Tuesday, December 14, 2010

::give yourself to the art of praise::

Every time the holidays roll around, I start to feel a little desperate. 

It's the one time of the year that we are together with all of our family members.  It's a perfect time to make an "announcement," if you get what I mean.  It's the time of year for families.  For children.  I track my cycles with even more vengeance than normal, if possible.  I hope for an announcement to make at Thanksgiving, and then hold out for a miraculous Christmas gift, and then a New Year's surprise, and then...hope dwindling, perhaps a tiny Valentine.  Or not.

The pressures of trying to conceive seem compounded by the holidays and family gatherings.  I don't know why I put that pressure on myself--as if any of this in my control--because I know my family doesn't have that expectation of us anymore.  They are just all happy to be together.  It really is me that puts the pressure on myself.

Last Thursday night, with shaking hands I held a pregnancy test up to the light for what is quite possibly the 200th time.  I searched for the miraculous.  It wasn't there.  I put the test down and tried to convince myself that hope wasn't lost quite yet.  I was still within the ten minute time frame.  I went to the kitchen and laid the test on the counter.  I washed some dishes.  I looked at the test.  There was the faintest of lines that only the very trained eye of an infertile woman could see. ;)  I knew straight away it was an evaporation line.  My husband came home and looked at the test.  He held it up in that familiar way--directly into the light, eyes squinting.  He saw the line, but trusted my evaluation.
I tested again the next morning.
There never was a more negative test.
I hate, hate, hate that blank space on the stick looking back at me. 

So I waited a couple of days with no sign of the inevitable.  My hopes began to build.  Maybe I just tested too early.  Maybe this was the year, maybe this was the Christmas. 

As it turned out, I was most definitely not pregnant.

I felt myself sinking into that black hole if despair.  Not pregnant.  How many cycles have I felt like this?  Seventy-eight?  Eighty?   Eighty.  I could feel the dark cloud of sadness settling over me.  Not this time.  Not this Christmas.  Not this year.

That was Saturday night.  We had planned to do some Christmas shopping, but I vetoed the idea after I began to feel a little sorry for myself.  I felt that desperation turn to sadness.  I knew I had a choice: wallow or fight.  So I swallowed the ache in my throat and suggested we all climb in the car in our jammies and go look at Christmas lights.  I made homemade hot chocolate that tasted a lot like drinking a Hershey bar. We drove around for about 40 minutes until our son was ready to get out of the car.  We watched a Christmas movie, had our Advent devotions, and put our son to bed.  I kept trying to ignore the temptation to slide into the mire of depression.  It was there, though.  Always there.


During our Advent devotions that night, the author of the book we're reading addressed the issue of sadness during the holidays.  He mentioned Mary's most desperate situation--being betrothed to Joseph and yet with Child.  How should she respond to a situation that likely ruined her reputation and made her a social outcast?  "How could she do all of the will of God and not be destroyed by it?"*  The author turned the situation to modern day types of suffering and depression, to submitting to God's sovereign authority over your life, even when it is difficult.
He writes (and please do not skim this--it's important!): "When the burdens of life are too much for you, when your tears know no encouragement, do not see this as a suffering that has come only to you.  Read the Scriptures and you will see that nearly all of God's servants have suffered from depression.  Men and women throughout history have felt the ugly talons of despair sink deeply into their souls, enduring a spiritual depression that can rarely be shaken off by intention alone.  But there is a way to beat this despair...Give yourself to the art of praise....There is really only one way to deal with spiritual or psychological depression, one sure way to forget your grief: exalt the Lord.  It is a wonder that in praising Him, we drive back the demons of self-pity.  We cannot focus on His greatness and our depression at the same time.  If we remain focused on how bad we feel, we will be unable to concentrate on the Savior.  But focus on His greatness and you will find it impossible to dwell on your own painful circumstances...Let [praise] sweep the gloom from your heart and replace it with the joy that comes from adoration."*

I let those words sink into my soul, and I found that I could praise the Lord for my husband, my son, my salvation, grace, and so much more.  And the pain is slowly minimized when your heart is filled with thankfulness.  I'm not sure how to explain it, but focusing on Christ really does alleviate the depression that seeks to take up residence in your hurting heart.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling more like myself.  I sat with my Bible and a cup of coffee in the early morning, praying while watching the snow fall quietly outside. The peace of Christ settled over me like a warm blanket.  In the hours that followed during the day, I dealt repeatedly with the inviting temptation to give myself over to sadness, but what kept coming to mind was that our Savior was no stranger to sorrow.  He was with me. His incarnation, His putting on of human flesh was to take on suffering of the deepest kind because it would send Him to His death and to the greatest kind of wedge between Him and His Father who could not gaze upon our sin.   When I think of the great suffering of our Savior, when I think of His sacrifice for me, when I think of the very purpose of Him coming in the flesh as a helpless baby, my own sadness seems so small and inconsequential.  And impossible to really dwell in because my joy, although marred by my sin and pain, MUST be founded upon God's character!  It must be anchored in praise for who He is and what He has done. 

In addition to the grace that God has poured out on my life regarding my salvation and continuing sanctification, there are other blessings He has lavished upon me.  Yesterday I was reassured by my husband that God has given me above and beyond what I could ever ask for or expect.  I do not deserve such gifts.  How can I dare to muddle through this profoundly blessed life, constantly mired in my unfulfilled longings, all the while ignoring what God has so amazingly and graciously given me???   I must choose PRAISE!  I must choose THANKFULNESS!

Sometimes I have these tiny moments of clarity which usually are coming on the coattails of a difficult revelation about myself.  The more I walk through infertility, the more ugliness I see in my heart.  And, thanks to my Lord and to my faithful husband William, the more grace I see flowing from the cross.

My encouragement to you this Christmas, if you are struggling with another holiday of just the two of you, give yourself to the art of praise.  I can say this early, cold December morning that the Lord is faithful to fill your heart with joy that is only found in Him. 

I am exceedingly blessed.


*The Christ of Christmas: Readings for Advent, by Calvin Miller.  Quote taken from December 10th reading.

Friday, December 3, 2010

::letting go::

I recently interviewed a fellow blogger, Tea, about her experiences with infertility.  Tea has recently come to the point of moving past the burden of trying to conceive, and is now looking at her life as it is--blessed with a beautiful son through adoption.  I found her words to be helpful and encouraging, and if you are in a place where you're wondering whether or not to move on, her sincere honesty and transparency may be just what you need to read. I found her answer to the question regarding what led to her decision to let go to be especially encouraging and inspiring....and in a way, convicting.  I'm not sure I would have handled that experience with such grace.  
Read her answers to my questions and be encouraged!

*Tea, tell us a little about yourself.  How long have you been dealing with infertility? 

I'm a follower of Jesus, my husband and I have been married for almost 8 years, and we have one son, who we adopted a little over two years ago.

Infertility is something we've dealt with for the entire length of our marriage. We were very excited about starting a family when we first married, and so, we have never prevented pregnancy in any way. 

During the second year of our marriage, we sought out some answers and began seeing a doctor who worked with couples experiencing infertility. We both did all the standard tests, but nothing was found to be wrong with either of us, but still, no pregnancy.


*How are your feelings about IF different now than they were when you first started trying to get pregnant?
When we were in the early stages of dealing with infertility, I had a very difficult time. Experiencing pregnancy and becoming a mother had been my dream the whole time I was growing up, and as it became more and more clear that things were not happening as they should, the struggle within me became very painful and trying.
In those early years, my heart was like an open wound. I dealt a lot with bitterness and anger, and very hurt feelings. During that time I kept seeking God, but I was so hurt and confused. I didn't have anyone to talk to who understood what I was feeling, and it was hard to know how to deal with it. The amazing thing is, when I look back on that period of time in my life, I can see how very near God was to me. He knew this was a very hard road for me to go down, and even though he didn't take the infertility away, he was right there next to me, so very close.

