Saturday, June 25, 2011

Infertility background...

I think it's time I start writing out the details of how each gift of a child was given to me.  But to start things off, I am going to write the backdrop that led us to being able to have a family. 
I have mentioned in the past, I knew when my sister Abbie was born into the world, (she is turning 22 in 3 days!!!) that I wanted to grow up and be a mom someday.  I loved Abbie.  She was the best gift to my family.  My parents weren't expecting it, but that is how the Lord gives some of the best surprises. 
When I met Nick and we started our relationship, we both knew we wanted to have a family, and our plan was to not use any birth control when we got married, and just allow the Lord to provide us as many children as He wanted us to have. 

A few months before we got married, we were sitting around the dinner table at Nick's parents house.  And we were all joking about Nick and I getting pregnant with the honeymoon baby.  Nick's dad breaks in the conversation, and shares, "You laugh now, but what if you don't get pregnant right away..."
That sat in the back of my mind, and it didn't sit very well.  Yes, that could be a possibility, but that wouldn't happen for us. 

After we got married, I began to wonder if that first month we really would get pregnant.  I was not working anymore, and I had no intentions of finding a job because I was ready to go onto the NEXT thing in life.  It was like this checklist that I had in my mind.  First comes love, then comes marriage, and then comes the...  we all know :)  the baby in the baby carriage. 

My period came the first month, but I was not to be discouraged.  We ventured onto month two, and my hopes started to build again.  And once again my period came.  Hmmm...  I began to wonder how this getting pregnant thing really worked.  So over the following months, I started to research out charting your cycle on the computer.  Each month I could almost pinpoint the exact time, and as I would get closer to seeing if my period would come I would begin to do things like calculate the due date if we really were pregnant this month.  I already had a name book with a boy name written in it that Nick and I had chosen when we were 18, and a list of girl name options. 

When we got married God gave me a best friend that He knew I would need for this season in life.  Her name was Leah.  Leah had gotten married to her husband Dan 3 months before we had.  Our husbands introduced us after meeting on this PSU honors society retreat that they were both a part of.  I could talk to Leah about all my struggles and I felt completely safe with her, and she would pray with me and encourage me and point me to the Lord.

Leah and Dan announced in the winter of 2001 that they were pregnant.  I started to get excited.  Maybe God wanted me to get pregnant with her, and we could have our babies together and our families would grow up together.  That was my plan anyways. 

But that did not happen.  Leah had baby Gabriel in October of 2001.  I began to wonder if something was wrong.  I went in for a routine doctor appt, and I asked my dr. what he thought.  He told me that since Nick and I had never been intimate before marriage, that it could take up to 3 years, so just give it time.   When I talked to Nick about that, he said we just needed to wait.  So wait we did.   But I still was not getting pregnant.  I kept hoping.  I would even go to the dollar store and buy their pregnancy tests and take them.  Every single one would be negative and then within a few days my period would once again start. 

In summer of 2002, Leah was feeling not quite right, and she found out that she was pregnant again.  Something inside of me was screaming frustration.  God was NOT getting it right!  This was my time, to be pregnant with her. 
Nick was at that point willing to go to the dr. and get checked out.  His test results came back fine.  So Nick said we needed to wait and just see.  I was extremely irritated at this advice.  I did NOT want to wait anymore.  I wanted action - to be able to move forward with things.  I remember saying things to God like, "If I'm not pregnant by this time next year..."  trying to threaten God.  I had huge doubts in my faith through this season.  It didn't make sense to me.  Here I had "surrendered" the whole birth control thing so He could give us the family He wanted to have and HE wasn't taking advantage of that and filling our quiver full. 

THE TECHNICAL SIDE OF THINGS
Winter of 2003 Nick finally gave me the go ahead to find an infertility dr.  A friend referred me to a gal she had gone to, so we went to that clinic.  Finally I felt like things were moving. 
We started tests right away - our first test was this dye test that they shot in my tubes, and it made me feel super crampy.  That was how we spent our Valentine's Day.  I was excited though, because they said that sometimes it would clear things up and women often would get pregnant after this test. 
But a few weeks later that period showed up on schedule. 
They had me do temperature charting and take ovulation predictor kit tests.  Those showed I ovulated, but then I would start my period 9 - 10 days afterwards, which most women start 12 - 14 days.  We did a post coital test to see how long sperm survived inside of me (sorry if this is TMI), and it came back with no survival.  So we did it again just to make sure it was done right (Not exactly sure how we could have done it wrong, but okay;)  and it came back negative again. 
So she immediately started me on a basic dosage of chlomid to help me ovulate earlier with the hopes that it would increase the days after ovulation to allow more time for a conceived baby to implant in the womb.  They also started us doing insemination - where they would take Nick's sperm and wash it, and put it inside of me hoping my body would not kill it off. 
We did this for 3 months. 
Then she said she wanted to do a surgery to see if I had endometriosis.  With my severe cramps it was a possibility.  So that summer I went in for a surgery.  The results were that I had a medium case of endometriosis.  She lasered a lot of the sores from the endometriosis inside of me, and the hope at this time, would be that Nick and I would take the next few months and try on our own. 
We did.  But it became more and more like this brick wall I could not break down.  No matter what we did, I had this feeling we were not going to be getting pregnant. 

