Friday, August 12, 2011

Things I'm Learning Through Infertility: Part Four


I cannot say this one enough.  I couldn't have gotten through this with any inkling of sanity had I not had other women to walk with.  I am a true believer of community and family living life together... sharing celebrations, sharing resources, sharing pain, walking together... what my church calls the "one-anothering" of life.  

When all this fertility stuff started for me, I knew of a couple of women who had endometriosis.  So, I called them. Immediately.  I was scared and freaked out.  Their words, unlike any others, were rest and comfort for my little heart.  As time went on, I met more and more women walking this same road for one reason or another.  Oddly, I have 3 friends from college who were all going through fertility treatments at the same time that I was.  We began meeting for lunch once a month or so just to connect and pray for each other.  Just being in their presence was deeply comforting... just knowing that other people felt that longing as deeply as I did.   

Early on, I loved hearing stories of people's fertility struggle as long as it ended with  a pregnancy and baby!  Then, as time went on and my heart grew in understanding of what was happening in my story, I began seeking out stories from women who adopted.  In late 2009, I met a woman, who after years of battling infertility adopted 2 girls.  As she shared her story with me, I saw on her face that she felt satisfied in the Lord. She still carried her scar. But she felt peace and joy. And she gave thanks and was not bitter.  She hugged me and held on.  She cried and told me that she knows my pain.  I felt God touch me.  I have several stories like this with other women... but this one always stands out in my mind as a moment where real truth seeped into my heart and set it a little more free.

In all honesty, for a long time I had a really difficult time being around women in groups... women's retreats, showers of any kind, etc.  When women are together they talk about their families... and sometimes not so kindly.  It was sooo hard to hear a woman complain about the difficulties of motherhood or pregnancy.  I mean, I get it, it's hard.  But not one of those complaining women would trade places with a "barren" woman.  And I would have given my left arm to have those 4 kids she's complaining about.  

At times, it was also difficult to connect with my really close friends who had kids.  Ironically, during my struggle with infertility, one of my closest friends had three Unexpected, Unplanned babies!  If our friendship was to survive (due to my own heartache and envy), she and I had to have some really honest conversations about how we both felt.    When she got pregnant with her third, we cried together (both of us wishing it had been me!)  As we talked, I realized that her heart was going through a very similar thing that mine was.  This had not been her plan.  Having a baby means completely laying down your life for a while.  She had other things she wanted to do, dreams to live out.  And God had another plan for her.  She had to surrender.  And it was painful for her.  She also had the capability to simply let it be painful for me.  She understood and was not put off by my pain.  I appreciate her more than she knows!  Tear.  

All that to say... I needed old friends and new friends to go through this without losing hope and possibly ending up a mere shell of who I'm called to be.  Those same women who grieved with me, also celebrated the homecoming of my son!  My house was decorated when we got home, I had meals for several weeks, a baby shower and lots of mom shoulders to lean on.  To all my lovely friends out there, I say Thank you.  You are a gift to me!

These really great pics, I stole from facebook.  They are of some friends of mine from  high school.  Most of these girls have been friends with each other from at least junior high and they are still all "besties!"  They travel together every year... a very intentional way to pursue friendship!  It's inspiring.  Love to all you girls from afar!  I hope it's okay that I borrowed your pics ;)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Things I'm Learning Through Infertility: Part Three

And number 3 in the things I'm learning:

I will NOT be defined by this!  

Today, "Infertile" is NOT a label I wear.  I did wear it for a long time.  And I believed everything about me was... barren. 

Before I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I was working in a job I loved and I was good at it.  I believed that too.  I felt that I knew who I was, I felt confident in my abilities and I had a lot of dreams.  After getting diagnosed and then experiencing disappointment upon disappointment, my identity (along with my womb) became the center of this attack.  I began doubting who I was altogether... revealing that a huge part of my identity was wrapped up in this dream of bearing children.  And I began seeing things in my life unravel.  I doubted all my abilities... especially my relational abilities which was the core of my job at the time. I even quit my job... some for need of rest, but a little because I just became so anxious about it.  I began shying away from all areas of leadership.  I felt like a horrible wife, a horrible friend and mentor, and on top of that, I couldn't even get my garden to grow.  Seriously, my joke was "Well, my own seeds don't grow without the help of chemicals, why would my garden grow?"  I truly believed that everything about me and my life was "infertile."  And I stopped dreaming.

Through a series of events, God lead me to give up that label.  It is not what He says is true about me.  And it's a lie!  I am not "infertile."  I will not be called barren any longer.  A couple of years ago, I was given an opportunity to share this publicly (about how God asked me to lay down the barren label and believe truth about myself).  In much fear and trepidation, I went and shared it.  Then Felipe and I got in the car to drive home.  Ironically, on that day I had been waiting on a call from the fertility clinic... it was THE call to find out if we were pregnant or not after our last IVF cycle.   I got the call in the car on the way home.  We were not pregnant.   Of course, it was devastating.  But this time it was also different.  I no longer believed that that negative test defined me.  It has been a life changing truth to hold on to.  

I feel today, as though I have my life back.  I believe that this change even gave me the freedom and courage to adopt... the best decision Felipe and I have ever made!  I have also stepped back into many areas of life that I had previously been afraid.  My garden, it grows! And I'm dreaming again!  All this has made me very aware that if I let it, infertility will steal my destiny!  

"The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." - Jesus of Nazareth

"Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby. Fill the air with song, you who've never experienced childbirth!  You're ending up with far more children that all those child bearing women."  God says so!  "Clear lots of ground for your tents!  Make your tents large. Spread out!  Think big!  Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep.  You're going to need lots of elbow room for your growing family.  You're going to take over whole nations; you're going to resettle abandoned cities.  Don't be afraid- you're not going to be embarrassed.  Don't hold back- you're not going to come up short.  You'll forget all about the humiliations of your youth, and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory.  For your Maker is your bridegroom, His name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!  Your Redeemer is the Holy of Israel, known as God of the whole earth."  Isaiah 54:1, The Message

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Things I'm Learning Through Infertility: Part Two

  A little bold in the title, right!?

