Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Finding Words

I’ve been trying to find the perfect words for this post, but I give up. The fact is, I’m pregnant. And, I’m over-the-moon excited that we’re going to have a little one in our home sometime in January.

But that’s not the full story. The full story includes that I’m still heartbroken for those of you dear ones still waiting. I’m praying for you. I’m waiting with you. I’m eager for you to experience your little miracles and your daily joys and your resolution in this trial.

The full story includes that it’s weird being infertile and pregnant. Like I don’t have any more street cred. Like the journey’s over (for now). Like I can’t know anymore what it’s like to be in the waiting room or going through treatments. And some of that is true. I know–barring a miracle–we’ll be going through treatments again someday, but that isn’t going to keep me from enjoying this pregnancy, this baby, this miracle growing inside me. I know what we’ve been through thus far was anything but trivial, and that the experiences we’ve had are not going to leave me. I know what it’s like to spend month after month hoping and finding those hopes dashed–but I also know that it’s worth it. That we’ve gotten there. That we’re making it through.

And I know what it feels like to be waiting. And waiting. I pray you’ll be on the other end of that soon.

As slow as all the waiting drags by, I thought I’d have time to enjoy pregnancy. To be happy and gloriously pregnant. But time switched to fast forward. And the first trimester is over before you’ve had a chance to fully realize that it’s started. And as you stare at 14 weeks–wasn’t it just 13 weeks yesterday?– you realize, you’re never going to get everything done. And a human being is coming. And that human will need things and time and love and–wow. I thought I had learned a lot in the waiting. Yet I find myself feeling completely unprepared. Inadequate. Unready as this miracle I want nothing more than to relish keeps speeding by.

Wishing a little fast-forwarding to all of you waiting. And that you’ll be here with me, soon, holding our babies and praising God for yet another everyday–or extraordinary–miracle.

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Rejoicing with Those Who Rejoice

Joseph, favorite son of Jacob, was sold into slavery by his own brothers. The motive? That boy was daddy’s favorite, and they were jealous. Murderously jealous. In fact, if a tribe of Ishmaelites hadn’t shown up at just the right time, the original plan was to kill the boy, their brother, the favorite son of their father.

It’s really a sad story. I can’t imagine being so totally rejected by my own brothers and sister. It would be heartbreaking.

But this story has a truly remarkable ending. Joseph is raised up among the Egyptians. He becomes the number two guy in all of Egypt and prevents the people from starving during a severe, seven-year famine.

He also finds himself in a position to make an important choice.

When Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery appear before him wanting to purchase food for their families, he could have repaid their evil with evil. He could have sent them away empty-handed, or sold them as slaves, or even had them killed. But he doesn’t.

Joseph forgives his brothers. Yes, he makes them jump through a couple of hoops and pass a few well-designed “tests” before he reconciles with them, but we don’t see him taking vengence or holding any kind of grudge against the men who kept him from his beloved father and baby brother for over twenty years.

***

So, one of the tests Joseph gives his brothers is to see if they continue in their jealousy. He has a feast prepared for his brothers, and he feeds them all more than enough food, but he gives to Benjamin–his full  brother, the baby of the family, and his father’s new favorite–portions five times bigger than he gives all the other brothers.

And the brothers don’t complain. If they are jealous or begredging Benjamin this bonus serving, they keep it to themselves this time. The difference in treatment brings out no apparent ill-will. Instead, the Bible says, the brothers drank and were merry.

***

As we discussed this story this morning at my Bible study, someone mentioned Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” And I found it so very intereting when she said, “It seems easy to find people who weep with us when we’re weeping–but how often do we actually rejoice with others who are rejoicing?”

There’s a funny thing with infertility and the infertility community that’s been bothering meI don’t want to be insensitive, but I feel this needs to be said. As people dealing with infertility–people who want to be pregnant or have children more than most–we have a tendency to complain about other people’s pregnancies. We whine and mope about seeing pregnant bellies while we’re in the grocery store or out to dinner. We cry about pregnancy announcements and pictures of babies and bumps on facebook. We talk about how hard it is to be around people who have what we want the most.

