Monday, October 10, 2016

Boys

Boys.  For a split second I was pregnant with two baby boys.  There's something deeper in our grief knowing the gender of our babies, and I knew it would make the hurt hurt even more. But it's a part of the grieving process that I needed

I needed to know them.

I needed to connect with them in whatever way I could.  Today I got to know my babies a little more, learning they were boys.  I won't ever get to know the color of their hair or the color of their eyes.  Or their favorite food.  Or what makes them laugh.  I won't ever get to hear their voice or their cry.  I won't ever hear them call me "Mommy."  Knowing the gender is all I have.  And I know them more today than I did yesterday.
 
If I close my eyes and picture a different life for us - a life with our arms full of the baby girls we lost the first time and the baby boys we lost this time - I can see our boys.  They would be rough an tumble boys.  Dare devils that stress their mommy out at every turn!  I'll bet they would have loved football like their Daddy.  We would have dressed them from head to toe in Alabama gear and taught them to say, "Roll Tide!"  We would have giggled and wrestled on the living room floor.  Bear would be their fiercest protector and favorite playmate.  They would love to snuggle with their Mommy (or I would have made them snuggle whether they wanted to or not!), and I would kiss them and squeeze them until they couldn't take any more.  

I never knew them, and yet, I miss them.  Your Mommy and Daddy love you and miss you, baby boys.  

Miss you everyday 
Miss you in every way 
But we know there’s a
day when we will hold you 
We will hold you 
You’ll kiss our tears away 
When we’re home to stay 
Can’t wait for the day when we will see you 
We will see you 
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
‘till mom and dad can hold you… 
You’ll just have heaven before we do 
You’ll just have heaven before we do

"Glory Baby" by Watermark


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Weeping May Last Through the Night


I don't know how to start this post, so I guess I'll just say it.

We lost two more babies to heaven.

Our second IVF failed.  We found out yesterday that we aren't pregnant.

And we are devastated.

Somehow we know that God is working through this.  We know He is sovereign and He loves us and He is wring a beautiful story with our lives.  But right now we hate this story.  We want a do-over. We want someone else's story, please.  Someone who gets free-to-make babies and has the family they always dreamt of and isn't in crippling debt.

I started reading a book called "Laying My Issac Down" after our first failed IVF.  For some reason I never finished it and started reading it again on our way back to Colorado this time.  There's a part in her story where she has hundreds of people praying for her family and yet they still received devastating news.  In the midst of her heartbreak she says, "With the network of friends and family across the country who have been praying, we know this judgment is not a mistake."

We have had people whose names we don't even know praying for us.  Knowing that and believing that no matter what, God is good and He loves us....somehow we know this failed IVF isn't a mistake either.  It sure feels like a mistake to me (How can this be?!), but I am believing that God hasn't forgotten us and is going to bless us with a family.  After all, He makes beauty from ashes, and we are nothing but ashes right now.

We are beyond heartbroken and confused and not sure of our next step.  We have one embryo left, but is it insanity to transfer that one to me knowing we've had two failed IVFs?  Clearly my body is incapable of carrying a baby - the biggest hallmark of what it means to be a woman.  What would be different this time??  Do we use a surrogate?  And who?  Do we start looking at adoption?  Every one of these paths is overwhelming, and quite frankly, heartbreaking because it's not what we wanted for our family.  This isn't how it's supposed to happen.  But we are clinging to His word and forced to remind ourselves of His goodness every minute of every day.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5b

Thursday, September 15, 2016

An Email

I know it's been a while since I've written...partly because life has been insanity and partly because I just didn't have a ton to say.  I have a post I want to write that's been on my heart lately, but I'm not quite there.

But, y'all.  

I received this email today, and my heart leapt.  He is so good to remind us that we are not alone in this journey, that we have people we.have.never.met. praying for us and thinking about our story and hearing about His goodness, and that our story is truly making a difference if for no one else, for at least one young lady.  I am just about undone.  

Hi Lauren,
I've followed your blog since before you met your hubby! Crazy. Anyhow, I wanted to pop in and tell you I've been thinking about you a lot. You have inspired me in being brave. We started our journey at CCRM last month and am anxious to have our regroup with Dr. Schoolcraft.

