the new plan and how you can help.

There has been 387 days between the date of our last transfer and today. 387 long days. I remember typing this post about our 4th cycle failure like it was yesterday. I remember sharing with you all that we were being called into a season of putting a hold on fertility treatments and let me tell you, it’s been a long year. Between last October and today, I have seen a naturopathic doctor, an acupuncturist, had a laparoscopy surgery done and many tests run, drunk teas, sucked down pills and above all, prayed for wisdom, guidance and direction. This wait has been LONG. And yet even though it has felt unproductive compared to years past, both Josh and I felt incredible peace that this was exactly where we were supposed to be, even though it wasn’t easy.

Then a month or so ago both of our hearts started stirring, feeling like we were supposed to restart up treatments. I don’t think either of us were prepared to start thinking about it again and the thought of jumping back into things caught me a little off guard. We began to talk and pray and felt that gentle nudging to make some calls.

I reached out to 2 new clinics in the area. One thing Josh and I felt strongly about was the need for a second opinion, a new set of eyes, a fresh space. Doctor consults can often be booked out 6-8 weeks so I made a call, thinking that we would sit down with them towards the end of the year. Imagine my surprise when one of them shared that they had a cancellation just open up – for 3 days later. (The other being consistent with the longer timeline we were expecting.) With a swiftness that could only be God, charts were exchanged, papers were filled out, and there we were, walking into a new RE, waiting to hear his thoughts on our case. I instantly felt relief when he said that he still has hope for our case, even though I know that our hope is found in God. Still it was reassuring that he felt so positive for us. The hour we spent with him was incredibly educational and we loved how he explained his thoughts and our options.

For the sake of brevity, the plan he proposed is that we do a few IUI (artificial insemination) cycles using Femara and a trigger shot, which I have responded to well in the past, combined with estrogen and progesterone supplementation.. He also wants to put me back on Metformin to improve my egg quality and felt strongly about completing some more blood test to ensure that my reoccurring miscarriages haven’t been caused by any autoimmune disorders. We have done a few of these tests in the past and I am in full agreement that we need to complete the panels. Regardless of how the results come back, we will add in Lovenox injections which are useful for a whole slew of things. If this doesn’t work, the next step would be to do another IVF cycle. This clinic in particular only does cycles 4 times a year,  making the next one we would be eligible for at the end of March. After our appointment, we continued to pray. My prayers were that God would make it abundantly obvious if we were supposed to move forward. The nudging in our hearts that it was time to step out again seemed so clear, but still, I kept praying for two things – 1) that God would make it very evident that moving forward with IUI/IVF was His plan and 2) that the financial part of these medicated cycles would be provided for.

Within a DAY, and I mean a DAY, God answered both of these requests clearly. The first answer occurred while I was sitting in my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) meeting the next morning, where we were talking about Moses, specifically Exodus 14. Our lecturer was talking about how the Israelites were standing in front of the Red Sea while the Egyptians were chasing after them. My lesson picks up here:

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

What God spoke to me was that sometimes He brings us to the point where we are supposed to be waiting. (Like the Israelites did for 400+ years.) But then other times He brings us right before our answer to prayer and says “Why are you still standing still?? Stop talking. It’s time to move forward.” Had Moses not acted and lifted up his staff, had the Israelites not taken those scary steps into the parted Red Sea, the story would have ended there. But instead, it was time to move forward in faith. That day God affirmed “I will fight for you – it’s time to move forward.” Message heard, loud and clear. (This is one of many affirmations that have come my way since offering up that prayer!)

He then answered the financial part in a variety of ways. At the start of the week I was committed to a job share position, which ended up changing into a short-term, full-coverage opportunity, giving me more hours. I then was contacted by an Editor in Chief at a large online fertility resource website, who asked ME, little old me, to become a paid blogger for them starting in December. (I never reached out to them, this was completely God-initiated. And I said yes so more on that to come in another post!) And then I had 2 friends, within a few days of each other, reach out to me, offering to use their online businesses to throw a fundraising product party, both offering to donate 100% of the commission earned to our medical treatments, without any conversation about our future direction. Wow. God, you are so good!

So let me summarize – we are doing this again!!!! 

The plan is to get some blood work done this Friday and then start 28 days on birth control to reset things. Then after that, we are going to move forward with a Femara+trigger shot IUI cycle. I could see how to some of you, it feels like we are stepping backwards, since my IUI days are years behind me, however there is SO MUCH PEACE in this new plan and we are GIDDY to get things going. And of course, excited to see how God will act. We can’t do this without the prayers and support of those around us, so THANK YOU!

With all that said – now how can you help!?

