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.

When God Gives You Walls

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It’s a hard thing when you feel like God leads you one way then drops walls in your path. It makes you question Him and yourself and every big decision you make.

Did it feel right because I wanted it to or because He says it’s right?Am I supposed to prove how much I want this and climbs those walls? If I do this…or that…or try something else will it make this happen or make the path anymore clear?

Sadly, I don’t have any big answers to these big questions. I also am pretty sure that last week during my David Bible study I got told to wait. Wait, and trust His faithfulness, big time.

My emotions have been rolling and unsettled since!
I’m happy and thankful He’s asking me to wait because He is going to move.
I’m frustrated I thought we were running towards adoption and He tossed a wall in that path.
I’m angry I can’t find a place to really rest with this whole thing; constantly questioning Him, and myself, and every decision.
I’m desperate trying to find His will in all of this and stay in it. I feel a bit like a cat chasing a laser beam all the time.
My heart hurts feeling like being told to wait is punishment and waiting can go on forever.

This is hard stuff; being a God-follower. If anyone ever tells you otherwise they are lying. It’s hard, and the bigger the problem the harder it feels.

Where are we now?

That’s the big question.
Last time I talked about our chosen path to babies we were all-in slowly but surely headed towards embryo adoption. We had defined goals and our first step was raising money.

And then a few bricks fell in the road.

I landed in the ER in the middle of the night having an extremely painful gallbladder attack. We dealt with that pretty well, I got meds, I rested, I expected it to go away and I’d learn to eat better and manage this issue.

Then, the rest of the week happened and more bricks fell. I didn’t really get better, I was in constant pain, low-level pain after many days, but still in pain. So, we made the decision to do some research and see a surgeon.

That wall in the raising money path to adoption was built and a new path to paying medical bills was paved. Surgery even with our insurance isn’t coming cheap.

The good news is I feel lots better; better in ways I didn’t know I felt bad. This surgery came with benefits for me, so that’s good. I’m hopeful that it’s God.

What happened last week?

I was two weeks behind in my home work, and this homework can be intense. (If you’ve ever done a Beth Moore Bible study you know what I’m talking about.) Beth likes to ask hard life application questions. In the middle of some of these questions I’m essentially writing to God in the margins.

I read a little and I write to Him…and I’m asking Him about our children. Hard stuff; admitting I feel lost and unsure and like this struggle has just gone on too long. I tell Him I have all these questions and don’t know what to do. I ask Him for a place to rest.

As I read the next paragraph in my study He answers me.

The covenant rested on God’s faithfulness, not man’s.

Whoa. I wrote. Hello, God, I’m listening.

He asked me to trust in His faithfulness not my own. It’s not about what we do or don’t do to have a baby. It’s not about how hard we try to scramble onto the right path our look for answers in every worldly avenue. It’s about believing God when he tells me I’ll be a mom one day. Even when seven years of barrenness is staring me in the face telling me not to believe, not to keep the faith, not to hope in spite of it all that He will work it out. Even though I can’t see it, even though it feels crazy, He put this desire so strong within me for a reason.

He gave me David’s prayer in 2 Samuel 7:27-29. A piece of that is this:

Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.

And here I am. Reminding myself of that everyday. Because the truth is even when He gives me an answer, even an answer so strong I cried over my books, it’s hard to hang on and wait. Waiting feels like a horrible kind of passivity. It’s inactivity when all I want to do is work to make it happen already! It’s trusting the unseen and unknown. It’s so dang hard.

Waiting for us right now means a day at a time. Focusing on paying the bills on the table infront of us. Focusing on all the life we’ve got going on; months of good days written in the calendar. A wedding, a house guest, home improvement, a rodeo,  a hockey game, a weekend away…we have a full life to lead while we are waiting for God to move.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be many many days I’m back on my knees asking these same questions, wanting new answers, itching to push forward against the wall anyway. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows after you get a tiny bit of revelation. It’s hard trust and faith work. It’s work I’m not always good at. Luckily, He is, and that is what really matters.

bumps and bruises

Have you ever started on a journey or course of action that you felt was just where God wanted you to go? Have you ever tripped just as soon as you’ve started walking down that path? Me too.

After I got prepared to hit the road running with the adoption fundraising and I got all vulnerable and history dredging right here in this space I felt like blocks were thrown under my feet. Computers revolted against me, the refigerator decided cold was an option, time evaporated, just this morning I stepped in vomit on the way to the post office.

I came home yesterday feeling frantic. Like my to-do list was strangling me and I couldn’t figure out how, when, where to start to unravel the mess. Things are piled up and my brain is cluttered and worries are dragging at my heels. I mean stopping long enough to eat seemed like a big huge rock in the middle of my day.

We don’t need an umplanned for $1800 dollar expense right smack in the middle of me trying to feed people (you know, and not give them food poisoning). I can’t run an online store and not have reliable internet access. I can’t finish quilt tops for the long-armer and spend all weekend in the kitchen in one capacity or another. I cant work at the sewing machine when my craft space is piled high with bins and boxes and batting. Laundry needs to get done. The bathroom needs to be cleaned. The fridge doesn’t fit, the kitchen needs to be redesigned, the stairs need carpet, the back yard needs a landscaper, and I need to stop.

Just stop.
Take a deep breath.
Stop and think.

It won’t all get done right now, today, this week, this month, or this year. *I* am what is making me overwhelmed. *I* am making myself frantic.

I sometimes wonder when these bumps in my path come up if they are from God or from Satan. Which one is asking me “How bad do you want this?”? Which one is testing me?

