I'm not going to lie, it is hard for me to be excited about pregnancy. You would think after 12 years of trying, I would be thrilled, but I've watched friends lose babies, both full-term and before. I've seen so much and experienced a lot.
I wish I could say that I can't wait to meet this baby, but there is part of me that fears being too excited, because I don't want to assume its safe arrival, because I fear assuming that will make it harder if I am shaken by devastation. I know fear is not from God, but it's a hard battle for me to fight. I want to assume everything will be alright, but fear has crippled me. So of course, at my 20 week appointment, when things did not go one hundred percent well during the ultrasound, it did nothing to help me let go of my fear.
The baby is doing well, but we do have an amniotic band. The doctor feels that we have surpassed the riskiest part of the band, and are now mostly in the clear. We won't know for sure if the band caused damage until the baby is born, but things look great.
Still, I am full of fear. I fight it everyday, I push those feelings away, I try to reason with myself, I try to give it to God, I try, yet I fear.
I voice these words, because as I type them, I know I am not alone. I have friends who have shared the same sentiment with me, and I am sure I have other friends who were too afraid to share their fears. People assume when you have tried for so long, you will be over the moon when it finally happens, but by then, so much has been taken from you, you can't help but fear this too will be taken from.
Anyway, please pray for peace for me, and to let go of my fear, and also for those who silently fear/hurt, but too afraid or private to open up.
I had a hard day yesterday... emotionally I mean. I got the date of the next court date for our foster babies, and it reminded me that (A) the kids are going home and (B) these are our last foster kids. I loved doing foster care. Yes, it made me cry probably more than anything else that has happened to me, maybe even infertility. I tried my best to be supportive to both the kids and parents, and though I was not perfect (who is) I can sincerely say I did my best to love all involved.
Our baby on the way does help with my feelings of sadness, but even this baby brings its own amount of sadness. If God willing, this child makes it to this earth healthy and we will for the first time despite having one child already, be able to experience firsts from birth to graduation and beyond, it could also be our last firsts as well. We missed the first five years with Emily, but honestly, I don't feel like I missed out, because I never felt like that time was ever supposed to be mine. Still we didn't have the first word, the first step, the first day of preschool, but we had lots of other firsts.
The reason I point this out, just as this baby will be the first we will experience all its firsts, he or she may be the last one. With a closed foster care license and not sure what God has in store for our future, I cannot help but wonder if these two children will be our only children. I always imagined a big family, but very few people ever get the family they imagined. Even when they do, life throws so many curve balls at them, they still feel a sense of loss over something. So instead I strive for contentment. Still, despite my striving for contentment, I do wonder, is this the end (as far as children goes) for us. Does God have anything more for us?
I hope so. Something tells me though, even if it's not more children, we will be blessed. He seems to have blessed us along the way my entire life, just not the way I always expected. Who knows, maybe this baby will start something in me, and I will get that big family I always wanted, then I will grumble about the chaos and hardship having a lot of children brings. Whatever God has in store, one things for certain, I need to continue to count my blessings and strive for contentment. So yeah, that's my random ramblings for today.
Kevin and I officially started trying to have children a year after we got married. After the first year of trying, I confided in very few friends that we had been trying. After two years, I had my first confirmed miscarriage, and realized I had had that happen before. After five years, I made the hard decision, to make it nearly impossible to become pregnant, due to several things going on that the only could be cured through a tubal ligation. God blessed me with Emily a year later under unfortunate means. The next six years were filled with hopeful adoptions, foster care cases, and ivf treatments, all of which would fail. Six years after Emily came along, and 12 years at the beginning of our journey I am now 11.5 weeks pregnant. I am fully aware that this baby could be taken from me at any minute. That's my story.
