the journey to #2

The Journey to #2, the finale

{this is the conclusion to parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8}
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
Lamentations 3:25-27
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13:13

Well, you know how it feels if you begin hoping for something that you want desperately badly; you almost fight against the hope because it is too good to be true; you’ve been disappointed so often before. But it was no good trying to throttle this hope. It might – really, really, it just might be true. So many odd things had happened already.” – C.S. Lewis from the magician’s nephew

We were told by my doctor to take the next month off and begin the game plan with the following cycle.  I watched my hormone levels do crazy things  and knew that we still most definitely needed the boost to help us become pregnant again.  In a way, it was validating.  We weren’t trying too hard to force things, we truly needed help.

Early August, we began our next medicated cycle.  I found myself fighting apathy.  I had grown so weary of the whole roller coaster that I didn’t want to care but also wished I didn’t care as much as I did.  It was such a mind game.

That month, I asked God for an early ovulation day.  He granted.  I asked Him for an early implantation day.  He granted.  For once, I felt all of my prayers– down to the most tiny of requests –were being graciously answered .  And for the first time since I had ever tracked my cycle (ever, including with MG), I had a near perfect BBT chart.

Finally the day came to have my follicles checked and the shot administered.  I felt hope creep back into my heart.

In the interim wait I heard again from my encouragement friend.  She was writing to tell me that she had also heard back from another friend that didn’t know me but had prayed for me in her experiment.  For some reason today, she felt deeply moved to send this to me:

“The LORD has not forgotten you.”

It was just the encouragement I needed to put the fight back in me.  I felt all of the months of loss and despair go behind me.  And while I did not have any guarantees as to what the next months would hold, I felt content that God would be giving us the desires of our hearts in His perfect timing….whatever that may be.  How beautiful it is to walk in knowledge of God’s awareness.

Seven days passed and I began my daily HPT’s, searching for clues.

On day nine, the color faded, but not as much as I would have liked.

Days 10-11 were the same.

And then on day 12, the line appeared very dark.  I began to get nervously excited.  I showed my results to N.  He said, “Let’s continue to pray you are pregnant.”  I replied that I was still trying to convince myself of this, but this dark test told me that it was not IF I was pregnant, it was IF this pregnancy would be viable.  Of course after two miscarriages, every hopeful thing is clouded with a little doubt and insecurity.

On day 13, the line was very dark.  It was a Thursday and  I contemplated how I would get in for blood work the following morning before 11am (they closed early on Fridays) when I had a commitment from 8:45-11, not including drive time.

And  I thought.  “Why not see if you can go today?”  It was still 24 hours before they told me I could trust a home test, but I wasn’t sure how strict they would be about coming in a day early.

I called and they let me.

I waited anxiously for the phone call detailing results.  But this time it was different.  This time I had a dark test, significantly darker than it had ever been last time.  And deep down, I knew that meant I was pregnant.  Just how pregnant?  And how healthy?  Those were the questions I wrestled with.

The nurse called back mercifully early and I could hear a pep in her voice that had been missing from all previous conversations.  “Well, your blood work came back at 63 which is great considering we usually like to see it between 50-100 at this point. Come back in two days to make sure it is rising.”

Sixty-three!  Sixty-three!  A beautiful, healthy number.  I had told myself I would be happy with 20-30, and it had been more than double that!

And an added bonus-because N didn’t know I was going to the doctor that day (huh, neither did I!), I was finally able to pull out that card I had tucked away for him nearly 9 months ago (the MG shirt had been long outgrown) (also, coincidentally, I had “accidentally forgotten” to bring the card on vacation in July).  I carefully wrote down all of the news and sealed and addressed the envelope as “SQUARE 2”, as we had joked that we were constantly trying to get out of SQUARE ONE all summer and God kept placing us back there.

When he arrived home from work, he immediately welled up when I handed him the card, before he even could read what was inside.  He knew exactly what square 2 meant and that it was filled with joy.  We  laid on the bed and shed tears together.  It  certainly was not how I envisioned my announcement going 9 months ago, but our circumstances had changed us.  Instead it was deep and beautiful and emotional.  The perfect punctuation to our story.

And you know how the rest of  it goes.  The hormone levels continued to rise.  The progesterone made me incredibly sick and I was finally able to wean off of it on week 10.  We affectionately named our May baby, “Mayby” (a fitting name indeed after months of “maybe we are pregnant and maybe we are not”) and prayed for health and safety.  She grew and let me know she was in there much earlier than her older sister with regular kicks starting at 15 weeks.  We went in for the best news on December 24 and found out we were expecting a healthy baby girl.

