Sunday, December 27, 2009

Looking Ahead to 2010

I certainly don’t mean to be a debbie downer, but I want to be 100% real in this blog. So often we show our strength through our weaknesses, but at times it’s a real struggle to find positivity. As an outsider, I want you to know that Brooke and I are immensely blessed and we know it. We live an amazing life, but we experience lots of pain in our sufferings. I just wanted to share a very candid, frank glimpse into how we are feeling. The holiday’s were wonderful, but they were some of the toughest days this year. Here are my thoughts on 2009:

It’s that time of year when we reflect back on the past year and look forward to what the new year has awaiting us. I always get anxiously excited about what I am going to get accomplished in the coming year and I always get sentimental at what the past year had to offer. This year I could not be more excited to move forward. While I am so blessed in so many ways and 2009 confirmed so many of those blessings, it will always be a year of sadness for Brooke and I. It is honestly crazy that another year has come and gone with no baby Akin. 2009 was particularly difficult because of all the steps we took to grow our family (we basically found Nashville Fertility Clinic to be our 2nd home). We had 2 failed IUI’s, 1 successful IUI that gave us a taste of turning the page to a new chapter, only to see it end as an ectopic pregnancy. I remember so many nights of tears, so many negative pregnancy tests, and so many times when I pleaded with God to get us out of this phase in our life. Just thinking about the struggles of 2009 makes me tear up. This has been the hardest thing Brooke and I have ever faced. As a Christian, I am reminded everyday to “trust in the Lord” or to “not be anxious about anything” or I am gently reminded that the Lord has a plan for us. I truly believe all of those things, but it is so hard to really live that out each day. It is so hard to not feel abandoned or to wonder why we are experiencing so much pain.

I have no idea what the Lord has in store for the Akin’s in 2010 but I know the Lord is good and that he will continue to walk side by side with us on this journey. With a new year on the horizon there are new hopes and new plans awaiting us. As sad as I get in this process, I know I cannot give up and stop trusting God’s will for us. I just ask you guys to please join us on our journey. We absolutely cannot do this alone and we need everyone to pray like crazy in 2010. Pray that the Lord will guide us and give us peace with our next steps. Pray for strength, patience, and positivity for each day. Pray that someone else that is experiencing this can be blessed by reading our story. Pray of course for a BABY! Just keep us on your prayer lists (trust me, I am sick of dominating them). We love all of our friends and our families and we THANK YOU for being the bright spot in our 2009. Thank you for supporting us and your continued support as we excitedly begin a new year, which in our eyes is a fresh start!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Up and Down

A few weeks ago, one of my friends from college ended her life after a year and a half long battle with post-pardum depression. She was a compassionate, selfless, generous friend, wife, and mother of three beautiful children. Since her passing, I have been struggling so hard with the thought that she was in so much pain and suffering, and I didn't even know. I have been trying to keep my eyes and ears more open to those who might be hurting around me, because you never really know what people are going through and how an extra hug or smile might make a difference in their day.
I have also come to truly understand and realize the importance of sharing our burdens and struggles, because the things that this life can throw at us are just too hard to bear alone. God is our Ultimate Comforter, but he gives us each other to help make the load seem a little lighter and bearable.
I truly believe that one of the biggest tools of Satan is to keep us isolated, feeling alone in our struggles. If he can keep us in bondage through secrecy, then depression and sadness have a greater power over us. That is why I think it is stressed over and over in scripture that we are supposed to "carry each others burdens" and "weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice." This life together is what the church was created to be, yet "church" is often the last place that people feel comfortable being themselves. I have no doubt that this life is meant to be shared, so that we can all realize that we are not alone, that our feelings and questions are normal, and that life's primary goal is helping one another experience the love of Jesus Christ.
With all that being said, I want to be completely transparent with you guys right now and ask for your prayers. This holiday season has taken a toll on me and I am having a really hard time. My mind bounces back and forth between feelings of thanksgiving and questions about why we don't have a child yet. Johnathan and I often joke around about how we feel schizophrenic sometimes, because our moods and perspectives on the situation can change about a hundred times a day. Typically, when one of us is up, the other is down, and so we are able to help each other through the hard days...but here recently we have both been in a slump. Occasionally one of us will have a strong moment and share a word of encouragement to the other, but most of our thoughts recently have been those of sadness and discouragement. So far the acupuncture has not really shown many improvements in my cycle, but we know that we must be patient and give it more time.
One thing I love about God is that he shows off the most through my weakness, so I am just putting them out there for Him to use. I am far weaker than I like to think I am, and I have not been doing a very good job of trusting Him lately. So, there it is. We need all of you right now praying for us, because you know that the desire of our hearts is for God to use this whole thing to bring glory to himself...and we don't want to get in the way of that.
We love you all, and hope that you know that we want to help you carry your burdens too. Please don't hesitate to share with us what we can be praying for you about and how we can help make your load easier. This journey is meant to be shared.