Before I was open with people about our fertility we would get this question a lot or some form of it. After my sister in law who was married two years after us had their first, I felt like we were bombarded by our church, "Now it's your turn." "Why don't you guys get started." "Your little sister is beating you out." We'd been trying for three years by that point. Then one day, I had enough of the question, and some unfortunate couple who I actually really like came up to me and not only told us we should be having children, but playfully teased me for two torturous long minutes. I looked right at them and without emotion said, "Actually we have been trying for several years now, and I believe I have had a couple miscarriages if not more.." The look on their face made me feel guilty, because my intent was to make them feel bad for what they were doing. I accomplished that. I knew they never meant to hurt me, and I don't have ill feelings towards anyone who ever said anything. I was hurt and I lashed out.
The bottom line is that this question caused a lot of pain, but led me to be very open about my infertility. Being open about my infertility occasionally caused pain, but opened up so much more to blessing. I am very thankful for my openness and glad that I shared so openly. I have been blessed many times over for my willingness to be open. But not everyone has that comfort level. It took me years to be this open.
It's funny, I thought much of the pain would end after Emily came. It did not. I thought much of the pain would end if I got pregnant. I can honestly say it didn't. Pain from infertility is a unique thing. It's not a visible loss, it's not even a tangible loss, but it's a loss that even the fulfillment of having children will not erase, because the scar remains. It's also a loss that those who have not experienced it will never truly grasp the pain of it fully. Even though I am pregnant, I think I will always view myself as an infertile woman.
I'm working on perspective. I cannot change the circumstances, but I can change my perspective on it. I can choose to remain angry, or I can choose to look at the positives despite the bad. Right now, I am trying to wrap my brain around the fact that my two toddlers will be transitioning home, probably in less than the next six months. It's not a for sure thing, but a likely thing.
The toddlers are a nice distraction since after twelve years of praying, I have become pregnant. Of course things are not going as smoothly as I hoped, with a few scares along the way, but I did get to see the baby move for the first time yesterday. I don't think that I will feel at peace with this pregnancy until a baby is safely in my arms. I am not out of the danger zone, as I am only 9 weeks. Nausea is beginning to subside already, which I hope is a good thing. We had decided to share the news early, because if anything were to have gone badly, we wanted the support.
Honestly, if I didn't have the toddlers, I think this pregnancy would be harder than with them. Yes, I sometimes worry that my constant chasing them is hurting the baby when I have one of my scares and am supposed to be resting, but the baby has shown to be resilient. If they weren't here, I wonder how obsessed I would be with the health of the baby, especially with some of the stuff that has gone on. Instead I often am too busy to stop and worry.
I do believe God has a plan. I'm not sure what that is. And I will feel that way, even if God decides to take this baby home, and my toddlers go home. I don't often understand the why, but I definitely see God's hand at work.
I believe in miracles. My husband and I often disagree on what a miracle is, but one miracle I know to be true, many of you have been blessed with and are completely oblivious to it. There are millions of things that can go wrong, and a million things that have to happen to bring this about, yet so many take this miracle for granted.
First, a woman has to ovulate. Did you know some women cannot or do not, second a man has to be able to produce healthy sperm, which can be affected by genetics, childhood illness, adulthood illnesses, among just a few. Third a woman has to have all the appropriate parts, which absent ovaries and/or uterus is a very common abnormality, I learned this is more frequent than you would possibly believe. Fourth a woman's eggs need to be healthy, which can be affected by diet, health, past surgeries, STI's etc.
Then let's say man and woman have all the necessary parts, sufficient quality in eggs and sperm, did you know that just because an egg and a sperm meet does not always result in an embryo? Then of those embryos few will actually implant and of those that implant, not all implant where they should, such as abdomen or fallopian tubes (ectopic pregnancies).
