bruised.

Why is it, when you are trying to work on a spiritual trait, God will give you immediate opportunities to work on it? *Sigh*. Talking about confident trust 2 days ago was easier. Walking away from today’s doctor’s appointment not feeling very confident about anything is a lot harder.

The appointment today was to do more blood work and have a check-in ultrasound. The initial feedback was positive – my lining is getting ready to become a home for future embryos. My follicles are quickly growing big. I had 14 follies today measuring at a great size for day 5. My estradiol levels (a fancy word for a hormone needed to make and keep a baby!) however, were less than ideal. I struggled with this last cycle as well, and this time around, my levels are even lower than they were last time.

I know what you are thinking, why don’t they just raise her medication again? Well, it’s not that easy unfortunately. We have already increased my medication this cycle by 33% proactively, hoping not run into the estradiol issues and a continued increase could cause the follicles to grow too large too quickly and loss the eggs all together.

Are you confused?

I know, it’s a lot. It really it this big messy chart of if this, then that. I was able to speak to my nurse today after she consulted with my doctor and they want me to continue doing what I am doing and come back Friday morning to see how the levels look and see what follicles are left and which ones have grown.

It’s not that I don’t think we will be able to get any eggs out of this – I hope and pray that my levels rise to a point where they can do a retrieval. And I hope and pray that they can harvest as many eggs as possible during that time. But I was disappointed today.

I wanted this cycle to be PERFECT. I wanted the numbers to align together in harmony, for the doctor to be in awe at my enchanting follicles and devastatingly beautiful lining. I wanted to have no reason to worry. However, God has another plan for me. One that gives me no option but to be completely dependent on Him and His plan.

I feel a little bruised. Yes, literally, (you should see my tummy!) but figuratively too. My hope feels a little battered. But I am not defeated. Maybe God is bruising me so He can use me. So I can be more sensitive to His touch and to strip away every ounce of self-reliance in me. Maybe, when things feel dark, it’s simply because God wants an opportunity and a chance to shine. To light up the story. To remind me I am not in control. (How many times do I need to remind myself of this before it finally sinks in!?!).

Surrender: To yield completely.

Psalm 37:7 says “Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.”  In Job 22, it is written to “Submit and surrender yourself to God and you will have peace. You will prosper and great things will come to you.”

It all really comes down to simply completely surrendering this journey up to Him. God, it’s yours. I continue to worry and try to manage it myself. But it’s utterly pointless. There is nothing I can do to change this outcome – it is already finished. He is the God of the past, the present and the future. Why am I trying to plan out something when He are already there?

What’s it for you? What is that one Thing in your life right now that you need to turn over? To say to, I’m bruised, I can’t do this anymore. My desire to control my Thing has made me completely crazy. I hate that my emotions are tightly linked to one call from a doctor or a blood result.

Guess what. I’m over it.

It’s out of my hands. God has already demonstrated both His willingness and His ability to help me in tough times in the past. Now, I need to recall upon these moments, these gracious acts, and allow that to build my confident trust up in Him. To strengthen the present.

Keep praying for those nasty hormones to increase and for whatever is to come. I so appreciate all the love and prayers. A special shout-out to my mom whose Googling skills helped find out what food naturally increase estradiol levels … thanks to her I am stuffed full of pea soup and edamame. Hey, I’ll do what I can and leave the rest up to Him.

(On a side note – no more hot flashes since Monday! I also haven’t seen my neighbor since then either. I can’t stop giggling whenever I reply the moments in my head. Oy vey!)

confident trust.

I sat down earlier this afternoon and started to blog. My first paragraph was about my love for the spring weather that has hit us, the fact that my blog celebrated its ONE YEAR anniversary this last week, and how grateful I was to have minimal side effects thus far. My exact sentences were “My side effects have been strangely so minimal that I daily question if the medication is working. Would it not be the extreme exhaustion and the fact that my blood work is signifying its working, I would be concerned. In fact, I have not even had a really bad hot flash yet.”

It was after I typed that sentence that my dog, Cali, began barking at the noise across the street. Our neighbors were outside with their 5 kids and small dog, Sassy, that Cali loves playing with, was teasingly come up our lawn. Cali’s barking and racing into the library to beg me to let her outside was enough to pull me away from typing and let her race around outside. I followed her out to talk with our neighbor, we will call her D, and well, the following story took place:

(C and D outside, on street, watching the dogs run around and kids chasing them, talking about porches and decks, fence estimates and the weather, the dogs and voles … you know, neighborly stuff).