The truth is it doesn’t really matter. The truth is that no matter where the bumps come from my only course of action is to run to In-Whom-I-Trust. My Father is always ready for me to vent my fears, and expell my frustrations. He’s always ready to tell me to rest in Him. Because these things are not giant life and death things. These things are the everyday detours of life. Fridges go out, things pile up, work gets interrupted, rain comes, life happens. It just does. If I can’t figure out how to take a breath in this week of chaos how will I do it with children in tow?

So, I pulled out a wipe and (gagging the whole time) scrubbed off my shoe. (It’s awesome when in the pre-dawn morning you walk into the little alcove where mailboxes reside and find the path a pile of sick.) I got back in the car and ran my errand and came home and sorted out the computer situation. (Thanks to my mom and her grace.) In a few minutes I’ll get the laundry started, I’ll upload a few quilts to the Etsy shop, and I’ll do some dishes. One thing at a time I’ll cross items off this list and I’ll try hard to remeber, when the panic over these bumps is trying to immobilize me, to just breathe.

I can get up from tripping over bumps. I can get up with bruises and still walk the path. Our Lord doesn’t ask us to come perfectly, he doesn’t ask that we make the journey pretty. All He asks of us is to trust him and walk on, limping if we have to, just take the next step. Even when we make a mistake He can work it all out for our good and His glory. So lets be willing to fail and fall and get up again. OK? I’m doing it too -bumps and bruises and all.

The baby story

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Photo collage above from week in the life, Saturday.

Hello friends,
I should start this long story (I tried to condense it!) with some background…

My guy and I have been married since 2007. Six months after we got married, and lots of prior thought, I went to my Dr and said “I think I have a problem and can’t get pregnant”. To which they replied “Don’t be silly, you are young, you just started trying, give it time, relax, it’ll happen, sometimes it takes a year or two.” To which I sort of thought they should know, ok.

Fast forward a year from that day I went to a new Dr. who asked me if my original Dr had ever even done any tests. Um, no, just my standard yearly eval. She immediately ordered a bunch of blood work. We discovered I have hypothyroidism, and I was put on meds. She’d figured we’d give that six months, you know, it should fix the problem.

At home I was taking prenatal vitamins and we were doing everything we could think of to help the situation. Lay inverted, check. Temperature time your ovulation, check. Face the east, stand on one leg, hop backwards…At the two year mark we still had not conceived.

I was referred to a specialist. Since there’s no bio medical type issue maybe it’s physical. The new specialist Dr did an exam and said we should go ahead and ‘take a look’. I had laproscopic exploratory surgery and a D&C. The testing and surgery results came back normal. And I was told many times this procedure kick starts the process. They wouldn’t be surprised if I was pregnant in just a few months.

We’ve been married six years.
I’ve never been pregnant. All the ‘should be able to’s in the world hasn’t changed that fact. I’m at a new Dr now, still all my testing comes back looking great.

It’s time for a new plan.

Before we were married the guy and I had talked about adoption. We were both on board. We thought we’d have a kid and then adopt one or two. Of course God has laughed at that plan. We looked at adoption before, a few years ago, and discovered that we might have a couple road blocks in our way. What I then found out was that every adoption agency has different rules, different regulations, require different things. Yes, we’d have road blocks with some agencies and with some types of adoption, but not all.

A couple months ago I noticed a post on Facebook that was talking about embryo adoption. Something just sparked. I began my research again. I came across an adoption agency right here in Colorado that pioneered embryo adoption in the nineties. I decided we needed to go to a seminar and get some info. And we did. Nightlight Christian Adoption does four kinds of adoption procedures: domestic, international, foster to adopt, and embryo. We got the low-down on all of them, we choose embryo adoption. A process where we would adopt frozen embryos from couples who had gone through IVF, had their family, and had extra embryos at the end of their process. Then I would get to carry those embryos and give birth to our child.

Why embryo adoption?
Because in the process of dealing with the roller coaster of emotions that you go through with infertility I discovered I was never ready to give up on being pregnant. I realize our choices didn’t necessarily mean that I was really giving up but it felt that way. In every part of me it felt that way, even though logically I knew that’s not really true. So, we want to adopt, but I also want to experience pregnancy and child birth. Biology means very little to my guy and I, our children don’t need to have our genes to be ours. I don’t have to give birth for that to also be true, but this is where my heart is it seems. And, I don’t know about you but I have never been successful in talking my heart out of what it wants. Embryo adoption here we come!

The decision was easy, so let’s talk about the hard part. The reality of adoption is this; it’s not fast, it’s a long process with a million steps. It’s also not cheap. Although there is a payment plan those increments are not small change. Think $2500 and a few months later $3500 and a few months later $5000. We really need to have this money ready to go at the beginning of the process.

So, here’s one of the things we are doing. I am reopening my Etsy shop Honor Crowned Crafts for the purpose of fundraising for our adoption. All the money from that venture goes straight to our savings account earmarked for this process. What we need is $15,000. That money will pay for the embryo adoption program, a home study, and the medical expenses incurred after we adopt the embryos.

We could get this money easily and create a large debt for ourselves, but I want to earn it. It would mean so much to me to know that my handmade items helped us do this. That my passion helped us achieve our dream, to have a child. So, the Etsy shop is active and I’m going to begin adding new items to stock the store. You’ll see quilted journal covers, zippy pouches and project bags, quilts, and handknits filling up there soon. (Just as soon as I get to a computer that let’s me upload those photos! Today, I hope!) Stop by, take a peek, shop for Christmas. If you don’t see anything that strikes your fancy pass along the word, check back next month, or best of the best pray for our family as we take the first steps to adding to it.

Oh, and come back here to check in with our journey. I’ll be talking about the steps we take towards this future for sure. 🙂

Xoxo,
Steph

Oh! I forgot to mention..I wasn’t the only one seeing Dr’s. My sweet husband had his own brand of humbling tests done along the way. Wouldn’t want you to think we left out a key player! Oops.

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