My Friend’s Baby Shower

There have been some very blogable things happening over the past two weeks. I’ll start with the rough stuff then move on to the good stuff.

Rough stuff: My now very-pregnant friend’s shower last Sunday, 8/18. (The friend I mention here and here.) I had been dreading it all week, and on Friday night J and I went out to Target to grab a couple things and buy her a shower gift. That pretty much kicked off my weekend of anxiety and hijacked my mood for the next 48 hours. My other good friend (who has secretly miscarried before) asked why I didn’t just get her a gift card, and to be honest it didn’t even occur to me. You know those socially acceptable things about being a girl and giving someone a gift, you have to look good by giving someone a nice gift and wrapping it prettily. Well, I couldn’t be the one that got her a (excuse my language) half-ass gift. I was not going to be that girl that got her a gift card on top of being the odd woman out at the party, the one whose sad story everyone knew. The whole point of a shower is to see fun gifts! So I put together a cute little green and pink bag with pink shimmery tissue paper, and even did a mini craft project with the card — look how cute this is!

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Sometimes when I need to feel like my old carefree, fun self I do something crafty — you know, scrapbook-oriented. It was 15 minutes of pure bliss amidst the touch-and-go weekend.

All day Saturday I was a ball of nerves. I dreamed that I showed up to the shower without a gift, which is the worst of all social offenses. In the dream I remember thinking well they won’t say anything to me because, well you know. (Really?) By Sunday morning, I wasn’t sure I could go through with it. I texted my mother in law and my oldest sister and asked them to pray for me. (Notice I did not text my mom. Refer to my earlier post for that explanation.)

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My sister, bless her heart, does not get it. She prayed with me, but she also tried to cheer me up by saying, “Just be happy for her,” and “Try to have fun.” Which in most other situations would be a nice way to console someone — it just doesn’t work for someone who has recently miscarried and is going to her oldest, dearest friend’s baby shower who was pregnant with her. (Fun?! Is she serious?) First time I’ve seen my friend since the day she told me she was pregnant, by the way. First time I’ve seen her since my miscarriage. First time I’ve seen her belly.

My mother in law offered the perfect words to comfort me. She always does. When J and I were dating, and even when we got married, I never thought his mom and I would be that close. Not that I didn’t like her — I like her a lot — we just have very different personalities and energy levels (she has energy, LOL). When I miscarried that all changed. She experienced two miscarriages between J and his little sister, one at 11 weeks, so she knows exactly what it feels like. She never tries to cheer me up with empty words, but tells me things like, “Your time is coming…I feel it in my heart” and “You are so much stronger than you even knew a few months ago” and “If you get back into your car and need to cry like a baby, it’s ok. Remember you just faced another hurdle and came through it.” She gave me the huge boost I needed that morning to get in my car and go.

I don’t know if it was the prayers or just the fact that the build-up for something bad is always worse than the actual thing, but I not only survived the shower — I kind of (gasp!) enjoyed it. I’m not going to throw out the word “fun” though, that’s a bit of a stretch. But I think I was convincingly at ease. Which is huge because this was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do in months. Maybe my mother in law is right, maybe I am stronger now.

I hugged my friend and didn’t focus on her belly. Sure, I had my moments, but I left that day not feeling an awkward silence or shedding one tear in front of people (which was my greatest fear). I wrote something kind in her card, and I think I succeeded in making her feel special and loved — not feeling like the friend that is having a baby while I’m not, but letting her know she is my oldest, dearest friend whom I am truly happy for.

I think if my friend were having a boy I might have been inconsolable. I don’t know how to explain that, but I think it would have been a lot harder to endure that day.

But luckily, she is having a girl.

J’s Job

J is having a really hard time right now. He just got passed up for a job opportunity he was really excited about — and to be honest, pretty desperate for. He’s really sad today, and it just makes me sad for him.

He has a job right now, it’s not that he’s unemployed or there is a real threat of him losing his current job. We do realize that we are blessed, and are grateful beyond measure for God’s provision. It’s just a really hard time for him.

J’s the kind of person that puts all of himself into his work. He works really hard, and wants to do a good job, not just get by. He finds real purpose in his work, and he wants to give everything he can to making sure a job is done well. I don’t think I’ve met a lot of people like him, and I’m not just saying that because I’m his wife. He’s honest, sincere, and commits to things. You can count on him. He looks for ways to make things better, doesn’t always just accept them as they are. He even teaches himself new skills and reads up on the industry in his spare time (who does that?). And to top it all off, he’s smart. So he’s a real asset to any employer.

