Apr 30, 2012

Perfect Weekend

Thursday night Casey had Poker Night at the house.  I caught up on the DVR.  Perfect Night.

Friday morning we got on a plane to Austin.  Bought two wine fridges.  Toured the state capitol.  Toured a history museum.  Ate a fantastic dinner (five course tasting menu for me, seven courses for Casey) at wink.  Went down 6th street.  Perfect Day.

Saturday we ate yummy crepes.  Shopped at the quirky little shops on South Congress.  Ate at a food truck (my first one!).  Enjoyed a snow cone.  Flew home.  Went to an engagement party for a really great couple.  Perfect Day.

Sunday we went to church.  Continued working with the kids program on Gratitude Series.  Heard a really inspirational sermon on John 15:1-9 (full post on that coming soon).  Drove to Grand Prairie to hang out with Casey's parents and pick up our dog.  Did a little shopping.  Watched the Rangers.  Perfect Day (well...except the Rangers losing part). 

Everything about this weekend was perfect and normal and had nothing to do with fertility.  It was so great to just be us and not think about it! 

But, even in the midst of a perfect weekend, it is still in the background. 

Sunday night, after dinner dishes were washed.  After the Rangers had lost.  After we had unpacked our bags.  After a perfect weekend.  Casey and I both broke down.  There was screaming.  There were tears.  There was wailing.  It was ugly.  We both ended up on the floor, too emotional to move, crying, together. 

It was hard. 

It was real. 

It was love. 

I really do love this man.  Even when he says things that unintentionally start a night like this.**  We both needed that release.  We both needed to get those emotions out.  We both needed to remember that we are in this together.

Today we go see the doctor for our IVF consultation.  Together.  The way we are meant to be.  Perfect.



**Note to other husbands: saying "if we never have a child it will be okay" to your emotional wife is not okay.  Even if you meant if we never HAVE a child as in give birth to one and not as in never parent a child, your wife won't hear what you meant.

Apr 26, 2012

Birth Control Pills?!?

Today is CD2.  I start taking Birth Control Pills today.  Yep.  You heard that right.  Birth control pills.  I know they serve a purpose.  I know their is a reason.  But my brain is struggling with taking birth control pills to help get pregnant.

Going off birth control was such a big event.  We were so full of hope and excited for our future.  We went back on birth control a few months later.  Now that we know many of our problems are due to the premature aging of my ovaries, I wonder if going back on birth control when Casey lost his job was us not trusting God.  We decided we couldn't consider a child when we didn't have income or health insurance.  But maybe, we should have trusted better in God's plan for us.  Regardless of the decisions we made then, now we are trusting in His plan for us and taking this next step forward.  We are starting IVF!

Yesterday we received our full IVF calendar from the REs office.  I haven't decided if I want to share all of the details of that yet.  It is cathartic to write about my emotions as we go through this, but sharing all of the nitty gritty medical aspects seems much harder.  I don't know why I wouldn't - I've been pretty shameless so far - but something is holding me back a bit (shocking given my typical oversharing!) I know that these medications and shots are going to wreak havoc on my body.  I have received one consistent piece of advice from folks who have gone through IVF: invest in a pair of maternity pants because all of the swelling will make your stomach huge (as in four-five months pregnant huge).  The idea that I am going to gain that much weight scares me.  The idea that I am going to stick myself with a needle every day (and sometimes multiple times a day) for the next few months scares me.  The idea that I have committed to being open and honest about this journey with all of you people of the interwebs scares me. 


Step one in our IVF journey starts today. 



This is good. 



I think....

Apr 25, 2012

Conquering Jealousy

Over the past few months I have spent a lot of time reading infertility blogs and chatting on twitter with other infertile ladies (and a few men!).  It is so comforting to hear their words of encouragement, to celebrate their successes, and to commiserate in their difficulties.  The infertile bloggers I have found are refreshingly honest about their feelings, frustrations, and inadequacies.  In an effort to be just as honest, I am going to post this, even though I know it might upset some of my other infertile readers.

Last night, Casey and I took dinner to sweet friends who are home from the hospital with a beautiful little girl.  Afterwards, we went to the hospital to visit other sweet friends who just delivered twins who are so small and so adorable.  They are currently in the NICU because they are so small, but they are little fighters.

