December 30, 2011

mind over mind? and bringing God in

I've mentioned more than once here that the idea of the birthing process freaks my cookies. To slay this dragon, or at least build a bridge that goes around it, I've educated myself (and DH) with my doc's reminder that "information is power." I've gone through the childbirth preparedness class at our birthing center, read through more than one book that talks about the process, prayed many times, spent time thinking about the event and its inevitable outcome – the birth of my son, and started listening to the CDs.

I have now listened to four sessions. Every time, I fall asleep. Or at least I'm pretty sure that's what happens because I couldn't possibly tell you what I've learned other than how to breathe deeply. Last night I listened to a session called Deepening, which guides the listener into a deeper state of hypnosis. I suspect that, even if I do fall asleep, my mind really is getting the message because for whatever reason I returned to a state of consciousness a few minutes before the end of the session (rather than waking up to dead silence).

I can tell you that, as of right now, I do not feel dread at the thought of going to the birthing center (in fact, I'm looking forward to plugging in my iPod and dimming the lights in there!). DH is still pretty squeamish about being there, though – I'm hoping he listens to the birth partner CD so he can be more calm during the process.

Despite the "pain-free labor" the home study professes, this is not my expectation. I'd say I am resisting the urge to build any expectations since I know that anything can happen. I am, however, starting to visualize how I would like the process to go. Why do this? Because the mind is powerful, and the suggestion can influence the outcome. My coworker, who also used the program, did this and many aspects of her process carried out exactly the way she had envisioned it.

At the same time, I have begun focusing more on bringing God into the experience and making Him the focus of my desire. Last weekend in yoga class, as the instructor cooed gentle words of new age "wisdom," the thought popped into my head of really making God part of the process instead of an afterthought. I am praying more in that direction, asking God to cover me with His Spirit and permeate the room we'll be in.

Hyp.nobir.thing and visualization are powerful tools, but they are just tools. God is no tool.

December 28, 2011

rites of passage

In my last post, I referred to childbirth as a "rite of passage" – a phrase that has been turning over in my head ever since. I originally found this reference in an herb book that I've been consulting throughout my pregnancy.

It got me thinking – do we really see childbirth as a rite of passage in our society? If so, what does that mean for those of us enduring the challenges of infertility?

I see constant references to bearing children as basically establishing a woman's fulfillment in society. It's our inherited form of "bearing fruit" to put it in Biblical terms, with little or nothing to supplement it. Kind of shallow, don't you think? I mean, really – surely there's more to life.

I don't mean to downplay the incredible transformation I am now experiencing as a result of a direct blessing from God. But I still have one foot firmly planted in the IF community – it's not like I ever jumped off that ship and exclaimed "I'm cured and am no longer part of this club!" It is for all of our sakes that I ask the question: What does it mean to be productive, to bear fruit, to become the person God intends me to be? What does it mean to be a woman?

There are women in the Bible who never experienced childbirth, or who endured years of infertility while being ridiculed by others or shamed by society. The feelings of guilt, shame, and private longing run many thousands of years into our inherited past.

As I type this, I am reminded of Proverbs 31: 10-31 "Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character" NIV. Many people think this is a composite of noble women rather than a study of the typical day of one superhuman wife of Solomon's. What I find interesting is that, in no verse is the rearing of children listed as one of her noble characteristics: instead, she's industrious and productive and respected in her own right. Rather than aspiring to do all the things she does, I am encouraged by the thought that there are plenty of ways to be fruitful in this world that have nothing to do with childbirth.

Another way of putting it: I am not only a reflection of my contribution to parenthood. I am multi-faceted and look for ways to be productive for the sake of my household as well as those around me. That, I think, is an accurate definition in part of what it means to be a woman.

Coming full circle, what then are rites of passage into womanhood or adulthood? I think it does change a bit with societal fluctuations. It could be getting your first period; graduating high school and/or college; getting married; landing a first real job; buying a home or car; welcoming a child into the world, regardless of the means. Any others?

December 21, 2011

my adventures in self-care

Okay, I wouldn't go so far as to call them "adventures," but I am looking for ways to make my pregnancy and birth more comfortable and less stressful. I know, I can just show up and grab the anesthesiologist to stick that needle in my back. But there's more to it than that - at least for me.

As I've said before, this is a huge challenge for me. So whatever I can do to improve serenity and health is worth doing. Nevermind those cookies, ice cream and candies that I can't stay out of!

Case in point: Hypno.babies

Last week in the childbirth prep class, they took us on a tour of the birthing center (kind of a hybrid birth center & hospital). It was very pleasant and informative. Later we watched a documentary profiling three women who used epidurals and gave descriptions of the process, etc. I was interested in it, but I noticed that my palms were sweating and I was starting to feel a bit sick. I excused myself to go use the restroom and hung out in the hallway for a while. It was a mild panic attack, which went away as soon as I left the room.

After this experience, I knew I had to do something about my subliminal reaction to the whole thing. My coworker lent me this home study course a month ago but I hadn't touched it. I downloaded all the tracks onto my iPod and started listening this week. So far I must say it is relaxing and is helping me, but I think I'm falling asleep each time I listen. The course says that's okay, as the subconscious mind still absorbs the information, so I'm not worried about it. I'll keep listening/sleeping and go through them all.

Second case in point: herbal teas

I have been reading through various sources of herbal support for pregnancy, mostly looking for consistency across different authors. Safety is critical, of course. Two herbs that I've decided to drink in tea form daily until the baby's born are nettle and red raspberry leaf. Both are called uterine tonics - kind of an odd expression, but basically it helps prepare the muscles for expansion and contraction. That, in turn, makes birthing easier and less painful - maybe even shorter - and recovery quicker.

I haven't ruled out the wildly popular epidural - I'm about 70% in favor of it at this point, since I make no assumptions about how my birthing experience will be. But I am all about supporting my body and mind in this stage, and treating childbirth like a mere medical event instead of the rite of passage that it is feels hollow.

In case you're curious, one of my book sources is Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, Susun S Weed.

"Did you do IVF?"

I was getting a prenatal massage at a new place, provided by a woman who's worked with (evidently) a lot of pregnant women. I was pretty shocked at this question. Does getting a massage create some kind of intimate ask-me-anything-you-want atmosphere? If so, please clue me in.

I was mildly flabbergasted (since I was pretty relaxed, laying nearly naked on a table beneath a blanket getting a massage). Perhaps she had surmised this by my age, revealed by the crow's feet or the emerging grays from my two-month-old hair color. I immediately decided I was not embarrassed by my answer.

I simply replied "... um, no. After two miscarriages and a diagnosis of fertility, God has chosen to bless us with a miracle pregnancy." I told the truth. Usually people don't pry much more when you bring God into the conversation, but I'm past the point of wondering whether they think I'm nuts for believing.

She went right on from there, talking about other situations she's seen, how she had experienced seven (!) failed adoptions, and figured God just didn't have that in her plans.

I decided that she treated the massage experience like a lot of people treat the hair salon experience, and forgave her forthrightness. Still, it was weird man. Good massage though!

December 16, 2011

I Remember

I just read a fellow IF blogger's post about respecting the loss of the Dug.gars' latest pregnancy. I haven't bothered to look up the news story, as this person's post told me all I needed to know – that it was a loss at week 20, that they chose to have photos taken and share them, that they grieve deeply.

What interested me was the blogger talking about how people are judging them and how some are ridiculing them for publishing photos. As if a physical remembrance is reprehensible in our virtual world.

Who cares? And why do some people feel the need to blab about their opinion on how someone chooses to mourn? Not the blogger, but the ones she talked about. Her post was honorable and respectful for the most part.

