Friday, August 31, 2012

China Shoes

I have very few items on my "get-out-of-my-house-if-there-is-a-fire" list. The quilt our friend in Florida, Rachel, made us for our wedding. Some photo albums. A cross JB made me while we were dating with our names on it. A scarf Hatice made me.

And these shoes. 

The story behind them is not unfamiliar to regular readers. In 2007, just after we had suffered our fourth failed IVF result -- just after we had decided to adopt a daughter from China. We received a gift from an online friend. You can see a picture of the shoes, as they arrived in my mail box by clicking here: Our "China" shoes.

Fast forward. We have two boys. We make the difficult and very painful decision to withdraw our Dossier from China due to increasing wait times and increasing costs. To not adopt China. To not bring the daughter we always pictured being in our family ... home.
I sent the shoes to a friend who was having a daughter. Her name was Rachel too -- but a different Rachel from the one who made the quilt. I told her to keep them. That I couldn't use them anymore. That I couldn't even see them anymore. They made me sad. Not that we weren't going to have a daughter. I didn't care about that at all. But that pulling out of China made me feel, in a sense, that we were losing a child.
And I couldn't be reminded of that.
But then, a surprise. We were pregnant again. And this time it was a girl. And my friend sent the shoes back to me. She had kept them!
And now, Abigail wears them. She's almost outgrown them. But they remind me, in one moment, of God's providence. Of his amazing ways. Of His ways not being our ways.
And while I was always be a bit sad when I think back on the China adoption that wasn't meant to be, I have realized that Abigail's presence is the presence of the daughter that HE  always planned for us to have.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I remember watching Dumbo as a kid. I cried because it was sad. Sad because Dumbo's mommy missed her son, and he couldn't be with her.

And then I watched Dumbo as a grown-up. And I cried again. I cried because it was sad. I was still sad because Dumbo's mommy missed him. But mainly I cried at another part. You know when the stork was bringing all the animals their babies? Dumbo's mommy watched as all the animals got babies. But she didn't get one. She was sad. And I was sad for her. Because I knew how it feels.

Today I am 35. Most of my friends have children in school. My cousin Sarah, who got pregnant with her son Tyler the year JB and I thought we'd start having kids, had a son in 2003. My Isaac didn't join us for another five years. I was Dumbo's Mommy. I was watching everyone else have their babies. And wondering when the stork would bring my little miracle.

But He did. Not the stork. But my heavenly Father. His timing is unbelievably perfect. I wouldn't change anything. I wouldn't change the person I am because of all that pain. I wouldn't change the compassion I have. And I definitely wouldn't change the exact children we have. I never thought I'd say I'm glad for the pain. But I am. I'm actually ... thankful. Thankful for the experience. And thankful the stork brought my babies a little later than everyone else.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Testimony

I received an email from a friend going through infertility treatments right now. I often have many women that I am connected with via Hannah's Prayer, email, or in-person. This friend had read these words in a devotional and she shared it with me. I was so blessed to read these words. I often wonder who I am right now. What is my mission? I don't feel like I really fit in with mom groups. I feel like I will always be slightly different. And yet, obviously, I am no longer a part of infertility cycles, technically speaking. This email from my friend reminded me that my testimony is part of who I am. Infertility and adoption are my passions. They always will be.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Have you ever read a really good book? I mean a really good book? One that you can’t put down? You envision what every character looks like, what they sound like when they speak, and even how they walk. You feel like you know them! When you get so engrossed in the story you block the outside work and immerse yourself in the story line. There’s nothing quite like a really good book!
Did you know you are an author? That’s right! Sign your name at the bottom of the page, for you, my friend, are a writer! What are you writing? You’re writing your testimony.

Infertility can really take a toll on your life. It can consume every waking moment, every thought, every interaction. You may find that you are surviving trials that you never would have imagined you were strong enough to conquer. How has God worked in your life? How is God working? Who are the characters in your saga--people who have said really stupid things, or those who wrap their arms around you and understand? Have you learned things about God through your battle with infertility that you never had even considered before? Maybe you found yourself searching Scriptures for answers--and actually found them! Infertile couples have to figure out new ways to communicate and make decisions. Who knew when you stood at that altar that day that you’d have to make decisions like how many embryos to freeze or where the money would come from for all your medications? So many twists and turns in the plot!

