January 27, 2011

"Have You Ever Thought About Adopting?"

Why no, that never crossed my mind... thank you for the suggestion!

That's how I'd like to respond sometimes, haha! But I know the question comes from a place of wanting to engage, to be helpful, to show concern. I gotta let the silliness of it all roll off my back. Otherwise it's easy to feel like darts are being thrown at me all the time, and that's just not true.

Instead, I kind of grinned and said "We have several options in front of us." Then of course my (seriously) dear, sweet neighbor smacked her forehead and said "oh of course you do - just ignore me!" I have to be careful not to purposely make people feel stupid for the silly things they say. Just give them grace.

the most wonderful poem: Yahweh

I won't predicate this with my opinion, or how deeply it's sunk into my bones over the years, or how - especially during this time of grief, pain, and confusion - it is more helpful than ever. I will only say that I don't remember the author's name, but she resides in Colorado and shared this with a group of women at a retreat a few years ago.


there is the voice you’ve always dreamed about,
deep, relentless, the sound of many waters
covering you, riding the waves of your darkness;
you crave he who will not drown in your hunger.

I am the one you cannot weary,
unyielding, unrepentant,
I will catch hold, cupping your heart
with healing hands, brushing your hair
under the shadow of my wings.

you push against desire, the longing to see my face,
to know the secret name I gave you
before the stars sang.     You hope your fear will hide you
underneath thick, armor-warm skin,
cradling yourself in its dark shell.

                  this is of little consequence.
before the day was, I had already found you,
stirred your void with my breath.
the terrain of your heart is etched on my hands,
your nightmares will not lose me.
tumble yourself back into the sky
and marry me once more.

January 20, 2011

Why is it so Hard to be Honest with Myself?

There I was, being normal (as opposed to weepy, depressed, obsessive, blah blah) on a Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church. In the back of my mind, however, a little storm was brewing. Something had set me off and I'd been ignoring it.

In my quest for a successful natural pregnancy, I had re-started acupuncture sessions with a new practitioner that is closer to home. In my first visit last Saturday, we went through the health questionnaire, the examining of my tongue, the explanation of my diagnosis and my goals. She told me about a couple of patients that she had helped who went on to conceive, and seemed reasonably confident that she could help me.

So there I was, laying on the table with a dozen or so needles all over my body, trying to pray or meditate or listen to the background music or just keep my eyes closed and breathe. Somewhere in the middle of it all I suddenly thought "this doesn't feel right." I ignored this sentence and tried to focus on other things.

The rest of the day, though, that sentence kept popping back into my head with clarity and solidity. How could acupuncture be not right? It's good for me, it's healing, I can afford it for once... why shouldn't I?

The next morning I started listing what was going on in my head, trying to suss out where that thought came from. Trying to listen and stop rationalizing. I realized that, for me - as long as I'm going after acupuncture and other professional treatments, I'm really not seeking first the Kingdom of God. If I'm really, truly, brutally honest with myself, I had to admit that this was kind of getting in the way of that. For now anyway.

Lest anyone think that I'm somehow opposed to seeking treatment, let me be the first to say that this is the farthest from the truth. I would never deny myself the chance to get help when help is readily available. It's just that, in this case, I sense the Holy Spirit is calling me to a deeper level of faith, perhaps a deeper level of healing, and it scares the crap out of me.

Back to Sunday morning: I found myself caught in a whirlwind of questions, feeling utterly lost in everything with no answers and no direction. What should I do? How long do I have to wait? Should I adopt instead? I started talking to my husband, saying that I felt like I was all alone in this decision and desperately needed to feel like we were on this quest together. It's simply not enough for me to find the answers. And then I admitted the truth - that I thought I should quit doing acupuncture, that maybe I should take a break from all of this for a few months, that I need peace more than anything else right now. And then the storm broke, the tears came, and instead of going to church I spent that time crying at the kitchen table, accepting the rawness of myself and just being honest.

I want to have an answer. A path. A solution. Something to move toward. It's easy to panic, thinking that I'm running out of time. But right now, my task is to wait.. seek peace.. stop chasing after answers.. and just rest. For now.

For now.

January 16, 2011

Article: Heartache of late motherhood

I was searching for something this morning when I ran across this article, published by a British online news site. In Heartache of Late Motherhood, the author points out how many women are being "lulled into infertility" by a society that tells us we can have it all by postponing pregnancy into our 30s and beyond.

Apparently, birth trends across the pond are not so different from the U.S.

The author quotes a London doctor as saying "It is ironic that as society becomes more risk-averse and pregnant women more anxious than in the past, a major preventable cause of this ill health and unhappiness is unacknowledged.