D: We saw Josh working outside yesterday, putting the stones around the tree rings … they look so nice!

C: Uh huh! He worked so hard on that! I think they turned out really nice. *hot flash begins to hit*

D: continuing to talk about landscape

C: (in my head), Oh my gosh, I am so hot. And dizzy. And hot. And dizzy. I need to sit down.

D: …and they didn’t even call back with the deck bid! He isn’t getting my business!

C: I need to sit down. I am going to pass out. Everything is fuzzy.

I then squatted down pretending to pet the dogs who wanted nothing to do with being pet. As I crouched on the ground, realizing how awkward this looked, I took a few deep breaths.

D: … and Sassy just loves this weather. She sleeps in the sun all day …

C: (interrupting), I am so sorry, I have to go. I feel like I am going to pass out. Reattempting to stand back up

D: Oh my gosh! Are you ok? Are you hyperglycemic? (random question to ask?)

It was then I realized I would not be able to stand up. Everything was going black and I just turned slightly and fell back into the grass, first trying to awkwardly sit an angle so it wasn’t so weird (let’s face it, it was so awkward), then realizing I had to get flat. I was covered in sweat, felt like I couldn’t breathe and was convinced if it didn’t improve quickly, D was going to call an ambulance.

(Meanwhile, the 5 children raced around me, still chasing the dogs and screaming. D stood about 2 feet from me as I lay on our grass, eyes closed, trying to breath, praying she would go away.)

D – to her son: J, Honey, can you run in the house and get Mommy a bottle of water?

C: I want to be inside. I need to explain this to her in case I do pass out and she does call 911.

C: I am so sorry, I am doing IVF and these hormones … (pause to avoid throwing up and passing out completely)

D: launches into the friend of a friend who went through this, had twins, admits that she is pregnant with their 6th and due in November and shares their TTC story.

Meantime, I am trying to raise my head slightly, wondering why it’s taking J five minutes to get a bottle of water (which he never got, but did manage to find himself a juice box, haha.)

The longer I lay in the grass, the worse it got. I was so embarrassed. D continued to talk, trying to pretend like this wasn’t so uncomfortable (it was) and Cali, realizing I was down, raced over to help me, which included trying to lay on my face (not helping the hot flash). I felt like I spent 10 minutes apologizing for this and when I realized standing up wouldn’t be possible, but getting into the house was necessary, I waved goodbye and then … crawled … to my front door, dogs following behind me and, mortified, laid in the front entry way till I was able to walk over to the couch, call Josh,and drink some water.

What an afternoon right??

So with that said, my side effects have included exhaustion and now a lovely hot flash, haha. I mean, I know it happens! I want to go over to my neighbor’s house and apologize for the incredibly awkward situation and for mainly ignoring her as she talked. I am just glad I wasn’t at a store or driving. Such are the side effects of the hormones. Sigh. : )

Anyways, I completely digress from a real update! Let’s see, last Thursday my blog did celebrate its ONE YEAR anniversary! Yeah! It’s crazy to think that I have had this blog for only a year and already a year. It’s been an exceptional experience for me – opening up our story to all of you and receiving as a result, so many prayers and loving encouragement. Means the world to us.

I told you all about our need for prayers for last Friday’s doctor appointment to get the final approval to start the next step in the cycle. I continued to gain some anxiety about that appointment the closer it got. My body was responding so differently to the Lupron injections this time around, I was just certain that things weren’t going the way they were supposed to. But low and behold, everything was working right and my ovaries were nice and quiet, ready to launch into rapid stimulation. I was cleared to begin, and did begin, our stimulation medications on Saturday. My blood work came back great that day and I was relieved to cross this first hurdle. I did feel a little off on Friday, like the start of this cycle was too good to be true. I felt apprehensive, like I was waiting for a shoe to drop, for bad news to come, for the phone to ring and them to tell me they made a mistake and misread the ultrasound or lab results. But the call never came.

Today I went in for more testing and when the nurse called, I prepared myself for news that the cycle was cancelled, the numbers were off, the medicine wasn’t working. But again, everything looked great. No change in the plan. “Come in on Wednesday for your first follicle count and more blood work.”

Deep breaths.

I read a paragraph from Jesus Calling the other night that had a sentence that stuck out to me – “…wait on me in confident trust.” I feel like it wouldn’t have been convicting if it had said “wait on me in trust.” I feel like for the most part, I am doing that! I am trusting God has this in His control, that He is one step ahead of us, yet completely in the present with us. Yet that word “confident” completely threw me into a conviction.

Confident: firmly trusting and believing, being sure of one’s successfulness, having strong certainty. being full assured.

