Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Perfection of Conception

Throughout my reading of Genesis, there have been a lot of genealogies listed. One thing stuck out to me in particular: how frequently a man and woman would sleep together and a son would be conceived, often times making it seem as though there was only one time of union. Of course, perhaps that only seems that way because the author only wanted to discuss the "interesting" parts, but take for example the story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38. Tamar disguised herself as a harlot, Judah paid her for her services, they had intercourse, and Tamar conceived and bore two twin sons.

Why am I fascinated by the frequency of one-time conceptions of a son? Because according to research, there is a difference between the sperm that carry the male chromosome and the female chromosome. Supposedly, the male sperm swim faster, but I guess they over-do it and so they die within about 24 hrs after ejaculation. Whereas, the female sperm swim slower, but are the slow and steady type, so they live for several days. (Maybe that's why there is a greater population of women than men??)

Since a woman's egg is only alive for 12-24 hours, it should be obvious how conception requires so many individual components to be perfectly in sync for it to occur. It's truly a miraculous thing. So there lies my fascination - one time of sex, timed perfectly by God's will that the woman has a live egg, and the one union took place within the time frame for a male sperm to win the race.

I believe this is such a clear example of the sovereign will of God at work in those people's lives. He worked everything out so that each and every one of those sons would be born, many of whom discussed in Genesis would ultimately be part of Jesus' lineage.

So be at peace, and know that God is watching over every event. In His perfect timing, if He is willing, he can conceive a child in my womb and in the womb of other women struggling with infertility. Trust Him, always!

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Yes Lord, I Would

Last night I had a night to myself while Michael attended a men's Bible study. After some household chores, I decided to watch Facing the Giants, because I knew it would be an encouraging story about infertility. I have seen this movie several times, but not in the past year - the time in which we have been struggling with infertility. Therefore, like the Living Word, this movie spoke to me in such a different way than it ever had before.

One of the first points I could relate to was when Brooke (the wife of the main character) took a home pregnancy test and it was negative, how she felt disappointed and then later told her husband (after he saw the discarded box in the bathroom and asked her about it) that "I want to be pregnant so bad, that my mind plays tricks on me." Oh, how I can relate to that! In the two-week-wait part of my cycle, the slightest "symptom" will not go unnoticed.

Then there was a heart-breaking scene where the main character, Grant, finds out from the doctor that he is sterile or has a low sperm count and that the two of them will likely not have children naturally. It was on the same day that Grant also finds out that he is unwanted as the head football coach, and is left feeling like a complete failure in every way. Grant and Brooke are sitting across from one another at the kitchen table as Grant pours out his heart before his wife about his tough day, and finally tells her that he can't give her the children that she desires. It was so emotional for me, even though it was only a movie - they both cried and tried to tell one another it will be okay, and they both questioned God about what He's doing, where is He.

But then Grant spends the whole night in the Word, seeking after God. When Brooke approaches him in the morning, Grant asks her, "If God never gives us children, would you still love Him?" At the time, she doesn't answer. A few months ago, I was not able to answer either. I was refusing to accept that as a possible outcome of all of this. I was still trying to be in control of my own life.

Later on in the movie, after Grant surrenders his career to God and beautiful changes take place with his team, Brooke's heart is softened too. She also has been experiencing sickness, so she goes to the doctor to see if everything is okay. She is told that she is not pregnant, but instead of letting the despair of the disappointment overcome her, she holds her head high, and goes out to her car, where she tells God that she will still love Him.

Just before driving away, a nurse runs outside and stops her - her test results were mixed up with someone else, and she is pregnant. It was so beautiful watching her reaction to the joyous news. After four years of struggling, the news she had been longing for had finally arrived.

 photo facingthegiants_zpsd155a4ff.png

More recently, I finally reached a point where I could answer that question. Yes Lord, I would. If the Lord never blesses me with children, as difficult as that may be to bear, I will still love Him. I will still seek Him. I will still be thankful for all that He HAS blessed me with: a loving husband, a roof over my head, a job, food to eat, clean water to drink, a car to drive, family and friends to love and fellowship with, and five furry children to raise, complete with all their quirkiness. But if someday the Lord does bless me with children, how much more will I have to be thankful for! My cup would overflow!

Lord, please give me patience to wait for You and whatever future You have planned for us. Fill my heart with joy, no matter the outcome!

Thank you all for sharing in this journey with me. Your continued prayer, support, love, and hugs are GREATLY appreciated!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The House Always Wins

Do you ever gamble? I grew up playing nickel-ante poker with my family every summer, but now as an adult, I don't enjoy gambling anymore, even in a friendly family game because I'm very risk averse. Why risk losing my coins if I know I'll get to keep them all by not playing? I know, I know...you risk takers respond with the flip side of the coin - pardon my pun - "But you could walk away with even more coins than you started with if you play!" But that's my issue, the word "could." It's not a certainty.

