one step forward, two steps back

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Ah, hello there, it’s been awhile.

If we are friends on Facebook you’ll already know why it has taken me a long time to come back and write here. At the end of May, right on the heels of telling everyone I was pregnant, I had a miscarriage. It was early, it wasn’t very hard physically to go through, but the emotional toll was difficult to talk about. I felt like I’d let everyone down, I felt embarrassed to have spoken too soon. The feelings of brokenness were bigger, there was grief to work through. Mostly I just needed some time.

I’ve had issues in the past with people not understanding the way I process grief. It has left me feeling like I grieve wrong somehow or that people judge my process. The truth is there is no wrong way to work through painful emotions. As long as you aren’t hurting yourself or someone else -you do you. So, I happen to be a person who processes grief in a solitary way. I curl up in my bed for a few days and cry my eyes out. Don’t hug me, it makes me feel worse. I bury my conscious thought in stories, usually books books and more books, while my inner self processes the pain. I give myself a little distance, plenty of time, and I say no to many people while I do. I don’t like overt sympathy, I don’t want to cry on your shoulder. I want to slowly, privately, work it through with myself and God.

That’s another thing I should put out there…God. Boy is it hard to be faithful when you feel betrayed. Bitter is probably the best word to describe my relationship with God right now. That’s a painful truth as well. When the last IUI ended the way it did I was angry. And, when we eventually made the decision to move ahead with IVF I was (am still sometimes) angry. Why does this have to be so damn hard? I don’t want to do any of these things. I don’t want to be this friendly with my doctor’s office, as wonderful as they are, it’s not good times going on there. I don’t want my body chemistry played with. I don’t want my babies created in a lab. I don’t want to have a million ultrasounds, blood draws, and needle sticks. I’d be fine not knowing what my internal organs look like. So, yeah, bitter. I’m working on it.

Alright, let’s talk recent news since we’ve established IUI didn’t work for us. Last month I did something I haven’t done in more than eight years. I held a baby. I’ve routinely said no and thank you when offered up someone else’s little bundle of joy. That situation is awkward and awful and hard to explain to a happy parent when they don’t know your history. But, last month I snuggled up to a handsome little guy and asked myself a very telling question. If you could take him home would it make this better?

I surprised myself more than a little bit when my heart answered back a resounding no. Because we’d considered adoption a lot before, I sort of talked myself into believing any means to an end would do. The truth is that while there’s many ways to obtain children there’s not many ways to experience pregnancy. And, pregnancy, I learned holding a baby last month, is what my heart wants. Not any means to an end, this one.

That epiphany led us to say yes when Dr B asked us if we wanted to move on to IVF. Which is what we are in the middle of sorting out now. The month before you start IVF drugs you go on birth control. This puts your ovaries into a bit of a dormancy so that the drugs can manipulate them easier the next month. During the birth control month there’s a lot of other tests to go through for both partners. When you’re about to throw big money at something you check and re-check to make sure all systems are go.

Anyway, today I had some of those tests, one of which is called a hysteroscopy. A hysteroscopy is where the Dr looks inside the uterus with a camera to make sure it would be an ideal home for an embryo to attach. The inside of a healthy uterus is shiny and pink like the inside of your cheek. Mine is not. Mine is bumpy with polyps. That finding alone has halted IVF for at least a couple months. I need to have a D&C; a surgical procedure where the uterine lining is removed. We are fortunate Dr B squeezed us in to the surgery center to have this done tomorrow. He’s going out of town for a couple weeks beginning next week and that would have delayed treatment another month. Even with all the awful that comes with infertility treatment we’ve been really lucky to have Dr B and his staff in our corner.

Ok. Hopefully this lengthy monologue has got you all caught up. If not, feel free to ask questions and I’ll answer what I can in the next post. No worries, friends, you’re still along for the journey, I just take a little time to get out the hard stuff sometimes. I’m trying to be open even about that hard stuff, some days it’s easier than others, but in the end I think it’s a good thing. Every life is a story, not every story is a fairy tale.
♡♡♡

Day In The Life

Haven’t you always wanted to know what it’s like to go on vacation with my mom and I? Well, wonder no more! I joined memory keeping guru Ali Edwards on Tuesday and documented my day with a few photos.

Here’s my Day In The Life working vacation style…

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6:15am ▪ Awake since 2 because I don’t sleep well away from my guy. Finally gave up on tossing and turning and watched Netflix on my phone till the sun came up.

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7:29am ▪ Showered, dressed, coffee and donuts, and the Today Show on TV.

