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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Hello friends! Since I have so many different updates for this week, I thought I'd give them to you in bullet points so I can keep them all nice and orderly. Can you tell I like lists? :)
Here goes!

  • First, we had a great week with our oldest nephew, A, last week! At nine years old he is getting so big and far more independent. On his first night here he declared that he would be fine sleeping by himself in the guest room. His younger brother preferred to sleep in our bedroom in a sleeping bag the week before. I have to admit I was a little sad, but each night he did ask me to lie down with him until he was asleep! He is still my little cuddle-bug, thankfully. We are so happy that we were able to spend time with both of them individually this summer before we have a brand new baby in the house. It was a real treat for this aunt and uncle.


  • This week I've been working very hard to get caught up with writing thank-you notes. I'm completely caught up, which is such a good feeling! I'm guessing I've written over a hundred already. My goal was to get them done before we have our fourth and final shower coming up next weekend and then I'll start all over again. This one will be local with many of our friends from church and some family. I'm looking forward to it! We are so, so thankful for the generosity and support.


  • My mom is finally doing better after her back surgery two weeks ago. She did have some setbacks and had to stay in the hospital for much longer than expected. The surgery went well and her back is feeling great, but she continued to have severe pain in her leg. My mom is very, very tough, so we knew that it must be hurting her terribly. We were afraid she would have to have a second surgery, but they eventually diagnosed her with bursitis in her hip and continued to treat it with pain medication and cortizone injections. She was finally able to take walks up and down the hallway and practice building up some strength in her legs. She has been home from the hospital for two days now and is doing pretty well. She still has lots of healing and resting to do, which I know is a challenge for her since she stays so busy. She may still require another procedure in the future but for now we are just waiting. Thanks for the prayers for her! Please continue to pray for her recovery, and especially that she will be okay to come visit baby Lily in mid-September!


  • Over the past couple of weeks Chuck and I have been gradually working on the nursery and I'm so happy to say that it is almost finished! I hope to get some pictures posted here to share with you in the next week or so. Just a few days ago we worked on hanging things on the walls, and even now while I write this I have the washer and dryer going with loads of her 6-9 month clothes. I'd already cut tags off of and laundered most of her 0-6 month things and they are nestled sweetly in drawers in her room. Doing all of this brings me so much joy as I think about how much closer we are to finally bringing a baby home. Sometimes I go in her room and look around just to take it all in and thank the Lord for answering this prayer.


  • We have about 7 more weeks to go (just about 50 more days!) until Lily's arrival. We are still counting down to the goal of a scheduled C-section at 39 weeks. At my last OB appointment things were still going well. My blood pressure was nice and low and the baby seemed to be measuring on target. So far I've gained a little more than 30 pounds total with the pregnancy. I actually feel pretty good about that number and am not at all embarrassed to share it with you. Hopefully it will make some of you feel better if, like me, you grow tired of reading about people who gain all of 2 pounds in 40 weeks! :) I'm also covered in stretch marks and I don't mind one bit.


  • Besides getting Lily's clothes washed and her room ready, the times I've been enjoying most this week especially are late at night when she gets very active. I've been having trouble sleeping lately (not necessarily because she's active but because it's getting hard to get comfortable in the bed) and I'm realizing how much I thoroughly enjoy those quiet moments with my sweet little girl. Feeling her kick and watching her roll around in my belly are things that I will greatly miss about this stage of pregnancy. Not to sound pessimistic at all, but I have no idea whether this will be my only opportunity to experience this. I don't want to take a single moment for granted.

As I'm sure you can imagine, spending two weeks with our nephews, checking up on my mom, working on the nursery, and other regular chores around the house have kept us very busy this month! It has gone by so quickly and now the calendar is mostly empty while we wait for September. I have so much reading to do to get caught up with you and your blogs! I have browsed through my feedreader and kept up with most things, but I'm looking forward to really getting back in touch in the next few days. Hoping you are all doing well. I haven't forgotten to keep you in my prayers!
Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Days

First I want to thank you so very much for the precious and supportive comments on my last post. It means a great deal to me that so many of you care and continue to follow our journey and take the time to encourage me with your words. Thank you!