In great contradiction to the title above, here's #2:

I am NOT in control!  

No matter how hard I try, no matter how many things I do to help this womb become the best little incubator on the planet, I can't do it.  And believe me I've tried.  I've been to 3 doctors, 2 holistic practitioners, been on countless herbs, medicines and diets.  I've been dairy-free, gluten-free, chocolate-free, sugar-free, carb-free, caffeine and alcohol-free!  Oh yeah, and we tried a yeast-free diet once!  All that, and I gained 40 pounds in the process!  I've been massaged and acupunctured! I've even rolled a rolling pin up my leg while having castor oil on my abdomen supposedly to get blood to my ovaries!  And I've Taken Charge of my Fertility!    I've done the best treatments that science has to offer! I've prayed, I've surrendered, I've been anointed with oil, and I've been through healing prayer to find that "inner psychological wound" that's causing my body to not work!  Sheesh! 

What I'm not saying is that all of the above was for naught.  Some of those things were great for my health and well-being along the way.  But through most of it, I was simply reaching for control.  Along this journey, there are so many things that I had no power over... my cycle, cysts growing continuously, the right timing, the dumb negative sign on that stick!  There was just no control.  And I wanted it so badly!  It would send me into a panic.

And now, what I'm learning is that feeling of control is just an illusion.  The only thing I do have a tiny bit of power over is how I choose to respond to this most horrible tragedy in my life.  Don't get me wrong, I made many choices to sit, wallow, throw full on 2 year-old tantrums, and sulk in my own pity.  But... I also made some choices to worship even in sorrow, to be honest with God and confess my anger and rage, and to give thanks.  And letting go of my earthly fate, dying to my own will, and choosing to believe that God is with me, has been water to my thirsty soul.  All that sounds really great and easy when I write it down all pretty right?  I don't really know how I got to this place of just accepting that I'm not in control.  But I did get here.  And my heart  is much more peaceful than it once was.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Things I'm Learning Through Infertility: Part One

The Introduction
First, why am I doing this series and posting my infertility story for all the world to see?

For two reasons:
1. Women contact me regularly either because they read my blog or because they heard about my story and want to talk to me.  They have questions about infertility, how I've dealt with it, adoption, marriage, you name it.  I think this will answer a lot for them.  And because there are several "infertility" blogs out there that are just not very encouraging.  BTW, I'm not turning into an "infertility only" blog.  Just doing this series.
2. God is doing something new in my heart and I'm processing.  This helps me do that.

This series is titled "Things I'm Learning Through Infertility."  I think in a previous post, I may have said Learned, but that's incorrect.  I have not mastered any of what I write here.  I have failed so many times; I will continue to fail. I'm in process and am learning.

Also, one thing about being an adoptive mom.  I will be and have been writing about the pain of infertility.  I'm writing only about infertility here.  Maybe an adoption series will come later.  The pain of not bearing a child remains even though I now have a son.  Lucas was never intended to be a replacement or a settlement for not having biological children.  He is my dream come true!  Just, a different dream.  Lucas is everything I want and more!  He is not second best.  He is no disappointment! And he's mine!  I just want to explain that as some may wonder about it.

Part One
In light of the two previous posts about how others interact with women walking through infertility, I'm starting with this as #1 in the series of Things I'm Learning Through Infertility:

LOVE covers a multitude of sins!
I have to give people grace.  People don't have nor do they need a Ph.D. in "How to talk to me when I'm hurting."  The fact that it offends me or makes me angry really is my issue.  When people tell me how I am to address them or talk to them, it usually makes me back way off.  I freeze up and then tip-toe trying to figure out what to say or do.  I don't want people to feel like that around me.

Through all this, even in my most hurting, scared and "freeking-out-for-lack-of-control" moments, I am still to be loving.  When my hormones are out of control and I'm angry so far beyond explanation, I am to call upon the Holy Spirit who is "Self-Control" Himself and I am to love.  And that LOVE... IT WILL cover a multitude.  I just have to let it.  

I just received this note from a friend who also is walking this road.  I was encouraged by her words:
"God is really working on my heart about extending grace to those people who say silly comments.  And he's showing me about how much I need to let it go. Immediately.  So hard!!  I think most people don't think or just don't know what to say.  I also have learned that as people walk with you/us through infertility and loss and it continues for months and years, they feel uncomfortable about the level of pain.  They want the pain to stop.  It is hard for their minds to grasp the pain sometimes as a bystander...and so they let the platitudes come out as a way to justify or make the situation better in their minds.  (Even though adopting won't take away the pain of IVF not working or of your lost child)... but you know that.  Still doesn't make the comments ok or right, but it does help my heart to know and understand that... so I don't slap people :)"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Story of Infertility... Well, a part of it.

This post begins a series of several posts describing things I've learned along the road of infertility.  This is a little shout out to all the "so-called" INfertile Myrtle's out there.  Hopefully, others will get something from it too; as I think any of us walking along a road of suffering can glean wisdom and hope from each other!

And before I start with the #1 thing I have learned on this journey, I think I'll start with my story.  It seems important to give the whole picture and let you know where I'm coming from.

Don't worry, I won't start with my birth or anything.  But I will say that I was a child who dreamed often of becoming a mother.  And not just being a mom; but I had a fascination with pregnancy.  In all seriousness, my mom lost me several times in stores because I would wander away and follow a pregnant woman.  I thought it was simply amazing.  And I deeply longed for the day it would happen to me.  One of my goals as an adult was to be bare-foot, pregnant and in my kitchen!

