I began this blog when I was 23 years old and my husband, Jesse was only 21. That was in December of 2007 when we decided that we wanted to bring a baby into our family. We had no idea all that decision entailed. Back then I had a false assumption that I was super-fertile and would get pregnant even while on birth control. Well, I was off of birth control for over a year, went through all of the fertility testing, and then was diagnosed with "unexplained infertility".

This past year has been one of the most difficult I have ever been through. I ran the emotional gauntlet on this issue, ranging from intense sadness and heartache to anger towards God to total peace about what He is doing. God began to show me how He was using my infertility as a ministry. It is my hope to share my testimony with others so that they may either be encouraged as they face their own infertility or educated as they learn what infertility entails. More than that, though, I hope that the things I share point others to God regardless of what they are going through.

When I first began this blog, the entries were kept private. But I have decided to open everything up in order to let people see the raw truth of the struggle. I strive to find the fine line between sharing the truth and sharing too much information. However, it is my desire to share my heart, regardless. And I have learned that there is never "too much information" in the world of infertility.

After being diagnosed with unexplained infertility on November 17, 2008, I was put on a round of 50mg of Clomid to strengthen the quality and quantity of my eggs. I suppose it was how God chose to work because I became pregnant that very cycle.

In order to be sensitive to those who are still going through infertility, I have opened up a new blog about my pregnancy. I am maintaining this one, though, hoping that it serves as a testimony to anyone who may be going through infertility at the time they come across my site. If you want to follow my life's journey, check out my other blogs. And if you would like, please don't hesitate to email me:

Monday, December 1, 2008

Part 2

Just one week after Michael moved in with us, I attended a family game day at my cousins' house. I come from a really big family. My mom is the youngest of 6 kids and every single one of those children had at least 2-6 of their own. Now, many of those kids are married and having families of heir own. This leaves me with 21 1st cousins and 20 2nd cousins just on my mom's side of the family. And all but 3 cousins and their families live within 15 miles of me. I am really close to many of these family members and am fortunate enough to have great relationships and a lot of support from them.

Many people who blog about their infertility describe the difficulty in dealing with family members who don't understand and often say really hurtful things. I am fortunate enough to not experience this very often. I do, however, have one particular cousin, one that I am pretty close to, who seems to not understand at all. When I first began trying to conceive, she was extremely excited for me. I had spent the previous year living with her before I got married. She was a newly single mother of a 3 year old daughter and 4 year old son. As she worked swing shift, I practiced my parenting skills, picking up the kids and feeding them dinner, entertaining them, disciplining them, bathing them and tucking them into bed with songs and prayers. So, when I got married and decided to begin trying to have a baby, my cousin, Liz, was genuinely excited for me. But when my own excitement turned into worry, her optimism (I assume) came across as insensitivity. It made sense back then when I was still in the normal range of "conceivable" time. In fact, most people responded this way. But as the months have turned into a year, her response remains the same.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to her younger sister about some hormonal and medical issues she'd been having. In fact, her symptoms sounded to me like endometriosis. So I suggested that she mention it to her doctor because she wouldn't want to find out years later when she tried to have kids and couldn't. At this particular game night, she was updating me with the most recent blood tests revealing a low thyroid level and her current course of treatment including charting her cycles. I asked her, out of curiosity, if her cycles were longer than 35 days which could mean that she wasn't ovulating. Liz, overhearing this question, responded quickly, "That can't be true! I've had 2 kids and I've always had long cycles, sometimes more than a month and 1/2 between periods!" I responded, "Liz, it doesn't mean that you can't ever get pregnant. You may ovulate one month and not another. You just got lucky." She responded in disbelief and I was like, "Liz, I've studied this for over a year!" The conversation turned back to her younger sister's medical treatments and then there were many games that followed.

