Monday, June 30, 2008

Healing for a Broken Story?

Something very odd happened yesterday at church. The message was about living our lives in the larger context of God’s story, instead of focusing only on our own small plotlines. At the end of the service, the pastor invited everyone who wanted to make a commitment to “enter the story”, as he put it, to stand. I was exhausted from our trip and (to tell the truth) my attention began to wander a bit. There was a little toddler running around the aisle in front of us, and as I watched him my filled with tears. I felt like my heart had jumped into my throat and I couldn’t swallow.

In that very moment, the pastor walked back up to the center of the stage. He said he felt led by the Spirit to speak to those who feel like they’re living broken stories, and that God wanted to bring healing and restoration to them. The timing was really quite incredible. Of course, I sat in my seat like a rock, but I knew – even if for just a second – that God really saw me.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cedar Point!!

I want to go back...oh, we had so much fun!! I didn't realize how burned out I was, and how much I needed a vacation. Of course, we tried to pack way too much into our two days at the park, and now I'm bruised, battered and exhausted. We rode rollercoaster after rollercoaster, and walked at least 150 miles. (Ok, maybe not, but it sure felt like it. My knees are actually bruised from all the walking!) It was really fun just to get away with C - no agendas, no errands to run, just us.

We left Riddick at a local "pet hotel" - I thought he'd love it. Boy, was I wrong! When we picked him up, he made a beeline for the front door, and then for the car. He stood absolutely still while I put his car-harness on (a first!), and once he was strapped in, he faced the back of the seat and refused to look at either of us. Poor little guy. Luckily it didn't take him too long to get back to normal - he's back to chasing the cats and shredding tissues.

I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation...but it was worth it!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Turning Point?

Yesterday was so difficult - the pain of our situation was so intense that I could hardly breathe. It felt like the air had been replaced with something thick and heavy that choked me. I wish I could say that I took my pain to the throne, that I knelt down in prayer and sought God's peace. But the truth is quite a bit uglier.

This pain doesn't ease as time progresses - instead I feel it more and more keenly. It's not a constant, persistent problem; it's more like those pesky sine graphs from math class. Up and down, up and down, over and over again. Sometimes the highs last a few days, sometimes a few hours. I've noticed, though, that each "up" is not quite as high as the previous "up", and each "down" is a little bit farther down than the last. My heart used to long to turn to God for comfort in those low moments, but not recently. I've been so consumed by anger, bitterness and jealousy that I haven't wanted to even talk to Him. After all, He could change this if He wanted. He could give me the baby that I long for - for some reason, He chooses not to. Maybe it's just for right now. Then again, maybe it's for forever. But He could heal me if He wanted. And - if I'm being honest - it makes me angry that He hasn't. Would I be such a bad mother that He won't entrust a child to my care? Are all these other women so much more important to Him than I am, that He would give them children but not me? Is there some reason why He loves me less than everyone else?

I don't know what makes today any different from yesterday. I didn't make a decision to change my attitude, and I didn't seek forgiveness for my rebellious and bitter sentiments. But yet it is evident that something has changed...the only explanation I have is that the Holy Spirit is at work in me, even as I run the other direction at top speed.

I woke this morning with a heavy peace on my heart. I don't know how else to describe it - it's the sort of peace that coexists with my pain instead of engulfing it. It reminds me of the feeling I've had after crying before the Lord for hours - the exhaustion and the desire not to fight or run anymore, mingled with sadness and sweetness all at once. It defies description, but it makes me understand the word bittersweet.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pity, Party of One

I'm feeling sorry for myself today. I'm completely overwhelmed by everything that lies ahead, and I want desperately to be normal. As much as they annoy me, for just five minutes I want to be one of the blissfully unaware fertiles, who makes insensitive comments just because she hasn't learned what it is to walk this road.

Speaking of insensitive comments, a friend asked me not too long ago how close together we wanted to have our children. This on the heel of a conversation about our latest and greatest medicated cycle...I think I managed to answer politely that we were concentrating all our efforts on just having the first one. Truthfully, I don't know exactly what I said, because a dam burst in my head and all sorts of sarcastic retorts were swirling around in there. (I think I behaved myself.) When I came up for air, she was talking about someone who was so organized that she planned her babies' birth-months, so they wouldn't be born on holidays or other special family occasions. In hindsight, I think my friend may have been trying to make me feel better about everything we've been going through by seeing the bright side: "Hey! You're taking all this medication to make you ovulate, so you have the power to plan when your baby will be born." I really don't think she had a clue that failed cycles are possible.

I remember those days...with every "first" there was renewed hope. The first clomid cycle, the first higher-dose clomid cycle, the first trigger shot and IUI cycle - each time I was certain it would work. But with every "first" and the renewed hope it brought, the heartbreak was renewed as well. Each time I told myself that it would be easier, because I'm used to the disappointment now. And each time I was surprised when it was so much harder.

So I guess it's easy to see, in hindsight, how I've become this cynical. I harbor a fear deep in my heart that IVF won't work for us, at least not the first time. I know too many people who've experienced that heartache not to respect the odds. The odds scare me.

It's a beautiful summery day here, but I want to go back home and hide in bed. I didn't even put on makeup today. I'm sitting in the office with a baseball cap, an old ratty shirt, jeans and sneakers. (Thankfully there is no one else here.) And no makeup, did I mention that? That is huge for me - I don't go ANYWHERE without makeup. It's a necessity. I think my outward appearance is a direct reflection of my inward state of being today...messy, with no makeup to cover the wounds on my heart.

I'm so tired of all of this. I'm tired of needles, and invasive and painful procedures (and doctors who don't prescribe enough valium for them). I'm tired of friends and family who think my pain over this will just "go away". I'm tired of people who think it's okay to gossip about our infertility under the guise of asking people to pray for us. I'm tired of making excuses for why I can't go to a baby shower, or come over and see the nursery. I'm tired of avoiding social events, because people who know our situation don't have the common sense to know that I don't want to hear every little detail of their newborn's life. I'm tired of not feeling well, and having my hormones all out-of-whack. This is a rest cycle - it should be better, not worse!!

*whew* I feel better now that I got that out. Now I'm just tired...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


You would think that I'd be used to needles by now. Nope - I'm scared stiff!! I was supposed to go for some bloodwork after our IVF consult 3 weeks ago, and I've come up with every excuse in the book why I can't go "this week" (or next week, or the week after, apparently). I'm even really interested to see the results of this particular test (TSH - thyroid stimulating hormone), but I still can't seem to get myself over to LabCorp. I'm such a wuss. I much prefer the doctor's visits where they stick you on the spot. No anticipation, less fear. Of course, since it's so hard to get a vein on me - maybe it's better to go to a lab where they'll be sure to have those nice little butterfly needles.

Maybe that's also why I've been putting off calling the doctor with our "official" decision to do IVF. I scheduled our injectibles training class, but I chose a date as far out as possible (July 3). The thought of all those needles makes me dizzy. I think that I may be able to rally for the subcutaneous injections, if I focus really hard and repeat my mantra of "I really want a baby. I really want a baby." (At least, it works for me in the gym!) But the intramuscular shots - *shudder*.

I've never actually seen the needles used for the IM shots; I've carefully avoided them ever since our first trigger shot experience. I was under the deluded impression that the shot was given in the arm, but I caught on pretty quickly when the nurse told me to bend over. She gave me the first shot (which hurt!!), and while she prepared the second, I looked over at C for reassurance. With eyes as wide as dinner plates, he said, "I can't believe they can put a needle that long into your butt and have it bleed so little!" Umm, thanks. A lot. Maybe you could have waited until the second shot was over to make that observation?!

I'm also terrified of the egg retrieval procedure for IVF (another reason why I'm putting off that phone call). Usually the procedure is done under light anesthesia, but the doctor I go to performs the procedure with the patient awake. I've read that they use a foot-long needle attached to an ultrasound probe - and let's just say that they don't go in through the abdominal route. I've also read that depending on how many eggs they retrieve, the procedure can take a half-hour or longer. (I really hope that's one of those true-sounding things that you read on the internet, that turns out to be a big fat lie!)

I really want a baby. I really want a baby. I really want a baby...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cedar Point

I am sooooooooooooo excited! After over 3 years of marriage, we are finally taking our first-ever "just-the-two-of-us" vacation. (I don't count our honeymoon because it was a disaster, and both of us try to forget that it ever happened. There are great honeymoons, and then there are great honeymoon stories. Ours was the latter.)

C is taking me on a weekend trip to Cedar Point! It's one of my favorite places. I used to go every year on my birthday, but it hasn't worked out in recent years. So, before we jump completely into the land of injectibles and financial ruin (a.k.a. IVF), we are going out in style! C suggested that we get a hotel and tickets to the park for two days, so we can take our time and also visit the "beach". (As a former Florida girl, I use the term "beach" sparingly. I fail to see how a lake, even one as large as Lake Erie, can have a "beach". But C insists that it can, so I will call it that...for now.)

Rollercoasters, here I come! 10 days and counting down...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

To Share...or Not to Share?

I’ve been debating over how I want to use this blog. When lightning first struck me and I thought, “Hey! I should start a blog!” – my motives were primarily selfish. I was looking for an outlet, a way to express and sort through all my mixed-up emotions. But now I’m reconsidering – the vast majority of blogs that I read (especially infertility blogs) were created so the author could communicate various aspects of her journey to friends and family. These blogs serve a dual purpose in that they also educate others about what it means to experience infertility and (for lack of a better term) infertility etiquette.

So, the question is – to share or not to share? I’ve noticed lately that I am reluctant to discuss our situation, even with close friends and family. It could just be that as we face IVF, the reality of our circumstances overwhelms me and I need more time to process. It could also be a symptom of my hurt, anger and disappointment over the failure of every procedure that we’ve tried. In any case, it might be a relief to answer well-meant but awkward questions by directing the questioner to my blog. That way – no worries about breaking down in tears because the question came at a really difficult moment! (Now if the question is entirely rude and inappropriate…I still reserve the right throw an all-out tantrum.)

Of course, we have tried to be as private as possible with our situation, and sharing this blog with others moves it into public domain. I do recognize that our local rumor mill has been very active, and that more people know than we would prefer…so it may be a moot point after all. I guess we’ll see what C. weighs in with – because all of this affects him too! Until then, the jury is out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stormy Skies

A line of thunderstorms passed through early this morning, and as the day progressed, all I could see through the window was a wall of dark, mottled gray clouds. When I stepped away from my desk, however, I noticed that the rest of the sky was a bright, piercing blue. From where I was sitting, I could only see a corner of the sky - and it just happened to be the part where the storm system was lingering. From my vantage point, I couldn't see the beautiful, clear sky that was pushing the clouds away.

It struck me that my life is quite similar! Most of the time, I can only see one piece of the puzzle - one corner of the sky. While I'm focused on the pain and heartache that is visible, I don't see the amazing beauty and blessings that God is busy bringing my way.

I am reminded of a verse in Psalms: "For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Ps. 30:5) The storm clouds may roll in...but that doesn't mean that they're hanging around!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Very First Post Ever!!

Life has become so crazy lately. I find myself longing to pour out my heart and find comfort, but no one around me understands. Pain pushes people away, I guess - and one by one, our friends are slowly stepping back from us. A particular friend, I recently learned, didn't want to tell me that she's pregnant and has been avoiding me since she started showing. She even stopped coming to our Bible study. (Nice.)

So I had the brilliant idea to start a blog! I need a place where I can let everything out, without worrying that I'm going to lose yet another friend because I was a little too transparent (or because I let the hormones get the better of me and went a little crazy). I chose the title "Hope Endures" because of a Natalie Grant song that has really inspired me lately:

Our Hope Endures (Natalie Grant)

You would think only so much can go wrong
Calamity only strikes once
And you assume this one has suffered her share
Life will be kinder from here
Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear?

But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged

How do we comprehend peace within pain?
Or joy at a good man's wake?
Walk a mile with the woman whose body is racked
With illness, oh how can she laugh?
Oh, 'cause sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear?

But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged

Emmanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient
We never walk alone
And this is our hope

But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged

So let the blogging adventure begin...