  1. Continue to pray for us. This is the biggest way. Prayers, vibes, energy, whatever you can throw , we will take it. I know those prayers go from your mouth to His ears.
  2. Another way is to shop! For the next 10 days, there are 2 online parties being thrown by two generous friends to assist with the medical costs involved. Please do not feel ANY pressure to make a purchase, but if you are looking for any Norwex or Younique products, I would love and appreciate you using these parties to make your purchase! Being able to receive some assistance through these amazing women’s commission is nothing short of an answer to prayer.
  3. Feel free to share the event link with your friends/family. There will be an entirely separate link (www.trialsbringjoy.com/fundraiser/) that will give you information on where you can do this online shopping, complete with details on purchasing and without boring anyone with all these details above.
  4. Lastly, I ask that you pray a special blessing over the lives of Annie and Jana, both of the women who has made this offer and are allowing Him to answer our prayers through their generous kindness. God knows exactly what prayers are on their hearts and so I simply ask that you lift up a prayer of gratitude and blessing over them.

These online parties will run from today (November 9th) until November 18th (next Tuesday). Again, if you are not in a place to make a purchase, please don’t feel any pressure. But if you are and are looking to support these next steps of ours, Josh and I both would appreciate it more than you know. Plus YOU get some fun products from 2 great companies! I call that a win-win!

Thank you again for all of the prayers for wisdom and guidance over these last years. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 6 years of trying and waiting, but I am trusting that GREAT things are ahead! XOXO!

CLICK HERE FOR ALL FUNDRAISING DETAILS! 

friday favorites – july 4.

Happy 4th of July! For my USA friends, I hope you have fun plans ahead to celebrate Independence Day. Judging by the sounds of the 9:45 am fireworks going off, it’s safe to say our neighbors are starting the celebrations early, much to Cali’s dismay. Have fun and be safe today people!

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Now without further adieu, Friday Favorites! Let’s jump right in.

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Favorite Moment:

Josh and I got to celebrate our 9 year anniversary this last Wednesday and I felt so incredibly surrounded by love the whole day. Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us through a comment, like, message or text as well! Josh surprised me by coming home early from work that day and surprised me by having my wedding dress cleaned and preserved. (It was one of those things I never did and completely forgot about, so I was really surprised! It looks beautiful all cleaned up!) We enjoyed a great dinner out downtown and laughed and played cards. Yes, cards. We are semi-addicted to Golf and Phase 10 and like the old married couple we are, shuffled our way through the evening. It was perfect!

A quick little picture before dinner ….

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And then we noticed Cali’s tail, since she was obviously trying to get in to the picture. But 19 tries later, it was clear that she really didn’t wanted to LOOK at the camera, just be in the way. Oh well, we tried!

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Favorite Local Find:

My friend introduced me to a new restaurant in the Twin Cities called Yum Kitchen and Bakery and it was delicious! We worked up an appetite walking over there from her house and enjoyed their signature iced tea (AMAZING) and mahi mahi fish tacos. Oh, and we shared some fries – they are a MUST there! If you are in the Twin Cities, head on over and give them a try. They have a small gluten free menu as well, making it a win-win!

 

Favorite Photo Taken:

There was a sunset last weekend that took my breath away. I love that we can see views like this from our front porch. Beautiful!

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Favorite Quote:

Do not grieve Him by doubting His love.”

I read this in my devotional earlier today and LOVED it. I know that sometimes, when answered prayers seem ages away, and we assume that the delays we are experiencing are denials, it just don’t feel like He loves us. We can turn our wish list into a sign that He loves us (or doesn’t) and when life falls short of our expectations, we can begin to doubt Him. I loved the word grieve in the quote above … Do not grieve Him… If Josh ever began to express to me that he doubted my love, it would make me SO sad. I would constantly be trying to tell him and show him that I love him. It would be even more hurtful and heartbreaking if he continued to doubt my love even after I did everything I could to make it abundantly clear to him that I loved him. Thinking about God in this way was a great reminder to me this morning. Every minute I breathe, He is showing His love for me. Questioning that only breaks His heart. God’s character isn’t that of delay, but of perfect love and timing and is OUTSIDE of any circumstances or situations I encounter.

Favorite Find:

Yea, okay, so “Favorite Find” isn’t necessarily a great section, but I really just need an excuse to share this hoodie I found for Cali at a thrift shop yesterday.

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HA! She’s a little Gap girl. How stinking cute is that!? Clearly she isn’t as thrilled as me, but come on … pure adorable-ness going on right there.

Favorite Product:

My friend Karen sent me a little sample of Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion in the shade sin and oh my goodness, this is my new favorite make-up product. I am squeezing out the last little bit of my sample and putting this on my birthday list for sure. Who knew that eyeshadow primer really worked??? LOVE.

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Favorite Funnies:

And of course ….