Even though we had to grieve the loss of some of our dreams (like a 2012 baby) The “weird” thing was, all of our desires still came true.  Just at a much different timetable than we ever expected:

-we were able to tell much of my extended family our news in person
-we were able to tell both of our families the gender news in person
-the girls will still be two grade levels apart, assuming that everything else matches up (just as N had desired)
-and overall, this pregnancy has been much more “by the book” than MG’s…which has been a nice little bonus

And really, the dreams we had to sacrifice are ones that now I can see were for the best. (the best gift of perspective has been all of my friends having their babies on “our” due dates and realizing that with each one, we are just not ready for that, yet.).  And the timing of this baby is just beautiful in so many God-filled ways. I still don’t understand why we had to take this painful journey to arrive here, but He has continued to remind me of His love for me as He has revealed to me many small, but important to me, details in the timing of this entire thing.

I still don’t understand the miscarriage and what it meant for us, but I do know one redeeming thing that came out of it: remember how we originally told my family the pregnancy news in person before it turned into a miscarriage?  Well we didn’t have a chance to experience telling them in person with Mayby, so I like to think of that as a little consolation prize.  We got to have that moment with them when we did, not knowing that it wouldn’t be coming this time.

photo(1)blog

As I sit back and reflect on our story of the journey to Mayby, I can’t help but feel gratitude.  A strange sentiment indeed to feel after so much confusion and darkness. But I truly feel thankful that God led us on this journey.  Not only did it strengthen us and our resolve for one another, but it taught us how we respond during trials and disappointments.  And the most important lesson of all: it taught us how much we have to be grateful for.  And it is a lot, that is to be sure!  One day I will be able to look in our Mayby girl’s eyes and tell her how much we longed for her.  She will forever be a testimony of God’s love and faithfulness to us.

As always, thanks for reading and sharing in our journey.

{the end}

The Journey to #2, part 8

{continued from parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7)
How long, O LORD?
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
Psalm 13:1-MSG
Consider and answer me, O LORD my God,
Light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
Psalm 13:3-MSG

Earlier in July,  I sent my friend a Facebook message thanking her for following through with her prophecy plan.  Without going into specific detail, I let her know that it had encouraged me. She wrote back on July 19 thanking me for following through with her and letting me know that she was still waiting to hear one more word for me and if it came in that she would let me know.

Just moments later, she wrote:

“Whoa I just got one!!! Here it is
You have the gift of creativity, through this you reflect GOD’s beauty and creativity to the world.
I feel like you are a forerunner for God. You are watching and waiting for Him.
Isaiah 40:3-5
Are you in a time of waiting or anticipation? Know that God is with you and hears your prayers.”

Wow.  I instantly started crying when I read that and it still makes me want to cry to this day. The words were so beautiful and direct I felt as though all the world had stopped for them to impact me.  The timing couldn’t have been any better.

To those words I would cling for the weeks ahead.  There had been many times in my life when I felt God speaking to me, but only one other time in my life was it as direct.  That was in between our first miscarriage and our positive pregnancy test for MG. God had directly and specifically told me through an acquaintance that I would become pregnant that year. This time, the message was the same and just as clear.  God had not abandoned us nor forgotten us.  He had heard our prayers! During this time of waiting, we had searched and searched for answers and proof that God was on our side.  He chose the darkest of times to shout to us that He was right beside us, holding our hands as we walked through  this journey.

During this time after the miscarriage and at the conclusion of our summer, I found God calling me to contentment.  Contentment with relationships, with our house, with N’s job, with our one daughter.  All things that had been absolutely perfect for us 8 months ago, but now seemed lackluster and disappointing.  I did my best to find my way back to that place and God strengthened me by speaking to me.   Whatever happened in our future was in His hands, not ours.

We began a little remodeling project on our house.  It felt good to be the ones in control of a little change in our life.  We repainted, changed out floors and decorations and artwork.  We noticed that our house took a turn for the worse as we began construction on each new project but we knew it would be worth it to make it to the ultimately beautiful end result.

photo(4)x

Not very ironically, we began to feel God whispering the same message to us.  Very soon we would come face to face with our beautiful end result.

To be continued…..

 

part IX

Our journey to #2: This time

{continued from parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6}

This time was different.

This time I grieved the week before rather than the day of.

This time I peacefully accepted my fate rather than railed against it.

This time, I hugged my daughter extra-hard and promised her a sister.  One day.

This time I am chose to be grateful for what I have rather than what I don’t.

This time was less painful physically, but more so emotionally.

This time I mourned with friends and family rather than in private.

This time I didn’t spend hours doing research on the Internet, wondering if it would happen again.  I already knew my odds

This time I didn’t blame myself.

And that has made all the difference.