I just felt like I should check in on you. Remind you of your braveness too.

I know you were planning to do one more transfer and I just keep thinking of you and your hubby.


Even in the desert, He is there.  And what a blessing it is when He reminds us of His presence!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Just Another Update

Well, we finally have our transfer calendar!  WAHOO!  While we know many who love us and are following our story would like to know our transfer date, we've decided to keep this one, for the most part, to ourselves.  We are so grateful for everyone's thoughts and prayers, but some things you just wanna keep for yourself!  Do you know what I mean?

So, we're back in the waiting mode, but feeling really hopeful.  We are guaranteed two transfers now that we have our third embryo, and we have higher quality embryos than either of the embryos we transferred last fall.

If you would be willing to pray for us (even though we're being stingy the details of our calendar) here's what we need:

  • Babies.  Clearly, we want babies.  So if you could be praying for us to have at least twins with this pregnancy, that would be awesome.  We have both always wanted a big family, and our infertility almost killed that dream.  We don't just want baby.  We want babies
  • Finances.  Always finances.  Michael just started a new job a few weeks ago.  He was laid off two days before we left for our retrieval and has decided to get out of project management altogether.  So, he's working now in sales for a company that fixes foundation problems.  (If your basement has water in it or has cracks, give Michael a call!)  Anyway, his job is 100% commission now.  I know he will be amazing because he works so hard and puts a gazillion and one percent of himself into his job.  He's a rock star.  But it would just be nice if we could have a consistent income to be able to pay off our mountains of medical bills and sales is hard...especially at the beginning.  Plus, there's more financial commitment that comes with the actual transfer.  If it tells you anything, our Plan A for paying off our debt is to win the lottery. So while you're praying for our finances, could you just pray for my husband?  He's such a gift to me, and has been under a lot of stress with our debt and wanting to be able to provide for us.
  • Faith.  Pray that we would continue to put our faith and trust in Him.  This morning at church I wept at the realization that these three babies...the only three babies I will likely ever be able to create with my husband, the most precious things I will ever have in this life...aren't mine. They belong to Him, and somehow He loves them more than I do.  And I have to trust that His ways are best. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Place Where Hope Lives

Yesterday afternoon my IVF nurse called with the news we've been waiting for.  The results for our third and final embryo were in.  In my quiet time that morning I had prayed specifically for our third baby, that it would be transferrable and that God would be willing to bless us with our only AA embryo.

Each embryo is graded once is reaches day 5 or 6 which is the blastocyst stage, and AA is the highest grade.  We never even dreamed that we would be capable of creating an embryo of that kind of quality.  So when in June we were told we actually had an AA, we were beyond ecstatic.  When we receive our CCS (Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening) results, we are only told the grades of the normal chromosomes (ours were an AB and a BA, both better quality than what we transferred last year). We had no idea the grade of our third embryo that was being rebiopsied, but I was silently, hesitantly hoping we hadn't lost our coveted AA.

When I answered the phone yesterday afternoon, some of the first words out of our nurse Cindy's mouth were, "Your embryo is normal!"

Our embryo is normal.  We have three.  We have enough for two more transfers.  I made her say those words again just in case I had misunderstood.  My obvious next question?  What's the grade of that precious embryo??

It's our AA.  Typing those words right now brings me to my knees in tears.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you for giving us all three.  Thank you that our AA survived.  Thank you for hearing the desperate cries of our heart, Lord, that you would bless us with this baby, too.

In my quiet time, I almost couldn't bring myself to ask Him for that AA.  I was afraid He would let me down.  I was afraid of more disappointment.  I.was.afraid.  But instead of disappointment, I find myself today in the place where hope lives.  Hope for a family.  Hope to be a mom.  Hope for biological babies. Hope to carry my babies and protect them inside my own body.  Hope for answered prayers.

Honestly, this is a strange place, this place of hope.  For the last three and a half years, we have lived in the place of frustration and disappointment and bad news.  I almost feel like a foreigner here.  But it's also a place where fear can sneak up out of nowhere and whisper "what ifs" in your ear.  What if none of these embryos transfer successfully?  What if you are in this crippling debt and end up childless at the end?  What if after this joy of three amazing embryos, you still never get to be a mom?  Satan can turn this place of joy and hope into a place of fear and doubt in an instant.