We have had another very busy and very full couple of weeks, but I'm grateful for every moment. Last weekend we had our third baby shower, near my hometown this time, hosted by my sister and held at her church. We celebrated sweet Lily with cake, food, and gifts galore!

(Me at 29 weeks, with the adorable cake)

(With my lovely sister and mother)

I was so touched to have so many wonderful people there with me. My husband attended this one and was our official photographer for the day. My sister and mom were there, of course, as well as members from both my mom and dad's side of the family. My dad and his wife came by for a little while before the shower began. It is always a bit tricky to have events like this when you come from divorced parents, but thank the Lord it went really well. Two of my older half-siblings also came with their families, along with my mom's sister, my dad's sister and my 92-year-old grandmother. Chuck's sister, grandmother, and aunt were also with us that day.

(My husband and me with our sweet grandmothers)

There were so many friends surrounding us and it meant so much to us! Four of my classmates from grade school were there and another dear school friend was there with her sweet daughter who is practically grown now. I could go on and on about how I felt seeing the joy on the faces of our family and friends over this miracle! As hard as it used to be to imagine attending my own baby showers, I have to say they have been such memorable days for me. Just as I hoped and imagined, I'm able to look around the room and thank the Lord for putting people in our lives who truly love us, care about us, and pray for us. It's hard to find words to express how that makes me feel.

I was touched to have several old friends there to share the day with, but I also had a very special guest whose presence made me cry tears of joy. There, at my baby shower, I was able to meet a precious blog friend face to face for the first time! This was my third time to be able to meet a fellow blogger in person and it is always an incredible experience. Crystal and I made the connection quite a while ago that we were from the same general area, and I was delighted that she came to share this day with us. You see, Crystal is also expecting her miracle baby, due just three months after my Lily! Oh how I've prayed for her throughout her struggle (just as I still do for so many of you) and it was such a huge blessing to be able to share hugs, tears, and smiles on that day.


Thank you so much, friend, for giving me this beautiful memory! I can't wait to tell my daughter about it someday. The gifts you brought were so precious and I know they were from the heart!

We once again returned home with a car-full of wonderful, generous gifts from dear friends and family. My sister, her friends, and my mom did a great job of making the day so special for us.

We've had our sweet nephew, N, here with us for the week and we have had such a great time spending one-on-one time with him! We made this plan several months back so we could spend some extra time with my sister's boys before the baby arrives. They usually come together, but this year they were both so excited about coming one at a time. So we've had a 7-year-old with us all week and we are sad to have to take him back home this weekend, but his older brother will be here with us next week! I know I don't have to tell you how much we love spending time with our boys. :)

Finally, can I just tell you what a remarkable uncle my dear husband is? He has come home from work every single day this week excited and ready to spend some fun time with N. They went bowling, played at the arcade, and spent an afternoon at a water park. The three of us also went to the movies, played games, and got in lots of cuddle time with movie nights at home. Even as I write this from the living room couch, they are curled up in our bed watching The Lion King together. (Actually, I just peeked in and they are both asleep!)
My husband loves it. And he will do it all over again when N's brother comes to stay with us next week! I love watching him with my sister's kids, and my heart overflows when I imagine how wonderful he will be with his daughter.

One of the last things they did together before we take N home tomorrow was put Lily's crib together. N loves to help build things, so it was the perfect project for them! We got the rest of the furniture in this week as well and her room is beginning to take shape. We don't yet have the crib mattress and the walls are not decorated, but I will post pics of the nursery in the coming weeks when it is done.

I can't believe that tonight I will go to sleep in my house while the room down the hall has a baby bed in it. Thank you, Lord. My heart is full!

One final word: please keep my sweet mom in your prayers. She had back surgery (which lasted a whopping seven hours) this week and is still recovering in the hospital. I know she would greatly appreciate your prayers right now! We will see her this weekend.

