Monday, March 29, 2010

100 Days

Today is day 100 of this pregnancy.

Hard to imagine, isn't it? It certainly is for me! I think we are still in shock that we have made it this far. We remain very thankful for each new day!

We had our first OB appointment today, and overall it went pretty well. The baby is doing fine; we were just disappointed that we got there for a 1:00 ultrasound and after waiting about 45 minutes, we found out that they had decided that we didn't "need" to have an ultrasound since we'd had one just a few weeks ago. It was pretty hard for me to get over and I had to pull myself together in a hurry, but we were eager to move forward with meeting our new doctor. I didn't figure it would do me much good to dig in my heels and demand that they give me an ultrasound! I guess that wouldn't have made a good first impression. :)

We spent a good while going over a bunch of information with the nurse before my exam began. We had a lot of ground to cover from the past 14 weeks, especially with my history. (Every single person who came into contact with my file made a comment about how large it was. Trust me, I know!) Pretty soon it was finally time to meet Dr R. We like her very much! She listened to all of our concerns and really helped to put us at ease. She did a full exam today and said that everything is looking really good. We did listen to the baby's heartbeat with the doppler, which is always comforting to hear. (She had to locate it twice because the baby was wiggly!) The doctor had lots of questions for us and said she would spend some time looking more carefully at our history. I felt good about this, and when we were checking out I heard the nurse tell someone to leave it out for Dr R to review. I swear it looks like a large novel!

After we left the doctor's office we had to drive down the road to go get some lab work done. The office has a lab, so I'm not sure why we had to get it done elsewhere. She ordered a full prenatal panel, plus thyroid and something else I can't remember, and a urine test (my second one of the day). We're certainly glad they are checking everything out.

Now, the other slightly disappointing thing is that we will have to wait 7 more weeks for another ultrasound. I know that it will be okay, but this will be very, very hard for me. I will see the doctor again in 4 weeks and I know we'll hear the heartbeat again then. That appointment is on April 26 (the day after my sister's birthday!), and our BIG appointment -- the "anatomy ultrasound" is scheduled for May 17! In the meantime, though, we are seriously considering buying our own doppler to help us get through the long wait. Any advice or suggestions?

We have now officially gone public with the announcement and the support has been great. I think it still feels funny for us to share the news so openly. My shy husband is not so sure about getting so much attention at work tomorrow, but I think it will be sweet! I have to say, it still doesn't quite seem real even now. Is this really happening?

I just want to remind you how thankful I am to share this journey with all of you. You have been my support system, my therapy, my prayer partners, and my dear friends for the last couple of years and I'm forever grateful.

I'm still praying for you, friends, especially for those of you who are waiting.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Heart Remembers

I have a favor to ask.

While I'm not a huge jewelry person in general, I do really like my James Avery store and catalogs. I realize that only a few states have these stores, and I'm pretty fond of mine. For a few years I've been collecting charms for my charm bracelet and I have a necklace or two of theirs that I wear fairly regularly.

I've had my eye on this silver charm for a couple of years:

I want to get it in memory of our babies that we never got to meet on earth.

Here's where you come in. I was thinking of getting something engraved on the back but I have no idea what. It seems like an overwhelming decision for me. Of course there's always the option of skipping the engraving and just having the charm and knowing in my mind and my heart what it commemorates. But if you've got suggestions I'd love to hear them. I know you know this, but just to repeat the information, we have lost six little ones between the years of 2002 and 2007 to early miscarriage. We never did name any of our babies that we lost, simply because we thought it was too hard emotionally, especially once the number of losses started growing. I don't know if the back of the charm would be large enough to list out six dates, or if that would seem too impersonal. Anyway, I figured you guys are probably far more creative than I am, so I thought I'd take some suggestions. Any ideas?

My charm bracelet currently holds other things that mean something to me. It has an S for my initial, a "little sister" charm from my sis, a cross for my faith, a book for my love of reading, a "precious aunt" charm, a wedding charm that my husband gave me for our 10th anniversary, and a few other things that reflect who I am.

