dear santa.

Dear Santa,

Hi! Me again! I swear we had a similar conversation last year, but in case that letter got lost in the mail, I’d like to remind you what a very good girl I have been this year! And all I am asking for is to have you fill our stocking with baby dust and perhaps, a positive pregnancy test.

I have been taking my prenatal vitamins on a daily basis, even though they are huge and get wedged in my throat. (Ok, minus that one week earlier in the year when I said ‘screw you prenatal vitamins!’). I didn’t start crying when that one cashier saw all the baby shower gifts I was buying and congratulated me on the baby I “was having”. (I didn’t even have the heart to correct her.) I have kindly clicked through Facebook albums announcing pregnancies and births, and even managed to leave a few nice comments. I have been kind and patient with my husband, even when he is unintentionally irritating me. And the other night when I was crabby, instead of saying “What the bloody hell are you thinking!?!” out loud, I said it in my head, and with a British accent, so it isn’t like swearing at all. Then there were all the needle pokes and disappointing phone calls, and I managed to stay polite and say thank you at the end of the jab or call. I have bought a lot of baby gifts this year for children whom I love dearly, but aren’t mine. I only teared up a little when I gave myself my first shot. I held my tongue when I was told the reason I wasn’t pregnant was because I wasn’t “thinking good thoughts.” I have not yet written a nasty letter to MTV about how stupid it is to have a show about 16 year olds getting pregnant, as they don’t realize the blessing they have. I am praying the Sun Stands Still prayer, faithfully, and only stick my tongue out at the kids who throw snowballs at my car.

And Santa, even Josh has been a good boy. He didn’t even argue when I made him watch episodes of Guiliana and Bill with me, or insisted on reading out loud the entire IVF handbook. He went for his sperm analysis test without putting up a fuss even though it interfered with work hours. He has been very patient and kind to me, even when I am a little sharper than normal or weep at commercials with cute dogs in costumes.

So, please fill our little Christmas tree with strength, hope, determination, and optimism. Fill our stockings with positive thoughts going into the next month and new year. And if you want, you can throw in a few extra Folistim vials and alcohol swab wipes.

With Love,

A Mama to Be

thanksgiving.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am always a little overwhelmed thinking about all we have been blessed with. Truly, even if we had no earthly possessions, we would still have it all. This year has been one where I have been intentional to find things daily that I am thankful for – small and big. We have so much all around us and complaining seems so common. I have taken to heart Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I loved reading so many statuses about gratitude and thankfulness yesterday. Let’s hold onto that thankful spirit!

This week has been going good so far!. Just about what I expected truthfully – a little of everything!    : ) It seems that each day brings a new side effect to the forefront while the one from the day before disappears nearly completely. It’s the strangest thing. I have dealt with the worst hot flashes – the kind that make you sit down in the middle of a mall, rip off your boots and ask a stranger to get you a glass of water. I also had to get very comfy on the floor of a Hallmark waiting for the dizzy flash to pass … while reading Hanukah cards for Grandson’s because it was the closest thing to the floor. Ah, that day was fun.  Then the next day I experienced cramps that took my breath away. Day after, an extreme loss of patience. I haven’t been sleeping well, but that is okay. I do get exhausted quickly – but it tends to go in waves and brief rests help. I have only had a couple headaches and they pass quickly. One of my least favorite parts is constantly feeling bloated, but that’s superficial. Anyways, I figure, I don’t have a choice, why not embrace the chance to carry an ice pack in my purse and take a nap?? All in all, it’s been a good week. I knew to have no expectations and that has been very helpful going in to each day. On a side note, I officially have my first 3 bruises on my tummy. It is a little sore, but again, manageable.

Alright, so a lot of questions have come in about the actual “date” timeline of all of this, so for your reference here is the rough estimation:

  1. Suppression – now until Dec 1
  2. Stimulation – Dec 1 – week of Dec 10th-ish
  3. Egg Retrieval – sometime week of Dec 10 – 15
  4. Embryo Transfer – 3 to 5 days after the day of the egg retrieval
  5. Waiting – ahhh, the lovely 2WW!

Hoping and praying that we have some answer by the end of the year. As we keep moving, I will continue to share as many details as we feel comfortable with, knowing your timely prayers are such a blessing, while also allowing some boundaries as well.

