Goodbye Polly

The past year or so has been really difficult in the infertility journey. I keep trying to find a “strength” to go through this and I come up short. I know my strength is in the Lord and that I can go through this because He holds me. That does not mean that I am not going through a difficult time. It also does not mean that the Lord is not right there with me. That being said, this year has been pretty awful.

Emotionally and mentally, I have been in a constant cycle of grief. Which stage I am in has fluctuated, but in the most recent months, I think I am in the depression stage. Everything makes me sad, but I am also numb. This numbness has made me question many things, including God’s plan for us in the realm of parenthood. I prayed and prayed for God to take the desire for children from my heart if it was not meant to be. I prayed, and nothing changed. Nothing, that is, until I started to feel nothing. After awhile, I wondered if this was God’s answer. Did he take the desire from my heart like I asked for? Did I really think He would? That is not up to me, but I suppose I truly did not want that desire to leave. Was this numbness the removal? I thought I was REALLY messed up and I thought this was the end. What was I going to tell my husband? Did I really think the desire was gone? How in the world is this going to play out?

Time went on and the numbness settled in. The sadness just turned to a stagnant state of “I’m sad, but I’m not SAD.” Finally I bugged my friend and counselor until we could make an appointment. After some counseling, I finally changed my mindset. The numbness is part of the depression stage. We started to pray for contentment along with our prayers for children. I still feel really weird most days and I can not tell if I am actually sad or just feigning sadness, but the awareness of the grief has been helpful. I continue to wrestle with my emotions (or lack thereof), but I am more sure that I still desire children than I was before. I now think that God would not have put the desire for children in my heart if He was going to take it away.

Before I give an update, I do want to say that plenty of wonderful things have happened this year, despite, you know, *gestures vaguely to everything.* We have been blessed in many ways. Both of us kept our jobs, we’ve learned to be flexible in our jobs, our marriage continues to grow, our dog probably learned a new trick or two, we’re knocking out some debt, our families are doing well and are healthy… we have a lot to be thankful for.

On March 10th, I had a procedure done called a hysteroscopy. At our appointment on January 4th, our fertility specialist determined this was a good next step since our four IUIs were unsuccessful. On paper, we should have gotten pregnant at least one of those times. All the numbers were good. So we agreed that the hysteroscopy was the next step. They believed there may be something in my uterus blocking the possible embryos from attaching. After waiting a stupid amount of time, being forgotten about, the office’s financial head leaving, calling everyone in the buildings and the insurance company, we finally got the hysteroscopy, pre-op appointment, and follow-up appointment scheduled. The time between January 4th and March 10th felt like years. Now that the procedure is done, we wait for the follow-up appointment on March 24th to determine the next steps yet again. It’s now been over 3 years since we first started trying to get pregnant.

The hysteroscopy went really well. Every nurse, anesthesiologist, and doctor attending to and helping me were so kind and overall phenomenal. I want to be everyone’s friend there. I was put under general anesthesia, so I did not feel anything and I was out for what felt like seconds. When I did come to, I was told that they found and removed a rather large polyp at the opening of my uterus, just past the cervix. They also removed two small red spots just in case. A week later, I received results that they were all benign, as was expected. When they showed me the picture of the polyp, I asked if this was a contributing factor in the IUIs not working. The doctor said that the polyp would make it very difficult for sperm to get through.

I have had a range of feelings in the past week (I guess the numbness is wearing off… sort of feeling a tingling.) I have felt relief and joy that they actually found something, a reason maybe, and that it is gone. I have felt annoyance and anger that we did not find it before. I have felt remorse that I did not research and inquire earlier. I have felt bitterness towards all the doctors I have seen regarding infertility for not doing this before we spent money, time, and emotions on the FOUR IUIs. I have felt incredible gratitude to my husband, family, and friends for the care and prayers. Right now, I believe I am still relieved that it is gone and I am anxious for my next appointment.

I would be doing a disservice to my husband if I did not mention how saintly he has been during this process. He took off the entire day of work the day of my hysteroscopy. He had to wake up crazy early to drive me to Norfolk, wait by himself in the waiting room with a book (which I’m sure he truly enjoyed) for over two hours, and take me home after. He cared for me so well, making sure I safely got in bed, making sure I ate something, got me gatorade AND ginger ale because I could not decide which one I wanted. He kept an eye on me all day, cooked, cleaned, went grocery shopping, and many things I am sure I did not see or know that he did. He did me the biggest favor of all by keeping family and friends updated so that I did not forget to in my weird post-anesthesia state. He has been my champion through it all and I would not trade him for anyone or anything. Seriously, someone get this man a trophy. Or donuts.

