Saturday, September 17, 2011

::end of the road::

The other night I dreamed I had newborn twins.  A boy and a girl.

I was relaying the dream to my husband the next morning while we were lounging in bed, during those moments when you are just enough awake to describe your dream in detail before you forget it completely with the sound of your alarm and the warmth of your shower.  I laughed as I described how my mom kept dressing the boy twin in an Woody costume from Toy Story. 
My husband laughed, too, and then asked if the babies were biological or adopted.

"I don't know," I said. "It didn't seem to matter in the dream."

And honestly, that "not mattering" seems to be true for my life these past six months or so.  I do not know what has happened to me, what has caused my deep longing for biological children to ease and even dissipate a little. 
A year ago my emotions were in shambles, and I walked around with a heart that felt shredded and exposed.  In vain I tried to put the scraps of flesh back together until I realized it just felt better to live in my pain. 
And I did. 
Wallowed would probably be a more fitting term. 
It was a hard, crippling time for me.  I felt paralyzed by my unfulfilled desires.  I was almost too depressed to be angry about that.  At the time my husband was preaching through the book of Romans, and as I grappled with my crisis of faith, it was the hard truth of God's sovereignty that both wounded and healed my heart.  How like God to use a difficult doctrine to teach me about His love for me. 

As time crept by, the attempts at patching up my heart fell to the wayside as the Word of God healed me permanently.  Months slipped by before I realized that the nearly constant pain of my infertility had...well, stopped.  I remember looking at the calendar sometime in June and thinking, "This hasn't bothered me in months.  What's happened to me?"  

I think it's a number of things.  I think God has provided some miraculous healing to my heart, but I also think He has used time to ease the perpetual ache.  His Word has rebuked, corrected, wounded, and bound up my heart with healing.  And God has used adoption to teach me that I can love a child not of my womb more than I thought was humanly possible.  He has taught me that perhaps the very purpose of our infertilty can be seen in the faces of our son and our future Ethiopian blessing. 

A couple of weeks ago, my husband read Psalm 127 during our call to worship at the beginning of corporate worship.  I used to read that Psalm and weep.  Why could we not have a reward or heritage?  Even after our son came to us, I felt like we were exempt from that Psalm.  But, it dawned on me a few weeks ago, that although our son wasn't the fruit of my womb, he was still of somebody's womb and because he is our son, he is our heritage and reward, our blessing.  And so will our next child be.  (Maybe that's poor interpretation...I hope not.)

And so I come to what feels like the end of a road. I don't know what to say about infertility anymore.  It is still a part of my life--I expect it always will be.  But I don't harbor any hope for conceiving anymore. It feels like a far-off dream that I can't describe in great detail anymore because the pain that was necessary for its description feels nearly as far-off.

Instead of infertility characterizing my life like it has for nearly eight years, I feel like I am moving on to a new phase of characterization.  I hope it's something full of joy. 
I know I will still have difficult, awkward moments when someone else's pregnancy causes that band of longing to squeeze painfully around my heart.  I know hospital visits to new mothers with new babies will be touched with the faint reminder that I am unlikely to find myself in their position.  But I am tired of living my life in the shadow of embracing what God has blessed me with. 

It is time to move on. 
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

::thankful::

I am so blessed and thankful to be his mommy. 



I so appreciated my pastor-husband's prayer this morning at church as he prayed for women who long to be mothers, women who have lost mothers, and women who simply are mothers.  This day can be hard for women in all seasons of life. 
I've prayed for many of you with this in mind.

-glenna-

Friday, May 6, 2011

::remember the infertile on mother's day::

I thought this was very thoughtful post (yet again by Russell Moore!):
http://www.russellmoore.com/2011/05/05/remember-the-infertile-on-mothers-day/


Also another good one from Justin Taylor:
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/05/06/infertility-and-mothers-day/


Mother's Day (and Father's Day) can be hard for all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

::a rarely addressed topic: sin & infertility::

Dr. Russell Moore (author of Adopted for Life) speaks on the topics of adoption and infertility on the following interviews with Family Life.  I listened to the one titled "Grappling with Infertility" and part of "Embracing Adoption" while out jogging early this morning, and I was both encouraged and convicted.