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(No really, this is scary stuff.)

(No really, this is scary stuff.)

Alright, now off your phones or computers and go enjoy your day! To all the dog owners out there who’s dogs are terrified of fireworks – good luck tonight … we WILL get through this weekend! (This is Cali’s LEAST favorite holiday of all times ….) Happy 4th of July!

Who knew a patriotic photo shoot would be so exhausting!? HA!

Who knew a patriotic photo shoot would be so exhausting!? HA!

normal.

Well, we have made it through all of the calendar landmines for 2014. We just cleared Frostie’s due date (our last frozen embryo we transferred last fall) and I feel relieved to be past all 4 of the “I should be in labor right now …” days. I know that I will always carry those due dates on my heart. There will always be days in January, April, June, and September that are carved into my soul with love for my babies that should have been. As I reflect back on so many emotions of the last 5+ years, I realize that infertility is incredibly complex, making me have days and moments where I feel like there are 18 different Chelsea’s crammed into one body.

I am here to let you know that if there are moments you feel like your world is caving in and you just don’t know if you can keep going, you are normal.

If you have moments where you feel like the sun is shining extraordinary bright and your heart has nothing but hope in it, you are normal.

If you have moments where you burst into tears for no reason at all, you are normal.

If you have moments where your heart aches with a physical pain and you are concerned that you actually may be having a heart attack because it hurts that bad, you are normal.

If you have moments where you are so grateful for your spouse and what you have that you can’t wipe the smile off your face, you are normal.

If you have moments where you pat your hormone induced belly bloat and talk to a fake baby bump, you are normal. (Also normal, pushing out your stomach and taking selfies to see what you will look like when you actually are pregnant.)

If you have moments where you contemplate knocking over a smoking pregnant woman and screaming at her about how stupid she is, you are normal.

If you have moments where you find yourself wandering the baby aisles at Target, softly petting the ‘I love Mommy’ onsies, wondering if you will ever be able to buy it for yourself, you are normal.

If you have moments where you enjoy your freedom to go out to a movie on a whim with your husband and are secretly grateful for that flexibility, you are normal.

If you have moments where you go on a ‘you are pregnant, therefore hidden’ binge on Facebook and erase the physical reminders that all 319 friends of yours are pregnant, you are normal.

If you have moments where you cry with happiness because a friend shares with you that she is expecting, you are normal. (Also normal, crying in the bathroom later because you guys were supposed to be pregnant together.)

If you have moments where you feel completely content with your trial and embrace each day with strength and joy, you are normal.

If you have moments where you hear phantom crying in the middle of the night for the infant you wish was beside the bed, you are normal.

If you cringe when a pregnant woman complains about how fat she is getting, you are normal.

If you roll your eyes every time you have to buy ANOTHER bottle of prenatal vitamins, you are normal.

If you get excited about ovulation tests, raised body temps and cervical mucus, you are normal.

If you hate everything about ovulation tests, body temping and analyzing your cervical mucus, you are normal.

If you get anxiety when your angel baby’s “birthday” comes around, you are normal.

If you want to quit this journey and start traveling and living life, you are normal.

If you can’t stop thinking about the “what if’s” all day, you are normal.

If you don’t think about infertility for a clump of time, you are normal.

If you hate that your sex occasionally has to be timed and that you need to lay with your legs in the air for 15 minutes after, you are normal.

If you find yourself getting excited about a new vitamin, supplement, cream, herb, or technique, you are normal.

If you feel like you just can’t turn off your brain, you are normal.

If you are suddenly and overwhelmingly comforted by God’s peace in your darkest moments, you are normal.

If there are days where God seems so far away and you have no idea if He hears your prayers, you are normal.

If you wonder WHY WHY WHY WHY on a regular basis, you are normal.

If you get excited when you think about the opportunity to make this misery into a ministry, you are normal.

If you cling to the reminder that God won’t waste a hurt, you are normal.

If you feel like no one understands you, you are normal.

The truth is, there is no right or wrong way to feel when you are struggling with infertility. Every day is a new day, new emotions surging through you and new triggers that stand in your way. I am doing my best each day to keep things in perspective, reminding myself that it could be worse and be thankful for the opportunity to strength my faith, grow as a woman and with Josh as a couple, and feed on the faithfulness of God. But I also have my moments where I want to pick up the towel and throw it in, declaring myself officially barren and binging on spa trips and new clothes.