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8:39am ▪ Get to work. Quilting assembly line with mom.

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10:01am ▪ We’ve hit a rhythm and are on a roll.

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12:10pm ▪ Lunch break. We had ham, fresh corn, and this Asian chopped salad that’s quite tasty.

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1:28pm ▪ Afternoon nap.

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2:01pm ▪ A load of dishes. A load of laundry. Good things about a time share vs a hotel -modern conveniences for the win.

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3:04pm ▪ Somewhere around block 35 of 53, hoping all these semi-blind choices add up to awesome in the end. Our aim is to leave here with a mostly done quilt top. After all these blocks there’s three borders going on this one.  

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5:18pm ▪ Windows open wide, cool mountain air. Mix and matching Bubba Gump’s shrimp and mashed potatoes leftovers and mom’s quiche for dinner.

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6:41pm ▪ Because the spa bath is the best part of every vacation, and I’m a fan of the leaf imprints left in these tiles. Face mask, hair mask, and all the bubbles. Relax.

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7:43pm ▪ Sometimes it’s hot tea before bed and sometimes it’s this to help me fall asleep.

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9:57pm ▪ Just before I turn out the light.  I’ve ended the day as I began it, with Netflix. Then I called my guy to catch up on his day and say goodnight.

Goodnight.

Eight

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Eight is the number of years this man has called me wife.

Eight seems like forever and no time at all.

Lots of people think that the rush of falling in love is the best part but I whole-heartedly disagree. This. This right here is my best part. I’ll take this over falling in love all over again any day.

I’ll take every tear shed.
I believe him when he rubs my back and tells me it’ll be okay. When he surprises me with his thoughtfulness. When I am overwhelmed and he carries the burden.

I’ll take every laugh.
The little ones that come just from a cocking of the eyebrow in the way he knows that gets me. Those belly laughs when I can’t breathe and nearly fall off the bed. The triumph when I get him to really laugh out loud and his amusement when he does the same to me.

I’ll take every surprise.
When what I thought I had figured out changes and I learn something new about him. When he teaches me something new about myself.  When he knows my thought before I can speak it.

I’ll take every eye roll.
When he pushes the joke a little too far. When his sarcasm and stubbornness join forces. When I’ve asked the same question just to be really really really sure. When my sense of justice and loyalty rain fire.

I’ll take every annoyed sigh.
When he says yes when I wanted him to say no (or vise versa). When he tells me to wait. When he wins the argument and I… don’t.

I’ll take every familiar touch.
When he grasps my hand it’s confidence and comfort not flirtation. When I can’t sleep until I’ve scooted back into his chest and pulled his arms around me. When I’m so excited he’s mine I hang on like a rabid spider monkey.

I’ll take every kiss.
Our three times to say: I. Love. You.
Always. Because I do.

Eight is not nearly long enough and I hope we never find out what is.

♡♡♡

Today we have our (please dear Lord) last IUI, and then we wait to see if eight is our lucky number.

The Other Emotions

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I’ve been thinking about this post for a while… trying to decide just how much to say… how much truth to get into… and I guess I’ve decided since I’m here writing it down.

I’ve talked before about how there’s a lot of emotions that come with this infertility thing. I’ve talked about the ups and downs and feeling all the things. But I haven’t gotten into many of the difficult emotions beyond sadness, the really hard ones to admit out loud.
Guilt. Shame. Self-loathing.

Since we’ve made this an open space, an honest, truth-telling space I thought we’d get it all out there. You’re on this journey with us; you should know every aspect of this road we’re walking. I’ve found that each time I get a negative answer it’s harder to push away these uglier feelings and it takes a little longer to pull myself out of the hurt.

Most people understand sadness, you don’t have to go through infertility to understand that sadness is part of the journey. What’s harder to explain is that sadness doesn’t even begin to cover what’s happening inside you when another month passes and you’ve failed. Again.

It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never felt like their body is broken, like their body is a betrayal, what that feels like. It’s hard to explain that not being able to have a child makes you feel like less of a woman. There are moments I think I’ve cheated my husband; that he’s made a horrible mistake in marrying a woman who can’t give him a child.

