Countdown: one week!

I keep thinking to myself, "Today could be the last Wednesday of my infertility. I could be pregnant for every Wednesday from now until I give birth."

Praying for that reality with my every breath.

There is only one week between today and our transfer date.  Eep! At this point, I'm basically a walking exclamation point!

I've also thought that this could be our last fall as a family of three. We've included Arie in this season of anticipation, talking to him about how I'm going to the doctor to hopefully get a baby in my tummy and inviting him to pray for his future sibling(s). It's a weird thing to talk to your four year old about, but he's been asking for a sibling for a while (because most of his friends have them) and he's still young enough that I don't worry too much about his disappointment if the worst should happen and we loose all four snowflakes. We keep our conversation hopeful and light.  In response, Arie has offered frequent prayers for his siblings. "Please give us one boy baby and one gwurl baby." At first he wanted them both at the same time (twins!) and now he has morphed this request into a very specific, "FIRST one boy baby and THEN one gwurl baby."

Personally, I'm still praying for twins. I know twin pregnancies are not without risk and parenting twins not without challenges, but if we are able to transfer two embryos (as is the plan) I cannot do anything but pray that both will survive and thrive. Oh how I long to see these babies grow! Trusting their lives to God's sovereignty.

I cannot wait to see Arie as a big brother. Lately he's been telling me that "when we get a baby I gonna tell the baby, 'Oh you are SO SMART!'" Ha! I guess he hears that a lot from us.

Though I am mostly excited to see him as a big brother, there is always a part of me that twinges when I think that he won't be the baby in our family anymore. As children do, he has grown up so fast! The smiling chubby little baby boy I brought home almost two years ago is a now a chatty, lean little boy. His babyish ways ways are disappearing as he speaks more clearly and acts more capably. I cherish these days with him.

Earlier this week we enjoyed a cloudy but warm fall day so Arie and I took advantage by going on a hike. Technically it's not really "hiking" with a four year old… more like strolling with bursts of running interrupted with sudden stops to pick up sticks, marvel at a brook, or collect leaves.

It's fantastic being able to spend so much time with my little man one-on-one. It is. But... we're both ready for more. I'm ready to walk through these same woods with a baby on my back, to pick up dropped pacifiers, to stop at benches along to way for diaper changes or nursing sessions, and to figure out the mom-juggle I know I'll face when Arie's not my only child anymore. Arie is ready to be a big brother too. Ready to learn how to share me, to act patiently when we have to slow down for the baby/ies, to assert more of his independence, and to grab hold of the responsibility and authority that goes along with being the oldest child. We're ready for the change.

One week! And counting.



Counting down: 10 days!

Someone commented to me last week that I must be feeling "cautiously optimistic" about our upcoming embryo transfer. I agreed but as I reflected on our conversation later that day I realized something incredible: I don't feel cautious! I'm just optimistic! In fact, as I have been bringing our transfer and those four little snowflakes to God in prayer, I have found myself saying "thank you!" even more than "help me" or "please." Because I believe these snowflakes are four little lives already in existence, I feel as though so many of my prayers have already been answered. I just can't wait to get those first two little ones in my body!

I also have to thank the many of you who have been holding our family and these four snowflakes in prayer. Your words of support and prayers offered for us have done more than encourage us; you have ushered me into the presence of the LORD. As an anxious person by nature I have no way to explain the peace and true JOY I have hidden in my heart, other than to attribute it to your prayers. You have helped me keep my mind on the LORD.

I was praying with gratitude for this blessing the other day and felt God bring a scripture passage to mind: "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal." Isaiah 26:3-4. Many of the things I have been tempted to trust in through this infertility journey have crumbled like sand over the past few years, but the LORD has been my rock. After many months of anxiety and uncertainty, I am thankful for the peace I now feel. It is a gift!

There are only 10 days left until our embryo transfer (!!!). I want to use this time of peace and joy to prepare my heart and mind for what I know has the potential to be a very nerve-wracking "two week wait" until I go in for a pregnancy blood test. Months ago I was watching videos on youtube of couples who did IVF or embryo adoption; in one of the videos a woman's doctor gave her an awesome prescription for the days immediately following the transfer; he said, "Go do something that makes you happy!" He obviously knew how important our mental health is during infertility procedures!

First, I'd love to hear what you would do or some suggestions! What would you do? Eat? Read? Watch? Etc? I'll be on bed rest for the first two days but after that it will be life as normal. If your doctor told you to do something that made you happy, what would you do?

Second, I want to write out some scriptural passages to take with me to the procedure and have near me during my bed rest and two-week-wait. I have a few in mind that mean a lot to me, but again I'd love to hear what passages you would choose or passages you would suggest during this time?

Sending so much love to you all! Thank you for walking through journey this with us!


