Category Archives: Grappling

Today I’m Rich

“And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” -Rev. 21:3

This verse is giving me great comfort today, as I’ve realized lately that much of my questioning and struggle boil down to the question, is God good?  Scripture says it outright countless times, yet I still find it hard to believe.  Believe at a heart level.  I question how a God who is sovereign and good could allow the kinds of suffering that I see and that I experience myself.  My own suffering pales in comparison to some of the horrors occurring in others’ lives and around the world.  How do sin and the fact that we live in a fallen, broken time and place factor in?  It feels easier to swallow that sin and brokenness are the default for now but that Jesus is entering into it and redeeming it all even now.  It somehow feels more compassionate — but perhaps just easier to swallow — that this suffering isn’t what the Lord wills, that He wants something different for us, wants us to not have to anguish for the past two years, wants our bodies to be working, wants us to be parents already, wants to take away the pain, is crying with us and wants to wipe our tears.  Can He be as good and as compassionate if He is willing this suffering and this situation for us?  For others around the world?

Not easy questions, not ones I am really trying to answer here.  And maybe it doesn’t even matter.  If I play with the ideas in my mind, I tend to think so — think in my head — but in my limited human-ness it seems to break down somewhere, leaving me wondering about a sadistic god who would will such pain for greater good.  I hate to even write the words.  Could there be a greater good?

For the longest time that has felt impossible and at the very least, trite.  But I dare say I’m beginning to experience some of it.  See it, taste it.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

I’m coming out the other side.  It sounds crazy to say when we haven’t even started IVF yet, we haven’t a clue what the outcome will be.  I’m feeling more like myself again, only a more mature, seasoned version.  A little deeper, a little more dimensional.

My friend Katherine, someone I’ve grown closer to only through this time of suffering, is one of those people who just gets it.  I can pick up with her and instantly feel understood, not to mention less like a crazy person.  Katherine wrote me after our final IUI attempt failed and I asked her if I could share it here on my blog.  It is just too beautiful to keep to myself and I hope some other infertiles can find it useful.  Her words encouraged me greatly at that time and continue to as I’m beginning to experience some of what she talked about.  (As an aside, her email is also a perfect example of how to be an amazing friend to an infertile.  I keep it in my inbox and about five other cards in my journal, all containing priceless words my amazing friends have sent me the past year.)

Hey –
Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that we’re thinking about you guys.  [My husband] told me that you came in for prayer about next steps, which was sad news (since I was a little behind on the blog and hadn’t heard about this month yet) and also so encouraging that you guys are doing things like getting prayed for.  I can think of about 1000 times we should have done that but it never occurred to us.

I am so sad to hear that your little one did not arrive this last month.  We really mourn with you, my friend.  Such an exhausting and grueling process. It’s very exciting news that you’re moving forward with IVF, though.  On to a new adventure.  🙂  I know it may not feel like it, but you are in the thick of something big in your life.  If you were to graph your growth over time (the inside kind, of course), it is taking a steep upward turn these days while you gain a treasure-trove of experience, wisdom, future empathy for other women going this path, and all sorts of other things that you might not have wanted, but are getting nonetheless.  Count on it – if you hang in, you will get your baby one day – and unlike all those other lamos who got pregnant on the first try, you’ll have that treasure trove to go with it.

Needless to say, I hope and pray that you have both of those things very soon.  🙂  We’d love to see you guys sometime soon.  We can talk and lament over this stuff, or just ponder the final scene of DA.  Either is fine.  🙂

How beautiful is that?  (And great that she deeply empathizes, mourns with us, has faith for us, and relates to the feeling that super-fertile people are lamos. 🙂 )  I replied to her that I would hang on to this image because, at that moment and for a long time before, I was not feeling an ounce of growth or feeling God’s nearness.

I am beginning to get a very real sense of this treasure trove, though; I think that day is coming.  I’m increasingly aware of a feeling that I’ve gained something the past two years.  In a time that has felt so dry and agonizing and empty.  I think that depth and dimension are exactly what she was talking about.  Maybe He can use this — whether He willed it or not — maybe this treasure trove is worth the suffering, and that He, in fact, in all His goodness helped me in the suffering and brought and is bringing this treasure into fruition without an ounce of my own effort.  I never thought I would say that and really mean it — not as a defense against my pain and confusion — but I don’t think I imagined what and how good the treasure could be.