So, where does that leave us? Well, our western medicine interventions are still on hold. I have been going back to acupuncture weekly and getting sessions, along with cupping for my back pain. My back pain is thankfully more mild than severe and the sessions seem to be helping, and for that I am grateful. I haven’t been back to the naturopathic doctor in a while and feel peace about that decision. I learned a lot from him though and still regularly take my daily vitamins and supplements. (For those who are interested, I take a prenatal vitamin, Vitamin D3 and C, Magnesium Glycinate, Vitex Fruit, Maca Root, Vessel Care, COQ10 and a baby aspirin daily). My cycles since my April surgery haven’t been awesome. I had a 49 day cycle the month of my laparoscopy, which I know can be normal. This last cycle I didn’t ovulate and I induced a period using natural progesterone cream, resulting in a 45 day cycle. We are adding in herbs this cycle, mixing in 5 teaspoons of this unique mixture into hot water and chugging it twice a day and I am hoping that this brings positive change.

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I have been doing castor oil packs on my back and will now start doing abdominal ones leading up to ovulation. I have heard good things about that and have tried it in the past and found it relaxing. I would really like to be more consistent with it though. I aim to improve my health this summer, hoping losing some weight and getting back on track with my low carb/sugar diet. I have no clue what the future holds and just continue to pray that God would make a new path incredibility obvious for us. All in all, I know that this rests in hands much larger than mine. I will be hopping back into the working world soon, covering a maternity leave at the hospital I used to work at and am excited for that change in routine (and am grateful its only 12 weeks). One day at a time right? I will do my best to continue to keep you updated. I have a blog on infertility; I should share my own story more often, right?

Thanks for continuing to coat our journey in your prayers and cares. It means so much to us. As time goes on, I know this trial can start to feel so routine, yet it’s a real hurt on our hearts every day. It never gets easier on our hearts. We learn to cope better, adjusting our perspective or embracing how we are being stretched, but the pain is still raw and real. At the end of the day, we KNOW that God will continue to use this for good and that because of Jesus, there is no worst case scenario for us.

See you Friday for Friday Favorites! :)

resolve to know more.

This week marks an important week in the world of infertility as it is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). It’s a week where people can unite and help educate others about infertility and what it all entails. I have been so grateful that thanks to my blog and social media, we have been able to share our own story and build a network of support as we fight this.

Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. 1 in 8. That’s tragic. It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate – it touches men and women. The highs on this journey can be high and the lows can be devastatingly low. You can’t just dip your foot into this world. When you deal with infertility, you tend to be all in – invested fully with your heart and body. There are days when you feel fine and then without any warning, something triggers your emotions and you unravel very quickly. You learn to grieve as you are forced to face your own reality over and over again. Infertility is hard on relationships as you navigate feelings of brokenness, guilt, jealousy, frustration, sadness and anger. There are friendship causalities along the way.

This year, RESOLVE has set the theme for NIAW by spreading the message “Resolve to know more”. This can be taken in many different ways – for those supporting someone with infertility, it may be resolving to know more about what to say to your friend or learning more about the disease they face. For those struggling with infertility, it may be resolving to know more about when to see a fertility specialist or knowing more about the options ahead for your family. (Check out the links at the bottom of this page with lots of resources!)

To my readers that are supporting someone that is struggling with infertility:

Thank you. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for being interested enough to spend time investing in your knowledge of infertility. Thank you for trying, caring, and loving us. In the spirit of education, here are some great ways to support someone you care about: Let your friend know you care. Become educated in what they are struggling with, not to offer advice but to be more aware of what they are suffering from. If your friend chooses to open up to you, please act interested. Ask them what they need. If you are friends with the husband, don’t forget about him either. Often times it’s even harder for men to talk about how this is affecting them. Support them in whatever they decide, whether that’s pursuing treatments or not. You know Mother’s Day and Father’s Day? Remember them on it. This is often one of the most painful holidays that we encounter and simple acknowledgement of us on that day means so much. Offer to come to doctors appointments with us if you can. We may not take you up on it, but it means a lot to know that you care to do so. Pray for us and offer hugs and simple words of encouragement. We truly are so blessed and lucky to have you in our lives. People like YOU make this struggle easier.

To my readers that are newly diagnosed or quietly struggling with infertility:

I am so sorry. I am so sorry that you have to go through this awful heartache. I am so sorry that your heart breaks as you navigate baby shower and listen to pregnancy talk without anyone being aware of your pain. I am so sorry that you are scared – not knowing what’s ahead and worrying about what your future may hold. If I can offer you any advice, please take the time to learn about when it’s time to talk to a doctor. 91% of people who struggle with infertility wish that they had sought medical attention earlier. If you don’t feel comfortable with your current doctor or the plan, find someone else. If you are uneasy about what you are being told, do some research yourself. And try to find someone to talk to, even if it is completely anonymous. Start an instagram account that is not linked to your facebook account or last name and search for hashtags like #ttc and #infertility. There will be an entire world of support available to you behind those doors. Or tell a close friend that you can trust. It is so difficult to suffer silently. I wish I could give you a hug. I completely understand the decision to be quiet about your battle but know you may receive so much more support than you realize.