I was also blessed by the thoughtfulness and care of others, by my in-laws for bringing us dinner, for my friends who brought me the BEST cookies and sent me flowers, for my family who sent me cards. These are the things that I will one day tell our children, that before they were even conceived, they were loved through these actions.

One of my sisters named my polyp “Polly,” and we are so glad to see her go.

Greens and Whites

Next week, we will hit the three-year mark of trying to get pregnant. In March, we will celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. When we were first engaged and being all gross and adorable and planning our future together, I can confidently say that neither of us saw us childless at this point in our marriage. We both knew we wanted children as soon as possible and we waited almost a year after getting married before trying to conceive. (I know a lot of you are thinking that we should have “enjoyed each other” for longer, but everyone has their own timelines and goals for their relationships. Plus if we waited longer to even start trying, we would have hit this massive speed bump and it still would have been longer.)

As we near next week, I wanted to have something to remind us that this journey is not hopeless, even if it ends in childlessness. After connecting with another young woman on Instagram (that has also struggled with infertility and child loss) who makes lovely rainbows for couples with infertility who are waiting on their rainbow baby, I wanted to support her craft and have a rainbow of my own. She sent me a beautiful rainbow made of greens and off-white, the color scheme of our wedding (and honestly our whole house). I have hung it up in our guest bedroom that we will hopefully transform into a nursery some day as a symbol of hope and a reminder that God has brought my husband and I closer together through this journey, which cannot be said for many couples who have endured this struggle. I purposefully do not want to change the guest bedroom until we are pregnant, so if you happen to visit, maybe you’ll have the chance to pray for us when you see our lovely rainbow.

We’re in yet another (hopefully) short season of waiting. We recently met with our fertility doctor, who said based on the numbers we should have gotten pregnant with one of our four IUI attempts. On paper, it doesn’t make sense. My follicles were the right size at the right time, my hormones were at the correct levels or within range at the right times, my husband’s sample had excellent numbers (in both motility and number of sperm), and I took my trigger shots at the right time. Each time we were hopeful and each time it failed, each attempt more disappointing than the last.

Our next move is I am going to have a hysteroscopy. Since everything looks good on paper, something may be preventing an embryo from implanting in my uterus like fibroids or polyps. Once the hysteroscopy is scheduled and occurs, they will remove any abnormalities they find.

Even though we are on a roll with treatments and attempts to get pregnant, it all feels so empty. There is not a lot of excitement or anticipation with wanting to go to appointments anymore. There is only dread during the 2WW (2 week wait). I desprately want to get pregnant and I desparately want to have kids, but I am so tired of trying. I just want it to be over. I want the children without the work it takes to get there.

Part of this exhausting comes from having to filter a lot of encouragement and words from friends and family who are just trying to help. I have never held anything that anyone has said against them when they say things that are hurtful because I know their intentions are good and that their heart is in the right place. Those words still hurt occasionally. I believe that when words of support and encouragement are being offered, they are being filtered through the mind of someone that hurts for me and wants to be helpful. It is just that sometimes that filter is not a helpful filter.

A good friend of mine and I got breakfast recently and as she asked about how things were going with our infertility journey, she sat across that table and just listened. She asked some clarifying questions along the way but at the end she gave me the greatest comfort by just saying, “that sucks,” and it meant the world to me. Couples who are going through infertility (no matter how long) know how much this sucks. For the rest of the world that has not experienced it, you cannot fully understand this particular grief. You can empathize and hold us close, we just want to be seen and for you to understand that it JUST SUCKS. Your words are sweet, but rarely soothing, so if you have a friend going through infertility, I encourage you to ask them what they need and be prepared if they just need you to sit with them in the suckage for a little bit. It’s probably not healthy to stay down there, but a few minutes won’t hurt.

Pit of Despair

On January 1, 2020, I believed that this would be our year to become parents. I thought for sure that we would have a little one in our arms, sitting by the Christmas tree, showing them all of the sparklies. I thought we would have the honor of reading through the family catechisms and introducing our little human to the joy of Christmas and the honor that we have to be able to celebrate this season. It’s now December of 2020, and there is not a little one in my womb, much less in our arms.

We’ve tried IUI three times so far and I am on treatment now for the fourth round. There’s no way I will (knowingly) be pregnant in 2020. The earliest I would test for pregnancy in the current timeline would be January 1, 2021. My heart is broken, and I am tired of childlessness. I am tired of trying to be strong and be a source of hope for others. I still WANT to be, but I am weary and broken.

When our county decided to bring students back into the building for school, I knew something had to give. We have students split into groups that come to school in an alternating fashion after already being split by exploratory class, so in short, that means I only see my students once a week. The groups I see on Monday I do not see again until the next Monday.