THE LESSONS AND PREPARATIONS GOD WAS DOING IN ME

I had a friend that was going through a similar situation.  God prepared my heart and deep down I knew she would be getting pregnant, but that wasn't what He had for me.  She did get pregnant.  And HE gave me such joy for her.  It is definitely a hard thing to have all your close friends getting pregnant and wanting to be a part of that and not being able to, completely out of your control.  He gave me the courage to have joy with them though.  I am so glad I got to be a part of all the celebrations and joys of their lives instead of being holed up in my own hurts and aches.  That was a TRUE gift from God because it isn't an easy things to be able to experience. 
Another one of the best gifts HE gave me in that is those friends including me as a part of their families during the day.  I would go over to their homes and hang out with them and their children.  I got to watch how they were raising their kids, and Nick and I would talk a lot about the things we liked, and the things we didn't like, and we would pray about it and God began to mold and prepare our thought process in how we would train our children.

For a few years I did a Precepts Bible Study.  There was one lady with children in junior high and high school that I grew to love to be around and respected.  She invited me to her home one time, and we talked a little bit about the infertility struggle I was going through.  She encouraged me that while I was waiting, why not do a Bible Study on what the WORD teaches on children.  So that summer I met with 3 other friends and we did exactly that.  We researched out and did word studies on parenting and prayed for each other and it was once more preparing my heart for how the Lord would have us parent - and the goals He wanted us to strive for. 

I remember one time being very frustrated with a guy that had been a part of our college group.  About a year after we were married, he came up to me at church and told me he was praying that the Lord would not allow me to get pregnant right away so Nick and I could enjoy being married.  I was so upset by that.  He didn't know that I was going through infertility.  However, looking back that was something that the Lord did lay on his heart to pray for us. 
Over the course of those first few years Nick started to share he was glad we hadn't gotten pregnant right away.  I didn't understand at the time, but he had just gone along with what I was hoping for, but he wanted more time to build our marriage foundation. 
So many times I wish I could back and cherish that alone time with him a little more.  Now, being married almost 11 years with four children, I would LOVE to have a week with just Nick to go somewhere just the two of us.  Why didn't I take advantage of that more? 
We have seasons in life, and we can live in joy in them, or we can live to be discontent and waiting for that thing to "fulfill" us.  God had to get me to a point of complete surrender to HIM before He could give me the gift He wanted me to have, which by the way are way better than I could have ever imagined. 

BACK TO THE STORY...
Winter of 2004, we went back to the dr.  We had not gotten pregnant on our own, so she suggested we try 3 more rounds of chlomid and insemination.  I fought it badly.  At this point I was DONE.  SO done.  I wanted to move on, and start pursuing the adoption process. 
Diane Comer had been leading a women's Bible study that I had been doing the worship for.  The first month of us doing treatment again, I saw on my temperature chart that my temperature was dropping again, and I knew I was not pregnant.  I was heart broken and devastated, and I had Bible Study that night, but I was in NO shape to lead the women into worship.  I stayed home that day, cried a lot in my bed.  And worked out my sorrow for with the Lord.  I was mad at Nick for making us try again, mad at the Lord that we were having to keep trying.  I did not want to have to start again and deal with two more months of disappointment. 
The Lord gave me a song.  A beautiful song from His Scripture that He had me play out on the piano.  And for some reason the WORDS comforted my heart and gave me courage.  These last few months of trying treatment, I would finish strong.  I would trust Him. 
Nick told me that he knew that it was hard to keep trying these last two tries.  But he said he knew it was what God wanted us to do.  And then Nick said, maybe if we are suppose to adopt, that our baby was not ready yet, and so that could be why we were still suppose to wait. 
And by His strength I did push through those last two tries.  And we did not get pregnant.  And that is where our story for starting our family truly begins...

Figuring out today...