A few hours later, as we were walking out the door, Liz made a comment to me about not getting to talk to me much. I told her that she could just talk to her younger sister to find out everything that was going on with me. She responded, "I heard some of it. I can't believe you are actually taking fertility drugs now!" I said, "Liz, it's been over a year." She said back, "Yeah, but lots of people try for years and years." UGH!!! I just can't believe how some people don't understand that trying for years and years is not normal! Something is probably wrong with you if it takes that long!!! And, infertility is not one of those things that doctors treat haphazardly and just subscribe pills to "see if this works". We had to wait a full year to even seek medical intervention since we had nothing to hint at a problem. Then we had to undergo extensive tests, and the drugs I am on currently are the least invasive, most reasonable next step to take at this point for us. More than anything, I was taken aback at the idea of still having to justify my infertility after a year of not conceiving. It made me wonder how much would be enough to prove my infertility? Would 2 years be enough? 3 years? 5 years?

The very next day, I attended my family Bible study, attended by many of the same cousins and aunts. I don't always go, but this particular week was related to infertility and my mom thought I may have a unique perspective to offer. Before the study, I sat down at the computer to check all my messages and blogs. It's here where I first read my sister-in-law's blog that completely attacked my brother-in-law. Then I opened up my blogger dashboard and learned that one person who had just announced her pregnancy was announcing the loss of her baby. And another fellow infertility blogger whose wife was recently pregnant had just experienced a significant amount of bleeding and things didn't look too good. Then we began the study...

The study is called "Breaking Free" by Beth Moore. She is a strong woman of faith and has a heart for God. This particular week's study was about the dreams that little girls have like being beautiful, being a bride, having children, and living happily after. Each dream was broken down into a day's study and examined from a Biblical perspective. So, this day's study was about having children. The basic idea presented by Beth was that even if you aren't fruitful with physical children, you can have spiritual children through ministries that allow you to encourage younger believers in their faiths. I think in and of itself, this idea is true. But, there are so many dreams not met through spiritual children that can only be met through physical children. I want to BE pregnant. I want to feel my child grow inside of me. I want to physically bring this baby into the world through childbirth. I want to hold my baby in my arms and know that this child was conceived in the love that Jesse and I share. I want to look at his/her face and know that they carry our features. I want Jesse to teach his son to play catch and dance with his daughter on his feet. Spiritual children don't meet these dreams.

One point Beth made in the study was that God gives you the desires of your heart when you delight in Him, when your desires line up with His desires for you. Therefore, if you are seeking God with all of your heart, and your desires don't change, especially ones that you feel deep to your core, I believe that you can stand on the belief that those desires are from God and that He must give them to you at some time. Now, this could be fulfilled in other ways. More than being pregnant, I just want to be a mom. So, perhaps God will still make me a mom through adoption. Not every aspect of my dream would be met, but I would ultimately have children, fulfilling the purpose of the dream, right? As for me, this is how I look at my current situation. I believe that God has given me the desire to be a mother. I believe He has equipped me with many skills to do it well. And I have to believe that if I am seeking Him and my desire has not changed, He will fulfill it one way or another.

I think people are scared to stand on this promise, though. What if your desire never changes and God never gives you kids? Does that make Him a liar? I don't know how to answer these questions completely. I do not believe God is a liar. That one is easy. What does it mean, though? I have no clue. And my lack of answers concerning this used to make me angry towards God, and made my infertility something I struggled with. I came to a point, though, that I had to believe God knew better than me. I had to believe in His sovereignty even in my situation. I had to believe that He had a purpose in it even if I didn't understand what He was doing.

In the study, though, I found myself surrounded by people who could easily shrug off infertility by saying that there is a blessing in barrenness (read my previous blog to see how I feel about that) and that you can have spiritual children even if you can't have physical children. The only person who has experienced infertility at all in this group of people was my mom. It took her 4 years and a miscarriage to finally have me. But she didn't go through the same struggles that I have. As I've discussed my journey with her, she struggles to understand. She didn't feel the same urgency. She didn't have any worries. She wasn't even really actively trying. She was more focused on her marriage, moving, and jobs and just assumed it would happen at some point. It just happened to take 4 years and a miscarriage to reach that point. Everyone else in the room had children without any difficulty or has not even tried to have kids yet.