In 2005, as a 27 year-old single woman, I began experiencing more difficult than normal cycles and constant pain.  Three doctors later (the first 2 told me I was stressed and needed to get on the pill) an ultrasound was done and they found my first ovarian cyst.  In November of 2005, I had my first surgery to remove it and endometriosis (endo) was discovered.  It was "pretty nasty" in there and at that time, I was told I had about a 40% chance of ever conceiving.

In January 2006, I began taking Depo Lupron and was put into temporary menopause for 6 months.  I met and began dating my husband (obviously a very compassionate man) during this time.  Within 2 months of being off Lupron, pain had returned.

I had my second surgery exactly one month before my wedding day in March.  This time it was an emergency situation as they thought one of my ovaries had begun to twist cutting off circulation.  Things looked much worse inside at this time and something didn't go quite well in surgery.  I was hospitalized for 5 days.   For a little extra explanation: the average C-section takes about 30 minutes, the average endo laproscopy takes about an hour, but for someone with my level (stage 4) of endo, surgery takes about 3 hours.  It's a lot of cutting.  I don't like surgery.  Felipe and I began trying to conceive on our honeymoon.  Prior to our wedding, we took a class on Natural Family Planning (NFP) and learned to chart and take temps.  I've taken 2 classes now and have my own personal consultant!  I have books of charts (12 months of charts for 2007).  By December, multiple cysts had returned.

I was diagnosed (incorrectly) with polycystic ovarian syndrome and took needless medication for it for months.  We began doing injections of HCG and progesterone.  Went through multiple hormone tests (blood draws).  I was then told by my doctor that I was above his pay grade and needed to go to a specialist.  In December, we met Dr. Silverberg at the Texas Fertility Clinic.  And in case I forget to put this as one of the things I learned: I learned that specialists are way better and much more skilled and efficient at this!!  I hope I never have to let a non-specialist do surgery on me again.
For 2008, there were 12 months of charts.

In February, Silverberg did my third surgery.  A much better experience, though it was still really bad in there.  He also found that my thyroid was enlarged.  Enter a new doctor in my life (my endocrinologist), who diagnosed me with hypo-thyroid.  Been on Synthroid ever since and see this guy every 6 months.   In April, we attempted our first IUI with injectables.  That's where you take injections of "wheaties" to help your eggs grow big and strong.  Then another injection to release the eggs.  And it gets a little too detailed from there.  Anyways, it didn't work.
We began preparing for our In-Vitro (IVF) cycle, which was done in August.  You can read details about all this here on the blog from that year.  Our first cycle, we had 2 embryos put inside me.  We lost both babies.  We had one frozen embryo remaining and we began preparing for our frozen embryo transfer (FET).  That was done in November and we lost that child too.  We grieved.  And we rested.  We were a bit relieved it was all over and we wanted to move on.
I only have 4 months of charts from this year.  They hijack your system and charting is irrelevant during these treatments.

In January, we decided to adopt.  In April, I had an ultrasound (haven't had one since) and there was at least one cyst.  It looked like an ovary was stuck somewhere it shouldn't be.  In June, our son was born!  Best day of my life... along with my wedding day! (Again see details of our adoption on the blog).  In July, I visited a new ob-gyn for my annual.  He said, "See you in a year!"  I laughed.  My last ob-gyn was invited to my wedding!  That's how well and how often I was seeing these people!  So, the "see ya in year comment" struck me as funny.  I induced lactation so that I could breast-feed Lucas.  It was for him and for me.  The best treatment for endo is pregnancy.  The second best treatment for endo is breast feeding.  I breast fed my adopted son for 7 months!  A wonderful gift.  And I've had little to no pain with endo for over a year.  In October, we got new insurance and my endo or anything related... not covered.  We prayed.  No charts for 2010! Lucas was hope-fulfilled and he has healed my heart in more ways than I know.

I spent my time NOT going to doctors (avoiding them actually)!  On August 1, we got new insurance... and I'm covered!  I know it's a good idea to go get a check up soon and I probably will.  It doesn't mean I want to ;)  I have two charts from this year.  I thought I might pick it back up because it tells me a lot about what's going on in my body.  But I just haven't had the discipline for it.  And there's a twinge of disappointment with each month that passes.  I just counted it up and we've been married for 54 months.  That's 54 months that have passed and no plus sign on that stick.  And no, I don't pee on 'em anymore!   We are talking about adopting again.  Very excited about that.

So, that's that.  I'll begin writing the series soon.

Monday, August 1, 2011

How to be more helpful!! Post II

Thank you all for your funny and encouraging comments!  I got some really funny stuff via email!  I do have to say, it's nice to know I have not been the only one who got an offer for a surrogate.  Though, I kind of wish I was the only one!

In light of the emails I received, I just have to add one more to the "Not-so helpful" list of things people say to women walking through infertility!
  • #11  "Just touch me and let my fertileness rub off on you!  Every time my husband looks at me, I get pregnant!"  I'll just let that one speak for itself ;)
Now, as promised, I'll list out some "Helpful Comments/Gestures" people can do for couples walking through this painful time.  From the statistics on the last post, it was the most read blog post I've ever written.  I hope this one gets even more hits... since this one really is more important!  