Dr. Moore addresses some of the same topics that he writes about in his book, but he also touches a little more on the areas of sin that many infertile people struggle with--areas of sin that no one will call them out for because they feel sorry for their infertile friends.  I found this to be so interesting because the sin of bitterness, resentment, and anger were ones I've struggled with on and off for years, but especially during the first two years of our infertility.

Thankfully, I did have a dear friend who dared to call me out for the bitterness growing in my heart after it became apparent that I couldn't get pregnant.  It was about six years ago that she met me at a coffee shop, armed with books and a look of determination.  She talked long and hard to me about the areas of sin she saw taking root in me--because she loved me and didn't want to see me totally captive to my sin simply because I couldn't get pregnant.  I am so thankful she had the gumption and conviction to do such a thing.  It hurt at the time, but it was a wounding I needed. 

Throughout the seven years that we have been infertile, I have gone back and forth with my emotions and reactions to our inability to conceive.  After listening to my husband's sermon on Sunday and hearing Dr. Moore's thoughts on this subject (both in his book Adopted for Life and the audio files I am recommending to you), it became clear to me that even though I had confessed my areas of sin to the Lord over and over, I never really repented of this feeling of entitlement--that I had a right to either conceive or at least know why He wouldn't allow us to conceive.  I have felt really humbled in this area.  And saddened by my lack of trust in the Lord because I didn't get my way. 

I'm not writing this to make any of my infertile friends feel guilty for how much they hurt over their infertility.
It does hurt, sister.  
It's not wrong to desire to become pregnant. 

But it is wrong to demand it, to shake your fist at the Lord when you get negative test after negative test, and it's wrong to let bitterness and resentment towards all your fertile friends take root and grow in your heart.
I am speaking from some ugly experience here.

Aside from the Lord, my husband is my greatest witness as to how the enemy has used infertility to gain a foothold into my heart.  At times, my anger and unbelief seemed greater than my faith and trust in the Lord's sovereignty.  Those are scary days.

But--praise God that He is stronger, greater, and more able than the enemy or my own heart!  He has taken this hard thing and used it to humble me, to rebuke me, to both wound and heal me. Again and again.

Be encouraged....the Lord's grace is sufficient for you.

Monday, May 2, 2011

::do you trust God when you cannot see the whole picture?::

My husband's sermon on the Job 1:1-2:10 made me really think about how I have handled certain hardships in my life.  While it's nothing compared to the trials Job endured, I felt so much conviction for my choosing not to "suffer well," for demanding answers from a God who sure doesn't owe me any answers.  
I hope you'll take a listen

Thursday, April 7, 2011

::Adopted for Life Giveaway::

We're giving away a copy of Russell Moore's book Adopted for Life on our family blog.  Even if you're still working through your infertility and don't think adoption is in the cards for you, this book is still a great encouragement as Dr. Moore unpacks the spiritual adoption of Christians into the family of God.  I can't recommend this book enough.  :)

Hop on over to enter!

Friday, March 18, 2011

::surgery update::

Feeling a little tired and a little too dopey to say much here, so I'm just going to copy a post from our family blog.  I'll be back in a few days to say more, but for now this is all I've got.  :)

::thankful::
Just a quick post to update on my surgery.

My doctor was able to excise the tumor without damaging the ovary, which was our biggest concern.  There wasn't as much endometriosis as suspected, so surgery was much quicker than we thought it would be.    We are so thankful for this outcome--everything seems to have gone very well.  I had to stay at the hospital for much of the day because I don't do well under anesthesia.  My blood pressure runs low, and I set off alarms all day long because we couldn't get it up.  After a lot of sleep, pain, and nausea, I finally started responding to some anti-nausea meds in my IV, and was able to leave shortly after.

I am feeling okay today, just super sore and doped up, of course.  The worst pain I've had has been severe shoulder pain, which is a side effect of the gas they put in my abdominal  cavity so the robot can do its thing during surgery.  I also feel like I've done about 2,000 sit-ups. Sore.


Overall, though, this morning I am feeling better (at least for now), and am so thankful the Lord has spared my ovary in this surgery.

I am feeling a little fuzzy around the edges...and I might look back at this post and wonder how I was able to string any words together...it's probably not a good idea to be writing while medicated.  But, I wanted everyone to know we are doing well, and I so appreciate all the phone calls, texts, emails, meals, flowers, and prayers.

I feel so very blessed.

Monday, February 28, 2011

::peace that passes my understanding::

Where to begin?


I finally went in for my follow-up ultrasound this morning.  We have prayed and prayed and hoped and hoped, and even though my stomach was a ball of nerves this morning, I felt more peace than I expected to.  I texted a bunch of friends and had them all praying for me, and I can't quite explain the peace that filled my soul.  My friend Shawdi was driving to St. Louis, so rather than text me back (smart thinking, that one), she just called and talked me through things and prayed for me while we were both heading down the interstate. (Note to self: remind Shaw not to close her eyes while praying on the interstate next time.)  I love that my friends do that kind of thing for me.  Another friend sent me a text saying she had prayed for me for twenty minutes this morning without knowing that I had this appointment today.  All the other texts I received were full of encouragements and prayers.  I am blessed.

Once checked in, I laid on the table in the sonography room and forced myself to not look at the screen.  Why yes, she is taking about 8 million pictures which is freaking me out, but I will not look at the screen.  

Well, okay...I did look maybe twice.  Looked like a bunch of shapes and shadows to me at first, but then one glimpse of my ovary made me look away.  It had a weird shape.  Nope, no more looking for me--honest!
As I stared at the ceiling, I prayed.  The whole time. Whatever the results, Lord, give me grace to handle it.  Get glory from this.  Prepare me.  Heal me. Help me to trust in Your sovereignty. 
He is faithful.  Even though I knew there was no instant healing, He was giving me an abundance of peace and grace to handle the results.
Sure, I was anxious.  Sitting in a gown in the exam room waiting on results, I couldn't read the book I brought or flip through a magazine.  I stared at the bulletin board in front of me full of pictures of babies my doctor delivered. I looked at the poster with the cross section diagram of the pregnant woman and her baby in utero.  I sat on the edge of the table and swung my legs back and forth repeatedly to keep from jumping out of my skin.  I prayed.

And then the results.  The tumor is definitely still there.  It has not grown, but it is solid and has not shrunk.  In other news, endometriosis has adhered my ovary to my uterus.  This explains the recent bouts of pain I have had over the past two months.  I have had more of the gripping pain that I used to have before my surgery two-and-a-half years ago.  Now I know for sure that my endo is back.

My doctor recommends surgery. 

After talking through it with her, I am in agreement.  She is going to use the da Vinci surgery this time as it will give her more ability to remove the tumor without compromising the ovary. This is where the risk lies.  If something happens during surgery and she has to take my ovary, I will be thrust into early menopause.  I'll be thirty in June.  I have never been pregnant.  This risk is the thing that scares me most.  That said, however, I could do nothing and let the tumor grow which could force me into a surgery later that would likely cause me to lose my ovary anyway--like the last time. I feel that it's best to be proactive now when my ovary could be saved rather than to end up in a situation like last time where I have no choice but to lose the ovary.  During surgery, they will also remove any endometriosis they find, and will do a D&C because yet again, my uterine lining is a little too much on the thick side.  

