Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

"O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing."

(from It Came Upon A Midnight Clear)

Chuck and I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! You are all so often in my thoughts and in my daily prayers. I know that the holidays can be particularly hard for those who are waiting for their children, for those who have experienced loss, and for all of those who are childless not by choice. I pray that we will all find peace and joy this Christmas season, even despite our circumstances.

With love and prayers,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Maybe Someday

Well, our hopes for a successful first IUI are over. By Friday I was pretty sure that it would turn out to be negative, and Saturday the home pregnancy test I took confirmed my suspicions. I had decided that I would try to test again on Monday to be sure, but by last night I knew that today would be the start of a new cycle. No need to test again. I guess that is something positive about all of this; the turnaround is pretty quick. You can hit "reset" and start all over again in a matter of days. But sure, there's still disappointment.

I told myself that I would not freak out if this didn't work and I've partially kept up my end of the bargain. I did have a good cry late Saturday night, when I was still and quiet enough to let all of the worries and anxiety sink in. Okay, and I had another good cry today when I found out that my holiday plans with my family would be interrupted by this cycle's day 12 ultrasound. But ultimately, I'm okay. We had decided that we were going to commit to this no matter what day or season, so we are sticking to that plan. Fortunately, my family is very flexible and will work with us. I'm just a bit sad that some of our time together will be cut short.

So here we are. We're facing Christmas week with some disappointment but trying to hang on to joy in our hearts for the season. And we know we'll be okay. We've been through much harder things together, so we know that we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try this thing again.

And ultimately, we're still hoping that someday things will start to go our way. Maybe someday.

This song by Rob Thomas has really been speaking to me lately, and I wanted to share the lyrics with you here. (I know, I can hear just about any song right now and think it relates somehow to infertility!)
If I don't write again this week, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Someday (Rob Thomas)

You can go, you can start all over again
You could try to find a way to make another day go by
You can hide, hold all your feelings inside
You could try to carry on when all you wanna do is cry

And maybe someday we'll figure all this out
Try to put an end to all our doubt
And try to find a way to make things better now that
Maybe someday we'll live our lives out loud
We'll be better off somehow, someday

Now we wait and try to find another mistake
If you throw it all away then maybe you could change your mind
You can run, oh, and when everything is over and done
You could shine a little light on everything around you
Man, it's good to be someone

And maybe someday we'll figure all this out
Try to put an end to all our doubt
And try to find a way to make things better now that
Maybe someday we'll live our lives out loud
We'll be better off somehow, someday

And I don't wanna wait, I just wanna know
I just wanna hear you tell me so
Give it to me straight, tell it to me slow

'Cause maybe someday we'll figure all this out
We'll put an end to all our doubt
Try to find a way to just feel better now that
Maybe someday we'll live our lives out loud
We'll be better off somehow, someday

'Cause sometimes we don't really notice
Just how good it can get
So maybe we should start all over
Start all over again

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Past

Each year when December comes around and it's time to decorate for Christmas, one of my very favorite things is getting out some of the old ornaments that have been around since my childhood. After I got married and had a home of my own, my mom let me have a few special things from Christmases past. They are not valuable in the sense that they cost very much money, but to me they are worth so much. These ornaments were on or under our tree or placed somewhere in the house every Christmas for as long as I can remember. I consider it a joy to give them a place of honor in my home today. They serve as a reminder to me for many things.

Here is the old nativity scene that Mom always placed at the foot of our small tree:

And here is one of our favorite old ornaments that my sis and I always called "the mouse in the chimney":

You see, we didn't have much when I was growing up. The things that are special to me and have a special place in my memory and in my heart are not fancy. Times were very, very hard for a very long time. When my sister and I were little, our mom would put up a small tree. Most of the decorations on it were ones that we had made at school or church, because it's all we could afford and because those meant the most to her anyway.

I don't really remember Christmas of 1978. It was one month shy of my second birthday. It stands out in my mind, however, because of a few old Polaroid photographs and because of the stories that have been told about it. Christmas was certainly unique that year. It was the year my dad won $200 playing pool, and he and my mom decided to spend it all on Christmas! Here's what our biggest childhood Christmas Day looked like:

Wow! It was a really big deal to us. Although I was too young to remember the day, I do remember playing with that basketball goal and that baby carriage for years to come.

We only have pictures from two of those early Christmases because they were the only ones during which we owned a camera. After only a couple of years, the Polaroid stopped working right and my dad tossed it into a field in Kansas during a road trip. I've always wondered if anyone ever found it!

The next couple of photos come from the following Christmas, 1979. It was thirty years ago this year, and one month before my third birthday. This is more like what a typical Christmas would have looked like at our house. There wasn't any bonus from any barroom activity that year, but I'm quite sure my sis and I were just as excited about Christmas Day!

If you look very carefully, you can see the little nativity under the tree. I even think I see the mouse in the chimney toward the top of the tree.

(That's me in yellow and my sis in green.)

Later I know there were many years when we had no tree and knew there would be few or no gifts. Fortunately, Mom knew better than to invent stories about Santa Claus. How would you explain to poor kids that even though they'd been good, Santa wasn't coming? I have always appreciated the fact that our mom made the decision to tell us that Santa was just a story that people tell for fun, but it wasn't real. We didn't burst anyone's bubble with the news, either; we just felt like we were in on a grown-up secret.

Mom knew that one day we wouldn't care that we didn't have mall photos with the man in the red suit and white beard, because she knew she had tucked the true meaning of Christmas away in our hearts. Her gift was that we knew that Christmas was about Jesus: Emmanuel, God with us. She taught two little girls that God loved us whether we were bad or good, and He blessed us with the greatest gift of all even though we were poor. That was something that we could believe in and hold on to.