I know we talk about our Thing on this blog often – that area in life that you are waiting to have a prayer answered in or addressed. An issue that is hovering over your head waiting for direction or strength. Ours is obviously infertility and trying to have a child of our own. Yours is part of your story. I read this great devotional this morning from Proverbs 31 and wanted to share the thoughts. While it applies literally to waiting on God for a child, it’s so applicable for waiting on God for anything:

 “Do you ever get tired of waiting on God to answer your prayers? I do. I get tired of saying the same old prayer day after day, month after month, year after year. Tired of telling God about the same old problems still going on. Tired of hearing myself pray about the same old issues, leading me to wonder if God is as tired of hearing my prayer requests as I am of praying them. Recently I bowed my head and admitted to God that I was simply tired of praying and waiting. In a heavy state of emotional exhaustion, I turned to my Bible. I hoped a few verses would jump straight into my heart and give me patience. That day I read about when Isaac’s wife Rebekah gave birth to twin sons. One sentence in particular caught my eye and God used it to speak hope into my soul. Genesis 25:26 tells us that Isaac was sixty years old when his twins were born; a simple Bible fact, yet profoundly meaningful to me on that specific day. You see, Isaac had waited patiently for the Lord to provide the perfect wife. He was forty years old when he married Rebekah. That means Isaac waited twenty years for Rebekah to bear children! He was a man of great patience who waited on God. And eventually his patient faith was rewarded. In Genesis 25:21a we see that “Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children.” (NLT) He earnestly and strongly prayed about their desires to have kids. He did not half-heartedly ask God for a son, he pleaded! He begged. He poured his heart out. He trusted that God would provide and continued to pray the same desperate prayer for a son, day after day, month after month, year after year. Isaac never gave up hope that his Lord could make the impossible, possible. And after twenty years, God gave him a son. Are you tired of the wait? Tired of pleading with God just like Isaac? It may take twenty years for God to answer, or it may only take twenty minutes. But today, let’s find comfort in remembering Isaac’s patient faith and take hope in believing that God is not tired of hearing our prayers.”

How great is that? How often are we pleading with God? How often are we finding ourselves talking about our hardship, rehashing it with friends, talking about praying for our Thing, without actually taking the time to plead with God? I constantly have to ask myself “Have I prayed about this as much as I have talked about this?”. Sometimes the answer is a good nudge that I am losing focus on communication with God, but becoming really good with my communication with others. Humbling.

I leave you with my top 5 list of things I am thankful for … the big ones … I could go on forever on each one, but will try to be brief:

  1. My relationship with God. And simply that –the fact that it’s a relationship. A personal friendship with the One who saved me, who carries me, who restores me and strengthens me.  He is all I need.
  2. My husband – Josh. Without him, I don’t know who I would be or what life would be like. He is my human rock, my supporter, my best friend. He always makes me laugh, makes me feel cared for and loved, and treats me like a queen. I can count on him for anything. He speaks my love language when it may not come naturally; he is a hard worker, a great puppy dad, and the best life partner I could ask for.
  3. My family – both by blood and by marriage. I am so blessed to have Christian parents/parents-in-law who love, encourage, and bless me in so many ways. I have 2 beautiful little nieces who bring us such joy. My sister and best friend who gets me in only a way a sister can … my sister/brother-in-law, amazing cousins, caring aunts and uncles, loving grandparents … the list is endless.
  4. My friends – they are truly incredible. They make me laugh, they care, they support, they pray. I never feel alone. I always have someone there to share and do life with. Their loyalty touches my heart.
  5. My dog Cali – she is my joy each day. She loves unconditionally, she knows my moods, she makes me laugh and I adore her quirks. She has been my “baby” these last 6+ years and makes me smile instantly.

Life is good. God is good. These trials are so small in comparison to the blessings of waking up each day and participating in this short breath of life. Can I get an Amen!?

Ran home for the quick shot while Black Friday shopping this morning!

So true!

PS – Yes, for those reading on a desktop, I did give my blog a wintery makeover. :)

and so it begins ….

I can’t believe it’s finally here! The start of IVF – something that feels like it has been in the works for far too long. All my nerves from before have completed melted away, leaving me with an excitement that is hard to put into words. It’s a journey we so strongly feel called to, that we can’t help but hope with eager anticipation that God will continue to use this part of our story for His glory.

I have been struggling to decide how much “medical” talk I want to put in this blog. I don’t think truthfully people want to read about Lupron injections and all the finite medical details of this process. So I will do my best to give updates without boring and educating without making you cross your eyes. Plus, I want to continue to be transparent about what it’s like to be IN this stage, so you will likely hear a lot about how “I feel”. (I work in a psych hospital, “how does that make you feeeeeeeeel” seems like simple lunch conversation.)

