what’s next ….

So what’s going on with you?! Any updates?”

That seems to be the question directed at me lately and I am so thankful for the people in my life who care about me enough to ask. I’m sorry to say that I have passively replied to it with a “Things are going good! Looking forward to spring.” answer and changed the subject. The truth is I haven’t really felt like talking about infertility, TTC, and Me lately.  Life-After-IVF is such a different pace with less updates and sometimes the updates that I do have feel so personal. (I know that sounds funny coming from the girl who has a blog.) When we were in an IVF cycle, I knew exactly what was going on, what was next, what we could tentatively expect and how you could specifically pray. Now that I am not going into the doctor every 2 days, I don’t know what the next week will hold. Pushing me for more answers just makes me shrug because I don’t know what to say. Do you want me to start talking to you about my cervical mucus and how often we are baby-dancing? I didn’t think so.

But I do have a little update. No, I am not pregnant. We have just hit another little road bump, but one that will hopefully bring us some answers.

I blogged back at the beginning of February that I was working with my OB on some weird symptoms and pains that I was experiencing. We went through some preliminary testing without many, if any, clear answers. Unfortunately the pain I have been experiencing has increased to the point where we are a little concerned which has resulted in scheduling a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy surgery. We are praying that with it, we will be able to find out some answers about what’s going on with these pains I am dealing with. (For those in the IF world, these are not pains consistent with endometriosis, which I have never been diagnosed with, but also don’t have any other symptoms in line with. But its certainly not off the table.)

So what’s a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy? Well, under general anesthesia at a surgery center, my doctor is going to go into my body through my belly button, cervix and a few other belly incisions, to get a live look at most of my organs. The ultrasounds we have done in the past can only show us so much in black and white. The laparoscopy will be able to use cameras to see everything as is. Because of the pain and the unknowns, we will be doing a broader organ assessment than necessarily typical of someone struggling with infertility. My doctor will be able to go all the way up to the gall bladder duct (I had my gall bladder removed in 2008), then follow down and check on my liver, bowels, intestines, appendix, pancreas, uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. She will be able to biopsy anything that looks suspicious (God-willing that is nothing), as well as flush out both tubes to ensure there is no blockages since we last checked in 2010. (Hey, a lot has happened since 2010! Anything is possible.) She will also be able to remove some cysts that lurk thanks to PCOS and if there is anything else visible and fixable (like adhesions, polyps, fibroids or infections) take care of it at that time (typically done with a laser). Thanks to doing the hysteroscopy at the same time, we will be able to get a good look at both the inside and outside of the uterus.

There truly could be such a wide variety of issues going on that I have tried to remove myself from Google until we know more. I hope and pray that it is nothing serious. The surgery date is being firmed up in the next few days and it looks like it will be scheduled for the first week of April.

What’s ahead? I wish I had more answers for you. While this surgery will be able to look at my reproductive organs, the primary reason we are going through it is to diagnosis if there is anything more serious going on. It’s difficult to figure out what’s “normal” given all that my body has gone through the last few years. At times, pain can be evidence that something in your body is changing. It may be a good thing! Both Josh and I, as well as our doctor, feels that it’s better for everyone’s peace of mind to just know if it’s anything serious and be as proactive as possible to get on top of whatever the issue may be.

So, the answer to your kindly asked questions is still somewhat unknown, but thankfully I will know more in a few weeks. I promise that if there are any updates, changes in plans, news, or progress made in the infertility department, I will certainly let you know. In the meantime, try not to press me for details about “what’s next” for us because truly, I am not sure. If I’m being honest, that question (Now what are you doing to try to have a baby?) can make me feel like we need to be doing something else other than waiting on God’s timing, as we both feel that He has us holding off on another IVF cycle at this time. Our biggest hurdle right now is getting through this surgery, possible running a few biopsies and checking out my organs, cleaning a few things up and continuing to trust that God is in control of all of this.

I will let you all know the exact surgery date soon so you can be praying for us during it. I feel like most of my hurdles in the last few years have been primarily mental – I mean, granted, there have been other surgeries, but the mental part of the game has been so predominant that the physical side effects have been easier to embrace. I feel like the physical part of this surgery is a little heavier than the others so ask for prayers for a quick recovery (a week or two to get back on my feet, possibly a little longer to feel 100% depending on what they do while they are in there), as well as all of the pieces that go along with surgery  (anesthesia, multiple incisions, internal healing) to go smoothly.