Both of these couples are blessed with perfect little babies.  And I feel nothing but pure, unadulterated joy for them.  God chose to bless them at this time.  And I couldn't be happier for them.  I have been asked how I manage to go to Target, a store filled with babies.  I have been asked how I attend (and host) baby showers.  I have been asked how I continue to work in the children's program at my church.  I do all of these things because they bring me joy. 

Every baby, every child is a gift.  I don't understand allowing infertility frustrations to jade you from the miracle that is a child.  I am frustrated that I am infertile.  I have been angry with God.  I have been jealous when people announce pregnancy six on facebook (seriously six?!? I'd love to have just one!!).  I have cried out with injustice when I learned that a friend aborted her "oops" pregnancy (Didn't she know that I would take that child and love it?  If she could have made it through the nine months...)  I have cried many many nights wondering why me.  I am far from perfect.  I feel the same jealousy and the same sting as other women.  But I don't understand why so many infertile women allow their sadness to overtake their lives. 

When a friend has a baby it is a joy!  When you can be around a child and make a difference in their life it is a joy!  (Or as said in church on Sunday: "it's crack for Christians").  I don't know or even understand God's plan for me right now.  But I know He doesn't plan for me to sit around and be jealous.  Or bitter. He wants me to recognize the joy in everything around me.  He wants me to see His miracles.  He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. (Job 5:9)  One of those miracles is the addition of a child to the family of God.  The more I learn about the necessary steps towards pregnancy the more aware I am of the true majesty of the act.  It truly is a miracle. 

I hope you can pray with me:
Father in Heaven,
I need You in my life.  It is so easy to fall into the trap of jealousy and bitterness.  It is easy to become so wrapped in my own pain that I don't see Your work around me.  I know that children are the greatest gift.  Children are a blessing.  I should celebrate every child in Your kingdom.  Jesus said,  Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me (Mark 9:34-37).  Walk beside me and help me receive Your children and minister to them and their families in Your name.  For, You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples  (Psalm 77:14).  Help me to recognize the joy in your miracles.  Prepare my heart for whatever you have in store for me.  Help me overcome my envy and bitterness to recognize and celebrate in the joy of another couple.   Walk beside me and guide me towards Your will for my life.  Wether that will is a biological child or a different path, let Your will be done. 
Amen


Many infertiles feel that joy for another, but only when the other is also infertile.  One of the couples we visited last night struggled with infertility.  But it doesn't matter which one.  All three babies were beautiful and I am so glad we were able to see them.,  So many people talk about the jealousy and the bitterness of infertility.  Start talking about the joy around you instead.

Apr 24, 2012

#NIAW Don't ignore....

Infertility affects 7.3 million people in the U.S. This figure represents 1 in 8 couples, or 12% of women of childbearing age.



Don't ignore... infertility. 
It's real.  It's a disease.  It's emotional.  There are warning signs.  If you have symptoms of infertility, talk to your doctor!  Don't wait until it is too late and your ovaries are old and shriveled (like mine) to face it. 

Don't ignore... the impact of your words.
Don't trivialize this painful process.  Don't tell us to relax.  Or tell us to adopt.  Or tell us Sally's story.  Or tell us all about how fertile you are when drunk.  Check out this post (Struggling With What to Say) for other things not to say.

Don't ignore ... my struggle.
Don't let my infertility be the elephant in the room. There is something medically wrong with me. It invades my every thought and the very core of who I am. Even once I have a child (either because medical treatments work or through adoption) I will still be infertile. It will forever change who I am and how I think. Don't pretend nothing is wrong. Don't pretend I'm not going through this. Don't ignore the biggest thing in my life (literally the biggest: most time consuming, most expensive, most emotionally draining). Casey and I are talking about it. After many many months of lying and hiding it, we are "out of the infertility closet" so to speak. Talk about it with us.

Don't ignore... the rest of my life.
There is more to me than my ability to have a child.  I am child of God and I place my hope in Him and not in my own body.  I won't let infertility and the brokenness of my body lead to brokenness of spirit.  It is really east to get caught up in the constant doctors appointments.  The daily blood work.  The cramping so bad I can't walk.  But I don't want to stay home anymore. I don't want to spend my 2ww afraid to do to much because I don't want to hurt our chances of implantation.  Casey and I retreated from many (most...almost all) of our friends in 2011.  We stopped inviting people over.  We stopped accepting invitations.  The few times we saw people in the fall, I ended up cutting the night short by getting sick.  I miss my life.  I miss my friends. 

