Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Too tired or too busy? Pick your weapon.

Often times I find myself coming home from work with a to do list that outlasts the hours I have left in the day.  Dinner time, bath time, dishes, laundry, quality time with Camden, laundry, prepping for day care, storing breastmilk, cleaning, time with Jake, bed time, etc.

You will note that my list didn't include reading a devotional, time with God, or writing.  I'm currently multi-tasking and writing this on my phone, sitting on the couch next to Jake while he sleeps (quality time, right?) and feeding Camden.  

I've noticed that I have been using the excuses "I'm too tired or I'm too busy" a lot lately.  I've used them to put off writing what is on my heart, to avoid chores or certain projects and even the age old married "I'm too tired."  Yes, I admitted it. Also to avoid reading my bible and digging deeper into time with God.    

Something I realized today though was that those two statements are the Devil's very best weapons against me and the worst part is that I am the one that uses them against myself!  I don't use those excuses on the mundane things as often as I use them on the things that mean the most.  Such as, intimacy with my husband or quiet time with the Lord.  Those two statements erode the most important relationships in my life and it's time for me to reign that in.  

Sometimes God reveals that something I consider small or insignifant is actually quite serious and having a bigger effect on my life than I recognize or admit.  I now realize that when things or my relationships seem to be getting off track, I need to quit giving the Devil a stronghold on my time and my schedule.

Tonight, after recognizing this pattern, God seemed to give me more quality moments and time with those that mean the most.  I'm always amazed that sometimes all it takes is admitting that I struggle with something for God to make a change for the better.  

Matthew 6:33-34 ESV / 4 helpful votes

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Laying It at the Altar

I realize in my last post that I may have come across as ungrateful, especially to those still in the thick of trying to have a baby.  That was not my intention.  Rather, I just want to help people see that infertility isn't like a passing cold or flu.  It doesn't come and go and you don't just get better after getting pregnant or having a baby.  

This post might sound similar or be just as confusing but bear with me as I try to dig deeper into explaining life as I know it.  

As a result of our retrieval, we now have a number of frozen embryos in storage.  These embryos are there for our use when we decide it is time to expand our family.  

At an appointment prior to our IVF cycle, we sat down with a nurse to go over some paperwork.  During this time we came to a couple of questions and she posed them like this.  

"There is a chance that after retrieval you will have extra embryos.  You need to decide what will happen to those embryos in the case of divorce, death, or once you turn 50 years old.  At that point you can either choose to discard them or donate them."

Let's just put this in perspective, we were just told that we need to consider donating or destroying life, made of us, made by us, at the end of a divorce, when we die, or when my biological timeclock has expired... Sure, no big deal, give us 5 minutes to chat.  Mind you, our nurse was awesome and super helpful during all of this but it was still a shocking conversation to have to have.

We talked it over in the few minutes we had and decided that the only option for us, because we refuse to destroy these lives created, would be donation.  

That decision was made before retrieval took place.  We now know that we have 14 embryos frozen for use when we decide it is time to expand our family.  

I think about these babies every day.  I pray for these babies every night.  I wonder what they look like, if there are more boys or girls in that group, if they have more of my personality traits or Jake's, what their laughs sound like, and most importantly, what God's plan is for their lives.  I think of them when I look in my sons eyes, who at one point was frozen just like them.  I wonder who we will meet next if God decides to take us down the path of pregnancy again.

As stated before, there are no guarantees.  Jake and I don't know if we will have another successful transfer, we don't know which of these embryos God will entrust into our care as parents and which He will entrust into another couple's care.  This is heavy stuff.  I imagine conversations with the babies that we can't raise ourselves and explaining to Camden that he has siblings in the world that didn't grow up with him.  My heart breaks at this thought.  My heart yearns to meet every single one of these children but I don't know if that is God's will for our family.  

Last week my pastor challenged us to leave our "security" at the altar.  You see, these frozen embryos are my security.  I know they are there and I wait for the day that I can meet them, whether or not it will be this side of heaven is unknown.  When our pastor spoke two weeks ago, his words pierced my heart.  I was convicted and realized that I was placing more security and drawing comfort from the fact that they are there when needed instead of laying them at the altar and trusting God with their care.  

