It Seems So Surreal

Josh and I are excited to share with you that, after 10 1/2 yrs of infertility, we are pregnant!  Baby Parks is scheduled to arrive the first week of August 2011!!

Thanks for all your prayers and support.

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Clomid Round 1

FAILED.

We’re upping the dosage

Rolling with the punches

Holding on to hope

The Long and Winding Road

I’ve decided to add an additional page to my blog dedicated solely to (in)fertility and our journey to parenthood.   I get tired of  searching through my archives to find all the posts I’ve written on our fertility issues.  The new page will be a place I keep them all in order so that I can easily look back over the things we’ve experienced and remember how God has guided us through each step.

This road we travel is a long one and full of unforeseen turns and detours.  Often, our journey is smooth, without so much a bump or turn.  We speed through our daily lives, waiting for the next obstacle or sign for what’s ahead.  Other times, we have to slow down and process all that we face.  It’s during those rough patches that we have to fully hold on to God’s grace, strength, and peace.

Today, we are on some of the smoother roads.  Yesterday, I mentioned the good news that our first procedure worked, and that today I would be meeting with my doctor to discuss the next steps in our pursuit of parenthood.  Well…here’s what was determined:

Warning!!:  The following will include very personal information about myself in regards to women’s issues.  If you don’t want to know these things about me…then skip over.  IF you choose to read on, I warned you! 🙂  I share this personal information b/c I know many women (and their spouses) currently going through infertility issues.  Infertility is a medical condition that NEEDS to be discussed.  I KNOW that my transparency in this journey has helped many of these women, and I also know that talking openly about it has helped ME cope as well.

Apparently, I don’t ovulate.  In simpler terms, my body does not release the egg needed for conception.  Why? I have no idea…but we won’t do any of the expensive, painful tests to find out.  Instead, my doc is starting with a more simpler solution, found in small, round pills called Clomid (or Clomiphene).  This ovulatory stimulant will (hopefully) kick my ovaries into gear and make them work the way they’re supposed to work.

I’ve done some research on this medicine and I have mixed feelings.  For many women, Clomid works…but often not until several rounds of treatment have occurred.  The side effects vary with each woman, but can include (but are not limited to) hot flashes, upset stomach, vomiting, weight gain, vision problems, breast discomfort, and increased risks of Ovarian Cancer.  Many women also say they get really moody and emotional.  None of that sounds fun…and I really hope not to experience them over and over again.  Additionally, I already have GI issues, so I pray that the medicine doesn’t wreak havoc on my stomach and reverse the many months of treatment that I’ve had with my GI doc.  Oh…and I really don’t want to vomit or emotionally break down while serving my seafood entrees at work!  That would be horrible. (although, it might get me some pity and extra tips!)

The worst part of the treatment is that, due to the other issues Josh and I have had in regards to fertility, there is still only a 1 in 4 chance that we’ll conceive, even if the Clomid works perfectly.  Those don’t seem like very good odds to me…but I’m leaving it all in God’s hands, “He who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine!” (Ephesians 3:20)

New Beginnings

Tomorrow, I will begin several new chapters of my life:

Chapter: Baby Steps Toward Baby Steps

Over the last year I have written openly about the infertility struggles that Josh and I have faced.  In January, we had our first medical procedure and have had follow-ups with the doctor every 3 months.  Last week, we received the results of our 6 month post-surgery tests…(drum roll, please)…the procedure worked and we are now cleared to pursue the next stage in fertility treatment!! I go to the doctor tomorrow to discuss in more detail what exactly our next steps will be.  Prayerfully, we hope to have a baby by this time next year.

Chapter:  Sabbath Year

Since high school, I have been involved in some type of ministry leadership role.  Whether leading bible studies, youth small groups, or doing mission work, I have kept my schedule completely full without much of a break.

I love doing ministry –  the relationships I make, the accountability aspect, the joy in seeing lives changed  – it’s a passion of mine.

But over the last year or so, I’ve felt God telling me to stop it all.  To just lay down my busyness and my need to be “doing”, and just rest in Him.  It’s time for me to reconnect with God, get re-focused, and rediscover the calling HE has for me.  There are several areas of my life that I feel I need to focus on during this year of rest; I’ll share those with you later on.

But, as of today, I no longer have any ministry leadership responsibilities.  NONE. ZIP. ZILCH.  Of course, I’ll still be involved in church and ministry, but only as a participant, not as a leader.

Speaking of church…

Chapter: Looking for a New Home

Today was my last day with the church I’ve been serving with since returning from Ukraine 2 years ago.

Most of the people at the church do not yet know that Josh and I have left (until just now, when they read this post…for my friends who are just learning this, I’m sorry you are hearing it this way.  But know that Josh and I love you, and just because we are leaving the church does not mean that we are leaving behind our friendships).

I cannot and will not go into the details surrounding why we left, but, for personal reasons, Josh and I, together, decided it’s time for us to go.  It’s been a very difficult week of talking to my Bible study women, my mission team, and some of the very close friends I’ve made at the church.  I know our leaving will be met with confusion and questions, and that saddens me…but, above all, I know that God has us all in His hands.

Me on a Good Day

Looking back through my posts, I noticed a recurring theme: depression.  I will not deny that I struggle with depression; I have fought this sometimes debilitating disease since I was a young teenager.  However, depression is NOT a constant, every day battle.  It just so happens that when I do have a downer day, I tend to release my emotions through writing…and you, my precious friends, get to hear some of my moaning.