Am I anxious about it? Honestly yes, at times. But it’s at the point where I just want some answers. Will it help my fertility? Possibly. But this isn’t an optional surgery to increase my fertility, it’s a diagnostic surgery to try to figure out what’s going on with my insides. And whenever I start to get a little nervous about these unknowns, I always manage to come across some words that instantly calm me down. One line that has been echoing in my heart lately is a quote from Samuel Rutherford – “Trust God’s Word and His power more than you trust your own feelings or experiences.” This whole time in my life has been an opportunity to walk by faith, not by sight, and so we trust and hand it over to Him.

Truly, thanks for asking how we are doing. Consider this a mass update and if we are close, I am so sorry that I wasn’t able to share this with you in a more personal way. But I genuinely appreciate your care and kindness and value your support more than you know!

Oh and PS – let’s celebrate another shorter cycle! We have gone from 63 days, to 41 days, to …. 37 days. Making progress! :) Praise God!

I’ll be taking off blogging for about a week as we enjoy some time with family so keep your eye out for a post at the beginning of April with more info on the surgery date. With that, I’ll leave you with a picture from St. Patty’s Day. Enjoy! :)

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Me and my little leprechaun, who is obviously thrilled with her hat.

 

laughter.

They say laughter is the best medicine … and I agree! This blog has been more seriously lately and truly, I am not a Debbie Downer serious person. So I decided to spice things up with some things that have made me laugh recently. I have found that in this whole infertility journey, if you don’t learn to laugh at yourself and the situation, then you will drown quite fast. Now, I have a darker sense of humor when it comes to all of this, so if you are sensitive or feel uncomfortable laughing at the awkward, feel free to skip this post. I will post next time more in tune with my typical style of writing. But for tonight, let’s laugh.

You can thank Pinterest for this slew of infertility-related comics. (Anyone not actively TTC, you may not appreciate these as much as those who are.) Josh and I were literally in tears laughing the other day. Some of these are so true that it is nothing short of hysterical. I mean, these are the cards we have been dealt, why not make light of it every now and then? So, without further ado, happy laughing. :)

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poppingphoto 20

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HAHAH! If you are having a hard day today, I hope this made you smile. If we don’t have the same sense of humor, then I at least hope I didn’t make you cry. <eeeeek>

Have a good night friends!

10 things to stop doing …

I recently came across a powerful list of Things to Stop Doing If You Want to Support Someone with Infertility. *I love it*. I couldn’t not share! (What’s that rule about double negatives? I don’t think I’m following it.) You can click here to read the whole article in full, but below are the 10 things that the article listed with my own personal commentary. My goal in sharing these are to help educate those who support someone going through infertility. Now as you embark on reading this, please keep in mind that this post isn’t meant to make you feel bad for anything you have done or said in the past. I don’t hang on to those things, especially if it’s from someone that I know genuinely cares about us. Same goes for in the future – if I know your care is sincere, it is a lot easier to dismiss things that may typically hurt me. I am sharing this so that you can simply educate yourself and perhaps prevent hurting someone with infertility in the future. With that, I bring you 10 things to stop doing if you want to support someone with infertility!

 1. Stop Thinking You Can’t Be Supportive Because You’ve Never Struggled with Infertility.

One thing I have learned throughout this journey is that you don’t have to have walked my walk in order to be empathetic and caring about our struggles. You may never have had your grandmother pass away, yet you can still have compassion when someone loses theirs. The same goes for infertility. You may never have had a miscarriage, but that shouldn’t stop you from caring and saying “I don’t know what to say, but simply know I am so sorry for your loss.”

Just say something. Do something. You can never go wrong with a card, flowers, or food. And try to remember that we (infertiles collectively speaking) don’t just feel pain after a failed cycle or a miscarriage, we carry it every day, it doesn’t go away. Please don’t ignore it. (There will be a whole other post on this topic another day!)

2. Stop Assuming We Don’t Want to Hear Anything About Your New Pregnancy or Your Kids

Please don’t be awkward and NOT talk about what’s going on in your life! It’s uncomfortable when you start a story about “your ki….” and then quickly end it to avoid saying the word “kids”. I won’t combust, I promise. Just be respectful and don’t choose me as your audience to complain endlessly to. Typically though, I enjoy hearing stories about your family and pregnancy in moderation.