Saturday, December 5, 2009


For me, the hardest part of this infertility journey is the "unknown". Questions like these often plague my thoughts...

- How long will this go on?
- Will we ever get to have a child of our own?
- Will I ever get to experience what it is like to have a child growing inside of me?
- Will I ever get to look at the face of a child and see Johnathan's eyes or my nose?
- Will I ever get to pray and read books with my child at night before rocking him or her to sleep?
- Will I ever get to pass down those holiday family traditions that I loved as a child?

When there is nothing you want more than to be a mommy, these thoughts seem to slip in whether you want them there or not. Although these questions still go unanswered and we have no idea what the answers will be or when they will come, GOD DOES. In Jeremiah 29:11, He tells us, "For I KNOW the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." I find so much rest in knowing that although my life seems uncertain and unpredictable, God has a plan and His ways are perfect. They may not seem to make much sense to us at the time, but I have no doubt that I will be able to look back on my life several years from now and see that God knew exactly what He was doing.
One of our incredibly godly friends said to us recently that maybe God is withholding our child until a certain time because he has a specific purpose that only he or she can fulfill. For example, maybe our child has to be born a certain year so that God can place our child in a dorm room at college next door to another kid that needs Jesus. Even Acts 17:26 tells us that "He determined the times and the exact places where they should live." How awesome is that!? We are all put here for a specific time, in a specific place, for a specific reason. I don't know why Baby Akin hasn't come into the world yet, but one thing I know for sure is that God will place them into our care at just the right time...for reasons that we may not know of or understand until we are on the other side of heaven.
When the "unknown" starts to weigh me down or frighten me, I find comfort in the fact that the Almighty has got this whole thing under control. When I start to freak out because I am getting older by the day and haven't had my first child yet, God reminds me that Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was 90. When I start to feel like it's never going to happen, God reminds me of Hannah who bore Samuel after years of praying and crying out to Him.
"As for God, his way is perfect." -II Sam. 22:31

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Give Thanks in ALL Circumstances

"Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." - I Thess. 5:16-18

This has become one of my favorite verses over the years, and yet it is so hard to live out on a daily basis. The holidays can be a difficult and sad time for those struggling with infertility, especially when you see all of the special "family moments" going on around you and the precious pictures of children with Santa.
A few nights ago, Johnathan and I decided to go ahead and decorate for Christmas a little bit early so that it would all be done when we got back from Thanksgiving in Bowling Green. We got out all of our Christmas boxes from the storage closet and turned on some of our favorite Christmas music (We have a tradition of buying a new Christmas cd every year).
As we were getting everything out, Johnathan and I came across Christmas cards that we have kept from years past. We saw pictures of our best friends before they had babies and then the more recent pictures with their babies. We began to talk about how three years ago we just KNEW that the next Christmas we would have a child in our arms or one on the way, and then that year came and went. Two years ago we said the same thing, and then that year came and went. As this realization started to sink in, tears began to come to my eyes. We never expected that we were going to be waiting for so long and praying for something so hard...three years from that moment.
As I cried, my incredibly loving and wise husband gently reminded me that it was ok to be sad, but that we have SO much to be thankful for. And he is so right. We are so blessed to have our health, our wonderful families, our amazing friends, a warm home, and a God that loves us more than we could ever imagine. Life could be a lot worse and there really is no excuse for complaining. So today, on Thanksgiving, I want to proclaim the words of Psalm 136 - "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever."