What got under my skin is how some (the blogger and commenters) are framing their decision not to judge. Something to the tune of "I don't care for their religion, but…"

Wait a minute. Again – who cares? Why is okay to judge someone's faith in the context of claiming to be non-judgmental about something else they do? Can we be any more hypocritical and judgmental? Would anyone dare preface their opinion that way if the Dug.gars were anything but a brand of Christian, such as Muslim or Atheist or Jewish?

I'm going to close this idea right here.

What I am remembering today, in light of their loss, is my own. My losses, my journey. I remember the night DH and I watched Blue Lagoon sometime last year – soon after watching the female lead go through her naked pregnancy in the prime of her youth, I went to the restroom where DH later found me crumpled on the floor in the fetal position bawling my eyes out uncontrollably because I knew that would never be me. I remember having my first dead child sucked out of me through a D&C at week 12, and I remember the world's biggest blood clot dropping into the toilet as my second dead child left me at week 7.

I remember being trapped in a black pit of despair as I began my own journey of searching, of healing, of answers.

I remember that there is no such thing as rational grief, and I cannot help but honor however someone else chooses to express it.

Luke 6:36-38 (New International Version)
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

December 9, 2011

visual aids and the perception of progress

There we were, in the second of four childbirth preparation classes, when the leader showed a DVD of the labor process. Included were snippets from actual live births with women who didn't appear to be using meds (not that it matters). The emerging head, the visual inspection of the placenta…

Pardon me while I hurl.

Afterwards, the leader asked if we had any questions. Me? "Can I just schedule a c-section under general anesthesia?"

My doctor promises me that it's different when you're in the moment. Different as in better, right? LOL

As of today, I'm 30 weeks along and all is well. Or "perfect" as my doc says. I like her terminology. Oh, I could complain about the slow digestive tract, the sleep issues (Snore like a mama bear roaring in the woods when confronted with a threat to her cubs? Me?), the unanticipated weight gain (it's a good thing DH has no reason to pick me up or his back would snap in half), the heartburn (I love the jingling sound my plastic bottles of antacids make), the low energy (I regularly act on the overwhelming desire to nap), the mood swings (I love you! I'm desperate! I hate this place! Get outta my way! Aw how cute! I'm terrified!).

Oh but why? The baby is perfect. I don't have any problems that require intervention or careful monitoring or bed rest. So, really, I have nothing to complain about. Not that it stops me…

Hey kid! Quit kicking my bladder! …I mean, I love you sweet one…

December 2, 2011

A brief and powerful vision

The other night I was reading a novel, sitting Indian-style on the couch as I usually do. I glanced down at my belly and suddenly… I had a kind of vision of my son: Truly picturing him as a person of flesh and blood within my womb (no longer an idea or dream), growing and sucking his thumb and moving his eyes and mouth; realizing the power of knowing that, in a matter of weeks, I'll be holding him and staring at him and will no longer be pregnant but a parent.

Whoops. I can't think about this too long. I'm at work and I will start crying, just like I did in my car on the way to work this morning.

It occurs to me that I have no idea just how blessed I am. And I thought I had a pretty good idea.

November 18, 2011

That makes sense (part 2)

I talked to my therapist about my fears. After going over my historical fear of evil spirits and whatnot, she surmised that I'm in a vulnerable place right now.

As happy and miraculous an occasion that this pregnancy is, it's also bookmarked by tragedy and real fears. Not to downplay the goodness of it, just to acknowledge what it has taken to get to this point and knowing that it's not over yet. She pointed out that, rather than entertain any fears about the baby, my mind latched onto the contrived fears of a scary movie as a substitute.

In other words, demons aren't what I'm really afraid of. What I'm really afraid of, and don't want to admit out loud, is losing the baby. By chance, or circumstance, or car accident or what have you.

I exhaled. I knew she was right.

She encouraged me to keep praying, and form a bit of a bedtime ritual. That's what I'm doing. The logical part of my brain can now say "That isn't what you're really afraid of anyway, and that's okay. Go to sleep."

As for the demons, I remember that I already have the victory of the cross and that's all I need.

I have slept much better the last few nights, and I don't wake up feeling scared.

November 15, 2011

Under my skin, or things that go bump in the night

I did something really stupid for Halloween – I watched Para.normal Acti.vity. Why was this stupid? Because, even when I understood that the movie dealt with demonic activity and possession, I kept watching. As a result, I may have slept half an hour that night. I kept the nightlight on in the bedroom for several days, looking over my shoulder at the room to make sure it stayed devoid of monsters. Eventually I switched sides with DH for the next week or so, just until the other night.

Stories of this nature have a tendency to sink under my skin and creep the heck out of me for a long time afterward. Why? That's a good question. The first time this kind of creepiness creeped me out was when I first saw The Excor.cist – I was barely a teenager – and ever since it's been a fear of mine. But I think it goes back even further.

As I tried to probe my brain, I remember when I was 6-8 years old and had frequent waking nightmares. You know, the kind where you wake up and you see someone or something until you cover your head with a blanket until the next time you open your eyes, at which point the thing is gone and you realize it was never there. Oh, you've never experienced this? I have. Many, many times. With many different "people" who looked at me or walked toward me… oh sorry, didn't mean to creep you out.

Each night after seeing that stupid movie (before I switched sides with DH), I was actually afraid of going to sleep. As if I just knew I'd wake up and something bad would happen. I know, it's totally irrational. Such is the nature of fear in this case.

I make it a habit to read my Bible every night – sometimes I go through a book, others I randomly select a passage and just start reading. One thing that brought a lot of comfort to me, and I've begun to study, was reading Psalm 91 just before turning in one night. It talks about how God literally protects those who believe in Him. I knew the Lord led me to this passage specifically, as part of it says:
"4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day..." (emphasis mine)

Wow. I can think of very few times in my life when I've come across a scripture that went straight to my soul in the midst of something going on, and this is definitely one of them.

Looking back, I suspect that I had those hallucinations as a reaction to my parents' divorce (I was six at the time). I also know now that chronic lack of sleep can result in such things. But so often, my kid brain was absolutely convinced that these hallucinations really happened. So in a way, seeing movies about people getting possessed unnerved me like nothing ever has because it reminds me of waking up in the night and seeing something that shouldn't be there.

This is no way to live, especially for a Christ-follower who has inherited the victory that He won for us on the cross. So I'm on the lookout for a solution. A few days ago, I remembered my copy of Joyce Mey.ers' Battle.field of the Mi.nd and picked it up again. I was surprised at what I read (still haven't gotten through more than 1/3 of the book). She talked about how the enemy can influence our thought lives by planting wrong ideas in there and getting us thinking about negative things. She calls them mind-binding spirits, and yes they are evil. Now don't get me wrong – I am fully aware that I have my own brain and am capable of harboring bad thoughts all by myself – but this is compelling information based on biblical truths.

It was like a light was turned on in my head, and I understood that this is probably the case for me. The author, for example, had once been an incredibly negative person and had no idea that it was her thought life, rather than her circumstances, that were robbing her of any joy in life.

Sound familiar?

Her admonition: think about what you're thinking about. Refuse to let the enemy rob you of happiness by influencing your thoughts. Instead, follow the advice of Philippians 4:8 (NIV) "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

In other words, our thought lives must be intentional. Not reactionary.

Finally, I'll be sharing my experience with my therapist this evening to see if she can provide any additional insight. She's a good one for that.

November 8, 2011

"The worst is yet to come!"

Okay, nobody is saying that outright. But every time the subject of new parenthood comes up in a conversation with someone who's not a new parent the sentiment is the same.

Get all the sleep you can now, because when the baby's born...

Enjoy this time together now, because when the baby's born...

Take care of those home improvement projects now, because when the baby's born...

You think you're tired now? Just wait until the baby's born...

