I step back and attempt to look at the big picture and what God is doing, it helps.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is a season of my life, not my life. I know one day I will look back on this season and see the purpose.

When I step away from the heartache and pain and see all this for the way God sees it, I am deeply encouraged. I am encouraged to know that God is working in ways, at this time, we cannot see. I am encouraged because I know God is using these circumstances of my life to accomplish His plan. I am encouraged because I know God is receiving glory. I am encouraged because, even though Satan attempts to destroy me, he is defenseless because I am shielded with the armor of God. I am encouraged because so many people have rallied together through prayer. And mostly, I am encouraged because I know one day this story God is writing through my life will come to a beautiful ending … and a new story will begin.

Looking at the Bright Side

For every situation, we have to look at the bright side, right??

Well, I got to thinking of something this morning …

If the IVF cycle had gone as we had planned, I’d probably be in the 2-week wait by now and honestly, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through that time and then handle whatever news followed!

On the other hand, I haven’t even thought much about the 2-week wait with this IUI we did instead.

Of all the steps of the IVF process, I was dreading the 2-week wait and the beta test the most.

I’m truly glad I’m not going through that right now … unless of course it was finally going to be good news! But that’s the thing … you never know the outcome until you know the outcome.

And that is so nerve-wracking!