So me being the risk-averse person that I am, did not react well when I first learned some statistical facts about fertility...most specifically, your chances of getting pregnant each month is only 15-25% depending on your age. Seriously!? 15-25% is why you dragged us into same-gender classrooms in middle school and insisted that if you don't use a condom you WILL get pregnant, as if it is a certainty! Of course, I'm fine with that being taught to students because hopefully that will scare enough of them into abstaining or at least using protection, but at some point the truth should be revealed to women that in reality, your odds each month are not that high, even if you are perfectly healthy and fertile. Perhaps when handing out the marriage licenses..."Oh by the way, you should know that your middle school gym teachers were lying to you, you only have a 15-25% chance of conceiving each month...congrats and happy honeymooning!"

And here is another alarming statistic that I don't recall ever being focused on: 7.4% (1 in 13) of married women in the U.S. ages 15-44 are infertile (unable to get pregnant for at least 12 consecutive months). And this figure is from 2002, mind you. That equates to 2.1 million by the way. That's not a small population. That's the population of Houston, TX. Did you know that April 22-28, 2012 is Nation Infertility Awareness Week?

I'm glad that awareness is brought to it because frankly, it's easy for those of us who are the "1" in the group of "13" to feel a bit forgotten about by our fellow sisters. (Whatever happened to Lucky 13?!) Especially when we read statistics like this:
  • 25% of all couples become pregnant in their first month of trying
  • 60% become pregnant within 6 months
  • 75% become pregnant within 9 months
  • 80% become pregnant within 12 months
It's super easy for me to feel like I just bet all my coins on blackjack, and the house kicked my butt, stole all my money, and ran off laughing. Are you telling me that I'm in a minority of 20%? How did I get to be so "lucky"? God, couldn't you apply that fortune to something like, oh I don't know, the LOTTERY??

But there is some good news, or rather, a light at the end of the tunnel: 90% of couples trying to become pregnant do so within 18 months. Ok, there's still a chance for me there since this is our 15th month to try...

Even better news: You are not alone. You may be a minority of those suffering in silence through infertility, but you are certainly not the only one experiencing that pain. You have a whole 2.1 million women, right now, shedding tears and uttering prayers over the same struggle. And more importantly, you are not alone if you are a believer in Christ.

God says in Joshua 1:5, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

A close friend shared this verse with me today, and I encourage you to take it to heart as well.
2 Chronicles 20:17, "You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for Yahweh is with you."

So tomorrow, wake up with courage knowing that God is by your side, carrying you through this painful trial. He is with you always, with love so abundant that we cannot even comprehend its depth. No matter where your infertility pathway leads, remember that you are not alone.

Monday, January 23, 2012

You Are Not Forgotten

Again showing the commonness of barrenness, we have yet another example: Rachel.

Genesis 29:31
Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.

Let's back up in the story first. Remember my last post about Rebekah, Isaac's wife, who was barren but ended up eventually having twins, Jacob and Esau? Well, to make a long story short, Jacob, the younger twin, ended up receiving God's promise of blessing from Isaac through trickery, and Esau got ticked off about that, so Rebekah sent Jacob away to flee for his life.

Jacob, while traveling back to his mother's hometown, sees God in a dream-vision. God tells Jacob how he will be blessed, but I specifically want to point out how God tells Jacob that his descendants will be as vast as the dust of the earth (great in number).

So when Jacob reaches his mom's hometown, he meets Rachel and loves her and asks her father for her hand in marriage, but her father says Jacob must first work for him for 7 years. So he does. But her father tricks Jacob and gives Jacob his older daughter, Leah, as his wife (which Jacob did not find out until the morning after their consummation). Jacob confronted the father and demanded Rachel's hand in marriage. Her father made Jacob wait one week, gave Rachel to Jacob as his wife, but made Jacob remain another 7 years in return. So after one week, Jacob took Rachel as his wife, and loved Rachel more than Leah.

So that is the context for Genesis 29:31 above. The story continues with Jacob getting lucky...a lot! Leah conceived and bore 4 sons. In Genesis 30:1 we learn that Rachel became jealous of Leah, and did a big no-no - she blamed her husband for her infertility. Furthermore in verses 3-4 she takes the matter into her own hands (maybe I should also call these posts the "commonly controlling") and gives Jacob her maid to sleep with in hopes of getting children through the maid.

