Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm sorry

I'm sorry. I'm sorry to my close friends who have faced disappointment during the last few weeks. I had a friend miscarry. I had another friend have a failed IVF. I have another friend who is dealing with a costly and frustrating infertility cycle. I have another friend who had stopped all infertility treatments after another failed IVF. And those are just a few. There are so many more.

I am so blessed by these women who have entrusted their journeys to me. Thank you for allowing you to travel along with you. I know you feel that I am helping you, but I cannot begin to tell you how much meaning it has given to my five years of infertility and the incredible pain that it brought with it. I have feel that it has purpose. Thank you for that.

Please pray for those around you hurting right now. This time of year can be especially difficult on couples yearning for children. On those waiting for that perfect someone. On those grieving the loss of someone they love. Please remember them during the next few weeks. Pray for them. And love them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Today is the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Thank you to those of you who remembered our eleven "sticky babies" by sending me an email of encouragement. We still have seven more little ones waiting for a chance at life that we pray we will get to meet on this earth.

Even more so, I want to remember those of you who have lost children to miscarriage, stillborn, or death after birth. I know the pain lessens slightly but never goes away. My prayers and encouragement are offered today.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Julie & Julia

Great thing about seeing a cooking movie? Your husband comes home, inspired. He's making something for dinner that smells absolutely glorious. I have no idea what it is, but I know I am going to love it.

Julie & Julia was a fantastic movie. One of the best movies I have seen in recent memory. I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Fairly family friendly but probably more of adult interest. It was especially fun to watch as a tall woman. Julia Child was a very tall woman in her era and it was a fun part of the movie. I could feel her attempt to meld into a life she always felt too big for.

It was also a movie which dealt with infertility. I had no idea that would be the case. I had no idea that Julia Child was childless.

The inclusion was slight. A second glance when a woman walked by pushing a stroller. A letter from a pregnant family member. Whoever wrote those scenes must have dealt with infertility. They were incredibly well done. A perfect representation of scenes that played themselves out in my own marriage, in our home, many times during our five year journey. I could feel her pain so vividly. Both JB and I could.

To my friends struggling with infertility, my personal opinion is that while the scenes will cause you to tear up, this is a movie that will not hurt you emotionally. I think it will provide you encouragement as to the happiness that can exist in marriage despite the heartache that can accompany it. I think it will encourage you to see Hollywood so accurately represent an infertile woman's pain. They really got it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

If you have a moment ...

. . . pop over to Becky's blog. Today would have been the due date of their little Johannah who went home to Jesus way too early. My heart aches for John & Becky today, and I'm sure she'd love to hear that people everywhere are praying for them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Please pray for my friends

I have three different friends who are on my mind today. They know who they are. They are all struggling with totally different aspects of the infertility journey: medical complications, early desires for children, considering moving to adoption . . .

All of these have such emotional baggage attached to them. All of them hurt so badly. All of them are things I so want to fix but have no power over. I know prayer works. But when all I can do is pray, sometimes I am left feeling so helpless. I want to fix it. I don't want them to hurt like I did for five years. I feel guilty that I have two boys. Why do I have two boys and they have none? Why can't the world just be fair?

If you think of it, please say a prayer for my three friends today. I won't share their names, but trust me in that they covet your prayers immensely. Pray for peace. Pray for direction. Pray for strength. Pray for wisdom. Pray for guidance. Pray for comfort. And pray that the Lord gives them the desire of their heart: a child to join their loving family.

If you could stop, right now, while you are reading this, and spend thirty seconds in prayer for these three women and the many other women reading this blog who are with them on this difficult journey, I would greatly appreciate it. I am realizing that my heart will never be far away from this topic. It is so close to my soul and I feel it so deeply despite the fact that my journey is not nearly as intense as it once was.

Thanks everyone.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Embryos and transfers

I had gotten a question my blog a few weeks back from June who was preparing to go back in for another IVF. She asked me how to emotionally prepare for the return for more embryos.

This is tricky since I only know about IVF preparation without having a child. I really wonder how I will feel when we go back for our seven embryos now that I have my two boys. I definitely know that it will be less stressful and less emotionally difficult for me after already having my two boys. But how much easier? Will the shots and appointments and procedures and two week wait be considerably easier or still an emotional roller coaster? I cannot answer this. Stay tuned to this blog to find out as we have a minimum of two embryo transfers remaining.