On a side note, a little update...I had my first appointment with an infertility accupuncturist on Tuesday evening. (I know, it sounds weird and earthy. But after reading a LOT of literature on it, I can promise you that it is sound and worth giving a shot.) The experience was definitely a little strange. I mean, who can say that they enjoy getting needles stuck in their stomack, feet, hands, and ears!?! But at the same time, it was very relaxing and gives me hope that my hormones might become balanced and my reproductive health might be restored. If any of you want to know more about it, I will be happy to share details and statistics. For now, I just ask for your prayers that this treatment will be a more natural healing to my very confused body. We know that God is the Ultimate Physician, which is one reason why we are taking a break from all of the medications and drugs to try something a little different. More to come soon. Love you all!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Rejuvenation for the Journey

Last week, Johnathan and I were reminded how blessed we are to have such wonderful family. Johnathan's little brother, Tyler, is a freshman at Lipscomb University this year and we LOVE having him here in Nashville with us. He is one of the most spiritually mature young men I have ever met, and he blows Johnathan and me away with His desire to follow and live for Jesus. A couple of weeks ago, he was given an assignment in his Bible class to do something that Jesus did. Most of his classmates chose to go downtown and feed the hungry, but Tyler had something different in mind.
When he came over for his weekly homecooked meal last Wednesday, he asked Johnathan and I if he could wash our feet. He told us about his assignment and explained how he wanted to serve us and show us God's love through this humble gesture. Although this idea may sound a little weird, Jesus himself said, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). Jesus, our Lord and Savior, took the role of a servant and washed his disciples feet. During Biblical times, this was typically the job of a house servant. Since they mostly traveled on foot from place to place, the servant would wash the dirty and calloused feet of the guests before they continued on their journey.
As Tyler was explaining to me why he was doing this, he mentioned our fertility journey and how long and exhausting it has been for us. He said that he wanted this to be an experience of rest and rejuvenation before continuing on our journey.
I cannot even tell you how much this meant to us. Even though the actual foot-washing was a little awkward, it was such an beautiful reminder of God's love for us and that He is going to give us just what we need to keep going. Even as I write this, I tear up at the thought of what Tyler did for us and the humility he showed by choosing to be "Jesus" in this way. Thank you, Tyler, for being such a precious and loving brother, but even more importantly, for being the hands of Jesus during such a tiring time of our lives.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Either Way, You're Gonna Get Stuck With A Needle!

So my sweet wife has been dying for me to make a post on this blog. Since we both really want this to be “our” story, I thought I would oblige. I was not really into the whole blogging thing until all of this crazy stuff started happening. I started my own blog that I have closed off to everyone else in the world, and I really do not plan to ever share its contents. It’s basically a place where I can retreat to when times are really tough. I would hate for any of you to read it and think less of me because there is plenty of profanity to go around. However, there is something rejuvenating when I get those feelings out, and has really helped. So kudos to the blogging world! I might possibly share a thought from my own blog someday; otherwise it’s just for me only.

The last couple of days have been kind of a roller coaster ride. On Monday, we had an appointment at NFC (fertility clinic) to kind of go over our options. Going there is always bitter sweet. You either leave pumped up, excited, and hopeful or you just want to isolate yourself from the world. This time proved to be no different. Basically, we really only talked about IVF. The dreaded In-vitro. I guess it kind of stunk because for so long we have really seen this as our last resort for having our own child. Brooke and I are by no means nonbelievers of In-vitro, I just don’t think we are strong enough emotionally, and Brooke physically to proceed. While we knew it was coming, B and I felt very deflated that we have gotten to this point. I guess the one perk is we would have a higher chance of getting those twins we both desire so often. Needless to say, Monday was not our favorite day this week.