The HELPFUL Things:
  • #1  Be aware of how deeply infertility affects the couple and especially the woman.  They are going through so much, not just emotionally, but also physically and spiritually.  And infertility can put any marriage into the deep end where neither partner knows how to swim.  At some point in a marriage, most couples are going to deal with some kind of "conflict" in the bedroom.  Think of the toll infertility takes on that aspect of marriage.  People make jokes, but it's a big deal.  Depending on what is causing the infertility, the woman could be in severe physical pain, sometimes daily... that alone takes a huge toll on anyone.  Then not to mention what she's going through physically if she's going any sort of fertility treatments.  If she does get pregnant, it's likely a high-risk pregnancy, meaning the same rules do not apply to her.  It's a different ball-game.  And spiritually... there is a whole range of things they could be experiencing from questioning God/faith, deep anger, feeling forgotten, and also having their faith deepened.  Just being aware of all this helps people to have compassion and know how to engage in conversation.
  • #2 Know that adopting will not "fix" her problem.  It will not take away her desire to birth her own child and she probably won't get pregnant after they adopt.  Her desire may never go away. How she deals with it, is her choice.  God commanded us all to be fruitful and multiply.  The desire to have one's own child is innate and very good.  And for the sake of goodness among humanity, recognize that every Christian family should consider adoption.  The Bible demands it.  Just because people can procreate is NO reason to not adopt children.  We are all "called" to the orphan.  
  • #3  Let her know you are praying or you are thinking of her.  You can also let her know that you are there to listen if she would like to talk to someone.  I got many sweet emails or notes simply letting me know that I was on their heart.  Random flowers would be very sweet.  Even years into her struggle... let her know you too are still thinking about her pain.  She is.
  • #4 If appropriate (as in after a surgery, major procedure or miscarriage), by all means take them a meal!  Or organize a Care Calender for them!  It's a very generous way to serve.  Be aware that they may or may not want this or be up for visiting at the time you bring the meal.  Just be sensitive.
  • #5  If it's a close friend or relative, it may be appropriate to ask questions (i.e. how did the "procedure" go?).  Tread lightly here as much of it is personal and not everyone wants to answer those questions.  If you have specific questions about how a certain procedure works and it's just to satisfy your own curiosity... Google it!  
  • #6 A lot about the topic of infertility and treatments for it is ridiculously "Joke-worthy!"  But!  Let them make jokes first.  I've personally learned this the hard way.  I laugh at most things (even the ridiculously painful and especially about men "donating" their sperm in little cups hidden in paper bags!) but not everyone does ;)  
  • #7  Sit in your own ability to not be able to "fix" anything or "take away" any pain for anyone.  It's a hard place to be because we all want to help.  We do wish we could have a baby for them or make a way for her to able to do it.  But we just can't.  You don't know how they feel, you don't have the solution, and you can't make it all go away.  Your advice is not needed.  But you can simply be with them in it.  
  • #8  Recognize loss when it happens.  Grieve with them, mourn for them.  Also, recognize that the loss of embryos in an IVF cycle or a miscarriage at any stage IS the loss of one or more children.  After we lost our embryos, it was such a strange emotion because most of the world didn't seem to recognize it as the loss of our children.  But I did receive one note from a friend, a "sympathy card"... and it was so beautiful.  It was water to my soul... someone saying they were sorry for my loss.  I felt deeply loved.  Our best friends stayed very near to us during this time and would always call after a procedure or major loss.  They just repeatedly wanted us to know they were "with us" if we wanted them to be.  Once, we shocked them after a major disappointment when we just wanted to come over and laugh together.  We needed to NOT grieve that day.  And they let us.  Thanks Mark and Ceci!
  • #9 Ask what you CAN do to help.  At the end of 2009 (the worst year of our lives I call it), I was simply exhausted and spent with grief.  And my body had been through the ringer.  I had a hard time getting dressed much less cleaning my house.  My girlfriends, after asking what they could do to help, came over one night and Deep Cleaned my house!  We all had some wine, some dessert and worked for 3 hours on my house!  It was a wonderful gift... and way better than hiring someone to do it!  Also, when my husband's friends would take him out to do something fun (that I wasn't in the mood for)... it was so life-giving to him!
  • #10  Some may have different opinions on this, but I say, still invite them to baby showers and birthday parties.  They may feel more alienated if you don't.  And just give them grace if they don't show.  
  • And #11  Pray.  Pray for your friends.  Pray for God to "remember them."  Every instance I can think of where a womb was opened in the Bible, it says "And God remembered Sarah...," or "God remembered her prayer..." etc.  Pray for them to not lose heart or grow bitter.  Pray for courage to endure.  Pray for them to find a path to thankfulness.  Pray for wisdom (lots of decisions are needed on this journey).  Pray for faith. Pray for babies!  Just pray.  And let them know you are praying.  
I do hope you've found this to be... helpful!

Following up on this list, I'll soon write a blog of encouragement for women currently dealing with infertility.  No advice at all... just things that were/are helpful for me.  It's just my story and it may be of encouragement. You may take it or leave it :-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How to be more helpful! Post I

Fair warning, I'm in a mood today.  Probably a little more bold than normal... just go with it!

I'm thinking about infertility today.  When I think about it, I can feel the pain in my heart.  It's always there, but I'm just more aware of it on some days.  There has been so much healing in my heart; but I'll carry this scar until Jesus returns.  I have several friends walking through it today.  Infertility, I mean.  It changes over time, you know, just like any major walk on a road of patience (long suffering).  I felt very different about it all 5 years ago.  And just like the 35 year-old waiting to be married, I never thought it would go on this long. Everyone experiences it differently.  Like, I tend to surprise people with how open I am about it.  I guess, it's my personality.  I'm such an extrovert who wears my heart on my sleeve; I'm not sure I could even have the where-with-all to hide anything for very long.

However, being so open about my ordeal definitely opens me up to A LOT of... Stuff!  Opinions, prophetic words, completely Stupid comments (or nicely, we can call them Ignoramus comments), prayer times with people I don't know, people who think they know what I'm feeling, etc. I've learned to just smile and endure.  And I've learned that people really mean well.  I try to see their hearts underneath.  Yet, I completely understand when people going through this want to keep it to themselves.  On the brighter note, being open about it has also opened us up to A LOT of Love.  Desperately needed prayer, encouragement, and people who really do know... I call those people "Christ in the flesh."

It's here, I'll list a few things that I've found helpful or not at all helpful!  The not-at-all helpful category... these are the comments that make a woman silently go off on you in her head and then later share the comment only with other women who struggle with infertility so they can laugh about it!  And every so often you here a whopper that you can't even believe someone would think, much less say out loud!  So, if you are an offender of one of these comments, well... know I or whoever you said it to probably loves you!  And... learn from this!