Speaking of returning, I often get a question regarding when we plan to return for our embryos. I can only tell you what our current plan is, and as always, these plans are subject to change. Currently, we are really hoping that next summer we will be sent overseas to fulfill JB's four years of payback to the Air Force. If we are overseas, we are planning to wait until after JB does his payback before returning for the embryos. If we are in the states, we will reevaluate when we go back as it will be much easier for me to travel to have the procedures done than it would be if we were overseas. We currently think that we will wait at least two years and as many as four from the time that we get our new station assignment. (This is called PCS-ing . . . permanent change of station.)

As for the number of transfers we will have to do, I am not really sure. Originally we thought that we would do a transfer of 3 embryos. If that worked, then we would do another with 2, and then another with 2. If that didn't work, we were pretty confident that Mayo would allow us to do a transfer with 4 since 3 of our embryos are of very poor quality. (The other 4 are of fairly good quality.) However, now that I have had a successful pregnancy (something we were not sure was possible) we are not sure if they will let us do a 3. This may mean a 2, 2, 2 and 1 or a 2, 2, and 3. We will have to wait to see what the doctors at Mayo say. Mayo is extremely conservative with their embryos and will not allow us to do more than either they or us feel comfortable with.

Currently our embryos are our number one priority. We will return for them before we ever contemplate any children through adoption or even biologically aside from IVF (we aren't sure, for the record, that we are even capable of conceiving again without treatment as we did with Elijah. We do not know if this was a once-in-a-lifetime miracle or if it could work more regularly now that my body has been "jump started.") Once we have given all seven of our "sticky babies" a chance at life, we will discuss whether we would adopt again or attempt to conceive on our own. However, what we do know is that because I will have to have c-sections for any remaining children we may possibly have, I can't have an unlimited number of these. The pregnancies I do have remaining (if any) must be reserved for our embryos. They are life, and we are wholeheartedly committed to them.

We feel total peace with whatever the Lord has for our family. If that is just these two boys, fantastic. If it is all seven of our embryos working, great. If it is adopting many other children, awesome. If it is biological children aside from IVF, cool. We are going to let Him lead.

But that is off the topic a bit. Back to preparing for IVF. All I can offer, right now, is advice on how I handled IVF. These are my tips for anyone going in for infertility treatments. I realize that this is a short list. Can you guys help me add to it?
  • Seek support online from a good online support group like Hannah's Prayer.
  • Seek support from an "in-person" support group if available.
  • Seek support from a counselor or psychiatrist.
  • Seek support from family and friends. My personal advice is to let them in on what you are doing.
  • Attempt to find a form of stress relief for the two weeks proceeding, during, and following your treatment. This would include massages, acupuncture, spa treatment, etc.
  • During the two week wait, plan something "fun" to do with your spouse or a friend each day. This gives you something to look forward to. Spa treatments, movies, dinners out, anything that you can look forward to.
  • Don't have too much down time. Keep yourself busy. Idle time will drive you batty.
  • Avoid taking too many HPTs (home pregnancy tests.) (Like I followed this advice! Ha!)
I'm not sure any of these suggestions can truly prepare or help during the emotional roller coaster that individuals go through when they are involved in an IVF transfer and a two week wait, but they are what helped me not totally lose my mind.
Does anyone else have any suggestions that worked for them during their harvests, transfers, and subsequent 2ww? I'd love to add to this list?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lullaby follow-up

Thank you to everyone for the great comments and discussion regarding yesterday's post on lullabies being played at the hospital. I especially thank those of you who shared some very personal recollections of their own losses.

A few follow-up comments.

As far as the hospital's motivation, JB had a talk with the colonel in charge of instituting the new policy back when he first heard about this in '07. I can assure you that her intentions were very pure. She thought it would make the hospital happier, more upbeat, focus on the good things that were occurring there -- that sort of thing. I have no doubt that her intentions were good ones. She respected JB's opinion to the contrary but definitely believed that the lullabies would serve the greater good. My post does not second guess her intentions whatsoever. I don't think anyone is intending to hurt anyone here.

Secondly, as I read all the comments, I think I realized what this issue is really all about. It's about location. The issue really boils down to where you celebrate. It would be completely inappropriate to celebrate a wedding at a funeral. It would be considered poor sportsmanship for a winning team to go and celebrate at the losing team's school.

It isn't that those who have a baby should feel guilty or fail to celebrate. By all means, celebrate like crazy! However, it would not be appropriate to celebrate the birth of a baby at an infertility meeting. It would not be appropriate to celebrate the birth of a baby at the funeral of one who had just passed away. I think that is what this all really boils down to. Location and appropriateness of the celebration. A hospital is a place where there is a lot of sadness. Some may argue (and most likely this is what hospital staff were thinking) that the lullabies would lighten the mood in the hospital. Opponents would argue that they hurt those that are already hurting.

Life is beautiful. I do not think you will talk to one gal struggling with infertility who would say that baby showers should be eliminated. They think baby showers and birthday parties and baby dedications are amazing events. Their sadness is that they don't get to participate in those events themselves, not that those events should not occur. I think that is a very important point to understand. People who are celebrating should in NO WAY not feel that they can celebrate. They should not feel guilty for celebrating. They should celebrate the amazing gift of life. But doing so in the correct venue is very important.

I liked my friend Ebby's post last year regarding the lullabies. She didn't like them when she was in the hospital because they woke her up! That's reason enough to get rid of them.

Thank you for the polite and insightful comments regarding this topic. I do not fault anyone who disagrees with me on this topic. It's a touchy one. But since it is my blog, I do get the last word! Ha! Maybe I need to communicate with my husband via blog.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lullaby update

It was back in September of 2007, nearly two years ago, that I wrote a post about lullabies played in the hospital. JB had gotten wind that Eglin was thinking of implementing the "lullaby after baby is born" policy in their hospital. He was adamantly against its inclusion in his place of employment.

Back then, things were different for us. We had just faced IVF negative #4. We had gotten on China's adoption list. We had accepted the fact that biological children were probably something we would never have.

Fast forward to today. May 2009. A lot has changed. We have two boys. One from my body. One from Bri's.

And yet I am still, adamantly, against those darned lullabies.

Yesterday we went up to the hospital for Isaac to get his 12-month shots. As Daryl Hannah (... okay, so she's not really Daryl Hannah, but I think she looks like Daryl, so we call her that every time we go in ... not to her face of course ... although I don't think being called Daryl Hannah is offensive, is it?) ... Anyways ... as Daryl Hannah was putting my information in the computer, I heard it.

A lullaby.

Let me preface this post by saying that I totally respect those of you who don't agree with me. We had a great "comment discussion" about this back in September. I respect those of you who think the lullaby is a nice inclusion in a hospital.

I, however, am not one of them.

So back to my story. Daryl typing. Lullaby plays. I scrunch my nose. Daryl looks up from computer and smiles.

"What was that?" I asked even though I already knew.

"A lullaby," she said. "It means a baby has been born in the hospital."

"Are they playing those now?" I asked. "Every time a baby is born?"

"Yep. Isn't it great?"

I thought about nodding and smiling, but I just couldn't do it. I had to be honest.

"I don't really think so," I said.

Daryl looked visibly shocked.

"I don't know," I began. "I mean, it's wonderful that a baby has been born, but at the same time their room is celebrating, there are other women in the hospital who just got difficult news."

I listed all the possibilities. Finding out you had a miscarriage. Having a doctor tell you that your full-term baby has passed away (something JB had to do recently). Being told that you'll never have children. Getting a negative pregnancy test -- again. Being told your own child has passed away or has a terminal illness and might die.

"What about all those women?" I asked Daryl. "How would they feel?"

Daryl nodded and said she understood my point. "But if I couldn't have kids," she started, "I would just adopt."

I knew enough from past conversations with Daryl that this wasn't the case. She had told me tons about her own children and even made the comment that sneezing made her pregnant. And she had pictures on the wall behind her to prove how true that was.

I again contemplated keeping my mouth shut. But I went on. "He's adopted," I said, rubbing the top of Isaac's head. "I love him like crazy. And Elijah," I said, nodding my head toward the waiting room where he and JB were waiting, "Is an incredible blessing. But I spent five years trying to have kids. I can't imagine how painful it would have been for me to listen to a lullaby play 2, 3, 4 times a day."

Daryl was kind even though I could tell she thought I had jumped way overboard on the topic. I didn't care. I was hurting so badly inside. I was thinking of all my friends who are still waiting on children. I was thinking of people JB works with who come to that hospital every single day. And every single day they would be reminded that someone else just got what they dream of having. I was thinking of our friends who just moved and how glad I was that they moved before they had to hear this.

I walked out of the shot room with a screaming Isaac, and as JB scooped him into his arms he looked at me and said, "Did you hear the lullaby?"

The look on my face told him I had.

"I'm writing a letter," he said. "To someone." It wouldn't do any good I told him, but he didn't care.

We talked all the way out to the van. All the way back to our house. We both acknowledged that it wasn't just those people still waiting that we hurt for. The lullaby reminded us, somehow, of those years of pain. Those years that that song would have been a painful reminder. JB said it would have been so hard for him to hear that at work everyday, even as the guy, while I waited at home, with empty arms.

To those of you still waiting, I am sorry for any pain reminders bring you. To those of you who disagree with me, I totally respect that.

However, I just had to write this. I just had to say something about it to someone.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.

It's strange that this holiday -- a holiday that I have wanted for so long to celebrate -- is now a holiday that I celebrate cautiously, tenderly, with a strange combination of contentment for myself and pain for others in my heart.

I celebrate this way because I know what it is like for this holiday to hurt. And, in a strange way, it is a holiday that still hurts.

I could list ten names, twenty, maybe thirty. Women who will not go to church tomorrow. The flowers on the blouses and the acknowledgment by standing during service of moms will be too painful for them to watch and partake in.

For four years, we skipped church on the Sunday. We found solace in our canoe trips. Miles away from families and flowers and pain. We'd pack a lunch and go off jut the two of us. They were quiet days. We both knew why we were canoeing. But we didn't talk about. We talked about the birds and the fish and the beautiful Minnesota weather that had finally fallen upon us.

My own mother understood that while I tried to celebrate her, my own pain was so great, it was difficult to acknowledge that this day even existed. It was selfish of me. But it was something I couldn't escape from.

For some, the day will be doubly hard. Many churches use the occasion to celebrate new life. with baby dedications. As one of my friends said once, "Stab me twice. Mother's Day and Baby Dedication Sunday all wrapped up into one." The two hardest things to participate in at church celebrated on one day.

So many weeks I'd leave church, holding back my tears, only to sit down in the passenger seat in the car and find myself flooded by everything I had held inside.

Instead of skipping church, many women will brave it. They will sit through church. And they will fight that lump in their throat the entire time. They will look back over the last year, two, five, ten of their lives. They will recount their journey. They will watch mothers sitting with their children. They will wish that they were among them. They will try to be happy for others. They will go to lunch with their own mom. But it will hurt. Later that night, they'll crawl into bed and finally give themselves permission to grieve what they do not have.

They will probably feel guilty, as I did. Guilty that I was unable to even celebrate my own mother in the way she deserved to be celebrated on that day because my hurt was so great. That one day was a culmination of everything I wanted and everything I did not have.

It isn't just infertile women I think of on Mother's Day. It's single gals who wish they were married. Wish they had children. It's children who have recently lost their mother. It's someone who just lost a child or had a miscarriage. It's a range of individuals.

Don't get me wrong. We can't go through life avoiding celebrating. Each holiday brings someone pain, for some reason or another. Mother's Day was created for all the right reasons. And mothers everywhere deserve to have at least one day a year that they are reminded they are doing a good job.

Last year on Mother's Day I was in a mini-van, driving back from Fort Lauderdale with our two day old Isaac in the car. I came home to flowers and decorations from my dear wifia gals -- celebrating with me the child we had waited for for so long. It was Mother's Day. And I was a mom. At long last.

This year on Mother's Day my husband is in Texas. However, he left a present for me. Hidden. He said I had to have Isaac show me where it is. Isaac doesn't seem so willing to share the location. I may have to ask JB to give me a few hints.

I feel amazingly blessed that I am a mother. I am so amazingly thankful. And yet I also, still, have such a heavy heart for those men and women who will be sad tomorrow. Those individuals who will be grieving the loss of a loved one. The loss of a dream. The loss of a child.

My online friend Stacy has travelled the same road as me. Her road was not plagued by IVFs that did not work. Her's were even harder. Two miscarriages. Then adoption. And now, a little girl, poised to make her debut very soon. She wrote a piece for her church bulletin about just this topic. She writes:

Today, Mother’s Day 2009, I could celebrate that my future will hold children just 11 months apart. I could celebrate that my battle with infertility has come to an end. But instead, today I choose to celebrate that God restored my soul…before he restored my circumstances. I celebrate that he healed my heart. I celebrate freedom from the bondage of bitterness. I celebrate the blessing of waiting on the Lord.

I pray that I am able to do the same tomorrow. I pray that we are all able to remember those individuals sitting next to us, in front of us, behind us in church who are sitting in pain. For those couple at the booth behind you at the restaurant who have no children. For your friend who lost her mother. For you neighbor who was recently divorced and is grieving her loss of a husband and the loss of future children.

I ask all of you remember those individuals. Even if you choose not to address it publicly with them, please pray for them tomorrow. To those of you reading this post who are still dreaming of children, I will be praying for you tomorrow.

You know who you are. I don't need to say your names.

The entire day. I will be praying. I will be praying that the Lord gives you peace. I will be praying that the Lord gives your heart rest.

I will be praying that the Lord gives you the deepest desires of your heart.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How comforters are created

Sunday evening, Becky joined our family and Joan for dinner. As dinner concluded, the three of us gals found ourselves sitting around the dinner table talking about infertility and pregnancy loss. Both Joan, Becky, and I have each travelled (and are travelling) a lengthy and hard road to parenthood. It was wonderful to be able to talk with two kindred spirits about a topic so close to my heart.

Joan had shared a devotional passage with me from one of Charles Stanley's publications early on in her visit to Eglin. I have found many scriptures that have brought me comfort in the course of our journey to parenthood, but I don't remember ever having read this scripture:

2 Cor 1:3-4 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

How have I missed these verses for all these years?!

I can vividly remember walking out of a public restroom stall during an especially painful time of our infertility journey. I don't remember exactly where I was or exactly which bad news we had just received. But I do remember shutting that bathroom stall door, putting my face in my hands, and sobbing. I remember telling the Lord, "That's it! That's enough pain! I now feel like I have experienced enough pain to understand it and provide understanding to others."

Looking back, I can now see that I didn't possibly have enough understanding to relate to the plight of others on this journey. God needed me to have more. He needed me to really go into the valley so that I could truly understand the hurt people feel when they are there. Being in the valley is horrible. It hurts so badly. But he needed me to be there so I could understand what it felt like.

That pain has allowed me not only to be there for new friends like Becky as they travel the road we just travelled. It is a pain that transcends infertility and moves into many other realms. I remember the divorce of another dear friend. As I sat in my living room crying with her, I remember feeling like I understood exactly what it felt like to have a dream ripped out from underneath you. She had so many thoughts and plans and hopes for her life. What did she do with those dreams that would never come true? I didn't understand what divorce felt like. But I did understand what the loss of a dream and the grief that accompanies that loss feels like. That I understood.

Here is the devotional in its entirety. I pray it ministers to you as it has to me.

Job asked a challenging question in his time of suffering: "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10). Even hardship has a place in the Lord's plan.

During a particularly painful time in my life, I decided that I ought to glean something from my distress. That decision allowed the Lord to open up a well of compassion in my heart that I often dip from to comfort those facing similar trials.

I found great solace in Paul's words about God, who "comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction" (2 Cor 1:4). Think about the kind of people you seek out when you feel hurt. You want someone who has felt your pain, right? A person who's walked the path we find ourselves on can understand our suffering and provide wise counsel. According to the apostle, passing through a "valley experience" prepares us to be a blessing and encouragement to those who must go through something similar later. What's required is that we accept the adversity He has placed in our way and choose to learn from the situation.

God is the Lord and Master of our life, and He therefore has the right to use us as comforters and encouragers to those in our sphere of influence. As His servants, we must be willing to receive whatever training is necessary to complete His will, even when it hurts. Do not waste your suffering! Instead, use it to bring glory to the Lord.