Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Blessed Barren Woman

As I write this, I’ve been married for 1 years and 9 months.
To this day We have not living children of our own
In medical terms, this condition called infertility.
Or … As The world says I am B A R R E N.

I understand why Sarah laughed when she heard God’s news through His angels who told Abraham that she would conceive.  In Luke, we are told that Elizabeth would also become pregnant.  The Angel of the Lord also came to Elizabeth’s husband Zakaria, and said that his wife who already was well into menopause and in her old age would bear a son and they shall name him John.

No bitter words came out from their mouths.  But I’m sure as a woman, who understands the nature of womanhood, they had an up and down feeling because of the label as infertile women. Sara and Elizabeth certainly had  the temptation to ask: “How is it possible?”  Today in my language, I'm saying and thing,  "Mission Impossible"

For the past 2 years my husband and I have been looking forward to the arrival of a child, the fruitfullness of our love.  Today, I catch myself watching one of my own memories as if it were a movie.  The memory was so clear, I could feel it, touch it and smell it. It was a memory of a time shortly before everything went wrong: the morning of December 28th, 2012 as I so loving rubbed my belly, talking to our unborn child....telling our baby I couldn't wait to hear his/her heartbeat once again.   I was going on 18 weeks pregnant.  It was my first pregnancy.  My husband and I were both glowing with excitement.  My husband was on board with starting a family from the time we married but it wasn’t until I was actually pregnant that we both realized how much it really meant to us.

It is hard for me to “watch” this memory.  This is the part of our lives that we now have to file under “before”.  It seems so long ago.  I feel like we were different people. I have since lost that baby....our son.  I have avoided family, friends, & co-workers who have had babies since.  I have watched the world move on as my world seems to stand still.  I have been living in pain.  My life has revolved around fertility treatments.  Adoption has evolved from a way to grow our family to quite possibly the only way we’ll be able to grow our family.  Our sex life has been scheduled to the minute and full of the fear of a miss-timed broken pregnancies.  I miss my life.  I wish I could go to the pool and dip my toes in the water and not worry about anything but a sunburn.

But the mercy of the Most High God has shaped our lives in ways that I never thought and imagined. Because of the mercy, once again … only with compassion and mercy of the Lord, every day feels like Advent for me.  The word Advent comes from the Latin Advenīre (ad-to + venīre to come) which means the coming or arrival, especially for someone that we look forward to.

The reality today … not event 1 child present in my womb.

To be Infertile or barren means unfruitful / unproductive means: lacking in liveliness or interest.  Hhhhmmmm … by definition, that’s my condition today.   No wonder so many women are distressed by this situation.  No wonder Sara released permit to her husband to have a descent which is very important in their tradition.  Although Not told in detail what passed with Elizabeth’s struggles, her position as a wife of a prominent priest, definitely gave her its own pressures:  To be Judged not to be able to bear fruit or unproductive as a woman,  make us feel that our existence as a women seems to be teared and  make us (or for me at least) think that we are “unuseful” as a wife.

While I have missed the presence of children, just like many other barren/infertile women, today it is not such a painful yearning as before, but actually freeing to know that my calling as a woman is not only determined by the body’s ability to conceive and bear a child.

I believe with a full heart, if today I do not have children who were born from my womb YET, I feel that I’ve had a lot of children.  Yes, for me I feel that the calling of motherhood is not just defined by the biological mother.

I feel alive and fruitful when I am in the middle of the community that God has given to me to be a place to share my life.  I’m so blessed to be in the midst of the people who continue to support me to pull out the best of me.  I feel so passionate and productive when I was there in the classroom, in the laboratory, in my study, or when I sit on my work desk or simply when I meet people struggling just the same.  My heart beats so loud… wanting to give me a sign that's sooo vivid and alive of the joy and hope that I can pass on to humanity through medical science that I've learned.

I feel so perfect every time God’s love touches me through the presence of my husband, my parents, my sisters, and nieces, also so many friends who love me.   For these blessings can I complain for more?

Through whatever happens in my life today, there is no other word that I can say other than: THANKS BE TO GOD!

Infertility  makes everyday an Advent for me.