So, I want to share some of my thoughts during the good days of my life:

1. Returning from Ukraine.  (Which I wrote about HERE).  I KNOW there’s a purpose in our returning.  I KNOW there was a purpose in our going.  And although I have my moments of shame, confusion, and hurt, overall I am happy and content with the decision to return. My hubby felt it was the right decision, and I, in obedience to God’s calling on my life as a wife, am happy that I agreed to follow Josh’s leading.  By doing so, I strengthened our marriage, uplifted my husband, and honored God.

I am EXTREMELY proud of us for even stepping out into full-time mission work.  Many people think about what it would be like to pursue a passion, but they never do anything about it.  WE DID!  We sold our house & everything in it.  We gave up good, steady careers, and left all our friends and family.  We relied solely on God’s provision and trusted Him to be our strength as we adapted to a completely different culture.  We grew in faith and discovered God in ways that we had never experienced Him before.

Our time there was not in vain. Even in such a short amount of time, we were able to minister to the Ukrainians around us & challenge them in their beliefs about God, urging them to move from empty, religious practices into a meaningful relationship with Christ.  We formed life-long friendships that still bless us.

Above all, I’m so thankful that I have a husband who is willing to do whatever it takes to help his wife pursue the passions and visions she has dreamed of for so many years.  I don’t know what the future holds concerning full-time mission work…I really don’t think it will happen again…but I know that we’ll at least be willing to step out in faith to pursue whatever God lays on our hearts.

2.  Infertility. The truth is…I’ve never wanted children until a few years ago…and I only began to want them because I saw the deep desire in Josh to have children.  He’s experienced all the joys of fatherhood once before and has always desired to experience that again, but with me!  Our many childless years resulted mainly from my hesitations.  The last year or so has been difficult b/c  I know Josh’s heart…and his grief causes me grief.  More than anything, I want my husband to have the desires of his heart.  Most days I’m 100% okay with not having children.

Gasp! What?!?!

You see, my identity, purpose, and validation is not determined by motherhood; it’s found in God and His purpose for me.  What if it’s His will that Josh and I should never have children?  If that’s His will, then that’s what I want.  If He should decide to give us children, then I’m ready for that as well.  All I desire is to live a life completely surrendered to my Heavenly Father…putting my future into His hands…because I know that His plans for my life are much greater than anything I could dream of.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.     ~Jeremiah 29:11

My Struggle with Infertility and Mother’s Day

This Sunday is a big day for many women – Mother’s Day.  I’ve never had an issue celebrating this day…I have two wonderful moms in my life that deserve my attention and gratitude.  But I’m finding this Mother’s Day even more difficult than ever.

It’s been about one year since Josh and I were medically labeled “infertile.”  And it’s been a very slow year in the process of figuring out if we can even have children.  You may remember that in January we actually started the first medical procedures to possibly correct the infertility.  (You can refresh your memory by clicking HERE then HERE).  Well, tomorrow we go in for our first follow-up since the procedure.  A few tests will be done and we should know soon after whether the procedure was successful.  So, depending on those results, I may have a wonderful weekend, celebrating with growing hope that one day I will be celebrated as a mom.   But if the results show no positive progress…you may not see me at church this mother’s day…

This journey of infertility is so frustrating…just when I think I’ve come to terms with the possibility of not having children, little things chip away at my emotions until I’m suddenly an emotional wreck, and must admit “This is harder than I thought it would be”.  It doesn’t help when I’ve had 4 friends give birth in the last 6 months, have 8 (yes, eight) more friends announce pregnancies within the last 9 months, watched a baby dedication last Sunday, and now it’s Mother’s Day.  I’ve actually almost shut down my facebook account just because of all the hundreds of statuses and pictures about my friends’ wonderful children (or sometimes their naughty little ones).   Don’t get me wrong…I am sooo happy for my friends; I really do rejoice in the blessings they have in their lives…I’m not bitter, angry, or disgusted…I’m just hurting, confused, and trying to get through this…and daily reminders of this void in my life can be excruciating.

I know many of you who read this blog have children, and I know that you have genuine concern and compassion.  Sometimes in your wanting to show your concern, you say things hoping to help ease the pain…and even though I know what you say comes from from a loving, sincere heart, the things you say are often quite painful.  I read a blog this week about this issue and want to pass it along….I pray it helps guide you in how to approach & minister to a friend who’s hurting through infertility.  You can read it by clicking HERE.

Please be praying for our Dr. appointment tomorrow.  I’ll keep you updated.

Childless Ruth

This morning, while listening to a sermon on Ruth, Dallas Theolical Seminary Professor Dr. Reg Grant threw in a little side note that caught my attention.  If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Ruth, a widow, was encouraged to stay with her family in Moab after the death of her husband.  However, she remained loyal to her mother-in-law, Naomi, as they moved from Moab back to Naomi’s homeland. 

As Dr. Grant encouraged his listeners to learn from Ruth’s loyalty, he added this little tidbit:

What God did they worship back there [in Moab]?  It wasn’t Yahweh; it was Keemash.  Did you notice that Ruth was married for ten years and apparently she had no children?  Ever wonder why God sometimes says no to some really good requests, like children? ….

Keemash demanded the sacrifice of the firstborn.  …

Tender Mercies.  That you can’t see at the time.  Can’t see for ten years.

God has a plan.

Although the bit of information was not a major point in his lesson, a few simple observations/similarities connected me with his words:

1.  This coming May, Josh and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage.  My guess is that Ruth, like myself, married at a young age.  So, it’s very likely that I am about the same age as she when her husband died. 

2.  I, like Ruth, am still childless after 10 years of marriage. 

3.  God has a plan for me!

But what sticks in my soul more than anything else is the simple phrase “Tender Mercies”

It’s God’s tender mercies that I need to meditate upon.

Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
      God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
   Shining on those in the darkness,
      those sitting in the shadow of death,
   Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
      down the path of peace.

~Luke 1:78-79 (the Message)

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