"...suffering is one of the universal conditions of being alive. We all suffer. We have become terribly vulnerable, not because we suffer, but because we have separated ourselves from each other." -- Rachel Naoimi Remen

Thursday, September 19, 2013

...by our love

For the past two Sunday's in church, I've been hearing God pull on my heart strings.  My husband and I are both pro-life and support a local Pregnancy Center.  Morning Star Pregnancy Center serves women in crisis with unplanned pregnancies; it's the kind of place our society needs more of.  Although it's Christians who serve as volunteers and workers at this fine establishment, everyone is welcomed and loved in a way that exemplifies Christ, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. 

Now, since as we have decided to move towards adoption as a way of growing our family, I have started to see the value in such places even more.  Birthmothers all over our great country are undersupported when they want to choose life for their baby.  Maybe they don't have the family support, or the boyfriend or husband who can help out.  I can't begin to imagine most of their circumstances.  So, who can they lean on?  These may be Christian girls, regretting a mistake and where are we to help them?  Places like Morning Star can help.  These young women need us, as a society and as individuals, to help them in their time of need. 

So, as a way of "paying it forward" to my second child's Birthmother, I am going to continue to support Morning Star.  I don't know where she is out there... I don't even know if she's pregnant yet.  But, in faith, I know she's going to need someone to lean on.  I pray there's a Pregnancy Center in her neighborhood half as good as Morning Star.  I pray she has the support she needs, even if it can't come from her family for whatever number of reasons. 

I pray she's knows we are Christians by our love. 

Morning Star Fund Easy page

Monday, September 9, 2013

True confessions

Today marks a milestone... For the first time in longer than I'd care to admit, I "liked" a picture of a pregnant friend on social media.  About a week ago, I also "liked" a few beautiful baby pictures of 2 acquaintances who've I've been busy judging for the past 6-9 months, while they were pregnant... unfairly... I wasn't wishing them harm, but I was filled with an angry jealousy that often brought tears to my eyes.  A flash of hatred for their joy would pass through me.  Quickly that would be followed by sadness at my own shallow nature and guilt for being so critical. These friends and acquaintances actually do deserve all that's good... I knew it; I just couldn't see past my own grief to be happy for them.

Childish?  Perhaps.  True, nonetheless.

For those of you who haven't experienced the kind of loss and fear that infertility, miscarriage and preterm births bring, seeing others delight in their pregnancy and newborn's is something that's extremely trying for some of us, some of the time. Physical nausea over the sight of a baby-bump, or the thought of a baby shower is more common than you might think.  [Worse yet, the sound of a pregnant woman complaining about her big belly, or the baby kicking.]  I've lamented many manifestations of such jealousy with several friends suffering from difficulties where others innocently complain and seemingly take for granted that which we would give anything for.  But, I digress... although I feel strongly that it's a justified stage and wish some would be more sensitive, for those of us who are (or were) here, it's not us at our best or most healthy. 

So... I share today, with a sense of triumph, that I think I might be getting through this stage!

I'm sure I will still have my moments... for, my reality is different from that 'bump' I "liked" today.  But, I embrace it.  And, I'm thankful to be coming through the "stages of grief" and moving toward a more peaceful place!

Dear Lord,
Please forgive me for my jealousy. 
Guard my heart and my emotions as I recover. 
Take envy from me today, and never let it return.  
Thank you for my countless blessings today and everyday.
Give a special blessing to all those I've judged and help me to do better next time. 
Please also forgive me for the times when, with my first pregnancy
 or perhaps even since then, that I was inconsiderate of another's plight. 
Help guide me and everyone who's had or gets the pleasure of pregnancy,
to always be thoughtful and considerate when celebrating or complaining
 about the joys and challenges of pregnancy and having a newborn. 
Thank you for your providence. 
You reign. 