To my readers who are vocal about their infertility:

Thank you. Thank you for being the voice of many. Thank you for being willing to share your story. Talking about infertility has become so taboo since it deals with sex and intimacy. Your bravery is shining. Please don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Continue to advocate for yourself. Be in tune with your emotions. There may be a time where the depression that is linked to infertility battles becomes too much and you need to reach out for help. Many reproductive specialists will offer the names and numbers of counselors to talk to. Take advantage of their professional support when you are feeling so overwhelmed by this. Do everything you can to not pick the scab on your heart. Don’t be afraid to grieve but also don’t be afraid to laugh. Speak up when someone has hurt you but don’t personalize everything. Remember to ask yourself what the person’s intentions were, as it likely wasn’t to inflict pain. Know that you are valuable regardless of what your family looks like. You matter.

To everyone reading this today, I challenge you to pray for someone that is struggling – even if you are someone struggling yourself. Maybe it’s someone you know or someone random. (Check out the hashtags of #niaw and #1in8 on Instagram or Facebook. Your page will be flooded with the faces of couples who are battling this fight.) Pray for a healthy pregnancy, pray for healing of their bodies, pray for wisdom for them as they navigate their treatment options, pray for peace to flood their hearts, pray for their spirits and their joy to be refilled, pray for their faith to be strengthened, pray for their marriage to withhold the stress of this struggle, pray for the medical team working with them and pray for those in their life that support them.

Josh and I are 1 in 8. We are doing everything we can to not let this disease define us and it’s one of the hardest and most heartbreaking situations we could ever imagine going through. Yet, still we have hope because we are not alone in our fight. We have a Savior who stands with us in it all, we have the love and support of many, we have the wisdom of doctors and we have each other – all of this certainly sets us up for success.

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Here are some resources for those wanting to learn a basic understanding of the disease of infertility, for those who want to learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week, or that wants to read more facts from my NIAW blog last year.

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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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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!

bookstores.

Bookstores are one of my favorite places on earth. Every Friday as a child we would hop into our Buick LeSabre and head over to the mall bookstore. Each week I got to pick out a new book, which typically would be a Baby Sitters Club book of some sort. In 1st grade it was the Little Sister version, of which I would burn through by the end of the night and then would have to patiently wait until the next week to get a new one. As I got older I graduated to the reading less about Karen, Nancy and Hannah and more about Kristy, Claudia and Stacey. I remember just walking the aisles, touching the pretty book bindings and crisp pages, always selecting my book from the back of the shelf, as it was likely more untouched than the others. I remember always asking for a new bookmark too, but being that I already had too many, the request typically got denied. (My go to bookmark was a Little Mermaid one in case you were wondering).

Anyways, I find bookstores to be a place of comfort now. I don’t know if it’s due to the years of hanging out among the shelves or sitting at Borders for hours on end on a Saturday, but regardless, I am convinced healing happens at bookstores. Even now, I typically will ask Josh at least a few times a month if he will just go sit at Barnes and Nobles with me. (Side note: I miss Borders, like a lot.) As I type this now, here I sit, among the cluttered tables of the café, awkwardly staring at the lady across from me on her iPad as she eats a scone. (Hey lady, you have some on your chin.) I am home. I wear headphones but have the Coffee Shop Pandora mix on low enough to still hear the conversations around me. (Airlines are so overpriced …. Hey mom, can I get this book …. What time is it? Oh wait, he is asking me that, one second….)

Books are an escape for me. I throw myself into the story, often judging a book by its cover. (I have an entire shelf of ugly covered books that I have yet to read.) One relatable line is like a balm to the day. There is beauty in the stories, even if they aren’t real. (Who am I kidding, I totally pretend like they are.)

The past month or so I have been praying for God to send me a sign, a tangible sign, that this whole journey will result in a happy ending. That this road will lead somewhere and that we will be one of those couples who looks back in 5 years and tells other couples “It is worth the wait. Hang in there.”

So I keep praying. Lord, a sign! One that even I can’t refute. Preferably one so obvious that I can’t question it. A message written in the sky would be acceptable. An anonymous letter posted marked from Heaven would also be okay. Okay maybe that all is a little extreme, but I just keep begging (literally, you should see my journal, it’s nearly embarrassing) that He would make Himself known without a shadow of a doubt.

Perhaps the sign has come. Perhaps He has answered my prayer and I have been too jaded to see it. There have been moments of quiet and brief reassurance over the last month, including a 41 day cycle for me, another first and shorter than my last one by 22 days. Many would say this was THE SIGN! A tangible response that things were improving, that the lifestyle changes and naturopathic doctor was working, but instead, I dismissed it as less powerful than it actually was.