Side note - I can't believe this was considered "ok" in her (and Sarah's) mind back then! Of course you or I would not practice this today, but think of it another way -- these women were so upset about their barrenness and lack of producing children, that they give their husbands another woman to sleep with. In our present day, this could be equated with "I'd do anything to have a child" - and how many of us have taken steps in this direction? Have you ever tried something, without concern of what your husband thinks, if it meant you might be closer to conceiving? For me, I would do this with initiating intimate moments - I was initiating purely out of desire for a child, not out of desire for my husband. I also would insist on "sperm-friendly" lubricant even thought it doesn't...work...as well. I basically had the attitude of commanding a dog, "You, sit! Stay! Produce!" Not a great example of a loving wife...Thankfully the Lord convicted me of this attitude.

Back to the story, after Rachel gave Jacob her maid to sleep with, the maid conceived and bore two sons. Then, in Genesis 30:9, Leah got jealous of Rachel and gave Jacob HER maid to sleep with (because Leah had stopped bearing). Talk about sisterly quarrels! So Leah's maid conceived and bore two sons. Are you having trouble keeping count yet? I am! (8 sons so far)

Then Leah conceived and bore two more sons, and one daughter (10 sons, 1 daughter in total). Finally in verse 22, "Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb." So Rachel conceived and bore one son. (And just before her death, she bore one more son).

Honestly, this last verse scares me a little because of the wording "God remembered Rachel"...does that imply that He forgot about her before she conceived? It certainly feels that way for me sometimes.

But that is not the truth. God has not forgotten about you or me. There are many examples of this truth in Scripture, so I encourage you to dwell on these verses and take them to heart, especially when tempted to think that you are forgotten. Stay hopeful my friends!
  • Joshua 1:5, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
  • Psalms 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
  • Psalms 94:19, "When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul."
  • Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:20 "I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
  • John 3:16, God loves you so much that He gave up HIS son for you! "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
  • Romans 5:1-5, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
  • Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
  • Philippians 4:4-7, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
  • James 4:8, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
  • 1 Peter 5:6-7, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Another Example

Continuing my journey through the Old Testament, while reading Genesis 25 today, we meet Rebekah, the wife of Isaac. Well guess what?

Genesis 25:21
Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.

What else do we know about her? In Genesis 24, we first meet Rebekah when Abraham's servant sojourned to Abraham's homeland in search of a bride for Isaac. The servant prayed to the Lord that the next woman to come take water from the well would offer him a drink and his camels too, and that would be the sign that she was meant to be Isaac's bride. It says in verse 15 that before he could even finish speaking this prayer, Rebekah approached and did just that.

Clearly she was chosen by God to be the wife of Isaac - the servant's prayer was answered so specifically that it left no doubt that Rebekah was chosen. If God also promised Abraham that his descendants would be multiplied through Isaac, why would God choose a barren woman to be Isaac's bride, unless there is the hope and promise that God would open her womb. What a test of faith that time of infertility must have been! To have heard God's promise to prosper the generations through Isaac and his wife, but then to not conceive for a long while. It certainly feels like this time of infertility will last forever, but don't forget that at any given moment, God could open your womb too. And not only did Rebekah conceive one child, but twins: Jacob and Esau.

I hope you found that as encouraging as I did.

I also want to bring up the point that Isaac prayed for his wife about this. Sometimes we women struggling with infertility can feel all alone in this. But never forget that you are not alone - you have someone always by your side, your husband. Hopefully, he has learned how painful infertility can be and has learned to be sensitive to your feelings, willingly lends a shoulder to cry on, and most importantly, seeks the Lord in prayer on your behalf. Every time Michael hugs me, holds my hand, and says a prayer for us to conceive...it just brings me to tears to know that Michael is there with me in this painful time. He's waiting with me. He's a wonderful voice of encouragement when I'm too sad to speak. He's my spiritual leader, and I love that he submits this struggle to the Lord, especially when I feel like giving up hope.

I encourage you all to thank and praise your husband for his support. He may not always be perfect and sensitive, but he's trying to sort through the pain of this experience as well. Be thankful that you truly are not alone in this, and go give him a big hug...and maybe a little something something, if you know what I mean. After all, it's easy to let things become routine when trying to conceive, so set aside some time to keep the "baby dancing" fun. ;)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Commonness of Barrenness

As I've mentioned previously, I have been reading the Bible everyday according to a chronological plan from Youversion.com. It had me read a little bit in Genesis, and then jump over to read all of Job, and now I'm back in Genesis where I left off. But something has really piqued my interest already -- barrenness is mentioned a lot in the Bible, and I have a feeling I'm just starting to scratch the surface.

I'd like to blog about each barren woman's story as I read through the Bible, and hopefully it will be an encouragement to all of us. Time and time again wombs that were once closed were suddenly opened by the Lord. So to start with, let's look at the very first example of infertility that the Bible shares with us...