It took a few years for the raw pain and anger to begin to subside. ..And although it subsided some as I began to become used to dealing with it, it never went away. I still dealt with it and it didn't take much... an insensitive comment, the start of another period, or the sight of a pregnant belly, and that wound ripped wide open again.

Now, after 7 1/2 years, the wound is starting to heal..really heal. At this time in my life, only by the grace of God, I am able to see infertility a little differently. Not that I still don't wish it would go away, but I know God has used it to deepen my faith. My faith has been tested, and he has seen me through it.  ..And for that I am very thankful.

For the longest time in my journey through infertility, I hated hearing the phrase, "His grace is sufficient." It made me angry. But I have finally come to understand the truth of it.  Now I can really see the good that God has brought out of my infertility. ..A deeper faith, a more sensitive heart towards those who are hurting, and the opportunity to learn to surrender (which is not easy or fun, but good)... There are also other more personal blessings that I can see God has brought out of this trial.


*What is it that led up to your decision and freedom to let go and move on from trying to conceive? (Was there any one event or experience or did you gradually come to this realization?)
For me it was a series of events over the last year and a half that really led me to this point. Prior to that time, I had already felt that there was a time coming when I would have to let go, if God did not allow me to become pregnant before then, but in this last year and a half I think God has really been pushing me to this point of letting go.
The big push started when my sister announced her first pregnancy. I wanted to be happy for her, but it caused such grief in my heart. She became pregnant very quickly after she was married, and it very much highlighted my struggle. Not too long after that, both of my SIL's announced their pregnancies. They were all married for under a year when they became pregnant for the first time and one was on her second year of marriage and second baby. Having the three of them pregnant at the same time had been one of my worst nightmares, and it had come true. There was no escaping the topic of pregnancy. No escaping the sight of a pregnant belly. Family gatherings became such a burden that I had to pray for God's strength to make it through. I shed many tears during this time.

However, God began putting a very real pressure on me... I could feel it, and I knew he was telling me it was time to bear up under this burden and walk through it. It was time to learn to trust in him to give me the strength and grace to put my feelings aside, to endure the conversations and bellies, but most of all, it was time to learn to trust him with what he had for me. ...Even if that meant he would never open my womb.

I was constantly praying for strength to make it through that time. The hardest moment was when one of my SIL's (who had been married only a matter of months) looked at me, and with only good intentions, said, "I can't wait until you get to experience this." ...I was barely able to keep from falling apart at those words. I had been married for years, and my reality was, that I would very likely never experience that wonderful blessing.

When I had made it through those pregnancies, I felt such a burden lifted. God had taken me through something I had dreaded, but he caused me to learn to trust in him in a deeper way than I had known before. He gave me strength when I knew I had absolutely none, and he helped me carry the weight of that trial. That's when I learned that his grace is sufficient.

It's so odd that God brought such great healing to me through something I had dreaded so much. He is amazing!

At that point we were still hoping we would achieve a pregnancy by a miracle from God, but in the coming months I just began to feel tired... Tired of trying, tired of holding onto this dream... Tired of watching my diet, and taking vitamins... Tired of feeling like we were always waiting on something to happen before we could just carry on... This feeling kept growing and I knew the time for me to surrender this desire was coming close.

Within the next few months, I started feeling like it was really time to let go. I prayed about it, and I had to get to the place where I said, "If I let go and I never become pregnant, if I never have another child, I know I'll be okay. God will give me the strength I need." I had to really know it deep down.

My sister's daughter holds a very special place in my heart. ...And not just because she is a beautiful little girl... When I look at her I see the beginning of the healing God brought has to my heart.

*How did adoption affect your thoughts/feelings on infertility, if at all?
I don't think adoption changed my feelings toward infertility.

Adopting our son was a an amazing blessing from the Lord. I had dreamed of adopting since I was a teenager, and so it was wonderful to see that dream come true.

Although I don't believe my feelings toward infertility changed, we did find that once our son came into our family, the sting of childlessness was taken away. The pain of infertility was the same. Until that time I had never separated the two. I now recognize that there are several deep wounds that come with infertility, childlessness is one of them. I never forget that those who are struggling with infertility, and remain childless, carry that wound that I once felt so strongly.

Even after adopting I struggled with the same feelings that I always had toward infertility. I still felt inferior as a woman. I still had a longing to experience pregnancy. I was still very hurt. ..But I no longer had that ache to be a mother, I had become a mother.


*Now that you have come to a point of letting go, do you ever find yourself struggling with the reality that you truly might never conceive?  If so, how do you reconcile those feelings? 

Sometimes I struggle knowing I may never conceive, but I think that's what all the struggling and hurting has been about through this entire journey. It is still a desire in my heart to become pregnant, and I acknowledge that to God. I would love for my son to have a sibling. I would love to have another child. ..But I know in my heart we will be okay if it doesn't happen, and I'm not pursuing it or dreaming about it. I have to pray for help to keep letting go, to not fall back into old habits and mindsets, but I have much joy in the family God has given me, and peace about the decision to let go.

Something that has been helpful for me, is to think about the time I will get to spend with my son -one on one, and the things we'll be able to do that might not have been possible if we had more children. I think about the bond the three of us have and that it is special. It's been a process of learning to choose to dream new dreams, and content myself with a (very good) plan that was not my own. ..And we have been actively dreaming, dreaming of being a family of three, and looking at so many possibilities. We're trying to learn to grasp dreams loosely, but to keep dreaming. It's also neat to realize that God actually does have a plan in all of this. I always kind of knew that in my head, but didn't really feel it in my heart. Now I'm beginning to learn the truth of it.

I've also found it helpful to read the blogs of other moms who have only one child.

(I know the things mentioned in that last sentence and the paragraph above it can sound trite, and they are if they're forced, or what someone tells you to do to "get over it," but those are things that I feel deeply right now, and they are actually helpful to me. At earlier points in my journey through infertility I would not have found those things helpful, they would felt defeating.)


*I'm sure there are many women out there who are wondering if it is time to lay to rest the efforts of actively trying to conceive.  What advice or encouragement would you give to them? 
I would say, don't try to force yourself into anything. Listen to where God is leading you and be patient with yourself. I know it can be really confusing, trying to figure out where your path lies when it comes to these decisions, but when the time is right I think God makes it clear to us. (...At least from my limited experience.)

I always felt like I wasn't handling my infertility the right way. I tried so hard to force myself to be and do what I thought I "should," but the truth was, I was where I was for a reason and I couldn't go beyond that point until I had worked through it. God taught me through every stage of this trial, even when I handled it badly. He had to take me through a million steps, a million little learning moments, to get to where I am now. And I know I still have so much more to learn.

Letting go is not something I could have decided to do. I never would have let go. This is only something that has happened because God has caused it to happen, and I am grateful for that.

For some women, he may call them to keep waiting. For me he said, "Let go."

*Do you have any future plans to add to your family again through adoption?
I would love to add another little one to our family. I would love to adopt again, but for now God has led us to let go of that too. This has not just been about letting go of conceiving, it's been about letting go of trying to have another child. ..Let go of my dream and my plan... But along with this, I have felt very clearly that I need to keep an open heart.

