4/9/15

Update after miscarriage

It has been almost a month since our loss. We are still processing. The past few weeks have been very painful. Those of you who have been here know how excruciating it is, how impossible to describe.

Over Easter weekend we took this family picture. I look upon it with so much gratitude. Here are my greatest blessings: my husband and my son. I praise the Giver of all good things for them. Nothing can diminish the joy I feel when I look upon them.


Yet I also look at this picture with sadness. How many times have we posed together as three, wishing to be more? How many years will continue to pass before my son becomes a brother? Before my husband gives his name to another child? Before I feel for myself the blessed joy of life inside? Having lost four precious embryos, I pose for these pictures haunted by the children who should be there.


I follow an infertility support organization called Resolve on facebook and they posted this chilling quote:

"The best way I can describe infertility is to ask a parent to imagine a world in which their child did not exist. I live that reality every day." 
- Anonymous. 

I read that quote and sighed deeply while nodding my head. Yes. That's what it feels like. Then I read this comment from another facebook user: 

"As someone who has gone through infertility and been fortunate enough to have a child, I have to say that simply imagining she didn't exist does not even begin to describe the torture that is infertility." - Emily Marx 

Yes. 

Prolonged infertility and loss bores holes into your heart where your children should be and fills them with such grief, you cannot "even begin to describe."

In the face of such pain I have turned to the only place I know to go: to the arms of my Savior. I have asked him to show me his love, his mercy, his favor. I continue to ask him for the gift of a child by birth. For the deep desire of my heart. 

Over the past month as I have continued to bring my long unanswered prayer before the Lord, I have felt a growing desire to be quiet before him. While blogging has been nothing but a gift to me over the past few years, it requires me me to be in constant interpretation of my life. To be constantly looking for God's hand upon me. To testify to his presence and purpose in my life. 

Here's the honest truth: I can't see it right now. I have faith that it is there- his presence and purpose- that is will be revealed, that I will be able to testify to God's goodness during this season in my life...  someday. But right now, I can't. Right now I am in too much pain to do it. 

So I am going to quiet myself before the Lord and wait on him. Hear me: we are moving forward with more treatment: I'm having another surgery, we're looking for more embryos, we're trying a new transfer technique. We are not giving up. But I need to quiet myself even in our trying; to take time to let the truth of his love settle deep into my heart and to get a little farther along in this journey before I try to interpret it. 

Someday I trust will have reason to testify to what the Lord has done in this season of my life.  For now, I am surrendering to the mystery and simply waiting for that day. 

"The LORD will fight for you. You need only be still." Exodus 14:14

"Be still in the presence of the LORD and wait patiently for him to act." - Psalm 37:7

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 

"Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to mutter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." - Ecclesiastes 5:2

"Humble yourselves before the LORD and he will lift you up." James 4:10 

Until that day, you can keep up with my on facebook and instagram where I will continue to post. I also have twitter which I use... sometimes. ;-)  

Thank you so much for your readership over the past few years. I look forward to the day when I can write again and say with the Psalmist, "Come and see what God has done! What awesome miracles he performs for his people!" - Psalm 66:5. 

Please join me in waiting quietly, but with expectation because we know in all things he is good. 

xo

3/15/15

Why is this happening? Thoughts on faith, miscarriage, and the meaning of suffering.


I've read each and every one of your comments and messages at least twice. Thank you sincerely for all your words of sympathy and support. They have brought a lot of light into the past few darks days.

Through our journey with infertility I have come face-to-face with the reality that being a Christian doesn't protect you from pain. I wish it did. Since we transferred our embryos just a few weeks ago I have prayed with particular intensity that God would spare me the pain of loss. I've called upon him as a Father who loves and cherished his daughter, asking him to look into my broken heart and see how fragile it has become. To agree with me that it's been beat up enough already. To spare me another agonizing blow. To protect me. To let me heal.

When I found out I was pregnant I thought finally. Finally! Finally God had seen me, bruised and vulnerable and stepped in to stop the fist of infertility from dealing another blow. Finally he had come to rescue me, to lift me up and set me on my feet again. To restore me.

For two weeks between the news of my pregnancy and my ultrasound, I fought fiercely against the fear that I would lose my baby. After so many years of negative pregnancy tests, I could not imagine anything more devastating than to miscarry this child I had longed for. Each day I worked to push the fear out of my mind and choose to relish the joy of my pregnancy: to hope, to imagine, to dream. I prayed life over the child growing inside me.