I am frequently asked the best way to “break the news” that someone is pregnant. Honestly, I truly prefer being told in an email or via text. I know that seems so impersonal, but it gives me the ability to process without having you stare at me for a reaction. Also, if you chose to do it in person, please don’t make it the entire conversation about it. I dread when someone calls me up and invites me to coffee to “tell me something”. I know walking into the coffee shop that the next hour will be spent listening to pregnancy talk. *Ouch*

Oh, and please don’t apologize for being pregnant. I don’t want you to be infertile. I also don’t want to spend 10 minutes comforting you about feeling bad for me. You are pregnant, own it. Don’t say you are sorry. (And if it was a mistake, wasn’t planned, isn’t the gender you were hoping for, it’s safe to say you can omit that from our conversation.)

I appreciate a heads up if you are going to share it to a group of people with me there. If we are really close, I also appreciate knowing that you are trying so I am not caught off guard when the announcement comes. (Obviously this is my ideal world.) Again, these are just my preferences, but one I know some other gals share as well.

3. Stop Endlessly Talking About Your Pregnancy

The article says this well: “Too much pregnancy talk just reminds us how much we’re missing.” Just know your audience when you are going to gush for an hour about how wonderful (or awful) it is. This includes former “Tying to Conceive” (TTC) girls too. Please remember to be sensitive to the fact that we are still on this journey. We will celebrate with you and genuinely care about your 9-month journey and after, but be respectful as to not rub our face in it.

4. Stop Asking If We’re Pregnant Yet

I know you want to know. And I know that you want it just as bad for us as we do! But whenever I am asked that, I have to say “no” out loud, again and watch your face pity me. It’s really hard! And when the time comes, it will take all the fun out being able to share. A simple “how’s life?” will suffice.

5. Stop Telling Us We Can “Always Adopt”

Adoption is not a “fall back” plan. It is something that comes with its own calling. And if it’s ever something we choose, know that adoption will not simply take away all of the pain and struggles that comes with our own infertility story.

6. Stop Giving Unrequested Advice

Please. I know your intentions are SO good. But as the article says, it can often times feel condescending. I promise you, I am researching all sorts of things. Your suggestions sometimes can imply that we are causing it ourselves or that we aren’t bright enough to figure out something. (Ohhhh, so you are supposed to just relax! Take a vacation! Eat a pineapple. Put my legs in the air? Well, gosh, we have been doing this all wrong!)

We will ask you for your thoughts, opinions and advice if and when we want it. In the meantime, know that we are reading as many books as possible, looking into everything we can to understand our cards better and humbly ask that you don’t share every story you read on infertility with us. I realize this may sound incredible ungrateful for your caring heart, and there may be certain exceptions, but in general, less is more.

7. Stop Speaking on the Universe’s Behalf

The words “if it’s meant to be, it will happen,” make me sigh such a gigantic sigh that I think my lungs might burst. I KNOW THIS. I know and trust that God is in control. Please don’t keep reminding me that it’s completely out of our hands. I am very well aware.

8. Stop Accusing Us of Not Appreciating the Good in Our Lives

This is a tender one for me. I understand that I am so blessed to be where I am in life. I know that being a stay-at-home wife is wonderful. I know that we are blessed to be able to vacation and go out to a movie on a whim. I am thankful that I can sit in front of the TV and watch an hour of Parenthood uninterrupted.

Anyways, what I am saying is that it is possible for me to value the blessings I have and still feel sad. I am extremely aware of how richly blessed we are. Please don’t constantly tell me that. It feels like you are diminishing my sadness.

9. Stop Telling Us How “Lucky” We Are to Not Have Children

I can’t say it better than the article so here is what it said: “Yes, we know, kids are loud and don’t allow you a moment to yourself, kids never let you sleep, kids get in the way of sex, kids are a hassle. And we still want them. We are not lucky to not have kids; our lives are not easier for the lack of them. In fact, infertility also takes away the quiet inner moments, infertility keeps us up at night, infertility destroys our sex lives, and infertility is a hassle. Instead, admit that you wouldn’t give up your kids even if it meant you’d have more sleep and less stress. If you would rather trade in your kids for peace and quiet, then please keep those thoughts to yourself, as they’re not very flattering…”

10. Stop Invalidating Our Feelings and Reactions to Infertility

“It could be worse.” and “At least it’s not …”  … all of these comments simply feel like you are invalidating how I am feeling. There isn’t a right or wrong way to respond to something that hurts. We are doing everything we can to trust God and stay afloat in this. If you don’t know what to say, simply ask “How are you?” or if you can’t be genuine with that question and empathetic with our answer, then I ask that you simply say nothing.

tears and comfort.

