Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years Eve: Choosing hope over despair

Since last night and through this morning I was not in a good place. The thought of a new year, which usually gets me excited, instead just brought me dread. All I could think of was "great, another year, more of the same. Things not going my way, more family growing announcements that will twinge in the pit of my stomach, having insufficient qualifications to move on in my career, more money troubles and another year for my endometriosis to get worse." I couldn't bare it. Then I realized it was the depression talking, and what timing! I started to look at medication options thinking, maybe its time. Maybe 2015 is the year I allow myself to get chemical help for this. But I looked at the side effects and the research done on antidepressants and PCOS and it just didn't seem right for me.
I needed to think my way out of the darkness. I reasoned with myself and told myself that the fact that I didn't want to feel this way was already progress! Sometimes, when depression hits, it feels like a warm blanket that you want to hide in for a while. The problem is when you get all tangled up in it and then you can't find your way out. I was able to peel off the blanket and tell myself that it wasn't worth it. Not today. I then began to remember the neat things that happened this year that I didn't expect would happen. We weren't planning a trip home, and we went. We weren't planning on my husband being amazing and getting to be on TV and that happened! We weren't planning on getting a dog, ever, and we ended up with an amazing sweet pet that I can't imagine not having in my life now. I wasn't planning on getting the position I am working in now, realizing this isn't quite what I want, and being able to narrow down my career aspirations that much more (good and bad mixed together for a net gain). I didn't think I would be able to clean up my diet, and here I am, doing so much better with it than I have ever been!
There may not be anything specific I can look forward to in 2015, no goals to complete, no trips, or major life events for either of us, but that doesn't mean wonderful things aren't going to happen. I should learn by now that there isn't a lot of planning I can do for life. Life happens all around us, guided by the divine hand of our Lord whom I trust with all my heart. I need to remember to trust in Him and know that even though I can't see the rainbow through the rain just yet, but it will clear up and when it does, I look forward to it taking my breath way, one more time.

Today, I choose hope. And I wish this for you as well.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Remember Elizabeth in Advent

The story of the conception and birth of Jesus is a beautiful and glorious story filled with love and hope and grace. But there is a similar, lesser told story during the same time: the story of Elizabeth.
Luke 1: 36 - 38: "And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her."

 I honestly felt moved by the spirit to recall and tell this story to you today. Elizabeth was considered old for that time, given that Mary is thought to have been 14, and I wonder if Elizabeth was my age... in her 30s and therefore considered old for that time.  I don't know for certain and I could be wrong but the greater idea is there, and she resonates with me today. The story of barren women is prevalent throughout the Bible and Elizabeth's story is not that unique. An old barren woman who has given up on barring children at this point in her life and an angel of the Lord gifts her a child, and an amazing, strong, historical child at that. Stories like these are the ones we hang on to in our darkest days while trying to conceive. We pray to the Lord to remember us as he remembered Sarah, and Rachel and Hannah, knowing that the blessing of fertility and life is God's alone. But as a barren woman who has crossed that 30 year old (ovarian) barrier and who has stopped trying and has stopped hoping (though do we ever really stop hoping?), what does this story mean to me?

I like reading the rest of that passage where Mary says "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." It was not Elizabeth who had said that, but Mary, the unsuspecting innocent maiden, whom God had chosen for the ultimate gift of fertility, being the Mother of God. Talk about having the perfect child! But I do love that passage... Here I am, servant of the Lord.... let it be with me according to your word..... I remember vividly the days and nights of my hysterical, hormonal, grieving, sobs when I felt that God was being unjust and cruel with me, leaving me barren when others around me were not. With a clearer mind, looking back, I know that it was part of the process of healing, and that that pain shaped me, continues to shape me, as a continue to become what God wants of me, according to His Word. I don't yet know if a miracle is in store for me, or if the miracle in my life will take on a different form that what I once hoped it would be. But today I remember the barren... my sisters, those who find some pain the story of Mary and hope in the story of Elizabeth. For everyone the story of the birth of Jesus will fill us in different ways, but all of them still come from the same great Love that can fill our lives and our hearts if we just give it room... let it take hold of us and replace the places of darkness with true, undying light.....the purest, truest light of all.