"Public health agencies target teenagers, but ignore the epidemic of pregnancy in middle age.

"The reasons for these difficulties lie not with women, but with a distorted and uninformed view from society, employers and health planners.

This certainly rings true to me. I mean, when was the last time YOU saw a parenthood advocacy organization telling you that you shouldn't put off pregnancy too long because your body might just be on a different path? Hmm? And yet the statistics of infertility once we reach our mid thirties is staggering: Fertility rates start to plummet from 90% to around 67% by age 40 (Resolve). Infertility affects 7.3 million people in the U.S. That's 1 in 8 couples. (2002 National Survey of Family Growth) Yet somehow all the emphasis is on either preventing pregnancy or abortion advocacy. My insurance company will cover birth control pills but not IVF.

Do you see the imbalance yet? What happens when our society starts to experience negative population growth and depends on other means to achieve what we so desperately want to happen naturally? Of course, this question is more appropriate to women putting off pregnancy - it says nothing about the added anguish of couples of any age who find themselves unable to conceive naturally for any of a number of reasons. Infertility needs to be recognized for what it is: a disease.

This is why awareness and advocacy are so important: Infertility is ridiculously common yet almost invisible to society. It's the most exclusive club we will never want to be a part of.

January 13, 2011

What do I Know for Sure?

The day I got the news from the specialist, I was completely leveled. Everything came crashing to a halt. Four weeks later I started weekly counseling because I couldn't see through the clouds of my own misery. I have now been seeing my therapist for about six weeks. I do feel better, in case you're wondering. But it's a matter of degrees, because infertility doesn't let go until it gets resolved. It's the very visible gorilla in the room. And even when it does get resolved.. well, who knows.

I also took some time to do a bit of homework. I have been interested in seeing how others deal with this sort of thing (which is what brought me to the blogosphere and eventual decision to start this one). Did they move right into IVF or adoption? After finding out the price tags for these, and knowing that right now we need to sell our condo and get into a house (which will cost big $ since we're underwater along with most of the nation), we decided not to decide. I asked God to show me what to do, to lead the way.

Funny thing, prayer. My pastor once told me that He always answers the prayers of those who follow Him. And the answer is generally either Yes or Not Yet.

Anyway, I was looking over a bookstore shelf and came across Julia Indichova's book, Inconceivable. She chronicled her story from diagnosis to exploration to healing and, eventually, to a successful pregnancy. What did I learn? That the specialist doesn't have all the answers. She doesn't hold all the cards. And her answer may or may not be God's answer for me.

And so I keep searching. I'm pursuing natural medicine, starting yoga again, eating organic as much as possible, and taking better care of myself. All of this makes sense to me right now.

So what about my pursuit of God's will? Well, this I prioritize above everything else. So even while I'm learning about Chinese medicine, I am Seeking First the Kingdom of God. I am staying in contact with Him, always checking, always knocking, always seeking. Only through His wisdom can I discern what's appropriate for me to pursue.

January 8, 2011

How We Got Here

Three weeks ago I sat in a leather chair next to my husband. Across from us sat our doctor behind a large mahogany desk. Next to her sat a computer monitor and a box of tissue. She was explaining to us how my blood tests revealed that my eggs were no good – expired, you might say – and this was the reason for the two miscarriages I suffered earlier this year. My first reaction was “Wow, this really is my fault” because I am 41 and have no business trying to start a family at my age. But this was faulty reasoning. The truth was buried in our hearts.

The days following that meeting were filled with grief, desolation, and a sense that my life was in ashes. How did I get to this point? Why did we put off pregnancy for so long? I began looking into my past, trying to find some answers. What began to emerge was a pattern of viewing the world as hostile to my body – a world that wouldn’t hesitate to destroy me if I had a baby.

When I was young I made some bad choices. The result was deep guilt and sadness. I eventually packed these feelings away and moved on. I vowed never to make this mistake again, and remained terrified of becoming a single parent. 

While all this was happening, I was growing up in a broken world. My parents divorced when I was six. My grandparents’ marriage was miserable. My friends grew up in divorced – sometimes abusive – homes. Somewhere along the line I began to  believe that marriage + kids = divorce and misery. Where were the happily married couples that reared responsible children? What did it really mean to be successful and happy in this world? My aunt and uncle were the one exception, but there simply weren’t enough examples of healthy, long lasting marriages to disspel me from my viewpoint.

I decided to enjoy being single, and throughout my 20’s I pretty much succeeded in that. But inside I was lonely, and I knew this party couldn’t last forever. I started asking God to send me a good man, a husband. And I met that man through an online dating service at the age of 30. We were married soon after.

