Sunday, June 27, 2010

There I day out of confession.

There I day out of confession, walking into Mass this morning with my daughter on one hand and my husband on the other, a smile on my face and then I see them...the couple that has to be about our age that sit all the way across our stadium style sanctuary (ie., I've never gotten to meet them because they jet after Mass)... so I have no idea who these people are, but they have a little boy around Isabel's age, and then another little boy who must be under a year.  I've watched them Sunday after Sunday from across the sanctuary as their family has grown...I was always a little envious when she got pregnant with her second.  And as we are walking across the parking lot, this husband is letting the wife out at the front of the church so she can take in her two boys and she turns to the side as she gets out, and lo and behold if she is not 8 months pregnant with her third baby! 

Oh I just wanted to crumple into the pavement!  I even said something out loud like, "you have got to be kidding me, Lord!"....and then of course I immediately regretted even having thoughts like this!!  Why should I be overcome in this wave of envy??  Because that is the situation I think I should be in?? 

I knelt down to pray before Mass began and asked for forgiveness for feeling this way.  And then this thought just came to me that I am right where God wants me. 

I am right where God wants me.  For some reason He has chosen this path for me.  And whatever that path is, as long as I am striving to know and do His will, that is where God wants me.

I felt a few minutes of peace and tried to keep my eyes from wandering past the altar to where they sit.  It's not that I felt resentment towards these people!  Not at all!  In fact, they look like a great, faithful young couple with a beautiful family that I'd like to get to know!  It's just that the "picture" of their family is where I thought I would be...where I thought God would want me.

Fast-forward to homily time and we have a new priest this Sunday who is filling in while one of our regular priests is away for the summer; I was eager to hear how he preached and what he would have to say.

Here are the main point notes that I took (yes, I am one of those people who pulls out a pad of paper and tries to take discreet notes during the homily sometimes!):

*Close companionship with Jesus may require we walk the lonely walk to Golgotha.

Woah Lord, ummm...yeah, it does feel pretty lonely being the only couple in my group of friends who is going through difficulty conceiving.

*Yes Lord, I understand.  I know there's a cost involved and come what may I still want to follow You.

You're right, Lord.  There is a cost involved.  Not just the suffering and isolation of this secondary infertility and losing our babies, but the cost that comes from finding moral ways to regain my fertility; moral ways to have a baby while still following You.  (By this I mean the cost of friends or family who become distanced because they just don't understand why it is not an option for me to go out and use certain fertility treatments to have a them it seems so simple:  just go do IVF and quit complaining about not having a baby; get on with your life.  This is a "cost" to me...that the beautiful truth of following the teachings of the Catholic church is not recognized as such). 

*The cost then dearly and radically changed their lives forever to a wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ.

For me, the cost of secondary infertility/losing babies has definitely changed my life forever.  The thought of following church teaching on fertility treatments is radical to some people.  The fact that losing babies has made my desire for more children increase to what the Lord will allow me to have, may also be radical to some people.    Do I have a wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Why would I continue to follow on this difficult path if not for love of Jesus?

Sure I stumble, often!  The path is difficult, stony, sometimes uphill!  But I am headed somewhere.  I am traveling through this earth to heaven...that is my destination!  And no journey is without it's snares and pitfalls. 

But I continue on in the midst of the "cost":  sometimes ridicule, insult, insensitivity, hurt feelings, misunderstanding...I continue on for love of Jesus.  I gather my strength from the sacraments and prayers and the Bible, from friends and family who give their support.

It takes courage.  It takes reflection.  It takes humility to know when you've taken the wrong step.  But for the love of Jesus I can continue on through it all.

Bring it!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Starting anew: My first NaPro Appointment!

 I've been away from the computer this week and it has been great!  We spent a week at my parent's house visiting, explored the Pisgah National Forest and some amazing waterfalls with Isabel, and celebrated both Father's Day and my birthday on Sunday with my family!  Not that I'm too happy about having turned the big three-oh...

So that explains why I've been MIA for the last week, now let me fill you in on my first NaPro appointment!

I initially came away from my first Natural Procreative Technology (NaPro) appointment feeling a bit disappointed, I'm sorry to say. But this was only because I had this completely unreasonable hope/expectation/dream that I would walk into this appointment and simply based on the information I gave the doctor, she would send me home with a baby in my arms.  (Yes!  I told you it was unreasonable!)   So after I got over that idea, I was extremely pleased with the way my new doc handled things.