Infertility can feel like a never ending roller coasting.

There are days, weeks even, when your hope is so high. You are leaning into each turn, you are riding the hills, you are feeling strong, determined and positive. You can just feel that God is in control. You know it in your bones, your heart, your core. “WE WILL BEAT THIS!” You have an anthem, you laugh, you tickle your friend’s children and you smile as you pass the room that will someday be your nursery.

And then out of nowhere, you have a sad day. It’s not like just a “kinda in a funk” day, it’s a day where the tears just flow and your heart breaks. You don’t want to hear one more kid story. Your newsfeed suddenly makes you gasp for air as you take in all of the pictures of children and pregnancies. You shut the door to the nursery, you cry out God, why? You lay at His feet and just cry.

As I process through the emotions that come along for the ride, I am convinced that tears are okay. They aren’t a sign that you lack trust in God. (“Jesus wept.” John 11:35) They aren’t a sign that you are a bad Christian. (“I am worn out from my groaning. My eyes flood my bed every night. I soak my couch with tears. My eyes blur from grief.” Psalm 6:6-7a) They are a sign that you are human. That your heart is fragile and that sadness is a real emotion. (More on Sadness here)

I sat at a coffee shop last week with a special friend and we talked about these days. When it all just seems to crash down and you have no choice but to face the pain you are experiencing and bring it to Him.

God is equipped to handle your tears. He is equipped to handle your worries and your hurts. And even more than being equipped, He cares. (“Turn all your anxiety over to God because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7)

Some days, when we have these moments, it is so helpful just to know that someone relates. I think that’s why having things like blogs and communities are so helpful. Are we going to be okay? Will we get through this? Will we be successful? What’s next?

I don’t know the answers to all those questions, but I can tell you one thing, I care.

I know what you are going through. I feel your pain. I hate when those moments catch me off guard. I hate that it’s hard to make future commitments because I don’t know what will be going on with my journey. I hate that one day a pregnancy announcement can be met with a genuine “congratulations” and the next day, tears.

In a recent Bible study, we were studying the story where the disciples tried to stop the children from coming to Jesus and Jesus stopped them and told them to let the little children come to me. I have read this story many times and this time, a line stuck out to me – “… taking the child in His arms…”

I thought about this tender act of holding a child. For many men, this act doesn’t come naturally to them. I remember watching Josh hold a newborn for the first time – it was like watching him try to embrace a glass football. And then I thought – what if …

What if Jesus felt the same ache for a child and family as we do?

I can imagine He was surrounded by families. He watched His friends grow up, marry young, have kids, raise a family. Granted He was surrounded by His disciples who left everything to follow Him, but yet, He witnessed the beautiful bond of a parent and a child everywhere He went, and with great empathy as well.

The more I thought about it, the more I wonder if our aches are more real to Him than we can even imagine.

He gave up so much to come as a sacrifice for us. Perhaps taking that child into His arms was a comfort to Him, reminding Him of how much He loved us and how worth it is was to give up His humanly desires to accomplish something much greater.

But that simple act of tenderly holding the child in His arms brings such comfort to my heart. Because maybe He knows far beyond what we could ever imagine.

Now of course I am making assumptions here and I am not trying to rewrite scripture or say something is definite, but that small story, that request to let the children come to Him, touches my heart in a very special way and brings a comfort that only He can.

So simply know this – on those days when the tears are falling, He is there. On the days when you struggle to find the reason for this, remember that trials do serve their purpose. There is an end to our afflictions. He does remove hardships when His purpose in using it is fully accomplished. (Note I said using it and not causing it.) Charles Spurgeon wrote “It is not difficult for the Lord to turn night into day.”

Take a breath today. Remember that you are not alone. Take comfort in the fact that He cares for you, deeply, and that I do too. Tomorrow will come, the tears will dry up, your hope will be replenished and you will keep on fighting, because you, my friend, are a conqueror.

flappy bird.