The trouble is, most of his employers and co-workers have seriously underminded and undervalued him, not to mention disrespected him. He has ended up in the types of jobs that have very low employee morale, because of the way the companies are managed and the people there. And ironically, I have had some of the best jobs — with people who value me, truly listen to me, give me opportunities to shine, and are understanding. The people I have worked for are amazing — and I keep trying to tell him that they are out there!

He’s been in two jobs back to back that have slowly crushed his spirit everyday. And he was unemployed for a full year prior to these jobs, being laid off from his first (great) job unexpectedly. He spent hours every weekday that year committing to his search like it was his actual job, with nothing coming from it for a long time. The job he got coming out of that was supposed to be great, and he was excited. It turned out to be awful. He was in it for two years. The job he got after that (after he had been looking for a year — again), the one he has currently, looked to be great, and he was excited. It’s far from great. Everyday they seem to put him in his place. He works so hard for them and all they do is tell him what he can be doing better, and he is asked to work overtime a lot and he does it (early mornings, nights, weekends, you name it. It seems like once a week on average he’s working extra for them.) He’s dying to get out of there.

And having been passed up for this exciting opportunity, after he thought he had it in the bag, my heart just aches for him.

Watching him suffer but not being able to do anything about it really wears on me. He has this strong outer exterior and I’ve never really seen him get sad, but the look on his face when he’s going through this stuff is just too much to bear sometimes.

I have to admit we don’t pray a lot together, but after he got a rough review that got him down on Friday I told him I wanted to be more purposeful about us praying together about his job situation. So last night I asked if he would let me pray for him before we went to bed. He’s usually shy about it; he feels awkward praying together, as do I in a way, so that’s why we haven’t much before. Last night he was pretty open to it, he held my hand, we laid facing each other, and I prayed. I prayed for God to open doors for him, for God to show us clearly what He wants us to do, for God to give him strength to endure this job for as long as God wants him in it. And I thanked God for giving us both jobs and blessing us financially.

Then this morning, he got the bad news.

God is showing us — very clearly. This job was not meant for him.

So as much as I want to cry for him today, I’m trying to hold back. For one, he needs me to be strong. I can’t fall apart when he needs someone to lean on. But also, I don’t believe that the timing of our first real prayer together for his job and this news today were coincidental. I know God has His hand on this. And I think God timed it this way so He could show me how much providence He has over this. I just wish I could know what God has in mind, I wish I could tell J that this very rough patch will be over soon after 5 long years, but just like with our miscarriage and trying for a baby, all we can do is give it to God and know that He is working on it. And pray.

I’m praying for an extra dose of faith and strength today — for me and for J.

I love my husband so much.

Therefore we do not lose heart,
Though our outer self is wasting away,
Our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory
far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are unseen;
for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal.

– 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
– Isaiah 41:10

Shall we accept good from God,
and not trouble?
– Job 2:10

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,
shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:6-7

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD,
Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.

– Jeremiah 29:11-13

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought,
Nor cease to yield fruit.

– Jeremiah 17:7-8

Thrilled Today

This is probably my favorite post I’ve done in a while. And it has nothing to do with me.

One of my good friends just told me she’s 12 weeks pregnant. I am THRILLED. 

Let me explain.

If anyone else had called me last night and told me they were pregnant, it would have been a hard pill to swallow. My first emotions wouldn’t be joy or excitement, they would be sadness, frustration, and (okay I’ll admit it) jealousy. It’s not exactly pretty, but it’s true. It’s tough seeing so many pregnancy announcements right now. But with not this friend. 

I am over the moon for her!!!

She and her husband have been trying for two years to get pregnant. I haven’t written about her very much on here, I’m not sure why. She has PCOS, is 36, and has been through two rounds of IVF — both of which became pregnancies, both of which she lost (one at I think around 6 weeks, the next at around 11-12 weeks).

When she got pregnant the second time, she told me at 8 weeks. She was so excited to share the news, as they had passed the dreaded 6-week mark of the last loss and things were looking good. She was hopeful and allowed herself to be excited. I remember wanting to tell her we were trying, but more than that, wanting her to have her moment. I kept quiet.

My heart just broke for her when she told me that they didn’t hear a heartbeat at their 11 week appointment. We had dinner with them just two nights before that appointment, and they were so excited and relieved to be moving along okay. That was in January. At this point, she still didn’t know J and I were trying. I definitely didn’t want to throw that in the mix.