I was driving down the interstate when I felt the cramps this time. I’ve never mistaken that feeling, I knew exactly what it meant. I am not pregnant. And when the tears started falling and wouldn’t stop my first thought was that I just wanted to drive far enough to escape the pain. But, of course, the ugly truth is that I can’t escape my body and therefore can’t escape the pain of it not working. I hate myself. In that moment, when this body has let me down yet again that is the truth. It’s well past a matter of ‘relax and it’ll happen’, it’s pushed my limit of ‘in God’s timing’. I’ve felt humiliated, I’ve asked for help, we’ve let Dr’s and nurses in the most intimate of our moments as a couple and it’s all a big fat failure. Can you even imagine what it’s like? When most babies are created in love and intimacy between two people, can you imagine what is like to have to break that apart and share it with strangers? When creating life is clinical and not special anymore? Can you imagine the shame you might feel every time someone asks if you have kids?  Or when you hear another story of accidental/unwanted pregnancy? Can you imagine the guilt when your husband writes another thousand dollar check for nothing? To have nothing? Years of prayer and trust and belief and hope and trying and… for nothing. Can you picture yourself screaming Why? Why can’t I just be normal? Why do I have to go through all of this? Why does everything have to be so hard? Why does God hate me? That’s no longer just sadness. It stretches to sorrow and dives into hard places within you that hurt so bad you’d give anything to escape it. And there is no escaping it.

You can’t talk yourself out of wanting to have a baby. And while I absolutely adore adoption it doesn’t fix the ache of wanting to experience pregnancy and birth. ‘There’s always adoption’ is not truth. While it is an option it does not diminish the hurt and loss, it does not negate guilt or shame. Adoption is not a solution for infertility, it’s just an avenue around it. Infertility stays with you. I am barren. Doesn’t feel less awful because you can adopt.

I’m not saying that I dwell in these emotions every second. I’m not saying that I stop hoping and believing for a happy ending to this story. What I am saying is that there’s darkness along the way. Times when I ask myself if this is worth the pain it causes. Maybe it’s easier to go back to being mostly numb and not do this at all. Maybe it’s easier to push all those emotions down down and live childless pretending it’s a choice and not a sentence. Can I picture myself still living that way when I’m 70? Can I live the rest of my life having run from the scary difficult emotions and still ask What if?

The answer is No.
So I tell the truth on the hard days. That I’d give anything to not feel sorrow, guilt, shame, anger, hatred, despair. There’s no running from the emotions and you have to let them come. They carry you down into dark places and it’s a long climb to bring it all back into the light. I’ve found that wounds heal better when exposed to fresh air. The heavy stuff is easier to carry when you admit what’s in your pack. The burden doesn’t go away but gets a tiny bit easier when you share it.

We’re trying again. A third and probably last IUI. If this time doesn’t work our Dr had said it’s unlikely this avenue will work at all. So we’ll have another discussion at that point about what comes next. For now we’ve got another month of the process to go through and another month of hope and prayer that this time will be successful. Thanks for continuing to walk with us; through the quiet days, the long wait, the pits and valleys. We just keep taking another step.

Happy Easter

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We’ve got eggs for Easter!

See that big black blob in the center of the ultrasound? That’s one beautiful Easter gift!  We’ve got two mature eggs, one on each side, and I got the HCG trigger shot today. That’s doubling our chances from the first round of IUI when we actually only got one ‘just right’ egg even though we could see three (different sized) eggs on the ultrasound. I’m so glad those extra menapur shots did their job!

We have IUIs the next two days to try and turn those little Easter blessings into babies. This part is very exciting for me. The possibilities are big and hopes are running high. Don’t get me wrong, I never lose sight of the fact that it’s just a possibility and not a guarantee. I do, however, choose to live in positive belief until I’m proven otherwise. I’ve learned I can take the disappointment if and when it comes. I’ve learned I can handle the hard stuff. Choosing to focus on the positives just gives me more happy days in between the bad ones. Why fill up my space with fear and negativity if I don’t have to, right? Right.

I’m so very thankful this Easter. It’s a great day to remember that I am the daughter of the greatest Overcomer. Jesus suffered the worst for us and overcame the grave. Only with Him can we overcome infertility. Only with Him our story is made perfect. However children come into our family, He makes it possible. I’m gonna keep asking and trusting He’ll work it all out. After all, He did say he would.


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him …
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? …
Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
-Romans 8

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Amen and Happy Easter!

{Weekending} Florida

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My guy and I spent a few days celebrating a marriage and relaxing in my home state this weekend. It’s the place of my formative history. A place I have mixed emotions about. Good and bad memories mingle here, like any place with history, and I often get overwhelmed trying to reconnect with it all.