Infertility changes you. When you’re in the midst of the battle you cannot see how you are better for it. It helps when someone who has been there understands what you feel, and shares with you how they coped and survived. Do you realize you can be that someone to another person? One day, infertility will be a part of your past, and not your every waking moment. You’re learning things now in infertility’s classroom that you never even considered before. Every trial you face, every month you survive, you are writing your testimony. Every time you pick yourself up and face another month, you’ve written another part of your testimony. You pray and ask God to help you--and He does. There’s another chapter. Another story to tell of how God provided again.

Someone needs to read your story. Someone somewhere is going to need to hear how she is not alone in her battle, and that someone with a similar struggle has survived. You may be in the midst of your fight today, but one day, your story can encourage someone else. Maybe you can see how, maybe not yet. But the day will come when someone new to infertility will look to you for answers. Your story may just be what gets them through that month, or that day.

When you share your story of how God sustained you through trials, you are lining up beautifully with Scripture. Comforting someone else with the comfort you received. Telling someone else, “I know it’s hard. This is what helped me,” is being the hand of Jesus extended.

Perhaps your story is not ready yet. It will be. One day, God can use your story to heal the wounds of someone else. Maybe today, you need the healing. Wherever you find yourself, know that God is working and moving. And writing your testimony with you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Teaching the Public

As church let out on that Sunday morning and the lobby began filling with people, I smiled across the room as another couple we knew began maneuvering toward us through the crowd. When they reached us, we exchanged hugs as the wife took my arm and pulled me to the side. “Did John tell you?” she asked, excitement and life and joy spilling out from behind her eyes.

I glanced at my husband and watched as a wave of panic spread onto his face. I don’t even remember the rest of what the woman said to me. I just remember trying to look happy. I remember trying not to cry. I remember that all-too-familiar lump growing in the back of my throat.

My husband apologized on the way to the car for the oversight. He had gotten the announcement through the husband. He had meant to tell me. He had forgotten. I nodded. Being prepared for it would have helped. But it wouldn’t have changed the fact that we were still childless - that five years of infertility treatments had left us no closer to the children we always thought we would have. That even though that couple were newlyweds, they were going to have a child.

And we weren’t.

During the years we spent begging, yearning, praying, crying for a child, there were many moments like the one in that church lobby. Moments where I felt my heart breaking when someone said something that reminded me of the losses we had faced.

“I had so wished we could have babysat each other’s children,” one friend said days before she delivered. “Have you thought about adoption?” another asked as their three children played by our feet. “I had a friend who drank this tea,” another woman told me, tucking a piece of paper littered with a scary sounding concoction into my jacket pocket. “Relaxing,” was the key for us, another friend whispered. “Have you thought about taking a weekend away?”

Their well-intentioned words flowed easy off their tongues as they pierced my heart. “You are so young.” “Just be patient.” “Maybe it isn’t meant to be.” Or the husband who, after having a daughter through their first IUI told me, “I so hope this happens for you because there is nothing better than being a parent.”


I would always manage a smile and a polite nod. Sometimes even a few words of thanks would tumble out. But always, when I got home and climbed under my blankets, the tears would come. I would grieve. I would cry.

But always, I would remind myself that these friends and acquaintances, and yes, sometimes even strangers, were not trying to hurt me. It was important that I reminded myself that their intentions were pure. Sure, there was the occasional person who may not have had my best interest at heart, but for the most part, people are good. They are trying. They don’t know what to say. And so sometimes they say something they shouldn’t.

My way of combating this ignorance was to educate people. I started a blog. I told people our story. I wrote posts explaining what you should and shouldn’t say to a woman dealing with infertility. I helped start a Support Group at our church. I encouraged people walking alongside someone going through infertility to use me as a sounding board. I realized that I couldn’t expect people to say the right thing if they didn’t know what the right thing was to say.

If you are in the midst of infertility, you have no doubt found yourself at the receiving end of hard-to-hear words and missed-their-mark comments. I hope you too will remember that people want to help. It is WE, the infertile, who have to teach them how.

Friday, August 10, 2012

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

There was a point in my life that I would sing this hymn ,and boom it with all my heart (or boom it quietly with all my heart as not to ruin it for those around me) Trust Jesus? Of course I trusted Jesus. Who wouldn’t?