I never told her I was pregnant. We had dinner with her and her husband when I was around 10 weeks, and I almost told her, but just couldn’t at the moment. I had to think of a good way to tell her, and I would before 12 weeks. I just didn’t want her to be sad, which seeing it from the other side now, is pretty much inevitable. There is no good way to tell your friend struggling with infertility that you’re pregnant. Avoiding the topic altogether is pretty much the worst thing you can do, but that’s a topic for another day…

When I miscarried in April, I finally told her. She let me cry on her shoulder. Since then, she has been there for me, and I her. She told me she was taking a break from IVF, if only for a little while, and was doing things like acupuncture, yoga, and starting a book club to keep herself distracted from all of her struggles and grief. She has not only kept her faith in God but has grown in it, minus throwing out a cuss word or two (don’t we all! haha). I admired her while struggling in my own journey to get and stay pregnant, and I strive to be like her.

Fast forward through the spring and summer. She called me last night to share her pregnancy news. She had an embryo transfer in early June, and she is now 12 weeks pregnant. It was so sweet when she called, she said that she wanted to tell me in a more personal way than just through e-mail (we don’t usually call each other). She said they had just told their families the night before. And…she wanted to know how I was handling her news.

How I was! Can you believe that?

I have not been on nearly as treacherous a journey as she has. Two years, and battling infertility. It has taken them real work and real sacrifice to get and stay pregnant, not to mention sheer strength, real faith, and gut-wrenching patience. I can’t imagine that. And she wanted to see how I was doing with her news.

I am so beyond thrilled for her, and I will be praying everyday that this baby grows, stays healthy, and that she makes it to her due date in February. I think I want this for her more than I want to be pregnant myself!

She told me she wants us to be pregnant together. I told her we were working on it! 😉

6 Months

I can’t believe it’s August. It’s hard to fathom that just 6 months ago I got my positive pregnancy test. I had no clue what this year had in store for me, it was just beginning.

February 11th. Ironically I’ve never liked the number 11. Rough things that have happened in my life always seemed to happen on the 11th. One summer in college a guy broke up with me on July 11th. It’s silly, but that’s how I thought. Since it is now the day I officially gave life to my first child, February 11th will always be special to me. “11” is different now.

February 26th. The day things became so different. I found out about our son, and mentally became a mother. I knew, probably better than most, that the pregnancy wasn’t guaranteed and that anything could go wrong (I read way too much, and had a close friend who had just miscarried twice). But as the weeks went by, I leaned in little by little. By the week before my miscarriage, I was able to talk about November as if it were really going to come.

April 20th. The day that will forever be etched in my mind. Some people say years later that they had forgotten the actual day they miscarried. I don’t have that luxury since it was my birthday. Not just any birthday, but my 30th birthday. But I honestly don’t know that I’d want to forget. That day has made me who I am even now, and it will continue to mold me through the years. Every birthday going forward, I will have a reason to think about and remember my son. I almost think it was God’s way of helping me to never forget him, nor the abounding grace God gave me in that season of my life. Since that day my whole outlook and understanding of life has changed — on God’s love, on the wonderful partnership of marriage, on a mother’s love for her child, on loving others who are crying out for love, on grief and what people need, on the compassion people need and want, on tiny life and how much of a miracle it is (even though I’ve always had a huge heart for the unborn).

How has it been 4 months since that day? Some days I could barely keep my head up and my eyes dry to keep on going. Other days, by God’s infinite grace, were not just not bad, they were good. I laughed. I loved. I did fun things, and I enjoyed life. I never forgot, but I did move on.

I still cannot believe it took me almost 3 months to heal. That doesn’t sound like a long time, but looking back, it was extremely difficult for me. Mostly because I just wanted to be pregnant again, and during that time I couldn’t do anything about that just yet. But also because everything I read said that miscarriage healing can take anywhere from 2-10 days. DAYS. They lie. I learned that the hard way, but I also learned that God will allow my full healing in His time. It was extremely hard to wait on His timing, and to deal with every physical and emotional rough patch along the way,

Now that I’m at a point where I can try again, it’s a whole new stress. I’d almost probably prefer to go back to that time, because I wasn’t nervous or wanting something so badly, right then. That all took a hiatus by nature. Sure, I was scared of what my body was doing, but I was so focused on healing that I didn’t even begin to think about the whole process of trying again just yet. It was kind of freeing. Granted, I was pretty impatient and felt like I was stuck in a holding pattern, but now that I’ve been released into this next stage, it’s just as unnerving. Just in a different way. I also somehow wasn’t bombarded by pregnancy announcements during those 3 months. God was definitely steering me away from them, and I’m very grateful to Him for that. It’s hard enough seeing them now — I can only imagine how hard it would have been then.