I wish I could claim innocence here, but I know I’ve been guilty too.

And we can sugar coat it all we want. One book I read said pregnant bellies were “grief triggers.” This book–with a Christian perspective–was arguing that it is perfectly fine to foster those feelings of disappointment and sadness when we see pregnant women or new babies.

But I think we go beyond “grief trigger” and quickly end up at jealousy. And it’s not fine. We shouldn’t be okay with those emotional responses.

Maybe we can’t help it. Our emotions sneak up on us and we aren’t really ever in control, right?

But maybe we should try.

Because you know what? I’m going to be one excited lady when I’m pregnant. I’m going to be praising God and smiling and joyful–even if I’m sick and tired and feeling bloated. And I’m going to hope that people will want to rejoice with me.

And I’m not a fan of double standards.

So I’m rejoicing with you while you rejoice, dear mama-to-be.

And I’m weeping with you while you weep, dear friend still waiting.

And I’m starting now.


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Mother’s Day and Ugly Cries

And it’s Mother’s Day.

It’s the second Mother’s Day since we started TTC, but the first since our IF was officially diagnosed.

I’ve kind of been wondering how I would feel today. And I’ve enjoyed some really great blog posts about Mother’s Day and how to be kind to those of us who are waiting or who have suffered miscarriages or who have lost their own mothers. If you’re interested, here are a couple of links I really appreciated in the lead up to today: The Pains of Motherhood, Part 1 (Infertility) and An Open Letter to Pastors {A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day}.

DH is working today. (He works a shift schedule, though soon he will have a normal M-F schedule again!) I try to go to church even when he’s working, but decided in advance today that I would just watch it instead. Our church has a live webstream of the service. I am glad I stayed home.

I think I could have handled the “all the mothers please stand part.” And the video at the beginning of the sermon with a pregnant mom encouraging her little girl to talk to her soon-to-be baby sister wasn’t too bad. It really had me hoping that someday I would get to experience that–though that would mean two pregnancies and I don’t know how I can wish for that when the chance for one (without medical or miracle interference) is exactly zero.

But the video at the end. That’s when I was really glad I’d stayed home. I sobbed through it. And not sweet, “Oh, bless her heart, she loves her momma” sobs. They were ugly cries.

It’s been a while since I’ve cried like that, and I think I needed it. But I’m glad I didn’t have to share my tears with our congregation.

To all of you who are pregnant or enjoying Mother’s Day with your children today, Happy Mother’s Day. And to those of you who have babies waiting for you in heaven, Happy Mother’s Day. And to my own mom and dear, sweet mother-in-law, I will wish Happy Mother’s Day. And for those of us still waiting–hang in there. Tomorrow is a new day. And who knows what God has in store for us next?


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Not Everything Is Constructive

I’ve been feeling pretty convicted about my last post. I shouldn’t have said some of the things I said about my mom. It’s not that these things weren’t true, but I feel like I should have left out the parts that were pointing out her flaws instead of working through my own experience. It’s a fine line, and I wish I could un-write some of those things. But I can’t (I mean, technically, I could delete them–but it wouldn’t really undo what I’ve already said). So I ask for your forgiveness and understanding. 

Upon re-reading it, some of the parts of that post were clearly written out of my hurt and anger. And I know I should have addressed that with her instead of sharing it with the world. Truthfully, I had addressed those things with her. That conversation we had continued for four hours because she wanted to make sure we resolved things before we parted. And we had. So it was wrong of me to rehash the especially bad parts here.

I know it’s my blog and my place to vent and that I am free to say what I want, but I have been reminded of I Corinthians 10:23: “‘Everything is permissible’–but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’–but not everything is constructive.” So I ask forgiveness for dishonoring my mom in my last post–it wasn’t necessary, and it wasn’t right.

At the end of the day, I know my mom loves me. We are very different people, but she means well. Maybe she’s not the most empathetic person in the world, but she does hurt for me. And I know she was very upset to know that she had hurt me. She just had trouble figuring out how to stop doing it. I do love my mom. And I am very glad she came to visit. And I am glad I have a blog where I can work through some of the most difficult things in this infertility journey in a way that is constructive. The thing is, parts of what I said in my last post simply weren’t constructive.