This situation shows me from time to time that the power of God is greater than our weakness. This “mission impossible” (ie: make me become pregnant) is teaching me to be a woman of faith in God and work my faith without any back up plan..... Yes, NO back up plan!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Defeating the Impossible

When I think of a desperate person, I think of someone on the street desperate for food or someone desperate to create a better life for them self – like a refugee leaving the dangers of their own land. But in reality, everyday people like me can feel desperate. We can be desperate for a partner, desperate for a job or like me, desperate to have a baby. I’m sure there are many desperate people in the bible but one specifically comes to my mind. It is the woman with the issue of blood. She touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and because of her faith, was immediately healed of her condition.

Mark 5:25-34. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.
Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

Just think about this woman’s plight – she was constantly bleeding for 12 years! This condition must have caused so many implications for her. She was greatly hindered in everyday life and probably wasn’t able to socialise normally. It also cost her everything she had. No wonder she was desperate. Then when Jesus came to town she thought, “If I could just touch His robe.” Wow. The amazing thing is that she was healed after many failed attempts through doctors, she was healed immediately and Jesus commended her for her faith. The woman is unnamed however she has gone done in history as someone with amazing faith and someone that overcame her 12 years of suffering through her faith in Jesus.

I can relate to this woman. I too have spent money on the  health professionals/doctors in my plight to become a mother. I too have suffered. I too have been in pain. This story encourages me in my journey through infertility because even after everything – nothing is impossible. Jesus can heal me. I hope and pray He will.

I hope this encourages you and reminds you that even though you may be feeling desperate in your personal situation, nothing is impossible through Him. He makes a way for us through the wilderness and brings forth rivers in the desert.

Luke 1:36-38, “And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”

Here's to another month of hoping ;)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Be Gentle

I have struggled with how to write this. How do I say this without sounding bitter, or desperate or angry. But it has been on my mind non-stop, and I'm feeling just fragile enough to write this and just brave enough to say it.

So, here is my story, at this point in our fertility journey....

What can I say? It's seeing your life on hold, while you watch everyone's flying by. It's wanting something so precious, but increasingly elusive. It's wanting to hold a baby in your arms. Not someone else's baby, but your baby.

It's wanting to be pregnant. To be sick. To have swollen ankles. To stay up all night, rocking a screaming newborn.

And trying, at first casually, then slightly worried, frantically, desperately, and devastatingly, numbingly.

It's trying everything, absolutely everything. It's being on prenatals, just in case. It's thinking about what you will be doing next year for Christmas, you know, when you have a baby. And then next year. And then the year after that.

It's planning how you will announce the news. For Easter we will put the good news in an Easter Egg, around Mother's Day we will give a rattle as a gift, for Halloween we will dress up as a Bun in the Oven.

It was maybe silly, but you spent hours thinking about it. And hours thinking about names. Writing them down. Trying different spellings. Realizing that it may never happen.

It's mourning the life you dreamed. It's trying to adjust to the might nots. It's protecting your increasingly delicate heart. It's sobbing every month, because you were a little late, you thought maybe this time. Month, after month, after month. It's months of trying, days of hoping.  Putting on a fake smile day after forceful to the point my mouth hurts.

It's being poked and prodded, and giving up blood, and urine. Tests that hurt, tests that are embarrassing, tests that are scary.

It's bolstering your heart, preparing for the worst, and hoping, in the tiniest place in your heart, for the best. Because if you don't, and a babe in arms isn't waiting, you know you could lose yourself.

It's being desperate to give all your love to a child. Children. It's imagining picnics, soccer games, vacations.

It's wanting to comb curly hair, or maybe straight, and wash freckly skin, or maybe clear. And sing songs about boogie monsters, and smell fresh washed hair, falling asleep with a warm body next too you.

It's being afraid to say things out loud, because you might make them true.

It's uncertainty. Deafening uncertainty. Overwhelming fear, that you put into a box. And try not to look in to.

It's lonely.

It's rejoicing in other mothers, other babies, other lives. But still not wanting to hear about the ease of others conceptions.