Now I know that somewhere in the middle of all those prayers for life, my baby died. Just stopped growing and withered away. The thing I feared the most happened. God did not spare me the grief of loss.

I knew there was no baby inside almost as soon as my ultrasound began on Friday. I saw a black screen where I knew a white little blob should have been. I lay silently on my back and my doctor's concerned, "Hmmm..." knocked all the hope right out of me.

"I don't see anything."

All I could muster was, "Oh no."

"Yea. I should see something by now."

The doctor stopped the ultrasound and I sat up on the table as John listened to instructions about what we had to do next. I fought back tears. Our doctor left and I got dressed, numbly. As John and I walked through the hallway to the exit a nurse caught my eye with a smile and asked, "How did it go??"

I shook my head and whispered hoarsely, "Not good."

She took me into her arms and held me close, whispering, "I'm so sorry."

I cried.

When I first wrote this post, I wrote these words: "I don't know why God allows his children to bear the brunt of such excruciating blows. I don't know why he doesn't step in to stop them." Just as soon as I wrote them, I realized that actually God did step in to bear the brunt of our pain. That's exactly what he did on the cross. He became human just so he could put his physical body between us and all the wrath we deserve. Most of the reason why suffering makes me so angry at God is because I don't think I deserve it. I love the way the Bible reframes suffering:

First of all, I did deserve to suffer. Simply put, I am a sinner. I am prone to do the wrong thing, go the wrong way, make the wrong decision. I am prone to put myself before others. Prone to shake my first at God. Prone to think I know best.

For that, I deserve to suffer.

But, God. <---- the most beautiful two words in the Christian faith.

I deserve to suffer, deserve to be punished. But God was not willing to go there. Not willing to let me know the full weight of my sin. Instead, he stepped down from heaven and bore my punishment for me. He bore the weight of all my sin and shame when he died on the cross. He said, "Spare her. Take me instead."

That's what I believe as a Christian. That I am sinful. That I deserved to be punished. But that God became a man named Jesus and took my shame instead.

This is redemption. When I repented of my sin and accepted the gift of Christ's death for me, I was redeemed. Someday (and how I wish it would be someday soon!) at exactly the right time God will redeem the whole earth and no one will suffer any more. But until then, I live in a strange "in between." I live as a redeemed person in an unredeemed world. Living in an unredeemed world means I will still know suffering.

The difference is that I know my suffering is not a punishment anymore. Along with so many other women I can ask myself am I infertile because I did something wrong? Would I be a bad mother? Am I being punished? And the answer is absolutely and unequivocally NO! I know my infertility is not a punishment because Jesus already took all the punishment for me. There is none left.

Instead, the Bible invites me to look at my suffering in a different way: to glory in my suffering.

Romans 5:3-4, "...we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."

The Bible also tells me that my suffering is not meaningless. I cannot know the reasons why God has allowed me to endure this loss, but I do trust that he will use my suffering for good. 

Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." 

And finally, I know that my suffering will not last forever. 

1 Peter 5:9-11 (The Message), "You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ- eternal and glorious plans they are!- will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does." 

These are the truths I am holding onto as I grieve the loss of our baby. I keep a firm grip on my faith as I take down the snowflake banner we used to announce our embryo adoption; it has been hanging in our dining room window since the summer. 

I keep a firm grip on my faith as I watch the bruises on my body from all my Lovenox and progesterone shots fade away. Marks in which I took such pride only a few days ago; battle marks from a war against infertility I thought I had finally won. 

I keep a firm grip on my faith as I revision my future with sadness. A summer I pictured enjoying with a growing belly. A guest room I had already painted and turned into a nursery in my mind. Thanksgiving and Christmas with a new baby in my arms. It's all gone. With faith I trust these months will unfold with a grace I cannot imagine. 

With faith I will continue to ask God for the desire of my heart. Even in this sorrow I do see reason to hope. The fact that I got pregnant is a very good sign. My body knew what to do! The fact that we lost our baby so early is very likely due to something going wrong with the embryo: some genetic factor or random mutation that caused him or her to stop growing. We won't have our next consultation with Dr. Colbert until mid-April but after my own research and a conversation with an IVF nurse I feel pretty confidant that we can still achieve pregnancy. We have a full month to think and pray about how we should move forward, but both John and I feel pretty certain that this is not the end of the road for us. We have some questions and obstacles in our way, but we also have a God for whom we know nothing is impossible. We trust he will lead us on this journey as he always has. 