But today I refuse to go back to fear and doubt.  Do you hear that, Satan?!  I. REFUSE.  I am letting go of the "what ifs" and the fear of what's to come, if only for a day.  Today I want to rest in this place of hope.  Today I want to cry happy tears.  Tears of gratefulness and joy.  Today we get to truly rejoice in His love and His goodness and His provision in this place where HOPE lives.

We wait in hope for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
     for we trust in His holy name
May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
     even as we put our hope in You.

Psalm 33:20-22 (NIV)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Next Steps

  • Wait for CCS results of our last embryo.  We had two embryos come back as chromosomally normal and one that was undetermined.  We thawed that embryo and rebiopsied it to be tested.
  • Depo Lupron shot.  We will be extending our transfer calendar this time in order to take the Depo Lupron shot.  This shot should temporarily eliminate any endometriosis in my body to help give our embryos a better chance at sticking!
  • An actual transfer calendar.  We have to wait, of course, for my next Cycle Day 1 before anything happens!  Then I'll do the Depo Lupron shot.  If you've watched any of the Inside IVF videos, this shot will be like the trigger shot.  Which is a serious bummer.  Then I have to wait 30ish days before our transfer.  This definitely prolongs our timeline, but hopefully gives us a better chance for success!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Glorified

When we lost our pregnancy in December, the Lord kept bringing the story of Lazarus to me.  I blogged about it here, but basically the entire chapter of John 11 made me mad.
In an effort to be completely transparent, I'll be blunt.  I was pissed.

This idea of Jesus allowing Lazarus - his friend! - to die, watching Lazarus' sisters mourn because of Jesus' lack of action....and then Jesus cried about it all.  The gaul!  HE allowed it all to happen and now He's crying about it.  The first few times I read John 11 in the misery of my loss, I just could not understand how Jesus could behave like this.  I couldn't come to terms with it all.

And then Jesus began to highlight a specific verse in that chapter that I continue to cling to...

When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."  (John 11:4)

There was a PURPOSE in Lazarus' pain, in Mary's pain, in Martha's pain....in Jesus' pain.  It was to glorify our heavenly Father above.  But there was more to the story of Lazarus that I missed because in my study of Lazarus those couple of months, I never read past John 11.  Shame on me!

In my quiet times recently, I've been reading through the book of John starting from chapter 1.  The other day as I read chapter 12 I was amazed by what the Lord showed me.  In chapter 11, Jesus allowed Lazarus to die "that the Son of God may be glorified through" his death and subsequent resurrection.  But I didn't realize how vital Lazarus' story was to the story and glorification of Christ in preparation for His death.  As Jesus continued His ministry into the Passover - that would ultimately lead to his crucifixion - Lazarus' name kept coming up in scripture.

John chapter 12 begins with a dinner in Bethany, Lazarus' home town.  They had a dinner for Jesus that night that included many of the people from the village, honoring Jesus and Lazarus.

In verse 9, the Bible tells us that there were a bunch of Jews that came that night, but not just to see Jesus.  They came to see Lazarus because they had heard of his story.
In verse 10, the Pharisees plotted to kill Lazarus because of his testimony of Christ.  As a result of his testimony many were coming to faith in Jesus.
In verse 17, on what we now call Palm Sunday, when Jesus was triumphantly entering Jerusalem before his crucifixion, the people who witnessed Lazarus being raised from the dead-who knew of his story personally-bore witness to Jesus.
In verse 18 the Bible says that people came to welcome Jesus as he entered in Jerusalem because they had heard about Lazarus' story.  For many, it was because of Lazarus that people met and came to know Jesus.

The pain that Lazarus and Mary and Martha endured was used to glorify Jesus past what they could have possibly imagined.  Because of Lazarus' death and resurrection, because of their suffering, many came to know Christ.