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Instead of trying to see every friend and family member that we love and miss living in Colorado, this weekend we opted to keep it simple. (Hopefully we didn’t hurt people we love in the process.) We only told the family involved with the wedding we were coming and we only made commitments to those few people. Doing that allowed for a stress free weekend and some quality time spent with friends and alone.

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One of the things I wanted to do while we were away was to do things purely for the fun of it. The last couple of times we went back to Florida together was for really hard, emotionally draining and painful, stuff. This weekend, however, was beautiful. It was about staying up late and sleeping in. It was about stories over good food and laughing till you cry. It was about getting better, finding the joy, and (best of all) celebrating love.

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♡♡♡

Again

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There’s so much not fun stuff about any path during infertility that it is difficult to express what is most not fun.

Starting over is one of them.

It’s not square one, but it’s not a happy ending either. It’s just part of the process. I said at the beginning of the journey we might not get the result we want. For the first round of IUI that is obviously true.

We had high hopes.
Every month you get your hopes up a little bit. I mean by this point we’ve learned to read the signs, time things right, etc. This isn’t our first rodeo. It’s definitely not my first negative pregnancy test. I’m certainly well aware no new position, no relaxation technique, no new supplement is going to suddenly cure our infertility. But this month, after drugs and tests and all the getting everything just so, we let our hopes drift up a little higher than ever before. So it hurts when there’s yet another negative test to add to the pile.

The thing to remember (yes I’m saying this to myself as well) is that we’re just in the middle of the story. We’ve only just read a couple chapters in and we’ve got to keep going. Yes, this next chapter looks a lot like the last one, many of the steps will be the same. But, we won’t know how it ends until we get there. That’s just how it is as we move through the story. We keep hoping each step will lead us to the ending we desire. We keep walking in faith, even on the hard days.

Yes, today is a hard day. I’m allowed to feel that. I’m allowed to cry and feel sad and ask why even when I know I’m not going to get an answer. In the midst of my tears I’m also allowed to feel hopeful, look up, and keep going. One of the most beautiful things about being human is we have this amazing ability to feel all of the feelings all at once. Love, hate, sorrow, and joy (and a million other emotions) can all exist at the same time inside of you. Learning to embrace them all and not shut out the uncomfortable emotions is sometimes really hard. I’m practicing that today.

So, we begin again.
Today is my baseline ultrasound, which means Dr B will be looking for any cysts left over from ovulation. If there is one we will wait a month for it to go away. If there’s isn’t one we will get more drugs. You already know I’m not about the waiting, so send all those clear ultrasound green light prayers our way!

Thanks for sticking with us for IUI -round two!

Waiting

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The thing about infertility and waiting to find out if you’re pregnant is that it absolutely consumes you. Even when you are outwardly just living your life your brain is stuck in a loop of hope and worry.

I’m having lunch with a friend.
Do I feel any different?
I’m buying groceries.
It’s really too soon to feel any different.
I’m laughing at his jokes.
Is that a baby cramp or is my period coming?
I’m cleaning the kitchen.
Oh, God, don’t let it be my period.

Of course I’ve felt this waiting before many many times. In the early years of our journey more acutely, and then we kind of buried the emotions for a while. Living with your emotions swinging on a pendulum can start to wear you down.  This time, all these emotions feel heavier. And, sometimes they’ve got a touch of desperation.

Waiting is a tangle of a hundred different emotions and trying to sort and calm them all one by one. It’s holding onto not knowing as hope when the feelings of despair want to first creep in and then wash over you. Some days you have to talk yourself down from the clouds so as not to set yourself up for utter defeat. Other days you have to drag your heart from your feet and whisper a mantra to keep it from pulling you into a pit.

The whole while you feel a little ridiculous. I mean hundreds of people get pregnant by accident everyday. By accident. How is it getting pregnant for my body is like playing blindfolded darts with the target a mile off?

I do believe everything happens for a reason. I do believe God has a plan. But anyone who’s ever waited for something life-altering knows that the wait can feel endless. When your whole being is caught up in the waves of emotion that come with waiting you just have to trust and ride it out.

And so we are.
Waiting.

Dear Baby

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Dear I-Really-Hope-You’re-In-There Baby,

We are about a week from knowing if our prayers have been answered. While I’m worried and nervous your dad is calm and hopeful. He says of course we’re lucky enough to have you so soon after trying something new. I’m hopeful but with a skeptical eyebrow raised. I’m also hyper aware of every little feeling happening in my body right now. It’s like in the middle of the night when you think you hear a noise and you strain your ears to catch it again. That’s how I feel for every twinge, every sensation. Hoping and holding my breath Is that you?