“I am a huge believer in so much beauty coming from so much pain. Although I would highly prefer to go without the pain, I have learned throughout my short life that when you have experienced pain in great excess you can also experience more beauty than ever before. I truly craved the beauty to come. I had amazing moments of clarity and beauty last year. I remember laying on a raft in the ocean in Aruba and watching the clouds and being so amazed by how beautiful it was. I was so thankful that my creator and the creator of the universe is so full of creativity. I experienced this beauty days after my second d&c. I wonder if I would have noticed it if my heart wasn’t looking for something to remind me that God is in control.”

(thank you, Corner cafe, for pinning these beautiful words: source)

 

part VIII

The Journey to #2, part 6

{continued from parts 1, 2 3, 4 and 5}

They do not fear bad news. They confidently trust the LORD to care for them.
Psalm 112:7

Upon our first night home from vacation, I finally received the envelope in the mail promising strength, hope and encouragement from my friend.  I thought it was odd that it came at a time when we felt more hopeful and encouraged than ever, but thought “Maybe it’s going to say something about the pregnancy that God didn’t want us to know yet.”

It didn’t.  Or at least not  that I could see yet.  Among a packet of several notes, all in different styles of hand writing, there were many beautiful words.  All things about my personality or giftings that were particularly unique to me that I felt as though could only be from God.  Oh, and one little line saying, “Just a little while longer.”  I thought that sentiment was odd, but quickly moved on and read and reread the lines on the pages, taking the words to heart.

The next morning, I wanted to go right away to have my blood drawn.  I woke up early and had a funny desire to take one more pregnancy test.  I wanted to see it turn extra-dark and use it for celebratory pictures later that evening.  Except, it didn’t turn extra dark.  In fact, it was very faint.  It momentarily caught me off guard but I figured the test wasn’t extra-sensitive and it was still very early into the pregnancy.

But as the morning turned into the afternoon, I began to stew about it.   I was very jangled by the time they finally called me for my results and deep down, I prepared myself for the worst.

It was the doctor who called and he sounded puzzled.  “Well, your blood work came back at a 12.  Which is a little low.  I’d like you to repeat the test in 2-3 days and see what happens then.”

I was devastated.   N didn’t understand the number right away, but I’d already done enough research to know that it was low enough to be of concern.  I also knew that my first number, albeit taken a few days earlier, with MG had been 18.  So while I mourned, I still held on to a little, tiny amount of hope that something good would come out of it.  Holding onto hope amidst disappointment. That seemed to be the grand theme of our summer: we felt we were constantly wavering in the middle of trying to decide whether to hold onto hope or to cut ties and mourn our losses.  Neither option seemed clear and both were at odds in our hearts.

Why God?  Why have us wait 7 months to fill us with hope only to disappoint us again?

Two days later I went in for more testing.  I prayed for clear answers so that I would know what to feel.  But once again I was deluded.

The levels had risen, but only to 18.  The nurse remained ambivalent, and I felt confused and frustrated over the results. Not enough to give me hope, and yet, was it too early to mourn the loss?

The following day, I did some further research, and the Internet told me this would either end in miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.  At that point I faithfully mourned the loss and prayed it would end sooner rather than later.

It was Friday before  I went in again and the number had finally begun to drop.  Later that day, the physical miscarriage began.

At that point, I felt myself begin to spiral.  Too many disappointments had hit us this summer: the recent and tragic loss of a family member, relationship strains, first the anticipation and then disappointment of not moving, and N had been given continual discouraging news about his job hunt that can best be summed up with, “we love you, but you’re too young.”  I sought out our family, friends and our small group for prayer.  This time, we would not suffer alone. This time would be different.

God faithfully pulled me out of the pit by the end of the next week.  He used direct Bible verses, sermons, and of course the prayers of many others to buoy us.  Never in my life had I looked forward so much to going to church or to my daily Bible reading.  C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our joy and shouts to us in our pain.”  It was through those things that I felt God shouting to us: He loved us, He cared about us, He had not forgotten us.

In fact, that week, I would hear God shouting that exact encouragement to us.

To be continued…..

 

part VII

Our Journey to #2: On the day we found out you were coming

{continued from parts 1, 2, 3, and 4}

On the day we found out you were coming

{July 5, 2012}
I took my third positive pregnancy test in the morning with Daddy watching over my shoulder.
He celebrated.
I was in disbelief.
I didn’t finish my caffeinated coffee for breakfast.
We talked about your name in the safety of the roar of the Atlantic ocean.
Daddy picked up fries for lunch.  My choice.
The doctor called me back and then congratulated me.
I cried when I hung up.
Daddy prayed over me and you.
I took a guilt-free nap rather than join Daddy on a long run.
I found a pregnancy app on my phone and pondered over you.
We celebrated “Dependents Day” (which naturally follows Independence day)
You and I ate yellow curry for dinner.
My fortune said, “It is a time for caution, but not for fear.”
I referred to MG as “sister” for the first time.
I went to bed with a smile on my face.