I was going to march into her office and demand that she be aggressive with my care because I was sick of wasting my time trying things on my own that didn't work. But I didn't have to do that!  She immediately ordered all kinds of tests to get us started on figuring out what is not working in my fertility department.

This is what she ordered:
*Semen Analysis for Rob  (she was surprised this had never been ordered by even my regular OB)
*Follicle Ultrasound Series (measure length x width x height of dominant follicles and if possible the presence or absence of cumulus oophorus (no clue!).  Perform daily until follicle rupture completed.
*Estradiol levels checked every other day from cycle day 13 to P+2
*Estradiol and Progesterone levels checked on P+3, 5, 7, 9.
*TSH, Free T4, Free T3 (no clue)
*Free Testosterone, DHEAS

Anyway we talked about how my uterus is retroverted (what I was told at my ectopic level II ultrasound) and she noted that it is actually retroflexed.  She said that it would not make any difference in my conceiving.  She said that my uterus was "small"...which was kind of a strange thing for her to note (?) Anyway, the good news is that I can go and get all these things done here at home and she will call me once she gets all the results in and we will go from there.

She reviewed my charts and wanted to see one that was natural/med-free and of course I didn't have one except for back around my year of losses 2008-2009 (because I had simply been using to chart my temps and all the other details from about June 2009-January 2010.  When she looked at those old charts though, she noticed that I did not have alot of fertile cervical mucus and she said that can be a sign of endometriosis....also asked about pain during intercourse (probably too much info for a blog) and also about PMS, moodiness, irritability before my period.  And I certainly do get the irritability!  My dear husband can attest to that!  So apparently all those things can be signs of endometriosis.

I asked her who I would go to if I needed any kind of surgery and told her that I knew there was a difference between OBs who'd been surgically trained in NaPro and she gave me the name of a doctor Pat.rick at Duke, but she said sometimes it's hard to get in to him unless you already have an established case history of endo.  Apparently he is surgically NaPro trained but not CFCMC?  I think that's what she said.  I was super excited to have an option right here in my own backyard in case I need it!  That is awesome!

So then I get back to my parent's house (they live about 1 hr from this new doc's I drove to their house and let Grammy watch Isabel while I went to the OB on my own)....anyway I get back to their house and tell my mom about the appointment and then a little later she pulls out this article from the Catholic News & Herald....well guess what?  It's a talk about infertility with a panel discussion between my new OB and this Patr.ick Yeun.g guy!!!  My mom didn't even know my new doc's name!  The main talk is going to be by Sister Rene.e Mir.kes the director of the NaProEthics Center at Pope Paul VI Institute!  I was super excited, but of course it falls on a date that I will not be able to attend :(  But really cool that my OB is involved!  I told her flat out that we were Catholic at the beginning of the appointment and she did not volunteer any info about herself, so I wasn't 100% sure.

But I was very pleased that (as I expected) there was no talk/suggestion/pressure about IUI or IVF, and she even explained about the ethical/moral way to obtain a semen analysis!  It was just such a different I didn't have to be on the defensive about why I these other fertility procedures weren't an option for me...I didn't have to explain any of that!  Because her mindset wasn't "let's throw some pills at you or sign you right up for these procedures to get you pregnant", but "let's figure out why you aren't getting pregnant and treat it"!  What a difference...and I came out of the appointment feeling respected; like my beliefs not only mattered, but that she understood and agreed that we need to solve the problem, not just put a band-aid on it.

So overall, I am very pleased!  The only thing I am not pleased about is how my body DID NOT COOPERATE in the ovulation department for the first month ever!  I'll tell you what the problem is's the darn Fertilaid I took....oh I thought I'd just finish off the last couple of pills from last month's bottle.  Terrible idea!  It has completely screwed up my cycle and thrown it out of whack.  I still have not yet ovulated and I'm on's looking pretty annovulatory for me this month.  I'm just hoping my period will show up.  Turns out that because I had already had a recurrent m/c panel run by my regular OBGYN, my NaPro doc did not take any blood...she wants to see those results first.

It definitely feels like a fresh start; like I'm starting anew in this journey....instead of just trying to have another baby, we're now trying to figure out what's wrong and fix it!  And that feels like the right step!  And hopefully it will lead us to bringing home a baby one day.

Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers!  I would have never known/learned about/ventured into this area of Natural Procreative Technology without many of you!  There are so many blogs that I read and just gather up so much information and learn so much from your shared experiences!  I just love it and wanted to let you know that I am so thankful for your sharing!  For so long, my own story has been about an intimate sharing of our loss of Mary Grace and our other babies, and while God has been working in me through that, it really feels like a new chapter has begun and a new "flower of my life" if you will, is I'm excited to see how it blossoms!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Life doesn't stop....and I am not in control!