Reflecting once again at reality.  Two and a half years ago, Nick and I made a decision that we knew with either results we would be okay with.  We tried once last time to get pregnant.  And successfully we got a Mallory and a Lena through that.  This last year and a half has been filled with so much joyful memories and I have two more children now that I absolutely adore and am grateful to God every day for every moment that I get with each one of them.  Having children is something I never want to take for granted. 
However, sitting inside on this sunny day with one baby up really early from a very short nap, and another tucked away in a room enjoying her nap to the fullest, a part of me aches to do something.  To be adventurous with them.  Nick is gone camping with Josiah tonight, and when it would have just been Ava and I we would have found someone to hang out with and go eat somewhere or take a walk or just be around other people.  But tonight, I think we will probably stay at home, give the girls baths, and maybe play in the front yard before bed. 
Two weeks ago I made the decision to start potty training Mallory and Lena.  It was a very intense first week, one that I prayed through every moment as we began.  Nick was on a business trip, so my friend Joy came over with her kids and helped me tremendously in this.  That was a huge gift, because looking back,  I honestly can't picture jump starting potty training for both of them with out that help.  And we are no where near complete with this process (speaking from the experience of both girls having poop accidents today).  But I can be grateful that they have the basic concept down, and we will pick up from those accidents and keep moving forward. 
I am battling a bit of discontentment, and trying to figure out how to live with the life that I love.  I don't know if that statement makes sense, but I am in a season right now of that it is just easiest to be at home.  And I do love to be at home and am so VERY grateful for the home the Lord provided us with.  But there is always a battle inside of me, wanting to combine the way I was a mom before Mallory and Lena, a mom that took her kids to parks and to Omsi and to the Zoo and to playdates, and would love to plan vacations with her family, with the way I am now as a mom of four and all the labor that is involved to make one of those outings a possibility.  I just am not sure how to make that work.  I know that it is a season that will pass way too fast. I want to make each day intentional for my children and give the older two a special summer filled with lots of fun memories.  I just need to figure out how to do that at home more... 
I guess I am just wanting to always be content where I am today.  Not looking back to the way things were, nor looking ahead to how things may be, but being grateful for each moment. 
I have more thoughts I am thinking, but I am hearing Lena moving around, so I need to go get her up... and then figure out dinner. 
So the daily life that I love goes :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Memories of my homes

I don't know if any of you ever had the privilege of attending a Mary Courson retreat - but I did twice.  Even though it was the same story both times I was so blessed and encouraged by her way of sharing her life so beautifully - and the ways God had worked in it.  It truly was an example of older women teaching younger women and I loved it!  She wrote a book that pretty much was just more details of what she shared at her retreats: Fragrant Pathways. 
One of the topics she wrote on was homes.  All the different homes she lived in - the memories she cherished from them, and time spent in them.  I am going to pull a copycat, and do that myself. 

In my room there is a picture framed - it's really a puzzle Nick and I did one Christmas break, of a Thomas Kincaid painting - and there is a beautiful home with lights glowing on the outside.  I picture that as my home that God is preparing for me someday.  It is a simple little cottage - beautiful flowers outside - and it just seems homey and inviting, and one that others could come in and be blessed by.  So that is my heaven home someday that I look forward to.  :) 

My first home that I remember, was my childhood home.  It was an old farmhouse - now over 100 years old.  I loved that house.  There was a garden that my parents planted in each summer...  my dad built us a very cool tree house in the back in one of the apple trees, with a homemade swing that swung from it.  One year he had a bunch of friends come and help pour concrete in the back to make a patio, and we all got to put our handprints in it.  Even Poohbear the kitty.  My dad also turned the attic upstairs into three bedrooms.  My bedroom had a curtain closet, that I made into my little writing room, that I would make up stories in, and dream about things.  I was given a typewriter by a friend's mom that went in there, and I would type out stories and I even typed out a newspaper for awhile.  This was the home of my dreams - where I was allowed to be a dreamer.  I would look outside my window and watch people go by and dream.  I was going to be the next L.M. Montgomery, or Louisa May Alcott - I was sure of it. 

The downstairs floor were hardwood - and they made great floors for "ice skating" in socks. 
It was the home that my parents brought my baby sister home to.  It gave me a beautiful picture of a mom who would spend her afternoons sewing clothes for us kids from her bedroom window while watching us play in the backyard, and a dad who could do anything in the way of fixing and constructing things.  He even put in a basketball court that we would shoot hoops together in the evenings sometimes.  It was a home I learned my love of music in.  It was a great house. 

It was old though and I remember carpenter ants that would show up every year - those were really gross.  One year right after halloween I had a bunch of candy wrappers in my garbage can, which they all found and crawled around on - and as I started killing them they started crawling on me.  I developed a deep dislike....  no a deep hate for ants that day. 

When I was in middle school my parents decided to sell the home and move into a newer home that had more basics - like more than one bathroom for our family of 5. 
This was the home that I finished growing up in.  My dad put a wall up in the family room downstairs and created a room for me with glass closet mirrors and double doors.  It didn't have carpenter ants here which made me very happy.  My parents purchased a trampoline at this home - which is still there now, although it really is at the end of it's springing days.  It was the home I spent my last night as a single woman in, and now it is 5 minutes from my current home and my children all love going there to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa Ray, and Aunt Abbie - or "Abs" as my daughter Ava called her today. 