And since enough isn’t enough, I found myself continuing to pray A sign! Lord, I need more signs! More signs! I need you to help me believe!

And then I came to this verse, in the greatest book of all times, the Bible. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe.” (John 20:29b) It was the sign I had been searching for – the anti sign! The sign where He whispered to STOP LOOKING FOR A SIGN and keep looking at HIM! I had taken my eyes off of HIM and began searching upon Pinterest boards, interactions and puffs of cloud smoke for a sign and in it, lost my way.

Books are powerful. One verse, one line, changed my heart again. The power of His Word is greater than anything else. This journey isn’t about looking for signs but looking to Him. It’s about believing in His character, His goodness, His promises without knowing the future. That’s where the blessings lie. In fact, the whole story of the Bible is filled with people who believed without seeing and still moved forward out of an act of faith. It’s human to want to see what’s going to happen before we move, but we are only holding ourselves back from what He has to offer.

So, in the presence of my dear friends, the books, I pledge to stop obsessively asking for signs. I pledge to have faith without knowing how this story ends. I pledge to embrace the pain, the struggles, the unknowns and never give up. With His help, I can do this!

Oh my goodness, this woman a few tables down just stood up to leave and her purse strap caught under the table and she just flipped it. I can’t stop laughing. My blog concentration has officially just been broken. And I am pretty sure this guy is about to ask out the girl next to me. One more hair flip from her and it’s inevitable. Ahhhh, bookstore dramas ….

(Update: She casually threw into a story that she never wants to get married and isn’t like her friends, who wants a real relationship. This conversation is winding down quickly ….)

awards and randomness.

My thoughts have been scattered recently. I don’t have a full post with direction and after sitting on that fact for over 2 weeks, I realize that my posts don’t have to be perfect, nor do they have to have a lengthy point. So today I simply bring you some randomness and a TTC update – and with it I will hopefully break out of my no posting rut!!

While unintentionally away, I was nominated for 3 blogging awards, so fun! I gotta admit, I felt like dancing around like the dad from Christmas Story shouting “I won, I won, I won!” I mean, blogging love feels like I a warm hug, so thank you to these awesome ladies who thought of me.

My friend over at Tales of a Twin Mombie nominated me for the Liebster Award and instructed me to answer the ten questions she created as part of the nomination. Since I have a few other questions to answer with the other awards, I picked my favorite 5 questions – here you go!

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What led you to start your blog and how long have you been blogging?

I started blogging in the spring of 2012 (which seems like yesterday and an eternity ago, all at the same time) simply based on the fact that I felt called to share our story and struggle with others. It took a while, in fact I had the website registered for almost 6 months before taking the plunge, but am so glad I did. It has blessed my life SO much. In fact, in a few more posts, I will be celebrating my 100th entry! Whoa!

If you could recommend a MUST READ, what would it be and why?

I am a READER. Anyone who knows me can attest to that. My books are well loved, often dressed in crinkled pages as a result of being dropped in the bathtub or tossed into a purse. So to narrow it down to ONE must read!? I can’t image. But one of my favorite books to read is Blue Bistro by Elin Hildebrand. There is something about her writing that I love (her older work especially) and I am a foodie too, so this is a perfect blend of all things great. Another recommendation of a good book that you can laugh and cry (okay, bawl) to is Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Oh and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Actually anything by her is fantastic. For Christian books on infertility I highly recommend Hannah’s Hope by Jennifer Saake.

I better stop now. If you ever need a book recommendation though, just shoot me a message and I would love to make some suggestions.

When you are feeling stressed out, what is something that almost always works to calm you?

Quiet time. This most typically can be fulfilled in a coffee shop, bookstore, or bathtub. Introverted time to myself, preferably with a tea or latte, a journal and a Bible, refills my bucket and calms me down.

What do you admire the most about your husband?

I could go on and on! But simply put, I admire his cheerful attitude and his ability to see the glass even more half full than me. He rarely has a down day, is someone who just wakes up chipper and ready to embrace the day and will never let himself sulk into negativity. He reminds me of the positives and blessings on tough days and has such an optimistic spirit. He is the BEST. (Plus he is a stud, so win win!)

What is your guilty pleasure? Something you shouldn’t indulge but just have to sometimes?

French fries and real sugar lattes. Both of which don’t go with my eating habit changes so it’s been a little tough.

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The other award I was nominated for is the Sunshine Award which is an award granted by fellow bloggers to whom they feel bring sunshine to their lives. How sweet and special! These ladies at Team Ricci and Waiting for Baby Bird gave me this award and with it, several more questions to answer – here are a few!

What is one of your favorite quotes?