The basic idea of the study was one founded in truth, but it so quickly dismissed the hurts of infertility and the dreams that are missed out on when one experiences barrenness. It was difficult for me to sit there those few hours and listen to the points of the study, still feeling like I had to justify why spiritual children will not suffice every need. My heart ached. It ached for my brother-in-law and the horrible effects of divorce. It ached for how some people allow difficult situations to bring out the bad in them. It ached for others whose hearts were also aching as they were facing the death of a miracle. And it ached for myself, as I strive to understand God in my infertility and strive for others to understand it as well.

Yesterday, though, I experienced a moment that makes up for all of the moments that no one understands- a moment that gives me encouragement in the midst of infertility- a moment that makes me feel like what I am going through matters even to those who don't understand it- in reality, a moment where someone takes the time to ask me how I am and delve into the difficult questions. You see, I work in the nursery at my small church. Each week, I sit through the service in a playroom surrounded by mothers and their tiny toddlers. When I began doing it, I thought that I would quickly become one of them, but as time goes on, I often find myself sitting on the outside. They share their stories of pregnancy and childbirth and I share my fertility treatments. They share stories of the things that their kids do and I share stories of the things my cousins' kids do. In fact, one woman in this group is 8 months pregnant with her 2nd child, and she got pregnant the very first month she began trying which happened to be 5 months after I started trying. Yesterday was an odd day. There was only 1 mother and 2 small kids, so the nursery was much quieter than normal. Yesterday, amongst the many topics we discussed, this mom took the time to ask me how things were going with my doctor's appointments. Then she went deeper and asked me how I handled working in the nursery with all of the kids and even the pregnant moms. She said she had even discussed the question with the mom who is currently pregnant, and they wondered how hard it must be for me. She acknowledged that I am not a selfish or jealous person so I probably don't wallow in self-pity, but that it must be difficult to be surrounded by every week. I got to share some of the struggles and the hopes that God has given me through it all. To me, this is big! It means the world to me to have someone just take the time to learn more about what I'm going through. This is the biggest thing I have experienced in the past year and one of the biggest things I've experienced in my entire life. And yet, people often ignore it because they don't know what to say. How much it means to me to have someone take the time to just ask and try to understand! I left that day feeling refreshed, feeling like at least 1 more person has gained understanding into the issues of infertility. I didn't have to justify anything. I didn't have to prove anything. I just got to tell my story and know that someone cared enough about me to ask for it.

Not everyone will understand infertility. Some people don't care to acknowledge it. Some people just don't get it. Some people will not ever encounter it. But I believe God has allowed me to experience this for a purpose. I believe that He has/is giving me a testimony through it all. And, I see it as a joy to enlighten others on the issue and to share how God works in my life in this way, even if that's just one person at a time...

Part 3 to come...


Melanie said...

Wow girl I just love how your words flow... Thank you for expressing whats on your heart. I know its hard to express everything on here but you are doing a great job at it and you don't even know how much it touches my heart cause I go thru these similar things everyday too.. And like you said this will be "Our Testimony!"

The Baker's said...

Wow, my friend, as I can related to some of what you have written about, how other have no idea about infertility and the emotional roller coaster that we go through every month. You have expressed it perfectly well as to what you go through, as I empathy with you. Hugs. I especially like how you talk about the desires of our hearts to Gods desires for us.

Melody said...

I'm glad to hear that you were encouraged by someone. It does mean the world to you when someone shows a general care or concern. After going through more than 9 years of infertility and losses, I can't tell you how times I've dealt with insensitive people. I've felt very alone. I know the feels you describe well.

Over the years, many people look at me with pity. People express how sorry they are for me, but yet when it comes down to it, they still don't try to understand anything. That's the thing that frustrates me the most. On those rare occasions where someone shows general care and concern, I just cling to moments. It really makes you thankful for those moments.

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