And this is my Advent wish for you.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Broken heart

I was in church this morning and the littlest children sang a song of praise. It was the cutest, most heart breaking little song ever. I enjoyed, smiled and laughed with the rest of them for most of it, until I couldn't ignore the sound of my heart breaking half way through the song, then I had to look away and focus on something else, anything that would allow me to not fall apart during service... and I made it! I was able to get through the service, albeit, distracted, but the whole way through without even a quiver. Once I got in my car and started driving myself home, I could feel the knot on my chest and I know from experience that if I don't let it out now it will ruin the rest of my day. So I let myself cry. I cried for the pain in my heart, I grieved for the child I did not get to teach that sweet little song.
I think that one of the reasons I have pushed away treatment and pushed the idea of adoption to the back of my mind, besides not allowing it to consume my life, is that I feel that my heart is too broken. I feel it is so broken it will not mend, and that my broken heart is not worthy of offering to an innocent, small child. I worry that I am too scarred, that I have built up such tough scar tissue that I can no longer be the mother that I wanted to be. That I will be guarded, and scared to love too much that I may be a mediocre mother.
And these are my deepest darkest fears...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

On Goals and Infertility

I've been following some pretty great Pinterest boards and blogs on Infertility lately and it has helped me reflect on my journey thus far. One thing that I have noticed I usually cringe at is when I see "pins" or blog posts that say something about living through storm and darkness and that soon light (image of baby) is coming. Now, I don't want to sound jaded or bitter, I want to think I am writing this in kindness to my "co-journers".

I think that we do ourselves a lot of harm when we make having a child our ultimate goal. Along the journey most of us will say: "Once I get a BFP..." or "Once I'm pregnant..." or "Once I'm a parent..." then I will be happy! All of this pain, suffering, difficulties, it will all be worth something and I will be worth something.
I think I can safely say we have all experienced these thoughts.

I feel that one of the things that has helped me the most in my survival through treatment, and now my healing, is that I forced myself to remember that what I seek is peace. I started this journey with an unrest in my heart that there was a hole, an emptiness in my life that I felt needed to be filled. I thought long and hard of why I wanted to be a mother. I can't go on this journey without knowing my true reasons. I have a terrible flaw of being stubborn and closed minded once I've decided I want something, and that can range from the need for something material like a dress or shoes, or something immaterial like a specific type of friend, or in this case a child of my own. I knew that of myself and because I knew the nature of what lay ahead I knew that to have strength on the darkest days I needed to know for sure why I was doing this. I prayed and meditated over my reasons and decided that the underlying, true reason I was going to put us both through this was because I wanted peace. I wanted to give us the best chance possible to grow our family. I am a scientist and I needed to try all methods I thought were within our reach and our comfort zone. And I did. And it didn't work. And I have grieved and lived through the pain, the despair, and the feeling that I am a completely useless woman if I can't give my husband a child. Then... I remembered. I remembered my goal. My goal was to feel like I did everything within our power (and even stretched a little farther with IVF). In the end its in God's hands, and I got to the point were I said "enough." probably holding on even longer than my husband expected or wanted, but I needed to feel like I tried it all (again, within my own comfort zone which will be different for every couple).

My point is, I am striving for peace in the unrest of my heart. For this part of the journey, the medical part of the journey, I feel I reached that peace. I gave it my all, our all. Now we wait. We wait for something amazing to happen. I don't know what that will be, if realizing personal, professional, or spiritual goals, or if adopting is in our cards, or what miracle is yet to occur. I have faith in God that He will give me peace and when I receive it, I will know.

So to you, who is going through this challenging and difficult part of life, I ask you to look deep within yourself and find your true reason. I hope it helps you through your darkest days, and it keeps you from forgetting that there is a life to live, and you are worth it! God's Love amazing! Steadfast and endures forever!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Have I mentioned PCOS sucks?

I recently got back from a trip home where I had a decent time with family and friends. I also took the opportunity to visit an old doctor of mine that successfully helped me with my weight and nutrition when I went on BC. I hoped that he would help clarify for me what I should be doing since I felt like I was getting a lot of conflicting information about what to and not to eat. During this appointment he decided to check me out with ultrasound and make sure my organs looked ok. Unfortunately he dectected a fatty layer on my liver and given that I have PCOS (NAFLD and PCOS) it was diagnosed as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). Apparently it is asymptomatic and sometimes doesn't show up in the bloodwork for liver enzymes that I had done recently. NAFLD if left unattended may lead to cirrhosis. So lets do a recap shall we?:

  • PCOS - metabolic disorder that may lead to:
    • Insulin Resistance (check)
      • Diabetes
    • Gallbladder disease (check)
    • Infertility (check)
    • NAFLD (check)
    • Anxiety/Depression (check)
    • Heart disease
Best course of action for most of these? Let's say it together!: Diet & Exercise !!
Sigh... so here I am again, trying, AGAIN, to adjust my lifestyle so that more aweful things like diabetes, cirrhosis and heart disease don't claim my life for good. 
Bright Side: IR and NAFLD are "treatable" and I have to do my very best. Maybe this was the kick in the pants that I needed to get back on track. I am working with a diet plan that my old doc sent me home with and I will give it a shot and see how it works. Its quite lenient if I do say so myself which worries me, but it this works and kick starts my metabolism how its supposed to I will be very pleased! In the meantime I ask for prayers so that I can keep it up and not lose my resolve, my willpower and well, to keep loving myself.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Anxiety about a trip Home

I want to feel strong and courageous today, but my period, the endo pain and my emptiness is winning....

