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