Tuesday, May 21, 2013

An Outpouring of Love

Keeping with the discussion of love...

I received an amazingly sweet surprise this past Saturday. My best friend texted me asking if she could come by because she had something "she'd been working on"... okay, sure. Not thinking too much of it... she couldn't have been up to TOO much, I thought, because not only does she have two beautiful children AND a full time job, the previous weekend she had graduated college. I was beyond proud of her for this huge accomplishment that I know she has worked incredibly hard for. I am amazed at the woman she is... she does so much... I like to think of her sometimes as super mom as she texts me to check on me in between playing with her daughter, nursing her son, cooking a gluten-free meal for her hubby and writing another 10 page paper... lol. I wasn't surprised when she said she could only stay a few minutes.

I WAS surprised by what she had in her arms when I answered the door. It was a gift... she had been working for a couple of weeks putting it together. She had conspired with our friends and part of my family to put it all together.

This basket is filled with little gifts...things for relaxation, the angel of friendship from the collection I love and letters for each big process of our rapidly upcoming IVF cycle. It is SO HARD not to break into those letters. It even has drawings for my friends' children... that I also cannot look at until a certain day. I was in complete awe. I don't know where she found the time to do any of this... and words cannot express my gratitude for this outpouring of love. But that's what best friends are for right? You pour out to each other... I know that probably lately I have been a "needy" friend... but we all become the needy friend at some point. When your friends are down you do what you can to lift them up... and this? This was beyond anything I ever expected. My heart overflows to my dear dear friend as I look at the basket over and over.  So much love contained here. It encouraged me at a time when I was beginning to feel anxious and slightly scared.

Between my parents... and my best friend... and comments I have received about both things... I got to thinking...

You see these outpourings of love for my little family here? If you think that is amazing... think about this: if our Earthly love can pour out so much emotion... if these gestures say so much about the people we are and the people we care about... How much MORE is the love of our Heavenly Father for us?

As humans, our ways of living and loving are inherently flawed. There will always be a point when we are selfish or careless or mean or aggravated and take it all out on the people we care about most, just because they are in the line of fire... but not our Father. No matter how much we try to love someone unconditionally, we fail. Time and time again we fall short. But not our Heavenly Father.

How much do you love your friends? family? pets? spouse? children??? What would you do for them? Would you give them your all? your money? your home? your LIFE?? Would you give your children's lives??? Our Heavenly Father gave His. THAT is how much he loves you... and me... and everyone. No matter how flawed we are. No matter how many times we fall short. GOD still gave His SON for us.

The story is told clearly in the Bible. You can never forget the verse... John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." He gave him up freely... Jesus gave himself to die on the cross... all for our salvation. He took our punishment... he took our sin. He took these things and replaced them with his blood... to bring us everlasting life. An eternity spent with Him.

Trying to wrap my mind around the vastness of the Lord's love leaves me breathless. It's amazing! There is NOTHING we can EVER do to mess that up! Even better!!

Take this verse... Romans 8-
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

No matter what you are going through in your life, God loves you. When you feel alone, God is there. When you are sad, God is catching your tears. So reach out to him. His love is unending. His love is always within reach. Accepting this love is your choice, but it is free to you to receive. And by His grace you are saved (Ephesians 2:5). There will always be struggle. There will always be turmoil in the world. But you are always loved.


And to my dear best friend... Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. I still don't have the proper words to tell you how much this meant to me. You are a true expression of 1 John 4: 7-8
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.


.... So many days recently I have felt loved beyond comprehension. I hope you all, my dear readers, feel the love as well.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

If Something Seems Too Good To Be True...

It probably is.

Cliché right? Yeah, I know you've heard it a million times. It holds steady because it's usually true. Well, at least it seems to be true more often than not. So what do you do when things fall through?

For instance, if you were told that you would be receiving financial assistance for... oh I don't know... let's say an important medical procedure that was coming up... and then the group who offered the assistance backed out... what do you do?

Well first... if it was us... let's say we'd be pretty mad... and then I would cry (big shocker there right?!)

We found ourselves in this predicament last week. I wasn't ready to post about it because I knew I would only be posting out of hurt and anger and would end up badmouthing someone... which is wrong. So I haven't posted in a while.

So there we were... short on funds. With the deadline to pay fast approaching.

One thing that still rings true... God will never lead you down a path without providing for you along the way. Even when it feels like things are falling apart... there will always be someone there to help you along... help bear the burden.

Now, had we known that we were going to fund this all on our own, we would've scrimped and saved even more than we already were... we would have used all our tax return to project baby instead of paying off some things that could have waited... but saying we would've done things differently is counterproductive. We could spend our entire lives talking about what ifs and what could have been done and what might have been.