I can't say what the plan is for our family nor can I say what the plan is for each of our children but I can say that daily, I have to choose to trust God with their care.  I have to lay down my security at the altar and always remember that these children are a blessing from God, they are not mine to keep or control.  I must trust the Lord to give me the strength and patience to see His plan unfold for our family and so far, this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.  While embryo donation is a path that we may go down later in life, it is absolutely something that God has to prepare in my heart each and every day starting now.  

Please remember that the weight of infertility can go far beyond what you are aware of or can imagine.  

Jake and I are privileged that God has chosen us to walk down this incredibly windy road but we know it will bring us to our knees time and time again and we just hope we can walk it with God's guidance.  We lay these babies down at the altar and we pray that God will guide us and help us to be good stewards.

Beyond the Baby: The Aftermath of Infertility

It has been a while since God has laid anything on my heart to share and I didn’t really intend on writing on this subject openly until someone nudged me to do so. 

While I’ve known ever since walking through our journey to pregnancy and IVF that my heart breaks most for those longing for a child, there are some portions of this struggle that I would feel more comfortable keeping private but yet again, God calls me to be transparent. 

I thought that after I got pregnant and upon the arrival of our son that everything would just be better or I would somehow feel fixed.  Then one day, we received news that our friends had begun trying to have a baby and were successful right away.   With this announcement came the usual lines of “I could just look at her and she would get pregnant…” or “It was always very easy for us…” 

I stood there and let the comments go in one ear and out the other and while I was so joyful for our friends, I found the news hard to take.  Really hard to take.   Luckily, Jake could sense this immediately and upon our arrival home, just as tears began to well in my eyes, he said, “Isn’t it crazy how different life can be for people?  God has such different plans for each of us.  Sometimes I don’t get it, but you know what? I’m ok with it.” 

He knew.  He knew instinctively that there was a part of my heart that was broken for us.  He knew that even after everything we have been through, I carry a certain weight because I know that isn’t our story.  He won’t ever be able to say how easy it was for us. 

The fact of the matter is that while we have our child that we have longed for and prayed for for years, we are still working with the same equipment.  And while I am fearfully and wonderfully made, the way God created me puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to naturally conceiving a child so that just isn’t us.  It wasn’t our story and unless God wills it otherwise, it won’t be our story.

That night, I realized that infertility is not just a one-time thing that you go through only to have it be “fixed” by a pregnancy or a child, if that is what God plans.  It is something that you re-live over and over again.  The sting of pregnancy announcements can be just as hard after you have had a baby as it was before you had a child because while you may have your baby there is no guarantee that you will be able to continue to grow your family.  It comes with a dose of post-traumatic stress because you know in the back of your mind that it was harder for you, it took longer, and there are no guarantees.  Please don’t take this as me saying that anyone who successfully conceived naturally once will be able to do so again or that pregnancy is a guarantee for anyone.  What I am saying is that once you live through the reality of infertility, you never truly let it go.  It is always a part of who you are, it is part of your story, and it can discourage you or encourage you.  It can also be very painful to revisit and is not necessarily somewhere you hope to return to ever again.  Nonetheless, if you desire one child or five, it may be something you think of often. 

Truthfully, I accept it as my cross to bear but I won’t say that it has been or is easy to carry.  I know that it is a heavy load and that is why it is so deeply rooted in my heart to help anyone else carrying it.  It can make you weak and bring you to your knees.  It can knock the wind out of you when you least expect it and that is why it is so important to let others help you get back up. 

I have to remind myself often that there is no shame in what we went through or the steps we had to take to get to where we are.  I continue to find victory in the struggle.  I share these thoughts and insecurities with you because I want you to know I am not “fixed” and I have realized I am not seeking that.  I won’t sit here and tell you how infertility will affect any one person in particular or how you will come out at the “end” of your struggle.  I can only share what it has and continues to do in my heart and trust that God will use it for good.  I will also trust that God and my husband continue to love me just as I am. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.