There are some days like today when I give in to the self-pity.  When I let myself pause just long enough in remembering my time with Mary Grace that the grief floods back in.

It rarely happens now.  But it happened today.

As time continues to go by, it has become easier to acknowledge that other people are going to continue to get pregnant around me.  Life doesn't end just because my baby didn't make it.  People don't just stop getting pregnant simply because (for a reason only God knows right now) I can't.

And while I'm happy for all of the pregnant women out there, particularly for those who have suffered through pregnancy losses and/or infertility issues, every now and then that sense of loss and hopelessness sweeps in and covers over me. 

When my heart gets filled to the breaking point with this pain, Jesus is there.

Jesus has always been there.

He is waiting to cradle me in His arms, like the baby I long to cradle in mine.


I know God is up there shaking His head at me.  I made this doctor's appointment thinking I would be 3 days past ovulation (since she told me to come in as close to O as I could)....

Guess what happened yesterday?  Oh yeah, as of right now it looks like I ovulated....YESTERDAY!  I full 3 days ahead of schedule, making me 6dpo on the day of my appointment!  That is almost halfway through my two week wait!  (Since this will be my first appointment, I'm not sure how big of a deal being off by 3 days will make as far as how much information the doctor will be able to attain.)  And I'm not really sure why God has planned it this way, other than to try to show me that He is yet again in charge of everything which I believe I am in control of!

Is this some strange lesson that I just have to keep relearning??  Or maybe I've never learned it after everything that's happened?  Is that possible that I haven't learned that I'm not in control of my fertility???

And there is that image again of Jesus calling me to Him...waiting to hold me.

If I can just...surrender the "control".

Photo: David Bowman’s painting titled Security

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Faith Story.

I am a cradle-Catholic.  Born to a very devout Catholic mother who took us to Mass every Sunday, and a father who was raised Baptist, but would attend Mass with us on Easter and Christmas.  I have to say that without my mom's life of prayers, rosaries, selfless ministering to others, Mass attendance and insistence that we at the very least respect God and go to church every Sunday that we lived in her household, I would never have made it to where I am in my walk with God today.  Thanks, Mom.

Having grown up in NC, my friends were mostly Baptist or other protestant denominations.  Around middle school I was eager to go with them to their youth groups as our Catholic youth group was definitely lacking, and of course you want to be with your friends!  But that never drew me away from Catholicism, instead it increased my desire to learn more about why we had some very different beliefs....and to draw my own conclusions about where I wanted to belong.

In high school I had my first serious boyfriend and during that time I veered "off-course" and decided to do my own thing (which was basically a life full of sin)...until he dumped me.  I was a depressed mess for awhile after that until I went to a Catholic conference where a speaker was telling us about people in the audience who needed to be healed...and then said, "there is a young girl here who is suffering from a broken heart".. well that could have been someone else in the audience, but I knew that person was speaking about me and from that point my heart opened again to God's mercy and love.  I attended a Franciscan University of Steubenville retreat in Atlanta that lit my heart on fire for God!  I was getting back on the right path!

My senior year of high school I graduated half a semester early and loved this!  I was able to spend my mornings at daily Mass and literally hung around the church, praying, embracing the quiet calmness, talking to God.  At that point I started to consider a vocation to the religious life.  I was so in love with Jesus, that I thought I didn't need to go to college....I just needed to get into a convent somewhere so that I wouldn't have to worry about all the outside influences that tempted me, drawing me into sin! 

Well it seemed the only person excited about this idea was a Franciscan brother at our parish!  He gave me some information and I contacted some Dominican sisters in Tennessee who told me that I needed to attend college first as they were primarily a teaching community!  Oh was I disappointed, but between the sisters and my parents I realized college must come first. 

I decided that if I had to go to college I needed to go to a Catholic one.  And I applied to Belmont Abbey outside of Charlotte, NC.  Well Belmont Abbey brought the best and yet sadly, most sinful years of my life.  I wanted to major in theology, but was discouraged by several people not to go that route as it would provide limited work opportunities.  I was free to get into credit card debt, go to parties, indulge myself in sin...I would slip back and forth between sin and sanctity there...I wanted to be good, but I was soooooo tempted to be bad.  And more often than not, would give in to the temptation.

But Belmont Abbey would give me some of my very best friends...forever friends, as some would say.  God wanted me at that college too, because that is where I would meet my future husband. 