Our blessing this time came in another form. Our blessing would not come in the form of work assistance. It would come in the form of two people... whose love brought me into this world. Two people who I know would give anything for us not to have to be dealing with such problems. Two people that would give of themselves as much as they possibly could to benefit their own children. My amazing parents.

I would be lying if I said they have never offered assistance to us before... in more ways than I can count.

There were many things about my parents marriage that I didn't understand until I found myself married facing the problems of this world. They have taught me so much about life, love and most of all strength and resilience. No matter how much adversity they faced being married with children at such a young age, they worked their way to success... and never expected any less from my brother and myself. I see them differently now... I see how their struggle and love over the years formed us into people unlike many people that I know. I see how they have grown, as individuals, as Christians and as a couple. They learned as they went along... and taught us everything they learned "the hard way" so that it might be easier for us. More times than not, we still felt the need to learn things the hard way (I often blame my stubborn nature on them... that I got it honestly... ha ha) I feel so fortunate to have them in my life and it saddens me to know all of the many times I took them for granted or became hurt or angry with them when they acted in ways I could not understand. I guess that can be said of many children once they become adults to have such thoughts as these.

My greatest wish is that I will love and provide for my children as they have provided for us, even when they had very little to give. My parents were not perfect. I know that there are many things they would do differently if given the chance. I know this because they have told me this... but given the chance, I would never trade them for anyone in the world. I know without any shadow of a doubt how much they love my brother and me. I know because they show it... they tell me. They've told me more in the last two years than ever in my life... or maybe I just have the ears to hear it now, and as a child I couldn't hear it in the same way. Maybe I feel it more now because I know the love that a parent can have for a child, even a child that is not on this earth... even for a child that has yet come to be... I know that they are vulnerable at times... and they're open to me... they don't have to protect me from all the bad things of the world. Love and honesty go hand in hand. They can't protect me from the bad things we are living through. They can't just "make it better". They can't kiss the "boo-boos" and make the pain go away. I felt their pain as they felt helpless when we lost our first child. I knew they wanted to fix it, but couldn't. I know how hard it was for them to juggle the pain and sadness they felt for me and the joy and happiness they felt for my brother at the same time with his first child that was on the way. I know how they wish they could change our current circumstances.

All they can do is love and support us... and that changes our world. Knowing they are there. They have always been there. And as long as they are able they will always be there for us... supporting us and loving us however they possibly can.

For that, I am eternally grateful.

After all that has happened... all that we have been through... I look into their eyes and see something I was never able to see before... just how much love they have to give and how my pain is their pain... and how, no matter how much trouble my brother and I have been over the years, they too, would not trade us for anyone or anything.

I will leave you with this quote that I feel perfectly sums up how much we take our parents for granted in our younger years... and makes me giggle.

Say a special prayer of thanksgiving for your parents today... and be sure they know how much you love and appreciate them.

I love you Mom and Dad. So very very much.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mystery Diagnosis: Infertility Edition

There are two types of shows on television that I could watch all day and never tire of... cooking competition shows and medical mystery shows. No secret I'm a Grey's Anatomy fan... medical mystery and drama? Who wouldn't love that? Now on a different show... you get the same drama and medical intrigue (minus the relationship drama) in a real life setting. Mystery Diagnosis. It always features a "victim" who has some medical dilemma. In their process they are diagnosed and treated over and over again until randomly some doctor finally finds the root of the problem and FINALLY they get the treatment they needed from the very beginning... finally they get relief. 

Mystery diagnosis... Infertility edition.

You've read the story so far... first it's this... then it's that... then it's all signs point to this so let's treat it!! But has the treatment worked? Well since we have yet to conceive... you can figure that. 

So after several different tests... more lab work than I could ever dream and even more diagnostic imaging. We have a diagnosis.

Is it a progesterone deficiency? Nope. Is it anovulation? Not quite. Is it mental instability? At this point, yeah probably some of that going on. Lol. 

Ladies and gentlemen... our diagnosis? Poor ovarian reserve. 

Not super common for someone my age. Normally when you do an antral follicle count (an ultrasound where they literally count the number of follicles you have in each ovary on day 3 of your cycle) in someone my age, you would see 15-20 follicles... in each ovary. I had 5 on the left and 7 on the right. I have the ovaries of someone much older than myself. This "low reserve" was further confirmed with a lab test. I have low AMH (anti-mullerian hormone). This hormone is produced by the microscopic follicles in your ovaries, and therefore reflect the size of your remaining egg supply. Normally this decline doesn't occur until age 35 or so in a normal female. 