Don't ignore... my feeling of isolation.
I frequently feel really isolated dealing with infertility. Even when I talk to other women going through infertility, they are typically dealing with PCOS or unexplained infertility.  With both of those doctors have high rates of success rates of succesful pregnancies (in fact, 65% of people who seek reproductive assistance will give birth). I have premature ovarian aging. The doctors don't know why. Doctors can't make my ovaries younger or my eggs more plentiful. We can try IVF, but it's gosh darn rare to have ovaries so old on a person so young. The likelihood of IVF working for us is fairly low. Despite my feelings of isolation, I am not alone! 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility (about 12% of women of childbearing age). I am so fortunate to have an incredible support network. Our families, friends, bible study, coworkers, and my tweeps have been incredibly supportive. Thank you for being my community!

Don't ignore... the weight of these decisions.
Please don't judge our decisions. The moral issues when dealing with infertility are huge. Every decision is hard. And painful. And prayerful. We don't need snide remarks from doctors -- or from you. Believe me, we struggled to get to the peace we now feel with our decisions.  We have decided to try IVF.  And it wasn't an easy path. We aren't "jumping in."  We have tried naturally.  We have tried drug assisted cycles.  We have tried IUI.  Only 3% of couples that seek reproductive assistance require IVF.  We are part of that 3%.  We will be one of the over one million IVF procedures performed this year.  Don't judge. Don't moralize. Don't preach.

Don't ignore... me.
I am the 1 in 8.  I am infertile.  I am struggling.  But I have hope.

Not.

Yesterday was a happy day. It was Casey's birthday (happy day!). Our sweet friends gave birth to beautiful twin boys (happy day!).

But I struggled to be happy. I was happy for Casey. I was happy for our friends and their healthy babies. But I wasn't happy. It was the day I was told to take a HPT. I got a Big Fat Negative.




Apparently, this is (also) not the month.

Now I am waiting on AF to show. On CD1, I will return to the doctors office and we will start IVF.

We will join the roughly 3% of infertile couples who seek advanced treatments. We do so knowing our odds aren't great. It is unlikely I will ever be a biological mother. But, we have hope. God has led us down the path this far and He is still with us. He has our perfect child in mind. Our one last shot at a biological child starts soon, but I know if this doesn't work it is because God has the perfect baby custom made for us just waiting in someone else's womb.


Our one last shot at a biological baby... scary words to think about.

Apr 23, 2012

My Love: Casey Cass

Through this process I have had two rocks: my Lord God and my ridiculously awesome husband.  Casey has found me crying in the closet, and just held me.  He has held my hand when procedures were painful.  He has assured me every step of the way that this isn't my fault, he loves me, God loves me, and it will be okay.  He has bought me a heating pad, been to the store for pain meds, and been to the store for fertility meds.  He shot me up with drugs when I couldn't seem to poke myself with the needle.  He has done nothing but support me.  He constantly reminds me that we will be parents, no matter what.  We will have a child to love, nurture, and watch grow.  
I know people who have decided they were ready for kids, and just the decision makes them pregnant.  But unlike those couples Casey and I have been given the gift of time.  It doesn't feel like a gift most days, but the reality is that I love this man more today than I did when we started out on this path.  I know that he is my partner.  He is my greatest advocate.  He loves me with unconditional love.  Without this journey, our relationship wouldn't have been given this opportunity to develop and mature.  

More than anything in the world, my heart yearns to be a Mom.  But, even more than that, my soul cries out with desire to watch Casey be a Dad.  He will be an incredible father.  If he can shower me with so much love, treat me with such kindness, display such patience, and never fail me, then I can't even imagine how much love he will have for our little ones.  

We are doing this together.  And together we are going to be great parents.
So today, on his 28th birthday, I want to celebrate the incredible man I married.  He is everything a girl could ever ask for in a husband, a partner, a playmate, and a friend.  I love him with everything in my being and feel lucky to have him by my side.

Apr 17, 2012

Waiting Upon the Lord

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord!  

On Easter Sunday, the MungerKids Choir sang Chris Tomlin's Everlasting God in front of the congregation. I've been thinking about that song a lot these past few days.  What powerful song! 




Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord (repeat)

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary

You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles





God is the everlasting God.  He doesn't change.  He is always the same and always there for us.  The same God who created the earth, the God of Sarah and Abraham, the God of Hannah, is the God I pray to.  God is everlasting.  He can bear my burden.  He comforts me.  He raises me up. 
 