It's constant guilt. Guilt for those years you waited. Guilt that you went to school first. Guilt that you were 30 when you decided now was the time. Oh, how naive you were, that you thought you could control this. That you had your life planned out. You're guilty for your age, for the time you have waited between menstrual cycles. If only last December wouldn't have happened,  you would have had a baby now. Your eggs would have been one year younger. One year more awesome. It's the fact that you even talk about eggs. That's weird.

It's staying quiet when told, "Adopt, then you will get pregnant. Think positive, then you will get pregnant. Try acupuncture, then you will get pregnant. Be grateful for the children's lives you touch everyday"

It's being positive for others, because they want you to be happy, but you really just want to say,"I'm devastated. I'm heartbroken."

It's being diagnosed with anti phospholipid syndrome,  which basically means your body hates you to the point it produces cells to attack you internally, which leads to "we really can't say what will work and what wont." So it adds up to a high stakes guessing game.

It's pill after pill, maybe shot after shot.  It's bruises, in various places, your heart being one of them. It's money that you don't have, but don't regret spending, but still don't have.

It's recognizing that nobody really understands that your dreams, although not quite dead, are at breaking stage. It's a limbo between joy and sadness, happiness and pain.

It's realizing that the treatments you are now doing, are the end of the line for pregnancy. And here you are older than when you first started this, when you thought you would be done, but really you are just beginning. It's dreading the start of a new month, a new start of marking the passing days, temperature checks every morning, ovulation tests, and yes....that agonizing 2 week period of waiting & hoping Aunt Flo doesn't come this month.

It's knowing that you can put everything you have left, into this last ditch effort, all your money, all your emotions, all your walls, and recognize that you can give it everything, but that doesn't guarantee anything. Only 40%.

It's putting your faith in God. Completely. You have no other choice. You have been completely
humbled. But you recognize your way isn't God's way. And Faith is a hard road sometimes.

Be gentle. Infertility is a lonely valley, traveled by two people, clinging to each other with all their might.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Feeling infertility

When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalm 94:19

Today...I felt infertility.
Today, I felt infertility. I mean I REALLY felt it. It has been following me the past few weeks. Babies everywhere, ultrasound pics being uploaded to facebook, baby pictures being pinned on pinterest, adoptions, due dates getting close for pregnant friends, baby showers, baby bump pics, pregnancy announcements, and the final we wouldve been 3.5 weeks from our due date.  Deep down, the core of me is soo happy and over the moon for my friends and acquaintances who are in "baby land", but the right now, THIS week, THIS day, I'm...well, I'm sad...I'm infertile.  We experienced so much to conceive & our son was stillborn...yet STILL born.

Some of you who have experienced infertility and pregnancy loss know what I mean when I say I felt infertility today. Some days are better than others. I deal with it. Ignore it. Pretend it's not happening to me & didn't happen to us.  Today, I couldn't. Today I just want to cry. Which makes it worse. I wish I had a little one to snuggle with. I wish I had someone to look up at me and say.."it will be alright mommy!" Today, I just felt life passing me by.  Today I felt hopeless. Today I felt like I don't have a story. Today...I felt infertility.

I just want God to do something major in my life. I want a miracle. When will it be my turn? I have soo many things to be thankful for in my life, however I can only focus on that ONE thing I don't have...a child.  I find myself often thinking 

On my way home tonight I prayed, I prayed God would do something big, something REALLY big in my life. Maybe bring someone looking to give their baby up for adoption to me or maybe even conceive naturally...pretty BIG stuff, I know! This I KNOW is true... God loves me, He has this...He gets me. I have FAITH God will do something big. I don't think He knows how to do it any other way!

As I was ending my prayer tonight during my car ride home this song came on. "When no one else knows by building 429".  I couldn't help but smile, I knew it was a "God thing"! It was confirmation he knows! He knows when... no one else knows!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Busted Plumbing... When mother nature kicks you in the ovaries!

Fertility is a fact of life most people take for granted. Most assume that if you want to get pregnant and have children, it will be easy once you find the right partner and just decide to start trying. Indeed, most people are far more concerned about birth control and preventing pregnancy when it would be inconvenient or unwelcome for them than ever think about what it would be like to not be able to have a child when you chose to.