Lord, I pray that you would bring life to my womb.  I pray for the same resurrecting power over my womb as You poured over Lazarus' lifeless body.  Use my pain and suffering to bring You glory and to bring others to know you as their Lord and Savior.  Let my life be a testament to your love and grace and mercy and goodness.

...that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Details

We believe that life begins at conception.  That means the embryos we lost were actually babies who are now with Jesus in heaven.  These are the only babies I have ever known, and I wanted the details of why we would never see them on this side of heaven.  Here's what I learned:

From our second retrieval:
#1: This embryo was missing a copy of both chromosome 21 and 22.
#2: This embryo was missing a copy of chromosome 1.

From our third retrieval:
#1: This embryo was chromosomally normal.
#2: This embryo is being rebiopsied.
#3: This embryo was missing a copy of chromosome 5.
#4: This embryo was missing a copy of chromosome 22.
#5: This embryo was chromosomally normal.

I don't know why these details are important to me, but they somehow help me to process our loss.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Out of Words

This process is one of the most difficult, painful experiences I have ever had to endure.  It is, quite literally, a rollercoaster of emotions.  The ups and downs are excruciating.

We had our third and final retrieval the first week of June.  It was hands down the best cycle we have ever had.  In the words of our IVF nurse, I was cycling like a twenty-three year old!  We were floored.  My follicles were growing at the same rate, and we had a ton (for us) of them.  We were finally experiencing a successful cycle!

Fast forward to the retrieval....

We retrieved 14 eggs.  That's more than we've ever retrieved, although fewer than we were expecting based on our ultrasounds.

Ten of the eggs were mature, and amazingly all 10 fertilized.

Only 5 of our embryos made it to blostocyst (again, fewer than we were expecting), although they were all better quality than we had our first cycle.

And that's really when any good news stopped.

To catch you up to speed/remind you of where we ended things in April, we had 3 embryos from our second retrieval that were biopsied and then screened for chromosomal normality with the 5 embryos from our third cycle.  One of those embryos from our second cycle did not make it through the biopsy process.  So, in all, we had 7 embryos that went for the Comprehensive Chromosomal Screening (CCS).

We found out last Friday that only 2 of our 7 embryos were chromosomally normal.  One of the 7 embryos was undetermined and is being rebiopsied.  So, at most we will have 3 embryos to transfer, but at this point we have enough embryos for only one more transfer.

This is our last hope for biological children, so the news has been devastating for both Michael and me.  What's even harder to hear is that not one of our embryos from our second cycle were chromosomally normal.  Not one.  In essence, we wasted $25,000.  That's a tough pill to swallow.

We are stunned and confused and heartbroken, wondering again why God would allow our hopes to be so high from such a great retrieval only to leave us in the place of heartbreak again.  We are trying so hard to trust that God is writing a beautiful story for us, but we are tired.  And out of words to try to explain or make sense of where we find ourselves.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Inside IVF: Morning Meds

So in the process of trying to do these videos throughout my IVF, I've learned a couple of things

1.  I need a hair cut.  Sheesh!
2.  I need a camera that is higher up so I'm not constantly looking down at the camera.  It's really not a good look.
3.  I wasn't made for video....I'll probably be sticking to the written word for the foreseeable future, and I'm not even very good at that!

But the bottom line is that I hope these videos are at least a little helpful to someone who is getting ready to experience IVF for the first time.  I'm always available to help answer questions or to give some moral support!

Also, if you need to see how to draw up and administer your specific medicine, CCRM has some great videos on their website.  Just click here!  (Michael and I lived by these videos when we first started!)

**The medicines and injections I take are prescribed from my doctor.  I am not a medical professional.  Always refer back to what your doctor has prescribed for you when dosing meds.**


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Inside IVF

So...I'm going to do (or at least attempt) a blog series.  EEK!

As Michael and I were talking through our next IVF cycle and what that means for us, I told him I wanted to do something special with this - our final - retrieval.  What we landed on was a series of videos and posts that will give you a glimpse inside IVF.  Our hope is that this will be a resource for couples who are getting ready to start (or are already in the middle of) an IVF cycle.