There was my first apartment that Nick and I spent our first half year of being married in - at the Verandas. 
The home that we got a kitten, Katie, in and used our wedding money to pay for the pet deposit.  A home that we walked through the doors to a huge pile of wedding gifts and confetti and balloons and roses EVERYWHERE thank you to loving friends and family - especially my brother who snuck my keys and had them copied before I got married. 

Then there was our first "home."  It was a 4 bedroom - with a little yard that backed up to Baseline.  There is a palm tree, given to us by our dear friends Nathan and Michael at our house warming party.  It now is over the fence and you can see it as you drive by on the main road.  It is the home that we dreamed of starting a family in.  A home that got toilet papered by high schoolers from our youth group that we helped with, one weekend, and thank you Eric Doll for giving us the list of everyone involved.  :)  A home that we brought another kitten home to, Lucie, when I was getting the pregnancy itch and needing something to practice my maternal instincts on.  A home that I would cry on my bed after spending days with my friends and their children, aching uncontrollably for the desire that this home would some day be filled. 

It was a home that held an empty room, that I kept a door closed to, with a few baby items in the closet, that maybe someday I would get to fill it with a baby. 

It is a home that we gave up, so we could move closer into Beaverton to help start a church plant, and take money from the proceeds to start the adoption process.  It is a home that never was filled with our children, but jump started that dream for us. 

Then there was the summer apartment.  A place we lived interim from our new Beaverton town home being built.  A place where dreams were starting to move forward - a home that we filled out adoption paperwork in.  The home that I would come back to after working at the church as a secretary for 3 days a week.  A home with sidewalks that we would walk on in the evenings and talk about our new church and about dreams of starting our family.   A home that we knew was only for a short season and so full of hopes and plans and excitement. 

In October of 2004 we moved into our townhouse.  The home that we would settle in for the next 5 years.  This is where we brought all four of our children home to - Josiah, Ava, Lena & Mallory.  A home that I repainted a purple wall many times to get the colors just right to match my "peach" couches.   A place that was close to the max station, which would take me and Josiah and Ava on little adventures to the zoo or to downtown.  The perfect place for walking to and from locations, and with a patio that I put climbing hydrangeas on the rock wall that grew beautifully.

A place that I watched my busy little boy run in circles in. 

Memories of deciding to pursue adoption again and telling Nick that I was okay with it as we looked at the picture of me and Nick and Josiah over the mantle and I knew we were not done with just one. 

Times of hearing about birthparents changing their mind and deciding to keep their child and coming back home to Josiah and being so GRATEFUL for my little boy. 

Times of getting to bring Ava home to her brother, and later getting to decorate a baby girl nursery because of awesome friends who bought me the bedding I had dreamed about a year before... 

A home I watched Josiah and Ava take 2 Easter eggs down the hall to the front door and had them hand them to Nick to tell him I was pregnant. 

A couch that I sat on for 8 weeks while I was on bedrest with the twins and watched the blessing of the Lord pour out on me while friends and family took care of us and provided for us while I sat and carried my babies to 38 weeks. 

A home that was not empty for very long and suddenly filled beyond max capacity.  And one that we chose to put on the market a month after Lena and Mallory were born, and then I kicked into super cleaner mom and thankfully we sold it 6 months later. 

And our current home.  A home that we are just getting settled into.  A home that's bedrooms have white walls and may stay that way for awhile until my children are older and I have time again - or at least help?  One that I am getting to enjoy seeing my husband and Josiah create a garden and plant things and find joy in watching them grow.  A home with four bedrooms so Josiah and Ava can both have their space to be themselves, and a home with plenty of room for friends and family.  A place that I got to watch the neighbors down the road do their annual illegal fire work show on the fourth of July shooting them right over the roof of our home (thankfully we had a rainy June).  It's up on a hill, so it is a home that has taught me with my running, how to run back up hills at the end of my runs. 

A place that my kids broke in with sickness beautifully starting with Mallory's mystery infection, then the "100 day" coughs, stomach flu, ear infections (10 total), scarlet fever...  and now we are taking a break from that for this summer season.  It's where we come home after being commuter mom for my two older children driving them to and from school. 

I don't know how long we will get to be blessed with this home - but for now I am grateful for the shelter and protection it provides for us.  I hope and pray that I can create an environment that my children will have fond memories of as they grow up.  I know that it's not the home that creates that.  A home is just a home, big or small, old or new, it doesn't matter.  For me, it's all about the lives I get to love and serve in it, and the God who gave it to me for this season.  I pray, thinking of all my faults and failures, that I can be good steward to all that the Lord has given me.   And that this home will be witness to all that HE does in and through our lives.