Tuesday, however, had a lot of hope looming in the distance. Long story short (I will let Brooke give you the details, cause I am not really interested in getting technical) we had a consult with an acupuncturist. Sounds kind of crazy huh? Well like I told my buddy Marc the other night…. before I was in this situation I would have thought that acupuncture was ludicrous (I mean who signs up to get poked with needles?), but when you get to places of despair, any solution that has HOPE is worth checking out. So we did. We know of some people who have taken this route and highly recommend it. I guess the most appealing attribute of this option is that it’s natural. No drugs, No hormones, No over stimulated ovaries!! What more could a man ask for? Honestly, this was the first medical professional I have talked to in a long time that seemed to get it. While he did not want to offer us false hope, he was very confident, 70 – 75% confident that he could do something to help us. Those are the highest percentages I have seen thus far. We were not his first couple to come in needing help after the detrimental effects of birth control (what I will now refer to as “the enemy”). With a combination of a better diet, some herbal medicine, and some acupuncture, this guy might help us at least take a step in the right direction. Its cheaper, its better for you, and the %’s rock, so this my friends is our next step.

I ask for prayers and laughs. Those are the only two things you can do for us. Thanks to all of you who have walked down this journey by our side. We could not have done it without you. Hopefully soon, I will let you know how things are going from my perspective.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

While I'm Waiting

Most of you have probably heard the popular song by John Waller called "While I'm Waiting" featured in the movie, Fireproof. The first time Johnathan and I heard this song, we both fell in love with it and basically adopted it as our anthem for our journey. (I even have it as my ringtone.)
Anyways, the lyrics go like this...

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on you Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on you, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting, I will serve you
While I'm waiting, I will worship
While I'm waiting, I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm sure that most of you can probably relate to this song in some way, because I know that Johnathan and I are not the only ones "waiting" on something. Some of you are waiting to find that special someone, some of you are waiting for that perfect job to line up or trying to figure out what school to go to, and hopefully all of us are waiting and longing for heaven - a place with no tears or pain. As I mention in almost all of my posts, God's timing is perfect, but it is sure hard to stay strong and persevere sometimes.
This song serves as a great reminder to me that even while we are waiting, we can still make the most of our lives and of God. We don't have to stop living just because God hasn't answered our prayers yet. In fact our period of waiting can be some of the most precious and valuable times of our lives because God can use it to shape us and draw us closer to Him.
Johnathan and I have refused to "stop living" just because life hasn't gone according to our plans. Looking back on the past couple of years, I think about all of the things we have been able to do and be a part of because we have not had children yet.

1. We have been able to help plant a church in downtown Nashville, which is now like our family. Getting to watch God work and do so many awesome things through our church has strengthened our faith in so many ways and given us more opportunities to serve.

2. We have been able to help lead a couple of mission to Australia and one to a Hispanic community in Ft. Worth, Texas. We are leading one again this March.

3. I get to go to work everyday and love on the girls at Friendship Christian. Even though I feel unworthy and unqualified to teach Bible, I have no doubt that God still has me there for a reason. Also, my girls give me a taste of what it is like to be a mother because they are like children to me.