But I don't feel like it's complete.

Of course you can't quite tell one's whole life story from a charm bracelet. There aren't a whole lot of charms out there to mark the hard times and the struggles that shaped you into the person you are. Should this baby be the one we'll get to bring home (and every day we feel more and more hopeful that it will be), I don't feel right about adding baby shoes or a tiny silver baby carriage until I've recognized another very important part of my journey.

My heart does remember. It remembers every positive pregnancy test, every dream and wish for a baby, every moment that we found out it wasn't to be, every tearful, sleepless night, every doctor's appointment where we felt hopeless or hopeful. My heart remembers that, even now while I walk around with an ever-growing belly, I desperately want others who may just see me as a pregnant woman to know what my story is. I didn't get here on the express train. I had to hike, on foot, up a very steep and rocky path. I felt every bump and bruise that I picked up along the way, and that has made me all the more grateful for where I am. It has nothing to do with feeling like I've earned it, but it has everything to do with simply wanting people to know that I have a story to tell.

I have to say, too, that it has made me feel kind of bad for the times that I passed someone with a protruding belly out in public and didn't even want to look their way. Seeing that was sometimes pretty painful for me, and understandably so. When you are hurting and grieving, there are some things that are really hard to face in that moment. But the truth is that I didn't know their story. I didn't know what kind of struggle they'd been through to get there. (And, by the way, I'm not at all suggesting that pregnancy should only be granted to those who have struggled. I'm very thankful that so many of my family and friends were able to have their children with no complications and few setbacks!)

Last weekend my husband and I went to a wedding here in town. (Two of his co-workers were getting married to each other.) I didn't expect to know very many people, but when we arrived, we found a few familiar faces in the room and sat at a small round table with a guy my husband knows from work. His wife was also there, as was their young daughter. I had met the guy before but had never met either of the girls. We introduced ourselves and made small talk during the reception. It wasn't long before they shared with us that they are expecting their second child. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to do at first. Typically, this would be a pretty awkward situation for me. Even with the knowledge that I was 13 weeks into what appears to be a successful pregnancy, I was afraid that it would be yet another situation where we would be bombarded with baby talk and have absolutely nothing to add to the conversation. Oh, we've been there so many times before!

But that night was different. Instead of holding back and putting my guard up, I decided to tell them where we are even though our news is still not "out there" at my husband's work. And do you know what? It turned out that they had a story, too. They had suffered loss both before and after their daughter was born, and are now expecting a son. It reminded me that everyone does have a story to tell, whether it resembles mine or not, and whether our struggle is similar or totally different. And it reminded me that sometimes when I open myself up and be honest about where I've been, it invites others to do the same. They probably wouldn't have mentioned their history with miscarriage had I not mentioned ours. I might have thought that we were totally different when, in fact, we had quite a few things in common.

Just as her heart remembers her babies and her story, my heart remembers mine.


Just an update for you:
Our first OB appointment is scheduled for Monday afternoon. We're almost there! Feeling nervous, but hopeful. I'll be 14 weeks tomorrow -- have officially entered the second trimester! As always, I'm so thankful for all of your prayers!

Please leave any suggestions for what you think would be a good engraving for the charm in the comments. Thanks!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fifth Ultrasound (Waking a Sleeping Baby)

Today we went in for our fifth ultrasound and final appointment (for real this time!) with Dr G. This was my "peace of mind" appointment to hold us over until we see the OB later this month. I still get nervous before we see the baby each time, and we continue to be amazed each time we leave the office with smiles and wiping away happy tears.