Right now I am waiting.  Our "2ww" ends next week and so now all we do is wait and pray.  That pray part seems pretty key to me.  "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord."  This time of waiting and praying is making my stronger.  I am learning to wait upon the Lord and accept His reign and His timing.  As long as I continue to hope in the Lord I know it will be okay.
 
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the
Lordwill renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Apr 16, 2012

Weekend Update: MissionMunger

Saturday: Casey and I participated (well, I participated, Casey was a leader for) Mission Munger. This was the first (of hopefully many) all-church volunteer workdays.  Our church had 6 teams that went out to different work sites in the community to make a difference.  Casey is on the Munger Missions Committee and so was in charge of the Neighborhood Yards Team. 


Sunday: We went to church and then spent the afternoon with Casey's family celebrating our nephew's 10th birthday.

Apr 12, 2012

You are My Sunshine

Dear Baby,

I know that I say this every time I write to you, but each and every night I pray for you.  I pray for your health.  I pray for your safety.  I pray for your biological mom (because I don't know yet if that is me or someone else).  I pray for our family. 

I don't know yet how you will come to join our family, but I know that I love you already.  It absolutely amazes me how much I love you already.  I love you unconditionally and with everything I have, and you are still just a thought.  

I know that God already knows you. God loves you.  God has a plan for you. He has chosen you for our family.  You will come to us when He is ready.  I'm not very good at waiting for His time.  I am so impatient to meet you and hold you in my arms.  You may not be with us physically yet, but you are in my heart. You are special. Cherished. Beloved. And you always will be. I know you will be the greatest blessing.

Today I got (another) shot that might help you develop soon(er).  It hurt.  My whole body aches right now.  And I love the feeling.  I would take a million shots all over my body to help you.*  You are my sunshine.  I love you.  I would take any amount of pain for you.

Your daddy and I are pretty silly, and when it's just the two of us, he'll serenade me.  His voice is off-key, he can't carry a tune, and rhythm isn't his thing - but when he sings it makes me so happy!  One of the songs he sings is "You are my Sunshine".  I was thinking about the verses in that song:
The other night dear as I laid sleeping I dreamed I held you in my arms
When I awoke dear I was mistaken and I hung my head and cry
You are my sunshine my only sunshine you make me happy when skies’re grey
You’ll never know dear how much I love you please don’t take my sunshine away

I know that when you come join us, your Daddy will sing to you too.  I bet he'll call you his Sunshine!  But, by then holding you in our arms won't just be a dream.  By then we will know if you have my love of music or your Daddy's complete lack of musical ability.  Will you have Daddy's eyes that I love so much?  His sense of assurance and confidence? 

We are waiting for you.  And praying for you.   You may never understand the hope, prayers, heartache, and how truly special you are.  Oh little adored one, we already love you.  We have opened our hearts to you and are just waiting for you to find us and come join our family.  Until them, I will pray for you and I will love you, just as I will do every day of my life.

Loving you already,
Mom


*Future going through IVF me might disagree with today me on that one - when I'm taking multiple shots a day I and bruising!

Apr 11, 2012

Where is Your Hope?

While at church last Thursday, I had a truly enlightening conversation with a fantastic example of a Godly woman. Elaine has been dealing with a health issue over the past few months and had previously mentioned the strain it has put on her relationship with God. On Thursday she said:

I have been putting my hope in my human body instead of in the Lord.

Wow.

How guilty I am of that! I have put my faith and my hope in my human body. But this body will fail. This body will fade. This body will die. My human body WILL fail me.  My human body is not what matters.  It isn't about me! 

All things happen through Him. It will not be ME getting something right. It will not by MY miracle. My body can't get pregnant without God. All through this journey I have felt MY failure. I have felt MY yearnings. But this isn't about me!

My hope should be in the Lord.

I feel tired and overwhelmed and overrun by this trial. But that is because my hope is misplaced!  I don't need to hope for good follicles. I don't need to hope for strong swimmers. I don't need to hope for proper implantation.  The scripture gives me a clear path: Hope in the Lord. I don't need to hope for anything but the will of the Lord.

It’s easy to put my hope in other things; hope in my body and its ability to function correctly, hope in medicine, hope in the doctors. But that isn't right. I need to focus my hope on the Rock of Ages who will never let me down. 


“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  
(Isaiah 40:30-31)

I read a devotional recently that said to "listen to that still, small voice of hope on the inside that says, “No way. This is not who I am. I was created to live in victory. I was created to overcome this sickness. I was created to rise above these problems.” (sadly, I don't remember where I read this -- I copied the quote for my use not thinking I'd blog about it and want to credit it!)  God is faithful!  He created me to overcome this sickness and rise above this problem!  He created me! 