Thanks for understanding.


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Visit from Mom and Dad

I had a lovely blessing this weekend: My parents came to visit. My dad hadn’t seen our new house yet, and when my mom came last we had just moved in. She was helping us unpack. So it was very nice to have a chance to show them the house now that it is put together and we’ve hung stuff on the walls.

We had a great time while they were here. DH and I took them to NASA headquarters and we visited DH’s parents at their lakehouse. We ate at excellent restaurants, and we really had a wonderful time.

But last night my mom wanted to discuss our infertility stuff. It was their last night here, and we were up until almost 4 am talking. She and I had talked a little about the physical stuff (medicines we were trying, our approximate timeline of upcoming stuff, and so forth), but last night she asked, “Are you happy?”

I told her that I am happy most days, but on the whole I’m sad. I don’t think I’ll ever look back on this period of my life and think, gee, wasn’t that a great time? Remember when we were living in a strange city, we didn’t have a very good social outlet, and we found out we were infertile? Wasn’t it just lovely?

And she didn’t like my answer. She wants me to be happy, of course. But in her mind, the fact that I’m not happy isn’t a fact. It’s something I’m apparently supposed to be either ignoring or doing something about. The hardest part was that she kept telling me that she just knew we would have children someday–if we had faith. She said it more the more I tried to explain to her that, while I appreciated that she was trying to make me feel better, her words weren’t comforting.

I really feel that God is calling me to trust him and to, in a sense, come to terms with the possibility that we won’t have our own children and know that if this happens it will be because that is what is best for us (based on Romans 8:28). It’s not that I think we won’t or that I am not hoping that we will, but that I feel I need to come to a place where I can say honestly that while I hope we will have a family of our own one day, I am okay with the possibility that we won’t.

I’m not there yet. But I’ve gotten close a few times.

I had told her all this before. But it clearly didn’t sink in (or, more likely, she just thinks I’m wrong in my assessment of things). Last night, I told my mom that what she was saying was undermining what I felt like God has been telling me.

And she couldn’t comprehend that.

I just wish she would try to understand. That she would sincerely put herself in our shoes and try to get what it feels like to be here. Or, if that is too much or not possible for her, that she would at least listen when I say, “Mom, what you are saying to me right now hurts me. Believe that if you like, but please stop saying it.” Instead, when I say that to her, she repeats the offending words. Over. And over. And over again.

What she said (though she couldn’t understand why this was hurtful) boiled down to saying that if we had enough faith we would be pregnant. As in, it’s our fault we are still barren.

I don’t believe that is true. Deep down, I know it’s not true.

But it’s hard enough to hear stuff like that from people I don’t know well. It’s so much harder to hear it from my own mom.

Lord, give me strength to love her, even when we don’t see eye to eye. And to recognize that she means well, even when she keeps throwing little barbs at me.

(Note: I am really grateful they came to visit. As hard as last night was, maybe by the end of our 4-hour conversation she came to understand something new. Maybe things will be better next time. I am glad it happened. And I really did have a lovely long weekend with my mom and dad, even if some of last night was depressing.)


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Going Home

I’m leaving tomorrow to go home–to St. Louis–for Thanksgiving.

I was home in May. That was before we found out our infertility diagnosis, but after we’d been TTC for 9 months. When we first started trying, DH was back in school and I was our sole breadwinner. (Let’s just say that as a freelancer, I don’t win very much bread!) DH’s mom had been pretty clear a few months before that she didn’t think we had any business procreating until he was out of school because “parenting is more than a 40-hour a week job” and we wouldn’t have much money. (Yes, that really upset me. IF has, surprisingly, really mended that relationship somehow.) So, anyway, I called my mom before we started trying to find out if my parents would also be ticked if we got pregnant. She laughed and told me they’d be delighted. I also expressly told her not to tell a soul, not even my dad. Of course, I thought we’d be pregnant within the next month or two and I wanted it to be a surprise when I told everyone.

So, in May, I was surprised to find out that most of my family (I mean, from siblings to aunts and grandparents) knew we were trying. When I confronted my mom about it, she said she had to tell people because it was taking so long and we needed their prayers.