 

P.S. Welcome to my new blog home!  I appreciate you following me over here and will be updating regularly.  I’m still working out some of the kinks of the move, so I apologize if some of my older posts/pictures are a little wonky on the formatting.  As always, thanks  for reading!

part VI

The Journey to #2, part 4

{continued from parts 1, 2, and 3}

He will feed His flock like a Shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arms,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.
Isaiah 40:11-NKJV

And then we left for vacation.  {this one} At first, I was kind of bummed that I would find out Y or N on vacation.  If it was yes, then I wondered how I would tell N and how we would digest it being in close company with my family.  If it was no, I was afraid that it would put a huge damper on the trip.  I even contemplated not bringing the tests, but I needed to know for my own sake whether or not to continue the progesterone as it would inhibit my next cycle.

Seeing as how I’d been shot with the pregnancy hormone, I was told to not take a HPT (home pregnancy test) until 14 days after the shot.  Otherwise, the hormone might still be lingering in my body and give me a false positive.  Of course I’d been doing my Internet research though and knew that many girls “tested out” the hormone by taking a test every day until it turned negative and then continued testing until they got a positive, thereby ensuring they’d know sooner.  That was more down my alley.

So on day 7 (after ovulation),  I began.   I watched the HPT turn positive almost immediately…which was thrilling at first because it had been so long.  But I knew in my heart it was deceptive.  Having the pregnancy hormone and extra progesterone coursing through my body was confusing as well.  Once again, I wasn’t sure whether or not to trust all of the pregnancy symptoms I was experiencing.

On day 9 the line faded significantly and I was sure by day 11 it would be negative.  But it wasn’t.  Day 11 was still faint, but slightly darker?  Day 13 was equal to day 11 and by this point, I was beginning to become suspicious.  I was hoping to hold out and surprise N, but on second thought decided I couldn’t resist and I showed him the two to compare.  “They look the same to me!” he said.  We both felt our excitement building for the long-awaited day 14 test.

When I had previously thought about taking an HPT on vacation it had been disappointing.  But day 14 was surprisingly not.  I didn’t envision N and I taking the test together, nor watching it develop together, nor praying over the life in me when it turned POSITIVE.  It was a sweet and beautiful moment that I will cherish forever.  And coincidentally, the rest of my family had made plans to golf on another part of the island that day, leaving the three (four?) of us to revel in our new news together.  I was able to call the doctor and they congratulated me and told me to come in as soon as we returned home for more blood work.

When I got off the phone, I cried.  For the first time, I finally let the truth sink in that it was real.

The only thing that felt wrong was keeping it a secret.  The next day, N and I separately both began wishing that we could tell my family the good news.  They all knew that another child was deeply desired in our hearts and that we had been to a fertility clinic.  They’d been praying for us for many months.  Plus, when would we see them again in person in the next 8 weeks before we publicly announced it?  We had a brief conversation that confirmed what we both were thinking.  We should tell them now.

It was the last night of the trip.  We were high on ice cream and fun.  The sun was setting.  We were by a lighthouse.  N gathered them together and gave them a shaky, emotion-filled speech about how we knew they’d been praying for good news for us and we finally had some.  We were pregnant!  Tears and hugs and disbelief were exchanged.  It was another beautiful moment that I will always remember when I think about that trip.  They were so happy for us!

 (the night we told them our news)

For the first time in months I went to bed with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart.  It had been a long season of discouragement and disappointment.  But it seemed that in the biggest area of our life, our circumstances had been changed.  We finally were receiving this beautiful gift we’d asked for.

To be continued……

 

part V

The Journey to #2, part 3

{continued from parts 1 and 2}
Enjoy the good life in Jerusalem
every day of your life. 
And enjoy your grandchildren.
Peace to Israel.
Psalm 128-MSG

Before I pick up our story where I left off, I want to briefly mention some other things that began happening in our lives around the time of our first infertility appointment.  Without going into very specific detail, N felt called to pursue the next step in his career that he had spent many years in school training and working for. The timing felt better than ever and he was led on a series of job interviews that can only be attributed to Divine intervention (being called to interview for jobs he never applied for, scoring once-in-a-lifetime interviews through old connections,  interviewing for jobs that he quite literally wrote the job description for, etc.).  Each interview became better and better with him going higher and higher up in the interview chain and with each job possibility sounding more and more Divine. This agonizing journey started at the beginning of May and ran through the end of August when we finally came to a peaceful understanding that it just wasn’t going to happen right now.  Maybe next year, but not right now.