Our baby is still growing and doing great! In fact, he or she was almost too large to get a good picture on this particular ultrasound screen. Dr G says that the new OB's office will start doing abdominal ones and we should be able to see better for where we are at this stage. When he first located the baby on the screen today, we immediately saw the heartbeat but the baby wasn't moving around. We were a little disappointed after all of the movement we got to see two weeks ago. The doc did all of his measurements and then said he would try to "stir things up." He pressed down on my stomach and the baby bounced but was still asleep. After the doctor pressed my stomach a second time the baby woke up and moved around quite a bit. I told Dr G that he had made the baby mad, and he said, "That's what happens when you poke a sleeping baby!" It was so cute, but it really looked like he or she was not happy to be bothered during a nap! (Chuck says the baby must be a late sleeper like me, but I say it must be a deep sleeper like him!) :)

I have uploaded the new ultrasound pic from today, at 12 weeks 5 days. Baby's heart rate was 170 bpm. Remember, today's image is not very clear. That was because it's getting too big for Dr G's machine, and also because this time the picture is a view of the baby's front rather than the profile like last time. You won't be able to see as much detail, but I wanted to add it anyway for those who would like to see. Also, I will add the two video clips that Chuck was able to take with my digital camera! On the first one, you'll hear baby's heartbeat while the doctor measures it. The second video is where the doc wakes the baby up and you'll see it moving around. I hope you enjoy seeing the videos. I think I may watch them a few times a day for the next couple of weeks!

You can find the new (and older) images at this link or at the link in the sidebar: Ultrasound Pics

This week my husband's siblings are both on spring break from their jobs as teachers. His brother and his wife and our 11-month-old nephew spent the day with us yesterday from out of state, and his sister came from Houston and stayed the night with us. She was able to accompany us to today's appointment and really enjoyed being able to experience her first ultrasound! It has been a nice week here and it was great to have plenty to do as our appointment day approached.

We are still overwhelmed and touched by the prayers of our family and friends as we go through these weeks and months of waiting. Today we walked over to share the news with our neighbor, with whom I had just (tearfully) shared our story around Christmas of last year. She was so happy and said she couldn't wait to tell her church family as they had been praying for us these past few months. We are just as grateful for the prayers of people we don't even know! They (and you!) have all been carrying us through and we are so, so thankful.

Next appointment: March 29!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Just Before

It was 2001. I was 24 years old and had been married for 3 years. It was the year my husband and I decided to take a couple of huge steps. We were pretty young, but we knew our lives were about to change drastically.

He had accepted a new job in a new state and was leaving his hometown. I'd already left home when I went to college, and after marrying a local boy, his home became my home, too. We'd made lots of great friends there. His parents were there. We loved the town and the community and we were pretty comfortable there at the time, but we both agreed that the move was the right thing to do for our family of two. It was an amazing opportunity, one my husband wasn't even sure he was qualified for, but he interviewed anyway and got the job! He was going to be a software engineer at NASA. It was such an exciting time, but yes, we were both nervous. Change always makes me nervous.

We moved from North Louisiana to Southeast Texas in May of that year. The move actually brought us a few hours closer to my side of the family in Southwest Louisiana. That was some comfort for us, as well as the fact that my husband's sister lived nearby in Houston. It was a tough transition. I think the hardest part of all was leaving our church family and having to start from scratch in a brand new place with no familiar faces. We were finally on our own, though, and as scary as it was, it did feel pretty good. We were making it! We had a cute little apartment and were already talking about buying a home sometime in the next year or so.

That was where we were just before we decided to start trying to have children. It was just before our lives really did change forever.

A few months after our move we made our first trip back to my husband's hometown. We had decided to set up a photo shoot with a friend of my brother-in-law's, a young lady that he and my husband knew from high school who was starting a photography business in town. We had seen some of her work and really liked it, so we scheduled a time to meet with her while we were in town. It was a fun day for us and we thought she did a great job with the photos.

Now, when I look back at these pictures all these years later, it's hard to describe what I feel.

It was just before we were faced with the toughest trial of our lives.

We were young, in love, and so hopeful for the future.

It was just before I realized that I would have to be much stronger than I ever thought I was.