Friday, July 9, 2010

On Infertility and Faith

(Normally when I get ready to type a post, I sit down and write what I want to say and hit "publish." It usually takes me about an hour to write and proofread it. This post, however, is one that I've been chewing on for several days before putting it out there. It's been on my mind this week after the combination of an article I read and an e-mail from a friend. I'd be interested in your feedback if you wish to share it!)

I wish we lived in a world where people who desperately wanted to have children could always succeed. I think it will always hurt my heart that this isn't so.

One of the many things about infertility that is so hard to grasp is that it's not the kind of journey where it always ends the same way and everyone gets a baby. I know that, and while it may be hard to hear this from me at this time in my life, that's where I thought my journey might very well go. While I always prayed, hoped, and wished for children of my own to love and raise here on earth, I had no guarantee that it would really happen one day. I had absolutely no way of knowing whether I would ever have a normal pregnancy. Even though that's what I hoped for and tried to achieve, in my mind I knew that I needed to plan for either outcome. Children or no children. That was by far one of the hardest parts of my journey, aside from losing my babies to miscarriage.

There are so many positive-sounding pieces of advice that we've probably heard all of our lives, like "If you work really hard at something and don't give up, you will succeed." Or, to quote Back to the Future (part one), "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything." And there's the old standby, "Good things come to those who wait." These might work 99% of the time in business or many other areas of life, but they just don't apply to infertility. "Hang in there" and "don't give up" don't necessarily always work with having a baby. With that being said, I firmly believe that you should pray and try and seek medical help for as long as you can or want to or have the means to, if your desire is to have a baby. I think you should give it your all and plead with the Lord to intervene. But I don't think that the right combination of effort, good luck, positive thinking, and strong faith are what will make a baby.

I always would cringe when someone told me that my pregnancy would work if I had enough faith or if I just thought happy, positive thoughts. You can imagine how I felt when it didn't work. What was wrong with me? How did I manage to mess this up again? Was my faith really so weak?

While I'm not always the world's most positive person, I think I do okay at having a decent attitude most of the time. And I certainly am a person of faith. Without my faith, I don't know where I would be. But I don't think that having faith in my amount of faith will get me very far! And I don't even think that the key was having faith that I would one day have a baby, because I knew deep down in my heart that it might not happen for me. I could have faith as small as a mustard seed or as huge as a mountain, but the size of my faith doesn't affect my ability to carry a baby to term. (Stay with me here!)

Faith in my Lord's ability to act, on the other hand, is what matters. One of the lessons I learned through recurrent pregnancy loss was that I needed to focus my faith and my trust on my Savior, and on Him alone: on who He is and what He can do. My job is to believe, but it's His job to act. I was beginning to place all of my faith in having a baby someday, just knowing that if I could do that I would be happy and fulfilled. I came to see that God was the only one who could make this happen for me. He was the only one who could give me joy, peace, and fulfillment, and He was certainly the only one who could put life in my womb. Now, that didn't mean that he ultimately would make that happen. What it meant to me was that I needed to trust Him and have faith in His ability to act no matter what. As hard as it was for me to grasp, I had to learn that He would still be Lord and He would still be sovereign even if I never had children.

As I wrote about in my last post, the Bible tells us that nothing is impossible with God. This is a wonderful promise for the barren woman today, just as it was for Elizabeth way back then! I firmly believe that sometimes this is the message that might just help someone to keep pressing on when they feel like giving up. God can do the impossible, which is immensely encouraging when you feel that your situation is impossible! That's where I was without a doubt. I couldn't see how my crazy, death-trap of a womb would ever become a good home for a baby. I had tried and failed six times and had no real answer or solution, no guarantee that our seventh attempt would be any different. But we hoped and prayed for a miracle anyway, and we trusted that it was up to the Lord to give and sustain life to this baby.