Could I say that my trust in God was fully-assured? That day, no. I was waiting for everything to go wrong. I felt like I shouldn’t be celebrating, like something bad was to come. There was nothing “confident” about how I was feeling. Trusting, yes, not firmly or with a strong certainty. The devotion went on to say “There is both a passive and an active side to trusting Me (God).” I feel like some days I have one or the other – the passive side sits around writing/saying/telling others that I am trusting! The active side of me continues to administer shots and pray they work. But I am scared. I am trusting but still trying to hold a little bit back just in case. That’s not what I am called to do.

It’s scary to let go of complete control. To trust with confidence when you want something so bad. When you are scared. When you are worried. But isn’t that what having a relationship with God is all about? Knowing that He is carrying our burdens and worries, that He is in control?

Proverbs 19:21 says “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” How quickly I can forget that no matter what my plans are, God’s purpose will succeed. I am simply called to live and walk in a way that is in line with His character.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

How many of us are trying to co-carry our burdens and worries? Here God, you can take the potatoes and milk, but I will still carry a few light bags. Maybe we are giving over most of our worries and concerns, but after walking, even with the lightest bags, our hands still start to hurt. The plastic bag pulls at our wrists, it becomes uncomfortable and we start to wish we could get rid of them. The great news is we can. And all it takes is having confident trust that He is fully capable of carrying all the bags. All of our worries and concerns, our fears and our issues.

I am a work in process. I have really good moments and ones where I try tugging back that trust. But I know that no matter WHAT happens, He will be there to catch and hold us, so I can’t waste my energies focusing on what could go wrong.

Amen? Amen.

So what’s next for us … well, I have appointments just about every day now. I continue to administer anywhere from 3 – 6 shots a day to myself. I am starting to feel very sluggish and bloated but know these days a minimal and will be worth it in the end. My moods have been relatively stable with the exception of a few shed tears here and there, mainly at an Ellen audience giveaways or touching America’s Funniest Videos of returning troops. I took an hour and a half nap today and it felt wonderful.

Many of you are asking when the egg retrieval will be – great question!! We actually won’t know when it is until about 48 hours beforehand. It all comes down to the size of the largest pack of follicles and when the doctor feels it’s time to “trigger” them to the final stages of maturation. Based on my body’s response last time, we are anticipated somewhere in the May 5 – 7 time frame. I will let everyone know as soon as I know.

In the meantime, keep praying that I can have confident trust in Him this whole cycle … and that I don’t have any more dramatic hot flashes on my lawn – or anywhere for that matter!! : )  Thank you for your continued caring messages and love. You are the best!

A verse I came across the other night...a great reminder of what Faith really is!

A verse I came across the other night…a great reminder of what Faith really is!

Being silly :)

Being silly :)

Got a double yolk yesterday in my eggs ... a sign of what is to come? Twins?! :)

Got a double yolk yesterday in my eggs … a sign of what is to come? Twins?! :)

Our clinic handed out yellow roses for National Infertility Awareness Week ... a lovely gesture!

Our clinic handed out yellow roses for National Infertility Awareness Week … a lovely gesture!

i’m 1 in 8.

It feels slightly surreal to actually be blogging in the MIDST of a new cycle! The time has finally come! Yeah! Today was day 7 of my Lupron shots (the shots to suppress my ovaries) and so far, so good! It’s been nice knowing what to do, I am a pro at drawing the needle now, wham bam, it’s over. It’s so exciting and a little nerve wracking too.

My first day of shots! Excited to re-start this journey.

My first day of shots! Excited to re-start this journey.

I have found that the hardest part of this cycle already is one I didn’t anticipate … comparison. Oh my word. I have found myself in a constant battle of comparing each day, every side effect, ache and cramp to what happened that the last cycle. The hard part is that things have been SO different and my brain wants to run away with thoughts about the medicine not working and a million other “what if’s”. Why am I not getting hot flashes this time? Why do I have a weird dull ache in my abdomen? Why am I not spotting? Why am I crying? Why am I not crying? Why am I tired? Was I this tired last time? And the really tough medications – the stims – haven’t even really started yet! (Saturday) I am nervous about each appointments, every lining number update, ultrasound follicle count, blood work lab result, will be compared to last cycles. The last cycle, I got pregnant and am now worrying that anything less than or different than my first cycle will be a “bad” thing. The logical side of me knows that EVERYTHING can and will be different and that isn’t a bad thing. The physical and mentally-tired side of me is exhausted already fighting this battle.