Isaiah 40:30-31 reminds all of us that if we put our hope in the Lord, He will renew our strength.  He will take away the weariness.  He will make sure we are not overwhelmed.  He will make sure our trials do not overrun us.  He will let us soar on wings like eagles, and He'll empower us to move forward confidently into the victory He has planned!




Father God,  I choose You.  I want to place my hope in you. Help me have the strength to put my hope in You and not in myself.  I know that I am not able to this on my own, and I have been guilty of hoping in myself not You. I know you have plans for me.  I know they are going to be good.  I know they are going to be wild.  I know they are going to be full of you.  I know that if I place my hope in You, You will renew my strength and guide me through this trial.  Please fill me with Your peace and Your joy and Your assurance.  May every move I make be of You, for You, and to glorify You.  Amen.



Apr 9, 2012

Patience

We did the trigger shot Saturday morning. 

We are now in the "two week wait."  This is the two weeks (the 14 days, the 336 hours) between ovulation and knowing. 



We are hopeful.  

We are waiting. 

We need to be patient. 

For the next 20,160 minutes we just don't know. 

For the next 1,209,600 seconds, all we can do is pray (well that and take progesterone which makes me incredibly nauseous). 

Apr 6, 2012

My Infertility Desert: Lenten Reflection

Barren. Infertile. Without.  I'm describing a wasteland.  A desert.  I'm also describing me and my current walk with Jesus. I yearn for a baby that doesn’t exist.  I am the only child still standing in the school yard after all of the teams have been picked.  It isn't like a child wishing for an elephant for her birthday, because I haven't forgotten about it and moved on to other toys.  I mourn for the child I don't have monthly.  Daily.  I am in a place that is lonely.  It is vast.  It is barren.  It is inhospitable.  It is lonely.



I am not catholic, but I am struck by the words of Pope Benedict XVI, who encouraged Christians to walk with Jesus across the desert of Lent and to “listen more closely to the voice of God, and to unmask the temptations that speak within each of us.”  My desert isn't lonely because I walk with Christ.

In Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. While there, he fasted. He did without what his body craved. In his time of trial, Satan tempted him. Three times, Satan offered Jesus what he craved (food, comfort, power) and three times Jesus trusted in the power of the Lord. Jesus called upon the Lord for His strength. He reminded himself of The Word.

When God saved the Israelites from slavery and abuse they wandered through the desert for forty years.  The journey should have only taken eleven days, but they lost their way and tried to go without God.  (Numbers 14:33-34  "Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. For forty years -- one year for each of the forty days you explored the land -- you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.") God used that time in the dessert to teach the Israelites and prepare the way for them to be His holy people.  For forty years God gave His people food, water, shelter.  He showed them He could take of them. He proved His trustworthiness.  He offered them His heart, His faithfulness, and His love. 

Right now, I am in a desert. My body, my heart, my soul all crave the same thing. 
Jesus came out of the desert stronger and so will I.  The Israelites left the desert with a better relationship with the Lord and so will I.

Lent is the 40 days preceding Easter and owes much of its meaning to the forty days and forty nights Jesus spent in the desert.  During Lent, many Christians will abstain from a worldly experience in an effort to draw closer to God.  Just as Jesus left behind everything that held him back and walked into the desert, we are called to leave behind our baggage and focus on Christ. 

This Lent, I gave up my guilt.  I am not cursed because I am infertile.  This is not a punishment from God.  I didn't do anything wrong.  I am not less of a woman.  I am not a bad wife because I don't have a child.  I am not a bad daughter.  I am not a bad daughter-in-law.  I have no reason to feel guilty.

 
But I do.


I feel like I must have done something wrong.  I feel like I am less of a woman.  I feel like I am a bad wife.  I feel like I am a bad daughter.  I feel guilty. 

This Lent I gave up this feeling of guilt.  Every day I woke up and tried to remind myself that, like the Israelites, God has a purpose for me and my journey. Like Jesus, I am in the desert but I am not alone. God is walking with me. I have been tempted… tempted to give up, tempted to follow a Hagar, tempted to test God, tempted to seek my comfort, my sustenance, and my power elsewhere. But God has been faithful to me.  God didn't bring about my circumstances, but He created me to be the perfect me.  Most importantly, he knows I am hurting and I am in pain.  He is trustworthy! He is faithful!  He offered me his heart! His love!  He will take care of me! 