I could go on and on, but these are just a few of the things that we are grateful to have been able to be a part of, and that we might not have been able to give 100% to had we gotten pregnant. We know that our time will come to be parents, but until then we are going to WORSHIP, SERVE, and PRAISE God with every opportunity we get! Satan will not keep us from living life to the fullest, even while we wait.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Story God Has Given Us to Share

Some of you may be reading this and wondering why in the world we would share such personal details on the internet. For a long time I thought that no one would want to read about our infertility issues, and some of you may not want to. Infertility is such a private and even embarrassing struggle to have, and it can be kind of awkward talking to people about it sometimes. Not everyone knows what to say or how to respond, which is completely understandable. Before we struggled with it, I remember talking to couples going through it and not having a clue what they needed or wanted to hear. Most people who deal with infertility choose to remain silent and keep their struggle private, at least until they are able to have a child and are on the other side. I can completely understand why they do this, because Johnathan and I did not even start telling anyone until about a year into it.
One of the reasons we changed our mind and decided to start this blog now is to be able to acknowledge God in the MIDST of the suffering and pain that we are going through. We could've waited until He answered our prayers and gave us a perfect, happy ending to our story, but we felt like He would be glorified more if we shared our journey before we had a baby in our arms. So, here is where the journey began...
When Johnathan and I got married, we decided that we wanted to wait about five years before having a child so that we could spend some time strengthening our marriage before starting a family. A few months before our fourth anniversary (March 2007), we went off of birth control. We expected it to take a few months for us to get pregnant, and then we thought we would have our first child around our 5th anniversary. Being the control freak and avid planner that I am, I had the dates all worked out so that everything would go according to "plan". This was my first mistake and, well, God does have a sense of humor!
I once heard a quote that said something like, "God most often speaks through whispers, but sometimes He has to hit us over the head with a brick to get us to listen." Looking back, I kind of feel like that is what God was doing with me. Until this point in my life, everything had always been pretty easy and gone according to plan, and so I just expected that it would continue to. I had always said that I had a strong faith in God, but never before had it really been tested. So, needless to say, the first year of waiting was one of the most difficult times of my life. I really struggled with the giving the control over to God, to the point that I freaked myself out and tried to analyze every reason that God might be allowing this to happen. I would worry and make myself sick trying to figure it all out. One of my friends finally told me, "God already has this all worked out. He knows the ending. So rest in that." So, once I learned to truly let go and give God the control, my life became a lot more bearable. There are days when I still feel the "planner" in me creeping out and trying to figure out what is going to happen, but then I just have to remind myself that God's ways and thoughts are far beyond my understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Back to the story...when I went off of birth control, my body did not regulate itself like it was supposed to. I ended up going to the doctor about five months later to try to figure out how to get my body back on a regular cycle. She put me on a drug called Prometrium that was supposed to jump-start my period. However, when it did not work, she switched me to the lightest dosage of Clomid (a fertility drug) to help my body ovulate. We stayed on that drug for about 12 months, increasing the dosage every few months. The drug made me a little crazy, but thankfully I have the world's most patient husband who lovingly stuck with me. My doctor also ran countless blood tests to check my hormones, as well as a few other more invasive tests (laparoscopy and HSG) to make sure that everything looked ok. Everything came back fine. Finally, about a year and a half into it, she told me that she had done everything she could and referred me to a fertility specialist.
I started seeing a specialist at Nashville Fertility Center in January 2009. They ran some more tests (on both me and Johnathan) and everything seemed to look fine. Since they like to be proactive and not waste your time (which I appreciate), they suggested that we give IUI (intrauterine insemination) a try. They put me on a drug called Femara to help me ovulate, but when that drug did not work they told me that I would have to do injections. So, in March of 2009, we started our first round of Follistim injections (which Johnathan had to give me in the stomach every night - did I mention what an amazing husband I have?), and then had our first IUI procedure in April. It did not work. We gave it another try in May, and I actually got pregnant! We were on our cruise when we found out and were SO excited all week long! We planned out how we were going to tell our friends and family, and started living the dream we had been begging God for. However, when we returned from our cruise and had our first doctors visit, they did an ultrasound and discovered that the embryo had implanted in the fallopian tube and was an ectopic pregnancy. It was so shocking and devastating. We had to terminate the pregnancy before it ruptured my fallopian tube, which was a heartbreaking process. Being able to get pregnant gave us hope that it could happen again, but we still wanted to take a few months off to recover both emotionally and physically.
After having another HSG to check my tubes and make sure that they were clear, we decided to try doing an IUI one more time. We started the injections in September ('09) and had the IUI in October. This treatment was a roller coaster and extremely exhausting, because at one point it seemed like the hormone injections were not working. However, God gratefully answered our prayers and my body finally responded enough to have the procedure. Throughout the month, God revealed himself in all sorts of amazing ways, which we took as signs that this time was going to be the lucky one! We appreciated all of the reminders of His presence, and anxiously awaited the results to see if I was pregnant. Just last week, we took the test and it was negative. I can't even explain how disappointed and upset we were. We just didn't understand. We thought that God had given us every sign that He possibly could that this was His plan, but we were wrong. It was at this point of confusion and exhaustion that we decided to start this blog. We decided that we have tried to control things for long enough, and that it was time to surrender it all. After many tears and time to process all that has happened, we decided that this was the story God has given us and we could either accept it and use it for good, or waste our time being sad and depressed.
Don't get me wrong - we still have sad moments and days where we just don't understand, but the beauty of it is that we don't have to! We have no idea what lies ahead or what the next step is going to be. We are considering and praying about the possibilities of adoption or in-vitro, but both are very expensive and exhausting processes. Please pray for us and that God will give us clarity, wisdom, and peace about what (if anything) we should do next.
The best and most beautiful thing about this whole journey has been that it has forced us to depend and cling to God more than ever! At first I was angry at Him, because it just didn't make sense to me and I couldn't get my head around it, but then I came to realize that He is the only hope we have. Instead of being resentful of the past two and a half years, I have come to be extremely thankful for all that God has taught me and the ways He has challenged my faith. If my life had continued to be easy and go my way, my faith would never have been stretched or forced to grow stronger.
This journey has been absolutely crazy and definitely had its ups and downs, but I would never trade it for anything. Yes there are days when I wish that I already had a child or two, but then I think about all of the intimate moments with Christ that I would have missed out on as I learned what it means to truly rely on Him. Selfishly I hope that I do not have too much more to learn and that this struggle will not go on for much longer, but I know if it does that I am extremely blessed to have the most wonderful and supportive husband, family, and friends, and most importantly, an Overcoming Savior who gives me hope and peace until His perfect timing arrives.