Curiously enough, his search for a job that left him feeling deflated and frustrated greatly mimicked my journey as an infertile.  The same thoughts that plagued me about my abilities as a wife, woman, and mother plagued him as a husband, man, and father.  But in no way did he let his discouragement in his situation isolate me in mine.  In fact, many times throughout the summer, he would say to me, “I would trade everything: my dream job, our dream house, everything for another baby.”  I do have to say, the timing, while it sucked to have so many disappointing things happening at once, was a great bonding experience for us both.  We shared in each others’ pain and frustration in ways I’m sure wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t both have to experience it so deeply.

During that summer, I also began the exciting hunt that would prove to be another disappointment for our next house…as some of the job possibilities would take us a little farther away from our current location. Coupled with this disappointment was also the hopeful, “well maybe God didn’t allow us to be pregnant yet because we will be starting a new job and possibly moving this fall.” adage that we hoped would be the case to help ease the pain and misunderstanding of why we were suffering through infertility.  Instead we were only left with more question marks.

We also felt the unwanted flexing and pulling of some relationships that we held dear, and we lost a family member in a tragic situation. In each of these scenarios, plus the infertility and job hunt, we were lead on a constant quest of  excitement, followed by hope, then uncertainty, then more hope, then ultimate loss.  At times the constant up and down of emotions felt unbearable and we often wondered why we were not given plain, straight, “yes’s” or “no’s”.  It seemed as though we lived in a constant state of confusion.  Confusion about our situation, about the hope we were given, about our future, and ultimately about what we even should be feeling.

The disappointment, sadness, and discouragement was profound and touched nearly all areas of our lives.  The summer of 2012 will forever be labeled as the Summer of Disappointment.

——————————

Meanwhile, middle of June I began my first cycle on the game plan. When my OPKs turned positive, I nervously went in for my initial ultrasound.  I prayed, prayed, prayed for healthy follicles and my prayers were answered.  One on the left and one on the right (twins??).

 (I swear I cracked four eggs like this, four days in a row after that ultrasound.  Spooky.)

Next I went in for my HCG shot.  The nurse asked me if I was okay with shots.  Sure!….wait…I think so? I realized that it had actually been quite a while since I had received a shot, and quickly realized when she asked me to bend over and take all of the weight off of my left hip that I was getting more than I had bargained for.  Ooowww.

It was during this time that a friend from college posted the following on her blog (and I hope she forgives me for copying word for word, but I won’t link to it to protect her anonymity, in case she wants it :):

I don’t know if I’ve shared it much on here but the gifts of the Spirit, including prophecy had been something that has been a part of my Christian, and everyday life experience for a while now.  At our church when someone wants a prayer, it is normal if someone has a “word” for that person.  It isn’t spooky or weird. It is ALWAYS encouraging and can be backed up by the Word of God.  It is not fortune telling.  

Many people aren’t exposed to this much, so I thought: how cool would it be if someone emailed me their mailing address.  After a week or so, you can receive back some verses or encouraging words that I and a few select friends felt were for you.  

What is the worst that could happen?  You don’t agree with what was sent back, you could just throw it away 🙂

With every person who sends me their address, I will have two select friends WHO DO NOT KNOW YOU pray and ask God to receive something on your behalf.  Here is what the Bible says about prophecy: 
“But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” 

Nothing should come from this fun little exercise other than STRENGTHENING, ENCOURAGEMENT, and COMFORT.”

And I thought, she’s right. What have I to lose?  And I could really use some strengthening, encouragement and comfort right about now.  So I wrote to her.

Three days later I started the progesterone.

to be continued…….

 

part IV

The Journey to #2 part 2

{continued from part 1}
Your wife will bear children as a vine bears gapes, 
your household as lush as a vineyard.
The children around your table as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.
Stand in AWE of GOD’s YES.
Oh, how He blesses the one who fears GOD.
Psalm 128-MSG

Come May, I was even more convinced that it would be our month.  I had completed the required blood work and sure enough my progesterone came back at a level of 5 when it should have been at least 10 or higher to support a pregnancy.  My doctor told me we had one of two choices: 1) we could come in and have a meeting to discuss “our options” or 2) he could refer us to a fertility clinic.

It made me tear up when he said “discuss our options” because it was the first time I was truly confronted with my infertility.  It wasn’t just a figment or an illusion I had drawn up for myself.  While my condition was hardly serious, it was a problem that required a solution.

That being said, it was an easy decision to go with option #1.  From what I “knew” about fertility clinics (aggressive, out-of-pocket expenses, long waits to get in), I wanted to avoid them at all costs.

So N took off work and we set up a meeting with him.  Seeing as how I had done my (internet) homework, I expected to walk out of there with one of two prescriptions: 1) progesterone supplements or 2) the fertility drug Clomid which is commonly prescribed to women who are not ovulating but also contains a supplement that helps support a healthy level of progesterone.  I was greatly hoping for option #1 since I think the side-effects of Clomid are pretty well-known: increased risk of cancer, only 6 medicated tries in your life, and of course the increased “risk” of multiples :).  Plus, progesterone just seemed less invasive.  But I was ready and willing for whatever my doctor thought was best.