Believing in the impossible (translated = believing that God could do the impossible and praying that He would) helped us to carry on and find the courage to give it another try. And by His grace, our baby is surviving. It's not because we had faith in our amount of faith (because believe me, I know I didn't). It's because God acted and because He is God. I don't think for one second that I'm still carrying this baby because I finally figured out the right formula. On the contrary, I take every opportunity to make sure that it is God and only God who gets the glory for this miracle.
(I recently read a great article about this topic of faith on the Desiring God blog that I thought was so helpful. It certainly explains things much better than I could. Here's the link if you'd like to check it out: Peter: When the Rock Sunk Slowly)

I've come to realize that there are several other places in Scripture where we see examples of this. It appears that Jesus healed many people on the basis of their faith. It would be easy to think that they were healed simply because they had tremendous faith. But if we look closely, we can see that they had faith specifically in the fact that they knew and believed that Jesus was able:

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"
"Yes, Lord," they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; and their sight was restored... (Matthew 9:27-30)
(See also Matthew 9:20-22; Luke 7:1-10)

Something else that I've seen in my reading this week is the reminder that there is power in prayer. I believe this with all of my heart, which is why I've prayed for so many years for our children and why I continue to pray diligently for each of you. I'm reminded of Hannah's story in 1 Samuel, as well as this verse in Genesis 25:21, "Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant." The Bible invites us again and again to approach the Lord with confidence and bring our requests to Him with expectant hope. (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 5:14-15)

At this point let me say that I know that some people who have walked the road of infertility and/or miscarriage will prayerfully come to a time when they feel that it's right for them to stop pursuing pregnancy or treatment. I think this is a brave decision that takes far more trust and faith in the Lord that I can fully imagine. And I don't believe that it is lack of faith or "giving up." I don't understand why loving, caring, wonderful people who want to have children sometimes won't have the opportunity to do so. I'll never understand that, and knowing some of the truly wonderful women in my life who haven't had children and yet always wanted to will always make my heart ache. Another thing I've learned on this journey is that adoption, as wonderful as I think it is and as much joy as I've seen it bring to families over the years, just isn't realistically an option for all couples in all situations all the time.

I believe that sometimes God may be telling us to stop. I would never, ever second-guess a person who felt like this was where they were on their infertility journey. I have absolutely no doubt that it is also in His ability to give that person peace and fulfillment in their life. (That may very well be the part of your situation that feels impossible!) That is my prayer for all of us, no matter what the end of our struggle may look like.

But, unless that is where your journey has taken you, I'll be here to encourage you to keep pressing on and believing that God can do the impossible. He can change our hearts and even our circumstances. I'm living proof.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

200 Days

I remember writing a post back in March when I reached 100 days of this pregnancy. Today is day 200! I can't believe that I've been pregnant for 200 days... in a row.

Maybe it seems like a weird thing to do, but that made me curious about how this number compares to my other pregnancies combined. I added up the weeks and they totaled 53. That's 371 days. Six pregnancies and more than a year of total time I'd spent pregnant without bringing a baby home. That seems like a huge chunk of time in my mind, even though I know it was spread out over about 6 years. And even though the number seems big, I know it doesn't compare to the number of days and weeks I've spent longing for a baby and hoping that one day my dream would be fulfilled.

Thank the Lord, these 200 days have been different. They've been fruitful days. Days that have brought us closer and closer to having a baby in our arms instead of only in our hearts and our memories.

Last weekend I reached 28 weeks -- the third trimester! It is still so hard for me to fathom. Me: seven months pregnant. I don't know how or why, but I know that my heart is overwhelmed and so full of thankfulness for this little life that God has granted and sustained. After so many years of problems (some identified and so many unidentified) resulting in miscarriage after miscarriage, I'm not sure I ever truly believed that I would have a healthy pregnancy. But the weeks keep passing and this baby keeps right on growing and living. And we are amazed and delighted. I just went back to the OB today for my regular visit and things are looking good. (I got the results for my glucose screening and was so happy to hear that they looked fine and I passed! Everything else is going along as scheduled.)