But for others, the dream of being able to give birth to a healthy, happy baby ends up being far out of reach and often unexpectedly and inexplicably so. Those struggling with infertility not only have to deal with the pain and grief of potentially never having children, but they also have to deal with ignorance and inconsideration from friends, loved ones and society in general.

Recently, I was at a friend's house for a party.  I was having a great time until that dreaded moment occurred when all the other girls decided to compare notes on their pregnancies.  As I watched them pull up their shirts to look at their round bellies side by side, it was hard to hold back the tears.  It didn't take much time to realize I was one of the few, if not the only woman, sitting there who wasn't expecting.  It was as if the house was on fire & I couldn't get out fast enough.

It wasn't long before that party that we found out that our last round of fertility didn't work.  We were so excited to start a period without medication in mid-July that maybe we got our hopes up too much. This was the first time in 6 months that my body did what it was supposed to naturally.  So, we tried Clomid at 50mg again since it had worked so well in the previous month.  But this time, it did not work I did not ovulate.  So..., we waited......and waited.....AND WAITED! The end of August was quickly approaching & I had not started my period.  Could I have ovulated & missed it somehow?  Was there even a tiny chance that maybe just maybe I was pregnant?  

But, it was finally confirmed after multiple home tests & one in the Dr.'s office that I was not pregnant.  To make matters worse I had a period that lasted literally one hour & I dreaded having to take promethium again.  Much to our surprise the dr considered that a periodv& gave us a prescription for Clomid at double the dose.  Would third time be a charm????

Every morning & night, I took my ovulation predictor kit & day after day it was negative.  Last Mon I was supposed to go to a 2 hour seminar I had signed up for yet that that morning I had Thais distinct feeling not to go.  Man was I glad I stayed home:  our ovulation was POSITIVE! That same day we were able to get into the dr to do an IUI.

We will see what the next few weeks brings but never lose hope for "When the world says 'give up,' hope whispers 'try one more time.'" Unknown

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Empty arms carrying a heavy burden

So after my surgery in May, I was prescribed clomid to regulate and ensure ovulation, and told I would have to be monitored by the doctor each month.  June 1st we began a fertility cycle at full force.  As discussed in previous blogs, we were able to have a successful period after prometrium and started Clomid. 

When it was confirmed that I ovulated on Day 17, we excitedly called the Dr. to see if we could come in to do the IUI.   Our hopes got even higher when we were able to correlate our work schedules and went in to the Dr's  office to have the IUIs (intrauterine insemination) performed the following day. This is a fertility treatment where the man's sperm is placed past the woman's cervix, where it doesn't have to travel very far, at just the right time.  Often, I jokingly  describe it as the turkey baster method. So all that has to happen is fertilization and implantation.  Seems easy enough right???

After 30 days of Dr visits, medications, temperature checks, daily ovulation checks, & procedures, the time had come for us to test for pregnancy. I took a deep and went in to the restroom praying, "Lord, I know your timing is perfect, and I'm ok with not being pregnant right now, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, give me the strength to see the test say I'm not. I know you provided a baby for Abraham and Sarah and I know you will for us…IN YOUR TIMING, and again I'm ok with that now….just please give me the strength not to burst in to tears when I here another, no."  We waited for 5 LONG minutes....NEGATIVE!!!  I instantly burst into tears.  I felt as if I had lost something yet I never had anything to loose.
After prometrium & clomid & a IUI round....still no pregnancy.  We called the doctor the next morning with the results from our home pregnancy.  He instructed us to wait 2 more weeks to see if my body would "jumpstart" a period without medication.  If not, retest for pregnancy at the end of the 2 week waiting period.  Call him with either result.  Again, we became hopeful....maybe my HCG levels are just too low and not registering for pregnancy yet.  We can handle that!  Sadly, the next morning I began cramping and later that day I started my period.  I had to fight hard not to let the tears the fall from my eyes.  It was confirmed...we were definately NOT pregnant.  Time to make that dreaded call to the Dr. & set up another appointment to start another round of fertility :(    