When the last round of IUI did not work, which was by far the most disappointing, I knew that I would not be able to do the next round on the normal timeline due to the crazy work schedule. My appointments for checkups, blood work, and ultrasounds would have fallen on those weeks when I saw my students for the first time. I was not comfortable leaving them with a substitute after having zero expectations set for them for in-person learning. I knew them already from online learning, but the procedures and classroom management are different in the building. I could not bring myself to leave them without any frame of reference and to leave the sub with little-to-no structure.

Finally, now in December, I feel like I could leave my students and it not be a burden on a substitute (who would actually an Instructional Assistant in our building because we cannot bring in actual substitutes for health reasons) or on my students. It was a rough few days communicating with my doctor and the pharmacy and them working with insurance to get me a medicine to induce a period since I was not starting on my own. I took an ovulation test every day and none of them were positive, so I knew that I was not going to have a period any time soon. I tested for pregnancy (protocol) and called the doctor. Finally, I finished a round of 10 days of Provera, which is usually used to manage menopause symptoms.

It took a couple days after stopping the Provera, but I finally started my period and can get back on the IUI treatment cycle. I’ll go in on day 3 and day 8 at the very least and then called in again around day 13 or 14. As of right now, my timeline has me doing the IUI procedure the week before Christmas and testing for pregnancy on New Years Day. What a holiday season!

It has been a difficult few months. It seems like it is getting more and more difficult the longer time goes on. Being childless feels like a never ending curse, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of the day, I am either a mom or I am not. I am not. I pray daily for a child, for God to show us if we are supposed to keep pursuing IUI treatment or move to IVF or pursue adoption or to stop altogether. It does not seem like there is an answer coming. I often feel hopeless (although not completely, I know my hope is in the Lord, and that does bring me solace often). This despair is growing deeper and I find it more difficult to put on a happy face all the time for work and friends and church. I pray every morning for the strength to forget for a little bit so I can be an effective teacher and a meaningful friend and wife. It is exhausting.

I found myself recently not doing anything that I liked. I was just sitting in the dark. With school being so crazy and exhausting, I did not have the energy to go home and do something productive. My sweet husband has done so much for me while I wallow. He cooks and cleans and does the laundry for us, even when I have not done anything. If anyone is reading this that lives near by, send that man a gift.

I have started to force myself to do some things that bring me joy, even if I don’t feel like it, because I feel like I have done something. My husband has encouraged me in it too (without being too pushy). It’s at least a step up out of the pit. I started to force myself to do the dishes again. I was cooking again. I baked for fun and painted again. Even when I truly do not feel like it, it has been a step. I’ve also been faithful to journal and pray and read my Bible every day, even when I don’t want to. I find myself telling God, “Hey. I’m here. I don’t want to talk to you right now, but I will.” After awhile, my bitterness and icy heart breaks and I find myself coming to Him a lot more humbled.

Recently our church had a sermon on the prophecy and birth of John the Baptist, specifically Luke 1:1-25. What a beautiful story of the end of an age of waiting! Four hundred years of waiting for God to speak, and He brought pregnancy to a couple that were way beyond their child bearing years. Zechariah and Elizabeth were blessed by God with a child, and a very special child. One thing that my husband pointed out that brought a lot of comfort to the both of us was specifically that in verse 6, Zechariah and Elizabeth were called righteous and blameless. They were called these things despite the cultural label of being seen as shameful because they did not have children. The world at that time saw childlessness as a curse or punishment from God for something that they may have done. But then the Word of God counters this, calling them righteous and blameless. Their childlessness was NOT a curse. It was NOT a punishment. In fact, their childlessness brought glory and honor to the Lord, and they were blessed.

I am not saying that I am Elizabeth and that my husband is Zechariah. This story did, however, bring me great comfort. It is so easy for me to fall into this dark pit where I question everything and I wonder if I am being punished or if I did something terribly wrong to earn this. The story of John the Baptist’s birth being foretold is a story I will hold on to tightly, trying my best to continue to honor the Lord through this journey, even when I’m still climbing out of the pit.

Norfolk, the day my sister got ENGAGED!!!! 🙂

Harder the Second Time

We had our second round of IUI this past month and it did not end up in a pregnancy. I was sure to not get my hopes up as much this time, but for some reason, it hurts WAY more. I jumped right back in to taking hormones for the next round, jumping on the emotional rollercoaster that is hormonal therapy. There was not a lot of time to think and feel last time, it’s almost like it built up between the first time and this last time that all of the emotions I am feeling are pouring out.

