A Little Drop of Hope 

I’m wide eyed tonight when I should be settling for sleep. Instead, I’m laying here. I’m praying about tomorrow and feeling excited. I might even be a little giddy with ideas of things that might be in store this year for our TDB journey. I’m also so terrified of it all at the exact same time. 

It’s a been a really long road so far – and the end feel so very far away still. Discouragement has crept in more than I care to admit lately. It’s just so hard to hope for something that seems so far away. Sometimes it seems like all the things we’re doing, planning, and working so hard to achieve are so small – like tiny drops in a huge not-so-full bucket.

Then I remember something. This bucket must fill slowly, for its story is so tenderly and purposefully being filled with each and every little drop. We are in this waiting, filling place now on such a big labor of love. This big, once empty bucket, is filling steadily with an inspiring stream of drops. I remember: the bigger the bucket the longer it takes to fill. 

Tomorrow I want to meet the day with hope and optimism, but I’d lie to you if said that spirit will be a natural one to ease into as the sun rises. My longing is intense tonight. The ache for a child to call my own is deep. Even though my    doubts and fears feel so much bigger today than I wish they would, I will to force myself to continually remember this odd-shaped and ginormous bucket is already so full of hope. 

Tomorrow afternoon, I will sit with my dearest and bravest souls to make plans for the how rest of the 2016 calendar of events will shape up. I can finally rest tonight, in the mist of all I feel, knowing that however they pour out someday, these little drops of hope will tell the story of a great bucket-full kind of love.  

The Marilyn Moment

These days leading up to Christmas have a way of eating me whole. Like the cookies I am preparing to make, the days disappear all too quickly. There’s so much to get done, so much to go to, and so on. For me, it’s really tough to find time to slow down and really reflect on anything. Every year in November I have these grand plans of how I will carve out time to sit and and reflect on the Reason for the Season. Then, the belly of December digests the days before I realize I haven’t made good on my plans. While I’ve been too busy wrapping gifts and baking (more accurately at this stage, the buying gifts and planning/purchasing elements of  the baking menu have consumed my month) the Reason caught up to me, quite literally, in a most unexpected event.

I try my best to avoid shopping entirely on the weekends. I’m pretty spoiled in that I usually can manage it. But the belly of December is deep and full right now, and my plans for gifts and cookies ended me smack dab in the middle of a crowed Wal-Mart parking lot today. I had a very specific list of things I could not find at other local stores. I was going to be focused and fast. I immediately lost my cool at the sight of the packed parking lot and started internally cursing the “Wal-Mart people” (you know the ones I mean…I mean…man, I’m so mean.) in my head before I had managed to turn into the actual lot.

No sooner than I got out of my tiny car, did I start feeling the dread of all the things I fight every.single.time I enter any store as an infertile woman. See, I avoid shopping on the weekends not so much becuase of the crowds/lines as becuase of the families. Becuase it really hurts to much to buy my goceriecs in the midst of all the beautiful family choas that occurs in the store. I really can’t handle all the kids running, screaming, and misbehaving becuase all.of.the.time the only thing I wish is that one of those precious screaming children were mine to yell at! (Do believe me when I tell you, mine won’t be better behaved than yours…and I really don’t believe that I will never yell in a store, even though I will try my hardest to communicate with my family without yelling.).

I cannot describe how paralyzingly painful the store can be for me somedays. If you have ever longed for a family like we do, you know, even if you have one there to yell at today. For those Momma’s who are lucky enough to not know that kind of pain, sometimes what you may perceive as “judgment” for yelling at your kids in the store is really just our infertile sadness & bitterness. We are not judging, we’re just jealous. (Not saying that is better.)

This afternoon, after some minutes of internal collapse in my car, I resolved to  get out and tackle my specific list. “Remember to grab the bags for the recycling!” I announced verbally to myself as I gathered my nerve. As I closed my trunk, out of the corner of my eye, I saw an elderly woman with fear of never finding her car painted all over her face.

She was so very lost and confused…and she was going to get hit by a car. I offered to help her locate her vehicle. We went on an APB in that crowded parking lot. Before we found it, she was convinced she forgot to lock it and someone had stolen it. I was pretty sure it was just a matter memory, but I tried to reassure her as best I could. Eventually I asked her if she trusted me with her keys, (of course the panic button and locks were not properly set up on to make noise on her older model key fob) while she waited on a curb/sidewalk thingy to let me search at a slightly faster pace than we could together. As I took her keys, I told her my name, as if that would assure her I wasn’t going to be the one stealing her car. She gave me her name then too. 

I found her car rather quickly. She was so relieved she cried when I handed her back her keys. She thanked me, she hugged me. I told her to have a great Christmas. She said a couple “thank yous” and “you’re so sweets” during our quick hug. She asked if you buy me lunch. I plainly said she could not. She said “You talk to God everyday, don’t you?” I replied with a “Yes.” Then she cried a little more. 

We stood there, Marilyn and I, in that busy parking lot for probably a half an hour. In the misty middle of the afternoon, we put the December hungers aside a moment to connect with each other with our Reason.