Perhaps the most commonly referred to example of barrenness/infertility is Sarah, Abraham's wife. We first learn of her condition in Genesis 11:30
Sarai was barren; she had no child.

What do we know about Sarah?
  • She was beautiful, even in her old age (80s and 90s) - so beautiful that Abraham feared for his life by venturing into a new city with her, that he told her to tell everyone they were brother and sister out of fear that a king would kill him just to take Sarah as his wife.
  • She was protected by God - When two different kings in two different situations took Sarah as their wife (since at two different times Abraham told Sarah to tell everyone they were brother and sister), God intervened on behalf of Sarah and restored her to Abraham.
  • She was loyal and obedient - Why else would a woman listen to her husband and agree to tell everyone they were brother and sister?
  • She was barren - Continuing the story in Genesis 16, we again learn that "Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children"
  • She didn't always handle her barrenness in the best or right way - In the previous chapter, Genesis 15, God promises to Abraham that he will have a son of his own body. Perhaps just like women of the present day, it seems that in Genesis 16 Sarah tried to take matters into her own hands and "help" God out in keeping that promise. What did she do? She told Abraham to go have relations with her maidservant, Hagar. He did, and Hagar conceived a child and then started to despise Sarah (I wonder, was Hagar upset that she had to go through the "difficulties" of being pregnant?) So Sarah treated her harshly and Hagar fled.
  • Sometimes she questioned God - In Genesis 16:2, Sarah said to Abraham, "Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children." Then after God spoke His promise to Abraham that Sarah would bear a child, Sarah's response was full of doubt, "Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?" Isn't it refreshing that you or I are not the first ones to struggle with infertility? To know that Sarah, the mother of nations, also had the tendency to question God?
  • God could and did open her womb - In Genesis 17:16 God says "I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her." So not only did he give her a naturally born son, but that began a whole legacy of nations! How did Abraham and Sarah respond to this? (Remember that at the time God told Abraham this, Sarah was 90 years old.) He laughed. So did Sarah when she heard. I just LOVE God's response to Sarah's doubting in Genesis 18:14 - "Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son."
  • Sarah's womb was opened and she had a son named Isaac, just as God had promised she would.

How marvelous is it that we have such a powerful and loving God as our Heavenly Father? He is a God who can do anything - a God that nothing is too difficult for Him. Our God is a God who does not require your help to conceive life - He is perfectly powerful enough to conceive life no matter what food you eat, vitamins/medicines you take, what your temperatures say, what the OPK says, how much cervical fluid you have, whether you have sex on the "most fertile day", lubricant you use, position you do, how long you lay with your legs in the air afterwards (admit it, we've all done this at one time or another to allow gravity to help the little guys along) -- Our God is all powerful and sovereign!

In the future as I blog about other infertile women in the Bible, I'll label it "Commonness of Barrenness" so that you can easily find previous posts. (See the list of labels to the right.)

God bless!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Plan

I don't know about you, but I'm a planner by nature. I make to do lists, sometimes just so I can feel the satisfaction of scratching something off a list. You know the type. After two months of dating Michael, we had "the plan" all laid out: get married, finish school, get jobs, save money, buy a house, have two kids no more, no less(we had names already picked out for a boy and a girl), and live happily ever after. The plan morphed and changed somewhat over the course of the seven years we've been together, but for the most part we stuck to that plan.

Just prior to deciding to start trying for a family, we both were very naive about this plan. In particular, we both had somewhat superficial mindsets about how having kids might affect our lives physically, emotionally, and spiritually -- how my body would change, how much more stress we would feel, losing the ability to spontaneously go on dates, how would we raise children under God's principles, how terrified I was to throw up a lot if I were to get pregnant, how sick we would get all the time (you know how kids seem to carry the plague).

When we got married, I was on the Pill, and stayed on it until the summer of 2009 (total of about 2 years that I used the Pill). We decided to switch to condoms because the Pill was greatly affecting my hormones. Sure, my cycles were more regulated, but I was really, really, really emotional and feeling depressed as well for no reason. Then in December 2010 we decided to start trying for a family, according to The Plan.

But after going through so many months of disappointment, and realizing that The Plan was not going to happen the way I had thought it would, God started working on my heart and gave me a new plan: To Not Have a Plan. After all, as believers, God's plan should always be our heart's desire, so I take great effort to keep that the focus of my heart (like everyone, I have good days and bad days).

Jeremiah 29:11
'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'

It's important to remember the above verse when struggling with infertility - God has not forgotten about you. He has a plan for you, and it is not meant for you to experience pain - there is a purpose, and you should focus on the future with a heart of hope.