Toward the end of that year, we decided that we wanted to start trying to get pregnant. To tell you the truth, we didn't know a whole lot about ovulation schedules or anything else like that, but I was learning. I started charting my temperature and paying attention to certain clues. Early in May of the next year, I got my first positive pregnancy test. It was almost a year to the day after we'd moved. Most of you already know the story, but I miscarried 2 months later, as we were getting ready to move into our first home. (I've written more about that loss here.)

It was the beginning of the scariest ride of our lives. The next 7 years or so are almost a blur of grief, and hope, and devastation, and most of all loss. I almost can't believe all that has happened since that year. I never would have dreamed I could live through 6 miscarriages and still find the courage to keep on trying.

Sometimes I miss the couple in those photos. But I know the couple we are today.

We're still young (relatively speaking), still very much in love with each other, and we're still hopeful for our future. And this time, we know that we can make it through some really, really tough times. We know that we can survive, and not only that, but we can keep on living and keep on hoping, despite our setbacks and disappointments!

This photo was taken just before I realized how much I truly loved my husband and just how grateful I would be to have him by my side.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Updates And A Confession

It has already been a week since I last updated the blog. Today I started getting e-mails from concerned friends wondering how we were doing, so I knew it was time to write again! (Thank you for caring so much!) Lately in between appointments I don't always feel that I have a lot to report, and I think part of me wants to avoid constantly writing about how nervous I am and how eager I am for the next chance to see if our baby is okay.

But the news is that I'm doing well! We spent the weekend in Louisiana again, this time helping my sister move into a new house. After we got home, I spent a few days asking around for OB recommendations. Fortunately I had tons of help from a sweet local friend who went out of her way to ask around and even make phone calls on my behalf! (Thank you, Meagan! You are awesome!)

I wound up choosing a doctor who was recommended by a blog friend. (How cool is that? Thank you, Rachel!) When I called to schedule the appointment, ideally for next week, I found out that the doctor has next week off for vacation. Of course, the week she returns will be busy, so they weren't able to schedule me for that first OB appointment (and ultrasound!) until Monday, March 29.

I took the appointment, but the more I thought about it the more worried I became about having to wait so long between ultrasounds. Please understand, I know that pregnant women have to do that all the time, but when you've experienced half a dozen pregnancy losses, it really messes with your mind. I'm not far enough along to feel the baby moving around inside and I truly am constantly concerned that something terrible has happened and the baby is not okay and I just don't know it yet.

So, to make a long story short, I had to call Dr. G's office (my specialist) to have them transfer my records to the new doctor (Dr. R). While I was on the phone with the nurse, I was asking just very casually about the possibility of visiting one of those ultrasound clinics in between appointments simply for my peace of mind. I'm not quite sure she understood where I was coming from at first, but I explained that I'm not just looking for a really great 4-D picture of our baby to put on the refrigerator, and I'm not concerned at this point with trying to find out whether they can see boy parts or girl parts. I just want to know that our baby is alive and well! Naturally, I got all emotional on the phone (which always frustrates me), but the nurse was super sweet and kindly offered me one more visit to their office for an ultrasound! I was so relieved and at the same time I felt so silly for not having thought to ask that. It never even crossed my mind. After we said goodbye to Dr. G last week I guess I just thought that was it for good!

As it stands now, we have an ultrasound scheduled with dear Dr. G for Thursday, March 18, which is only 8 days from now and feels so much better to me than having to wait 19 days! I know it is strictly for my peace of mind but I feel that it will really help me to relax a bit, which I know is important right now. Not too much longer after that, we'll have our first OB appointment and ultrasound with Dr. R on March 29.

I'm telling you, I still feel like it's a miracle that I haven't had any cramping or signs of bleeding and I feel very grateful for that every single day after everything that has happened in the past. I can't believe that this weekend I'll be 12 weeks. All I know to do is keep thanking God and keep moving forward!


Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll confess something to you that I find more than a little bit embarrassing.

Today I had to have my wedding rings cut off of my finger.

Yes, I'm only 11 weeks pregnant, and yes, you read that right.