One of the things I hear a lot (and don’t know how to respond to) is, “You are just so strong” and “I can’t imagine what you are going through” and “I don’t know how you do it.” I hear it a lot personally and I hear it being said to others going through the infertility as well. I see it on the social media posts and the blog comments. I hear it in my own life and I get the “look of pity” frequently. If you are the ones saying and doing those things, you are not in trouble. You are not a bad person and you are showing care, interest, and support, so we thank you. Just know, sometimes the response is going to be what I am about to say:

The short response is that I am not strong and I don’t know how I am doing it. I have felt more hopeless in the past two months than ever before and I feel like I am barely keeping it together. Now that it’s fall and the temperature is cooling down, social media is blooming with posts about apple picking and pumpkin patches, flannel and fancy fall drinks. Almost all of them I see are posts from friends that have small children that are LOVING the adventures and the outdoors. It’s everything I long for and it is too much to bear to see them and to feel jealousy. I immediately feel guilt for being jealous or envious. There is a lot of focus on the family right now between it being fall, the pandemic, and online school. Pastors, bloggers, social media posters, influencers, and parents are offering different types of advice for holding the family together during these pandemic times and they are filled with (mostly) lovely advice. How I long to have those problems, working hard to bring my children and family closer together.

My dear reader, if you do not know Jesus, these next words may not make sense, but I hope they make you think. The only way that I am getting through this is by the divine strength of Jesus. Every time I don’t feel like standing back up or getting out of bed or even opening my eyes from the previous blink, the Lord is my strength and he is carrying me through. It is NOT my strength, because currently I am the weakest I have ever been. The world says that if I want it bad enough and work hard enough (or in some cases, relax enough), I am going to get what I want. The Word says that I need to rely and lean into the strength that does not come from me. If it did, I would be in deep trouble. I am so glad for my husband and his constant support. He is an excellent partner and friend. His strength, however, to hold me and comfort me comes from the Lord as well.

This is not a pity post and I hope it doesn’t come across that way. This is a post of honestly and vulnerability, that infertility is not always about being strong and sometimes it is about being broken down to a point of being reminded that I cannot do this alone and that others can only help me so far. If I didn’t have hope in something greater, I would not carry on.

But I do, and I will.

IUI, Holding on to Hope, & Virtual Teaching

What. A. Month.

Thursday morning I brought a sample from my husband to the doctor’s office, went to a nearby coffee shop, wore a mask while getting some work done, went back for our second IUI procedure, and then drove to work for two sessions of virtual open houses for the coming school year. It had probably been the most relaxing day I have had in a few weeks.

Last month, we tried IUI for the first time. (Being that we are trying again, it obviously did not work.) I had a lot of hope though that it would and it made the negative pregnancy test(s) MUCH worse. I should have known, this whole time we have been going through infertility I have learned to not get my hopes up. That way, when good news does come, I am pleasantly surprised! But, alas, last month sucked. I had started cramping a few days before I was supposed to take a pregnancy test and I kept writing them off, hoping they were implantation cramps or other pregnancy cramps. I took three pregnancy tests that morning and another one later in the day to confirm: not pregnant.

I immediately started bleeding the next day and the cycle started over again. I called my doctor and they prescribed more Letrozole (an egg stimulant hormone) for days 3-7 of my cycle. I went in for blood work and an ultrasound on day 3 (the day before going back to work) and they saw a big follicle on the left ovary and three medium ones on the right. The (very sweet) doctor said the big one on the left might be too big for this round, possibly a cyst, but they would check my blood test results to check on my estrogen. I was seen again on day 8 (the Saturday after my first week back to work) to see how the Letrozole affected the follicles. The left one got bigger and the right ones stayed the same. In that ultrasound, they said the same thing: looks a little big, almost cystic, but we will check your estrogen and go from there.

Apparently the estrogen was fine because they started me on the Gonal-F injections (another follicle stimulant) for three days and another follow-up ultrasound and blood work (I had to be an hour late to work). They said the same things again: big follicle, looks cystic, will check estrogen.

Well, my estrogen LEAPED and they said, take your Estridol (trigger shot) tonight and we will see you in two days for another IUI procedure. I was shocked! I had very little confidence in this follicle after the doctors continued to comment on the cystic appearance of this possible egg-bearing follicle. In addition to my surprise, I felt a surge of stress. What time was this appointment? Should I call the doctor to confirm? I call them a lot already… I have to go to work for two sets of Virtual Open Houses. Will subsequent appointments continue to get in the way of teaching? Am I paying too much attention to teaching right now and not enough to my body? Am I doing the opposite?