(close friends who I love very dearly, hopefully you know who you are! please know I never hated you when you were pregnant! This story only applies to friends I don't see much and mostly keep in touch with online.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mastery to Mystery

"...prayer is a powerful way of embracing life, finding a home in any outcome, and remembering that there may be reasons beyond reason.  Prayer is movement from mastery to mystery" (Rachel Naomi Remen) 

My Mom always says that "no news is good news" and for those of you who have been checking in on the blog updates and haven't found any for about a month now, "no news is good news."  I think the pregnancy hormones have finally dissipated; and with that my creative juices.  So I haven't written much.  In addition, I'm feeling good.  A little sickness put me in my place, and was a bit of an "ah-hah" moment for me.  I learned that I needed to put myself first and it was completely liberating. 

So we've decided for now, to take our first ever, real break. 

My Mom and several others we know in her generation were told, after many pregnancies or pregnancy mishaps, to stop trying.  When I saw my Doctor and asked him recently, he didn't feel there was any medical reason for this in my case, but suggested that it's an emotional choice. 

Despite being an emotionally strong person at baseline - I admit I've been wounded lately.  My husband has truly been my rock, but I can see in his eyes that he hurts when I hurt.  Recently, I've also been looking at this from my son's perspective - my sense is, he's had enough of Mommy being sick or in the hospital. 

And so, a break we'll take. 

How long will it be?  
  A year? 

I don't have a plan. 

So, what does this mean from my son's perspective about siblings?  He wants them.  Teaches teddy and takes Tow-mater to lunch everyday.  And we want them for him; not that there is anything wrong with only children, it's just not what we want for our family.  Which means we have to look at all our options.  Several have suggested a second opinion or fertility workup, but for many reasons we don't feel the desire to pursue any further testing.  First, my best friend from med school is an OB and most of my close friends are physicians or are married to one, so seeking another would really be like a fourth or fifth opinion.  Is there any utility in hearing again the inevitable treatment suggestions: better luck next time (let me tell you how that worked last time!) or in-vitro treatments which have no guarantee of success and are fraught with complexities that we just aren't open to discussing.  Furthermore, we have no interest in false hope. 

Lately, Mandisa's Overcomer has been speaking to me.  She, and His promises that she refers to in this song stand up to the fears that immobilize us, as Jewel suggests we should. 
The things that you fear 
are undefeatable 
not by their nature 
but by your approach  
                  ~ Jewel 
Look at what you're afraid of from another perspective.  Do not let that fear incapacitate you.  What are those of us who struggle with infertility and miscarriage afraid of?

We're afraid of the unknown,
we're afraid of the path He's leading us down,
we're afraid of losing control. 

But what I've learned lately is that we do not have control and we never did.  When I had my son I had an inappropriate, unrealistic illusion of control over his and my circumstances.  Praise God it worked out easily that time.  But if the challenges of the past two years have taught me anything, they've taught me that I've taken too much credit for that good outcome.  I have a healthy son by the Grace of God.  Period.  My subscription to the OB's rule book may have helped a bit, but only a tiny bit.  Certainly those rules have gotten me nowhere with the five pregnancies since then.  And what's that say for me?  Nothing.  What's that say for God?  Nothing.  My body is imperfect just like yours, and this process is ornate; it is fragile. 

Relinquishing control is liberating. 

Admitting it was just an illusion has power. 

Right now, my break feels darn good.

And so, we chose to Overcome.  We strive to relinquish our need to be the masters of our own existence, and accept the mystery inherent in it.  We hope to expand our family and rely on Grace for that.  To that end, we'll likely adopt my son's little sibling. 

Chapter 1 of Jeremiah gives a famous baby scripture; I've adapted it here:

Before He formed you in the womb, I knew you.
I've been praying for you for years,
I had plans for you but they were not God's plans.
Now I anxiously await the crossroads of design.
Lord protect your precious creations across this vast world.
They need you and so do we. 
If our desires are not your desires;
take them from us.
Where children are unwanted,
help them find safety and security in your arms.
Let me be your arms.
Strengthen us for the journey you've prepared before us.
Surely we'll rely on you in this uncharted territory.
Many are facing an unknown challenge,
 maybe on a seemingly familiar road,
but they still need you too. 
Now and always.
In the face of the friendly and the mysterious alike.
Your Grace carries us.
Help us hand over the wheel, surrender the veil; our illusions. 
Thank you for your guidance.
Thank you for this and every answer to prayer,
whether its the answer we always hoped for
or maybe even something better.