When I was asked to let go, my first reaction was to close up my heart completely and say, "Okay, fine we're never having anymore children."  ..But God asked me to keep it open. He showed me that closing my heart is not good, it comes out of hurt and fear, not out of trust. So, my heart is open. I'm letting go, but open to the fact that sometime down the road, God could open a door for our family to grow. or he could keep it just the three of us. I don't know what his plan is for our family, but I have had to release mine and learn to trust Him. If I closed my heart, I would only be exchanging one of my own plans for another one of my own plans. We're going forward with the expectation that we will be a family of three, but trying to remain open at the same time. My prayer is that I hold onto what he has been teaching me and that I don't take steps backward.


*As a Christian, what effect has infertility had on your relationship with God?  What has He taught you through this and/or how has He comforted you?
I think I've touched on this in several of the questions above, but I will say a little more here...

At first I struggled with bitterness and anger, even toward God. I never thought I would be angry with him, but I was. I even questioned his goodness, which I am so sorry for, but he has been faithful to forgive me.

Knowing that he has seen me through even these very low points in our relationship... knowing he will never leave, and that he always remains faithful, has been an amazing blessing. I know I'm so undeserving of that blessing.

God has comforted me many times through his word. In the early years, it was the book of Job -near the end when God speaks to Job. He used that to remind me that he is in control, and that I had no real right to carry around that anger. It was the very beginning of my healing process.

I've also found comfort in the story of Elizabeth, John the Baptist's mother. When she becomes pregnant, she says, "The Lord has done this for me. In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people." Although I have not become pregnant, I can so identify with that feeling of disgrace, and it's good to hear it from an admirable woman in the bible. I keep little notes about all of the women in the bible that I find, who experienced infertility.

This year, Psalm 73:21-28 has meant a lot to me...

When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;

I was a brute beast before you.
.Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm73:21:26

...It speaks of the very emotions I have dealt with in my experience with infertility, and shows that God is faithful and patient with me when I am struggling.

*Any final thoughts about where you are emotionally right now with all of this?
This step of letting go is still very fresh, and there are days I struggle a little... But I'm learning to turn my thoughts to the truths Jesus has taught me, and to truly trust in him. My desires are no secret to God, but they are not something that I can carry around anymore. I'm learning to lay them down, and truly accept what he has for our family, but I am not perfect at it.. still learning, and still growing.
Thank you, Glenna, for sharing your own story, which has been a real encouragement to me, and also for giving me the opportunity to share some of my own story.

::::
Special thanks, Tea, for your honesty about such a sensitive and personal topic.  I've no doubt your words will be an encouragement!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dear endometriosis,

I hate you.

That's all.

-glenna-


(It's a stuck-on-the-couch-under-my-heating-pad-with-a-bottle-of-ibuprofen-next-to-me kind of day.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

::a husband who hopes::

My two year old has spent the last two nights in his toddler bed.  It's so sweet, but it's kind of breaking my heart.

My husband and I were talking about dismantling the crib and I all but wailed, "What if we never get to use it again?!?!"

He calmly replied, "But what if we get to use it twelve more times?  Don't lose hope just yet!"


How are men able to compartmentalize hope like this?

My husband has always been the rock of our relationship, but especially so when it comes to infertility.  He assures me that it's okay to have hope, and carries hope for me when I'm unable to muster it up.  He is the epitome of godly leadership and love in our home, and I'm so, so thankful for him.   But that isn't to say that he is unaffected by it all.  He has wrestled and grieved as I have.  And he has tried to shield me from his own hurt so that he can be strong for me. 
He has thought about blogging several times on my blog here just to have a male perspective; perhaps I can twist his arm to do that sometime soon. 

So, I'm wondering--how have your husbands have handled your infertility?
As far as blogging and writing on infertility, why is the male voice on infertility such a silent one?

Share your thoughts!

-glenna-

P.S.  I'm getting some guest posts lined up on a range of IF topics...stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

::"If I...I Will" Book Review::

I was contacted a few weeks ago by Red Couch PR to review Debbie Sutton Covington's book If I...I Will.  Because the author has experienced many years of infertility, I agreed to hop on the book tour as there is so little out there in actual book form when it comes to infertility. 

*About the author:

Debbie Sutton Covington writes and speaks on women in the church. She is also the founder of Journey of Sisters, a ministry that encourages women in their walk in faith through weekly devotionals, monthly newsletters, and fellowship opportunities. Debbie and her husband Kenny and their dogs live in Shreveport, Louisiana.

*Book Description:

If I…I will: simple words, but do we ever move past the “ifs” in our lives? Do we know in our hearts and minds that God indeed will help us to achieve our dreams and goals? If I…I Will is an insightful look at the healing of the suffering woman in Mark 5 whom Jesus healed. And just like that suffering woman, we must step past our suffering, the words we may hear, our own thoughts, and the crowds around us to reach for Jesus. What if we reach Jesus? Will He change our lives forever? Will He heal us? Yes, indeed! Maybe Jesus won’t follow the way we envision the healing or the change to happen, but faith in Jesus will forever change us. So, step out and reach for Jesus’ hand, and begin the adventure of a lifetime.

*My Review:

In this quick read, the author walks the reader through Mark 5, the familiar story of the woman with the issue of blood.  Each chapter begins with a part of this story, told from the woman's perspective.  Looking at this passage from the emotional vantage point of this woman does encourage you to dwell more on what it meant for a woman who would have been considered unclean for so long to have the courage to reach out and touch the hem of the Messiah's garment.  While one can only speculate as to the woman's true physical condition and emotions, the embellishments are thought-provoking.

The author includes many personal experiences throughout the book, all the while encouraging the reader to look for healing in Christ and for comfort in His Word.  She is honest about her struggles, and as you all know how I am about transparency (ha!), you can be assured that I applaud her courage to put herself into her book.   I was a bit wary of her talk of healing at first because as we all know, some of us are never truly healed from our physical maladies.  However, Covington focuses on spiritual healing rather than physical, and exhorts the reader to accept whatever type of healing that God may grant, even if it is not what one expected.  I can definitely agree with Debbie's exhortation here.

While this is a short and easy read (a blessing for some of us who are drowning in our lengthy reading lists!), Debbie does sprinkle each chapter with numerous rhetorical questions for the reader's sake. I personally found them to be a bit distracting, and wonder if this would be more effectively done in a list of study questions at the end of the book if she is wishing for one to really contemplate what the answers might be in one's personal experience (and I'm sure that she does want that for her readers!).  I might also add that there is a smattering of lighthearted stories and jokes woven throughout the book that, at times, are used to support the author's main points.  Unfortunately, I felt that this made the book seem a bit contrived in parts. 
There was not nearly as much mention of infertility as I had expected, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend the book as a primary source of comfort for someone experiencing infertility, but I will say that the author is very direct in her encouragements to study the Bible, to spend time in prayer and examination of oneself, and to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  I appreciate her directness in encouraging those things! If you need a little motivation in those areas, perhaps If I...I Will can be a source of encouragement for you.

I thank Red Couch PR for the opportunity to review this book on my blog! If you're interested in reading other reviews, feel free to check out the Virtual Book Tour Page.

Also, I would be happy to pass along my copy of the book to a reader.  Leave a comment if you're interested--first come, first served!  :)  Otherwise,  you can purchase If I…I Will on Amazon at http://amzn.to/ifiiwill.


More IF blogging later....

-glenna-

Thursday, October 28, 2010

::blog thoughts::

I find it hard to talk about my blog in real life.
And by "real life" I mean face-to-face conversations. I always end up changing the subject.  :)


That makes me wonder if I'm a little too transparent here where I can't see any of your faces.  But....your emails and comments have been so incredibly supportive and kind.  If you've stuck around even after my last post, maybe something struck a chord with you.  For that reason, I'll keep putting it all out there because--there's nothing like feeling alone in infertility. 