For the purposes of this discussion, I will define a woman who is struggling with infertility as:
1. any woman who has been trying to get pregnant for longer than 6 months
2. any woman who has ever had a miscarriage (even if it was at only 4 weeks!)
3. any woman who has ever lost a baby past 20 weeks; there's a special place in my heart for you.
4. any woman who has undergone IVF
4  and especially any woman who has had more than one miscarriage, or has done more than one fertility treatment, or has done many treatments and never had a baby!  You get special props here!  I hope to make you laugh a little!

The NOT-SO-HELPFUL Comments:

  • #1  "Can I be your surrogate?"  Seriously, I've had 2 offers!
  • #2  "Have you thought about adopting?  There are babies all over the world who need mommies and daddies right now!"  Seriously, people?!  My comment to that is... Have you thought about adopting? And I'm an adoptive mom!  Don't say that to anyone walking through infertility.  But do ask other people in your community.  Adoption is an EVERYONE issue... not just the infertile!  It truly reveals the truth about how people feel about adopted children... like they are second best or something.  It's rude on several levels.  And it is not helpful to her heart or journey at all!  
  • #3  "As soon as you stop TRYING, you'll get pregnant!  Just relax!"  Guess what!?  We relaxed and it did NOT happen!
  • #4 "OMG! Everyone is getting pregnant right now!" or  "OMG!  So-and-so is pregnant... AGAIN!  Can you believe it?"  Ok, so maybe part of that one is specific to my church (seriously, so many people got preggers at the same time... and then again... and then again!  We want to be excited for so-and-so... we really do.)
  • #5  "Now that you've adopted, you'll get pregnant!  My mom's friend's sister... that happened to her!  It happens to EVERYONE who adopts!"  I shouldn't get started on how wrong this is to say.  But... I think I will.  First, it's just wrong...incorrect information! Seriously, statistically it doesn't happen that often.  And it completely puts down the adoption experience... like they only want the adopted child so that they can get pregnant with their real child.  That's so not how adoptive parents feel, infertile or not.
  • #6  "Are you sure you're ovulating/ having regular cycles/ etc.?"  I assure you, women dealing with this know FAR MORE than most will ever know about ovulation, her cycle and how this whole "make a baby" thing works!  
  • #7 "Have you tried accupuncture, herbs, chiropractic... anything holistic really?"  Ok, yes, she's tried all of the above!  And she could teach you a thing a two!
  • #8  "It will happen!  I just know you're going to have a baby!"  At first, this made me feel better.  But 2 years later, it just more revealed that people don't know what to do with pain.  Or that God might not "come through" in the way we think He will.  This woman is sitting in the reality of the mystery.  It's okay to let her sit there.  
  • #9 "God just might not want you to have a baby.  He has other plans for you.  He works in mysterious ways.  Just surrender to His plan."  Please don't attribute anything to God.  This woman is questioning Him enough as it is.  Don't make Him out to be the bad guy!
  • And #10!  This one is a whopper I recently heard that was said to an adoptive parent:  "If your house were on fire, would you get your adopted child or your real child out of the house first?"  NO!!!!!!  OMGoodness, NO!  I told Felipe about this and he actually said he would slap a person if they said that to him.  I've never heard him say anything like that before.  

I hope you enjoy my list.  I warned you... I'm in a mood ;)

This got a little long, so I'll include the "Helpful" list later.  If you want some more things to laugh about b/c you relate to this... check this out:  Infertility Urban Legends!  I read her blog occasionally.  Only occasionally though, because I don't like to read anything that labels me as "infertile" very much.  It's just not a label I wear.  I hope you don't either.  It's just not what God says about me.  :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Deep Thoughts...

So, this morning I opened my email and got several "pray for this or that" emails.  One is an invitation to a prayer walk tomorrow in Austin, one is a blogger who is on a Compassion International trip working with starving children in the Philippines, one is a Campus Crusade missionary asking for prayer for funds, one is a man from my church asking people to help with the disaster relief efforts in Joplin, MO... seriously all these emails just today and it's not even 8:30am.  In the midst of reading these emails and not exactly sure how to respond to them in the middle of my morning routine here in Austin, TX, I look over at my now 1 year-old son in his highchair.  He was looking at me with big eyes that were asking "give me some more waffle please."  All of a sudden, I felt this gush of pleasure over him. Sheer joy. I teared up even.  It had to be something that God let me feel this morning.  I  realized how sweet and innocent he is... and how unaware of the world's problems he is.  He can't do one thing about them.  He doesn't desire to jump on a plane to go save children or to send all his money to help.  He just wants "more waffle, please"... well, most of the time there is no "please!" And God couldn't be more pleased with him.  God expects nothing more from Lucas... and neither do I.

My heart changed toward the emails I received.  I said a short prayer asking for God's help and presence in all those situations.  And I felt at peace.  That's what I had to give to those efforts this morning.  And I believe God is pleased with that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My First Mother's Day!

The pictures tell the story well.

On Saturday, Lucas got to wear his new shark suit and we went to the pool!  Love this swim outfit!

Little swimmers!

Scary shark wanting to learn to swim with a board!  He did great in the water, though I didn't get any pictures of it.  He even went under once or twice :) 

On Sunday, we went to Green Pastures for Mother's Day Brunch with Grandpa Bud and Nana!  Lucas and Grandpa smiling at each other.  Notice the big piece of bread in Luc's mouth.

He loves his Nana!  Pretty picture!

The pianist wanted to play him a little song.  But, Lucas wanted to play her a song!  Notice me holding his hands down, her watching him and him playing the piano anyway... with his foot!  Smart.

Happy Mommy!

And a happy family!

These are sweet of him.

Loves to laugh!

So precious.

I think he's clapping here.  His new favorite thing!

Is he not the most beautiful thing!?

An attempt to get a better family shot than the ones at Easter :)

Not too bad!

I love those boys.