Enjoy your humanity and self-identity now, because when the baby's born... (okay, I'm kidding, but you get the point). Seriously. I get it. Life is about to be ripped inside out, crumbled up like a giant piece of paper, soaked in baby barf, and thrown against a brick wall so that it will never again even vaguely resemble its current condition. Do I not have enough to be paranoid about without the constant stream of admonitions of everything I will no longer be allowed to enjoy, to indulge in, to fantasize about... criminy. Give a girl a break.

I need to hear more about the miracle of parenthood. About how the change is for the better, how I'll never regret it, how I'll fall in love the moment I set my eyes on my son when they lay him on my breast in the hospital, how deep and moving and utterly profound my life will be as a parent. Does this never occur to people?

Sigh. Enough of my rant. Please return to your regularly scheduled weekday...

October 21, 2011

Who's afraid of the big bad birthing room?

That would be me.

Maybe it's the idea of pain so great I would want to inject heroin to make it stop. Or the photo lab I used to work in where, once in a while, a roll of film came through with detailed photos of a birth. Or maybe it's the complete lack of control over my own body, coupled with the thought of being bedridden with a foot-long needle in my back plus a device attached to my urethra plus an IV drip plus.. plus..

Oh man. Just the thought makes me a little queasy and makes my pulse race a bit.

Until fairly recently, a standard blood draw would make me pass out, or at least render me motionless until my blood pressure resumed normality. I would kind of freak out at my own pain, like the time I got two fingertips shut in a car door, or a pinky caught in a heavy door frame (that hurt like a sonofa).

About six years ago, I had an eye test done where the doc shined some light across my retinas to check for glaucoma. I felt okay for a minute, then suddenly I had no idea what happened to me – I couldn't tell if I was about to faint, or run to the bathroom, or barf, or all of the above. She gave me smelling salts to bring me around, and I had to have my husband come pick me up. It was a horrific experience.

I can be calm as a cucumber on the outside, but my subconscious says "hell no, we won't go!"

Yeah, so that's one thing that has intimidated me for decades about having children: Going through the birthing process. I have rationalized that, after all, it's just one day compared to a lifetime of the joy of parenthood; a rite of passage of sorts. Millions of women have done it, stretching out tens of thousands of years before me and without a needle in their backs. But on the inside, I'm freaking out. Last night I was reading through a chapter on birthing methods, coping techniques vs. medication, doulas and partner roles, blah blah.. I couldn't sleep for crap last night.

What in the world is my problem? It's not like I can avoid it – believe me, I would entertain the thought of general anesthesia if it were a possibility (and not just in an emergency).

I think I would prefer to go med-free mostly because I loathe the idea of being strapped to a bed with a bunch of crap attached me, unable to move. But I have no idea what the process will be like – will I manage it, or will I have a breech baby that demands a c-section? Will I have a reasonable labor, or will it drag on for 20-30 hours until I'm so miserable I beg for medical mercy?

This is a problem, and I need to address it sooner than later because time isn't slowing down. Sigh…

Any advice from those of you who have been there?

October 14, 2011

All control is an illusion, and there are no guarantees

This time last year, my life was in ashes. I had just completed a set of fertility tests, and before DH could go through his own tests, the Specialist called us into her office to deliver the news. I had age-related egg quality issues, and our chances of conceiving successfully on our own was… oh, let's just say next to none.

I spent months mourning, grieving, praying, looking for answers, and researching everything I could get my hands on. Add to that professional counseling, peer counseling from church, yoga, acupuncture, prayer from others, and anti-depressants.

Many months later, I experienced incredible physical and emotional healing by the Holy Spirit during a prayer session with my peer counselor. Soon after, I became pregnant.

Today, I still am pregnant: 22 weeks and expecting a baby boy in February.

I could say something pithy like "What a difference a year makes." But the big question is: What happened?

Let me tell you what I believe: I believe that God has chosen to first heal my heart from the years of fear and aching that kept me from wanting to have a baby, followed by the fear to try again and insurmountable depression in the face of a diagnosis of destruction. I also believe that God answered my prayer to conceive a child by healing me.

So what does that mean? That everything is smooth sailing for the rest of my life, that I shouldn't expect anything bad to happen, that this kid is guaranteed to be perfect in every way?

Of course not.

But it does mean something undeniably powerful and true: That God does not give up on us, that real healing is possible – emotional and physical, that there is hope beyond our circumstances, and that the end is never the end if we choose to trust God.

I also know that there are no guarantees in this life. None but one, which is the reality of God and his unchanging, transforming love for us. I also know that I cannot control these things. I can manage some things and even be successful in some areas, but ultimately all control is an illusion.

I choose to put my faith and trust in Him, and to embrace hope and let go of control, and as a result I worry less about what might happen. If something horrible does happen, I know He won't abandon me but will carry me through it.

I think it took the events of this past couple of years for me to understand these truths, and I only hope that my story gives others encouragement – even though my story isn't finished.

October 1, 2011

Multitasking Heart

First the good news: the big 20-week ultrasound was last week, and it was more or less a smashing success. I say more or less because the tech had trouble getting a good image of a couple of baby bits, so I squirmed while she dug in the wand. I have no idea how long it took - 45 minutes? But now I have sore muscles connecting my pelvis to my hips.

Anyway, I digress. She asked if we wanted to know the sex, I said yes, and she said something like "Well there's this thing here between the legs".. I'm thinking yes - it's a dash in a snowstorm - so I said "What is it?" and she kindly pointed out that it's a penis. I felt just slightly silly (but later learned that DH couldn't tell either so we can be ignorant together!).

So yeah. Somewhere around Valentine's Day I'm gonna give birth to a boy.

Me. Give birth. Have a baby. I'm actually pregnant and it's not going away. I feel him bumping around in me, and see (and feel) my body changing rapidly.

I am blown away by this every day. When I thank Jesus for this amazing blessing that I can barely comprehend, I start to cry (usually at a time when I can't like in the car, at work, or outside walking).

Meanwhile, DH is awake at 3 a.m. most nights trying to figure out all the details of the parenting universe while I toss and turn trying to figure out how to stay comfortable long enough to sleep more than half an hour at a stretch.

I truly do not understand how any woman can honestly say she loves being pregnant. Emotionally it's a variety of wonder, terror, and joy. Physically it's a major pain in the ass. But it has to be worth it, right? Just kidding. Sort of.

Rather than ruminating over the complexities of parenthood (which makes my brain go numb), I can't think more than six months ahead. I'm debating what kind of childbirth I really want to embrace. The epidural is fine, though I truly loathe the idea of having a footlong needle stuck in my spine while my pee drains into a bag. Part of me truly wants to feel the act of giving birth, though. Like somehow being numb from the waist down will disconnect me from the experience a bit.

My coworker used the hypnobirthing method with amazing success, which makes me wonder: could I do it? She said it was definitely not pain free, but she was able to manage it and stay calm. She was in labor for all of six hours. Okay, I don't think that means I'd have the same experience but I gotta wonder if there's really something to this. Obviously there is. I will do research.

And now the bad news. My grandmother is dying. She suffered congestive heart failure the day before my ultrasound. She's apparently conscious now but isn't connected to reality at all. I wish so much that I could be at her side, even though she'd probably not know me, and just pray and be there. Death isn't new to me: I've lost a great grandmother, grandfather, and other grandmother not to mention a couple of uncles. I have held a bedside vigil. I don't wish her to recover - her life has dwindled to medication and the white walls of a nursing home while her mind is trapped in the prison of dementia - I wish for God's mercy to end her suffering and bring her home. God's will be done.

So my heart vacillates between joy and sadness, hope and longing, the future of my son and the past of one of my mothers who helped raise me. Yes, it's the cycle of life. No beginning comes without something else ending, does it?