I had almost no time to grieve and process the first loss. I know it was not a true loss and I will never compare our lack of conception this month to the true loss many mothers’ experience, but it hurt. I let myself get so excited and examine every tiny feeling and label it a symptom. It felt like when we first trying to get pregnant two and a half years ago, it made me feel naïve. I am starting to wonder if that is why I am not confident in this second round. Am I subconsciously putting guards up so that if it does happen, I will be pleasantly surprised? It’s also possible that work is so crazy, I am staying busy and distracted.

For those who are teachers or are friends with a teacher, you know how insane these past couple weeks have been. We are learning new technology as fast as we can, dealing with inconsistent information, getting way too many suggestions from “experts” via email and Zoom and “friends” on social media, all the while wondering, “If I can’t figure this out, how will my kids?” This blog post isn’t going to be about me offering my opinion on the status of public education right now, but I just wanted to set the scene a little bit.

My husband has had a crazy work month as well (he works for IT for public schools) and has been exhausted every day. I am SO blessed by him, he has still taken care of me and soothed me at the end of each and every day. He’s been diligent to pray for us and our future children and to listen to me vent when I walk in the door. I am so glad he is in this with me.

Even so, it has been really difficult recently to be in the infertile camp. I am sad more often than I would like and the hormones make me completely nuts. I go from sad for almost no reason to angry to crazy goofy in a matter of minutes. I examine every physical feeling and try to fit it into a pregnancy narrative. I am grateful that work is distracting and that friends are checking on me frequently. There is a lot to do to prepare and execute virtual learning, but it does somehow seem easier in comparison to working towards pregnancy.

In all of the crazy, I was stopped suddenly on the way out of the house to go to work by the sight of my lavender plant actually producing lavender!! I planted a small lavender sprout from a hardware store on the side of our porch and kept wondering if it was ever going to do anything. The plant itself took really well to its new home and grew, but I never saw any sign of anything other than more greenery. But then one morning I looked over at it to see a long sprout with a hint of purple at the tip. It was growing! It was finally producing fruit.

I am not one to read too far into anything, but I am hoping that if I can keep lavender alive long enough to start producing, maybe I can keep hope alive that we will one day be parents. Hope that I’ll be blessed to feel life grow inside me, that the Lord will knit together a life inside my womb and I would be one of the lucky ones to know what it is like.

My new Lavender bud ❤

Infertility Doesn’t Rest

In the midst of COVID, political unrest, injustice, racial tension, and the possibilities surround the return to school, I made it a point to not release any blog posts. I did not want stories about my life to clog up the feed of what is important and good. I still am looking to keep my blog posts brief and infrequent because the quest for justice and peace does not rest: God does not rest.

That being said, I do feel like I owe some of you an update. A lot has happened since my last post regarding our infertility journey and I wanted to make this as quick and to the point as possible.

One thing I know is that my sisters and brothers battling infertility have probably felt more alone during quarantine than ever. Having to stay inside without children we so desire to fill our homes is haunting… the silence is haunting. I am the queen of distracting myself from my own feelings and the access to distractions decreased dramatically (Netflix is not as distracting as you would think.) Even when I do find something to do or try out or read, my mind comes back around to childlessness.

What has seemed like an eternity of waiting has truly been about five months of not really having a plan other than hurry up and wait. But my friends, it seems there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon:

  1. My endocrinologist released me from his care after managing my insulin resistance and bring my A1-C to a normal level. I will stay on metformin indefinitely.
  2. The management of my A1-C in addition to a new journey of a gluten-free diet has helped me lost a little bit of weight and for my periods to become somewhat regular, helping regulate my PCOS.
  3. My husband’s urologist is pleased with his increase in sperm count and motility and recommended IUI to our fertility specialist. He will remain on Clomid for the time being.
  4. Our fertility specialist left the practice and we did not find out until scheduling another appointment.
  5. Our new infertility doctor is very sweet and is moving us forward with IUI (inter-utero insemination).
  6. I started my period on day 36 of my cycle (I said SOMEWHAT regular) this past week, launching our journey into IUI.

The next couple weeks will be a rollercoaster. I started taking Letrozole (a hormone to spark ovulation induction) yesterday and will take it until Tuesday night. Wednesday morning I go in for an ultrasound to check on my ovaries and uterine lining. If the eggs/follicles are large enough and there is an appropriate number of them ready, I will start FSH injections at home to induce ovulation, releasing the eggs from my ovaries. Then, Lord willing, I will undergo the IUI procedure, which involves insemination using a catheter bypassing my cervix and increasing chances of fertilization.