Ahhh... a happy Mother's Day it was.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Blog About a Dog

This is Jake as a puppy... 4 or 5 months I think.

Jake the dog is a 4 year old Malti-Poo (Maltese/Toy Poodle).  He weighs in at about 10 pounds, has one blind eye, and is just about one of the cutest dogs alive.  This dog has character too.  Loves people and wants to please you... or at least he used to.  Something has changed for me in my relationship with Jake.  This blog will be my verbal process about it.  Please allow me to explain.

How I used to feel about Jake:
We got Jake about 2 months into our marriage.  We were at church  and Joann Davis was praying for me.  I had been having a really hard time stepping into the world of "infertility."  I was sad.  Really sad.  If you don't know Joann, she needs a little blurb here:  Joann is the wife of the man who married Felipe and I.  She is in her 60's and is one of the people on the earth who may just be masquerading as an angel... a really quirky, saucy, make-you-laugh-til-you-cry, love-you-to-pieces kind of angel!  When I first started dating Felipe, she said, "Bring him to me!  I will look at the whites of his eyes!"  She's a woman everyone wants to know, and if you do know her, you feel very special for the privilege!  A true saint for sure!  I love that she loves me!  And that particular day, she was praying for me.  In the middle of her prayer, it hit me and I exclaimed, "I want a dog!"  Joann got so excited and looked at Felipe, "That's a great idea! Can she have a dog?"  She prayed for our dog right then and there... that he would bring joy and that he would be a "Christian dog!"

That's the day we got Jake.  I knew that I wanted a malti-poo and we found him online that day.  Went to pick him up in the Walmart parking lot in Burnet, TX.  He weighed 1.4 pounds and was 7 weeks old.  And we fell in love with him! Blind eye and all.
Look how little!  He was adorable and couldn't get up the one step into the house by himself!  We would put him in my purse or Felipe's pocket and carry him everywhere.  

I was so excited to learn about training him.  And we did really well for that first year or so.  He was pretty good.  He got attacked by a golden retriever when he was a puppy and he changed a little after that.  He became... nervous, a little quirky.  He stopped wanting to socialize with other dogs and became a "people dog".  And he loves people!  Usually all people, big and little.  He has always required some maintenance, as dogs tend to do. We've considered Jake to be one of the "home responsibilities" that fell on my plate.  He has hair instead of fur... so no shedding, but it grows, becoming cute, shaggy, and matted!  So, I've been the one to groom him, give him his heartworm medicine, feed him, cut his nails, etc.  And he has to be walked... something Felipe and I have tried to share.

How I currently feel about Jake:
So, a year ago, a new little person entered our lives.  And we fell in love more deeply than we ever could have imagined.  And my "home responsibilities"... they increased substantially.  And Poor Jake... the only honest way to put it is that he has been neglected.  We play with him less, he gets far fewer walks, I think I've even forgotten to feed him a couple of times.  In no way is he starving... he reminds us for sure! He's pooped in the house a couple of times since the baby came... probably b/c he really needed to go out!  And discipline... well, it's hard to find the energy to be consistent with him, so his behaviors have regressed.  I can tell he's frustrated.  He is wondering what happened to our little family utopia where he was the center of our loving affection!  My whole day-to-day view of him has changed.  Instead of being cute and shaggy, I see a 2 hour hair cutting project that will have to be done during nap time!  Uggh!  It takes away a most precious nap time!  And he smells b/c he usually needs a bath.  I see him as one big barking, jumping-on-all-our-visitors, needing-to-be-walked responsibility!  And a fury friend for Lucas!  Lucas LOVES Jake!  But now that Lucas is mobile, he can go get Jake.  Jake, the dog, isn't sure about this little creature who pulls his hair and pats him over and over, a little too hard I might add.  They usually play pretty well together, but the more mobile Lucas gets, the more agitated Jake gets.  I'm trying to teach Lucas "gentle touches."  But it's a slow process.  Jake has yelped and even growled at Lucas a couple of times when he's being grabbed in a way he doesn't appreciate.  And, I saw Jake run away the other day and hide under the bed!  Lucas followed him and tried to look under the bed, but he couldn't figure out how to get under there.  He looked at me and cried!
I imagine when Lucas is a little older and learns "gentle touches" that they will be good friends. But there may be another little one here who hasn't learned it yet.  And then another!  Who will walk him then?  I say that like he really gets walked now.  His walks consist of a 5-10 minute outing with repeated commands of "go potty, Jake."

I got up really early this morning and spent time writing this blog post.  When Felipe got up, I read it to him and we had a little talk about Jake.  We've previously discussed giving him to a loving home :( A tear wells up in my eye just thinking about it.  My mom has said that she would be thrilled to take him. But this morning, we decided to renew our commitment as pet owners... we really do love him.  And we are not ready to part with our little fury friend.  Felipe committed to help me groom Jake on the weekends, so it takes half the time.  And I'm committing to walk him a lot more often.  I started this morning and it was lovely (not yet 90 degrees at 8am).  Me, Lucas and Jake went around our little lake!  And Jake was soooo happy :)

Lucas and Jake playing in the crib!  Jake wasn't sure, but Lucas thought it was a hoot :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lucas' Baby Dedication... Rescheduled!

Our little 11-month old!  He hasn't learned to keep his one shelf in the kitchen clean yet! :)

The Re-Announcement: 
I want to announce that we will publicly be dedicating Lucas to the Lord on Sunday, June 5th, at Hope Chapel at 5:30pm. (Hope Chapel's evening service). It was originally scheduled for February, but, we had to postpone due to the fact that he got too sick back in February.

This will be a time where we his parents, family and community publicly declare our commitment to submit Lucas to God's will and to raise him according to God's word.

This is a very special time for us and we'd love to share it with all who have prayed for and supported us through our journey of becoming parents. Lucas is our little miracle and this day will be such a celebration of all that God has done. Please come join us June 5th at 5:30pm!