Or so I thought.

Not only did I walk out of that appointment without a prescription, I walked out with a heavy heart.  Oh, and the names of two fertility doctors.  My doctor explained that my diagnosis is a very common problem but NOT for women who have already had a healthy, full-term baby.  Rather than throw a bunch of meds at me, he wanted a fertility doctor to get to the root of the problem first.  (and btw, couldn’t we have just had that conversation over the phone?)

Along with a heavy heart, I began to question myself.  At times, God seemed absolutely silent in ways I had never experienced in my life.  Was I not a good enough Mommy to experience this blessing again? Was there a hidden sin I had not confessed?  Was there something holding us back from God’s blessing?  As my mind raced irrationally, I begged God to show me what I was missing.  I asked God for messages of life and healing.  I read into verses and asked for signs that we were on the right path, that we were following His will, that there was a baby in our future.

In the beginning, I felt nothing but complete silence answering me.  As the confusing cycles continued, I began to receive small, but encouraging signs and I clung to them.  None of them seemed to be shouting “Wait“.  They all seemed to be saying “you will be pregnant“.  I assumed they meant immediately.  I begged God to end this season of disappointment and in the meantime became caught up in the hope, anxiety, over-analyzation, dread, and disappointment of each new cycle.  Later, later there would be very bold and specific signs that would  come.  But only in the darkest of moments.  It almost seemed as though God was giving and withholding information in order to teach us something.  That, and I couldn’t shake the niggling feeling that God was very intentionally keeping us from becoming pregnant because He had a significant time frame prepared for us.  My symptoms were just too obscure and hardly serious enough to keep many other women in my shoes from becoming pregnant to be just a random act.  If only He could have ended our misery and told us what that time frame was.  But that is hardly how He works, no?

Two days after the discouraging doctor’s appointment, I finally worked up the courage to call one of the two names on my list. I didn’t have any particular reason for calling one over the other, other than his name stood out to me more.  Go figure.  It was mid-May.  I  talked to a rushed secretary who said they would give me their earliest appointment….which was…..

….wait for it…..

………………………… August 21.

I thanked her and hurriedly ended the conversation before she heard the tears of disappointment in my voice.  August 21 was another 3 months away.  Far longer than I ever envisioned myself waiting for a solution.

Eventually, I worked up the nerve to call the other doctor on my list, hoping that maybe he would have something remotely sooner.  But the office was closed until the following morning.  And then on that morning the right person wasn’t in to schedule me.  So after another disappointing weekend, I gave it another try on Monday.

“How does Thursday sound?” said one of the kindest voices I’d ever heard in my life.  I had to actually tell her that Thursday was too soon for us and the following week would work better.  And that was that.  We had our first infertility appointment.

Suddenly I began to feel very good about the whole thing.  I even found in talking with one of the girls in my small group that she had been to the exact same doctor and had a great experience with him.  I felt encouraged and relieved.  We were on the right track.  If nothing else, we were finally going to have some answers!

I do have to admit, the day of the appointment came upon us and I was extremely anxious.  I’m sure that as an average, twenty-something, mom of an 18-month-old, I didn’t look the part of your typical infertility patient.  But much to my relief, the fertility clinic was much more mild than I had made it out to be.  The inside was plush and calm.  When you signed in at the desk, you were always greeted with a smile and kind, sympathetic eyes. And you only had to sign your first name and last initial to protect your anonymity.  Oh and the best part?  Insurance covered a large percentage of nearly all of our procedures.

I also had no reason to be nervous about meeting our new doctor.  He didn’t even meet us in an exam room.  He ushered us into his office and we talked current events before making what felt like a very safe game plan.

Here’s what it looked like:

-begin taking OPKs (ovulation predictor kit tests) on day 10 of my cycle (check: had already been doing that)
-when ovulation was detected, come in for an ultrasound
-IF the follicles looked healthy and mature, I would be given a shot of HCG (pregnancy hormone) to help ensure a timely and healthy ovulation.  Three days after that I would begin twice daily progesterone supplements.
-IF the follicles did not look healthy, we would call that month a bust and begin the next month right away on a round of Clomid.

 (a shot of my bathroom counter.  my new morning and evening routine)

I felt great about this plan.  And because we’d already successfully had a full-term baby, we were able to skip a lot of the initial testing they require. The plan didn’t feel aggressive and it felt like we really were getting to the root of the problem, just like my OB had said.  I began to be very thankful he had recommended us to go this route.