When we first stepped into this world of IVF, it felt lonely and scary.  If it weren't for our amazing IVF nurse, I don't know how we would have survived.  Our goal for the series will be to walk future IVF patients through the process we've experienced and make the road (hopefully!) feel just a little less lonely and scary.

In the meantime, Bear decided he (like his mommy) loves ice cream!  It's looking a lot like summer to me!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fear

Fear can be debilitating.  It's Satan's trump card for bringing me emotionally into captivity.  If I allow my mind to go to that place of darkness, my list of fears is unending.

I'm afraid that I won't be a mother.
I'm afraid we will have spent this insane amount of money and end up empty handed.
I'm afraid my husband will resent me.
I'm afraid I won't be able to have a biological child who looks like me.
I'm afraid of losing more babies.

I'm. Afraid.

But the Lord has not called me to be a slave to fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:7)

He has given me power over Satan and over my fear.  He has given me a sound mind, which He calls me to renew daily (Romans 12:2).  When I find myself falling back into the captivity of fear, it's at that moment more than any other that I must renew my mind with God's Word.

My pastor says that when we command our thoughts, our emotions will follow.  So when I command my thoughts to trust Jesus no matter what, eventually my emotions will follow.  When I remind myself who I am in Christ, I no longer have to be a slave to fear.

You split the sea so I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me so I could stand and sing
I AM A CHILD OF GOD



Thursday, May 12, 2016

What I Wish I Knew Then

If I could just go back three years and start this whole thing over again, here's what I would do differently.

1.  Fight for a diagnosis.
When we started this journey no one was able to give us a diagnosis for our infertility.  The more tests that came back as normal, the more resigned I was to the idea of not having a diagnosis. Michael, however, was not satisfied.  He insisted on a diagnosis.  I kept telling him that from what I was reading, 25% of women with infertility have unexplained infertility and that we should try to be okay with that.  Boy am I thankful that he refused to be okay.

What our doctors in Kansas City couldn't tell us, my doctor in Colorado could.  Over the phone.  After looking at the exact same test results that my RE here in town looked at.

He gave us a diagnosis, and with a diagnosis, a method of treatment.  There is no other medical condition that doctors begin to treat without first diagnosing.  Don't let your RE proceed without a diagnosis.  If he/she can't tell you why you're struggling to get pregnant, get a second opinion.  Or a third.  Or a fourth.  If we had done that from the beginning, we would have saved two years and $10,000 on treatments that were never going to work.  Fight for your diagnosis.

2.  Be specific with your goals when talking with your doctor.
As amazing as our doctor is (he's top 10 in the country), he didn't fully understand our end goal of IVF.  We want a big family.  We have no intention of stopping at one baby.  Maybe we just assumed he was on the same page as us.  Maybe we told him and he just didn't hear us.  But the bottom line is, we weren't as clear with him as we obviously needed to be.  We want a big family.  Had Dr. Schoolcraft fully understood our end goal from the very beginning, it's likely we would have followed a slightly different course.

3.  Be knowledgeable.  Study up.  Read, read, read.
When we started our infertility journey, we took one recommendation from a coworker to find our Reproductive Endocrinologist.  That was our first mistake.  We did absolutely no research on her.  We learned the hard way that the RE and clinic you choose is absolutely key.  Do some reading about infertility and clinics.  There are tons of books out there.  I recommend books by Dr. William Schoolcraft (my RE) and Dr. Sami David.  The bottom line is that you need to know as much about infertility as you can before you start.  You also need to research your clinic and your RE.  Not every doctor is the same. Not every RE practices medicine the same way (which makes absolutely no sense to me!).  Trust me when I tell you that you don't want a mediocre doctor making decisions that will cost you tens of thousands of dollars and invaluable time.  Get someone good.  Be as informed as you can possibly be.

4.  Ask a BUNCH of questions.
Here are things I think you should ask and your RE should be able to answer:
Why can't I get pregnant on my own?
What's the protocol for my diagnosis and why?
What's the chance I get pregnant from this protocol?
What's your success rate for live births with women my age?  What about with women who have a similar diagnosis as me?
How many different IVF protocols does your clinic utilize?
How is my egg quality (FSH)?  How is my egg reserve (AMH)?
Do I need to do multiple retrievals and bank my embryos?
Do you do chromosomal testing on embryos?
How many embryos will you transfer at one time?
What process does the clinic have in educating you (the patient) on whatever course you are proceeding with?
Will I have a fresh or frozen embryo transfer?