From Austin, Texas, my future husband had travelled to this small Catholic college in NC.  Before we even started dating I thought he would be marriage material.  God surely has a way of lining things up!  Both my parents had moved from a tiny little city an hour north of Austin all the way to fact, all of our relatives were still back in Texas.  And then in strolls this Catholic Texas boy and I knew he was for me! Little did we know, a year or two before Rob and I met, we had actually both been in the same city in Texas on the same day.  I for a wedding, and him to play golf!  But God brought us together at the Abbey.

We dated all through college with a rough patch right after our engagement during our junior year.  A year after we graduated we got married...July 11th, 2003.  I was happy to be marrying a Catholic, but also happy doing what I was doing...which wasn't being a very good Catholic...until our marriage prep weekend.  Our parish priest set us down and told us that "we would be using NFP,....right?...oh and by the way, you have to attend this engagement weekend."

Well I was annoyed to have to attend some weekend, even though I loved this priest!  He was like a spiritual dad to me.  So we go to this weekend and it changed our lives.  We learned about marriage as a sacrament...not just some event you have so that you can live together and "be legal"....and once we understood marriage the way it was meant to be, we made a renewed committment to live our lives faithfully, according to God's plan...NFP and all!
That weekend so effected our lives that we became presenting couples for the Engaged Encounter organization in NC, so that we might be an example to other couples who are planning on getting married.

So we're doing pretty good being married but thinking we have "serious reasons" for avoiding a child for the first 2 years of marriage....until we go to this Engaged Encounter national convention in 2005 and God just spoke straight to our hearts about children while we were there.  We opened our hearts to God's voice and Isabel was born 9 months later! 

Upon having Isabel it was time to get even more serious about serving the Lord.  It wasn't just us anymore.  We had to be even better examples of Christian parents for her and for ourselves.  So that is the struggle we face now...choosing every day for Jesus.  And it is a struggle.  Some days it's hard to be a good Christian, a good Catholic.

Some days I yell. 

Some days I don't have any patience.

Some days I criticize others in my head.

Some days I'm tired and don't want to have a good attitude about making dinner or cleaning up toys for the hundredth time.

But picking up toys and cooking and cleaning and tending to boo boos are all part of my vocation which I once thought was to be a nun, turned out to be a wife and mother.  And I am so grateful that God led me down this path.  Even in losing baby after baby after baby after baby.

 I try not to take it for granted. 

And when I find myself slipping in some area, or taking a wrong turn, I pray that God will pick me up and set me back on His path.  Choosing Jesus is not just a one-time event!  It is in every moment of every day. 

Now I walk forward in the hope that is my Jesus! 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Don't judge a book...

Last night I watched a show that I had DVRed.  I am a sucker for the pregnancy shows.

Why?  I don't know...I guess to torture myself.  ;)  There is something comforting about watching someone else be able to cuddle and coo over their newborn baby,...that's the way it's supposed to be.  Those newborn moments are so sweet and tender, even if it is a little depressing for me.

So I was watching Par.alyzed and Preg.nant with Tw.ins

And I had taped it thinking...."great, what is this lady thinking getting pregnant with twins?  How is she going to take care of them?  How come she can have twins and I can't even get pregnant at all?"...and on and on in my head.

But within the first 12 minutes of the show, I was crying with their family, and crying in shame over the way I had judged them.

Their 4 month old son had been killed in the car accident that ended up paralyzing the mother.

Oh I still feel horror at how I was criticizing this family in my heart and head....and look what they had been through.   The worst grief imaginable:  losing a child.

And as I continued to watch the show, I grew to love this family and admire them (yes, even in the one hour that it was)...and not because I felt sorry for them.  Certainly after learning about their situation my heart was full of sorrow and the shared pain of losing a baby...but their attitude was so inspiring...

Although I am certainly not in a wheelchair and cannot understand or connect to what that must be like, I did connect to the mother's desire to have another baby...not to replace the one that she lost, but a new creation to love and care for.

By the end of the show, I felt like we were not as different as I had originally imagined us to be. 

God help me in those moments before I have a critical thought, that I might remember to try to have insight into another person's situation.  Holy Spirit, guide my heart that my first thoughts might be of compassion and love and not jealousy, annoyance or arrogance!  Lord for all that I've been through please don't let me forget my own suffering; remind me of my cross daily that I might not grow cold-hearted or inattentive to the needs of others who are suffering.  Jesus, remind me of Your own cross, that I might not take it for granted.  I can only do these things through You, Lord.