I’m rambling. I feel like I’m rambling. It’s Saturday morning and J had to go to work for a fundraising thing this morning, so I hopped on here. I’ll wrap this up.

Yesterday I was thinking, dang, I would have been 6 months pregnant right now. All of the life things that are coming to pass are happening not the way I planned. I look down at my flat belly and think, “I would’ve been ‘this’ big by now.” I rarely think this way, but the closer it gets to fall the harder it will be. I saw pre-season football on TV the other day and thought, it’s almost fall. September is just around the corner. Then October. Then November. Then Christmas. The thought of my favorite time of year, surrounded by family I love, without the baby I thought I’d have, makes me wistful. My heart just can’t quite wrap itself around that reality, no matter how well I’m doing. And it’s only August…what’s it going to be like when November and December are actually here?

November 4th. It will be hard. Even if I am pregnant again by then (and I hope for my sanity that I will be), that day will be unreal. I wonder if they celebrate birthdays in heaven. I wonder if they would celebrate William’s birthday on April 20th or November 4th, when he would’ve really made his entrance into this world. I have a hard time thinking of April 20th as his birthday, because to me, he died that day. They aren’t one and the same. No, November 4th is his day. It always will be.

May 13th. This is the day I would be due if I conceived this cycle. It doesn’t belong with these other dates, but I’m holding out hope that it will.

God, give me grace to get through this next month. Give me the grace and strength I need to get through November 4th, to honor William on that day. Pour out your love on me through the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, when I am going to need you more than ever. Help me to love others the way You love them, no matter how much they seem to have it together. Because I sure needed love.

And please, fulfill my heart’s desire for May 13th.

You are sovereign. You are omniscient. You are all-powerful. You love me in a way I cannot fathom. I give this journey to You.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
In Him my heart trusts; and I am helped;
My heart exults;
And with my song I give thanks to Him.
-Psalm 28:7

Wait for the Lord;
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
And wait for the Lord.

-Psalm 27:14

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves the crushed in spirit.
-Psalm 34:18

Struggling Yet Looking Ahead

Just a few things to mention and then I need to hop off here and get some real work done today:

BFN1. I got my lovely monthly friend yesterday. I went all weekend with what seemed like pregnancy symptoms and my period was a few days late, so I was convinced I was pregnant. The minute I pulled in the driveway from Nashville, I took a pregnancy test — and got a Big. Fat. Ugly. In-Your-Face. Negative. I had a good cry, and then I couldn’t get myself to stop crying for a couple hours.

The next day (yesterday) I started very lightly spotting, and then by nighttime yesterday, in the meanest way possible, the witch came back. In full force. I’m talking lower back ache and uterine aches that even a heating pack couldn’t help. And I never really had a lot of pain with periods before my m/c. She really wanted me to know that she was there and there was no putting her to rest. And that my bodily signals and symptoms are all completely different — almost reversed — now, so that each two week wait post-miscarriage is going to feel like mental torture. Witch.

Whatever, on to cycle #2 (I almost want to call it #4, but since this is a fresh start, we’ll call it #2).

2. In a full twist of irony, my pregnant friend (this one) called today while I was on Amazon looking for my first basal thermometer and the OPKs I didn’t think I’d have to buy just a few days ago. What’s more, we chatted about her recent and upcoming baby showers — one that I will be attending next weekend (not that she brought it up, it just somehow came up, heck it’s a huge part of her life). Part of me is okay with the thought of going, because I love my friend and I think if I let it, it could be fun. The other part of me pictures sitting down in a circle with other folks watching her open baby gifts, or seeing other people smile and touch her belly, and feels crushed at the thought of it. At least it’s a couples shower and I can drag J with me. There are silver linings (aka God’s grace) to even the worst things, you just have to look for them.

3. Next month (and all proceeding months ttc) I vow to not pay ANY attention to symptoms. Literally the only symptom I care about now is if I get really, really tired. Then there might be a slight possibility that it just happens to be my month. Just so I can look back on this and see what I mean, let me share with you my symptoms from this two week wait that are typically early pregnancy symptoms (at least, they were for me before):  Soft cervix. Tired off and on. Menstrual-type aches that came and went. Extra saliva in my mouth, all the time. Sort of sore nipples there at the end (always sore boobs). Cloudy urine (that I’ve only ever had when pregnant). Hunger earlier in the day. Growling/gurgling stomach before and after eating. Vivid dreams for days in a row.

toy story humorThere were other, minor things, but those were the main symptoms. Never again will I pay any attention to these things. It is almost like my body/menstrual cycle did a 180 when I miscarried, and everything is different now. I think even my cycles are a bit longer (that could have been stress this month, or it could be that my luteal phase shifted).