We’ve made some progress on this little space in our house that will be yours. The Baby’s Room sounds like magic to us. You have new carpet; it is so soft and squishy and great for bare feet. I’ve unpacked the few boxes of baby items your dad & I have been collecting since we thought you were right around the corner. We never anticipated you’d be a half-dozen years down the road.

You have a Cars rug from your Aunt Kellie and her mom. We’re sure whatever gender you may be you’ll inherit the love of Cars from us. You also have a play mat that your Aunt Aubrey and I found during one of our yearly garage sale day excursions. We just couldn’t pass up a like new play mat for $3. In my dreams during our sale day this year you’ll be along for the ride and we’ll find lots of other great things for you.

Our too-long anticipation of you is all over this room. Your first piggy bank, it’s tractor shaped, is waiting for you next to a few books and many blankets. You already have blankets from both great-grandmothers and from me piled in your closet. You’ll never go cold or lack for comfort that is for sure!
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Dear little seed,
You already have your very first onesies; in size 0-3 months, up to 12 pounds. I hold them and almost can’t believe humans start life so small. I also pray you’ll be tiny but mighty because I’m hoping for a natural birth. Be gentle on your mama, ok?

The glider (also from a great-grandma) where you and I will spend many an hour is ready for you. Sometimes I come in and rock and imagine your closet full of little clothes and toys. I imagine the sounds you’ll add to this room; your first crys, first laughs, baby hiccups is there anything better? I can’t wait to find out.

This week is a hard one, the waiting to know and trying to feel if you’re there yet or if we’ll be trying again. Your mama is an impatient woman and God is surely using you to teach me to change my ways. He will use you to teach me a great many things in sure. I’m just so eager for these lessons to begin, I hope you are too.

Love,
Your-Mama-In-Waiting

Little Eggs

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Good morning, friends!
This morning I am waking up with excited anticipation!

I’ve finished taking my fertility drugs, gotten my shots, and have seen three little eggs on my ultrasound. You can see them on the monitor in the photo above if you look close. They are the darkest grey/black circle – ish things. They are smallest to largest left to right. Dr B was measuring the largest one during this photo and the white dots are the indications for that. Once they’re the right size (mature) I was given a trigger shot to tell my body to let them out of the ovaries and into the tubes where we’re hoping they meet some swimmers and begin to grow.

So that’s the quickie update,  but let’s back up and talk drugs for a second. The first drug I took was Clomid; it was a couple of pills every day for five days. I didn’t really notice anything very different or have any side effects to speak of, just slightly elevated emotions and a bit of an acne breakout.

The next thing was a shot in my belly of a drug called Menapur. This expensive little thing didn’t hurt and was barely noticeable until I began to feel my ovaries.  It’s sounds strange to tell people your ovaries hurt, but that’s what the Menapur did; made two little balls of achy-ness in my abdomen. It also made my acne hyper! I got little red dots and tiny white-head zits, a few on my face, more on my neck and chest. So that is weird but not uncomfortable, I’m happy to look polka dotted if it helps this baby process!

Then, I had an ultrasound. This was Sunday morning, awesome Dr B is in-office whenever someone needs something done. During that ultrasound he looks for my eggs and finds three of them in there on the left side. Two are a little larger than the third and are OK to be released if we are in a hurry. But, he suggests we wait one more day and let them get a little bigger and a little better.

So, Monday morning, I have another ultrasound and Dr B smiles and says “you’ve earned yourself a shot”.  This is the trigger shot that makes me ovulate. It’s the ‘release the hounds’ shot! It went in my hip and left a spot that feels like a bruise there. Thankfully, I didn’t really have side effects with that drug either. There’s a not-fun list of side effects that could’ve made this process much more difficult. I’m feeling grateful and blessed I didn’t have them. Especially since I may end up needing to go through this process again on stronger doses.

Alrighty,  that brings us to:
Today! is the first of two days for my IUIs (intrauterine insemination). We are praying hard that one of those little eggs turns into what I like to call a sticky bean. We need a happy fertilization today and then a good attachment in the right place.  If God continues to smile on us over the next couple of days we’ll be on our way to growing a baby!

That. Is. So. Exciting!

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about when and how we’ll know it worked…
The normal (nail biting) two week wait and pregnancy test don’t change for all the rest of it. We wait and see. We hope I don’t begin the cycle again and get to see two lines on the pee stick. :) The next two weeks might be the longest of our lives! We’re so glad you’re waiting and praying with us!

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