Hi, my name is Chelsea and I play too much Flappy Bird.

I didn’t mean to get addicted. My husband came home from a church high school retreat in January and casually asked if I had ever heard of Flappy Bird. The answer was no and as I watched him lay awake at night trying to dart a bird through some pipes, I thought, Gosh, that game is a waste of time! I didn’t even ask to try it on his phone, I was NOT going to waste my time on that silly game.

A few weeks later I saw something on Twitter about Flappy Bird disappearing the next day. What? As I investigated more, sure enough, the app creator was removing it from the iTunes store after realizing it was becoming too addictive to people.

Huh? It’s going away forever? You mean I won’t have the option to download it later? What if I decide I want to play it? Or what if I am missing out on something? And how could someone allow themselves to become addicted to a game like that? That would never happen to me … 

Seconds later it was downloaded on my phone. Just in case it really did go away the next day. (Which it did.)

It started casually. One night after exhausting other mindless things to do I clicked on it. A few gentle taps and my bird dove to the ground.

New game.

Tap, tap, tap, tap tap tap, tap …

2! I made it through 2 pipes!

This was a lot harder than I thought.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap tap tap, tap ….

3!

Fast forward to a few weeks later. Tap, tap, tap tap tap …

Last week I laid in bed tapping, methodically trying to get my little red bird through as many pipes as possible when I was hit a challenge, I needed to blink, but I couldn’t.

Okay, not couldn’t, but wouldn’t. If I blinked I would have to take my eyes off the screen for a split second and surely would plummet to the ground. 74, 75, 76 – I was flying through the pipes, but I needed to blink! My eyes!

*Blink*

Plummet.

DANG! I knew that I had to somehow work in my ability to blink while playing the game. The next 20 minutes were spent trying to train myself to blink and play at the same time, but whenever I would think about blinking and attempting it, I would dive into a pipe. One game I got my left eye stuck trying to re-open from a blink, but was too afraid that the movement would distract me too much from the game and ended up playing a round of 85 with only my right eye. (It ended because I blinked with my right eye and well, you know the story from here, plummeted.)

I knew I had a serious problem when I sat there tapping and started to refuse to blink.

Mind over matter, keep tapping! Do. Not. Take. Your. Eyes. Off. The. Screen.

Ahhhh, my eyes! So dry! Can. Not. Blink!

Well that game ended because my contact fell out of my eye. I kid you not. Apparently blinking is not something you can just will yourself not to do.

I found my dried, shriveled contact on my blanket, I set my phone down and walked away. I will forever remember that my score of 102 was at the expense of my contact.

(proof)

(proof)

But all this made me think – I fell into a moment where I could not think of or do anything other than what I was focusing on. It became impossible for me even to blink because I only allowed myself to have one thing that could hold my attention. It reminded me about how easily we can fall into that same routine when we are going through something or worrying about an issue. We can become so focused on the obstacle, the challenge, the trial, that the simplest act of living can be put on hold as we obsess over our circumstances.

My Flappy Bird experience reminded me that I have to have balance.

It can be so easy to get drawn into our Thing. I can start to focus on infertility and all that surrounds it – the what-ifs, the how-comes, the why-thems, and it’s like I forget to blink. Infertility starts to define my life instead of being a small part of what I’m facing. It was a great reminder to me that it’s okay to want something, but it’s not okay to lose myself in the process. I have to blink.

John 10:10b says “I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Regardless of our situations, we are meant to experience life – all of life, not just one piece of it.

The definition(s) of “abundant” are as follows: richly adequate, occurring in great quantities, generously supplied, abounding.

When we tap into our great resource, our Source of joy, He is able to provide us a life that is richly abounding. It doesn’t mean we won’t have challenges – life is made up of different seasons, the good and bad, but with Him as our focus, not our circumstances, we can recognize that all of our needs are generously supplied.

I have been able to ease up on my Flappy Bird addiction. I still can’t figure out how to blink and play the game at the same time. And because of that, I am not able to enjoy the experience as much. So for the sake of my contact supply, I will cut the ties. It won’t be easy, but a balance is necessary, as is blinking. Today I encourage you, stop being consumed by your Thing. Being focused on anything other than Him will only lead to you plummeting. And, well, we all know plummeting is no fun!!

Don't let your challenge create a GAME OVER in your life!