PS: I know many of you will want to know when I'm going in for my blood test; I'm going to keep that date private because- whatever the results- we will want to share the news with our families first. I do promise, though, to share the results as soon as we are able! :-)



This past weekend John, Arie, and I headed over to Ontario (where I'm from) to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. Our celebratory dinner was particularly meaningful this year because it fell on the two year anniversary of our court date in Russia. The contrast between the anxiety I fought against two years ago sitting in that court room and the peaceful contentedness I felt sitting at the Thanksgiving table moved me to gratitude.

I'm so thankful I get to call this boy my own.

It has become tradition in our family to go on a walk after dinner. We grunt and stretch as we bend over our stuffed bellies to tie our shoelaces and get out the door. We grab the stroller and the dogs- trying not to get the leashes tangled in the wheels- and head toward the park. Arie runs the entire way, this year picking up sticks and swinging them recklessly at Uncle Justin and yelling gleefully, "ARRR MANEY! SHIMMER ME TIMMERS!"

Any disciplinary words about stick swinging are met with sincere protest, "BUT I'M A PIRATE, MOM!"

Well, then.

Carry on.

At the park we forget how full we are and let our inner children run free, hoping on playground equipment and laughing until we can hardly breathe when we realize we can't even swing from one monkey bar before our feet touch the ground.

John and Justin competitively count how many chin ups they can do. Justin wins with 15, but then feels a little queazy. We are still really full, after all.

When all the grownups have finished playing and Mom has given up trying to fly a kite in breezeless sky we call Arie from the slides and start heading home.

I've brought the stroller to push his tired little body back, but he insists he can still walk.

And he does, swinging sticks all the way.

Two years ago I was dreaming of these days as I celebrated a Russian judge's decree. The longing I felt back then makes these days so much sweeter; I am grateful.

I remember calling my parents from Moscow in 2012 and telling them that there would be one more seat at the table next Thanksgiving. The joy I felt at that picture was overwhelming! This year I could not help but imagine that John and I would be eating with one hand, juggling a baby or two in the other, pushing a full stroller down those same sidewalks after dinner, and snuggling our baby (babies??) at the park.

Dreaming and longing and believing this season of anticipation will make the fulfillment oh so sweet.

Exactly two weeks until transfer!



All the fall things

Summer is slowly disappearing here in Michigan and I am trying my best not to cry as the warm weather slips through my fingers.

Okay, it's not that bad. I do enjoy autumn and all the beauty it brings with the changing scenery.  We had a beautiful stretch of warm temperatures for a few weeks which has helped me embrace the thought of our approaching winter.  Now the cooler weather is starting to creep in and Arie asks me every day if it's "gonna snow yet?" He can't wait to build a snow fort and his excitement is helping me get in the mood for colder days ahead! While the weather is still warm enough, though, John, Arie, and I are spending as much time as we can outside while we can!

Arie was sporting casts on his feet for the past three weeks; they are part of some physical therapy he is doing to address his toe walking and tight muscle tone. We got a lot of gasps and "What happened?!" when we are out and about, but rest assured there were no broken bones in there!

He coped pretty well with the casts but we were ecstatic to finally get them off yesterday! He's hobbling around on his new feet, getting the hang of the range of motion in his ankles. It's pretty cool to see him walking on flat feet for this first time!

Casts aside we have found many things to enjoy this fall! Arie and I kicked off the season just like we did last year: raspberry picking with friends.

It was cool on our raspberry picking day but we were still able to enjoy a picnic for lunch. Doesn't food just taste better outside?

A few short weeks later we were picking apples! Arie and I went once with friends and then again a few days later when John was able to join us. Apple picking is both the last contented sigh of summer and the first deep breath of fall; it serves to create such wonderful memories for me and I hope for my boy as well.

When we went with friends we joined two other moms who brought two kids each. I'm still laughing over our trip! With the exception of the baby, all our kids must have ate at least their body weight in apples and picked the same. Despite many reminders to "place the apples GENTLY in the cart" the majority of mine came home bruised. It was, however, still magic to watch those little ones race through the orchards, chins and hands sticky from juicy apples, bubbly giggles rising from widely smiling lips.

I was so proud that I at least managed to keep the bag of Jonagolds (good for baking) and the Honeycrisps (good for eating) separate despite their identical appearances… but then as Arie and I drove home and turned a particularly sharp corner I heard the unmistakable sound of 40+ apples rolling around the trunk. Sure enough when I got home and popped the trunk open I saw the bags had come untied and all the apples were mixed together!

We spent the next week taking one bite of each apple to determine which kind it was. When we collected enough bitten Jonagolds in the fridge we did what any good apple picker would do... make an apple crisp!

Our second round of picking yielded bags of Fuji and Cortland apples which made the most delicious apple sauce, just like my mom made when I was growing up! Arie and I had a blast in the kitchen turning those apples into sweet sauce; another fall memory made.

I'm sad to see autumn slipping so quickly by, but I do have a very good reason to appreciate the change of season: in the end of October we will be transferring our embryos! I was able to book my transfer this week and it is October 29. Doesn't that sounds like a GREAT day to get pregnant? I think so. Do you think it will be too early in the game to use pregnancy cravings as an excuse to binge on Arie's Halloween candy? ;-)

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