September 21, 2011

The Pressure is On

This week we're having the floors replaced in the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Leaving the carpet in the bedrooms and the linoleum in the bathrooms (for now).

On the first day of construction, I came home to bundles of furniture collected in the center of the living room and in the kitchen. Clearly, cooking was out of the question. We also noticed a thick film of dust collecting on every surface (probably the walls too). All we can think about now is how much cleaning we'll need to do this weekend once it's all done - it was kind of depressing and made me anxious. Not that I'm not willing, but I know how fast I get tired these days.

Otherwise I can't believe we lived with this nasty gray carpet in our condo for nine stinking years. So much for being frugal. I hate spending the money, but it's all part of the plan to make the condo more appealing once we're finally ready to sell it and buy a house (not planning on it helping the value since that's in the toilet anyway). At this point, that could be another couple years. But I digress.

On the second day of construction, I was determined to lay on the couch in front of the TV so I rearranged a couple pieces of furniture. I felt like I had triumphed over a small hurdle, but by the end of the evening I was coughing up dust. Ick.

Our collective frustration manifested itself in, of all things, an argument about painting the walls. DH is in love with pure, flat, white paint. The kind you see in art galleries. I can see why he's attracted to it, but it's anathema to a home as far as I'm concerned. To me, pure white (except the trim, doors, and ceiling) is cold and hard. Not soft and warm like I prefer. Is it worth arguing about? Probably not, especially in that moment. But it was too late. I was pissed off.

I sat in a chair later (in the dust-free bedroom), trying to figure out why I was so frustrated. I could see it was symptomatic of the pressure I'm feeling all around me. I'm still getting used to being pregnant, am suffering some digestive maladies because of it, typically wake up 6-7 times a night instead of sleeping soundly, and feel overwhelmed at the thought of planning for the arrival of the baby and all the complexities it will bring:
  • Will I keep working full time?
  • Do I have a choice?
  • How much is day care?
  • Do we need to dump half our furniture so we're not crowded *sses-to-elbows in that condo?
  • Can I afford to take 12 weeks off (6 unpaid)? Yeah, probably not but I want to so badly!
  • How am I gonna bond with our baby if I have to work full time?
  • Just how much water do I need to drink anyway?
  • Am I really going to have this baby or is something gonna go wrong?
  • We're so screwed...

Today's the third day of construction and we're not sure they'll be done before sometime tomorrow. But that's okay. I can live with dust (from the other room), and we can use it as an excuse to go out to dinner tonight. Protecting my sanity and marriage is more important anyway.

I was reminded yesterday, whether by the Spirit or nine months of counseling drilled into my head, that I need to make sure I take opportunities for self care. I'm woefully neglectful and lazy in that department - not sure why. So I'm signing up for chair massage at work once a month. Trying to prioritize exercise. Eating more vegetables and fruit. Saying no once in a while (though maybe not often enough).

I'd like to say that I'm procrastinating less but that would be a lie. I still can't make any decisions about the condo or the baby, and even though I'm on the docket to play guitar and sing background vocals with the worship band this Sunday I haven't picked up my guitar this week (barely touched it in the last month). What is wrong with me? I know I need to practice but, without the song list for this Sunday, I'm likely to wait until I see it before I bother so much as humming a tune.

And, if I'm honest, I have to admit I've been neglecting my relationship with Jesus which is the stupidest of all. My friendship with my Lord is my anchor in this world but I keep putting Him in a box instead of praying more and reading the Bible.

Just call me Procrastinitus Maximus!

September 9, 2011

Living in Tension

So we went on vacation this week. Opting for a reasonably priced, somewhat local option (we were thinking about Hawaii earlier this year, but it's just silly since I'm pregnant), we spent a week chilling out at my aunt & uncle's vacation home in the Utah mountains. I wouldn't say we did a lot - we did some stuff every day, but mostly relaxed which was the whole objective.

They say it takes three days for a person to actually relax on vacation. What would that look like? I use sleep as a gauge. In which case, relaxing apparently took a while - in fact, having arrived on Friday night it wasn't until the following Thursday night that I got a good night's sleep. The night before we headed home. Pretty sad, huh? But part of the reason is, that three-floor house in the forest surrounded by the black of night instead of the sounds of the city is downright creepy when it's just me and DH there. Otherwise we love it to pieces.

But anyway, on to the subject of the day: living in tension. I've said that I have decided to embrace hope, and that is true. As evidence I point to my generally non-stressed demeanor and acceptance of this pregnancy. I'm not freaking out about things anymore, though I kind of avoid learning much about raising a baby just yet. It's trickling in. Too overwhelming right now.

We finally decided to let the larger world in on our growing secret this week. Yeah, it took this long (I'm 17 weeks now). Letting the cat out of the bag feels like I'm enabling it to run away. Is that a weird analogy? And.. I still haven't told anyone at my work (save for the few who know me on more than a water cooler basis). And I still don't want to. Though they're probably about to start taking bets so I should.

I think there's something publicly embarrassing or just very awkward about people knowing about such an intense and private loss. Not like when a family member dies, but something.. I don't know what it is. Shame isn't the right word, I know.

Maybe it's because our society has no idea how to grieve publicly. We're taught to lick our wounds in our caves on evenings and weekends so we can be sparkly and productive on weekdays. But real life isn't like that. It kicks and screams and demands to be dealt with when it's inconvenient and messy and ugly. It relentlessly hounds us until we have nervous breakdowns or failed relationships, or until we pursue counseling or medications - or sometimes all of the above.

If this pregnancy doesn't work out, I don't know how I would return to work. I don't know that I would be mentally capable for some time. But why do such thoughts even cross my mind? Why am I still waiting for the other shoe to drop? Everything in my body is 100% clinically proven to be normal. Normal! The scans and the chromosomal blood tests prove it. So what the hell is my problem?

Oh wait... it's been a couple weeks since I cracked open that Battlefield of the Mind book. Guess it's time to do some more reading.

Sigh... God's work in my heart is never done.

August 26, 2011

What Does Support Look Like for Me?

That's the question I have been asking myself this week. I realize I've posted a number of questions from well-meaning people that have inadvertently hurt or otherwise negatively affected me. There are others that I haven't bothered posting, because this blog isn't just a rant (as relieving as that can be at times). No, I really do want to focus on positive things and I know that others really do just want to express support but just don't know how. I mean, would I if I were in their shoes? Yeah, probably not.

Generally speaking, people's reactions have been a mix of awe and wonder and relief and even tears, not to mention absolute joy! Despite this plus the evidence so far of a perfectly normal pregnancy, we haven't made any bigger announcements. I don't know why exactly – twice bitten forever shy? It just feels right to tell people individually. I'll never post my ultrasound pic as my profile on my FB page. I'm happy to just enjoy what I can while I can in the context of a powerfully moving event. Of course, I seriously don't mind if a friend or relative leaks the info because they just can't hold it in.

Anyway, back to ways I can think of that are good ways to support me. First I'd say, ask me or DH how we are doing, and accept our weird answers. It's never a straightforward "fine!" or "great!" – it's always a mixture of optimism, hesitation, maybe a bit of discomfort, and other things that just make us human because of what we've been through and where we are now. It IS weird!

Second, I would say, is to be a cheerleader. Okay that sounds over the top, right? But you'd be amazed at how some people have reacted. Some can't help but have a negative (clinical, stereotypical) reaction since I'm such a geezer and statistically it's just so risky and the baby could have all kinds of problems and… right. Never mind the fact that there are societies where having children in the 50+ range is quite normal. If I had paid homage to statistics and didn't believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, I flat out would never have tried again. And believe it or not, other people's enthusiasm actually lifts us up.

Eh, that's about all I can think of.

August 16, 2011

"You're a Little Old to be Having..."