Allow me to explain. Something I don't think people realize unless they've been through infertility and/or miscarriage is this: It often causes you to gain quite a bit of weight. Sure, my rings were a bit more snug than the day my husband slipped them onto my slender finger almost 12 years ago. I'm not as young and certainly not as thin as I was at the age of 21! But over the years I gained a little bit of weight with each pregnancy. It was just a few pounds each time, but when multiplied by 6, it added up. On top of that is the fact that in between losses, I wasn't exactly feeling cheery and motivated to get into shape. On the contrary, I was depressed. For quite a long time.

I've read so many times where others in similar situations have had to deal with weight gain. (I know that many fertility drugs can add unwanted pounds, too.) It's not a fun thing to realize one day that you're walking around with 30-40 extra pounds and associating that weight with loss and sadness and grief, but that's what happened to me. I do recognize that reaching my 30s and enjoying comfort foods haven't helped my case much, either. In fact, last year I was making great strides to a healthier me. I was actually enjoying an exercise routine and feeling really good about losing some of that weight (and getting those rings off myself)! I do hope to resume that someday.

Now here we are well on our way in pregnancy #7 and I knew that the ring situation would definitely get worse before it got better. So, my fingers will be naked for the next 6 months at least. I'm trying not to beat myself up over it. It's not the pregnancy weight that I'm concerned about one bit, but all that other extra weight does get me down. And it didn't help my self-esteem that both of the women in the jewelry store today looked like bean poles, and both shared their stories of having had their own children. (One of them had even had TWINS, and I'm quite sure she never had to have her rings sawed off!) *Sigh*

Despite all of that, I'm determined to try to avoid comparing myself (and my body) to everyone else and just enjoy the miracle that is this baby! One day I'll have that ring repaired and it will be all shiny and new and none of this will have mattered a bit.

Right? :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fourth Ultrasound

The word I keep using to describe today's ultrasound is "amazing."

I think today it finally became a reality to me that this may actually happen.

Something about being farther than we've ever been in a pregnancy before,
something about seeing our baby so full of life and moving around inside,
something about the look of wonder on my sweet husband's face, and
something about our specialist releasing us to see a regular OB made it all begin to sink in.

Today we had to wait a long time to see the doctor. Well, it felt like a long time. It probably took about 45 minutes total between the time we got there and the time he walked into the exam room. The longer it took, though, the more nervous I became. Chuck and I didn't have a whole lot to say as we waited. He gave me reassuring smiles and told me how sure he felt that it was going to be okay. As soon as the exam began, I could see that the baby had grown significantly. When things came into focus and we saw the baby moving its little arms around, I finally let out the deep breath I'd been holding in. And some tears, too, of course.

Seeing that baby move was like a balm for my heart -- a heart that's been hurt so many times before in rooms just like that one.

All of your encouraging e-mails, texts, and comments mean so much to us on appointment days. I absolutely cannot wait for the opportunity to tell this little one how much he or she has been prayed for and hoped for. I hope that those of you who are still waiting truly know how much we pray and hope for you as well. You are in our minds and on our hearts so very often.

My goal for the next couple of days is to find a good OB in the area where we live. I have my regular OB/GYN from before, but I've decided to switch and I've been asking friends for recommendations. Dr G wants me to schedule the appointment for 2 weeks from now. Yes, I'm feeling sad that our time with Dr G is up, but I keep reminding myself that this is what we hoped would happen. This is the point we hoped to reach. And I know that he wouldn't turn us loose unless he felt good about how the pregnancy looks. That in itself makes me feel better.

Finally, I have decided to make our ultrasound pics available for those who wish to see them. You can click on the link below, and I'll put another one in the sidebar so it will always be there. Please understand that I totally get it that not everyone will want to see these images. That is absolutely fine. That's why I don't want to put them on the blog, but they will be just a click away for anyone who would like to have a look.

Pregnancy #7 Ultrasound Pictures

Thanks for the many ways that you support us and show us that you care! We are feeling more and more hopeful, and we are giving God all the glory.