She told me how God had worked in her life faithfully over and over again. Here are a few highlights of what I learned: Marilyn was supposed to die when she was 28. Doctors performed risky experimental surgery on her and she woke up days later in the dying room. She did not die. She is a miracle. Her son was diagnosed with brain damage at birth, they advised her to unplug the incubator. She declined the advice, insuring doctors he was a gift from God and she’d care for him as long as he had. She took an ill son home and cared and cared and prayed and prayed. He never moved on his own, but she said she could always tell he was mentally present for everything. One day “8 months later” (not clear if that was the baby’s age or a passage of time after he was home) she was preparing dinner when he pulled himself up on a coffee table in the next room and looked at her like, “what’s next?” She called her husband home from work that day, saying they had another miracle.  (When I asked her if her son is a normal functional adult today, she replied, “Sure, if you’d can consider a lawyer normal and functional.” I might have peed a little, it was so funny!). 

The last thing I learned was about her husband, who went into a serious funk when doctors told him he was going to die by 50. His 51st year was spent waiting for death. He lived into his 70’s. I’d be willing to bet he was a fantastic man. And I’ll bet he was smiling in heaven while watching  us stand there talking in the rain.

Infertility is hard every day. Holidays are so so hard. If you’re on your own IF journey this year, I pray you have a moment like this where  your Reason finds you and whispers to you – so loudly you can’t even  miss it if you try.

It Takes a Village, Monica.

Hello, Brave Souls. I’ve been quiet for a while. But I’m back now – back to ask you to please re-join us in prayer, support, and hope for our journey to parenthood.

We have taken a terrific and terrifying step back onto the road that may lead us to parenthood. I have a dear friend who offered to be a Gestational Surrogate for us back when we were still trying to get my eggs. (I will post that story in full at a later time. Suffice it to say for now I feel so blessed and humbled by her sweet heart and her family’s sincere offer to help create a family for us. There is really nothing I can do or say to express my gratefulness to her and to our faithful Lord – who was the only one who knew we’d be on this road together today when we met back in high school.)

I sort of feel funny even writing about any of it now it because it’s so unofficial at this point. We are just getting into the details and there are so many many steps ahead. We haven’t officially accepted her offer yet, but are taking big steps in that direction. This week we are beginning to address insurance issues. I found an attorney who will review the documents for us at no charge (huge praise!!) This step is very crucial as it affects the cost in such a dramatic way that it will either propel our journey foward or pretty much end it. It is nerve racking to say the least. We are all anxious to get everything figured out because if this part goes smoothly – and it is a big IF – we will likely be taking bigger and more official steps into the world of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), Third-Party Reproduction, and Surrogacy.  It’s a crazy world in there. We will need all the prayer we can get. And then more.  I’m not gonna lie – this ART, T-PR, and Surrogacy world is a very expensive and risky world. IF we are allowed into it, we will need more than prayer. But that’s for another post and for when we know the answers to the insurance piece. 

So, this may seem like a huge jump from my last post. I admit it is! A lot has happened since my last post. A whole lot. Some good. A lot not so good. There have been really hard days and sleepless nights full of heartbreak and pain I know no words to describe. How one can be so sad and broken over losing something that never was is still a mystery to me. I was there (am still there in a sense), in the middle of all the raw emotion, watching and feeling it internally destroy me, and I still don’t understand it. Nor do I really want to ever get to a place where I do. 

There is a certain quality to that kind of pain that isn’t meant to be understood or analyzed. I’ve decided that this indescribable pain is the sort of stuff that breaks people – like really breaks them. Not the healthy humble ‘brokenness in the presence of God’ kind of brokenness. But as in it actually breaks people. They go insane. Ruin their romances. Begin destructive addictions or habits. This kind of grief is the kind of stuff that that breaks wills, hopes, and dreams. And it’s a dark and dangerous place. I need to be removed from that even while I’m in the middle of it it because otherwise it’s far too terrifying. It needs to remain a mystery to keep me safe from the depths of myself and keep me pursuing the God I know is ultimately control and in charge of even this type of deep, dark pain. It needs to be a mystery. 

I learned a lot about myself in the middle of this kind of pain. There were some really hard and ugly truths. I learned that I get kinda mean when I am sad for prolonged periods of time. But mostly, I learned that it will be really really really difficult for me to reconcile with not having kids. It’s possible that I won’t have them. I realize that. One-hundred and fifty percent; I realize it. And if we travel down every road that explores the possibilities and still arrive at the same dead-end trail, then I will have done all I can do. But until I know there are for certian dead end trails at the end of every road – I will research and investigate each one. I will pray and hope for motherhood in unconventional, non-traditional ways until I hit each and every painful dead end. 
I have never been one to give up on things I want. Some call it selfish, some call it stubborn. I call it me. Childlessness does not sit well with my soul. It just isn’t me.

 The other night we were watching “Friends” – the episode where Chandler and Monica interview Erica, the biological mother of the twins they adopt in Season10. They initially lie about who they are because their files got confused with another couple and Erica chooses them based on the wrong information. They fess up that they lied and Erica walks away. Then Chandler chases her as she leaves he room and begs her to reconsider. He says something like this: “Please please, choose us…..I’m terrified to be a father, but my, wife, she is already a mother. Without children to love.” 

I think that I am just like Monica. Already a mother in my heart of hearts.

So, all you Brave Souls, will you please join me in praying for all of us? My friend and her husband, and their two small kids, my Sweet Love & myself. The attorney. Dr. Feinberg, as well as her amazing staff. And all the people this journey will touch. Pray for yourself, as I pray for you, because reading this means you are touched by our journey. The old adage “it takes a village” has never meant more to me than it does now.