Michael's final suggestion for all struggling with infertility?  Play the lottery.  You're gonna need some extra cash, and a lot of it!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#StartAsking


It's National Infertility Awareness Week.  One in eight couples struggle with infertility.
That's 7.6 million people.

I guarantee you know someone (and probably lots of someones) who struggles with infertility.  It's a silent epidemic that most choose to struggle with privately.  I've chosen to share my journey, not for sympathy and certainly not for pity, but to let those struggling privately know that they're not alone.

The theme this year for NIAW is Start Asking.  The goal is to encourage couples struggling to conceive to advocate for themselves in the doctor's office (something I'll be posting on later), for friends and family to start asking how they can support their infertile loved ones, for everyone to start asking our insurance companies and government officials why this financially devastating diagnosis of infertility isn't supported financially.

As I was reading blogs and Twitter posts and watching videos about NIAW, I couldn't help but think about where Michael and I have been this past year.  It has, hands down, been one of the most difficult years of my life.

This time last year we were just getting ready to discover Dr. Schoolcraft and his amazing team at CCRM.  We would soon be heading to Lone Tree, CO for the first of many visits.

This past year we experienced a lot of firsts:

My first time drawing up meds
My first experience with daily injections and the bruising that follows
My first 3am wakeup for a trigger shot
My first retrieval and the subsequent loss of embryos
My first transfer and seeing in person our beautiful babies as embryos waiting for my womb
We heard for the very first time the words "You're pregnant."  

We also felt for the first time the pain of losing our sweet babies.  The pain of that experience has dulled slightly, but I still cry and grieve their loss.  Our counselor said in passing last week something about "our girls", and my heart caught in my throat.  

Our girls.  

I can't think that sentence, I can't type that sentence, without tears streaming.

In this last year, Michael and I have grown closer.  We've had to really work on our marriage as this journey has challenged us spiritually, emotionally, and financially.  

These are burdens no one should have to bear alone.  That's why National Infertility Awareness Week is so important.  There are people you love who have never seen two pink lines, who have gone into stupid debt to conceive, who have lost babies and continue to grieve, who don't know what to do next.  You should know who those people are in  your life and love them.  Support them.  Be there to listen to them and not to judge them.  

This isn't a journey anyone should face alone.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Take 2

We have successfully completed our 2nd IVF retrieval.  Let me get the stats out of the way.

First Retrieval:
*Retrieved 8 eggs
*6 eggs were mature
*4 eggs fertilized
*3 embryos grew out to blastocyst
*2 embryos were chromosomally normal

Second Retrieval:
We participated in a study during this cycle and took acai berry pills for 3 months with the goal being to increase the number of eggs we were able to retrieve by about 30%.
*Retrieved 11 eggs
*7 eggs were mature at retrieval, 2 more eggs matured over night (BTW....I had no idea that was even a possibility)
*5 eggs fertilized

We are still waiting to know how many embryos grow out to blastocyst.  We are also going to do a third retrieval in the next couple of months and will send all of our blasts to the chromosomal testing at once, so we still have a lot of waiting to do.

So those are the stats.  The acai berries seemed to fulfill expectations and produced, at least to this point, 30% more eggs and almost 30% more embryos.  Apparently I should have done the math ahead of time, though, because we only have 1 more embryo at this point in the cycle than we did last time.....I was hoping for and expecting more.

Our goal is that after these two retrievals we will have a decent number (maybe 6?) of embryos that we can choose from for our transfer.

Thankfully, our trips to Colorado get to be more than ultrasounds, bloodwork and injections....although that is a lot of what goes on while we're there.  We have THE BEST IVF nurse anyone could possibly ask for.  She is beyond amazing.  She's real with me, helps me laugh through the hard times and puts up with my crazy.  That in and of itself qualifies her for some kind of medal of honor.  We were so thrilled to be able to catch up with Cindy, her hubby and their two dogs while we were in Colorado.  They introduced us to this awesome dog park inside of Chatfield State Park.  The dog park is 69 acres with two ponds and walking trails.  Bear was in doggy heaven!  And if I'm honest, Michael and I had just as much fun there as he did.  We actually went every day we were there!