At this point we are getting frustrated, and we're feeling the financial and emotional strain of the treatments.  Although, we are taking baby steps toward BABY STEPS since my body had started it's own period for the first time in 7 months, it feels like we are walking in place and getting   Day after day, my empty arms are carrying a heavy burden.
I am constantly aware of the fact that our baby isn’t here with us yet.  Month after month, treatment after treatment, we came home with empty arms and the burden of those empty arms is a heavy one. 
Nobody can feel the load we carry any more than they can see the wind blow.  But the pain we feel and the emptiness that is left in our hearts after a failed fertility cycle is real and we are always aware of it.  We are also aware that we are not the people we once were, even though it may seem so from the outside.
To everybody else, it seems that our lives goes on.  That is the hardest part for us.  Our arms are empty, but our hands are busy.  Very busy.  There are still the regular, daily needs that have to be attended to.  Since our hands are busy it appears that life is continuing on as normal.  But it’s not.  We have an "invisible" disability called infertility......Struggling in silence. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Living on a Bridge

I don't like traffic.  Nothing feels more like a waste of time than just sitting gridlocked, especially when you have somewhere to be.  What's worse is traffic that is log jammed on a suspension bridge because there are no detours. You can't really turn to the right or the left because water is no shortcut!

Infertility is a lot like living on a bridge, suspended between two worlds.  The land side is a season of having children and experiencing the joy of being parents.  The other side is a season of being married without kids.

My husband and I are on that bridge right now.  I find that sometimes I have to escape mentality; I want to get off of the bridge.  Not jumping off mind you, but driving off!

My husband does fine living on the bridge- most of the time. Me?  I'm still working on it.

Do not get me wrong. It is fine to be in that in-between season for a while. You can work more, save more, and remodel your house.  In short, you can do things that people with children cannot easily do.

Yet, on the flip side, there is this undercurrent of pressure that regularly surfaces.  There is this sense of urgency to move along and get into the next season. There is even an uneasy feeling of competitiveness in knowing that, if something doesn't happen soon, we will be the last ones joining the "Parent's Club". It's a ridiculous feeling, I know, but sometimes even ridiculous feelings are real.

The past 30 days have seemed like 30 years at times.  We suffered what seemed like some pretty unbearable side effects from the 10 days of Prometrium.  However, the end result having having a period was well worth it.  We were fortunate enough not to experience any adverse side effects from the Clomid.  It was the days following, while awaiting for a positive ovulation test, that we began to learn that we are truly on God's time.  Day after day, morning after morning, we got a negative ovulation result.  On day 17, I wanted to give up.  I was positive that the medications had not worked; however, something inside me told me to take one more test.  Finally, it was positive!!!  It's amazing how the small blessings can seem as big as a mountain.   The following day we went to the Doctor and he did the IUI (interuterine insemination).  It was somewhat uncomfortable but having my husband at my side lovingly holding my hand may all the more bearable.  In 2 weeks we will take a pregnancy test.  And now, the waiting game begins........ again.

Yes, sometimes it gets lonely out here on the bridge, and sometimes it gets crowded with others who are there for similar  reasons-but they don't tend to stay for long.  And when you are there for a while, it feels like there is no one else on the bridge with you.  And yet, I know that living on the bridge is a transient experience.  I can never truly feel completely settled here.  This is a place of thoroughfare, not a destination.  You never really feel at home in an airport, do you?  Airports are not a place where you put down roots---and neither is bridge.  They are for passing through on your way to somewhere else.

While living on the bridge, this is what I do to stay strong:  I go to the basics of my faith.  I have to learn (sometimes daily) to trust rest in HIS in faithfulness and retain my stand in faith.  It can be a tightrope walk.  To stay expecting, yet be at peace, is never easy.  This posture of expect rest is like a warrior sitting down while wearing his sword.  His weapon is at the ready should he need it, but he is not always actively engaging the enemy.  Sometimes he needs to be at ease.

I have learned that it is time to shift our focus back to the Author and the Finisher of our faith---to let HIM lead us through this journey.

For now, my husband and I are both still living on the bridge.

But we are on a journey of faith-----together.