God has proven Himself.  He is my Everlasting Father.  Counselor.  Wonderful Redeemer.  The Way.  The Truth.  The Light.  Friend.

At the end of the desert we celebrate Easter.  We celebrate because "on the third day He [Jesus] rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty" (from the Apostle's Creed).  We celebrate because Christ died for us.  He died for our sins.  He died for our salvation.  He keeps us company is oun deserts.  He knows the desert will end and we will find our gardens.  He knows where we are going and where we have come from.


He knows that there is life beyond the desert.

Apr 5, 2012

I Will Praise You in the Storm

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains --
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of Heaven and Earth"
-Psalm 121:1-2

God never promised being a Christian would be easy. (Just ask the disciples who were persecuted for their faith and teaching.  Ask the early Christians who had to meet in secret.  Even ask Jesus who prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane wondering if their was another way.) 

What God DID promise is He will be there.  He promises that "Nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).  He promises to "strengthen us and help us" (Isaiah 41:10).  He promises He "will never let you down".  He tells us "No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it." (1 Cor 10:13)

Right now my life is a storm.  The wind is howling.  The rain is falling.  Satan is pounding at my door.  This "storm" of infertility is all consuming.   I am scared.  I am lonely.

I am struggling right now to remember that even in the midst of this storm I should praise the Lord.  He is still worthy.  He is still faithful.  He is still trustworthy.  I know all of these things, but it's just hard right now.

I know that I don't need to analyze all of this.  I know that reading one more medical journal article isn't going to make this make sense.  I know that I need faith.  I know that I should give my worries to Him.  I know that He wants to be my umbrella and shelter me from this storm.  I know that I should let my faith sustain me.  I know that I am not alone.  I know I have my God. I have Casey (who is wonderful!). I have a supportive family. I have a great and supportive kitchen group. I have incredible and loving friends.  I am a child of God and I am not alone.  Even while this storm continues to rage outside, I need to seek my shelter in Him. 


But knowing this and doing it aren't the same thing. 


Last night in my kitchen group (it's like a small group, but less formal) we studied Matthew 7, the ending of the Sermon on the Mount (and its parralels in Luke in the Sermon on the Plain).  Our study book remarks:
Both sermons combine proclamation and obligation, and it is as hard to believe the former as it is to do the latter.  The saying about the narrow gate and the hard road (Matthew 7:13-14 and Luke 13:23-24) implies Jesus was quite aware of this, yet nowhere does he say, "What really matters is that you try" ... Instead, both sermons assume the disciple can do as Jesus says; neither sermon wrestles with the dilemma that worried Paul [in Romans 7].
For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  -- Romans 7:18-19

I feel a lot like Paul right now.  I want to be good.  I know what being good looks like.  I know I need to place my trust in God.  I know I need to give Him my fears.  I know I need to hand my worries over to Him.  I know that, utlimately, He is in control and I will get pregnant, adopt, or live a childfree life according to His glory. 

I might know these things, but I'm not doing them.  I'm terrified.  I'm scared.  I'm angry.  I'm holding tight to worries.  I'm trying to find the solution on my own and not with Him.  God promised He will be there.  And He is.  He is my Help.  He is my Savior.  He will never let me down. 
So even though I can't be good, I will praise Him.  I will continue repeating Psalm 121:1-2 to myself.  I will praise my Maker. I will glorify Him. Even in this storm, He is my help.

And I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm










"Praise You in This Storm"
by Casting Crowns

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus:]
And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

[Chorus]

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth




Apr 4, 2012

My Ovaries Are Over the Hill

Today didn't go well.

I'm sitting with puffy, red eyes as I write.

The news shouldn't have been shocking.  I shouldn't be this upset.  But, I am.

I kept hoping that Babydoc was wrong.  I kept thinking redoing the test would yield different results and it would all be okay. 


I apparently had too much hope.


Today Newbabydoc confirmed that I have premature ovarian aging (POA)** which has already reached levels of diminished ovarian reserve.  My ovaries are officially over the hill.


So what is premature ovarian aging? 

As a woman gets older, her ovarian reserve naturally declines.  This means that the number of eggs/follicles in her ovaries will decline in a fairly predictable way.  When this decline reaches a certain level, a woman is said to have diminished ovarian reserve and her chances of conception drop drastically.  For most women this happens in their 40s, with an expected age of menopause of 51. For approximately 10% of women, this decline happens earlier in life.  This is called premature ovarian aging.  For less than 1% of women it happens before age 30.  I can think of so many things I would rather be the lucky 1% for! 