We still await a child.  We still do not know how or when the Lord will bring him or her to us.  We wait and we wait.  We wait and are in anguish and are comforted.  We wait uncertain and fearful and aware that He desires to wipe away our every tear.  We wait, praying He continues to build that treasure trove, praying that above all on the other side the treasure is good and that we will know and taste His goodness.

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Today I’m Drinking Dandelion Tea

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Like it would be yellow and pretty and smell yummy.  Wrong.  It’s kind of nutty and very bitter and resembles coffee in color more than chamomile tea.  But it is one of many things I’m changing lately to try to have only healthy things flowing through my body.

We have all but decided to go forward with IVF and have a tentative start date of December 31st.  (Yay, shots, happy new year!)  We would begin initial meds (birth control, which is so odd for any infertile woman to take) mid-December and stimulation would start the last day of 2012.  I hear the stimulation phase is the most intensive of the IVF process from a time and attention perspective, including shots a few times a day to stimulate your body to grow lots of follicles and every other day ultrasounds to monitor their progress.  This growing and watching leads up to a shot triggering the ovaries to release the eggs, retrieval surgery to get those puppies out, fertilizing them, letting them grow in the incubators, and transferring back in 3-5 days.  That’s IVF in a nutshell.  Oh, and the two week wait before finding out if it all worked.

It feels exciting to be moving toward beginning but also scary.  Obviously we’re wanting to do all we can to create a baby-friendly environment, hence the dandelion root.  I have to admit that it can feel very depriving and borderline masochistic to do all of these things.  But as my co-worker recently reminded me about scaling back with work hours, all mothers have to make sacrifices for their children and I’m just getting an early start.  This angle actually does help me a good bit, legitimizing and encouraging me forward in these decisions.

So, what I’m doing lately:

  • Eliminating processed foods, including diet coke (gasp)
  • Cutting way back (if not out) dairy, sugar, and soy to prevent inflammation and hormonal spikes/imbalances
  • Dandelion root tea and/or drops 3x/day and warm lemon water every morning for liver cleansing
  • Udo’s Omega-3 oil blend, vegetarian source of DHA (also ick)
  • Being a good girl with drinking lots of water
  • Acupuncture

As a vegetarian I’m used to having a limited diet, but adding these changes on top of that was beginning to feel overly restrictive and, enter feeling sorry for myself.  But I’m beginning to, instead, focus on being creative with all that remains — which, in reality, is most really good things.  If I were doing that Thanksgiving gratitude-a-day thing on Facebook I would say: Whole Foods iPhone App.  I’ve gotten some inspiring recipes on there and it’s helpful to view my market trips as time to stock up on good things to build up and nurture my body.  Mmmm, seltzer water.  Who needs diet coke?  Okay, fake it ’til you make it.

So as we’re looking to jump on the IVF track here in a couple weeks I’m yet again struggling a bit with the balance between doing my part in it all and yet acknowledging that I can’t control this process.  I’ve even wondered if we should postpone IVF until threeish months after I’ve consistently implemented all of these changes because what goes in my body now affects eggs that will be ovulated in three months.  But then I step back and wonder about all of the people out there who make terrible health decisions, abuse substances, live on doritos and are still pregnant.  These things help but are they enough on their own?  No.  Dandelion root can’t create life.  Omega-3s can’t create life.  I’m praying for an accurate perspective right now.

I also don’t want to get in a position of blaming myself or putting all of the pressure on me to perform just right in order to become pregnant.  As I’ve said many times before, a baby is not something I can earn or make happen for myself.  I would have done it by now.  The parallels with God’s grace really can’t be overlooked here.  I couldn’t make Him love me or earn my way into a relationship with Him.  It’s just a gift.  I don’t know how all of that works and applies in this situation with a failing body, but I do want to remind myself that He gave me that best gift already and that He is the same God I’m crying out to hundreds of times a day now.  He is a God who hears and I have seen that before.

In the meantime, in all the waiting and the hard work, I’m taking pleasure in the small things, like the holiday with family, the Christmas tree being up, a fire in the fireplace, and my amazing new fuzzy slippers.

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Today I Found Pumpkin Spice Creamer

I’m beginning to worry that my readers are on to my all-too-frequent trips to Target and/or obsession with beverages.  If I can no longer hide it, then I might as well share this story with you.