So why haven't we ever heard anything even mentioned about this being a possibility until now? Well. Normal gynecologists (even if they are "treating" you for infertility do not do this testing). They tested my progesterone on day 21 of every cycle. Always low. I couldn't get pregnant... so for everything they were doing... all signs pointed to "progesterone deficiency and anovulation". But that was never the problem at all.

After watching my cycle very closely. I am ovulating. This is occurring early on in my cycle, which makes my luteal phase (the phase after ovulation) normal length. No luteal phase defect. So why, if I'm ovulating couldn't I get pregnant? Even though I am releasing an egg every month, the egg is releasing early. This egg doesn't have the normal time to mature... so it is not viable for pregnancy... can't be fertilized or something along those lines. 

I wish there was some magic pill to pump up this number. Women are born with all of the eggs they will ever have in their lifetime. So... the longer we've tried getting pregnant... the longer we wait... the less eggs we will have. And in my case, sooner rather than later there won't be any good ones left. Our doctor is somewhat concerned about the quality of eggs we will be able to attain, but that cannot be determined until our eggs are harvested and he can actually look at them. One step at a time...

So what's next, you ask?

IVF!! We get to start immediately (finally some good news)! Well as soon as I start my next cycle, that is. The sooner we start... the better, as far as my eggs are concerned. 

I know it has taken a while for me to post this. Honestly I just had to have time to deal with it all. This was not fun news to hear. I mean what 28 year old wants to be told this?! No woman ever wants to hear this, but especially no woman who should be in her "fertile" years. 

First I was excited to have a plan. Then I was depressed when I processed all this new news. Then I was irritated of all of the "missed" diagnoses... then I came to terms with it. I have spent many hours in prayer... except this time it wasn't so much asking "why?" as usual... it was more asking for strength and wisdom to deal with this... as well as for direction.

I truly believe that if we were not supposed to do in vitro, everything would not have been provided to us as it has. I feel like I am in good hands. (Divinely and medically). We have lots of support. (Thank you all for that). 

Now all we can do is keep the faith... and pray. Pray without ceasing. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Carrying the Grave

I know it's been a while since I posted... I have had several appointments and tests since our previous update to you guys. I will get to that in a few days, after we work out some details.

Our first child would have been 1 year old this past month. That got me thinking (crying and thinking of course). A big problem with miscarriage is that you never really get to grieve properly. Part of the grieving process of losing a loved one is marked by a funeral. People come to pay their respects... they send flowers... they attend the burial, which brings me to this problem... the grave. When you lose a loved one you have a grave to visit on such milestones. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Etc. But when you lose a child before a certain time, there is no "body" to bury. Sure, there was a body... but that body was then declared "tissue" and passed (to the outside world) without much of a second thought. You never get a funeral... You never get a burial... You try to grieve the best you can without these final traditions.

So what about the grave?


Yes there is a grave. I carry it with me. I carry it in my heart. I visit it often. It reminds me of the poem by E. E. Cummings:

I carry your heart with me
I carry it in my heart
I am never without it
I used to fear this grave. Thinking about it used to upset me. Now it is my safe place. A place I can visit in my heart and mind to acknowledge that I am a parent. I became a parent the day our first child was conceived. Although, to the people who don't know me I appear to be childless. I am and always will be a mother.
On that day, April 20th, I woke up in an awful mood... not wanting to face the day. I was difficult to deal with. I was angry, so of course I took it out on  my spouse. Let's face it, that is hard not to do. It didn't last long... of course he called me out on it. I cried. I told him how I felt and why. And I felt better. I wouldn't call it a fight, it could have been a fight but he wouldn't participate. Which right now makes me laugh, at the time it was infuriating. Then we decided to make that bad day a great one.
We spent every moment together. We worked in the flower beds... oh how I love my flowers... We bought lots of beautiful plants... we enjoyed each other's company. It was a wonderful domestic beautiful day. My sweet husband once again reminded me that I am never in this alone. We are a team. Always. No matter what. Our loss is a burden I will never have to bear alone. Our infertility is no different. This battle, I never have to fight alone.
We also decided to honor the day. We bought a birthday balloon and each wrote to our little angel a birthday message on it. We released it together. This small gesture meant the world to me. We watched it until we couldn't see it anymore. I felt better. I felt SO much better. I just wanted to do something to acknowledge the day. In the pictures you will see a little rainbow. A rainbow on this perfectly sunny beautiful spring day. It felt like a sign... everything was okay. Our angel is happy. Of course he's happy, he's in Heaven with our Lord and Savior! What could be better than that? ... and we finally have a plan to hopefully be parents to a rainbow baby here on earth.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted