Friday, July 27, 2012

Beth Moore and Infertility

While working through Beth Moore's Breaking Free Bible Study, I was touched to discover that she was going to devote an entire day to infertility in this study. I wanted to take the opportunity to summarize some of what I learned during this study for those of you who haven't take it before.

Every little girl has at least four main dreams:
  1. To be a bride
  2. To be beautiful
  3. To be fruitful
  4. To live happily ever after
Of course, for those of you have been following my blog for any significant portion of the six years I have been writing, you know what my focus is going to be on. Number 3 it is.

Beth Moore actually writes: "Without a doubt, some of the unhappiest women I've ever known have been those who wanted children and were unable to have them." She goes on to say that Shame is Satan's game and that her friends dealing with infertility have asked themselves questions like "Why me? Why my husband? What did I do to deserve this? Is this my punishment for sex before marriage? Is this my punishment for having an abortion? Would I have been such a terrible mother? ..."

Beth goes on to make four fantastic points regarding barenness:
  1. Barrenness does not imply sinfulness. Here she uses a scripture from Luke 1:5-7. How I travelled the infertile road without ever seeing this scripture, I have no idea. In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. This was incredibly powerful to me! Elizabeth and John were walking with the Lord and barren. There was no sin that caused this.
  2. Hearts not surrendered to God can seldom be trusted. Beth Moore writes that, "Until we surrender our hopes and dreams to Christ, we really have very little way of knowing what would fulfill us." She goes on to explain that if we are relying on a circumstance to make ourselves happy, we may end up bankrupt. Unhappiness is not solved by any one thing (marriage, baby, job, etc.)
  3. God created every life to be fruitful. Beth Moore encourages us to remember that the dream of being fruitful is more than just one of physical offspring. I do believe this is true. I believe we are called to the widows and orphans. We are called beyond what our womb can bear.
  4. I believe our girlish dream to have babies represent even more than the obvious. I love the way she explains this. She writes: "[Dreams] represent a desire to have fruitful lives, to invest ourselves in something that matters. Something that affects. Something that grows. It not, wouldn't God be cruel to allow any woman to dream of children yet disable her to have them? I don't believe God allows surrendered hearts to continue to long for things He will not ultimately grant in one way or another. Our disappointment with God is often the result of our small thinking."
Another thing Beth Moore mentioned that I never really thought of, is that one day, all of us will be barren. In other words, I will reach an age (soon in my case) that I will not be able to physically have children anymore. Am I to assume that at this point my fruitfulness ends? So true!***

I have been thinking about this. One day my boys will not need me. It's hard to believe that now. But they will lead their own lives. In my case, I feel lead to be a mother for a long time. We see ourselves adopting for many years to come. What about you? How will you continue to be fruitful when the time for physical fruit has passed?***

... just a few notes to share with you that ministered to me. I hope you find something in these words that minister to you.

***A note which might be helpful if you are thinking of doing the study. I did find that Beth Moore (and other women in our group agreed) trivialized infertility in the sense that she felt that it could be "replaced" by a role of a spiritual mom. I decided not to focus on this in my outline here on the blog and instead just focus from what I did take. That being said, there was quite a bit that I had to leave behind that just wasn't accurate.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Infertility in Turkey

I continue to be blessed by the presence of women in my life travelling the road I have previously travelled. I say blessed because their presence reminds me that our own journey through so many difficult years of infertility had reason. It had purpose. They may think for me for standing along side them, but truly, I find I have so much to thank them for. While I was blessed with many people who stood alongside me despite not knowing at all what infertility felt like, the people who can minister best in the darkness are the people who have been in that darkness and know all too perfectly what it feels like. It isn't pain that can ever be explained.

So many women have said to me, "Wendi, I watched you go through it. I felt for you. But I didn't get it until I did it myself." That is very true. Just like I cannot understand the loss of a child, the loss of a parent, the grief of a divorce -- so only those who have walked this road can truly understand the devastation of being barren.

Two of the women that I journeyed with lived on Base with me in Turkey. There is no REI (Reproductive Endocrinology) department on Incirlik. In fact, if you remember, there isn't even an OB department (thus my departure to Germany in June). These friends were having to traverse the world of a Turkish REI Clinic -- a whole new ball game! I was honored to accompany two of my friends to their appointments at a Turkish REI facility.
Never, ever, did I think I'd find myself in an infertility clinic in Turkey of all places!

A few things jumped out at me during my first appointment:
  • There is definitely a language barrier. There is one doctor who speaks very good English, but even that English is accompanied by a thick accent that can make deciphering difficult at times. But how blessed these ladies are for this one English-speaking doctor. Attaining a translator can take up to two weeks of paperwork. Not really possible when you are playing a spur-of-the-minute game like IUI and IVF. There is also a gal who speaks English who works at the front desk. However, despite how kind she is, I have to wonder what defines something as being able to speak English. Her definition is a stretch!
  • The Clinic is sparse, as is most Turkish architecture, but very clean, and very comfortable. The one major difference was that on our tour of the facilities, we noted you were to remove your shoes prior to going into the operating room. This was how it was in Nigeria too. There continues to be more of an emphasis on feet than hands when it comes to germs.
  • The cost is incredibly less than that in the USA. One round of IVF in the USA runs approximately 10,000USD. One round here in Turkey, closer to 3,000USD. Quite a big difference.
  • Childlessness and the desire to fix this issue is a problem everywhere -- around the world. This is a country that looks lightly on abortion and uses it as a means of birth control. People often only have 1 or 2 children with many years inbetween. And yet the desire to have a child is overwhelming, suffocating, and real enough to fund this many floor building in down-town Adana where people who make only $10,000 a year are spending $3,000 of that in trying to have a baby. Adoption is also not done here. It is very rare. I often do not even tell people I am adopting here. They view me as some sort of angel who did a favor to someone. Oh how untrue that is!
  • The lingo and protocol is nearly identical to my years doing IUI and IVF. I was amazed at how quickly all the words and phrases came spinning back into my head. Every word he was using. Every phrase. I knew these phrases. I knew these words. I lived these words. Being able to speak the lingo, to understand the lingo, is incredibly helpful when living this journey.
Take the time today to thank the Lord for the resources you have at your disposal on this journey. And remember that not all women have these. I remember, when we did a mission trip in Nigeria, women coming in who had not conceived. And there was nothing that could be done. They were helpless -- with no medical intervention possibly. Praise the Lord for our great country and the knowledge he has given men and women to help us.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What would I tell infertile me?

I got an email from a friend dealing with infertility today. She asked me a question.

"If you could go back in time and tell infertile Wendi one thing, what would it be?"

It's funny she asked that. It's a question I've thought about many times. And I've formulated many different answers.

But here's the one that resonates most within me.

I would tell myself to try my hardest to enjoy my life. To try to embrace where I am at currently instead of wishing the months and years to speed ahead until our next treatment or the next holiday that maybe I would be a mom. I would tell myself to sleep in as often as I could. I would tell myself to take more naps. Lie in bed and watch movies and don't get up just for the sheer relaxation of lying around Wendi! I would tell myself to go on as many dates with my husband as I could. Go for runs whenever you want Wendi. Take long walks in the park for no reason at all. Travel. Travel. Travel some more. Volunteer. Embrace your hobbies. Sit on the kitchen counter and drink a coke and stay up way too late talking with a girlfriend. Don't worry so much about becoming a mom. Try to remember that God doesn't promise us tomorrow. Children won't solve your fears of being alone Wendi. And then travel some more gosh darn it!

There's more. But you get the general idea.

I think we have this idea that if we "just get married" or if we "just have kids" or if we "just get this job" or if we "could just pay off this debt" or ... well, the list could go on and on, that then things will be perfect.

But they won't. We will never arrive. There will always be something we are seeking. There will always be sadness and disappointments. Only a relationship with our Heavenly Father can bring us the complete peace we think a certain thing will.

When we pulled away from the hospital with little two-day-old Isaac strapped into his car seat on May 9, 2008 ... with the lawyer and nurse waving at us and feeling like we had no idea what we were doing ... I realized that I was now, nearly officially, a mom. (His five month court hearing would solidify it.) But I didn't really feel different. Something could happen to Isaac the next day. Something could happen to all of us on the way home. Isaac was the child we always hoped to have. But he was not the answer to the hole in our life we often try to fill with things other than Christ.

I pray for those of you today praying for answer to your prayers. For many of you it is a child. For others of you it is something else. A spouse. A job. Reconciliation.

Whatever it is, I hope I can encourage you with three main tidbits of hope:

1. Embrace, as best you can, where you are today.
2. Believe that miracles are possible.
3. Remember that only Christ will bring you the peace you seek.

I always seem to have a group of about 5-10 women in my life that are in my "infertility group" of the moment. Women that I am watching walk the walk I walked just a few years ago. Please know that you are at the forefront of my mind all the time. Really. I am thinking of you by name while I write this. When I see you. When I email you. When I talk to you. I am thinking of you. I am wanting to fix it. And I am praying for the answer to your prayer.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Growing thru Grief

Whenever I have a free (rare) moment, I continue to work on making my blog into a book that I can get a hard copy of. This means reading a lot of past entries. I am still back on the first years of my blog: 2005-2006.

How ironic is it that on that day, November 26, 2010, I stumbled upon an entry from November 26, 2006? Four years to the day.

We had just suffered another failed IVF. I don't even remember which number that one was. And I had just been forced, emotionally, to leave a church service that was especially painful. After sobbing in a Target parking lot with my husband who was helpless to stop my pain or his, I went home and read this passage from a tiny little book I had that comforted me during those days: Good Grief.

Back then, four years ago to the day, I was inspired by the preface of the book. Now I look back and compare what I read then to what I feel now, on the "other side" of that valley.

  • We come out of our grief experience at a slightly higher level of maturity than before. Me? More mature! Absolutely. I am a better parent. I am a better wife. I am a more compassionate individual. I grew in leaps and bounds during that long and dark five years of my life. I wouldn't use the word "slightly." I grew incredibly. I will never look at life the same. I will never assume there is not someone hurting. I don't take my kids for granted. I understand the miracle that life is.
  • We come out of our grief as deeper persons because we have been down in the depths of despair and know what it is like. Prior to dealing with infertility, I never understood why people questioned their faith. I struggled to recognize why someone could be mad at God. I didn't understand pain. I had a "just-world" mentality. Today I have a mentality that understands that sometimes life doesn't follow the path we thought it would. The question is: what do we plan to do with the course our life takes?
  • We come out of it stronger, for we have had to learn how to use our spiritual muscles to climb the rugged mountain trails. You can't live through grief and not come out of it stronger. Not getting what you want forces you to truly rely on the Lord. I often say that while on our 2007 mission trip to Nigeria I became inspired to see how these people lived their faith. I realized that they lived their faith because faith was all they had to live. We, in America, take so much for granted. We have so much and we demand so much. When all you have is God by having what you want pulled out from under you, you became a stronger person. Spiritually e
  • We come out of it better able to help others. We have walked through the valley of the shadow of grief. We can understand. In the midst of our infertility journey, I stood by a close friend during her divorce and realized that I could relate to her pain because I had experienced my own loss. I knew what the depths felt like and knew how to be in the depths with someone else.
As always, I have about a half dozen women in my life right now that I am watching travel the infertile road. I am so sorry you are on this road. I pray that in the midst of this grief, you see the goodness. You see the growth. You see what I couldn't see until now, four years later. Bless you friends.

And thank you those of you who stood along side me during those days of grief. For those of you who have been with me for the entirety of my journey, would you mind sharing what you learned watching me go through this journey in the comments? Or maybe just a memory from my journey? I'm sure it would minister to me and the people who read this entry with grief present at this moment.