So, that's what I focus on when I remember Christmas past. Sure, it was hard to see others with their new toys and games and clothes year after year. The true lesson and meaning of things is difficult to recognize when you're a child, but it is one that I hope will stick with me forever.

Sometimes I still need a reminder that Christmas isn't about things. It's about a Savior, it's about love, and it's about family. It's a great lesson for Christmas: past, present, and future.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Surprise or Two

I'm a bit later than I wanted to be on updating you on our appointment last Friday (can't believe a whole week has passed already!), but here goes.

Chuck and I traveled to Houston in the freezing rain for our appointment at 8:45. We had our ultrasound and everything looked really good. We were hoping for ovulation, and we were happy to find out for certain that we had it. We decided, along with our doctor, to go ahead with an IUI to hopefully increase our chances of conception. He did it that day and we're now halfway through the 2 week wait, hoping for a chance at another pregnancy and trusting the Lord either way.

I always get anywhere between a little bit nervous and extremely nervous when going to appointments. As crazy as the day was with a chance of snow in Houston last Friday, the weather actually provided a nice distraction from our worries. There was even a nice hour-long break where we sat in the little cafe on the building's first floor, listening to Christmas music and eating breakfast while watching the snow fall. We actually felt... peaceful.

It was pretty surreal. Snow is certainly rare where we live, but this is the second year in a row that I've felt like it was like a special gift from God just to us! (Here is the post about last year's snow.)

I remembered that my digital camera was in my purse, so we snapped a few photos. Trust me, I'm not always all-smiles at my doctor's appointments, but I was excited to see the snow! Here I am in the parking lot:

Here's one where you can really see it coming down. This is a statue outside of the front of the building where our doctor's office is located. (Notice how one snowflake looks like a heart!)

And here we are back at home in our back yard. Unfortunately, the snow didn't stick like it did last year, but we still enjoyed it so much! We were more than happy to have something else to think about.

Thanks so much to all of you who left comments on the last post and sent e-mails saying you were praying for us! We truly felt it and we are so thankful for each of you. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Change of Pace

As they often do around this time of year, things have really been picking up around here. We returned home late Sunday from our Thanksgiving travels. It seems I have been working virtually non-stop on laundry, with breaks here and there to do some online Christmas shopping! We put our Christmas decorations up last Monday so it would be taken care of when we got home from Thanksgiving. We are so happy we did that.

It was great to walk in and find it already done and looking so festive and welcoming.

This week I also worked on addressing Christmas cards, which Chuck dropped in the mail for me on his lunch break today. We send out an insane amount of Christmas greetings each year. This time it was around 165! How many do you send?

We still have some shopping, wrapping, and outdoor decorating to do, but I'm finally starting to feel at least somewhat prepared for the holidays. There's even a chance of snow in Houston tomorrow!

We'll be leaving town again this weekend to go visit my family. Today my sweet little nephew N turned 7 years old. We are excited to celebrate with him over the weekend. When I spoke to him several days ago, he asked me if our bags were already packed and ready to go! What a sweetie.

This season always brings about a change of pace with all the activities that take place. The title of this post, however, signifies another change as well.

After discussing some of our concerns at the consultation with our doctor in October, we decided to step things up a bit. Although I know it may be hard for many of you to believe, we are now in the middle of our first cycle with the aid of fertility drugs. To clarify, in 8 years of trying to have a baby, my husband and I have conceived 6 times on our own, with each pregnancy ending in miscarriage. We have been under the care of fertility specialists for many years now, but it is only in the last 2 years or so that we have had trouble conceiving. Although we were never opposed to fertility drugs, we never needed to consider them before now. All this time our story has been about loss much more than it has been about trying to conceive. Even now it's hard to think of making something happen to achieve pregnancy when our true concern is what will happen AFTER. At the same time, we know that we will never find out until we take that step.

And so, this cycle marks my first experience with Clomid. I was nervous about taking it the week of Thanksgiving because of our plans to be away from home, but it went okay. I wasn't much more emotional or moody than I normally am. :)

Yesterday the first ultrasound showed 4 follicles, but only one that really looked promising at 18 mm. I have another appointment tomorrow to see how things are progressing and we will go from there. All of this is a huge change of pace for us, and even sharing all of these specifics feels so out of the ordinary for me. It feels like I'm reading an entirely different blog!

We are trying to remain as hopeful as we can. As wonderful as the idea of pregnancy is, remember that it is also a very scary time for us. While we would celebrate any life that we are given for as long or short a period of time, another loss would be devastating. A positive test is just the beginning and not the ultimate goal. Still, I'm asking the Lord to answer our prayers. I'm asking Him to intervene. I'm begging for a miracle and pleading for a fresh start.

Now that I've let the cat out of the bag, I will post some updates on how this cycle is going. It is a HUGE step outside of my comfort zone, though, as this area of my life feels so fragile and so tender still. My natural instinct is to keep it protected. For some reason it has been far easier for me to share the emotional side of my struggle than it is to divulge the physical day-to-day happenings.

You guys mean so much to us and your support is appreciated more than I could ever express. I can't thank you enough for choosing to walk this road with us! We would appreciate any of your prayers and well-wishes as we try to become more aggressive in our pursuit of this dream.

P.S. For any of my real-life friends who might not know what some of this stuff means, please feel free to email me and I'd be glad to fill you in. Love you guys!