Monday, January 23, 2012

The Sweetest Thing in My Garden

My sister is a second grade teacher at a private Christian school. Last week she sent me the words to a poem that her class was studying in their readers. This little poem spoke to my heart and brought tears to my eyes (and my sister's, which left her students a bit bewildered!). I think you'll see why it was so special:

The Lily by W.T. Vlymen

The sweetest thing in my garden,
On bush or vine or tree,
Is the snow-white shining Lily
that God has sent to me.
How wise He must be to make it!
How good to put it here,
For me to watch and care for,
So very sweet and dear!
There's nothing more fair and spotless
In all the world I know;
It is fairer than the moonlight,
And whiter than the snow.
I love you, beautiful Lily,
made of the sun and dew,
I wish my heart could always be
spotless and pure, like you.

It almost leaves me speechless, just how perfect this sweet little poem is and how much it reflects this mother's heart.

I have a sixteen-month-old girl who walks (finally) and talks and just today wore her very first set of pigtails -- and oh be still my heart, it was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.

This little one keeps me busy, busy, busy, from morning until night, but I am forever grateful for the chance to be her Mama.

She absolutely is the "sweetest thing in my garden," my pure and spotless Lily Rae. Thank you, Lord, for letting her grow in my tummy and in my heart.

Friday, January 20, 2012

This Month

January is a month that is rife with meaning and emotion for me. This time of year holds some big memories in my life, some good and some bad.

Today is January 20. Two years ago on this day I saw two lines on a pregnancy test. I hadn't gotten a positive test in three years. It was my seventh time to see that result, yet the first six times had all resulted in devastating miscarriages. You already know the rest of the story -- that pregnancy test was the first sign to us that our baby was finally on its way (although we certainly didn't know how things would turn out on that day). It was a day of excitement and nerves, frantic-sounding phone calls and prayers, and a trip to the doctor's office for blood work. It was the beginning of nine long months of waiting for our healthy baby to arrive at last.

Tomorrow is January 21. When I found out I was pregnant for the first time in May of 2002, I was given the due date of January 21, 2003. I was pretty excited then, and extremely naive. My sister's second baby was due just one month before and I couldn't wait to raise our babies together. I never expected miscarriage to happen to me, but it did just two months later in July. And I certainly never imagined, after that traumatic experience and my first-ever trip to the ER, that I would have to endure that heartache five more times over the next five years. It was the beginning of eight long years of waiting for a baby.

January 22, 2007 was the date of my last miscarriage. I'd found out toward the end of the year in 2006 that I was pregnant for the sixth time. After several weeks of blood tests and many ultrasounds, it was declared to be a blighted ovum. Although we could see a yolk sac and my hcg and progesterone levels were good, we never could see a baby growing. I was having my sixth miscarriage, and I had a D&C scheduled for January 22. It was three days before my 30th birthday. It was the toughest birthday I've ever had, and it was the beginning of three long years of waiting for another pregnancy.

January 25 is my birthday. I'm turning 35 this year. Although I know there's nothing magical about waking up on that day that will change my fertility, it's a birthday I haven't exactly been excited about. Those of us who have gotten wrapped up in this infertility world against our wishes know what the statistics say about being over 35: increased risk of miscarriage, egg quantity and quality decrease, etc., etc.
Obviously I had a big problem with miscarriage when I was in my 20s. I had my first miscarriage at age 25. And of course I know lots of women over the age of 35 who have healthy pregnancies. I really don't put too much stock in statistics, but still in all it's a day I haven't exactly anticipated with lots of joy. When you're dealing with infertility, each birthday and each passing year gets harder and harder. You feel more pressure with the realization that time is not on your side. So, while I'm planning to enjoy my birthday this year with my husband and daughter, I know that all these things will be there in the back of my mind.

But... tomorrow is a new day. This is a new year, and tomorrow is the 21st, which means that my precious girl is turning 16 months old. I'm celebrating that miracle, as it's something I had seriously begun to doubt would ever come to be. The past 16 months have been remarkable and have helped me to heal, despite all the setbacks and all the days and years when my calendar was marked with heartbreak.

This month often reminds me of everything that I've lost. And I know I'll never forget those times, but I'm ready to make some new memories this January.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Last Year's Good Reads

One of the things I've enjoyed doing on this blog is posting my reading list at the beginning of the year. There are few things in life more satisfying to me than crossing things off of a list! I love searching for new (and old) great books to read and compiling a list of wonderful titles to keep me entertained throughout the year. I don't always get to every book on the list, but it keeps me motivated to just keep reading.

Last year I never got around to making that list. I still managed to read lots of books (during Lily's naps and after her bedtime), so I made a list of books after I finished them and now I'm sharing that list with you. I like to share it because I really enjoy talking about books with other readers and I love to know what you're reading too. So feel free to comment on any of these titles, and please let me know your favorite must-reads for the list I'm compiling for 2012!

As always, happy reading!

Books I Read in 2011:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling (re-read)
  2. Spoken From the Heart – Laura Bush
  3. Possession – A.S. Byatt
  4. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
  5. What the Night Knows – Dean Koontz
  6. The Distant Hours – Kate Morton
  7. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  8. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
  9. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  10. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  11. When You Reach Me – Rebecca Stead
  12. Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way – Shauna Niequist
  13. The Heretic’s Daughter – Kathleen Kent
  14. The Traitor’s Wife – Kathleen Kent
  15. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott – Kelly O'Connor McNees
  16. Havah – Tosca Lee
  17. Loving the Little Years – Rachel Jankovic and Nancy Wilson
  18. On Agate Hill – Lee Smith
  19. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  20. The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
  21. Inheritance - Christopher Paolini

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Here we are, one week into another new year.

Before we had Lily, New Year's was always one of the most difficult times for me. Sure, I guess that somewhere deep down there was just a smidge of hope that it might be our year to have a baby. But honestly, as the years passed, that hope for me had begun to shrivel and shrink until it was almost completely unrecognizable. It had become a challenge to face another year that may contain yet another miscarriage and even more heartache and longing.

As this new year approached, about two weeks before Christmas I found myself in a familiar place -- my bathroom, waiting for the results of a home pregnancy test. (It was negative.) It wasn't the kind of situation where we'd been planning and trying and scheduling doctor visits, and now today was the day to test. Instead, it was more of a wait-a-minute-I'm-several-days-late kind of situation, one where I thought that maybe, just maybe, there could be a baby there without all the stress and worry and agony over what might happen if we tried again, and without all of the dates and schedules and medicines. I thought there could be a slim chance, so I did something I hadn't done in almost two years. In fact, I hadn't done it since January 20, 2010 -- the day we found out I was pregnant for the seventh time and the pregnancy that gave us our take-home baby.

So, I woke up that morning and opened a fresh box of pregnancy tests and waited to see if my world was about to change in one way or another. It didn't.

And I was disappointed. But instead of letting it overwhelm me, I scooped up my toddler and went to the kitchen to feed her some breakfast and tried to carry on with our daily routine. During the next week I waited for that confirmation to come but it didn't, so I took another test a week later just to be sure. Still negative. Just two days before the new year -- a new cycle. A fresh start, so to speak.

And so 2012 began for me in a way that was familiar but not necessarily welcomed. It would have been a wonderful, amazing surprise, but I'm not despairing. As for trying again, we're trying not to stress about it. For right now, it would be wonderful if it happened, but we're not letting it consume our thoughts. We're just living in a place where we want to be content with where we are, with our family of three, but we're still allowing ourselves to dream that the Lord may give us another child.

We're hoping. We're trusting. And we're following His plan for our family in 2012.