In a little over a week my husband and I are traveling to my home country for a week. Usually on these trips I am so excited I can't contain myself. This time its so different. The last time I was there, 3.5 years ago, I was there for a friend's wedding and I was none-too-shy about my upcoming TTC journey that was going to start that summer. Since then, well, things haven't quite turned out how I had hoped. I was sure that by my next trip it would be three of us, not just two. Things have changed, life changes, people change, a lot of them have married and had children in this time...
These are my friends and family who love me and I love, but I can't help but feel so much anxiety over it. I have gained weight, I have gained sadness and a slight aversion to holding baby for fear that I will fall apart. I am also acutely aware that it is a mostly Catholic country where being married and almost thirty without a child is practically unheard of and those who don't know my story are going to ask that old as time question "Where are the babies?!"
Maybe I am hyping myself up more than I need to, as I tend to do, and maybe those awkward situations will be few and far between so much so that it won't affect my enjoyment of the trip, and maybe I will be stronger than I think and I will enjoy the trip despite any comments or questions about my family status. But right now, I worry. And I am sad that infertility has taken even this enjoyment from me.
Maybe this time the trip will be joyful and fun for different reasons, maybe it won't be for the people but for the shear enjoyment and pride of sharing my land with my husband who loves it almost as much as me without knowing it as well.
Maybe by then I will be ok.... today, not so much.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wrestling with God through the night

Genesis 32:24-31
Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ Then the man said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

I am ready wrestle with God now. I am already injured and limping, but I will not let go. God is my strength and makes me stronger by wrestling with me. I know that all that is happening in my life is not God's wish for me, and that the greater picture is yet to sharpen so I can see clearer. The pain, the anger, the resentment, is eating at the virtues that God has granted me, the things that make me special, that make me Me. I have been at the lowest of lows. I have felt no desire to live, I have given my husband my blessing to leave me because I thought he deserved a better life than that which I was living. I was depressed and tired. Now, I am tired of being tired. God has placed a new challenge in my life, to accept a greater role in my church. Whether or not I take it is irrelevant right now, because what it has done is make me think about Him again. Make me try to decide what I want to do about this important part of my life. This is when I decided that I wasn't done yet. I will not walk away from Him. I have loved Him all of my life, finding purpose and joy, feeling special because I am his princess and He is my King. Every decision I have made in my life has been in light of Him and for His Glory. All of that hard work, all of those decades of difficult decisions, accepting His will, why stop now?

I'm not perfect. And I can't claim to have always done His will. But, I'd like to think that I have thought of His will in making decisions most of my life. And I didn't do it so that he would favor me, or grant me all of my wishes. I've done what I think is His will because I TRUST in Him. I trust that the choices He wants me to make are to guide me toward a path of righteousness, truth, and true happiness by living my life with a purpose, furthering His Kingdom on Earth.

Right now, I don't know what is next, and I am ok for now. I may fall apart again, and get back up, and fall again, but for now, I am ok. I still can't look to the future because its so uncertain and scary. But I have regained my confidence in God, I know that somehow, someday I will be happy again. And for now this will be enough.

(Thank you to my beautiful friend who reminded me that I have so much more to give and that not all of me is lost and broken.)