My husband, meanwhile, had grown up with his own share of heartaches and brokenness. His parents divorced when he was 16 – you know, during those incredibly unstable teenage years when you don’t know who you are yet and are struggling to understand the world as it is. He left his Texas home at 19 and never looked back, and instead pursued college in Colorado where we met nine years later.

Neither of us wanted anything to do with babies, so it was easy to avoid discussing it. Together we enjoyed our private little world and indulged ourselves in the pleasures of free time. We were free to travel on a whim, free to go out to dinner while our friends complained about babysitters. It made us feel like we were younger than we really were – like somehow we had cheated the system and were truly independent while others suffered the shackles of childrearing.  In our mid thirties, we started entertaining the idea of starting a family. But there wasn’t enough money. There was no insurance. There wasn’t enough room in our little two-bedroom condo. I had bad circulation in my legs and we didn’t think that me being pregnant was such a good idea. We were fully armed with reasons and excuses.

So we straddled the fence between indecision and faulty reasoning for years. We thought we were comfortable, but deep in our hearts the dream of having a baby was starting to emerge. Once in a while I would bring it up – I wasn’t getting any younger, after all. But we had a mountain of reasons why it wasn’t a good time. We had to sell the condo first, we had to have good insurance first, we had to pay off our debt first. As we started to feel the struggle within, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to get pregnant of our own free will. I began to ask God to break through these barriers.

Then one night something happened. We were just a little careless and got pregnant. When I saw that test strip turn positive, my head started spinning like a current in the ocean. Was I terrified? Was I excited? Was this the answer I had been looking for? I shared the news with my husband, and together we navigated uncharted waters of emotions.

All the things we were worried about turned out to be silly excuses. My doctor didn’t think my bad leg circulation would be a problem. Our friends reassured us that space and money weren’t nearly as big an issue as we thought. We had good insurance. And the condo? Well, a baby didn’t take up too much room – we could just keep the bassinette in our bedroom until we could move. We started to get excited and optimistic. We were relieved to find that we didn’t need to worry.

Twelve weeks later, however, all of this came crashing down in the emergency room as a doctor told us I was miscarrying. Everything stopped. We were stunned with an acute grief and deep sadness that swam through our hearts with endless questions. My only response to my husband when the doctor left us alone was, “I don’t want this dream to end.”

Why? Why now? How did this happen and what can we do to keep it from happening again? I also asked questions in my own heart: Did I really come this far, overcoming everything in my life, only to be left with nothing? I felt betrayed by my own body.

So we tried again after a couple of months and got pregnant again. Six weeks later I miscarried again, and on the advice of my doctor we sought the help of a specialist. And so, there we were a few weeks later, sitting across the mahogany desk as the truth of our situation stabbed us in the heart and flattened our lives. I compared it to a nuclear blast – it was devastating, but at least the war was over. We now know the enemy, and it is time.

As my husband and I grieved together, we started talking about how we ended up in this place. I confessed my fears of having children, and he talked about how guilty he felt for ignoring the issue for so many years. It was then that we began to understand how we had spent our lives listening to lies.

November 21, 2010
I had been wandering through a book store, silently praying for God to show me something – some kind of direction – when I came across a book called “Inconceivable.” It was one woman’s story of triumphing over a similar diagnosis through various avenues of self care. I bought it, and it sat on my counter for at least a week before I read it. The author talked about the many things she tried, and all the changes she made to her diet and lifestyle. These were intended to balance hormones, focus energy, and reduce stress among other things. I felt like I had a direction – like, if I could make these reasonable changes then maybe God would choose to bless me in return.

But the more I looked into these things, the more I uncovered the philosophies that underpinned them. Chakras and Chi and Earth Mother and that sort. If I drink false unicorn root infusions or take yoga classes or get acupunture, am I dabbling in the occult? Where is God’s word in all of this, and how can I possibly discern His will or know what He wants me to do? Today I looked up Christian Herbal Healing and did not find anything promising.  Instead I perceive a profound separation between Eastern and Western medicine, and suspect that we do ourselves a disservice by refusing to acknowledge both even if we disagree with the philosophies behind them. But I need more than a hunch to go on if I am to pursue the Truth.

2010. Thank God That's Over.

It was the beginning and the end.. and the beginning. If you know anything about experiencing fertility, then you understand this colloquialism. I'd like to say that I'm looking forward to a new year, but the truth is that I don't know what that means. I hope for hope. It's that simple. Hope for a resolution. For a path forward. To know what to do - whatever that means. Oh don't worry, I'll clarify what I hope for as the year goes on.

But isn't that what it means to be human? To hope. I have faith that I have something to hope for, even if I don't know what that is.