Romans 5:1-5
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Are you a planner? I still am a planner by nature and that comes in handy with my work and ministry, but as a result of this struggle, I am much more flexible about our daily lives and our future together. Michael and I both feel strongly now that we hope to never use any form of birth control or prevention ever again...if the Lord chooses to bless us with 10 children, then how amazing is that! That thought used to really scare us, but the Lord has taught us that there is so much more to life than "our plan"...this life is meant to build a legacy of following God and bringing glory to Him. He is the Lord Most High, and He is worthy of praise, each and every day...during triumph and during struggle, during fertility blessings and trials. There's so much freedom in giving up "your plan" for God's plan - whatever He chooses it to be. I look forward to seeing what God's plan is for our lives!

Outside Looking In

When you struggle with infertility, you often find yourself feeling like you're on the outside looking in. Like you're desperately wanting to be a member of this exclusive club, but they're not accepting new memberships at this time. You can feel stuck, like your life is frozen, not moving forward...or more like the world is passing you by, while you're forced to stay the same. You can also feel like you're running out of time (the biological clock phenomenon).

Parking lot signs like this are no help at all:

(Photo taken at HEB)

Don't get me wrong, being pregnant should entitle you to certain privileges - and Lord willing, someday I hope to receive said privileges, but a parking spot? Really?? Obviously, handicapped parking spaces makes sense. But HEB also has parking spaces next to handicapped for Mothers with Young Children...I think they're pushing the limits a bit there...Now they have this sign. What's next, Reserved for Pet Owners? (At least I qualify for that one!) Reserved for Those Having a Bad Day? Reserved for The Unemployed? Let's not go overboard with parking privileges.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Not This Month

The 14th cycle that we've been trying to conceive just came to an end -- Aunt Flow arrived unexpectedly. My original plan was to keep using the progesterone cream through Sunday before taking a pregnancy test, so that I wouldn't A) Know for certain that I wasn't pregnant while attending two baby showers this weekend, and B) Be on my period and over-emotional while attending two baby showers this weekend. That's right, two very close friends are having their baby showers this weekend, and my period started yesterday. And did I mention that I'm hosting one of the showers at my house? I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Because I knew that my cycle was potentially going to end around this weekend, I had started praying weeks ago for the emotional strength to handle the disappointment of not getting pregnant this cycle and to still be able to express joy and happiness for my two friends who are expecting little ones. Since the New Year, I've also been sticking with the Bible-reading plan, so I've been digging into the Word more as well. Thankfully, like James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you," I'm doing okay with this disappointment.

Side Note: Don't get me wrong, I'm still an emotional snowball on the brink of tears at any given moment...which means that yesterday was probably not the best day to try giving Michael a haircut...for the first time...ever...After a few hours instances of fighting disagreements and many tears later, his hair turned out pretty good. But back to my original thought...

In fact, I feel at peace about taking a break from some things for a while, in hopes of keeping my stress level low. I decided to stop tracking my temperature and cervical fluid. Of course, I'll still notice cervical fluid, because, well, it's just kind of there, but I won't record anything about it. All I need to know is when Day 6 and 16 is so that I can adjust the progesterone cream accordingly. So I set calendar reminders for those two days and that's all I'm keeping track of. It's up to the Lord to lead the timing of our intimate moments and everything else in between. He is the creator of life, He knows my heart's desire to be a mother, and He will answer that desire according to His will, His timing, and in His way.

I cannot describe how good it felt to not get up and take my temperature this morning. In essence, I feel like I'm completely surrendering everything about this to God. I think I had surrendered previously, but this is completely trusting Him to keep track of everything for me and it's me letting go of as much control as possible. A helpful analogy is like riding as a passenger in a car while God is driving. Previously, I was sitting in the passenger seat biting my nails in anxious suspense about Where are we going?, Why?, Are we there yet???, What's taking so long?, and the silly/naive Are you sure you know where you're going??? All that state of mind was doing for me is causing me stress. I'd much rather proceed forward passed out in the back seat clueless about what's taking place and hopefully wake up one day to find two lines on that pee stick. At least that's my plan for now...to not have a plan.

Today's Prayer:
Father God, please take over completely and carry us into the role of becoming parents according to Your will and timing. In the meantime, please give me an abundance of emotional strength and patience to enjoy this present chapter and not burden myself with unnecessary stress, worry, and anxiety. If anything is physically wrong with my body that is preventing us from conceiving, please heal me, or make it clear to me that I should seek medical help. Please lead us in every way relevant to this endeavor. Thank you for all the ways you've blessed us, and for all the lessons you've taught us through this trial. I wait for you, Lord, my soul does wait, and in Your Word do I hope (Psalms 130:5), Amen.

Thank you all for your continued prayer and support. We are so thankful for you!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Have you ever been called over-sensitive? How about insensitive? Typically, I'm more often classified as the former. It's always been natural for me to react offended to something than for me to not care at all. Perhaps that comes with the territory for people who have compassion as a personality trait - the positive elements of that trait are generosity and having a kind, loving heart, but on the flip side, you can be easily wounded when you wear your heart on your sleeve.