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Friday, June 6, 2014

One year after... and there is always love

I have been very aware this week of what was coming, the anniversary of the call that broke our hearts into a million pieces, when the nurse called and said "I'm so sorry...." I didn't hear much after that because I lost it, I feel apart and didn't think I could make it anymore. I had been very depressed earlier in the week thinking about it and feeling hopeless, helpless, angry and tired but something happened between then and now. I realized how much there was to be thankful for. More than anything else I am thankful for love in my life. The love from my wonderful husband, my family who cherishes me, the few friends who have been nothing but supportive and understanding, and the love I feel in my heart from my Father in heaven.
I have been very distant from Him lately because I didn't, I don't, want to feel anything, and when I pray, I feel a lot. I have absorbed myself in fiction: TV, books, movies, allowing the nerd obsession to dominate my life. I am not strong enough yet to allow myself to feel yet, but I am getting there... I mean here I am writing this post. I can only get stronger if I try, if I push myself even just a little bit, to think about it, talk about it. I also don't want to think or talk about what is next. I just want to live in the present, right now what I need and want to do with my life right now, this weekend, this month. I want to be a good daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and more than anything I want to be a good wife to my husband who deserves a good wife, a woman that can be present with him, support him, love him, and help him see the amazing qualities that I see in him. Without him I would have never come out of that deep dark hole I was in last year, I found strength in our marriage, and that was enough. We are enough right now, just him and I and all of the life we have to live together.
I am a Doctor Who fan, and I can't help but think we are a lot like Amy and Rory... he is my Last Centurion, waiting for me, loving me, fighting for me, even with myself, because he believes in me, in us. Amy has always frustrated me, though I think she is brave and strong and smart, she didn't always appreciate Rory and everything he did for her. I would like to think that I can learn from her and make sure to always appreciate my husband and every thing he does for me.
So, this post started out sad, but in the end, what I want to say is... A: I love you, cherish you and appreciate every small kindess you give to me every day, I hear you. Thank you :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I name thee: Grief

The last few months, I have lost my appetite, my enjoyment of food, of company, of, a lot of things, except for sleep and being in my husband's arms. I found myself dragging to get to work, being at work and just feeling annoyed at anyone around me who talked about anything besides how much I hated my life. I lost track of time passing, I didn't know what day it was. And yet, I didn't know why. I thought it was the hormones, or the new drug: Spirinolactone messing with me. Making me weepy and such. I lived in an irritated state. I tried so very hard not to take it out on my gentle, kind, husband. It was until he asked if I would go see my therapist, whom I hadn't been to in a few months, that I realized that I should probably do something about the state I was in.

I went to her yesterday, without a plan of what to talk about. I just told her how things were going, didn't particularly feel like dwelling on any topic. She looked at me and said "You know what I'm going to say before I say it: You are grieving." The second the last part of that sentence came out the tears welled up in my eyes. That is exactly what it was. I knew it, just like she suggested. I felt the grief as if it had been tangled up inside me, unwinding, and I felt a sort of relief... I am not turning into a bitter old woman, I am grieving. It is real, and it is ok. I asked her if it would ever end, because I am so tired of being sad when no one is looking, and not being able to handle pregnancy announcements, and friends joyfully struggling in parenthood. She said, it would get better, but that I had to let myself, let us grieve.
She suggested a closure ceremony, of accepting a life without biological children. It didn't mean that we would never be parents, since we are determined to adopt, but of that dream that we both had, when we were younger, and when we were first married of those beautiful, smart, children that looked like us, that had our quirks and interests, and how much they would be like, and not like us. To see our loved ones in them, those here and those passed on. I loved it. I am currently trying to figure out what would be most healing for both of us. I found some cool resources online: 
I don't know yet if it will be private, just the two of us, or if we will have others there. I am toying with the idea of perhaps asking a friend who was my pastor, to "officiate" if she were able. I do know need this. We need to acknowledge our loss, and how it affects our lives. I read in a Christian blog recently something that has really stuck with me recently: Singles and childless adults are the most ignored and the least ministered group in a church. Any church. Its true and it's sad. A part of it is the symptom of infertility, the silence, of being guarded and suffering in silence. One of the reasons I started this blog, to break the silence, and help others get through this. It is difficult enough to go through this, why should we have to go through it alone?

Another thing I realized in thinking through my grief is that I still hold on to that glimmer of hope that people insists on giving me, about God's miracles, and how others have gotten pregnant after treatment, after adopting. Even though I know the stats on that is less than 1%. Every month when my cycle does something funny, I question, I hold my breath... but what is worse is that when my period comes, as it does, I grieve all over again. Those comments, benign and kind as they are intended to be, do not help me, they keep the grief fresh in my mind, for me to suffer from the idea, over and over again. 

In reading other blogs, of women who have gone through what I am going through, of not having miraculous resolutions, I realize that the grief will never really ever be over, even after I adopt and after life has gone on. But it can get better. I doesn't feel that way right now, I cannot see a light at the end of this tunnel right now, but maybe next month, or the month after that, or the year after that. Maybe some day, I will not wake up with my fate as my first thought, and the tears, and the bitterness, and the deep deep emptiness, will be a memory of things that made me who I am, someone stronger, kinder, a better follower of Christ.

In Your name I pray. Amen.