It seemed impossible to me. Totally impossible. But then I remember a verse in the Bible that I'd known for many years but really couldn't have told you the context until recently. It's in the first chapter of Luke, and it's the story of when the angel Gabriel visited Mary to tell her that she would give birth to Jesus. Gabriel explains to her that her relative Elizabeth is also having a child, and I love the way that he says this part: "...she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." (verses 36-37)
Gabriel was trying to get a point across to Mary. She wondered how she could possibly become pregnant since she was a virgin. Gabriel wants her to know that God could do what seemed impossible to her. He could even make a barren woman pregnant!

She who was said to be barren. Can you relate? I can. But isn't it wonderful that God isn't afraid of that word? My physical problems and my fears and doubts and even my history with miscarriage weren't surprising and were not an impediment to Him. For nothing is impossible with God!

I hope this encourages you today if you feel like your situation is impossible. I know that it doesn't help at all sometimes to hear someone say, "Hey, it happened for me! It will happen for you!" Sure, you might just want to punch that person in the face, knowing that they don't have a guarantee of what will happen in your future. Sometimes I felt that way, too. But I also know that it did my heart tremendous good to hear about someone who made it through. Maybe it was someone whose story sounded a lot like mine or even much worse. I needed to know that God could still move even though I doubted.

Today I just want you to know that sometimes the impossible truly does happen. That's what I want this blog to testify to. We serve a God who can look at what seems like a big, jumbled, impossible mess to us and almost hear Him say, "No problem. I can fix that."


(This was the precious cake that was at our baby shower given by my husband's coworkers a few weeks ago. I was so touched by it!)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Changes

Last year on this day, July 6, I wrote at length about our first miscarriage. It was really the first time I'd blogged in detail about a specific loss, and I distinctly remember how painful it was and yet how it felt good and right to remember and to share that baby's story.

I'm not going to recap that entire post (you can read it here if you'd like), but today is the anniversary of our first miscarriage. Eight years ago we had a very different 4th of July weekend. We waited, worried, and tried to distract ourselves from what was happening. We focused our energies on working in our new house and tried to believe that there would one day be children living here, too. Our children. We just needed more time. We needed to mourn and to heal. A lot of women miscarry their first babies, I'd been told. Although it feels devastating, it's not uncommon. It doesn't mean we have a problem. We will have another baby soon.

If you read this blog, then you already know the rest of the story. That first loss nearly ripped me apart. It took me by surprise. Miscarriage was suddenly part of my life and not just something sad I'd heard about that happened to other people. Aside from the awful physical experience I had, I really didn't know then just how painful it would be emotionally. And I certainly had no idea that it was the beginning of a long struggle that would forever change who I was and how I looked at life. That's where I was eight years ago at this time.

For years I've read those "then and now" posts from other bloggers and I've always been intrigued and touched by them. So much can change in a year. God can accomplish huge tasks in a relatively short amount of time. A year can change the entire course of a life! I believed that, but it hadn't happened to me. The years were adding up and not a single thing had changed, except the number of babies I'd had to release to heaven, my gradual spiral into despair and depression, and the hardening of my heart. These were issues I was working on. I was desperately trying to work out a new direction for myself and trying to find contentment in my life whether we would have children or not. That's where I was last year at this time.

Now, I can't help but look at the changes that this year has brought. This 4th of July holiday, like the one eight years ago, finds us waiting again. Waiting for a baby to be born, but this time, to stay and to hold in our arms. It finds me sleeping fitfully. Sleeping fitfully, again because of pregnancy, but in an entirely different way. And it finds us working in the same house we had just moved into that weekend years ago, but this time as necessary preparations and in anticipation of a new arrival instead of a distraction from the pain of having to say goodbye.

Yes, a lot can change in a year. But sometimes it may take much, much longer. Either way, to God be the glory! I'm thanking Him today for bringing about a huge change in my life, my heart, and my body.

And while the change is greatly welcomed, we still remember our first miracle baby who has now been in heaven for eight years.