In the context of infertility, it's extremely easy for me to get hurt feelings. From a friend haphazardly announcing her pregnancy, a friend complaining about the effects of being pregnant or having a newborn, or even saying "encouraging" words to me like "Just relax, and stop worrying so much" -- all of these have happened to me personally and have hurt me.

And I'm not alone in this either: a close friend recently told me that her sister-in-law announced her pregnancy without sensitivity even though the sister-in-law knew my friend has been struggling to get pregnant (the sister-in-law announced it in a way as "We weren't trying, just not preventing" - Folks, take care with this phrase when speaking to someone going through infertility, because that's basically saying, "We weren't trying to win the lottery, we just randomly found the winning ticket and it's no big deal" or like Elle from Legally Blonde when she got into Harvard Law School, "What, like it's hard?").

 photo legallyblonde_zps3a854c52.jpg

I'm a very loyal person, so when someone hurts my husband's or friend's feelings, it outrages me. I also feel so much empathy for her because I know that the sister-in-law's announcement was like a knife cutting deep. It hurts when others are insensitive to this trial. I'm so glad there are people who have taken the time to write down tips and advice for people who have friends struggling with infertility.

If you're tempted to think, "Well Christine, maybe you really are just being over-sensitive..." I would have to respond strongly to that: Friend, unless you too have experienced the pain that comes with infertility, you really have no grounds for thinking that. You simply cannot imagine the pain of having a desire in your heart for something that you have zero control over. Certainly not to discount the following trials (we too have experienced them and recognize the fear, stress, and pain associated with them), but infertility is not quite the same type of pain as losing a job, hoping for a job/scholarship/degree, or even losing a loved one. Because if you lose your job, you can take action to seek a new one. Sure, it may be hard, stressful, and require big life changes or a move somewhere else, but it is within your power to seek a new job. And because when you lose a loved one, you only lose that loved one ONE time, not month after month. There is some finality in losing a loved one too - you know for certain that they will not come back, so you can mourn their passing, and move on and allow God to heal your pain.

But infertility is on-going. Month after month your heart goes on an exhausting roller coaster ride of hope, enjoy "trying", waiting in hope, and then disappointment and mourning. Every month that passes where you do not get pregnant, you are having to mourn the dream that will not be born quite yet. Plus, you have to deal with your period...a big, red, slap in the face is never a fun thing.

Since I've been struggling with infertility, at first I would quickly take offense when something hurt me, hold onto that grudge and avoid/ignore the person who hurt me, and finally, weeks or months later forgive them. I'm getting better about this and learning to show more grace to others, with the Lord's help. But I also now have a passion for educating my friends and family about the pain associated with infertility - perhaps they have acted insensitively because they don't know how else to respond.

So friends who are struggling with infertility, show GRACE and lots of it. You're going to need it. Just look at it as a great opportunity to practice showing forgiveness to others even when they don't ask for it. Not easy I know, but it is what God asks of us:

Colossians 3:12-13
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Ephesians 4:31-32
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

And for friends of those struggling with infertility, here is a quick list of ways to encourage them and things to say if you're unsure (for more advice, I encourage you to read this):
  • Ask how you can pray for her
  • Better yet, tell her that you're praying for her
  • Tell her to hang in there, stay strong, and never give up hope...God is bigger and more powerful than ANYTHING
  • Hugs are always nice
  • If you are pregnant/have a newborn, do your best not to complain about anything you're going through - it's easily interpreted as ungratefulness
  • If you are pregnant or hosting a baby shower for a mutual friend, be sensitive that the shower can be extremely painful and depressing to go to. Be understanding if your friend declines to come. The point is that it's a temptation for your infertile friend to attend - she's tempted to focus on jealous, envious, bitter thoughts. If your husband struggled with sexual purity, you certainly wouldn't want him to attend a strip club would you? Of course not, it's only wise that he avoid situations that lead him into temptation. The same applies to women struggling with infertility - respect her decisions on what she can and cannot handle.
  • When announcing that you are pregnant, tell her by email or letter...over the phone is possibly okay, but could still be hard sometimes. Telling her in person is very hard because your friend will feel obligated to react joyfully even though it's painful to hear of other friends who are expecting. Telling her in person in a public place is the worst possible way to tell her - she will feel trapped and will be fighting to hold back tears.
  • When announcing your pregnancy, if doing so to a group of mutual friends (in a Sunday School class or Bible study group) and your infertile friend will be present, it is wise to tell the friend ahead of time via email/letter as previously mentioned so that she can process the news on her own alone, and will not be caught off guard by your surprise announcement in a group setting. I know you may have a dream of wanting it to be a "Guess what, WE'RE PREGNANT!" sort of moment, but for the infertile friend, that will hurt her deeply. After all, telling the infertile friend ahead of time is a win-win - you're sparing her some additional hurt feelings, and still getting to announce the surprise to others in the group (the non-infertiles).
  • When announcing your pregnancy and "How It Happened", be careful with your phrasing. Implying that it's no big deal, "He just had to walk in the room," "Got it on the first try", and "We weren't really trying" are all very difficult for your infertile friend to hear. Use wisdom in knowing your audience and when to hold your tongue.