Here are our current stats: Baby is measuring at about 41 mm, with a heart rate of 179 bpm. In just a couple of days I'll be 11 weeks along.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Lesson From Joseph

I have a lot of favorite stories and people from the Bible. It would be hard to pick my very favorite. Certainly living through infertility has made me grow very fond of people like Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth, Rachel, and Rebekah. But I also love to read about the life of Daniel, someone of great moral character whose life is a testament to faithfulness and obedience, and whom God used in such powerful ways. My husband's dear grandfather was named after him and he truly lived a life worthy of that name!

Another one of my favorite Biblical figures is Joseph (the one whose father was Jacob, not Mary's husband Joseph, although his is a remarkable story as well). Yesterday I read something really great over at the Desiring God blog about the life of Joseph. It is a fantastic post about how the circumstances we may be facing don't necessarily tell our whole story. I think it will speak to you as much as it did to me! I hope you'll take the time to click over and read the original post, called Staying Faithful When Things Get Worse.

Here is an excerpt from it. I hope it's just enough to draw you in so you'll click over for the rest of the story:

Darkness had swallowed the light again. Joseph dreaded the night in this foul Egyptian hellhole. It was hard to fight off the relentless hopelessness as he awaited the escape of sleep.

Day after monotonous day passed with no sign of change. The familiar desperation surged hot in his chest. His youth was seeping out the cracks of his cage. He was pacing in his soul. Joseph wanted to scream.

Fists to his forehead he pleaded again with God in the dark for deliverance.

And he remembered. It was the remembering that kept his hope alive and bitterness at bay...

Click HERE to read the rest.

Come back and leave me a comment about what you thought of the post after you read it. I'd love to know your thoughts!

Remember several years ago when Dream.Works released an animated film called Joseph: King of Dreams? I've always liked it, and I particularly love one of the songs featured in the movie during Joseph's time in prison. I was happy to find the clip to attach to this post and share with you. It's a great little song with a message that I always need to hear. Hope you enjoy it. I'll copy the lyrics for you below as well.

Better Than I

I thought I did what's right
I thought I had the answers
I thought I chose the surest road
But that road brought me here
So I put up a fight
And told You how to help me
Now just when I have given up
The truth is coming clear

You know better than I
You know the way
I've let go the need to know why
For You know better than I

If this has been a test
I cannot see the reason
But maybe knowing I don't know
Is part of getting through
I try to do what's best
And faith has made it easy
To see the best thing I can do
Is put my faith in You, for

You know better than I
You know the way
I've let go the need to know why
For You know better than I

I saw one cloud and thought it was the sky
I saw a bird and thought that I could follow
But it was You who taught that bird to fly
If I let you reach me
Will you teach me?

For You know better than I
You know the way
I've let go the need to know why
I'll take what answers You supply
You know better than I

Monday, March 1, 2010

Find Out Who Your Friends Are

Yesterday on, one of my friends who often posts quotes that she likes as her status message had this as her quote of the day:

Do not think of a painful experience as a dark time in your life. You emerge out of everything learning something or becoming a better person. You realize who your real friends are and how much your loved ones mean to you. ~Colleen Ho

This quote really resonated with me and I'm guessing it might with many of you as well. I liked it so much that I asked to borrow it for my own status message. I'm still thinking about it today, so I thought I'd share it with you here on the blog. The thing is, it's not that I've never realized this before. It's not necessarily a brand new idea for me or anything; I just like the way that it's stated. It's simple, yet so true.

I have many times thought of my experience with recurrent pregnancy loss as a dark time in my life. The darkest, actually. I am, however, able to see how much I've learned and how it has changed me, in many ways for the better. But oh, that last sentence is the one that really hits home.

"You realize who your real friends are and how much your loved ones mean to you."

Yes, yes, YES! Absolutely nothing on earth has made me realize this until I lived through this trial. My loved ones were very precious to me before, but I really do believe that this is a life lesson I've truly been able to experience in the past decade of my life -- the one affected by infertility and loss.