I thought it would be so nice going into this cycle knowing what to expect. And a lot of it is nice. I don’t have to worry about that first time mixing the Menopur vials and using those tricky Q caps. And I won’t have to terrifyingly wonder if the horrific injection site burn is normal or if I did something wrong. I don’t have to worry about whether I am strong enough to give myself the injections everyday or if the egg retrieval will be painful or not. I know these things now. But now I am faced with a constant reminder that I am not the one in control.

Hebrews 10 (MSG) paraphrases a message that my heart needed to hear today: “Remember those early days after you first saw the light?…Nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. It won’t be long now, He’s on the way; He’ll show up most any minute….But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.”

God is on the way! I am called to stay with it, to survive, to trust in Him completely throughout this wild unknown adventure. I keep reminding myself that any side effect, any ache or pain – or lack thereof – is entirely already known by God. He knows the outcome of this cycle. He knows the worries of my heart, He hears the prayers that have been raised, and He has already conquered this battle.

This week marks an important one in the world of infertility – National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). This week  is used to spread awareness of infertility and I have loved reading some many amazing blogs and posts written by fellow women struggling with this. Did you know 1 in 8 couples will struggle with infertility? That’s about 7.3 million people in the US and about 12% of women of childbearing age. Typically about a third of the time it’s attributed to the female partner (as it is in our case), a third of the time the male partner, and the last third, a combination of the two or is unexplained. Now, I don’t mean to just throw a bunch of stats at you, but It’s still amazing to me that so many people don’t realize that infertility is an actual disease that results in the abnormal functioning of our bodies. A disease. It’s not something that simply relaxing will fix. Would you say that to someone with cancer or diabetes? “Just relax! You’ll get better!” It’s not something that is easy to just “accept”. “Maybe you just weren’t meant to be parents.” There are so many medical interventions now, many of which you have seen us try, and the great news is that 65% of women who seek medical intervention end up giving birth. What’s even crazier is that less than 3% of those struggling with infertility require advanced treatments like IVF. (What what!? Way to be a rebel and stand out from the crowd, haha!).

One way that people show support during NIAW is by wearing pink and blue. You may see women with pink and blue nail polish on this week – a common demonstration during NIAW – and if you do, say a silent prayer for them. This is a disease that far too little insurance companies support and is easily written off. But it’s not that easy. It creates such a physical, emotional, spiritual and financial burden on those suffering from it. And all we want is to be parents. Bah, it’s tough.

Anyways, like I mentioned, the Lupron shots are going well so far. I have to laugh, last time I was so focused on the exact minute, location, and perfection of each shot and that hasn’t been as possible this time around. On Friday morning I drew my needle in the basement bathroom stall at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport as a child cried outside, complaining about really having to go to the bathroom. (I walked out with my needle to drop in the sharps container and felt like a junkie while the mother glared at me.) On Sunday I was in the handicap stall in a McDonald’s in Orlando making my needle up on a diaper changing table while people kept trying to open the door. “Just a moment please!” I carried around a lunchbox for two days with medication refrigerating in there and a doctor’s note tucked inside my purse in case anyone asked why I was carrying around needles. (No one did, kind of disappointing.) This cycle feels much more laid back. Yes, I am still giving myself my shot at the same time of day and have the same nice lovely bruises on my tummy, but it’s not as rigid. It’s kind of nice.

I have had 2 Instagram friends – Rachel and Kristen – send me packages filled with lucky socks to wear to doctor’s appointments (among other fun girly thins!). I can’t wait to slip my feet into the stir-ups and see my anchor socks, or pink glittery socks stare back up at me, reminding me of all the prayers and support we have. It’s such an incredible blessing. An extra special thank you to them!

My lovely new socks!

My lovely new socks!

My first doctor’s appointment is on Friday morning and its there that they will look to ensure the suppression medication has worked, that my body is quiet and my lining is thin. They will do blood work to ensure everything is at a good baseline to start the quick stimulation process. They need to make sure none of my cysts have changed or grown since a month ago, as a change in that would likely result in a canceled cycle. It’s a big appointment. It’s the first big clearance and I want everything to be perfect. Please join us in saying a prayer that it goes well!!

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5) God knows my baby/babies right now. Even before the follicles have formed, before the uterus is ready to carry them, before the embryos have been created. It’s amazing. He really is in control of all of this. Now just to remember that on a minute by minute basis …. ;)

Being silly this morning and avoiding my shot ... "i mustache, do I have to give myself this shot?"

Being silly this morning and avoiding my shot … “I mustache, do I have to give myself this shot?”

identity.