With that said – this morning I started my first injection!  I know I have broken this out before, but to refresh your memory, the IVF cycle is broken into 5 steps from here:

  1. Suppression
  2. Stimulation
  3. Egg Retrieval
  4. Embryo Transfer
  5. Waiting

The timeline of all this really is spread out over the next 5-6 weeks. I am in the Suppression stage now, using medication to slow down and stop the pituitary from producing LH and FSH. (Those are just fancy names for the hormones that make you ovulate.) So essentially this stage is shutting down my system in order to gain complete control during the Simulation phase. I have been told to mainly expect some tiredness, potential nausea, hot flashes and headaches. Those tend to be the most common side effects. As of this morning though, the only thing I noticed was burning and tenderness at the injection site for about an hour. Bearable for sure, just uncomfortable.

Work has come to a halt as I move through this journey and I am so thankful for the chance to focus entirely on “me” and self care and to be available for whatever comes our way during this. We were able to take family pictures this afternoon (with an amazing photographer, Jana Wick!) and it was so special to be able to capture our family as it is today, knowing and praying that it will be different in the future. Cali was on her best behavior thanks to our fantastic doggie stylist and treat distributer, sister Courtney. :-)

I will take this one day at a time, one hour at a time. If I cancel plans with you last minute, don’t take it personally, I just may not feel good. If I forget to write you back on Facebook, my mind is just scattered (or I read it on my phone, which is nearly always the case). “Expect the unexpected” is what I have been told and I feel like my mind and body are ready. I can’t wait to continue to share this story with you and truly am grateful for your investment. Hugs all around!!

Round 1 of my meds have arrived!!!

Getting ready for the first shot! (Yes, I may have just woke up.)

thriving.

The other night I woke up in the middle of the night with a clear message placed on my heart.

In this season, I am not just being called to survive. I am being called to thrive.

Thrive. Not survive.

Whoa. It was one of the most empowering visualizations I have had and I know it was placed on my heart by God. The idea of taking what I am a little anxious and nervous about, and turn it into a beautiful process is energizing.

Survive: to endure or live through

Thrive: to grow strongly and flourish

My heart has been changed to focus on embracing what’s ahead of me, to grow stronger in it and to flourish through this experience. Of course some days, yes, I will just need to endure the shots and the sickness, but I will be gladly receiving the experience each day.

God has such a funny way of reminding us that He is there and listening, doesn’t He? I was feeling a little overwhelmed the last time I posted – then this vision of thriving was placed on my heart. I continue to rely so much on the blessings of encouragement that God uses YOU for. When I am down, it’s like magic, a card appears in my mailbox. Or when I am worrying about getting through the day, bam, someone drops of coffee. If I need to refocus or am letting my mind wandering down a “what if” road, DING, my phone lights up with a text message with the PERFECT verse or message. I am overwhelmed with how much God uses amazing people in my life to remind me that not only will I have Him and Josh getting me through each day, but I will have all of you.

I just have to share some really amazing blessings that He has used others to touch my heart with this week:

  • My sister in law made me some amazing soup, which I was able to take for lunch and enjoy not only having to pack a lunch, but was the best meal to have while I was sick. Truthfully, other than my mom, I couldn’t tell you the last time someone sent me a meal! Such a blessing.
  • I went to my mailbox at work and pulled out tons of envelopes to sort through – and there was a handwritten card mailed to my work from another co-worker at a different site with the kindest words of thoughtfulness, encouragement, and well wishes on this journey.
  • My parents took Cali for the day on Thursday so I could enjoy a night out with some girlfriends and didn’t have to worry about my dog being home all day by herself. Not only that but she was fed, walked and good and tired when Mama picked her up.
  •  I visited with Josh’s Grandma one evening and when I walked in to her apartment, she had a  homemade piece of pie on the counter waiting for me on the plate, with a wide variety of teas next to it, ready to make me a cup and sit me down at the table. Such a thoughtful, personal gesture.
  • My sister brought me over a pair of my favorite socks to wear. A small gesture that literally came hours after I thought, “I really just want a soft pair of comfy socks to wear.” (And a sweet sacrifice for a college student!)
  • After shopping around and ordering prescriptions, I had a friend who went through IVF and had some left over meds, the same ones that I needed to order, text me that she felt a “profound need to give them to me” … literally saving us $560. This was right after putting together a spreadsheet of costs and feeling a little overwhelmed. SUCH a Godsend!
  • I received numerous texts and Facebook messages from friends and acquaintances I literally have not seen or talked to in years, letting me know I was in their prayers DAILY and they have  been following our story and wanted me to know they are supporting Josh and I in this next step. The thought of that is humbling.
  • I had my mother-in-laws Bible study pray for my health this week … after fighting a miserable sinus infection, to have people lifting me up in prayer without even asking was awesome.
  • A coworker stopped and brought me a Caribou and refused to let me pay him back. The mocha was incredibly needed after 4 nights of minimal, miserable sleep.
  • My incredible Kid-O-Deo Team Coach group asked to pray and lay hands over me this morning, lifting us up, praying a Sun Stands Still prayer for this journey and our future child. And last night, my sister and I sat in my living room and prayer together with words that touched my heart in a special way.
  • My Aunt, Uncle and cousins sent me the most incredible, surprise care package today with the most incredible, personalized gifts in there – snuggly pajamas, gift cards for meals, socks, tea, Clinique body butter, notecards, lipgloss … the list continues. And my cousin included a very special Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal that he searched high and low to find, which has a special meaning between us. And the words that were written on the cards and notes not only had me in complete tears, but overwhelmed me with gratitude for such supportive and caring family members.
  • My friend Julie made me TONS of Christmas cd’s this week – which is something I love to listen to during the winter and freshening up the playlist is so exciting!