So, while the risk is scary, I will just have to trust in the Lord's sovereignty.  He is faithful and His ways are right. If, for some reason, His plan at some point includes a partial hysterectomy, then He is still good.  I admit, it's hard to write that and believe it, but it is true.  My fertility or lack thereof doesn't change a thing about His character.  It merely means that He will hold me close as He leads me down a different path.  I could not have said this months ago, and I may struggle to say it if this is indeed the outcome should something go wrong in surgery, but I have to preach it to myself.  My husband's sermon yesterday (which will up in a day or two; it's on Romans 16:25-27) was exactly what I needed to prepare myself for this day.  I have to know Who to run to, what to cling to.  The gospel.  That is my beginning and end and everything in between. 
As I drove home today, I was so encouraged by the fact that God has used His Word to prepare me for this.  My faith has grown over the past couple of months, and I feel that though the outcome could be grim, He is preparing me to not only handle it, but to find joy in it. 
I can't conjure this up on my own.  Only He could do that. 

No power of hell, no scheme of man could ever pluck me from His hand.  
For I am His, and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.

This could slow down our adoption process a little, but that's just the way it has to be, I guess. I can't even tell you how God has provided for us financially, thus far.  I am blown away.  There was something so freeing about walking into this appointment today with paperwork for my doctor to fill out regarding our future adoption. I didn't feel so desperate as I stared at those diagrams and baby pictures in the exam room.  God is clearly leading us down a different path than we had planned, and it is that plan that is helping me to accept the shrinking possibility of my first plan.  I counted it joy to tell my doctor today that God has led us again towards adoption. 

I am still processing things in my head and my heart, but I can't get over the fact that God has transcended my understanding with His peace.  Oh, what a gracious gift!  Oh, what an indescribable blessing to know that my identity is sealed in Christ. 

No guilt in life, no fear in death--this is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny!

Friday, January 14, 2011

::changing lanes::

As you all have watched me struggle through 2010 with my desire to be pregnant, my news might surprise you.  I'm not even sure I am can word the metamorphosis my emotions and desires have gone through.  In my mind, it can only be the leading of the Lord.  This thing I have pursued and longed for and prayed for....in a way I can't explain, I have been able to walk away from it for a season.

After many weeks of praying and talking and praying and talking, my husband and I have come to the conclusion that God is leading us away from infertility treatments and towards adoption.  To be quite specific, we both have been burdened for orphans in Ethiopia.  It has been quite a journey in my heart to realize that again God might be withholding pregnancy for the purpose of bringing a child into our family who needs a family. This feels and looks a lot like it did when we walked away from an infertility specialist's office and planted our feet firmly on the path to adoption.  It's easy to see that God was preparing our home and hearts for a baby boy who needed parents.   Perhaps that is the way He is working in our hearts now.

This process will be long, but we are excited and compelled to work through it to hopefully bring home a child(ren) who is in need of family and love and the Gospel.
I decided to blog through the process much like I did through our last adoption, but the updates may be less frequent since the process will be much longer, given that we are adopting internationally this time.  If you care to follow us, I will be blogging at our family blog.  We are currently praying about which agency to use (we have four that we are looking at).  I am not sure how much I will blog here, but because infertility never really goes away (for me, anyway), perhaps I will pop in every once and a while.

I am so thankful and humbled to write that my heart is so full of joy and peace.  God has used His Word over the past 6 months to both rebuke and comfort me, to teach and to encourage me.  I feel that He has given me a more eternal lens through which to view my infertility right now, and I am not (at the moment) fighting against His sovereignty, but rather--resting in it.  Oh, how faithful is our God who is both firm and tender with His children!  I have been so mired in selfishness and self-pity.  But He has graciously corrected (and is currently correcting) me in my sin and revealing the areas in my life where I am not loving Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As far as my current physical issues, I do have an ultrasound on February 2nd to check the growth of the tumor on my ovary.  I do covet your prayers that the mass will have disappeared.  While I am content for now to not pursue any treatment to get pregnant, I am still a little fearful of losing my only ovary, which would not only render me sterile but which would also throw my body into early menopause.  It is one of those things where I pray and am desperate for healing but also for the Lord to sustain me whatever the outcome.  Please pray for me if you think about it!  I'll update with news on that appointment.

Thanks to those of you who have prayed me through the past 6 months (you know who you are!).  It was one of those seasons where I hated living it, but I can see now how good it was for me to walk through difficulty and depression and learn how faithful and near and good our God is.  He is so good.