So … I don’t have a job anymore. I am officially 2 days into “retirement”. And just typing that is weird.

But yet, somehow, actually not going to work each day is not that weird. I expected to wake up yesterday morning and feel like it was just against my grain to not go to work. However, it felt like this was the way it was supposed to be. There is far more peace than I anticipated there being.

I have been busy. Granted, its only 2 days in, but I have managed to catch up on laundry, grocery shop, make lunches for Josh, reply back to emails, run countless errands (that does include three trip to Target already, uh oh) and spend some time taking care of me – gong to the doctor for my cough, reading a book, making some hot cocoa. It’s been nice.

But the one thing that hasn’t happened yet is the question. The one I am dreading. The “so, what do you do?” question? It comes up in every casual conversation. I tend to talk to people – a lot – and before I always felt a sense of pride in sharing that I was an HR Director at a psychiatric hospital. I did important things! I used my networks, I was good at what I did, I enjoyed it. So now, when someone asks, “so, what do you do?” …. I don’t know what to say.

I could say “an HR Consultant”, which is true. I am staying on board with my company in an Independent Contractor capacity until July 1st working on a large policy project. That sounds important – adding value to what someone might think of me. But what happens when that ends?

I could say “I volunteer at my church as the Director of Early Childhood Ministries”. Ah, Director is an important title. And volunteer, that sounds good. They might nod their head and ask a few questions. I am busy in that role and truthfully am really excited to be able to invest even more in the program.

I could say “a blogger.” Haha kidding. I couldn’t get that out with a straight face. Some days I still can’t believe I write for the whole world to read.

I could say “a stay at home mom … to a dog.” Now that would really generate some odd looks and responses.

At the end of the day, not having a response to that question makes me feel like a slacker. Like someone that either couldn’t keep a job or isn’t good enough to be employed somewhere. A causality of the economy or someone that is lazy. I know that’s not true of people who don’t work, but I feel like by not having a respond, my work ethic will be questioned. And that is painfully humbling. I want to launch into a spiel about how I had a job, a great job, a job I was really good at and respected in, but I quit. What’s that? Why? Oh, because God told me to. Uh huh, yep. God. For the potential of what is to come. To prepare my heart and body to become a mom. Yea, no I am not a mom yet. No, not even pregnant.

And then there are the people who don’t understand how this could be a hard crossroad for me. Who wouldn’t want to stay home all day!? You don’t have to take care of kids? You have the whole house to yourself? An easy husband. A sweet pup. How could that be anything less than ideal? But it’s a odd new reality. People in the secular world put so much value on our professional identity that not having a “good” answer confuses them. It halts the conversation. They will change the subject to baking or the weather, I just know it. I still have value to add to discussions!

But it’s in these conversations in my head that I am reminded about my real identity. The one that doesn’t have anything to do with a job title or pay scale. That doesn’t make people tilt their head in admiration or applaud that “tough job” that you do. I am a daughter of Christ – someone called to live a life FOR HIM, not for myself, not for my own pride.

Author Mark Driscoll writes “Our identity is to be received, not achieved. The first lie is to create an identity, not receive an identity…” When I read that, I realized that by always having an answer to that question, I have been working to create an identity for myself. And it’s only now, when that identity has been stripped away, that I am realizing that I never should have been creating an identity, I should have been receiving the identity that God created me to have.

It’s a really hard balance – this identity in the world of infertility, now as a “retiree”. I try so hard to remove the labels – that poor infertile girl who can’t get pregnant or the girl who quit her job – and live as someone who is walking each day to be used by God – but it’s hard. And I am at a crossroad now which I need to refocus. I am being humbled. I don’t doubt that God will have an exorbitant amount of people randomly ask me what I do, simply to remind me daily that a job title does not define me.

We all have identities that we cling to. I clung to my job title. You may cling to your title as a wife, a mom, a valedictorian, a champion athlete, someone who never swears, who plays the bass better than anyone else or has the voice of an angel. We so often rely on these earthly tokens to build ourselves up. Set us apart from the rest. But it really doesn’t matter. It can all be stripped away in a day. So my prayer is Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.”

God made me. He will work out His plan for my life and I have to admit, it’s exhilaratingly exciting to see what God is going to do. My Lupron shots start tomorrow morning at 8:15 am. Today could be my last day for the next several months where I am not doing a daily injection. Whoa. That’s exciting stuff!

This is a humbling place to be but I am thankful for the shared excitement of all of you as well. I loved that we were able to celebrate what was and now celebrate what is to come. So … let the new adventure begin.