Look at how much fun he had!
video

Bear spent his evenings sleeping.  Chatfield wore him out!

We found another trail close by and tried to get a family picture.  Bear wasn't super cooperative. We went to Chatfield after our 2 mile walk and let Bear do some more playing there.

Everyone was tired after getting up super early for our retrieval...

Side note....isn't this the cutest shirt?!  A friend of mine gave it to me for my birthday.  She, too, struggled with infertility.  If you can identify at least 4 of the 5 acronyms....you've probably walked the infertility path.  I wore it the day of my retrieval, and it was perfect!

And that was basically our trip.  When Bear wasn't sleeping, he had his head on our shoulders or in between us on the console.  He's such a sweet boy!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

An Update

Things have been pretty boring until recently on the fertility side of life, but incredibly nutso when it comes to everything else going on!  Here are a few of the highlights:

1.  We got a dog.  I introduced him to the blog world a while ago, but that boy has grown so quickly!  He's a Great Dane, so I shouldn't be surprised.  And he's freaking adorable.


2.  Work has been nuts!  I have the privilege of being part of what will hopefully be our school district's model elementary school, but with this transition comes a lot of work.  We will be 1:1 with devices, implementing a STEM curriculum, doing lots of remodeling in the building, experimenting with flexible seating within classrooms and experiencing a large amount of restaffing.  I've basically been working two jobs in one since January.

3.  Michael's business is getting closer and closer to being ready to take off!  That man has poured two years worth of blood, sweat and tears into that business, and we are beyond ready for it to be a go!  In the midst of everything else, I'm learning how to sew binding using an industrial sewing machine.  I thought I'd be better at it than I am, and I hate being the hold up for Michael to move forward with the business!

4.  Waiting to start our next IVF cycle has been so great, but the waiting was about to do me in.  We really needed some time off from everything after losing our pregnancy in December.  But, man, I'm ready to get moving again!  We actually just got back from Colorado, and I'll be sharing the latest IVF news soon.  In the mean time, isn't Bear so stinking adorable?!  He is such a great traveler and slept the entire way there and back!


Monday, February 15, 2016

Bear

Since I've talked to you last, we've had an addition to our family...

This is Bear.

He's a blue Great Dane and growing like a weed!  We've had him for a week and a half, and he's already grown a ton!  

Last night we spent our first Valentine's Day together as a family.  :-)


I'm sure there are many adventures in our future with this (not so) little guy!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lazarus

I've been working through a lot lately (obviously), and the passage about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead kept coming up.  One of the reasons I like to blog is that it gives me an opportunity to organize my thoughts, even though I'm not a great writer.  So I present to you....my thoughts. Anticlimactic, I'm sure.  :-)



The Death of Lazarus (John 11)
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 
Wait a second.  This scripture says that Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus. So if He really loved them, why didn't he get up and leave immediately?!  Instead of going to those He loved to save someone He loved, he stayed put.  He sat on His rear end and didn't move for TWO DAYS. 

Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

I Am the Resurrection and the Life
17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.  Four days.  Lazarus, the one whom Jesus supposedly loves, has been dead for FOUR days.  And Jesus is just now showing up.  

18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles[a] away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”  Ya think?!  I can just imagine the heartache and questioning and anger that was probably in Martha's statement here and in her heart.  You could have saved him, but you didn't come!  If You have just been here!  This story makes me angry for Martha.

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Jesus and Death, the Last Enemy
28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him.31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”
32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  I can feel her grief.  She fell down at the feet of Jesus, and questioned just as her sister had.  Just as I have questioned.  Lord, you could have stopped this.  You could have done something!