We love you so much, little one.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Opening Old Wounds

Last night we attended the infant CPR class that we signed up for a few weeks ago. It went well and we learned a lot. I did get a sick feeling and chills all over when we watched some of the scenarios on the video. I guess I wasn't expecting that, but it was quite scary to imagine myself in those situations with my child (or any child). We were glad that we went, though, and we certainly hope we never have to use what we learned.

Something else I wasn't expecting was that the class was held in a building I used to frequent. I have a lot of memories in that building and not many (okay, none) of them good. The very first fertility clinic we ever visited is just a few floors up from where we met for the class. I realized a few things when we revisited it last night.

First, that feels like a lifetime ago.

Second, I don't remember feeling a whole lot of hope back then.

It was actually 2003 and not really a lifetime ago, and it was after my second miscarriage. The pregnancy had progressed a lot like the first. I'd made it to 11 weeks, almost the second trimester, before we discovered that something was wrong via ultrasound. I thought I was 11 weeks along, but the baby had not survived that long. Twice. We decided to pursue some initial testing before trying for a third, which we finally achieved a full year later. That pregnancy was short lived, though. It hadn't even gone as "well" as my first two and I remember how hopeless we felt.

But is it possible to feel hopelessly devastated and yet hopeful in a way? I guess I was a bit hopeful. I was young and we still had avenues to explore. It was so, so hard having to lose those three precious babies, but we had a purpose. We wanted to find out what was wrong, why this was happening, and we wanted to "fix" it. And it was that same year that we discovered I had a septum in my uterus. Aha! An answer! More testing and a couple of surgeries followed before pregnancy number four, which we were sure would make it. And oh, we were hopeful then. But there we were in that same dreaded building, two years later, with a doctor who told us that, quite frankly, she didn't think that our beautiful baby with the beating heart was going to make it. And she turned out to be right, much to our shock and horror. We didn't want to believe her because the baby was growing and had survived longer than the others. So we ran away from her negativity and sought another opinion. Yes, the baby did look okay! But we needed to keep monitoring the pregnancy. At the next visit, our baby had died. Again, a part of me had, too.

From there we tried to pick ourselves up and start again. We had more tests. We returned to that same building to consult a high-risk pregnancy doctor, who seemed to lose interest in us after our next two pregnancies didn't last very long despite his recommendations. And yes, again in that same building we were shuffled back to my original OB-GYN, who in her complete lack of knowledge about treating recurrent pregnancy loss, told me (over the phone, no less) that she was sure I had some kind of genetic problem that would prevent me from ever having a normal, healthy pregnancy. While I had been devastated before, I think that was the day it felt like my very soul was crushed and my heart completely broken.

Even though we weren't sure we could pick up the pieces again after six losses and such a grim prognosis (or opinion, as it were), it began to feel like a brand new era when we left that building behind and sought help from Dr G. We let the sun set on that place and moved into a new day. It was still hard. It was scary to start again. What if he looked at us like we were crazy for pursuing this? What if we were setting ourselves up for failure again? There were certainly hopeless and fearful times ahead. It took two and a half years before anything happened and during that time we still didn't really find answers. Six babies gone and still no answers. That was truly difficult. I had become pretty good at trying not to dwell on it or think too much about what we'd been through. When I look back now it was like I had been living in a fog for years. Starting this blog and going through the process of writing about it helped me work a lot of that out. I started letting myself feel the sadness of loss again, but soon I started to feel another familiar feeling, too. Hope.

No, I never expected that going to that class last night, circling that parking lot again and stepping back into that building, would open up so many old wounds. But I see now how far we've come and how much we had to overcome to get here. That's why I still don't feel like an ordinary pregnant woman, I guess. I know deep down inside that the odds were against us and against this baby. Yet somehow, here we are.

Right next door to that building is the hospital where I miscarried some of our babies. It's also the hospital where we will meet our daughter in about 11 weeks.

It feels strange to think that one day a building on that street will hold happy memories for us. Unless they tear it down someday, that building full of sad memories will stand next to the hospital where Lily will be born. Even then, in the years to come, it will be a memorial to me of all we went through to get to this place. And that will give us all the more reason to rejoice.