I am certain I have forgotten many things – and that doesn’t mean they are any less special or meaningful. These are just examples of how God continues to use thoughtful, caring people to encourage me along the way. As someone whose love language is words of affirmation and thoughtful gifts (not just monetary!), I continue to feel SO loved, treasured and supported. It’s all overwhelming in a good way – it’s very humbling to be cared for and loved by so many. To know of others sacrifices to show they care – the time to write a text on a tiny screened phone, or make a meal, or resources, time and thought to purchase a special gift…. my heart will never be able to thank you all for the ways you touch my life each day! With your support, God’s grace, and my determination, I am ready to thrive.

can i really do this?

I have started a draft of this blog about 18 times and truthfully, the words aren’t flowing right now. It could be the fact that in my snuggly socks and sweats, fireplace blazing, tea in hand, I am so cozy I could probably just take a nap at the keyboard…I will blame daylight savings. Anyways – an update on our Monday appointment.

It went really well. Thank you all for your prayers, texts, and messages. Having so much support walking into each appointment means so much. The trial transfer went really smoothly and they have no concerns for the actual transfer. YAHOO! Another positive check mark. Then the last consult visit was everything I thought it would be – information overload (in a good way) and a great opportunity for us to get the game plan finalized. We were sent out with a prepayment receipt that made me a little clammy, lots of packets, our “recipe book”, a gigantic prescription and lots of appointments penciled in the calendar.

The prescription filling part is interesting, since only a few specialty pharmacies can and do fill these types of specialty orders. The doctor’s office suggests a few places, then faxes over the prescription to them. The pharmacist from that drug store then calls you and gives you a price quote on each of the items you need. Some of them offer discount programs on specific meds and each item ranges widely per pharmacy, which is annoying. I made a gigantic spreadsheet, crunched numbers and differences between the options and then, we finally finalized which pharmacy we will be going with and will officially place our order tomorrow. Whoa.

I have to be honest – reality is settling in, in a way that makes anxious thoughts flare up. As the days tick by, I am starting to get fearful. What if this doesn’t work? Everyone is different so what do “odds” really mean? The pressure of having so many people know is a little scary. How many times will I have to share “the news” if this doesn’t work? Will I really be as strong as I think I will be? What if this doesn’t work, we don’t have any embryos to freeze and I can’t go through this again? Or what if it does work and we miscarry? The questions in my brain are on spin cycle right now. The face of hope also includes a gigantic face of potential disappointment. It’s almost enough to make me want to run the other way. Sometimes, lying in bed at night, I think – how can I really do this? If it doesn’t work out, will I shatter? Will I ever be able to walk away from the idea of having a family? Is it better to not continue to dabble in trying to and protect my heart? I want children so bad it hurts, but will the pain of it not working hurt worse?

Driving to church this morning, I kept asking God, what if a child isn’t your will? What if our act of faith is simply going through this trying process?  Then, in Volunteer Huddle this morning, the man leading devotions talked about Luke 5.

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.” (Luke 5:4-7)

He said – sometimes, when logic seems against it, Christ will still call you to go out. And our response is simply to obey. But if you say so, I’ll let the news down again. God can and does choose to do miracles – but again, our response should just be to obey when called. Without the process of the miracle.

So, God, I think I am ready to let the nets down again. I am scared. Scared of the emotions that will come with this, the physical drain and hardship, the fear of it not working. But – I feel this is the step you are calling us to. And so I will simply obey. And trust that you will act.

Keep me positive people. I need to remember that God is on the job. (“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusions that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. 1 Peter 4:12-13 Msg) I kindly ask, that you don’t share with me right now, the stories of a friends friend who tried IVF 4 times and miscarried each time. That you don’t share the sad stories, the failures, the heart breaks. It adds to my spin cycle that I am praying against fervently.

10 days left of work. 13 days left without syringe marks in my belly and hip. I can do this …. right?