I also wonder what in the world to write about that hasn't already been written about in the realm of infertility.  When I first started blogging on this topic, there weren't a ton of IF bloggers out there.  That, however, is no longer true.  Google "infertility blog" and you've got enough reading material to fill several, several books. 

Aside from my personal meltdowns and revelations, I wonder--what can I add to this mix?  While I'm certainly not an expert, I do sort of feel like a veteran when it comes to infertility itself.  I realize being a mother through adoption adds a different spin on things, but when it comes down to the difficulty of daily living with infertility, I'm obviously still here living it right in front of you. 
But I'm not sure what to say that hasn't already been said.

My goal is to encourage believers in Christ who are suffering through infertility, although I have my days where I feel like the biggest hypocrite in the world when it comes to encouragement (i.e., read my last post). 

I feel a little strange asking this question, because it assumes there are lots of you reading, however--what would be a beneficial blog topic when it comes to infertility itself, and living with infertility as a Christian?

I'd like to tackle some questions you might have, especially if you're new to the IF world.  I remember being less than a year into my IF experience and having a fellow IF friend laugh at me.  Laugh.  I was terrified that after however many months it had been at that point that something was wrong.  She laughed and said something like "I can remember when we'd only been trying for that long!"  It crushed me.  And made me feel like I wasn't allowed to talk about my fears.  It wasn't until I was two years into this thing that I discovered my first IF blogger.  And it was a revelation knowing there were people out there with the same challenges, fears, and pain.  And once I found some Christian IF bloggers, well...I got completely wrapped up in this world of camaraderie.

So, here I am after almost seven years of infertility--with the blessed interruption of our son's adoption two years ago.  Even though I am going through highs and lows myself, I want to encourage you as you walk the same rocky road.  I'm not exactly sure how to do that, but I want steadfastness in Christ to bleed through my words on your screen, even when I am struggling to believe that myself.  The most interesting thing about my years of infertility is that God has used them to absolutely revolutionize my relationship with Him.  Even when I slip into deep despair over my barrenness, He has lovingly and graciously drawn me back to a place of safety.  All of my questions, in the end, are satisfied by the wisdom of the Lord, even when--like I stated in my last post--I don't really find comfort in the moment in those answers.  Eventually, I keep coming back to Christ's atonement for my sin, and His continual intercession for me.  Those things bring my feet back to a firm standing position and my heart back to a place of praise.


How can I encourage you in your infertility?
How can I help you feel less alone? 
Do you want to share your IF story here?*

I just feel burdened for the women who might stumble across this blog when they are looking for...anything to help them feel less alone.  I don't know why infertility feels so isolating, but it does.

Please jump in on the discussion here.  There wouldn't be much of a reason for me to blog if you all weren't reading.  Thank you for that!

-glenna-

*I suddenly had a thought...if you're not a blogger (or even if you are) and you want a place to share your IF struggles/story, please share in the comment section or email me at ineedsomecoffee@hotmail.com.  Perhaps I can do a series of posts about you all. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

::in the ashes::

There has been a reason for my silence here.   

Don't worry.  It's not what you think.


The past couple of months have been a fight for my sanctification.  And I'll be honest, I haven't handled the emotional upheaval well.  I spiraled down into a deep depression, and I spent a lot of time lying in bed weeping because I just couldn't see past my pain. Only a handful of people have known about my tumultuous days lately, mostly because I feel that I make people weary of hearing about my same old struggles. 

Earlier this year I toyed with the idea of putting all these blog posts and thoughts about infertility into book form.  I was in a good place with it all, and I felt--based on the number of emails I was regularly receiving--that there was a need for an honest but Biblical look at infertility.   While I haven't completely vetoed the idea, it has been tabled indefinitely.  The main reason being....I'm still living it

I'm hesitant to go into my pandora's box of emotions and feelings; dragging it all out for you will only highlight my ugliness, my pride, my feelings of self-entitlement, my anger at a good and sovereign God.  I can barely write that last phrase without being reduced to tears of shame.  I hate that I have questioned and threatened, shaken my fist at the God who doesn't owe me anything.  There wasn't any one thing that induced my sudden crisis of faith, but rather it was a crashing tide of pregnancy announcements, negative pregnancy tests, and a slew of disappointing doctor's appointments.  Circumstances.  They hurt, yes, but from this side of it, I can't believe I allowed myself to sink so low.  The enemy was at my heart's door, whispering sweet, candy-coated words of inflated injustice.  And I believed him, knowing full well that he is a liar.  I wanted to believe that he was right, that God must hate me, that if He loved me He wouldn't withhold my heart's desire. 

I laid in bed for several nights weeping uncontrollably, ranting and spewing out questions about God's character, and asked my poor husband to please, please explain it to me.  Why adulterers get pregnant?  Why teenagers get pregnant and abort?  Why drug addicts and alcoholics have no trouble conceiving?  Why people get pregnant on the first try?  Why not us?  Does the Lord hate me so much to allow someone who has so obviously rejected Him to have child after child, but not me?  

My questions all concluded eventually in the question that brought me low: Does God owe me anything?  

No.

Even knowing the answers, though, I couldn't heal the ache in my heart.  I couldn't stop crying over six-and-a-half years worth of negative pregnancy tests, of one more obstacle being discovered at the doctor's office, of the medical debt piling up before we even get to the actual infertility treatments, of the thought that I will be 30 next year and my friends are all finishing up adding to their families, of the thought that I really might never conceive.  


It was not a mistake that my husband has been preaching through Romans for the past few months.  It has been this beloved book that has been my saving grace during this difficult time.  I prayed that the Lord would help me to understand, to help me to see.  And He used His Word, the Gospel that I already knew and believed, to absolutely break my heart into a million pieces.  After each sermon, I wanted nothing more than to lie prostrate on the floor and weep in absolute brokenness.  I understand the Jewish tradition of tearing your clothes and sitting in ashes.  It somehow feels appropriate.  When I began to regain that absolutely necessary perspective that the Lord stooped low to pluck me out of a drowning mass of people deserving only of death and destruction, I was humbled in a way I haven't been in a long time.  It was painful, is painful, but it has been the thing I needed to see how much God has poured out and LAVISHED His love on me.  It had been a faulty definition of love that I that I was using to define His character.  But this is love: He loves me because He loves me.  It's nothing in me.  No merit or deserving aspect of love.  Grace is by definition undeserved.  Grasping this concept anew has drastically changed my heart.  I feel like I am drinking in His Word like a woman dying of thirst in the desert,  and I'm clinging to the assurance of my salvation--this amazing, undeserved, grace-infused salvation--for dear life.  

I can only sit here now and allow tears of thankfulness to drip down my cheeks....the Lord, even in my sinful anger,  poured out grace upon grace

 :::::

I tried several times to write a post to let you know I'm still alive, but I couldn't get out more than a sentence or two before knowing I wasn't ready.  I feel like I'm in a better place now, so I hope to get back to more regular posting.  I was recently contacted about doing a book review for an author who has experienced infertility, so look for that the first week of November.  Thanks for the emails sent to me over the past two months!  I am so sorry I haven't been up to replying.  Maybe I can get back to that soon.  

If you're interested in walking through the book of Romans, I can't recommend my husband's sermons enough.  He is an expository preacher, so if you're not accustomed to that, I think you'll benefit greatly from this type of verse-by-verse exposition.  You can read his manuscripts, but the audio versions are much better.  




There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons  of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 8~

Friday, September 3, 2010

::results::

The more I think about it, the more okay I am with the results I got today.  At first, I was disappointed, but now I think I should be thankful that the situation isn't worse.