The Center for Human Reproduction in New York offers this interesting little chart that shows where hormone levels *should*  be at different ages.  The top box shows the AMH (Anti Mullerian Hormone) which should be just above 3 for woman who is 27.  At my first test my AMH was 0.36.  This time it was slightly higher, but still below the critical number of 1.  My AMH level is in line with a woman in her 40s. My ovaries are over the hill.  They are old.  Apparently my ovaries didn't get the memo that I AM ONLY 27!!  In some regards I have always felt mature beyond my years, but I really wasn't looking for this kind of confirmation!! My FSH remains in the perfectly normal range (The bottom chart shows that anything less than 7 is appropriate for a woman my age.  Mine was 6).

Trying to get pregnant with these results is only part of the battle.  Unfortunately, the quality of a woman's egg declines in direct proportion to the quantity.  Therefore, women with diminished ovarian reserve have the highest rates of miscarriage of any infertility diagnosis.  This is because "approximately 95 percent of embryo quality comes from the egg, and poor quality embryos are more likely to result in miscarriages." 

I reread this mornings post and laughed a bit at na├»ve me who felt at peace moving forward with IVF.  I'm no longer at peace.  I am now plagued by fear.  By doubt.  Can I truly deal with attempting a round of IVF and daily (or even twice daily) shots just to have my ovarian function not be sufficient for transfer?  Can I emotionally deal with a successful IVF that results in a miscarriage?  If IVF were God's plan for me wouldn't I feel better about doing it?

More than the fear, I still have doubts.  So many people look at IVF as another option.  A final card to keep in the back pocket.  For many people it is the hope in the next step of the journey.  I don't feel hopeful when I think about IVF.  Instead I feel scared.  I feel doubt.  I wonder if it is my Hagar.




** In a previous post I mentioned that I was told I have premature ovarian failure (POF) and the POA and POF are synonyms. That is incorrect.   Premature ovarian failure is the complete cessation of ovarian function before age 40.  I haven't reached premature ovarian failure along the spectrum yet.  But it is just a matter of time before I get there.

Proverbs 3:5 --- A Reflection on Hagar

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding -- Proverbs 3:5




Easy to say. Hard to do.


How do I trust the Lord with all of my heart and still be a person of action? I truly believe God puts resources in our path to help us achieve His ends. He doesn't set two paths in front of so we can make the wrong choice. Sometimes two paths are just two paths. Neither one right. Neither one wrong.
But am I leaning on my own understanding instead of His by choosing to go forward with medical interventions?
I recently revisited the story of Abraham and Sarah (one of many tales of infertility in the Bible). God promised them a child. Despite years of infertility and Sarah's advanced age, God promised a miracle.
Sarah so desperately wanted a child that she was unwilling to trust the Lord. Instead, she leaned on her own understanding and asked her husband Abraham to lay with Hagar, her servant. Sarah did not allow God's will to be done in His time and instead placed her own timing above His plan. Hagar did indeed become pregnant and Sarah became hateful and bitter. Her Hagar nearly destroyed her.
Is this comparable to a decision to pursue IVF? To consider donor eggs? Are these medical treatments our modern way of using Hagar?
I truly believe God uses medicine to accomplish His will. These brilliant doctors and scientists are part of His plan. Every child conceived in this fashion is a child of God and perfect in His eyes. He knew every hair on their head before they were born. These children are "natural" and are of God.
But, how do I lean not on my own understanding? How do I ensure every move Casey and I make is a move in Him?
When I don't know what else to do, I pray.
The heavens didn't part. A bush didn't burn. An angel did not appear. I did not climb a ladder to heaven. I didn't get a clear answer to my questions. I didn't get a response to my doubts. What I did get was a sense of peace.




Proverbs 3:6 commands us to adknowledge Him and submit to Him and He will direct our path.  I believe peace came because my prayers to Him adknowledged that this is His decision not mine.  He isn't putting up big arrows.  No "Do Not Enter" signs are on any of the paths in front of us.  But I know in my heart that God is directing our path.  God is present.  God is walking with us.  God knows what is on our hearts.  God knows what we need.
This morning I am going to meet with the doc to get our test results and complete the "Clomid Challenge." Assuming no great changes in diagnosis, Casey and I are planning to go forward with further medical treatments. We plan to try IVF at least once and see what happens.
I don't know if this is my Hagar and one day I'll regret it. Perhaps Sarah prayed and felt at peace with her decision as well.
But for now, I am at peace. I have faith. I believe in a God who can move mountains. I believe in a God of miracles. And I believe miracles can come through medicine.