Still holding onto hope for this month's cycle, thank you all for your prayers and friendship.

Jeremiah 29:11
'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'

Monday, January 9, 2012


As a New Year's goal, Michael and I each selected a Bible-reading plan from the app on our phones to read the Bible in one year. I chose the chronological plan, so after a few chapters in Genesis, it had me jump over to read the book of Job.

Michael's plan has coincided with reading Job as well, so we've been discussing it a lot lately. More specifically, discussing the question of: is complaining a sin?

To provide some context, in case you've never read Job, it goes something like this:
Once upon a time, there was a righteous man named Job who had lots and lots of possessions, a large, happy family, and honored God faithfully with his life. One day, God and Satan were having a conversation and God allowed Satan to test Job because Satan suspected that under trials, Job would curse God. So in a matter of hours, all of Job's possessions (livestock) and all of his children were killed or taken away from him. Job was so upset that he tore his clothes and shaved his head (I'm assuming this was a custom of showing grief back then), but still, Job did not curse God. In fact, after cursing himself and the day he was born, he still had the faithfulness to say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." [WOW!]
As if the above wasn't bad enough, God then allowed Satan to strike Job with boils from head to toe so that he was physically suffering in pain too. Job's wife even pressured Job to curse God, but Job replied "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?"

What an amazing response, so grounded in his resolve to love the Lord no matter what. It's true though, God is not only worthy of praise during the "highs" in our lives, but during the "lows" too.

The rest of Job is discussion back and forth between Job and his "friends" - Job cursing himself and questioning God about why this has befallen him, but never cursing him, and then Job's "friends" rebuking Job for being sinful. It's a little hard to understand because it's written in poetic form, but there is no doubt that Job is complaining about what has happened to him.

This raised the question in my mind of: is complaining sin? I had previously thought it was sinful to complain. But after some further reading, "complain" is only mentioned 5 times in the New Testament, but only two verses stand out to me as addressing this question:

James 5:9
Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.


1 Peter 4:9
Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

After contemplating these verses, and talking to Michael, I don't think the act of complaining is in and of itself a sin, but I think it breeds room for other sins to creep in more easily (selfishness, bitterness, etc.) As Michael wisely put it, complaining may not be wrong, but is it beneficial? I would of course answer no, most often complaining is not beneficial and only leads me to focus on myself.

In the context of this trial of infertility, it's easy and natural for me to complain about a lot of things. My takeaway from this, is that if I feel the need to complain, I should do so to God, just like Job did. It's okay to ask God why something has happened to you. It's not okay to blame Him or curse Him, but I think it's part of us having a relationship with Him to question Him and express confusion over something in our lives we do not understand. But ultimately, we should keep faith and hope in Him amidst trials in our lives. I like how Job does this in these two verses:

Job 13:14
Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.

Job 14:14
All the days of my struggle I will wait
Until my change comes.

I love that last one, I will wait until my change comes. Lord, I pray that my change comes soon!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Worry Wart

Sometimes that title describes me well. Today is one of those days where it aptly fits how I'm feeling. Full of worry, anxiety, and concern about several things. Allow me to elaborate...

I track my temperature daily as part of trying to conceive. The background on this practice is described well at this website, but the basics are that you should see a noticeable shift in temperatures shortly after you ovulate, which is a way of confirming that you've ovulated (temps should rise after ovulation, and remain higher until right before your period starts, assuming you're not pregnant).

So from my update about my appointment with Dr. H. on the 28th and how she said I would ovulate that same day or the next (28th or 29th), my temps should have started to rise on the 29th or 30th and should be higher now than they were prior to those dates. Well, they haven't changed much at all, so that is what spurred the worry wart in me to come out this morning.

Worries such as:
Did I not ovulate this month?
Did we not time intercourse appropriately?
Was Dr. H. wrong?
I am getting over a cold...did that sickness halt the process building up to ovulation and now it will be delayed (meaning that I still have not yet ovulated)?
I hate taking my temperature!!
It's not going to happen this month either, is it?

Isn't it amazing how quickly your mind can fill with thoughts of worry? It's like zero to worry in six seconds...it's the sports car of my mind, the Worry Ferrari.