The mass on the ovary is still there, and is still measuring 2 cm which is good because that means in two months it has not grown.  Additionally, there was some kind of fluid or something surrounding the mass two months ago that is not there anymore.  This is also really good. My doctor was more concerned two months ago than she is now that that fluid has disappeared.  There is no way for her to know 100% that this mass is not cancerous unless she is holding my ovary in her hands (no thanks), but she really doesn't think it that it is.  Given my health history, my symptoms, my blood tests, and my history of an ovarian endometrioma, it is pretty safe to say that my endometriosis is just a repeat offender. 

Our options include re-evaluating in 4 months or surgically removing the tumor.  My doctor doesn't recommend surgery at this point because of the lack of growth and because the risks involved in surgery which could not only cost what little fertility I have left but could also throw me into menopause (if the ovary is compromised during surgery)--in other words, I obviously don't have a third ovary to fall back on if something goes wrong with this one during surgery.  I don't want to take that risk just yet.  We opted for the 4 month re-evaluation.

Seeing as how the tumor did improve in appearance, I am more determined than ever to pray for its disappearance by January.  :)  In my doctor's words, "Endometriomas never go away. You have to remove them."  How I would love, for so many reasons, to go in for my ultrasound in January and see absolutely nothing growing on my ovary.  I definitely can't say that God will do that, but there is certainly nothing wrong with praying that He might, right?  In addition to that, though, I want to pray that this whole situation somehow brings Him glory and/or conforms me more into the image of Christ. 

Now that I've given you the update on the ovary, on to the next order of business: my uterus.  Apparently, I have a thickened endometrial lining (uterus lining), but my doctor isn't sure why.  It could have something to do with where I am in my cycle (CD 22) or just a fluke altogether, but when I start a new cycle, I have to have another ultrasound just to make sure the lining is back to the proper thickness (no charge for this one--thanks, Doc!).  If it's not, I will need to have a D&C to get it back to normal.  (If you're counting, between July and January, I will have had FOUR ultrasounds.  I'm pretty sure my insurance is not covering all of these.)

If by January the mass hasn't grown, then my doctor feels we can continue with our IF (re)testing (HSG, SA, etc.).
At this point, I'm not sure if I even want to continue.  It feels like too much.
Am I borrowing trouble?  Should I just leave it alone?  Is it selfish to pursue this and sink more money into it?  I don't know.  Just when I think I'm ready to move past my desire to conceive, I see about a million pregnancy announcements or bump into a dozen glowing women blessed with a baby belly and it just crushes me.  Will I ever be able to walk away from this desire?  Should we pursue adoption again instead, knowing that the need for families is great in some areas?
I need some more time to think about it, which is fine since I can't really do anything until January anyway. 

As far as today's appointment, though, I'm really thankful that the mass hasn't grown.  That's a huge blessing.


P.S. Whatever you do, please do NOT google "thick uterine lining" and then tell me all about it as it will point you to the big C word and I just don't need to think about that right now.  Just sayin'.

::evaluation::

Today we'll find out if my ovarian tumor has grown or if, as we have hoped and prayed, it is gone. 
It is hard not to be afraid, but at the same time comforting to know that the Lord is good regardless of the outcome.

I covet your prayers, and I will update later today.  To those of you who have emailed recently, I apologize for not responding yet.  I do so appreciate your kind words and encouragement. 

-glenna-

Saturday, August 21, 2010

::two steps back::

Aside from the fact that I have this endometrioma thing going on, I am now about 99.99% sure that my endometriosis is back and taking over.  I have not felt well.  Old symptoms have been cropping up.


I'm thinking about scheduling an appointment with a doctor in Tennessee who uses NaProTechnology with the Creighton model.  I don't really know enough about it to explain it, so for those of you who are as unfamiliar with it as I am, maybe you'll keep reading as I learn about it.  The doctor in question is not deterred by our situation, apparently. 

I've got an ultrasound scheduled on September 3rd with my OBGYN to re-evaluate my ovary, but doing any further testing is entirely up to me.  I think at that point it could be a good time to set up a consultation with the NaPro guy.


I'm so frustrated by this disease.  Nobody can tell you WHY you get it, therefore there is no real way to prevent it.  The best way to slow the growth is to get pregnant, but duh--that's the whole issue: I.can't.get.pregnant!  We also have male factor infertility, so I just feel like we're stuck between a rock and a hard place.  On the one hand, even if I can't get pregnant, I still don't want to lose my other ovary to this disease.

Just feeling frustrated by infertility these days.

I had a day about a week ago where I absolutely fell apart.  We had prayed so much over the past month.  So when my cycle started as usual, it just crushed me.  I still don't know why I feel so affected by something that has plagued us for over six years.  I kept apologizing to my husband while I sobbed into his polo shirt.  He, ever patient and loving, just held me and told me to stop apologizing, that it is perfectly understandable to be sad, that we both had hoped and prayed so much.  I laid in his arms, stretched out across the couch and just wept uncontrollably.  I really can't explain why I felt so...bereft.

The silver lining in all of this was the little person who kept leaning over me on the couch and saying, "Mommy?" in a tiny, uncertain voice while smothering me with kisses and patting my shoulder.  He would then do something silly, hoping I would laugh.  Which I did, even with tears running down my cheeks.  It was good medicine.

The Lord is good to remind me that He has blessed me beyond belief.  

I wish I had something more encouraging to write, but my heart is struggling these days so I don't want to pretend all is well.  I mean, all is well considering how things could be.  But my emotions are a bit out of sorts, and I'm back in the school of trust, praying that the Lord would forgive my unbelief.  Not that I believe He has promised me more children--He makes no such promises in His Word.  But, rather, praying that He would imprint on my mind that He is sovereign and good, faithful to do what will bring Him glory, faithful to sanctify me in the times of struggle.

Oh, may He keep me faithful.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

::what? no blogging?::

Just a quick post to explain my absence (other than the fact that there is absolutely NOTHING going on regarding infertility....still waiting for September to roll around so my endometrioma can be reexamined for growth/change).  I've had a virus on my computer, which I believe is finally gone, but I am having some issues with my laptop overheating.  It could be that the fan is broken on it, but whatever the case may be, I only have a few minutes to use it before it shuts down on me without any notice.  So far, my limited activity online has been used to pay bills and back up my files.  The only way I can keep it running is if I set it directly on to an air vent with the A/C blasting so that my PC doesn't overheat and thereby shut itself off.  It's not easy to blog while lying on the cold tile floor, so....there you have it.

At any rate, there is nothing to report so it's not like you're missing anything.  :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

::results::

My results came in (about a week earlier than I expected!) and all are normal...no threat of cancer!  My heart is overflowing with gratitude.  The Lord is gracious.


Now we just wait two months and repeat the ultrasound to check the growth of what we now are confident is an endometrioma.  I'm not sure what the next step after that will be.


Thank you so much for praying, but I ask you to continue to pray that the mass disappears altogether and that the Lord would bless us with conception instead.

The Lord be praised!
-glenna-

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

::we should get our own waiting room::

I went in this morning for blood work.  It was a ho-hum appointment, for the most part.  The lab tech gave me the list of tests they were running, and it sounded about as vague and code-like as anything I've ever heard.  And then she said oh, yeah, and the CA5T122SGASAG, that one can take several days to come back, you know?  Umm....yeah. Sure.  I love it when medical professionals treat me like a colleague.  :-P
(Okay, so I made up that string of numbers and letters but it was something like that!)

What I find really hard about having all these appointments so close together is that each time I am inevitably seated in a waiting room with a plethora of the types of women I try to avoid.  You know, pregnant ones.   It's like a pregnant woman watering hole.  And of course, if you're pregnant--especially in the later months--you have to come in for a lot of check-ups, so I totally get the reason for the room full of preggos, but I am not exaggerating when I say that except for me and two elderly ladies, every other woman in that waiting room was pregnant.  Visibly pregnant.  There were at least a dozen.  Infertiles should get their own waiting room, don't you think?  ;-)

When I was settling up with one of the receptionists (who had stepped out to figure out how much I owed them for the blood-letting today), I could hear another woman in the cubicle next to me as she gave her information.  That receptionist's voice carried (which is, I'm sure, a HIPPA violation) and I heard her: Okay, you're a new OB patient.  Where do you plan to deliver?  This hospital?  Okay, great.  Now, do you have a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting?  No, well wait a sec and I'll just grab you a copy....
I could hear the mother-to-be's excited replies.  I looked down at the cotton ball taped to the inside of my arm to see the proof that they are trying to rule out cancer, and felt depressed.   I swallowed the huge lump in my throat, blinked away the burning sensation in my eyes, and sat up straighter.  I will not cry.  I will not cry.  I will not cry. 

Later, as I sipped a Venti Caramel Macchiato (because, nothing says comfort like an enormous cup of coffee mixed with sugar!) and drove around running some errands, the feeling of despair ebbed.  I did what my pastor-husband often encourages our church family to do:  I preached the Gospel to myself.  Because, all joking aside, nothing comforts us like the Truth.  If the tests come back and I have cancer, or the tests come back and show that my ovary needs to come out thus permanently robbing me of what little fertility I have left, the Truth is that I am free.  I have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, bought with a price, rescued from my sin and my former master, the evil one.  God blessed me a million times over when He adopted me as His daughter.  With that knowledge, I feel that I can face this unknown path and walk steadily.  I do not walk it alone. 

I am still praying for complete healing and also pregnancy, so I covet your prayers for those things.  I want to get a call from the doctor's office saying that my blood tests showed there was nothing wrong with me and that when they repeat the ultrasound, they find no tumor.  That perhaps, they would find life instead.  And until I hear something different, that is how I am praying.  If the outcome is different, then I know the Lord will give me grace enough for that. 

It will be a week or so before I know any of the results from my tests.  The next step will be determined by those results.
Thank you for your prayers.

-glenna-

Friday, July 2, 2010

::it is what it is::

It's not great, but I guess it could be a whole lot worse.

The reason for the delay in my ultrasound results: my doctor was in some sort of accident and broke her hip and several ribs!!!   She's laid up at home, but is signing off on results, so the nurse was able to get a message to her to review my case.  I so appreciate her effort when I'm sure she feels terrible.  Wow.

So, from my ultrasound she found a cystic lesion, which isn't very concerning.  But, there is also another mass.  Given my history, it is most likely an endometrioma.  Not huge, but it's there.  However, whenever you find a mass, you have to rule out cancer, so I have bloodwork done on Tuesday.  If those results fall within normal limits, we will wait for two months, repeat the ultrasound and see if it has grown or not.  I'm not sure what comes after that.  If it grows...I guess they try to remove it?  That's what's scary--surgery which could possibly result in the loss of my only ovary.  My understanding is, if it hasn't grown, then we proceed with IF treatments.  I decided to hold off on the HSG until we figure out what's going on with this mass (which I shall hereafter refer to as the "stupid tumor" in loving memory of the tumor that took my right ovary).  I mean, why pay $1,000 out of pocket to do the HSG if the stupid tumor could end my fertility treatments altogether?

It's all a bit...unsettling.  I feel relieved that the mass is not so large that they feel it must come out now--like the last time.  I also feel relieved that I do not seem symptomatic like last time, either.  No bloating, mid-cycle spotting, or long cycles.  I feel like that ovary is working, but I am thinking of buying some OPK's to see if I get a positive next month. 

But there's always that minute chance it could be cancerous that makes it all feel a bit surreal.  I'm fairly confident that it is another endometrioma, especially since my surgery two years ago showed that I did have some spots of endometriosis on that ovary.  But still.  Unsettling.

If the bloodwork seems normal, then I guess we just wait the two months and keep trying the good old-fashioned way.  I was just saying to my husband on the phone..."For so many years, we thought our infertility was just male-related.  But now we can say confidently that my body is just as jacked up as yours."  Oh, yes, we are eloquent when referring to our stupid malfunctioning reproductive systems.  I soooo want to blame Eve on this one. 

But honestly, I want to cry. 

And I will....but not before asking you all to pray that God would be pleased to heal my body.  I believe He can do it, I just pray that it would be a part of His plan to do so.  Or....that we could get pregnant while we wait.    And pray that throughout this waiting game, my heart would be steadfast, my faith firmly entrenched in the love of Christ.  That I would be able to say whatever the outcome: It is well. 

So...until next week.

-glenna-

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

::waaaaiiitttingg::

ETA: Thursday, 10:10 am.  No word yet.  I guess if it were serious someone would have called me?

I called the nurse yesterday just to *see* if I could get someone to talk to me.  She said that she wasn't sure when Dr. C would be back in the office, but that she had her laptop with her so she should be able to review my u/s even if she's out.  She will call me after reviewing my films. It was pretty open ended....might be today, might not.

Being up all night with a sick child has served as a good distraction for this waiting time!  I appreciate so many people praying for me...all the texts, comments, emails, and phone calls have been a blessing.  I feel full of peace this morning.

The Lord is good.

Monday, June 28, 2010

::as my mom would say, "you can't read ultrasounds!"::

From the ends of the earth I call to you, 
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
                   Psalm 61:2


In the name of holding it together, I'll start at the beginning.  I need to laugh to keep from crying, seeing as how I'm an emotional basket-case today.

My two year old has been sick all weekend.  He has had fever and what I think is a sore throat, screaming fits when he eats or drinks anything (throat? ears? two year molars?), and was up every hour on the hour last night.  After a really long day yesterday, I was exhausted.  But, motherhood doesn't really get eight hours off every night.  So I was up and down with my son all night, and yet he was surprisingly chipper at seven a.m. while I was still barely coherent after a very large cup of coffee.  Hmmmm...how does he do it?! 

My ultrasound appointment was at 9:20 and since I live a good 35 minutes from my doctor's office, I planned on drinking my 32 oz. of water on the way there.  I went to the bathroom about 20 minutes before I left my house, per their instructions.  By the time I parked at the doctor's office 55 minutes later, I was barely able to stand up straight.  I have some endometriosis growing on my bladder, so I am going to just use that as an excuse for the agonizing pain I was in.  I don't know that that has any affect on whether I can "hold it" or not, but if I'm going to have the disease, I soooo going to use the endometriosis card if I have to.

My doctor's office is on the third floor of a medical building.  I hobbled through the parking lot and waited for the elevator, all the while thinking, "What if the elevator gets stuck?  I'm going to explode in like five minutes!!"  I wondered how inappropriate it would be for me to unbutton my pants...I was wearing a tunic-like shirt, so surely nobody would notice....   I refrained.

I signed in at the desk, and stood behind another patient so I could give them my co-pay.  The receptionist told me to take a seat and she'd call me up in a few minutes to get checked in.

Was she SERIOUS!?!?!?    A few minutes?  With a half a gallon of water in my system?

I sat down.  I waited a full three minutes before running to the restroom to just take the edge off.

I came back and tried to read the book I had brought with me.  I vacillated between Kate Jacob's Comfort Food and Kelly Ripa's annoying voice on the waiting room TV screen.
My feet were both tapping the floor.
I noticed I kept nervously wringing my hands.
A few more minutes went by.
I started sweating.
I jumped up from my seat and pretended to peruse the rack of pamphlets on menopause.  I took a random pamphlet and began fanning my face.
Then I started pacing in front of the front desk.  I glanced at their clock....it was five minutes past my appointment time (plus I had been about 15 minutes early).
I watched one of the receptionists dial and start speaking in hushed tones.  Then she called me to her desk to tell me the ultrasound tech had to work in another patient ahead of me.  It would be about 15-20 more minutes. 
I'm giving you permission to laugh when I tell you I teared up!!

"I'm not going to make it!" I screeched.  She gave me permission to go "empty" a little, but not much.  I did, almost knocking down all the pregnant women streaming in for their appointments.  Oh, the irony.
I was in so much pain I couldn't stand up straight.  (Why do people not complain about ultrasound appointments more?? Is it because there's usually a baby on the screen to take your mind off the insane amount of pressure you're feeling down there???)
I texted my mom: "I'm at my u/s appt and they worked someone in ahead of me.  I'm about to DIE!!!  Distract me!"  

I reseated myself and was able to read for a few more minutes. Finally, the u/s tech called me back, apologizing all the way.  It was over 30 minutes past my appointment time.  But, I can't ever yell at anyone or be snippy...it's just not me.  So, I laughed nervously and said, "It's okay," which of course, it wasn't.  But she was really nice.

So, I hopped on the table for the tummy portion of the u/s.  As soon as she got my insides on the screen she said, "Wow, girl!  You have to be about ready to smack me right now!!"  I said something to the effect of, "Well, my main goal right now is to not pee on your table."  To her credit she finished up that portion of the u/s quickly.  Then, I was as good as new.

And that's the end of the humorous portion of this post.

I'm lying on the table watching the screen mounted on the wall while she takes pictures and measures what I'm hoping against hope are just normal organs and not growths, masses, adhesions, or fibroids.  But, I catch a glimpse of something she's measuring in my uterus.  Adhesion?  Fibroid?  And then she moves on to my ovary, which I can tell is an ovary because of the words "LONG  LOV" typed underneath...my left ovary, right? I can also see what I imagine to be the fallopian tube.  And then there is lots of measuring and pictures and weird angles on the screen and in my mind I am back in the same spot I was in two years ago when a huge mass was discovered on my now non-existent right ovary.  My mind is racing with possibilities.  Is it another endometrioma? Wouldn't I have symptoms if it were another endometrioma? Is my ovary doomed? If so, I'm officially done.  It will be the end of the road for us.
So, on and on I go, self-diagnosing.  After the tech finishes and I get changed, she asks if I have a follow-up appointment scheduled or was this all I had planned today.  I tell her it was just the u/s, which she says is unusual since usually there is a follow-up.  My doctor is out of the office until Wednesday, so she tells me to call to talk to my doctor Wednesday morning.  I know the tech can't tell me anything, but I am trying really hard to read into what she is saying.  Is that pity on her face?  Does she know if it's pointless to do anything further?

I leave with plans to call my doctor Wednesday morning.  That's it.

I called my husband from the elevator and promptly burst into tears.  I just couldn't shake the fear of a bad diagnosis.  He was comforting and ever the logical one, told me not to get upset yet....we won't know anything until Wednesday.  He is right, of course.  I can hear my son wailing in the background.  I feel like joining him.  Once I was in my car, I called my mom and then of course burst into tears again at the sound of her voice.  "You've gone in your mind to what the worst could be.  So, just go there and think about what the worst could be and realize that even the worst is still God's good plan for you. And then remember--you can't read ultrasounds!"  I laughed even while I was sobbing into the phone.  I probably sounded hysterical.

I needed to run a few errands while in Cape, so I found myself wandering through Hobby Lobby looking for some circular knitting needles, while hearing a familiar hymn piped in through the sound system.  I fought tears while poking through skeins of yarn and the aisle of needles.  I then stopped at Starbucks because, well...do I really need a reason to stop at Starbucks? No.  I realized I hadn't eaten all day, but the thought of food was a little nauseating, so I drowned my sorrows in a grande non-fat Caramel Macchiato. 

I texted two close friends and asked them to pray for me because I simply felt paralyzed by fear.  I can't explain how fearful I felt. I did what my mom said...I went there in my mind.  What is the worst case scenario here?  Here's what feels like the worst case scenario at this point: my only ovary is ensconced in an endometrioma and it has to come out, which would leave me permanently barren.  Okay.  I cry.  I wonder how I will get past that, I wonder how I will ever recover....I let my mind consider it, but all the while knowing that Christ is my Rock.  HE is how I will get past it.  He is with me.  Scripture passages come to mind.

As I drove down the interstate, I listened to Kari Jobe belt out the words to "You are Still Holy" and my fear began to melt away. I wept and prayed and worshiped.
I am truly afraid of what I might hear Wednesday, and I feel the need to brace myself for the worst, but even so....my heart feels deeply entrenched in the love of Christ.  My life cannot be so shaken as to shatter His grip on me.  His grip is firm, His truth real, His love deep.  And all that has been in my life up to now belongs to Him.  He is holy.

"You Are Still Holy"

Holy, You are still holy

Even when the darkness surrounds my life
Sovereign, You are still sovereign
Even when confusion has blinded my eyes
Lord I don't deserve Your kind affection
When my unbelief has kept me from Your touch
I want my life to be a pure reflection of Your love

And so I come into Your chambers
And I dance at Your feet Lord
You are my Savior and I'm at Your mercy
All that has been in my life up to now
Belongs to You, for You are still holy




Holy, You are still holy
Even when I don't understand Your ways
Sovereign, You are still sovereign
Even when my circumstances don't change
And Lord, I don't deserve Your tender patience
When my unbelief has kept from from your touch
I want my life to be a pure devotion...to You
And so I come into Your chambers
And I dance at Your feet Lord
You are my Savior and I'm at Your mercy
All that has been in my life up to now
Belongs to You, for You are still holy



I'll update as soon as I know something on Wednesday.  Please pray that I would not be overcome by fear, but that the Lord would use all of this to make me more like Him.

-glenna-

Sunday, June 27, 2010

::u/s tomorrow::

And so it all begins. 
I'm *pretty* sure it's just an appointment with the ultrasound tech, but if they find anything, I guess I'll see my doctor afterwards.  Praying against any more endometriomas!! 

-glenna-

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

::back in the saddle again::

Or stirrups, to be quite literal.

I've sort of been holding out on you, so here goes.



(We are diving back into fertility treatments.)

There. I said it.  It's out.

And it makes me nervous.

I have mixed emotions about it, but obviously it's something I want to try seeing as how I did make an appointment and then actually went to the appointment. I'm happy about moving in this direction, but I'm a little nervous about feeling happy about it.  (I'm well aware that that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.) 

So, what are we doing?  Well, the only procedure we are comfortable with is IUI at this point in time.  Now, given our fertility challenges, IUI does not have the best odds for a couple in our predicament.  Buuuutttt....we still feel that if we are ever going to try it, now feels like the best time to do it.

Long time readers may remember the summer three years ago when we tried to do an IUI, but I never responded to the Clomid.  A year later we found a massive endometrioma growing on my right ovary which explained a lot.  Oh yeah, and a ton of endometriosis to boot.  So, it's been almost 2 years since I had the surgery to remove my ovary and all the endo. Since then I've had (for the first time in my adult life) textbook 28 day cycles.  This encourages me that my one remaining ovary is doing her job just fine, thanks.  The male factor infertility isn't great to work with, and honestly there aren't a ton of options for that, but we feel encouraged to try the IUI anyway.  My husband and I have prayed and talked and prayed and talked about this.  We just feel that right now is a good time to at least give it a shot. 