Oh no she di-n't!

As un-hip as I am, I imagine my head swerving side to side with a wild arm gesture while I'm saying this.

I felt like I needed to call my grandmother and tell her the news. So I did, and for a few seconds she was silent, then started saying “Well, you’re a little old to be having…” I cut her off and basically said that I would really, really love to hear some positive words from her right now, that I’ve been through absolute h*ll the last couple of years because of this stuff between two miscarriages and a diagnosis of infertility, that believe me if I could have done things different I would have…

Okay, quick reality check. I am well aware of just how "old" I am (just turned 42). It's risky. Doable, but risky. And I can only assume that if someone isn't rude enough to say it to my face, sooner or later their tongues will be wagging behind my back. What am I gonna do? Keep walking. Keep sharing my story. Keep forgiving.

I know this is just the way she is, and she does suffer from dementia, so I keep that in mind. But I wasn’t about to let something negative be the first words out of her mouth (again). I think it came out in a weird combination of panic, laughter, and yelling. The conversation ended well enough and she didn't seem to retain any of the tension from that moment. Just shocked silence, I suppose. Which is a logical reaction. Overall she seemed quite amazed and happy.

I have a weird relationship with my grandmother, though I don't think she knows how weird it is from my end. From the moment I was conceived she considered me the daughter she never had (she had three sons) and spoiled me mercilessly all my life. Until one day, my dad asked me whether I thought it odd how much she complemented me. And then I became aware. Aware of the devastating effects of favoritism across an entire generation in my family. Aware of just how humble I needed to be, and how I needed to separate myself from this favoritism, even if I couldn't get her to understand why (which I couldn't). It has left a legacy of... distrust, resentment, and a total lack of closeness that just makes me so sad. I have no relationship with my cousins which I can only presume is partly because of this.

I love her and forgive her, and just accept her the way she is since I know I cannot change her. But I have every opportunity to be a catalyst for change, to break the cycle of favoritism and resentment with God's hand in my life.

August 13, 2011

"Do You Want to be Pregnant?"



Had to think about this one for a while. DH asked me this after another bout of bitching and raving about exhaustion, indigestion, poorly fitting clothes, blah blah blah... Well mostly it's the indigestion. It's hard to be enthusiastic about anything if your list of edible foods can be counted on less than 10 fingers.

But anyway, back to my pondering. Here's why I don't want to be pregnant: the risk. The fear. The pain. The uncertainty. The checking of the underwear every time I go to the restroom (yes, still). The knowledge that anything can go wrong at any time, and really - we never run out of things to worry about. No real clearing of the woods, just milestones and minimizing risk and holding on to hope.

Here's why I do want it: To have the experience of giving birth just once. To see the joy on my husband's face when he holds his daughter or son for the first time. To realize the knowledge that it really is possible. To see my own flesh and blood running around the living room.

Part of me wants to give the big "ha! you were WRONG!" finger to the Specialist, but that's just dumb. Docs don't deal in absolutes, just percentages. So just what constitues a miracle in the eyes of a medical professional anyway? I can't prove anything to anyone. I can only tell my story and hope that it gives someone hope beyond their circumstances, to know that the end of something isn't the end of everything.

Last night I had a dream. DH and I were in a bedroom somewhere and I looked at a window. I noticed there was a recycling trash bin just below the window inside the room, which I thought looked kind of tacky. I looked again, and there was a mist of blood hovering over the trash bin. I looked again, and saw that the mist had been replaced by a slow-moving cloud hovering over the bin - I looked closely, noticing the nuances of the cloud as wisps curled around the edges. Then the cloud floated up to the ceiling. For some reason, I blew gently on the cloud. It began to dissipate, and then a small figure emerged from the cloud - it was a newborn baby, which was human but looked pale and otherworldly like the cloud. The baby began to float down, and I said "See? It's a baby!" to DH. He was leery, but the baby drifted down into the crook of my right arm. I held the baby, smiling. DH touched the baby's forehead, then its lips - and the baby caught his finger in its mouth in a gentle, sort of affectionate way. And then I woke up.

The next dream was one of those fast-action dreams with translucent tigers floating down a walkway in an Asian spa that changed plots every few minutes. Weird. Oh well.

August 11, 2011

Scan Day

It was a warm and clear night, and we passed the time watching a movie and getting in a 10-minute swim before the pool closed for the evening. Soon it was bedtime, and we felt a sort of peace that didn't make any sense. We had worked at letting go, at trying not to predict the joy or agony of a future we could not see. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we have no control over the next day's news, and so we slept. Que sera, sera.

Morning came, too early for me, but I rose anyway. I ate half a bagel shortly after 6 a.m. since I was already starving, then hit the shower and began the routine of the day. Of course, this routine was interrupted by a morning visit to the doctor. This was the day of the big, fat ultrasound scan. The one that would tell me my future or at least the next year of it. I refused to project reactions and just prayed a little.

We drove to the doc's office, listening to music or talk radio or whatever, and still felt that peace. We walked through an adjoining hospital corridor and I remarked on how I hate the smell of hospitals. It scares me and makes me wonder if that is what death smells like.

We waited for several minutes in the lobby. DH went for a glass of water, and I was called back. Once inside the scanning room, DH showed up just after the technician who came in quickly and announced that she would do a belly scan. No wand necessary. I held my breath, reluctant to look at the screen. She was silent for a moment, getting the scanner into position.

Time stood still for just a moment.

The tech exclaimed "Oh, there's your baby!" And then... there it was. A baby squirming around in a sac of fluid, practically showing off to us to say "I'm still here!" Perfect shape, perfect heartbeat, perfectly measuring at 13 weeks, perfectly normal. I just laid there with my mouth open, incredulous at the fact that this was actually inside my body (except for swallowing the lump in my throat). Due date is somewhere near Valentine's Day. Nothing ironic about that, I'm sure.

The front view of the face, with the baby's still-translucent skin and visible skeleton, was kinda creepy. The tech gave us several photos. The doc answered what few questions we had. The assistant took blood (for the initial chromosome screening). And that was that.

Since I was hungry again, we stopped for a breakfast sandwich. Somewhere in that next half hour I decided - I am just going to embrace hope. I know, anything's still possible. But I do take comfort in those measurements, those movements, that heartbeat, and the fact that I'm officially in the second trimester. The facts are winning the argument over my fears.

Late this afternoon, DH opened a bottle of Cava (Spanish sparkling white wine) and I enjoyed a few sips. We toasted the (near) future, and I let him finish my glass. It was a good day.

August 9, 2011

Two More Days

Less than 48 hours from now, I will know. I will know whether this pregnancy really is viable, whether the fetus is growing normally, and soon after I'll know if there are any chromosomal abnormalities.

Yeah, we decided to do the preliminary blood test to see if there's a possibility for these types of birth defects. But I will not, unless my life is threatened, have an amniocentesis. I did not come this far to pretend that the life inside me is in my hands. I know better. It will only be information - knowledge of something to pray for.

According to the Web calculators, I should be just over 12 weeks now. Nausea is minimal, though I have my days. Food is still largely the enemy when it comes to heartburn as I play Russian Roulette with various foods (armed with Tums and Pepcid). Clothes are tighter, but I don't see anything resembling "the bump" yet. Then again, I do have a few somewhat toned stomach muscles so that could be why.

I'm obsessing about bad stuff way less. Thanks Lord! Dreams are still weird, though I'm trying not to take them as seriously as I might otherwise. I'm ridiculously forgetful (drove to a party yesterday evening only to realize I had shown up a week early! Thank goodness I didn't knock on the door).

Next week my MIL comes to hang with us for a week. I'm really looking forward to it. I am hoping, hoping, hoping that DH and I will be able to deliver wonderful news to her. Just once I'd like to see the look on a loved one's face as I give the news that, despite all we've been through, we are actually going to have a live one next February.