Thanks for lovin' on us everyone!

Look at that!  He's less than a week old here.  I can't believe how much he's grown!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Did You See the Easter Bunny? Part II

Our not so great attempt at an Easter family picture!  Seriously, this was the best of the lot!

Continuing my thoughts on the Easter Bunny and feeling "awkward" about the holidays...
here's where I'm coming from:

Even as a child, I think I was a pretty serious person and wanted to know the truth about things.  My mom says I never wanted to be treated like a kid. I didn't want the "kid's menu" and I didn't want to leave the room when serious stuff was talked about. One of the worst things for me even still do this day is to tell me what you think I want to hear rather than tell me the truth.  Annoys me to no end!  As a kid, I didn't find tons of joy in fantasy. A weakness and a strength I think. So, I didn't really care to believe in Santa, the Bunny and the Fairy like some kids. And I don't feel any loss in that. Though, I do wish I had been more "child-like."  I will add that I loved big celebrations with lots of family, lots of food and lots of fun!  I long to create that for my own children.

I know... I'm an intense person.  I married a guy who can match me and even surpass me at times on the intensity scale.  So, together, we need help from our friends to just chill out.   At our wedding, the best man and my brother prayed for us that we would "laugh a lot and not take ourselves too seriously!"  They know us well!  And we really have tried to lighten up over the years... we're working on it.  Feel free to invite us to do something fun and silly anytime... and even make us go :)  We appreciate it!

At the age of 18 I became a follower of Jesus! Well, that sounds cult-ish when you say it that way, doesn't it? But it's accurate. I wanted to follow Him... in every way. I still do.  And because of Him, I am different than I was before. I've also discovered that He made me this way and He likes me for it... my love for Truth and seeing things as they really are and not how I simply wish they were. And, Jesus tells me that knowing the Truth... it will set me free! So, I'm even more tenacious now about seeing things honestly, even when it's hard. There are great things about seeing the world this way and there are hard things about it. For example: When I'm around someone who is deeply hurting but trying to hide it, I can sometimes see it and I can bring them comfort. I can let them know they are not alone.  I like that.  On the flip side, when I go to Disney World, I don't believe that it really is the "Happiest Place on Earth." Though, they do put on a good show, I can see beyond the smiles of Cinderella and Snow White and know that she's really hurting, but getting paid to smile. I wonder... did her boyfriend just break up with her? Did she just lose a pregnancy? What's happened that's made her so sad? Oh wait, "Smile for the picture! Happy faces everyone!" Click!  I have a hard time just lightening up sometimes.  

So, this thing about being so serious... it carries over into every area of my life, especially the important parts like family.  I genuinely want to have lots of fun at the holidays AND be who I am.

This is what makes me feel "awkward" about the holidays. I have a hard time celebrating in a way that is Truthful, Joyful, Lovely and that doesn't rock the boat and make everyone upset. This Easter Bunny/Santa topic can become a heated debate :) I'm sure you've already had some opinion about the things I'm writing.  Don't believe in Santa? That's like sacrilege to some!  And then I've also received lectures about the Pagan traditions of Easter, Christmas, and don't even get 'em started about Halloween!  I get it.  It's controversial.  But, I'm not really the "don't rock the boat" type of person. Probably, much to my family's annoyance ;) 

Felipe and I are wanting to learn new ways to celebrate the holidays that we count most sacred. It's so easy to just go with what we've always known and not be intentional about what we believe.  It feels hard to make changes.  We really want it to be about remembering Jesus and what He did for us... in a bigger way than just having ornaments that say "Jesus is the Reason..." If that's all we do and we still go on following Martha Stewart as a guide to our holidays, well it's a lie right? The ornament and nativity sets makes us feel better about it, but our hearts (and sometimes our bank accounts) reveal what's really happening. 

We went to a Christmas party in December where the host asked everyone to share some of their favorite memories of Christmases in their families. It was mainly a group of Christians who grew up in Christian homes. I got to hear some of the most delightful stories about home-made Advent calendars celebrating the coming of Christ and also 3-hour family breakfasts on Christmas morning. It was a strange group in that the majority of people at the party did not grow up believing in Santa... because their parents told them that he did not exist. They knew about the man, St. Nicholas... but never believed in the fat man who came down  the chimney for cookies. And surprisingly, few talked about the excitement surrounding gifts. They said gifts were present but not the focus. Though one girl did say that everyone got new pajamas on Christmas Eve in her family!  I'm stealing that one! For the most part in their stories the focus was on celebrating Jesus and being together. They said they loved Christmas and never felt left out of anything. Though, in reality, they were "odd-balls" growing up I'm sure. Will Lucas be an odd-ball? I feel the pressure of that for him. But I hope his stories will be like theirs.

In all of this reflecting on our first holiday season with a child, we have confirmed our decision to not teach Lucas about Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.  I don't think it's evil or anything and I don't shun others for doing it.  And, we will do our best to make sure that our kids don't "ruin" it for others.  We will teach Lucas about the true story behind the mythical Santa and that we want to be like the real St. Nicholas.  We will talk about the coming of Jesus as a baby, His victory over death... and also His coming again!  We want to be creative and find fun, new ways to celebrate.  We invite others to come along with us!  We want to learn a new way to celebrate!  To hear my son in 30 years tell stories like the ones I heard at that Christmas party... It's worth it!  

And to lighten up this serious blog post, I'll add some pictures! 

Cousin Samuel with the Hyatt Easter Bunny!  I think he was the Real one!

Nana Rita with some of her grand kiddos!

Lucas and Daddy playing in the fountains!

So cute at Christmas!  I know, the Santa hat!  Come on, we're not that uptight! And it's my Granny's hat!  

Lucas with his mom and dad, Great Granny and Papa!