Finally, we were offered encouragement about our prognosis.  And for that I was the most grateful.

to be continued….

 

part III

The Journey to #2, part 1

The journey to #2

was not easy.  Not by any means.  In fact, for various reasons, it was one of the most difficult seasons of life we have ever walked through.  Part of our journey involved a brief fling with infertility and while I hardly feel qualified to write on the subject (seeing as how many women tolerate a great deal more than we did), I have felt from the beginning that this is a story that needed to be shared.  Even just weeks after we were pregnant with Mayby and I began reflecting on our journey, I thought, “all things considered, that really wasn’t so bad.”  And I felt embarrassed that I had felt it so deeply when we were in that season.  But still, I felt God reminding me that He had written this story for us.

Maybe your story is very similar or very different than mine.  Regardless, we’ve all had to wait patiently for something.  Whether it is 3 months or 3 years, it is a challenge to do it with joy and patience. I hope that if you are reading this story that you will in some way be able to relate to my journey of wait and find some amount of hope, encouragement, and peace in it.  We know by now how this chapter in the story of our lives ends.  But as we read through the details and the steps it took to arrive here, it is impossible not to see God’s provision coursing its way through the smallest of details.

So without further ado…..

(oh and just a warning, to do the story justice, I have included many important to us details.  so it’s going to be a long one.  therefore I have decided to segment it and will be sharing a little more each time until the story is finished.  so be sure and check back often :))

At the time I have decided, 
my words will come true.
You can trust what I say about the future.
It may take a long time
but keep on waiting.
It will happen!
Habakkuk 2:3

This story begins about a year and a half ago, oddly enough,  in July/August of 2011, when I began to feel God calling us to join a small group at our church.  I wasn’t sure how to bring it up with N since we we had been happily settled into a Sunday School class at a different church for a few years. There had been a few times in the past when we had been invited to join various small groups but each time the timing never felt quite right and the desire just wasn’t there. But of course God, in His perfection, led us both to this conclusion at exactly the same time.  We even similarly felt called and encouraged to lead one and we began praying what that would look like.

I only knew of one other small group at our church that was made up of couples our age and I began praying that our future small group would look like theirs.  They were closely-knit, but in a familiar way, not in a members-only way.  We had been invited on several of their outings and had always enjoyed the individual relationships formed.   On top of that, they all lived within 10 minutes of each other so they were able to have a real sense of community as they watched each others’ kids and loaned things to each other at a moment’s notice.  Plus, several of the families had been through some really trying situations and I admired how the group pulled together and really loved them through those times.

In my heart I began to hear that little voice saying, “That’s going to be you soon.  You are going to need that.”  But I didn’t want to hear that.  And I didn’t want to believe that.  I wanted to believe that it was my worry-wart nature believing the worst again.

But it wasn’t.

And I felt myself prepare to begin battle with whatever fight was coming our way.

In August, we told the church that we wanted to lead a group and they enthusiastically agreed with our calling.  But after the initial encouragement, we heard nothing.  We waited.  We read that there was a need for leaders so we thought surely we’d hear news soon.  But none came.

On September 11, I received a message from one of the girls in the familiar small group.  Out of the blue, she was inviting us to join their group!  I was surprised because it was not what I originally had expected would happen, but after meeting with them once, N and I agreed it just felt right.  We joined their group and began to form relationships with them.  It was an unexpected answer to our prayers and it would be the first of many.

As the fall wore on, I began to feel a different little tug on my heart.  One that involved teeny, tiny onesies, and sleepy newborn snuggles.  I had committed to the LORD a long time ago that the timing and amount of children that we had was up to Him.  And I felt Him gently preparing my heart for another one.  This was welcome news to N’s ears, as he had been ready for #2 pretty much since MG began sleeping through the night.  Not really. But in his perfect world, our children would be two grade levels apart, allowing them access to maximum friendship experience. Plus, he wants like a Duggar amount of children, so the sooner I agreed to have another one, the better the odds of that happening :).

We prayed and felt like we would begin trying in December of that year, giving us a September baby at the earliest, meaning MG and #2 would be no less than 22 months apart.

As December neared, I started to become very excited about the possibility of another pregnancy.  The miscarriage and the long wait for MG seemed very much in the past and I was anxious for a fresh start to try it again.  I was not, however, too keen on laboring or on first trimester illness.  So much so, that the thought of either of the two of these entering my life again would keep me awake at night.

However, as soon as I began to feel the first flutters of early pregnancy symptoms, I put those thoughts to rest.  I was surprised that things seemed to be progressing smoothly and that we possibly had become pregnant on the first try!  I kept these thoughts to myself so that N would be surprised as well and began brainstorming ways to tell him.  This was especially fun to think about since last time it wasn’t really all that thrilling of a moment.