Allow the crazy lady a caveat for a moment: This doesn't mean that we aren't going to pursue adoption again or that we wish we had done this sooner.  It in no way negates how deeply grateful we are for our son.  Seriously, people, this kid is a part of our hearts.  I can't even articulate how much we love him.  I know I'm belaboring this, but I want to be clear from the outset that it isn't that he isn't enough or anything like that.  It isn't that we don't feel complete until we have a biological child.  I think it just boils down to the same reason many other couples decide to have a second child...because they view children as a blessing and love their one child so much they can't wait to have another one.  Having to jump hurdles to get to that second child doesn't mean we shouldn't get to try to have one, right? We know that pursuing adoption isn't what is on the agenda for us today.  Tomorrow, it might be.  Or not.  We have no idea what the Lord has planned for our lives or which children, if any, are included in that plan.  I do think we'll pursue adoption again later.  I don't think we're done there yet.  :)

So, for now, we just take a step in the direction we feel led to walk in.  And then we'll take another step.  And then another. And we'll see. 


Now...on to the plan.

Because it has been a few years since we've had any reproductive assistance, we have to update all of our testing, especially since I've had surgery in the last two years.  I'm little overwhelmed at doing this all again, but oh well.  It is what it is. 
So here's a quick run down of what's coming up:
*Next Monday I have an ultrasound scheduled to look for any abnormalities (I'll admit it...I really nervous about this.  If you don't remember, a routine ultrasound is where my tumor was discovered.  I'm just nervous about what they might find.  I am currently very angry at my stupid reproductive system for being so accommodating to things like adhesions, endometriosis, and endometriomas.)
*Se.men anaylsis.  Humiliation, party of two?  Right this way, please.  It will be like the 5th time we've done this, but still.  Stirrups are preferable, in my opinion. 
*Extensive bloodwork on the 3rd day of my next cycle, which is roughly in about 3.5 weeks, per my calculation.
*Hysterosalpingogram (it's been 4 years since I had this done) on day ten of my next cycle.
****Then, a meeting with my doctor to discuss all results.  If she feels like this is something she would like to do, then we will schedule the IUI.  Otherwise, she will send us to a colleague in St. Louis whom she highly recommends.  I'm curious as to whether her colleague will think an IUI is pointless.  We will make it clear up front that that is all we are interested in pursuing right now.


So.  There you have it.  A flurry of events that will likely suck me into a mode of anxiety that I am desperately trying to avoid.
The good news?
(photo courtesy of lauren athalia)

The good news is the little embodiment of joy napping in his room upstairs right now. Knowing that God has already blessed me beyond belief will save my sanity!  I will not fall into desperation because I know I have been redeemed, rescued, and then given grace upon grace. If all of these efforts fail, then I am praying the Lord would use the disappointment to teach me that I am deeply rooted in Him.  If they succeed....well, then, I can't really even comprehend how that will feel!

I covet your prayers as we embark on this journey yet again.  Please bear with me as I plan to blog throughout the process in order to keep my perspective.  Plus, I thought you might enjoy the show.  :)

So, until Monday....

-glenna-

And P.S., if you think I sound pessimistic about the whole thing, just know it's a defense mechanism.  It's my way of being cautiously excited.  Seventy-five failed attempts at getting pregnant will do that to a person.  ;)   I really am ready to get this ball rolling!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

::trippy email::

I'm pretty sure my email account somehow marked some emails as spam that weren't spam...and me thinking they were spam...well, I hit the delete button of course just before seeing the word "adoption" in the subject line.

If you recently sent me an email regarding adoption, please resend it! 

:::
Not much to write about here.  I had really hoped I was pregnant this month.  Turned out to be a G. I. issue instead.  
Anyway.
Moving on.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

::the big pretender::

I can't help it.  Mother's Day still feels weird to me. 

[I keep going back and forth about putting this post up and I'm not sure why.]

I feel like people are acknowledging that I'm a mom because of the almost-two-year-old attached to my hip.  But I feel like it's a consolation prize sort of acknowledgment...not because people don't really think I'm a mom, but because even after two years I still sometimes don't feel like a mom.  If that isn't the most backward thinking, I don't know what it is.  In my head, I picture the thoughts of others as they see me with my obviously adopted son. 
Do I still meet the standard of "mom"? 
Would this feeling go away if I miraculously got pregnant? 
Will it feel this way until I have as many Mother's Days under my belt as a mom as I did before I became one? 
Are all infertiles indelibly scarred with a raw, unnameable emotion surrounding this holiday?
:::
I have to remind myself that this is no game.  I am a mother, even though I came about it through adoption and not birth.  Just because I don't feel worthy of the title doesn't make me less a title-holder. 
I enjoy being loved on by my husband and son on Mother's Day, but I still feel like a huge tangle of emotions I can't quite describe. 

And I guess for that reason, both last year and this year--I didn't anticipate the day like I thought I would. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

::but who's counting?::

Last week we officially hit the six year mark.  I know it doesn't really do me any good to keep counting up the years that we've been infertile, but I can't seem to help it. 

Surprisingly, even though I started a new cycle just as we hit that mark last week, it wasn't as discouraging as some of the other "anniversaries" have been in the past.  I remember being much more emotional around the first, second, and third year marks, easily spiraling into depression with each flip of the calendar.   It seemed to be the only thing I could think about, the thing that was defining my life.  I lived my life in two week increments.  With each failed cycle, with each passing month and then year, I felt like infertility was going to define the rest of my life, too.

Lately, I find myself not as much at odds with my infertility as I used to be.  Whereas it used to feel like I was wearing a choke collar with a vise-like grip, it now feels like an oddly comfortable, tattered t-shirt--something I wear not because I love it, but because I've been wearing it so long that it feels normal, familiar.  I would gladly take it off and wad it up, but instead of throwing it away I think I'd keep it somewhere close just so I can remember how God has used this form of pain in my life for my good and, hopefully, for His glory.  My husband was preaching yesterday, and he hit the topic of suffering in his walk through Zechariah 12-13.  One of the things that he said weighed on me with a fierce poignancy. Don't ask why you are suffering.  Scripture tells us that--it's to make you more like Jesus Christ.  Being conformed into His image will take you down the path of suffering.  Rather, ask how this suffering can be used to make you more like Christ. 

My husband is never a "three points and a poem" kind of preacher, but every so often he will read off some song lyrics that are heavy with good theology.  When he read this song by John Newton (author of "Amazing Grace")  I found my heart welling up with gratitude that God would use something in me to conform me to the image of His Son, even infertility.  Tears coursed down my cheeks as I listened to these words:


“I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow”
(John Newton, 1725-1807)
I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

If you've asked the Lord for growth and grace, then don't be surprised at the suffering you may endure (James 1:2-4).  And while infertility seems like such a small wound when compared to the physical suffering of saints around the world, don't discount it.  The Lord CAN use this to make you more like Jesus.  That is certainly what I desire for myself.

I've been listening to David Platt's "Radical" series, and I have to say, it is one more way that the Lord has opened my eyes to my small view of the Gospel and of God.  I urge you--don't let your life be defined by infertility.  Instead, be known by how Christ is seen in your life and in your sufferings.  Remember that our time here is so short and we are here to make Him known.  If God uses infertility in your life to point you to Christ, then rejoice that He is at work in you!  You can hurt and rejoice at the same time.  This is what I have learned in six years.  You can hurt and rejoice at the same time.  God is faithful and sovereign, and He is at work for the good of those He has called to Himself. 

-glenna-