I have scoured the dairy section for pumpkin spice creamer at different groceries no less than eight times the past month but with no success.  I started to feel cheated and deprived (melodrama?  I don’t think so.).  As usual the Target trip to pick up my prescriptions felt like a bummer at the end of a long workday, not to mention the disappointing reminder of getting started on these meds yet again.  I did my routine drive-by in the grocery, couldn’t even find it listed on the shelf labels, and began to walk away, only a glimmer of orange happiness caught my eye.  In the middle of the jumbo creamers — there it was — one solitary pumpkin spice lovely, all alone and reaching for my buggy (yes, I’m from the south).  This totally made my day and gave me a chuckle that it seemed like a single bottle had been placed there just for me.  Now, don’t worry, I don’t think God sent down a creamer fairy (I suppose angel would be more theologically correct if we weren’t, in fact, talking about coffee creamer), but it did make me think about how He does love to show up and provide for us and make Himself known.

We stayed with some friends this weekend as we traveled out of state for a wedding and went to church with them.  Their pastor preached on Genesis 16 about Sarah and Hagar.  Seeing this in the bulletin triggered a fight or flight response but I thought about social acceptability and took a breath and managed to stay put in the pew.  I was surprised when he pulled from this passage that: God sees, God hears, and God speaks.  Verse 13, Hagar speaking, especially resonated with me, “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'”  This is a message God has been — quite literally — speaking to me the past couple weeks, and yet again in this church miles away.

My last story.  I’m in church a couple weeks ago and a woman I have chatted with a couple times and who is known for her amazing prayer life pulled me aside.  She said to me, “I know I don’t know you very well, but I wanted you to know I couldn’t stop thinking about you last weekend.  You just kept coming to mind and so I kept praying for you.  I felt like I should tell you that God hears and that He remembers you.”  Needless to say I was enormously moved to hear that.  It felt like God offering me some assurance in response to all of my questions and grief lately.

Her comments nor her prayers made my pain or confusion go away, but it was a gift in the form of a reminder that He does hear and care and that He is present in this.  As I continually beg Him to provide in the way of a child and finances to somehow make it all possible, I’m also beginning to think of His very hearing, His very seeing, His very being there and reminding us of that as the provision itself.

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Today I Need Others’ Words

I’m reading through the Psalms now and am finding them incredibly comforting.  It’s almost eerie to hear David expressing such deep sorrow, questioning where God is, pleading with Him, asking if He even hears — my recent prayers almost verbatim.  (Well, okay, way more eloquent.)  I’m so glad I follow a God who is acquainted with suffering.  He can take my raw questioning and feelings, He’s not threatened or surprised by them.

I woke up feeling down and have been teary all day so I found myself returning to the Psalms throughout the day and simply writing them down in my journal, giving me words for prayer as I couldn’t generate any myself.  So I thought I would share some of those as well as a song we sing at my church that has reverberated in my mind the past several weeks.

“How long, oh Lord?  Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
having sorrow in my heart all day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, oh Lord my God;
enlighten my eyes or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him.’
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because He has dealt bountifully with me.” -Psalm 13

“Be gracious to me, oh Lord, for I am pining away;
heal me, oh Lord, for my bones are dismayed.
And my soul is greatly dismayed; but You, oh Lord — how long?
Return, oh Lord, rescue my soul; save me because of Your lovingkindness…
I am weary with my sighing,
every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears…
The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my supplication, the Lord receives my prayer.” -Psalm 6

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Sing like never before
O my soul
I
‘ll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name

I cry every time I sing this song because it is a declaration to Him of choosing worship, which is so hard to do much of the time.  It’s something I often have to will myself to do.  And as the Psalms indicate, choosing worship doesn’t mean not doubting or the absence of anger or even feeling God close.  It’s choice, it’s deciding.  The Psalms so often end with promises, specifically of God moving towards us.  These moments of singing are heart-wrenching because I’m in anguish and yet there is also some degree of peace and trust.  That He is the actor in the story.  He is listening, it is His lovingkindness, He deals bountifully with us.

This song is called 10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman) and it’s a declaration of this very thing, that the Lord is at work all around us, in ways we have yet to discover.  It’s a song of expectation of what He will do.  “In the morning, oh Lord, You will hear my voice.  In the morning I will order my prayer to you and eagerly watch (Psalm 5:3).”

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