I bought a card for him that had a very sweet poem about a baby entering your world and even went so far as to embroider “Big Sis” on one of MG’s long-sleeve tees.  She’d need something to show the grandparents after all!   I felt like us getting pregnant on the first try was a welcome gift from God after our struggle and subsequent wait for MG.

It was just about the time for me to start taking pregnancy tests (to be honest–I’m a chronically early tester) and finally confirm what I had been feeling, when I woke up to another surprise instead.  The start of a new cycle.  I also had the addition of some weird spotting with this cycle that I, at the time, had assumed was a common pregnancy symptom called implantation bleeding.

So  I packed away the congratulations card and shirt and mourned a little and then moved on.  It was still early in the game.  Surely January would be our month!

In the meantime, pregnancy announcements began pouring in for September.  I was disappointed to not be joining the lucky ones, but thought “at least our pregnancies will be close!”.

But January was a repeat of December.  And worse actually.  My cycle started even earlier and the spotting was more intense.

Meanwhile, February held the same fate. More announcements poured in and at least one for each month was on the exact day that we would have been due. It felt a little unfair, but to ease the pain, I began searching for reasons as to why my body had suddenly gone awry.

One theory was that my body still had not bounced back from breastfeeding/childbirth.  A legitimate reason presented online, but amongst my circle of friends, no one else seemed to be having this problem.  A lot of sources also pointed  to a low level of progesterone as being the cause of my strange, new symptoms.  Progesterone is the hormone that helps you become and then stay pregnant so this theory made a lot of sense.  The months that I had felt sure that I’d been having pregnancy symptoms I actually could have been pregnant but my body lacked the sufficient funds to support it.  The only problem with this theory is that it mostly seemed to plague childless women and specifically those that had been on the birth control pill for many, many years or had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).  Three things that didn’t necessarily apply to me.

The most frustrating thing during this time was all of the confusing signals.  On one hand, we were well within our time frame of having children about 2-3 years apart.  We still had many months to go before that dream was threatened.  On the other hand, each month I grew increasingly more attached to the idea of being pregnant as my body was sending me early signals and I felt as though being pregnant was very much a God-given desire.

The month of March we took some time off and continued to search for answers and pray.  We weren’t super keen on the idea of a Christmas baby afterall as we already had one near-holiday baby!  But we thought maybe another month to purge my body of upsetting hormones and let it regulate, plus take some stress off might be good for us.

Towards the end of that cycle, I called my OB/GYN and explained what was going on. Together we concluded that I had a short luteal phase (the time between when you ovulate and when you start your next cycle needs to be a specific length of time in order to support a pregnancy) and he agreed with my low-progesterone self-diagnosis.  He wanted me to come in and have my blood drawn at a specific time in my cycle in order to determine if everything checked out as we thought.

(giving blood.  something every infertile has to come to terms with)

Unfortunately, we were out of the state when this very specific time occurred, so another month passed us by.

During this time of wait, I vividly remember having to mourn dreams.  Little dreams, but dreams nonetheless.  Dreams about having another fall baby.  Dreams about re-wearing my maternity clothes due to the seasons matching up.  Dreams about reusing all of my baby clothes. Dreams about having a 2012 baby (silly, but I hate the number 13).  Dreams about being able to tell my family in person at this specific date or that specific function.  Dreams about surprising N:  In a Christmas present, in a Valentine’s day card, in an Easter basket.  I fully believe that God uses timing of events to communicate His love to me as He knows they are very important to me.  So it was during all of this day-dreaming that I felt sure that He was sending me a sign that every month was the month our circumstances would miraculously turn around.  When they didn’t, I felt frustrated that I had disillusioned myself.

In the meantime, I had my thyroid tested (for the second time) as thyroid issues can often cause low progesterone (and traumatic events like pregnancy can throw them out of whack, even if they’ve tested okay in the past), went to a prayer service at church and asked for healing, and still truly believed in my heart that each month was the one that we would become miraculously pregnant.  I began a supplement of B6 and B12 which helped my body to ovulate earlier in my cycle and increased my luteal phase from 9 days to 12.  This was an encouraging turn of events, but it still did not lead to our greatest desire.  While I became discouraged at each turn, I do not think I ever lost my faith that God would heal me, that we would have another child, and that He had given us this desire for a reason.

I did, however, become tired of living like a pregnant woman when I wasn’t actually pregnant: avoiding certain foods and rigorous exercise, skipping caffeine,  not getting x-rays at the dentist, forgoing another teeth whitening, turning down certain teas, going low maintenance on the hair, not licking the batter, etc, etc, etc.  Each month I set myself up for failure by thinking: I’m sure I’m pregnant.  I better not indulge in this or that

But month after disappointing month it just wasn’t so.

To be continued…..

 

part II