I have been finding myself scribbling down quotes and reminders lately and posting them around my kitchen. While I have many favorite quotes, here are two are my scribbles from last week!

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Where is your favorite vacation spot?

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Every spring Josh and I are blessed to be able to vacation with his family and have fallen in love with our home away from home each year. This year will be our 10th year down there together (more for Josh) and its one of my favorite, relaxing spots! Plus they have a STARBUCKS so it’s pretty much perfection.

Provide 5 RANDOM facts about yourself. (Is it sad that I had to recruit Josh to help me with this? My mind drew a complete blank.)

  • I am becoming an awful text and email responder. I typically don’t love phone calls. The older I get, the more I value one-on-one, face to face time with people (preferably over a caffeinated beverage) and less and less the technology version of them.
  • I love coffee mugs. Each one tells a story of where you got it or who gave it to you. Josh on the other hand doesn’t love all my coffee mugs since our cabinet is out of room and he has had more than one come crashing down on him.
  • I am an introverted morning person. I don’t like to talk for at least an hour after waking up. In fact, Cali and I typically don’t acknowledge each other until we have both been awake for quite a while. I will wake up an hour earlier than Josh on the weekends simply to have my quiet time before his energy explodes.
  •  I don’t like to be spooked or startled intentionally and when scared, I will immediately begin crying. Josh has learned this the hard way as he loves a good “BOO!”. Please do not see this as an invitation to scare me either. It does not go over well.
  • Having fresh flowers in my house is a must. I love flowers.

Now I would love to pass along the love and nominate 3 girls whose blogs I just love and whom are creative and beautiful authors! Check them out!

Girls, all you have to do is mention who nominated you and answer these 5 questions to help your bloggers get to know you better!

  1. Do you have any furbabies? If so, share a picture and tell us about them!
  2. What is your favorite warm beverage to drink? Do you have a favorite coffee shop spot?
  3. What is your favorite Bible verse?
  4. Tell us about how you met your spouse.
  5. What would your perfect day look like?

I also wanted to say thanks to all those who remembered our should-have-been due date last Monday. I was so blessed by the amazing kindness of those who checked in. And thanks to a sweet somebody, we even received these beautiful flowers from our babies.

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I also received some beautiful jewelry handcrafted by my friend Martha. One of my favorite things are these tokens she designed. They are filled with some of my favorite verses, words of encouragement and symbols of hope. She has an Etsy shop filled with gorgeous work and is currently saving towards her 5th IVF cycle, all while dealing with being the wife of a deployed husband and mother of a heaven-held daughter who left this world too soon. Here is the link to her shop – I urge you to check her out and support a great cause!

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Lastly, a small TTC update – I have been experiencing some weird pains and symptoms since stopping IVF and have been trying to track that and determine what may be normal, what may be from PCOS, what may be from my body working to try to heal itself, and what isn’t right. The other day I decided it would be best to check in with my OB just to check things out. We don’t have many answers yet but I was able to get in and have things looked at. We were able to, for the most part, rule out really scary things like cancer, fibroids, tumors and polyps and I was thankful that my labs and ultrasounds didn’t show anything of immediate concern. She did express a little unease that one of my ovaries was swollen up about 30% larger than it should be and that there’s a cyst that’s just a bit larger than normal. While we don’t know for sure if it’s what’s causing the pain, we will keep an eye on it for the next 4 weeks and rerun some tests then. It has all been placed it in His hands and we are feeling comfortable with the game plan. We haven’t really talked about it with anyone simply because we really don’t know much and it’s just a small web of unknowns. I share this with you simply to ask for prayers for healing and wisdom and still, would prefer not to talk about it.

Well, for not having a lot to say, I certainly filled up the page! How about I don’t wait 2 and a half weeks to post again. Mkay, I’ll work on that. Until next time!

learning to say no.

Happy New Year! How many of you are trapped in the world of writing “2013” still and then ferociously scratching a 4 over the 3 and contemplating just starting over? I know I am! It always takes a while to get into the swing of the new year and the calm that follows the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Here in Minnesota we are still braving brutally cold temperatures and most schools were canceled the last day or two, which has extended some holiday breaks, but alas! It’s about to warm back up (aka above 0º) and we all will be fumbling our way back into our old routines.

As I begin 2014, I have been thinking a lot about the routines I tend to find myself in and what commitments are on my plate. If you know me, you know that I tend to be a “yes” person. Got something that needs to be done? I would LOVE to! (Shoot, I really don’t want to do that.) Oh you need this? Absolutely, I’m your girl! (Oh man, when am I going to fit that in?) It starts next week and you forgot to look for a leader? Of course I will lead that. (Nooooooooooo. I don’t have the time/ability/interest/desire/passion.) It actually is a really bad habit of mine, saying yes to everything I am asked to do,  because at the end of the day, I am left feeling depleted and unable to give my best to people who matter most – like my husband, family and friends.