Here is something true about me: I'm not interested in fair-weather friends. I can totally appreciate that some friends are meant to be more casual and we may not fully connect and become really close. That's completely fine. But what I mean is that I'm not into the kinds of friends who only want to be around when life is peachy. Then, when troubles come, they are nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, I've experienced a few friends like these.

Going through infertility sure does help you find out who your friends are, especially when your experience is a very long one. Some haven't hung in there and have eventually fallen away. Some were really supportive at the beginning, but slacked off when there wasn't a quick resolution to our problem. No, it's not always due to what I'm going through. Sometimes distance and time and other factors can come between friends. But sometimes it's true that friends have no longer been willing to figure out how to relate to us or provide encouragement, or simply be there when we've needed it most. I also recognize that it's not always the other person's fault. I'll accept some of the blame. Sometimes I've let the fact that I don't fit in well at play dates or birthday parties or baby showers get in the way of relationships with my friends who are parents. I admit that.

But then there are times when I've truly made an effort and the effort is not returned. It's not something I'm bitter about, but I do know this: my true friends didn't go away when I started having miscarriages. They didn't totally forget that we existed when they had their own children. They know that sometimes I need to talk about all of this, and sometimes I need to talk about anything but this. They know that I'm hurting inside even when things look okay on the outside. They haven't put a time limit on my grief. They encourage us to keep going, and they don't offer all kinds of unwanted advice to try to fix our problem. They pray for us and they tell us that they do. Many times they even have their children praying for us, which always touches my heart.

I have a feeling that, if this pregnancy continues to progress and as the word continues to get out, some of those fair-weather friends are going to come out of the woodwork. They'll want to pick up right where we left off three, five, ten years ago, and they'll want me to suddenly be normal again so we can go on pretending that life is always happy and perfect. I'm just not sure I'll be ready to do that. It is so much sweeter to celebrate victories with those who were with you in the times of defeat! They are the ones who will truly rejoice with you because they've helped you carry the burden.

I hope this post doesn't come off as harsh. It is actually coming from a very positive place, a place where I'm thankful for who my friends are and not who they aren't. This past week I was able to have lunch with a dear friend who moved out of state more than a year ago. We sat together at my new favorite burger joint while her adorable toddler wiggled in her seat and ate more mustard than hot dog. My friend had a miscarriage several months ago, after her daughter. I hurt so badly for her when that happened and I hated that we were miles apart. But that shared experience is not why we are able to have great heart-to-heart conversations over cheeseburgers with tears in our eyes. I believe we can do that because we have the bond of friendship and the common denominator of a shared faith, and because we haven't allowed parenthood or loss or time or distance to change that.

Inevitably, after I write a post like this, some sweet friends will send me messages or call and say that they feel they haven't done enough or fear this post was in some way about them. Definitely NOT! If you are a real-life friend and you read this blog, that tells me two things: 1. I trust you enough to invite you to follow along with us on this journey of ups and downs, and to read my most personal thoughts about a very personal issue; 2. You care enough to take the time to read it. Trust me when I tell you, that is enough! Those things alone mean so much to me, and those of you who do read it are so faithful to leave comments and send messages and notes of encouragement along the way. I hope you know how much I treasure you!

To my fellow bloggers, you guys are so special to us. Never could I have imagined having so much love and support from people who started out as total strangers. You bless me in ways I could never describe. Thank you for becoming true friends to us and choosing to walk with us. You are often in our prayers and our conversations with one another. My husband knows you all by name, or at the very least, blog title!

And to our family, who love us unconditionally whether we ever have a baby or not and in all of our imperfections, you mean the world to us! There is no way we could have gotten this far without your love and prayers.

I have found who my true friends are, and I know now more than ever how much my loved ones mean to me. It's a beautiful thing.


Pregnancy update:
Still doing well and hanging in there! I'm now 10 weeks, 2 days. Just 3 more sleeps until our next ultrasound. Prayers are appreciated, as always!