33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.   
This part is interesting to me.  When I read this, I couldn't understand what this passage meant, so I looked up what it meant for Jesus to "grown in the spirit."  The definition of the original word "groaned" means to be moved with anger.  Strong's Concordance goes further to say it means, "I snort (with the notion of coercion springing out of displeasure, anger, indignation, antagonism)".  Jesus snorted in displeasure.  He was ticked!  What the heck, Lord?  YOU were ticked? In my anger and hurt from losing our babies my initial reaction to learning this was the meaning of the passage was for me to snort in indignation at Jesus!  WHAT?  Mary and Martha should be the ones who are angry!  You could have saved their brother and instead You sat there and let him die.  You could have saved my babies, but You didn't.

34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”  After the "groaning in the spirit" lesson, I hear Jesus ask this question in a different voice than I've read it before.  He's not happy.

They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus wept. 
People sent me this verse when trying to console me in my initial pain.  I read the story of Lazarus during that time, and was honestly irritated with this little verse.  JESUS is weeping??   He's the one who got everybody in this stupid mess.  If He had gotten up and healed Lazarus from the get go, there wouldn't be anything to cry about!  Stop crying, Jesus.  This is Your fault.  But the more I read this passage, the more I started to question why He was weeping.  Surely it's not because Lazarus died.  He already knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.  Maybe He's weeping because this wasn't how it was supposed to be.  Sin and death weren't supposed to be a part of this world.  Weeping for loved ones wasn't part of the original plan.  Or maybe He's weeping because of the lack of faith from those who loved Him most.  Mary and Martha were some of His closest friends, and even they doubted Him.  Could He have been weeping and upset because they didn't trust Him?  
36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”  More questioning Jesus' intention.  More doubts.

Lazarus Raised from the Dead
38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  This kind of makes me laugh a little now.  I've always imagined Jesus saying this in a kind, gentle, knowing way.  Now I hear Him saying it with irritation and passion. Move the stinking stone so I can show You who I am.  Now!

Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”  I know Martha's kind of a mess, but I love her.  She's my kinda mess.  Better watch out for the stink, Lord.  

40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”  I wonder how many times He's said this to me, and I've been too heartbroken, too angry, too consumed with my own grief (like Martha) to hear.  

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.  And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

I've meditated over this scripture often in the last several weeks.  I've questioned and wondered and searched for answers in this scripture. Just like Mary and Martha, I've asked God why He didn't do something. How could He allow this terrible thing to happen?  Lord, if You'd only been here.  I know You are able, but why aren't You willing?  

And I wonder if maybe...just maybe...God withheld a miracle so He would have the opportunity to perform an even greater one.  I wonder if His answer to, "Why Lord??" is truly for His glory to be made known...to perform the bigger miracle.  
God allowed Mary and Martha to experience pain and heartache so they could experience an even greater miracle than they had asked for.  I wish the Bible told us about Mary and Martha's reaction when Lazarus walked out of the tomb.  Can you even imagine??  I have to believe there were screams and tears of joy.  It brings tears to my eyes imagining the scene.  

And although Mary and Martha were surely happy beyond words, I'd bet they'd rather have not had to go through the pain He allowed them to feel in order to get to that moment.  If Mary and Martha could have scripted it, I'd bet they'd skip the whole pain part of this story and just go the easy route and have Jesus heal their brother before He died.  But their lives were to glorify Him, even through the pain.  The joy at the end of the story may not wipe away their pain, but I take some solace in realizing that there was a purpose to their pain.


We have been praying for a miracle.  All we want is a baby.  And I've played the Mary and Martha card.  I've questioned and cried and doubted and been flat out ticked off. And I think that's okay.  I think God's big enough to handle all of that from me.  But what's not okay is for me to stay stuck here, in this muck of doubt and anger.  
So, what if God is holding out and allowing us to experience this terrible pain so that He will have the opportunity to perform the bigger miracle? What if He's still planning to perform a miracle in our lives?  There's hope.  That hope, mind you, doesn't erase the pain and heartache that I still feel.  I still cry at the thought of my sweet baby girls. If I could have it my way, I'd skip this whole infertility battle and take a free-to-make baby any day of the week.  I'd rather avoid the pain altogether and just go straight to the bundle of joy wrapped up in my arms.  But if there's hope at the end of the story, if there's a miracle for my life, if the Lazarus in my life can also be raised from the dead....then I'll take it.