Come to think of it, I never really had EWCM this month. They say miscarriage can affect your CM too, so maybe I should look into pre-seed or something. I don’t want to get technical or controlling with all of this, but if I can spot that now as a problem, why not try something to help it?

4. I’m not looping my mother in to any more of this experience, at least not until I’m pregnant again. Every time I want someone to talk to, she pretty much just retorts with “you just need to relax” and goes into a lecture about that. I’m done hearing it. I’m glad for her that she was surprised when she got pregnant — all 5 times — and that she can’t believe miscarriage happens so often because it never happened to her or many other people we know. I’m glad for her that she could relax about such a meaningful, huge aspect of her life. But I no longer can take being told to “just relax” as if it’s so easy to do with something hugely life-changing, something you want so desperately. For myself, I will try that. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to actually relax, though. I will simply continue to strive for letting this go daily and not obsessing over it …giving it to God daily. But only because I know it helps, in so many ways other than just better chances for conception. It helps me. But it’s not because I’ve heard it so much from others that — oh! oh! — I’m convinced! Why have I not been just relaxing all along?! What was I thinking, it’s so simple!! …Uh, no.  (Like my Chandler reference? haha)

So here we go with cycle #2. Today is day 2. Hoping this is my month… hoping May is. ♥

Sometimes You Need a Good Slap in the Face

Just want to put it out there so I don’t forget that I have plenty of good days in between the rough ones — I feel kind of at peace this morning.

It’s almost like I had to test early so I could get that needed slap in the face. The kind of thing that hurts, but feels good in a sense. It’s kind of freeing.

I’m free to have a fun weekend in Nashville with my mom without obsessing over what the stick’s going to say when I get back — because I’ve already tested. Yeah, it was probably too early… but if I keep in mind that the likelihood of me being pregnant this cycle is 15-20%, then after having taken my first test, I’m free to start thinking about other things. Or at least, I’m more motivated to try to.

trust

This wave of peace came out of nowhere, but I’ll take it. There are seasons where you feel like your prayers are just bouncing back, even though deep down you know that’s not true. You wonder where God is in all of this and if He’s even doing anything. But on days like this when I feel His peace, I’m reminded God is faithful and hears me when I pray. Not only that, but He’s actively working on my behalf, working everything out for good. Even when I can’t see it.

He will even use this experience to use me to comfort others who are suffering, if I don’t hinder His work in my heart right now. If I become bitter and persistently angry, He can’t use me. What good is that?

Yesterday afternoon I was in a stinky mood, didn’t really feel like singing to God. But I made myself. Within probably one minute, I was instantly encouraged and joyful. I even found myself putting my hands in the air and pouring out my heart to God in praise. So many times when I’m in that kind of bad mood it’s practically impossible to make myself praise Him, but I learned something important yesterday.

Just make yourself. Start singing. 

The hardest part is getting started. After that, it begins to flow. And if it doesn’t flow right away, just keep singing. It will.

trust His heart

Yesterday I was taken back to that week after I lost W…the week when I threw myself down at the throne of God and just wept in front of Him. I got angry with Him, yet I praised Him for giving W life and allowing me to be a part of it. I had never felt more alive, more loved, more cared for… more part of God’s bigger plan in this thing. It was such a sorrowful, yet sweet time. God opened my eyes to how much He loves me and J, and how much He loves W. And I felt that again yesterday as I was singing and weeping before Him. The one thing He wanted so desperately for me to grasp was how much He loves me. And for a minute, I stopped thinking about me and what I want. I allowed Him to embrace me as His child whom He loves so, so much. I felt His love like never before. The kind of love that does what’s best for you even though it’s not what you think you want, the kind that knows better and does something for you anyway because ultimately it leads to a result that is way better than you thought, or could have imagined for yourself.

I’m going to go into a little side story, but bear with me here.

My sweet grandfather died when I was four. My mom has always told me that I had a special relationship with him out of all the grandkids, but sadly to this day I don’t remember him very well. I never knew my dad’s father well, either, because he never came around much. I’ve always wanted to have more years with my mom’s father, the one who was apparently so special to me, and me to him. I can only imagine how close we’d be now.

He was one of the first people I thought of after I lost W. I’m not sure why, but he just came to mind a lot that first week. My mom said she had thoughts of him that week as well. It was like God was showing us that he was in heaven looking after W for us.

My grandfather’s name was William.

We named our son after him.

It means guardian … protector. Fitting for both of them.

——————————————————-

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will direct your path.
Proverbs 3:5-6