Or, I could be saying something else. But I'd rather not think about that. It does no good to try and solve problems that don't exist.

August 2, 2011

"Don't Worry [Stress Out, Get Your Heart Rate or Blood Pressure Up, or Otherwise Display Less than Blissful Behavior], You'll Hurt the Baby!"

I was relating my paranoid state of mind to a good friend a few weeks, trying to share what was on my heart about how tough this really is for me, and maybe hoping for some words of wisdom when she laid that one on me. My response was carefully constructed cynical laughter laced with an unexpressed middle finger.

Oh, okay! I'll just quit worrying, cuz otherwise I'll kill the baby! LOL No pressure there! Thanks, that's great advice.


May as well tell me not to think about white elephants no matter what I do or a bomb will explode every ten seconds. Oh, okay! No problem.

All sarcasm aside, I understand that a stressful emotional environment is not the best for a growing fetus. Which is why I do try to visualize positive things, pray every day and ask for peace, and recently started reading the book Battlefield of the Mind.

Yeah, I get it. Our thought lives do actually influence our external lives. But rather than creating a vacuum by trying not to think of spotting or having a bad ultrasound or any of the other nasties that can spell doom to a growing baby, I need to know what to replace the thoughts with and, really, how to do it.

And how to deal with the occasional nightmares. Like last night, in which I dreamed that I drowned a tiny kitten in a bathtub and shoved it down the drain. I cried this morning telling DH about it. I'm fine now, recognizing a dream for a dream. But still.

Any advice from those who've fought and won this battle?

July 26, 2011

Progress Report

Just got back from the doc – strong heartbeat, 2 hands and 2 feet, and we saw the little bub moving around in there (doc asked me if I wanted to break out the camera phone to record the heartbeat. I said "naahhh"). Looking more babylike and less bloblike. My next (12.5 week) appt. is Aug. 11 so we are looking forward to that.

We will celebrate by…exhaling.

You may return to your regularly scheduled blog viewing.

Only thing was... she took one quick measurement and it read 9.2 weeks, not 10.2 weeks like I should be. Then again, she admitted that the regular ultrasound operator may take a different reading that would show a different age estimate. What.. me? Worry? I'm going to not focus on that little blip on the radar. I will accept what I know for sure.

In the meantime, I ordered a copy of Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. It's been around for several years but I think it's time I read it.

July 25, 2011

Angry and Doubtful: Hormones or Intuition?

Having a very hard day (and it’s barely 9:00 a.m. here). On a close friend's advice, I called my doc to explain my paranoia and they added an interim ultrasound – I go in tomorrow morning. My own doc is going to do the scan.

Meanwhile, I’ve been having some serious anger issues. I could chalk it up to hormones, but I have had at least four dreams in the past couple weeks where I was absolutely furious at someone for something. They were all justified in my dreams, but it’s still unusual. I told DH that I’m apparently really mad. I just didn’t know why. And when I’m not feeling mad, I’m not feeling much of anything.

This morning I woke up and realized why I’m angry: I’m angry because I can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t going to work out, and I am sick to death of this no-man’s-land of not knowing the outcome. So my mind is constantly playing out scenarios of my reaction to another failed pregnancy, and none of them are good. In fact they kind of frighten me.

So there I was this morning, crying at the table with DH trying to soothe me as I explained this inescapable torment. It truly will be a miracle if I hear a heartbeat and see accurate measurements tomorrow. Stay tuned.

July 20, 2011

Milestones and Memories

Nine and a half weeks.

Not the ridiculous movie that came out in the 80s, but the mile marker on my journey. So why should I care?

In May of last year, I had my first miscarriage at 12 weeks. Ultrasound measurements at the emergency room confirmed that the fetus had stopped growing at 9.5 weeks. So I was walking around clueless for 2.5 weeks (so was the rest of my body, apparently, as I had no symptoms otherwise).

A quick check of the calendar confirms that I now have three weeks between me and that magical 12.5 week ultrasound. It feels like a long, dark tunnel of time. I want to forget - to numb out, fix myself a really big drink, distract myself, do whatever it takes to not obsess over this particular time period. But what can I do? I'm reminded every time I switch from my tight daytime bra to my goofy-but-effective nighttime bra. Every time I stick a cracker in my mouth to abate or prevent nausea. Every time I... well, breathe.

So, this week I'm going to a conference hosted by my church. Thursday night, Friday night, heck - maybe even the Saturday workshop. Something about living for a cause. I went last year and really got a lot out of it - that is, until we did this public outreach thing. That was not a good experience for me (I'll not bother going into details). So I'm really afraid of that part. Otherwise I'm looking forward to guest lectures and really awesome worship music and prayer.

Where are you, Sam? Is your heart still beating? Are you still growing? I wish I could know. My soul groans to know.

July 18, 2011

I'm okay

Feeling pukey today, having made the apparent mistake of drinking a glass of lemonade on an almost empty stomach (damn you, acidic foods - you're all good and I can't enjoy any of you!). Getting better now though. Wearing my Sea Bands like a good girl, hoping to get some exercise tonight. I'm turning into an ocean of expanding blubber.

Had quite an experience at church yesterday – in the last part, during worship, I sat down and started praying (I was tired of standing). I sat during the pastor’s benediction with my hands out, palms up in a receiving gesture (something we do at the Vineyard rather than assuming the typical prayer stance). When I stood up, a young teenage boy who’d been sitting behind us caught my attention. A bit embarrassed at first, he told me that, as I had sat down and started praying that he had a vision of Jesus sitting in front of me holding my hands, and that he felt like God wanted to let me know that he was with me and was listening to me.

I’ve seen that sort of thing happen with others, but it has not happened with me before. It was a beautiful, special thing.

Also, the other day I was driving and thinking about how hard all of this is. That, because of my experiences, I don’t get to just assume things are going to work out. Instead, I freak out and have trouble focusing on positive aspects of all of this since we’re still three weeks away from the end of the “danger zone.”

Suddenly, as if the Spirit had planted the thought in me, I remembered the Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1). I considered what a pivotal, powerful moment that was and compared it to when God delivered me from fear that one day in peer counseling. I noticed the parallel. Then I remembered how Jesus endured 40 days of temptation from the enemy with no food or water almost the moment the Transfiguration was over. Me? I got pregnant almost right after my own encounter with God. So, I suddenly realized that the timing of my experience and subsequent difficult time follows what Jesus endured pretty closely. I can see that experience now as part deliverance from the past, part preparation for what I’m going through now.

All that is to say, I’m okay. Pukey, tired and bitchy. But okay.

July 14, 2011

I Consider it Good News

... that after having several tubes of blood sucked out of me, my obgyn confirmed that my hormone levels are normal enough that I do not need to take extra progesterone.

I know, it's still too early to start that baby registry. And yes, I still check for signs of miscarriage several times a day. But last year, with my first pregnancy, my progesterone levels were just low enough that I had to take this (all to no avail).

I will take good news where I find it. One less pill to take at night hopefully means a bit less of the urge to hurl. Maybe. I dunno.

July 10, 2011


So yeah, the ultrasound was Thursday. It was just fine. Totally viable. Good heartbeat. I just made the 8 week mark today. My next ultrasound isn't until Aug. 11 though, which is the 13 week mark. I feel like it's just too long though, so I may ask for an interim ultrasound like when I'm 10 weeks. Last year, I miscarried at 12 weeks but it turned out the fetus stopped growing at 9.5 weeks. It feels like an awfully long time and every day seems to pass so slowly.

It's true that my husband and I are both taking this one day at a time, but I seem to be unable to reconcile the duality between my surrendered faith and the dark tunnel of my past experience.