DH and I were furious. And when we found out we were infertile, we were even more upset. I think partly because it’s possible we’ll end up adopting, and I don’ t really like the idea that my family will see our adopted children and whisper to each other, “You know, they didn’t plan on adopting,” or “they tried to have their own kids, but it didn’t work.” I know those things are true, but it doesn’t mean I want everyone (especially any future adopted children) to know that our family represents some kind of plan B  in action.

But, there’s a short-term upside to this. I am heading home tomorrow with the expectation that no one will pester me with the dreaded “when are you going to have kids?” And, as an added bonus, there aren’t any babies in my family yet. Until this summer, DH and I were the only ones married out of all the cousins. One of my cousins married this summer, but I think (hope?) they’ll wait a little while before they try for kiddos.

I know I’m super lucky in this and that many of you may be dreading those holiday gatherings. I wish you all the best and will be thinking of you over the next week and through December that you would be able to take joy in your family time (or lack thereof!) regardless of your situation.


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Say Something–Even If It’s the ‘Wrong’ Thing

One of the most difficult things about infertility is the sense of isolation that goes with it. As much as I truly appreciate having this blog and the blogs I follow to remind me that I’m not alone, I find myself wishing I could open up more with people I know well and trust. So, the to-tell-or-not dilemma keeps popping up.

As I wrote here, I still don’t feel I know anyone here in Houston well enough to share this part of our life. Prior to last week, we had told my bridesmaids, our parents, and DH’s grandparents (I wrote about that one here).

Before we came to Houston, DH and I had a really amazing group of friends in DC. When we met, none of us had children. Now we’re the only ones who don’t. I miss them terribly. And I’ve been feeling lonely and isolated, I think in large part because I miss the community we left behind. And while I’ve tried to keep in touch, I feel like it’s hard to have a genuine conversation without telling close friends what we’re going through (even vaguely). I am tired of faking it and pretending everything is so great in our lives when there are many days that I struggle with the burden of infertility.

DH and I talked and decided it was time to tell our closest friends in DC. He sent an email to a selective group of people last week to ask for their prayers. He wrote that we are hoping to be able to do infertility treatments in the spring. And (I learned later) my dear husband, who loves me and wants me to be happy, specifically asked the ladies if they would email or call me to help lift my spirits. It was a wonderful gesture and I was excited to hear from my friends, who I miss anyway, and to know they were supporting us through this.

Well, there is a positive side to telling people. One of my dear friends in DC called immediately after she got the email. She just listened. She didn’t offer any platitudes and she agreed that it sucked. She really said all the right things and made me so happy that we told our friends. Another friend, who lives abroad now, emailed to set up a time that she could call me to talk. What a huge gesture!

And there’s a negative side to telling people. We got the expected, “you can just adopt,” from one friend. I’m okay with that. It’s a well-meaning response even if it isn’t particularly well informed or helpful. But a lot of my friends haven’t even responded. It makes me feel like maybe I was overvaluing those friendships.

I talked to my MIL about this, and she pointed out that perhaps they just don’t know what to say. I can understand that. If you’re reading this and you know someone who is grieving or sick or in pain in some way and you care about that person, it’s okay if you don’t know what to say. Say you are thinking of them. Say it sucks that they are going through this. Tell them you’ll pray for them or that you’re sorry this is happening. Shoot, tell them you don’t know what to say. But I would encourage you to say something. Even if it is the “wrong” thing, saying something will let your friend know that you acknowledge her hurt. That you care about her well-being.

I’ve heard it said before that in times of crisis you find out who your real friends are. I’m not sure I wanted to know.

PS I realize this post makes it sound like I’ve been really down lately. And, well, I have and I haven’t. I can say honestly that I’ve been feeling so grateful for the many blessings in my life, that this journey has helped bring me closer to God than I’ve been in years, and that I’ve learned a lot. I can also say that IF hasn’t been as all consuming lately as it was at first. I think the loneliness would be an issue even if we weren’t dealing with IF. And I think maybe I need to spend more time in the sunlight (literally). But on balance, I’m really doing okay.