And all my life, I thought I did trust in the Lord. The Lord was great! He had given me two loving parents, a loving spouse, a roof over my head, a Christian school to attend, athletic abilities that paid for college, fantastic friends, great churches, good health, every job I had applied for. Nothing bad had ever really happened to me.
Of course I trusted Him.

The fact is, trust is easy when your life is going as planned. But when life isn’t going the way you drew it up? How do you trust him then? Trust Him? Well, sort of. I mean, I want to trust Him, but why is He choosing to do things this way? Why doesn't He do them my way? Why did He allow that to happen? He defeated sin.

Infertility shook my trust to the core.

In my case, it was looking around me and questioning all the people God had given a child to instead of giving one to me. Recently it was a little Brazilian baby thrown in the river in a plastic bag. (She survived and people were soon lining up to adopt her.) Mothers having abortions. Teenage mothers. Abusive parents. "Wait!" I screamed at the TV or at the Lord. "Here I am! Give me those babies! Bless me with a pregnancy! I want those children!" Those were moments when I looked to the Lord and said, "Lord, I'm not sure I do trust You. Do you know what you are doing?"

Two and a half years into my infertility journey, a new woman joined us one evening for our quarterly support group meeting. As we listened to her voice her trust issues out loud, another woman with twins from embryo adoption spoke up. "I know what God was thinking. If I wouldn't have travelled the road I traveled, I wouldn't have these two boys -- and these are my boys."

As I was driving home that night, I had the moment I had wanted since this battle had begun. I somehow, finally, trusted the Lord. Or at least understood what that meant. I have been trying so hard -- every step of this journey, but that night I could honestly sing this song and mean it. I realized that while the Lord didn't cause this pain, he was using it every day.

Romans 8:28-31 says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to HIS purpose." (NIV) Wait a minute! If not for infertility, I wouldn't have met this woman that night. If my friend with the twins hadn't hadn’t struggled to conceive, she wouldn't have her twins. If not for infertility, what would my faith be?

I don't think, prior to infertility, I would be able to understand when a friend told me they were questioning their faith or grieving a disappointment -- whatever it may be. But now, because of infertility, I understand.
Wendi, trust Me. I've got your best interest in mind. I didn't cause this, but I will use this in your life. When you look back, you will understand, either on earth or in heaven, why things happened the way they did. Trust Me.

Two and a half more years would pass. Five years and more infertility treatments than one person should ever attempt. I am not saying that during that time I did not waver again in my faith or in my trust. I did. Often. But I was able to remember that no matter how my story played out, the Lord had my soul -- my future -- in the palm of my hand. And I could trust that.

Friday, August 3, 2012


I felt incredibly satisfied to read this story online: 'Octomom' Doctor Loses License .

Dr. Michael Kamrava implanted TWELVE embryos into Nadya Sulemen. The result was octuplets. The article linked above states: "National guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine specify that no more than two embryos are to be used for in vitro treatments for a healthy woman under 35, the AP reported. Suleman was less than 35 years old at the time of her fertility treatments."

To put this into perspective, I did invitro four times. The first, second, and third times, Mayo Clinic put two embryos back in. Only after three failed attempts did they agree to increase that number to three embryos.

"According to Louis Keith, M.D. and Donald Keith, M.B.A. in Multiple Birth: Epidemiology, Perinatal Outcomes and Long Term Sequelae, 'all multiple pregnancies are high risk' and those risks increase with the number of infants in a given pregnancy. There is an inherent higher frequency of pre-term labor and low birthweight for all multiples, and with that comes a host of raised chances for health problems."*

According to the website of Parents of Multiple Births Association of Canada, it is estimated that ''Overall 15-17% of multiple births result from infertility treatments, however, it is estimated that 60% of triplets, 90% of quadruplets and 99% of quintuplets result from these treatments."

The fact that a doctor would implant twelve embryos in a woman who had previously conceived via invitro is an atrocity! It is careless. It is terrible. And I think the fact that he lost his license is commendable and necessary. Twelve embryos is horrific. I cannot begin to list the adjectives that describe this act by a member of the medical community.

Details from this post came from the following source: click here.