Thank you again for all your support and for your countless prayers lifted on our behalf. I do not have the words to express how much they mean to us! You lift us up. 

xo 

3/13/15

Ultrasound

My heart is so heavy as I write this. John and I went in for our ultrasound this morning but there was no baby to be seen. We are devastated. Thank you so much for praying for us this morning. It was my biggest fear that we wouldn't see a baby on the screen and it is almost impossible to believe that fear came true. I'm heartbroken.

I had another HCG blood draw done (awaiting results) and will again on Monday; hopefully we can get some more answers soon.

We welcome your continued prayers in our sorrow.

xo

Update: HCG level came back at only 38 (down from 104 at my highest draw). After speaking to a nurse the problem was most likely chromosomal with the embryo (causing him/her to stop growing early on) although we cannot know for sure. Thankful to not be dealing with an ectopic pregnancy. We appreciate prayers for wisdom as we figure out how to move forward building our family. 

3/11/15

Sharing my pregnancy on the blog



Often times when I read about how someone got into blogging, the story goes something like this:

Well, I started blogging to record personal memories and share with my family/friends who live far away. Then: surprise! My blog started to grow and more people than my mom began to read it.

In some ways I can relate, but in other ways I sometimes feel like my experience with blogging has been a bit backwards. I didn't start blogging for personal reasons; I started blogging so I could publicly share our adoption journey with those who were supporting us financially, emotionally, and spiritually. It's been exciting to see my readership grow slowly but surely over the years and has forced me to examine again and again what is the purpose behind this blog. I haven't blogged to fundraise for years, yet I've kept writing out of a sense of calling. A sense that God wants me to write, to share the story he's writing for me in order to be an encouragement to others. Sometimes I want to say I write to bring God glory, but truthfully I don't know if that is really the best way to say it. All the glory in the universe already belongs to him; I bring him nothing he doesn't already have, right?

Instead, I try to look at my blog in a very simple way: it is a platform on which I can share my journey of faith. Share what it looks like for one woman to wrestle with, embrace, reject, return to, and fall in love with God. So far I've mostly written about adoption, parenting, and infertility because those things have been the primary goings-on of my life since I started writing. There have been many of you who have connected with my story because of adoption, but even more of you have connected with me because of infertility. This fact surprised me. When I started writing about our infertility journey I wondered if I would loose my readership. The opposite happened, however, and it grew. There is something special about the bond between women who know what it is like to long for a child with empty arms.

Most of my readers have resolved their infertility battles in some way. But some have not. As I think about continuing to share my story through this pregnancy those women are the ones who weigh most heavily on my heart. I know what it is like to feel that pit of sadness swell up inside when another woman shares the joy of the life growing inside her. I hate to think that I would cause that wave of pain to crash over any one of you.

At the same time, I want to celebrate and cherish every moment of this precious gift I've been given. After the years of longing, I want to relish in those deferred hopes that have finally been fulfilled.

I've been thinking and praying about how I can best honor those of you who are still in the battle, still fighting to bring your child into this world. Here's what I've come up with:

I will honor you by cherishing this pregnancy. I know how it hurts to see a woman taking her pregnancy for granted. I will honor you by being mindful of the gift I have been given and by carrying it with gratitude every single day.

I will honor you by not complaining. If I share my struggles, I will do so with respect. I will not whine aimlessly about being tired, nauseated, or not being able to breathe when I have baby feet in my ribs. If I mention those things, I do so being mindful of all the women who would love to trade places with me.

I will honor you by respecting your decision to take a break from reading this blog. I am going to be sharing the joy of my pregnancy here and through my social media channels, but I will tell you as clearly as I can: if reading about my pregnancy hurts you, I completely understand if I loose your readership. I say goodbye with nothing but love and hope for you.

Finally in a very practical way I've decided that I will keep ultrasound and posed "belly shot" pictures off my primary posts on Facebook. I'll share them via this blog, twitter, and Instagram, but if I share them on Facebook I will do so by posting text and then sharing the picture in the comments. That way if you prefer not to see those pictures in your news feed, you can pass them by. For me, seeing those pictures sometimes stung so I want to respect you the same way I would want.

Tomorrow I have my first ultrasound (6 weeks). To say I have been anxious is an understatement. I have been so scared that they will not see a growing baby inside me. I think some of you must be praying for me though because yesterday I began to calm down a little and feel more peace, more hope that we will see our precious child and his or her beautiful heartbeat. I cherish your continued prayers as we walk toward this first big milestone! Thank you!

Sending lots of love and gratitude to you all for walking alongside me in this journey. I'm so thankful for you. I will continue to write and share my faith journey through this pregnancy with great gratitude for your readership!

xo 
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