The IUI procedure and journey seems like a lot less invasive of a procedure than IVF and much cheaper, making it a very feasible option for us. I am still not clear on all of the details, as this is brand new for us. We are so very excited for these prospects and pray for a baby in the next year. We know that like all infertility patients, this may not go as planned and it seems almost foolish to have any sort of hope or optimism, but our hope is in Jesus Christ first. We know that God’s plan for us may look nothing like what we think it will look like, but we continue to pray for God to align our hearts and desires with His plan, not our own. So far, he has not taken away our desire for children, and I have hope he might be on to something.

Sunrise on the water, Nags Head, North Carolina

Bad Dreams

During this quarantine, I thought it best to not blog since infertility is just not a big deal right now. We are all facing unemployment, financial stress, emotional stress, fear, draining energy (regardless of if you’re introverted or extroverted), and so much more. I thought that my struggles would just not seem that big of a deal in comparison, and they sure are not.

This isolation has had me thinking a LOT though. I’ve been in my own head much more and away from the classroom which made me feel like I had a purposeful task to do each day. It also was a distraction from my own thoughts. Virtual learning for chorus is just not the same and is not going to look like chorus for awhile. I’m ok with that for now… not thrilled about it, but I’m ok and I am hoping that my being ok helps my students to “be ok.”

I was doing ok not verbally processing my thoughts and feelings on this platform for awhile. I am journaling every day, reading my Bible every day, staying connected with friends via Zoom (which is a whole topic on its own), talking to my husband more often about how I am feeling and how sometimes there is no reason why, and I’ve continued counseling via Skype. I felt like I was doing “ok.”

But then I had a dream last night; a borderline nightmare. (Readers proceed with caution, it gets dark and gruesome fast). I think last night was the worst dream I could have. I had a dream that I finally tested positive for pregnancy, and I had a little bump. In the dream, I could feel how overwhelmingly excited I was, I started crying. I couldn’t have been more than four months pregnant when I start cramping severely, so I go to the hospital with my grandparents and mom, my dad and stepmom followed behind. They’re trying to find a room for me at the hospital but I have to pee so I go to the restroom to find I’ve started miscarrying. At first I thought it was light spotting but then I start bleeding everywhere and I can’t stop it. I call for help and a nurse casually says, it’s gonna be fine, the twins will be alright (first time I find out I’m pregnant with twins). My mom and stepmom help me get cleaned up and to the hospital bed but by the time the doctor comes in, it’s too late. I delivered two tiny, dead babies on a table. In my dream, I could feel the physical pain of cramping and contracting, and the emotional pain that seemed nothing short of destructive. I woke up around 3:00am and just felt destroyed and shattered.

I do not think that all dreams mean something, more often that not it is probably my subconscious feeding on my fears. I have had some nausea and symptoms of pregnancy during quarantine I generally have very vivid dreams and remember them easily. One of my sisters and I shared a room all our lives until I went to college and we used to share our dreams with each other as soon as we woke up and I think that’s why I got so good at remembering my dreams. I had a lot of reoccurring dreams as a kid that I remember like true memories. This is a moment though where I wish I could forget it. It has been haunting me all day and I’m fearful that one day it could be true because it has been true for so many women. So many mothers have felt the joy of finding out they are pregnant only to have that joy ripped away from them, a feeling I literally can only imagine in my dreams.

Two things have been tearing up my heart on social media right now: 10 All of the pregnancy announcements (Spring is in the air, yall) and 2) parents complaining about being stuck in their house with their kids all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I cannot even imagine how crazy some of you parents are right now and how this isolation is destroying you. I am NOT judging yall. I know this is all new uncharted territory and dare I say, “uncertain times.” I am longing to be a part of it. When you joke that you want someone to borrow your kids for a little bit and I say I’ll do it, I am not joking. When you say you need someone else to teach your kid what their teacher sent them packets for and I say I will help, I am sincere. I want so badly to be rudely interrupted during a Zoom meeting or for some messy disaster to take place while I try to have five minutes of peace. I want a kid bored out of their mind asking me to play every few minutes. I have definitely been blessed to have all this time with my husband and my dog, but I cannot help but think about how much of a blessing it would be to have a small baby right now, enjoying all of this time with little ones.

In my counseling sessions, we have been talking about lament and how it’s different than complaining. I found that I was feeling guilty about asking God to give me children because I was worried I was complaining too much, asking for something that I could learn to be ok not having (it would be devastating, but I can be resilient). Then we started to dive into lament and how it’s a form of worship. I can bring my requests to God in a way that is worshipful. I wrote a few laments to try and process, and I’m going to end with one:

Oh loving and comforting Father, you hold me in your hand like a small creature.

Yet you do not fill my womb, you leave my prayers unanswered.