Then let's say that a healthy egg meets a healthy sperm and they implant where they are supposed to, some might not attach well, some might have a genetic mutation, some might for some reason not develop correctly. Then just because you are beyond the first trimester does not mean you are in the clear. There are still yet a myriad of things that can go wrong, cord issues, preeclampsia, breech,etc. So next time you hold your baby, or take your baby to school, or talk to them on the phone, or even watch them become mommy and daddys remember that that person is a miracle. A million things had to happen correctly to bring them here, and a million things could have prevented them from coming here, but by God's grace this miracle happened and you and all those in contact with them have been blessed.
So here is to all the miracles in the world. The 26 billion miracles that somehow made it here.
So as I write this, I am thinking of the millions of us who are too aware of this being a miracle, and I think of the children whose parents have completely lost site of the blessing they were given, the people who don't know their own value and the miracle they are themselves, the people who grieve for those they lost whether it is before or after birth. In case anyone cares this year, National Infertility Week is in three weeks, the week of April 19th.
The older I get, the more I realize that blood may be thicker than water, but love is thicker than both. Ten years and four months ago, I began attempting a journey that comes so easy for so many, but perceivably so difficult for us - to expand our family. Throughout the next ten years and four months, I would have miscarriages, prospective adoptions that never would happen, constant negative news from fertility doctors, and finally a failed IVF attempt. In that time, we gained one daughter, zero sons, and yet a whole lot of people who have shown a lot of love and support.
My emotions have been high and my hormones have been whacky since I have stopped the hormones for IVF, and I have found myself being hurt by things that would normally roll off my back or maybe not even be a blip on the radar under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, for my three most trusted friends, they have found themselves fallen victim to my constant insecure thoughts, dramatic ramblings, and late night worries.
Over the course of the past month, I have been trying to cope with yet another closed door, wondering where open doors lie. I try to come to terms with the fact that my dreams of a big family may not look the way I always imagined. Truth is, I never thought adoption would be so hard. I never thought conceiving would be near impossible, I never thought money would play such a huge factor in the growing of the family.
Don't get me wrong, I knew it might be hard, I had a gut feeling from a very early age, but how hard was something I never realized. Another thing I never realized ten years ago as this journey began, I never realized how big my family truly could be without adding children.
When I was third through fifth grade, I had one friend. Sure, I had many other friends, but only one real friend. I had a very narrow view of my family. I felt very alone, and decided when I was in eighth grade that I was going to have a big family, and I was going to try to encourage my kids to have a close bond, because I didn't want my kids to feel alone like I did.
I would daydream about how many kids I would have, while other girls were daydreaming about boyfriends.
Things changed in tenth grade. It was the first time I began building friendships that would be long lasting, aside from my loyal third grade best friend.
At thirty-three, I have a changed perspective.
I have prayed my entire life that I would have a big family, that I totally didn't realize that although I never got pregnant (and stayed pregnant) and I only succeeded in adopting one child, my family had grown huge!
If I were to count the number of true friends, I can confidently say the number is more than one.
Just as in normal families, I have lost contact with some for one reason or another. When I thank God for those he has placed in my life, I thank God for the lost ones too. They may have chosen to not have me in their lives, but I am thankful they were part of my life even for a short time. I still love them, think about them, and wish them the best. The same thing happens in families made purely from blood bonds. Yet, when that person walks back in your life, you open your arms wide and welcome them back with cheerful hearts and loud praises.
I get hurt by some of them, that doesn't make them any less important. Usually the pain that was caused has more to do with hormones and outside circumstances than the action of the offender. I find I forgive often and apologize a lot. I may not trust all that I love, but I love many people as much as I would love a sister or that I love my brothers.
I then realized, God gave us a desire towards family, not because he wants everyone to procreate, but because he wants people to build relationships. He wants people to grow old surrounded by loved ones, whether they are biologically related or not. He never intended family lines to be only biological. Take a look at Jesus, his earthly father was not biologically related to him, yet when the Bible follows Jesus's genealogy, he follows through Joseph's line not Mary's.