Thankfully, I was instantly aware of the fact that I was worrying about something that, in the big picture, is not something worth worrying about. So that led me to start praying right away for strength to take every thought captive and to let go of all anxiety about this. After all, like Luke 12:25 says, who can add a day to their lifespan by worrying? Perhaps the better question is who can conceive a child by worrying? It certainly does not contribute anything positive to that endeavor. And no matter what temperatures say, God is bigger and greater than anything and everything. If he can conceive a child in a virgin's womb, then he can conceive a child in a womb that has lower temps than fertility experts say it should have at a certain time in her cycle - if He wants to.

Those positive thoughts and time of prayer helped bring me back to a place of waiting in hope. My goal today is to reject every worrisome thought that enters my mind and attempts to rob me of my hope. I desire to remain in the place of waiting in hope. I desire to be patient. I desire to enjoy this time in my life when it's just the two of us, and enjoy it to the fullest.

As a result of today, I have begun to pray for direction about a decision: should I continue charting my temperatures or not? I am seeking the Lord's guidance on what's best for me. After all, if charting temps is only causing me stress and leading me into the temptation of being a worry wart, then perhaps it's time to let it all go. I would still be using the progesterone cream that Dr. S. prescribed me, I would just base my doses on calendar dates of my cycle (set reminders for Day 6, 16, and 30 since my cycles average about 30 days in length). So if you're reading this, I'd appreciate prayer that the Lord would make it perfectly clear to me what I should decide about this - to track or not to track temps. Thank you so much!

In closing, I want to share some uplifting Bible verses that pertain to "waiting in hope" and seeking the Lord during that time. Be blessed my friends!

Psalms 25:5
Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day.

Psalms 130:5
I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.

Isaiah 40:31
Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Lamentations 3:25
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.

Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good News

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had a follow-up appointment with Dr. H. scheduled for the 28th to do another ultrasound and help us plan the timing a bit better. Well, the appointment was rescheduled to the 29th because Dr. H. had to go to the hospital for a delivery, but it worked out better for me anyway.

She did another ultrasound, which by the way, both ultrasounds were done vaginally...have you ever seen what they use to do that? It's a little intimidating, but after experiencing it, it's no big deal and is more comfortable than the speculum, a.k.a. the dreaded duck beak.

Anyways, the ultrasound showed images of my uterus and ovaries, and according to Dr. H., everything "looks great." She informed me that I will ovulate on the left side again this month (it's a myth that you alternate ovaries each month) and that according to the size of the egg's cyst in the left ovary (20 mm), I was likely to ovulate that evening or the next day, so timing sex that evening would be ideal. Good to know ;)

I was so thankful that Michael was able to come with me this time and meet Dr. H. as well and be there for the ultrasound. We both feel confident that at this time, we should just keep trying the old fashioned way, and focus on growing our faith in the Lord for now. Lord willing, we'll successfully conceive without additional medical help.

If you feel led, I'd appreciate prayer for me to keep my focus on the Lord and my husband, and that I would enjoy this time of waiting prior to children, and would have a heart full of joy and thankfulness as I practice being patient. Thank you!

Songs of the Heart

These are a few songs that speak to my heart and encourage me to keep my hope in the Lord and trust in Him for giving me the desires of my heart. Hope you enjoy them!

John Waller - While I'm Waiting

Psalm 5:3, 27:14, 33:20, 37:7, 38:15, 40:1, Isaiah 30:18, Lamentations 3:24

John Waller says: "The explanation for this song is simple, I was waiting on God and I was hurting when I wrote the lyrics. I probably wouldn’t have written a song if my friend, Mike, hadn’t encouraged me to document what I was going through during that time. I’m sure there are few people who can’t relate to this song, but the important thing to remember while we’re waiting on God is to not just wait but to actively wait. Serve, worship and be faithful with what you have, where you are… even while (you) wait."

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

JJ Heller - Your Hands

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That You would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crookedly lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth
You healed the broken, lost, and hurt
I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right
Yeah, one day You will set all things right

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands

Your hands
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still
Your hands that shape the world
Are holding me, they hold me still

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave You

When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave...
I never leave Your hands

Chris Tomlin - Our God

Water You turned into wine
Open the eyes of the blind
There's no one like You
None like You
Into the darkness You shining
Out of the ashes we rise
There's no one like You
None like You

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...

Into the darkness you shining
Out of the ashes we Rise
There's no One like You
None like You.

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
What can stand against?

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who can ever stop us
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
Then what can stand against?
Then what can stand against?

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God...

Kutless - What Faith Can Do

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you're stronger, stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

Overcome the odds
You don't have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can!

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
That's what faith can do!
Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise