Christmas.

Apparently I was not the only one who thought running to Target on Sunday evening was a good idea. I am not sure if it was the extra 10% off that caused the excess crowds or if it was the fact that it was a few days before Christmas, but whatever it was, Target was a zoo.

I mean it. I saw two ladies ram carts to get to the last bag of hanging cheddar cheese. I saw a small child nearly rolled over with a cart as a man tried to maneuver something in the way back on the bottom shelf. I myself even had to use a throat cleaning technique or two as I tried to pass through the bakery scene. People were abandoning their carts and running for the items they needed. It reminded me of a scene from a store the day before Y2K. (Remember that? We all thought the world was going to end? What was going to happen to the computers!?!?)

An item on my list was bacon and I knew this would be a congested spot. I pulled up to the section and stood back quietly to watch the animals shoppers fight. As I stood aside waiting for the perfect opportunity to dart in and grab what I needed, I couldn’t help but notice an adorable little girl, about 4, standing with her mom and baby brother next to me. I smiled at her as she noticed me watching and then it came.

“Hi. Where’s your baby?”

All my mind could think was “Is this a joke?”, yet I managed to smile (as I assumed tears and a pained cry might frighten her and everyone around me) as I gritted back “Oh hi, I don’t have a baby.”

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My heart was racing. Just a few minutes earlier as I was walking through the produce, I was struggling with sadness as I remembered just last year on this day, I knew I was pregnant. Memories of surprise onsies and telling-the-parents videos had been creeping up my throat as I was shopping the aisles and the question asked was like a dagger to my heart.

But why don’t you have a baby?”

Thankfully at this point the mom became aware of the conversation and stepped in. “Honey, not everyone has a baby.” Then trying to change the subject, she turned to me and asked which brand of bacon was on the Cartwheel this week. (Answer: the sold out one). But instead of being able to answer, the little girls voice chimed in again.

But why? Why don’t you have a baby too?”

Her persistence was admirable. She wanted an answer. I now was looking a little like this:

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She must have sensed that a response was not coming. I mean, it wasn’t like I was going to sit her down and say “Well, sometimes people have a hard time making a baby. And then you need shots and pills and surgeries. And then sometimes you get a baby in your tummy and then that baby dies. Merry Christmas.” So in order to avoid any appalled looks from her Mom, I choose to stay silent, my eyes darting around trying to locate ANY bacon at this point so I could make a run for it.

Well, you should have a baby.”

Her last words were said so sweetly and with them, I grabbed some weird off brand bacon, nothing like the kind I wanted, spurt out a “bye” and ran away. (And by ran, I mean made it a foot with my cart before crashing into people waiting to get down aisles.)

My, what a year will do. For me, it’s been a tough couple days remembering this time last year. I am trying not to dwell on it, as I know it won’t change things, but still am working to acknowledge my sadness and process through it as it pops up.

This time last year, our home was filled with special memories like our first positive test, first baby bump pictures, and excited cries as we told our families. After I miscarried I thought that there would be no way that I wouldn’t be pregnant by the holidays this year because we would do whatever it took for that to happen. Well, we did whatever we could and I still sit here with the emptiness I never wanted to feel at Christmas.

Infertility at Christmas can bring out tough emotions. There seems to be something about holidays that grows an entirely new set of “what if” and “when will I” thoughts and memories. We see cousins growing up and it makes our hearts sad that the cousin won’t be close in age. We see parents, grandparents and great grandparents getting and acting older and our brains start to panic, worrying that our children will never know “this version” of them. We receive the announcement Christmas cards in the mail and we reflect back to the fact that if this or that cycle had worked, we would have been {insert number here} weeks along and sending out a similar card. We fill up our carts with gifts for nieces, nephews, and adopted families in need and wonder if we will ever be able to wrap a gift for our own child. As we sit around the Christmas tree, it stings as we realize another season is passing by in brilliant colors around us, while our colors feel a little muted and dull. The ache and longing feels like a gigantic gapping, bleeding hole and the smiles plastered on can feel so brittle that one wrong question asked and you might just crack.

Truth is, I didn’t expect to be spending Christmas this way. And I know that for many of those reading this, you weren’t expecting it for yourself either. But, I have good news… God is a God of impossibles.

Perhaps this journey has pushed you back further and you think “well if God really loved me, He would have given me a baby by now.” Don’t you wish that God was a magic genie that would just make every dream and desire come true exactly when we asked? I imagine Heaven is a mixture of praises and answered prayers, but on earth here today we are stumbling through a sinful world of imperfect people and bodies. There isn’t a “That Was Easy” button on every prayer prayed and our challenge today is to learn to be grateful and view TODAY, with your present circumstances and situation, as a day given to you out of love from our Father. May we be filled with hope that with His grace and goodness, there will be another tomorrow and with that comes the patient expectation of answered prayers and miracles worked.

You see, Christmas is one of the most beautiful reminders to me that God can do anything. Now struggling with infertility, I feel like I have a deeper significance of appreciation for the words “behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son … It doesn’t make sense. In fact, it is IMPOSSIBLE. Yet, it happened. So often I forget the wait that was involved prior to Mary’s pregnancy by God’s people as they waited and waited for the King to arrive. But alas, at the right time, to the right set of parents, that miracle was performed.  

The rest of the verse above (Matthew 1:23) goes on to say “…, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which means, God with us.” The great news is that God is with us. We never have to fight this battle alone. Whatever battle you are facing today, whether it’s infertility like us, or something else, we have the presence of an Almighty God standing with us.

Friends, Christmas is upon us. It may look different than what we hoped, but let us celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth, knowing that “with God, nothing is impossible.” (Luke 1:37) And let us bring our sadness humbly to His feet and walk away with renewed hope in the year that is to come and with gratitude for the day He has given us in today. Keep believing, keep fighting and keep praying. I hope you all have a WONDERFUL Christmas.  

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Holiday Bucket List – Part 1

Oh this Bucket List has been so much fun to work on over this holiday season! Truly, the holidays can be a painful reminder of the children we don’t have to set on Santa’s lap, so the distraction has not only been greatly appreciated, but it’s prompted us to create many new memories and I love that! Here’s a quick update on how we are doing:

Well … my first Holiday Bucket List (HBL) item was to Put together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. I sat down after Thanksgiving to get the checklist from the website and find the nearest drop-off location only to find that the boxes are due before Thanksgiving and I missed the whole thing already. That would figure right? Way to start off on a great foot, haha! So instead, I decided to take my HBL item of Volunteer at an organization over the holidays and volunteer AT Operation Christmas Child. And then add a Toys for Tots donation to the list in lieu of the shoebox. Phew. So with that note, I have yet to drop off my tots gift (I have till the 21st) but did embark down to Bloomington, MN with my sister last week to volunteer at Operation Christmas Child! What an amazing experience it was! My job on the line was to remove contraband (glass, military/weapons toys, liquids, etc) and add fillers to the box if it was a little empty (things like soap, stickers, stuffed animals, etc). All I can say is that opening those shoeboxes and seeing the care people put into making them was amazing. And it was incredibly touching to realize that this small $1 yoyo and sheet of glittery star stickers would be the only Christmas gifts these children would received. I LOVED seeing the boxes that were clearly crafted by a child. They would include their school picture and adorable notes on the top of the shoebox, explaining the items or introducing themselves. It was a beautiful reminder in this season of how BLESSED we are for all that we have. I loved every minute of it and it will absolutely be an annual event going forward.

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child

I have had an uncomfortable, yet awesome time of Intentionally acknowledge bell ringers outside of stores instead of avoiding eye contact. I am always impressed with their ability to stand still outside in the cold single digit temps, shaking their bell and attempting to sing. I have enjoyed tossing my change in there and saying Merry Christmas, leaving with a smile. (And have no picture to prove that this has been taking place so take my word for it.)

This last Saturday evening we crossed off three more items. Drive around aimlessly for at least 30 minutes looking at holiday lights, Visit a house that has a live music/light show and Visit a live nativity scene. First of all, can I just say “thank you” to all of those people who work so hard to put up outdoor Christmas lights? I remember as a child visiting a neighborhood in Westchester, IL that we called “Candy Cane Lane” where the majority of the neighborhood put out beautiful lights. The subdivision would turn into a slow crawl as cars would pull in and out of the streets, creeping by each house as our eyes tried to take it all in. It has always been a favorite childhood memory of mine and Saturday evening reminded me of those special memories. We started off the evening at the live nativity, which was truly, just beautiful. If you have never been to a live nativity, I highly recommend finding one in your area. I am so thankful for the hosting church and the volunteers who put it on. It was a “drive thru” one, meaning we simply drove around a loop, stopping at each scene, where a verse was posted about the Christmas story and volunteers stood still, acting out the verse. Between the people, live sheep and camels and powerful verses, it suddenly brings to life what Christmas really means. Josh narrated and read the verses outloud as we drove past, while I unsuccessfully choked back tears. One of my favorite memories from the bucket list thus far!

The live nativity ... and left with a powerful message on the last sign!

The live nativity … and left with a powerful message on the last sign!

And then we visited a house that has a light show set to music on a private radio station and that was so fun to visit. (We still have one more house that does this that we would like to get to this year!). And then we drove around, looking up houses to visit that are known for their lights. There were many beautiful ones … and then this lovely one as pictured below that took blow-ups in the yard to an extreme. Hahah, we loved it!

A shot of the house whose lights were coordinated to the music.

A shot of the house whose lights were coordinated to the music.

How's this for having the front yard decorated?

How’s this for having the front yard decorated?

Alright, next on the list was to try eggnogg. I knew I couldn’t consume a lot of sugar and didn’t have the interest in making homemade eggnog knowing I could only have a sip so I took the recommendation of the nice lady in Cub Foods and bought a container. And with Josh and my sister Courtney on my side, we tried it. And all I can say is I have a nearly full container of eggnog in my fridge if anyone is interested! :)

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We had good intentions to like this!

We had good intentions to like this!

Next on the list was to Go ice skating at the Depot in downtown Minneapolis. I recruited my sister and her boyfriend to join me on this one and we spent a lovely Friday morning relearning to ice skate. It must have been 10 years since I had ice skated last and I have gained an entirely new appreciation for those who make this look simple. It was a challenge, but a fun one, and I am thankful we ventured out on the ice.

Skating fun!

Skating fun!

Josh and I have been working our way through our Christmas Movie list on free evenings. So far we have watched Elf, Christmas Story, and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Josh added an “honorary” movie to the list, so we have also watched Home Alone and will also try to get Home Alone 2 in there too. So two more movies left to watch and we still have a week left. I think we can do it!

Four classics!

Four classics!

I had so many awesome invitations from others to help complete my Attend a Christmas concert of some sort item. I couldn’t help but excitedly accept the invitation to 3-year old Mallory’s Christmas concert. Let me tell you, you haven’t been to a Christmas concert until you have been to one that has tons of tiny children sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. It truly blessed my heart. Plus I got to see one of the cutest stable piggies ever too! So special!

How adorable is she!?

How adorable is she!?

The last item I have completed thus far is Paying for someone’s meal/drink behind me in a drive thru. This was a fun one that I did while grabbing an iced tea from McDonalds. It was fun to bless the minivan behind me and hopefully they enjoyed their lunch.

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Alright, that leaves about a week to accomplish a few more … I think I can do it. Thanks for following along!!

  • Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Home Alone 2
  • Recruit my sister to reenact a childhood Christmas photo
  • Go sledding
  • Build a snowman. Perhaps a Cali sized one.
  • Make a snow angel
  • Buy new pajamas for Christmas morning. (Extra points if I match my sister)
  • Look at stars with Josh on a cold, snowy night

I have so much more to update y’all with …. and plan to soon. In summary, the naturopathic route has been going well all things considered. I knew the detox and adjusting to this much slower way of cycling would take a lot of time to get used to and it has. But I am continuing to try to keep moving forward with a good attitude and a hopeful expectation of the answers to prayer to come. Oh and I have also started doing heat yoga, which is TOTALLY new for me and will have to share some fun stories in the posts to come. Good news so far is I haven’t passed out!

Lastly, I want to wish my friend Charity over at The Word of a Nerd a Happy First Blogiversary!! She has invited to me help her celebrate and is an amazing Christian lifestyle blogger. Check our her blog today and also, have a chance to win some awesome giveaways!

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Alright all, hope you have a wonderful rest of your week and are enjoying the season we are in. Try your best not to let your expectations of the holidays overshadow what this time is all about! XOXO!

Dear Santa, part 2.

Dear Santa,

It seems you received my letter last year! Christmastime 2012 was the first time I received a positive pregnancy test, just like my letter requested! However, I have now learned to be a little clearer with my wish list, as a positive pregnancy test will only go so far. So with a humble heart, I am writing you again this year asking you to fill my stocking with more baby dust and a pregnancy that results in an on-earth, living, breathing, take home baby. Piece of cake, right??

Let me start by saying I have been more nice than naughty this year. I have tried my best to take every pill and shot with a smile, hopeful with the expectation of what could come. (Granted, I am failing miserably with drinking these stupid shakes from the naturopathic doctor but let’s ignore that fact.) I have been drinking tons of water and have even learned to stop complaining about not being able to drink soda anymore. I smile at most of the children I encounter, with the exception of that unruly little one who tried to kick me and told me he doesn’t like me. (I might advise you to put him on the naughty list.) I have done my best to treat Josh with love and only have occasionally given him “that” dirty look. (You know the “what are you thinking!?!” look.). I haven’t pushed one smoking pregnant lady down this year, nor have I parked in the “Expectant Mother” spot, even though I am tempted to “just pretend”.

Santa, I have been responsible for keeping the Target baby section in the black with all of the baby gifts I have been buying and surprises I have been mailing. I haven’t complained more than a dozen times about the still-numb spot on my butt and thigh from the progesterone in oil shots and I am even starting to accept the fact that I may never regain feeling. I have genuinely prayed for and celebrated many other TTC pregnancies and births this last year, even when it is a tough reminder that it’s not me.

I have been journaling and writing to my future child and simply ask that someday, he or she will be able to read those words. I have limited my Starbucks addiction and am trying to get healthier, even though it’s more challenging than I had imagined.. And unlike last year, I haven’t stuck my tongue out at one person yet this year. (Well, with the exception of Josh, but he was really being difficult that day.)

I have sat through more blood pokes than I could count and haven’t cried yet. I have patiently sat on the phone with the insurance company to fight my D&C denial and didn’t say to their face that it was insanely absurd that they would cover an abortion but not a miscarriage. (Okay, minus points for thinking it though. Again though, I may advise they be moved to the naughty list.)

Josh and Cali have been so good this year too! Josh lovingly abides with the dreadful dinners recently. (I figure if I can’t eat carbs or sugars, he shouldn’t be able to either.) He fills up the gas tank in the winter so I don’t have to and pays attention to things like oil changes. He has waited on me hand and foot as I have recovered from 2 egg retrievals, 4 embryo transfers and the D&C with such love and care.  He always wakes up and rolls over to hand me a tissue when my nose is running in bed so I don’t have to get up. (And never questions why I don’t move the box to my nightstand since he understands it just wouldn’t fit the decorative balance of the room.) And then there is that time, okay, every night, where he goes back downstairs to bring up whatever it is I forgot. And Cali? Well, she has been ever so patient with me as I continue to dress her up and pretend like she is a human child. She only slightly glared when I put the antlers on her ears this week and gracefully allowed me to put her in 7 (yes, seven) Halloween costumes this year. I really think she would love a brother or sister. (Okay, honestly, it would be an adjustment, but one I am sure she would love to make. No need to check with her on that, just take my word.)

So please, again, I beg of you, fill our Christmas with every good thing you have in your bag. I ask for all the joy, hope patience and strength that you can bring. (And you don’t even have the wrap it.) Take our stocking and make it overflow with fertility and determination. I ask for nothing more but a 2014 filled with more than our hearts can imagine and bigger than our dreams can dream.

Love,

A Patiently Waiting Mommy to Be

PS – If you can, also send our angel babies up in heaven a little hug from their mom and dad. We will miss them so much this Christmas and wish we were spending it with them.

Look at this patient face!

Look at this patient face!