"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." -Proverbs 19:21


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Not About Us

For those of you who have been begging me to do a blog, your wishes have finally come true. After much resistance to sharing the personal and private details of my life, God has finally convinced both myself and Johnathan that this might be an outlet He can use to help others. We realize that the title of our blog may sound like an oxymoron, since blogs are usually all about the person or people that are writing them...but we want this blog to be all about GOD. What God has done, is doing, and will do in our lives that all reflect His love and goodness.
As we have tried to start a family for the past two and a half years, our primary focus has been on God serving US by answering our prayers and requests for a child. After countless tests, tears, and attempts at trying to conceive, we are finally surrendering to the Lord and have come to the realization that we are actually here to serve HIM and to make the most of Jesus Christ with our lives as we possibly can. (It is kind of embarrassing how long it took us to figure this out!)
So, today our prayers are changing from "God, give us a baby" to "Lord, use our story to bring Yourself glory!" (It even rhymes! I am such a dork.) We don't know what that is going to look like or how our story is going to unfold. All we DO know is that we are tired of wallowing in self-pity and pain, and are ready to let go and give God full control so that others can be encouraged and strengthened by our story and fall more in love with Jesus.
We are fully aware that there will still be good AND bad days ahead, and we promise to be as open, raw, and vulnerable as we possibly can so that God may be glorified through it ALL. Our prayer is that as God molds us and teaches us what it truly looks like to follow Him, you will come to see and discover for yourself what an amazing God we serve and that there is a hope and peace that can only be found through Jesus Christ. He is our Rock.

Lyrics from a worship song that I love...
It's all about you, Jesus
And all this is for You
For Your glory and Your fame
It's not about me
As if you should do things my way
You alone are God and I surrender
To Your Ways