This past Monday, I woke up with a dreadful feeling that this one isn't going to make it and I can't say why. Maybe it was the turn of a dream or a gut feeling. Maybe it's being off my meds. But even though God really did deliver me from fear in a powerful way in April, I'm terrified. I want to believe that the best will happen, but I don't know that. I don't know anything - except maybe that God is still with me. But that doesn't stop me from having this emotional turmoil. It's like I can't exhale until the 12 week marker, and until then I can only ask God to let me down easy if this isn't going to work out.

Meanwhile I'm finding it hard not to react with resentment when I see other couples popping out their second kids, or a young couple expecting a baby who just bought their first (beautiful) house. I am forcing myself to be thankful for what I have every day though. Wisdom is no easy teacher.

July 7, 2011

Going to the doc today

In 15 minutes, I go for my eight week ultrasound. How do I feel?

Stressed (okay the first three are also job-related)
Expecting the worst while hoping for the best
Slightly pukey and very puffy

I would say it's out of my control, but that's not really true. My job is to take care of my body and meditate on a positive outcome. Visualizing growth and life and vigor. Pray for God's grace to continue while submitting myself to the process.

Have... faith? I don't know. I guess so. Do I sound like my personality is splitting? Might be.

I'll let you know what the scratchy blob on the screen says.

July 3, 2011

Holding my Breath

Every day for the past few weeks I've put my hand on my belly and said "good morning" or "well, we made it another day." I have barely moved between the couch, the bed, and the office chair. I stand in awe in the mirror occasionally in wonderment as my body explodes in every direction, and I sigh as I try to find a pair of pants that fit and are still clean enough to wear.

This is all good, right?

From the fourth positive pee stick, I decided to submit myself daily to the situation and focus on being in the present in a way that I don't think I've done before. I check in with God, I eat crackers and macaroni & cheese and ice cream and iron-fortified cereal and vitamin B6 and whatever else I can find to beat down the 24/7 nausea and acid reflux, trying to stay one step ahead of hunger and one step behind over-eating. Cuz it's just fun like that. The force is strong with this one.

Good morning Sam (the name I've chosen); today you're the size of a blueberry. I'll love you for as long as you're with me, knowing that if you end up leaving before I get a chance to meet you, I'll see you in Heaven. I envision you growing strong, absorbing nutrients, while my placenta builds steadily and your heart beats and beats.

So I have become a good steward of my body as well as my mind. I am seven weeks along. I waited a couple of weeks to even call my doctor (yes, I am obsessively checking the toilet paper too), but I did stop taking anti-depressants right away. The latter has left me with constant dizzy spells that are finally starting to go away. The last two weeks - between incredible stress at work and exhaustion and sickness - have been hell on me. But the long weekend allows me to inhale a little deeper and sleep in for once.

We went hiking yesterday, which was hilarious. I'd stop periodically and bend over at the waist, expecting to hurl at any moment, then trudge forward as if my legs were swimming through molasses. But we did the loop, which I think was only 1.5 miles, and I was completely spent the rest of the day (despite a nap). Oh well. I like that exhaustion better than other types. I hear exercise is good for me, and I have to make an effort however feeble.

June 22, 2011

Words of Wisdom from Friends who Care Deeply

My husband has been having conversations with a good friend of his. This guy definitely has the wisdom of God, and one day he had many things to say (this was several months ago). Some bear remembering and returning to. I discovered a document in my folder this morning that has these and, remembering their power, decided to share them with you all:

Seek the truth that pulls you out of the living lies.

Don't believe the lie that your pain is too unique to be understood by others.

Don't try to fix or look for answers – look for the right questions to ask.

You WILL have a story to tell. You just don't know what it is yet.

My Children in Heaven

Last night I was reading part of this book called Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. It’s fascinating and a quick read. Anyway, there is this one part where Colton (the little boy) walks up to his mom and says “I have two sisters.” He goes on to tell her that one died in her tummy (true), and he met her while he was in Heaven.

It made me cry. I cried with relief, I guess, knowing that my husband and I have two children in Heaven that the Father has adopted and are waiting anxiously for us. I better quit thinking about it or I’ll get weepy again. I am at work, after all.

I had trouble sleeping as a result (though it could have been the Mexican food too).

I do recommend this book. It is beautiful and innocent. Not the best-edited book I've ever read, since it was written by the boy's father, but still fascinating reading and very thought-provoking.

June 14, 2011

The Great Physician

I truly believe that God has healed me. There, I said it. Committed it to the blogosphere. Why? Because, I have asked for it. I have been led to parts of the Bible that talk about how critical a role faith plays in how God interacts with us.

This one really hit hard one night:

James 1:5-7, NIV
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (emphasis mine)

I have been looking at how people have experienced healing throughout the Bible. Whether it was fertility, or sickness, or blindness or anything else, there is a consistency: faith and interaction. People acted out of faith; prayed in faith; believed wholeheartedly. I don't see anyone who said something like "Well, I've prayed about it but who knows what will happen from here." I'm not saying that never ran through someone's head. Who am I to project?

As for interaction, it always involved more than one person - whether that was a husband, a wife, a priest, a friend, a whole community, or Jesus himself - people prayed for each other for healing.

Now, I'm going to admit that I can't help the thoughts that come to my head that usually start with "what if." However, I am recognizing them as doubt and focusing on God instead.

As if to prove His point, today the message in my mailbox underscored my belief. I subscribe to a daily devotional from Rebecca Barlow Jordan. Here's today's entry:

Day 166


"I am the Lord,
who heals you."
Exodus 15:26

From the Father's Heart
My child, rest in Me. I have given you a prescription for healthy living. When you allow your body to stress out and destructive emotions to run rampant, My healing cannot come. I am not only the mender of broken bones and dreams, but I am the restorer of broken hearts and lives. I am the great physician, and I care for all My patients with tenderness and love.

A Grateful Response
Lord, I bring the pains of a wounded heart and the aches of a broken body to You. I feel Your personal presence surrounding me with quiet assurance. Your touch releases my pent-up emotions, and healing flows through me like a fountain. Lord, You are my great physician.

Simple Truth
God's home is where we can hang our hurts.

A Prayer of Worship

You are God Who Sees Me
You walk before me
You are forever – in the past and the future
You redeem me
You sanctify me
You rescue me
You wrap your arms around me and call me Beloved
You protect me and save me
You don't let any tear go to waste
You use my pain ultimately for Your glory
You smooth my heart with your loving hands
You envelop me in Your love
You are the great I Am
You see me and know me
You are omniscient and omnipresent
You drive out my fears with Your perfect love
You give me Your spirit of peace
You give me rest
You give me a path to follow, hope, and a future
You are mine and I am yours
You love me.

June 13, 2011

Fertile Heart Pre-Conception Detox SummerFest

This is a thought-provoking look at a study which revealed that BPA might negatively influence reproductive quality. Not exactly shocking news, but it bears repeating. It's a good reminder for me to check the WHOLE label of anything I buy.

Fertile Heart Pre-Conception Detox SummerFest

June 3, 2011

How Fear or Unbelief Limits God in Our Lives

i found the most amazing blog from a woman of faith today and just had to share this with you. yes, she's been knocked down by the infertility stick, but her story is full of encouragement for those of us who struggle with our faith even as we overcome (or endure) incredible obstacles.

the topic i'm reading today: limiting God (part 2)

favorite phrase of the day: "...I have to start seeing myself pregnant..." this has actually been an evolving theme for me. between a dream about being told to see something to a brief encounter during a workout when i felt the command "i want you to see this" followed by a vision of my own pregnancy, delivery, and holding a baby, i can sense that this is something i need to do. now.

doubt has been plaguing me, and i reject it right now.