A month or so ago, God began to stir in my heart that He wanted me to fine tune the art of being prayerful to consider what was asked of me. It made me scrunch up my nose, because the thought of saying “no” and disappointing someone felt uncomfortable. But I took the bait. Okay God, I will bring you opportunities and consult with you before saying yes or no. Just make it clear.

Around the same time, I read these powerful words in a book: “I realized then, that while there are many things that need to be done, things I am capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them. Even if I have a burden for a certain need or project, my interest or concern is not a surefire sign that I need to be in charge. God may only be calling me to pray that the right person will rise up to accomplish it. What’s more, I may be stealing someone else’s blessing when I assume I must do it all… It is a costly mistake, for often, when the Holy Spirit does ask something of me, I’m either knee deep in another project or too exhausted from my latest exercise in futility to do what God wants of me.” (Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World)

It was exactly what I needed to read to give myself permission to say no to things that I didn’t feel called to do. Steal someone’s blessing? Being too exhausted to actually do something that I should be doing when that time approaches? Totally convicted.

And wouldn’t you know it? I was tested nearly immediately with an invitation to serve in an area that I know I would be skilled at. However, instead of saying “yes, sure thing!” right away, I prayed about it. And felt strongly that this was not a venture I was supposed to take on and instead, simply needed to offer to pray for the right person to step up to the job.

Awkward.

I don’t do well saying “no”. I don’t think it was the response this person was hoping for and I know that obeying Him will likely cause more work for this person and I feel awful about that. But what outweighs that feeling and gives me peace is simply knowing that I am keeping myself open to whatever it is ahead where I am supposed to say “yes”. I will have the time, the passion, and the capability to take that on. OR, I will simply be able to focus with greater attention on what’s already on my plate. The team in our early childhood ministry at church that I direct, or the small group I lead, or the relationships I have built.  The lifestyle changes we are making to our diets and bodies.

As you step into 2014, I challenge you to look at what you have on your plate. Are you carrying things around simply to please others, but as a result, draining yourself of everything – like your joy? Are those activities or responsibilities keeping you from being open and available to things that do interest you? Are you able to put Him in the number one spot in your life or is He getting pushed aside as you work to please everyone around you? Here’s the thing – responsibilities are a good thing. We all need that structure and we all need to work hard at things – but not at the sake of our relationship with Him or our sanity. We can’t be consumed at keeping everything in the air because our focus will shift and we will find ourselves frantically missing the good opportunities. I even have to evaluate the small, fun things that add up. The coffee dates, the evenings meetings or movies with friends. How many yoga classes to commit to a week and how much running (figuratively, not literally, but I literally don’t run) I am packing into a day. All these things can easily deplete us if we don’t guard our calendars and time.

A new year. A new chance to look at our busy schedules and no longer allow Satan to use the hectic-ness and commitments, our worn out bodies and our exhausted emotions, to create barriers that push us away from what we are supposed to be doing. For some, what you are supposed to be doing is simply spending time with your family. Or maybe it’s taking on a weekend serving position at your church. Or perhaps its saying “yes” to joining a Bible Study or (gasp) leading one. Will you allow your energy and joy to be swallowed up in obligations that He has never called you to take on? Or will you join me at His feet waiting to find out what His will is for us before saying “yes”? And then faithfully taking the step of obedience towards the commitments we are called to do?

Here’s to a 2014 filled with the right callings. Filled with JOY. Filled with Him!

PS – Join me in the awkward celebration of having my shortest non-medicated natural cycle EVER! 63 days. (If you are wondering what I am talking about right now, let’s just safely assume you don’t need to know. You can stop reading now.) But seriously, my PCOS has prevented me from having natural cycles without the eventual use of Provera (a AF inducing medication) literally for years. It was an answer to my desperate prayers to God to show me that this new naturopathic route was actually doing something useful. Honestly, it has been really hard. I am not used to taking 80-million supplements a day and the anti-inflammatory drinks that I am temporarily drinking as we fight this internal infection has been testing every ounce of strength. The diet changes have felt a lot more natural now and I am getting pretty used to my new routines and lifestyle. But it’s slow. And while I *expected* that, I forgot what slow felt like. I have been missing the pace of IVF and western medicine. But He was faithful to hear my frustrations and discouragement and getting AF was a wonderful sign that *something* is starting to work again. And with that brings renewed hope that someday we may be able to celebrate a miracle baby. So thank you for continuing to faithfully pray for us in this slower time. It still is a battle, but we still have our boxing gloves on. :)

A favorite verse of mine! And a great anthem for January.

A favorite verse of mine! And a great anthem for January.