Please, Lord, knit life together inside my body, bring a small person into this world using me. End my sadness and suffering and let me worship you through motherhood.

For you are worthy of praise and children are your miracle. Thank you for your protection and for bringing me peace.

Lament #3

more waiting…

The longer we have to wait, the harder it gets. It’s also getting more difficult to process what I am feeling, hence the lack of frequent posts. I’m angry a lot, sad even more often. It’s been over two years since we’ve starting trying to get pregnant and thirteen months since we started seeking treatment.

I had my follow-up appointment with the endocrinologist and I am back to having a normal A1C, meaning I am not pre-diabetic anymore. Because my body reacted so well to the Metformin, I am being kept on it to hopefully keep some of the PCOS symptoms at bay. The better my body processes insulin, the more likely my body will make the other hormones at normal levels. The better my body does at making the correct amount of the correct hormones, the more likely it is that I will ovulate semi-regularly. I go back for a follow-up appointment and blood work in three months.

My husband finally has his urologist appointment last week. There is no obvious physical or hormonal reason for his low sperm count and motility. He is being put on Clomid (which is the hormone that turned me into a cranky, raging…lady) to hopefully increase his numbers. The good news is, men do not have the same side effects as women on Clomid. He will most likely have no negative side effects, unlike me, who got hot flashes, gained weight, and had intense mood swings. He will return for another analysis in three months and a follow-up appointment after that.

So, based on both of our appointments, the major prescription is patience. The side effects are irritability, roller-coaster emotions, doubt, depression, over-thinking, and the decrease in optimism (at least for me). To be transparent, I have not been doing well recently. I find myself on the brink of tears often, whether at school or home watching TV, more and more things remind me of our childlessness.

A friend recently asked me what stage of the grieving process I thought I was in. I told her that I only realized last week that I had to grieve and I’m still determining what that looks like and what exactly I am grieving. I’ve been going to counseling again recently and my counselor said about the same thing, that I need to allow myself to grieve and to be okay with doing it. I kept trying to power through the sadness and just be sad, waiting for it to be over, but it’s not going away. Something must be done.

I am still formulating my answer to what stage I am in, and I am still unsure what this process will look like, but knowing that there will be a process is giving me a little more hope and a reason to process. I know I can label it grief, and that has been helping.

Crazy cloud action on my commute

It’s Been Awhile…

The past month or so has been very difficult for me, so of course I bottled up my feelings and stopped writing so I didn’t have to deal with it. Lately though, it’s been bubbling over and apparently I should probably deal with it.

I feel like I have been surrounded by good news with none to deliver for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love Love and I love babies, so seeing other people announce with great pride and joy that they are pregnant, I rejoice with them. It hurts my heart, but due to my lack, not their gain. I never want anyone to think that their joy should be hidden from me or that it hurts me. I just happen to see all of the announcements and my lack of pregnancy is what stings. My heart has been heavy lately, and it seems to be getting worse.

I thought it would get easier once I had a rough month and then moved on, but it seems like I am falling deeper and deeper into a sadness and I feel more and more physically empty. I feel a space inside my abdomen that is void of life and where I long a life to be. I am a little bit sad all of the time. I am having a more difficult time pushing thoughts to the back of my mind, I am constantly thinking about wanting to be a mom. My students are constant reminders of children, even when they’re being doofuses. I long to have doofuses of my own to be confused by.

I am blessed immensely, despite my sadness. My marriage gets stronger and so does my faith and trust in the Lord, I know that others going through what I am going through cannot say the same. I can’t explain it, but it can only be God’s infinite grace and goodness that has kept my faith strong. I am grateful for my Savior and have not felt anger toward Him. I am grateful for my husband, for
his prayers and honesty, for his love and comfort. It’s been an excellent season for my faith and my marriage, despite everything else.

But the everything else is still overwhelming. We are coming up on the two year mark of when we starting “trying” to get pregnant. Two years of getting my hopes up just to be crushed. Two years of waiting every day for a period to start. Two years of off and on I could go back and count how many periods I have had naturally, but to spare all my insanity, I am going to guess about 7 times. I have probably had a NATURAL period about seven times in the past 24 months.

One of the positive things that has happened is that I had a period naturally this month! It was a little traumatic starting at school without a warning (I felt like a middle-school girl), and it lasted for 12 days, BUT it means that my body did something right. I may not have ovulated, but generally
a normal period means that I ovulated at some point, and that glimmer of hope brings me joy.