June 2, 2011

Pregnant Coworkers

I now have two coworkers sitting within 30 feet of me that are visibly pregnant. One of them, I'm very happy for since she had three miscarriages before this around the same time that I had my two. She's seven months along now and I catch myself staring at her big, round belly. I don't feel like crying or anything - in fact, I'm pretty flat emotionally. But I need to not do that. I'm going to embarrass myself one of these days, not to mention her.

I still don't know what's going to happen this year and I feel like I'm in a waiting room. I have been here for months now, and don't know how much longer. But wait I must. Patience I must have. I guess I'm waiting on the Lord. Letting Him work on my heart while I'm waiting for my circumstances to resolve, because eventually they will. Sometime this year.

In the meantime, I could seriously use a few rollercoaster rides. Elitch's is in my (near) future.

May 27, 2011


I was on a long walk around Crown Lake – my absolute favorite walk in city limits – and was listening to one of my fave podcasts, Ravi Zacharias' Let My People Think. He was talking about how important solitude is for our relationship with God, and how really that prayer time is a foreshadowing of the communion we'll have with Him in Heaven. But I digress.

A lot of times, my thoughts wander when I listen to podcasts. I can't help it, though I try to refocus when I realize I'm doing it. Oh, I guess I could just turn off the iPod and let my thoughts wander instead. But the pattern is different. I think about deeper things when I'm listening to a Christian podcast. Maybe it's the Holy Spirit whispering to me. Not sure.

Anyway, I thought about everything that has brought us to where we are now and how we have paid such a heavy price for our procrastination and avoidance of parenthood. But though I've asked God to forgive me, and I know He has, I realized in that moment that I hadn't directly forgiven my husband. Nor have I specifically asked him to forgive me. Unforgiveness between married folk – or any relationship for that matter – is bad juju. It prevents healing. We not only need to forgive each other, and ask God to forgive us for missing the mark (the literal translation of "sin"), we need to forgive ourselves. Forgiving yourself is just one way of loving yourself.

After my walk, I showered and hung out with the man. We were getting cozy when I told him my realization and asked him to forgive me, then I told him that I forgive him completely. It was a beautiful night.

May 17, 2011

Tiger Adopts Pigs?

This morning I received an email from a friend detailing the story of a mother tiger who, upon losing her three cubs shortly after giving birth, became depressed and ill. To rescue her, the zoo costumed some baby pigs and voila - adoptive mom is restored by second chance with other species.

I was considering this irony until I found out the pictures are real but the story is fabricated:

I'm having a particularly painful cycle which started a few days early. Makes me wonder if it's actually a loss. Doesn't matter though, and the speculation is depressing anyway.

May 14, 2011

Pray or Accept?

That's what is on my mind this morning - from the time I woke up, I have been turning this over in my mind. When do you pray for a miracle, and when do you accept your situation? But then, I remember all the women in the Bible who begged, pleaded, cried out, and prayed for a change and eventually got it.

Meanwhile, my breasts have been tender, my lower back has been aching a bit, I'm having crazy dreams, and I've been more tired than usual for a couple of weeks. Ah, hormones - life would be so boring without them!

Cried this morning after reading my daily devotional email (from

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast...
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!"
ISAIAH 49:15

My child, how could I ever forget who you are? I have engraved your name on the palm of My hand; I have sealed it in My heart and in the book of life. I created you, and I know every path you've ever taken, every decision you've ever made, every word you've ever thought or spoken. I remember the names of all My children. I will never forget any of them, for they are all special to Me.
Like a mother tenderly nursing her baby, You have nurtured me, Lord. You've guided my steps, overlooked my mistakes, encouraged my efforts, and praised my achievements. You forgive and forget my sins, but You never forget me. Thank You, Lord.
Always remember: The Lord never forgets.

May 13, 2011

Today's the Day

This is the second day of constant rain - a rarity in sunny CO. The weather was even worse this day last year, with snow flurries and freezing temperatures. Differences include: weather, lack of physical pain, no trauma, miraculous change of heart and perspective.

Oh yes - and I don't feel depressed. It's the strangest thing. Downright anti-climactic.

My awesome husband made French toast for me this morning. Got the morning off quite nicely! The power went out in the condo (stupid transponder likes to explode now and then), so we went to the library to work for a while. Stopped at a local Italian place for buffet lunch (what is it about buffets that make me feel like I'm contractually obligated to pig out?? urp..) Worked from home the rest of the afternoon.


Whoops - seems the day got away from me. It's now 24 hours later since I began this, so here's how the rest of my day went: My awesome sister-in-law sent me a bouquet of gorgeous flowers along with a note saying she's thinking of me. Pretty darn special in my book (her and the gesture).

Later I participated in a casual, coffee house music recital. I jammed out Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee" with my guitar and vocal chords. Watched Thursday night comedy on NBC. Continued a bit of reading in Genesis (Joseph has just been given dominion over Egypt for taking care of the grain ahead of the famine). Switched off the light. Slept well. It was all good.

May 6, 2011

Faith and Doubt are Hand in Hand

Yesterday I went in for my annual lady checkup. The last time I was in that office was when I had my second miscarriage, and the same person (the nurse practitioner) saw me then and now. She was wonderfully engaging and helpful, and wanted to know what all I'd been through since she'd last seen me. I gave her the lowdown – therapy, yoga, small group, this blog, and anti-depressants – and she was very empathetic. She remarked basically on how so much statistically and medically is against me according to the results of the fertility lab work. It sank my heart just a little, and I didn't ask for more details. All I remembered was "egg quality issue" and that was all I needed (wanted) to know.  I talked about how critical the support of our church family and others has been, and added "I don't know where you fall on this spectrum, but I'm going to tell you anyway: If it hadn't been for Jesus reaching straight into my heart, I would have DIED."

I left the doctor's office and headed home where I would put in another hour of work. I tuned into K-LOVE as I usually do, and praised God for preserving me and loving me. As I turned off the freeway, a song came on written by a man who's young daughter had died. I've heard it before, but this time I was bawling before it ended, my own pain fresh once again. It acknowledges the confusion and pain of grief and loss, even as it looks for the hope and promise of spending eternity with our loved ones. And that's how I feel pretty much. I told my small group last night about my house dream and about this day, and said that I feel like I'm riding on two tracks: faith and doubt. Why can't I just let go? Trust implicitly? Truthfully, I don't think that is something I can actually do. I believe that this is a supernatural thing that only God can do in me.

Heaven is the Face of a Little Girl
Steven Curtis Chapman

Heaven is the face of a little girl
With dark brown eyes
That disappear when she smiles.
Heaven is the place
Where she calls my name
Says, “Daddy please come play with me for awhile.”


God, I know, it's all of this and so much more,
But God, You know, that this is what I'm aching for.
God, you know, I just can't see beyond the door.
So right now...

Heaven is the sound of her breathing deep,
Lying on my chest, falling fast asleep while I sing.
And Heaven is the weight of her in my arms,
Being there to keep her safe from harm while she dreams

And God, I know, it's all of this and so much more,
But God, You know, that this is what I'm longing for
God, you know, I just can't see beyond the door.


But in my mind's eye I can see a place
Where Your glory fills every empty space.
All the cancer is gone,
Every mouth is fed,
And there's no one left in the orphans' bed.
Every lonely heart finds their one true love,
And there's no more goodbye,
And no more not enough,
And there's no more enemy.

Heaven is a sweet, maple syrup kiss
And a thousand other little things I miss with her gone.
Heaven is the place where she takes my hand
And leads me to You,
And we both run into Your arms.

Oh God, I know, it's so much more than I can dream.
It's far beyond anything I can conceive.
So God, You know, I'm trusting You until I see
Heaven in the face of my little girl,
Heaven in the face of my little girl.

Oh Jesus, make my dreams come true.