So over the past ten years, I have begun to redefine family. Some of you may not realize you are part of my family. Some of you may not share the same love I have towards you as you do towards me, but that's okay. Some may reject me, some may hurt me, but I am learning family is not an exclusive club that you have to either be born into or married into. It's a choice to love someone unconditionally, and because of that, my prayer for a large family has finally been blessed.
You know that moment when you feel like your life is overwhelming and you can't get a foothold on it, then something happens that reminds you, life will be okay. So I have had a few good cries over the loss of our embryos. One was to my mom (sorry Mom) she was sweet and bought me flowers. Another was a couple nights ago. Little Miss had gone to bed, tears started welling up and Kevin was away on business, then I got a text.
It was from my guy.
He wrote the line he used on me before he got the guts to ask me out. Just one line, it was silly and a personal joke at the time. That one line made me laugh through my tears. That's how I have made it through my entire life, laughing through the tears. A gift I did not learn until sometime in my adulthood.
Many are probably wondering where we will go from here.
So, I was transparent through my ivf journey, and as it began, so now it ends. The embryos did not make it. Kevin and I have decided through our next journey, it will go back to being just us. No open transparency. We don't know where we are going from here, but we decided this will conclude our open IVF journey with all of you. Thank you for all your love and support. We appreciated it! I am unsure our next steps, but please, we'd rather not talk about it openly, as we have a lot to wrap our heads around, decisions to make. Thanks!
Tomorrow, my future children (assuming they result in pregnancy) will be conceived (during church - just not at church, so they most likely will be angelic beings, my friend Dawn told me so!)
This thought has reminded me of the statistic I have often heard that only 20 percent of naturally made embryos result in pregnancy - half in which miscarry, so I am trying to think positive when I think my chances are 54 percent per embryo although miscarriage rate is comparable.
The medicine I took last night has probably been the most potent of the drugs I've been on. I have been tired all day with slight nausea. I also am severely bloated, very uncomfortable. I am looking forward to tomorrow to remove this feeling that a bowling ball is sitting on my pelvis.
Tomorrow, they will remove the eggs, by Monday they will be able to tell me how many were healthy eggs and how many they fertilized. Kevin and I get to determine the cap amount (the most we'd be willing to have fertilized). The only reason it would be different than that amount is if eggs don't fertilize, which is a very real possibility. Even when an egg and sperm meet, that does not always result in an embryo - magic has to happen (in the words of the nurse). So many variables, so many things to affect the outcome.
I am not nervous, just uncomfortable. I'll be taking a cocktail of meds in the morning, a valium tonight, and then they will give me a similar drug they give to those having a colonoscopy.
Then we wait... for two months... minimum.
Today was my third ultrasound this week. Everyone was super nice and happy, maybe because it was Friday. I didn't see the doctor I hired, but a different one. It was fine by me. Still prefer the small business feel, but this is okay.
I went in and was glad to see the same ultrasound nurse. I really like her, she remembers me, and the familiarity makes me feel comfortable. Before she did any measurements she said, "Wow, you are so close to being able to do IVF." She shared her own story, she now has twins. Later, as I walked through the halls, a few other nurses I've met along the way, mentioned they heard how close I was, which made me feel special and gave me that small business feel. I'm also curious how many people were there as the ultrasound tech talked to the doctor, but hey, I liked it.
Back to the ultrasound, after checking my eggs, she then went to look at the uterus, and said, "Oh, bummer, it doesn't look like its going to happen this month." She made this news not feel so bad with her sweet demeanor and charming talk. She had me sit in a consult room, where I waited for the doctor. I felt good about what she shared with me, just a little bummed.
I got Dr. D today, which is by far my favorite doctor, and the one I've seen most frequently. He also gave me similar news. I felt good about it... well that is until I left and reality sunk in.
This Christian mom is far from perfect, but continually strives to grow and develop. She is an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction and focuses a lot on personal growth. She loves to share what she has learned through her studies and her own failures, as well as walks alongside other mothers as they learn together the ins and outs of parenting.