I went to the endocrinologist early January to look at elevated DHEA-S (a type of male hormone) and elevated A1C. I was labeled as pre-diabetic and put on metformin, a diabetes drug. I have to take my blood sugar every morning (so far I’ve been “in range” every morning). I’ll have a blood test in three weeks to check my A1C level and then a follow up appointment the week after that. I have been slightly overwhelmed with the diabetic information. The doctor prescribed a glucose monitor without telling me how to use it and when, I don’t know what a normal range is, and I can’t seem to find the right depth of needle to get the right amount of blood for the reader. It’s a lot for me to learn and I have a whole new level of respect for diabetics. I welcome any advice or help.

The elevated hormone levels are all due to the PCOS. I am hopeful that the metformin will regulate my insulin levels which supposedly will cause a reaction that will regulate the DHEA-S. The elevated male hormone is why I gain weight around my gut first. There’s a possibility that the metformin will cause a chain-reaction of me losing weight and ovulating regularly, increasing my chances of pregnancy. There is a wide world of literature on the relationship between metformin and PCOS, which is overwhelming, but promising.

My husband has an appointment to see the urologist at the end of February. It used to be scheduled for the end of January (an appointment we made a couple months previous), but we received a letter in the mail when we returned from our Christmas trip saying the doctor would be out of the office when our first appointment was scheduled for and that we had been rescheduled for nearly a month later. We were pretty upset by the news and the manner in which it was delivered, but we are on a cancellation list and calling to check in on the status.

The medical bills and phone calls with insurance have been a lot to deal with, but we have been blessed by family and friends, both financially and emotionally. Luckily, the people on the phone and online messaging have also been pleasant, making it a lot easier (especially for someone who gets an elevated heart rate ordering a pizza on the phone).

We are blessed, and I am still sad. The two feelings can coexist, and we pray that one day we have a child. It won’t be the cure for sadness, I know that, but it would be the cure for that particular sadness.

Thank you to anyone who reads these, especially those who are going through or have gone through the same thing we are. It is encouraging to be reminded that I am not alone.

A picture I took of my sister’s backyard one morning.

I Thought It Would Get Easier

When we started to realize that getting pregnant was going to be a lot more difficult than we initially thought, I thought that as time passed, it would get easier. But here we are, approaching two years since we started trying to get pregnant and I feel my heart being crushed more and more with each passing day; it’s getting harder.

At the beginning of November, we had our first appointment at the Jones Institute to discuss what our next steps would be. After a ridiculously expensive set of more blood tests for both of us, we were called and sent off to more specialists. My husband was told to make an appointment with a urologist and for me to make an appointment with an endocrinologist. After many phone calls and nagging for information, we finally both have appointments set, me at the beginning of January and him at the end. More waiting around. Every time we go to an appointment, it feels like we take one step forward and two steps back. My heart gets crushed, starts to heal again, being filled with hope, only to be crushed even harder.

I’ve had this phrase stuck in my head: I was knit together in my mother’s womb. The more I meditate on that and how glorious it is, I have found that I desire that. I want so badly for God to work within my physical body, to put a life together in my womb. I was created to bring life and I love that about me, I identify with my biological ability to procreate. When I was younger, I was told by so many in my life that one day I would make a great mother. Friends of my parents seeing how I was with my baby siblings would say how I was a mini-mom. People in a high-school bible study affirmed my abilities to care and my desire to be a mom. My friends in high school and college joked and called me mom all the time because of how I cared for others in their sickness and distress. If I was going to make such a great mom, why won’t my body work the way it is supposed to in order to make that happen?

Recently, my head and my heart have been arguing. I have a very logical side and a very emotional side that are never in balance, constantly at war with each other for ownership of my thoughts and actions. I know that I am promised nothing, deserving of nothing. Yet by God’s grace I am given much. I have a loving and godly husband, a house, a job, clothes, shoes, a big and loving family, and even a sweet dog who I can care for and baby. God does not promise children to us, but many are blessed with the precious gift of children. The emotional side of me keeps thinking that I probably will just have to wait longer, that’s my journey. God must be teaching me patience by making me wait and go to all of these different doctors. But what if that is not my journey? What if God will not give us children? What if that is completely God’s plan for my husband and I? That can’t be… it hurts too much.

The truth is, I may never have children. I pray for discernment, that my husband and I would know whether all of this waiting and doctor appointments are to build our trust in the Lord or if they are big stop signs from God saying, “Stop! This is not what I have for you.” It is not clear and it may never be.

I find myself looking out over my students in the classroom, me sitting behind the piano and directing, them staring back at me with their big, beautiful eyes. I look at them and I hold back tears. Some of them are parts of loving families that had no problem having children, others with terrible home lives and parents that don’t care. I want to care for a child, to take care of another life. I desire to have my life and sleep interrupted by tiny footsteps and demands for food. It’s getting harder to just wait.

Sunrise on the way to work