Proverbs 3:5-6 



5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Apr 3, 2012

Safe and Sound

I wasn't particularly productive today. I made zero progress on my dissertation. I didn't pre-write my Easter blog post. I didn't finish my lecture notes for my next class. I did unload the dishwasher - that counts for something right?

I spent my day sitting here:



Dog in my lap. iPad in my hand. TV in the living room at full volume so I could hear it. Taking cover from the tornadoes all over DFW.

Once I was out of the "danger zone" (cue corny music here - I've had the song in my head all afternoon!) I moved my tornado shelter to the windowless, although exterior, media room.



Aaahhh. So much more space. So comfortable. What a great view.

While I accomplished nothing today, I feel really blessed tonight.

At least twelve (unofficial count from NBC) tornados touched down across the metroplex today. Tornado sirens started going off a bit after 1:00 and the tornado warning was cancelled at 4:00 in Dallas County (later in areas to the northeast). People across the metroplex (including the TV personalities) called for prayers. Despite storms that tossed trailers into the air and flattened entire neighborhoods, no fatalities are reported. God is good!

Already tonight, the metroplex is rebuilding. Tree limbs are being pulled out of roads. Tarps have been pulled over gaping roofs. Families are giving each other an extra squeeze and remembering to say I love you.

As soon as Casey gets home* I plan to do just that. A big hug. A big I love you. A big prayer of thanksgiving to God for His blessings, for safety in His arms, for His process of rebuilding.





*Yes. He was out of town. Things like this never happen when He's home! When he is in town I don't get rear-ended. I don't get flat tires. Our pipes don't burst. Tornadoes don't strike. It all seems to happen when Casey travels.







Liar Liar Pants on Fire

No literally. On fire. My body is burning from the inside.

The first three times I used clomid, I took 50mg a day. This cycle I am doing the "Clomid Challenge" which requires I take 100mg a day.

Before I launch into my Clomid adventures, I will share experiences of others who have used the drug. One friend felt no side effects at all (lucky gal!) Most of the ladies I spoke to experienced some moodiness but didn't find it that bothersome. Approximately 1 in 10 women experience "hot flashes" on the drug. These are the same symptoms that women get from menopause. Before sending me home with a prescription, (the first doc back last fall) explained that I might have mild headaches, moodiness, or "a mildly uncomfortable warm sensation". The only side effect to be concerned about is any changes in vision.

I never understood the term hot flash before, but now I get it. My whole neck and chest is bright red. Someone has lit a match and is roasting me from the inside. My skin no longer fits my body and I want to claw it off.

Of course with my sensitive skin, and rubbing or touching leads to red irritated bumps. So now I am red, bumpy, itching, and did I mention on fire? Hot flashes is a bad name. Flashes are quick. Flashes are short. Flashes end. I have been flaming since Sunday night.

I am also ridiculously emotional. Emotional isn't all a bad thing. Every emotion I feel, I really feel. When I'm happy, I'm ecstatic. If I am amused, I am really tickled.

But

If I'm irritated, I'll bite your head off (sorry darlin' boy!). If I am sad, I am really upset. If I am frustrated, I am, well, really upset.

Casey spent last night in Houston for work so I caught up on my DVR. For me this meant a few ABC Family type shows and an episode of CSI. All of three minutes into CSI, I am teary eyed. Because someone died. On CSI. A show about solving murders. The kind of murders where people die. Why would I possibly get teary eyed about that? Of course, I am then frustrated with myself for being such a mess and crying over nothing. So I cry harder (because in amplified emotions frustration is upset).

The only upside to crying? Mixing water with boiling skin leads to some nice steam. Thriftiness is making your own sauna. No tools needed.

Apr 2, 2012

Happy Weekend!







friday night date night: dinner at fireside pies and a trip to the circus





saturday family day: watched our nephews baseball game, our nieces soccer game, and saw the family for her 10th birthday!





psalm sunday: worked with the mungerKids (love them!) and enjoyed the joyful noises they made





all weekend: enjoyed the perfect weather! outside at kids games, outside on patio reading a book, soaking in hot tub (not heated obviously! - that's no good for the swimmers or the follicles),