Sweet shot of Luc and my grandmother :)  Love her!  And look how cute they are in their Christmas shirts!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Did You See the Easter Bunny? Part I

We did!  Well, by accident really. He was at brunch at the Hyatt, giving out colored eggs! My 4 year-old nephew LOVED him! Sam followed that bunny around and even got to dance with him! My 2 year-old niece would very shyly take his eggs and then tell him with fear and trembling in her voice, "BYE BYE, Bunny!" Lucas had a different reaction. Not knowing what this creature was at all, I think he put the adult dressed as a funny rabbit in the "dog" category of his brain. Lucas LOVES dogs! He laughs and laughs just at their presence and then he grabs them and squeezes them! This is what he did to the Easter Bunny!

Lucas and his cousins looking at their egg treasures!  Well, Lucas is eating his!

I love his admiring look in this picture... like he wants to be "big" too!

Being a first-time parent and having gone through Luc's first Christmas and now Easter, I've been doing some reflecting about the holidays. I'm surprised at how awkward I feel about them. Growing up, my Christmases were spent like most of us...with family, eating and opening presents! I think I believed in Santa, at least for a few years. I had 2 older siblings who pretty early on let the cat out of the bag.  My brother (who was supposed to be sleeping) saw our dad getting gifts out of his truck. He woke my sister and showed her the "proof" that it was really Dad and NOT Santa.  She cried. So, in their bitterness, they spoiled the "magic" for me at a pretty early age. And somewhere along the way, I distinctly remember thinking that the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy sure did have similar handwriting!   My husband believed for a little while too.  And neither of us experienced in trauma in finding out it just wasn't true.  

Our neighborhood has had some interesting experiences regarding Easter.  We live in a great neighborhood close to the center of the city. We really like it a lot.  Tons of young families and parks!  It's a very active community as well... many civic-minded, neighborhood-association-types. There's an online forum and a Facebook page where we all communicate regularly.  And, it's very liberal community.  As Christians, we are for sure "odd-balls."  Last year, one of the moms tried to organize a neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.  People went nuts on the forum.  They were outraged that someone was pushing their religious beliefs onto others in the neighborhood... and that the neighborhood would even sponsor such a thing.  I was shocked at how angry people got.  And then, one Christian guy wrote in and said, "I can assure you that children hunting for colored eggs and an adult dressed as an animal has nothing to do with my most sacred holiday!"  He made me laugh :) Hesitantly, the Spring Egg Hunt was a go last year.  And this year... "The Annual Mueller Egg Scramble" was a big hit!  It's catchy, right?  And that Easter Bunny... he was there!

I'm not sure whether to laugh at everyone for being so uptight about the name of the egg hunt... or be glad that it's not called an Easter thing because I don't really want Lucas thinking that's all Easter is!

Recently, I read an article in Relevant Magazine titled "The Hunt for Easter: Looking for Meaning Amidst the Kitsch."  It was a great read about how Christians don't really know what to do with our seemingly most sacred holiday.  So, most try to avoid Martha Stewart's version and at least add in some church and family time.  That's what we did.

I'd love to hear how you celebrate Easter with your family!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Post I Never Published

This was written on April 10, 2010 (a year ago)

I went to the doctor on Tuesday and we have good news! My endometriosis has not grown in the last 4 months! This is a small miracle considering that I've been doing nothing (medically)to treat it. Most of the time, if I'm not treating it, it's growing. So, praise the Lord! This is incredible news for us. It's so tiring trying this treatment and that treatment and changing the hormones in my body every few months. Felipe has never known me without it... so maybe now he's getting to know the real me :). I joke, "maybe I'm not sooo moody!" When I saw the doctor, he asked how I was doing. I said, "Well, I'm only taking one medicine (for thyroid) and I haven't seen you in 4 months! I'm doing great!" He smiled. And on top of that, physically, I feel really good. I still have one ovarian cyst and one small fibroid (tumor), but for now, they are nothing to worry about.

When we finished fertility treatments, I thought it was totally over. But when we went to the doctor in December and found that endometriosis had returned and cysts were growing, it was very disheartening. I look forward to a day without doctors.

I find it completely amazing how my heart has changed through this process. There has to be a God! I mean, we've always wanted to adopt, regardless of what happened. But I didn't know how I would feel if we weren't able to have a baby. I'm the girl who used to follow pregnant women and get lost from my mom in the store. I wanted to be a doula (a birthing assistant), I wanted natural childbirth and the whole nine yards. I actually wanted pregnancy as much as a baby. But, in the surrender of it all, something amazing has happened. I still get that glowing feeling when I see a pregnant girl, but I don't feel the deep pain that I once did. I don't feel envy anymore. I was in a baby store the other day and asked a girl for help in the stroller aisle. Side note: seriously, how many strollers does one person need!? For crying out loud... why are there so many to choose from? I felt so overwhelmed like I do in the tooth paste aisle! Girl at Buy Buy Baby was very helpful. She asked me how old my baby was. I told her with all the giddy-ness I have that I'm adopting!! I feel pregnant, but I'm not nauseas or bloated! Another side note: people used to say things like that to me about adopting... well if you adopt, you won't have to go through birth and all the bad things. Just FYI: only I can say things like that. It's like you can say something about you being overweight, but your friend just shouldn't :) And timing is everything. My heart had to get there. And today, I can look on that side of this.

Walking through the journey of infertility is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, even if I believed in the whole hate-your-enemy-thing. Felipe and I know a pain that I never knew existed. And we are learning the secret of contentment in it. I believe it comes from thankfulness. Now don't get me wrong, I had some shaking my fist at God, cursing him and yelling at Him moments. I was devastated. Yet, in the quiet, when I could force my will, in my darkest hours, through my sobs, I thanked Him. His word tells us to give thanks in ALL things. So, I thanked him for endometriosis. I thanked him for each day we didn't have a baby, for when we got to go on a bike ride without getting a babysitter, for sleeping in, for the pain, for the loss, for our embryos, for our friends and family, and for His sacrifice for us. I thanked Him for the joy I knew would come in the morning... or is it mourning.