7.17.2014

What Rejoicing Looks Like, Revisited

A little over a week ago, I wrote about What Rejoicing Looks Like, I had seen a negative pregnancy test and was fighting to rejoice in light of it.

Today, my new cycle finally started.

The week between has been just the roller coaster you might imagine. All together, I took four, yes four, pregnancy tests. That is more than I have taken in the previous 3 1/2 years combined. All negative. And yet. No new cycle until just moments after the 4th negative on Monday morning.

Or so I thought. Tuesday morning I awoke to nothing. The spotting of Monday was gone and there was nothing.

Monday I spent the day clinging to the prayers of so many, all of my dear friends in the FB group and a few others I reached out to, and Fr. D. Mass at Noon was a small reprieve from the work day and after I work I went to see Fr. D. for an emergency spiritual direction session. I was unraveling and could feel it. I sobbed in his office for at least 10 minutes before I could have an actual conversation.

A conversation that was intense and has led to a long list of new questions for him. But that's another story for another day.

So Tuesday and Wednesday came and went and all signs of AF were gone. I emailed my doctor's office to ask what they thought and based on my chart agreed that it was possible I might have misidentified peak day and that I wasn't as far post-peak as I thought. I was left with instructions that if no new cycle on Friday to test, and to call with results to get an order for blood work either way.

We are leaving for the beach tomorrow, so I emailed again and was able to get my order for my blood work today, so that I would have it just in case I needed it.

I will not need it. AF is definitely here. (And just in case anyone is wondering or wants to ask, yes the thought: was I pregnant? has entered my mind, and honestly I do think the FCP at my doctor's office is correct in her analysis - the questions she asked me were the exact questions I'd have asked someone if I was looking at a chart objectively. With 4 negatives and exactly what we expected to happen if I wasn't pregnant happening, I do not think this is an early miscarriage.)

I am weary. I am numb. I am finally off the roller coaster, but my head is still spinning, I still feel like I'm trying to get off and I can't. It will all sink in later, I'm sure.

But, as Father helped me see on Monday, rejoicing in the midst of pain doesn't mean I rejoice in what brought me pain, rather it means I rejoice in that which I have cause to rejoice even though I feel pain.

And so, tonight, though I am more numb than anything else. Numb and sad. I rejoice in the many people who quite literally carried me through this week in prayer; I rejoice in the texts and emails and FB messages; I rejoice for not having to see another BFN tomorrow morning and go through blood work; I rejoice for a week at the beach starting Saturday.

The sadness is overwhelming. The numbness almost more so.

But.

He is the same. He is trustworthy. And I continue to rejoice in that.

Keep Making Me
~The Sidewalk Prophets~

Make me broken
So I can be healed
'Cause I'm so calloused
And now I can't feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken

Make me empty
So I can be filled
'Cause I'm still holding
Onto my will
And I'm completed
When You are with me
Make me empty

'Til You are my one desire
'Til You are my one true love
'Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

Make me lonely
So I can be Yours
'Til I want no one
More than you, Lord
'Cause in the darkness
I know You will hold me
Make me lonely

'Til You are my one desire
'Til You are my one true love
'Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

'Til You are my one desire
'Til You are my one true love
'Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making,
I know you'll keep making
Lord, please keep making me

7.08.2014

What Rejoicing Looks Like

One month ago, I paid God a compliment and asked a big thing of Him. I laid it all out. I made the desires of my heart known clearly. Two weeks ago, I said I want to rejoice, no matter what. God is the same today as He was then. He will be the same in two more weeks, and two weeks after that, and two weeks after that.

For today, rejoicing looks like a negative pregnancy test taken yesterday morning, and only being able to respond with: "He is the same."

It looked like walking numbly through a day at work. A day in which I continually repeated to myself "He is the same. He is the same. He is the same." as if to will myself to believe it.

It looked like stopping for a manicure after work and trying to treat myself gently and giving thanks that the lady didn't ask if I had children. And then it looked like unhealthy, comfort food from my favorite take out place in town. All while reminding myself "He is trustworthy."

Then, today, chatting about Theology of the Body for 5 hours as I drove across Pennsylvania with a friend for a conference. Chatting about the beauty of our creation as male and female in the life-giving image of God. Yes, God is good. He is trustworthy.

And finally, tears. Ugly sobbing tears as I collapsed onto the bed in my hotel room. The moment finally came in which I could only see my own pain; my own sorrow; my own disappointment.

I still have much to learn. So. much.

He is the same. He is trustworthy. I will rejoice in that.

For today, rejoicing takes the form of tears and sorrow. Deep down to my core, sorrow.

The only comfort I feel is that somewhere, if only in my head, I know that God is still the same. That He shares my sorrow.

He is the same. He is trustworthy. I rejoice in that.

Keep Making Me
~The Sidewalk Prophets~

Make me broken
So I can be healed
'Cause I'm so calloused
And now I can't feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken

Make me empty
So I can be filled
'Cause I'm still holding
Onto my will
And I'm completed
When You are with me
Make me empty

'Til You are my one desire
'Til You are my one true love
'Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

Make me lonely
So I can be Yours
'Til I want no one
More than you, Lord
'Cause in the darkness
I know You will hold me
Make me lonely

'Til You are my one desire
'Til You are my one true love
'Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

'Til You are my one desire
'Til You are my one true love
'Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making,
I know you'll keep making
Lord, please keep making me

6.25.2014

I Want to Rejoice

So it begins.

And by "it" I mean the 2ww.

The "I"s are on the chart - on potentially "fertile" and infertile days both.

My tubes are open. (Please Lord, let my tubes still be open just 4 cycles after surgery.)

Last week marked a huge breakthrough with Mary. I've tried to write about it twice, but it's just too personal. The second attempt was an intentional attempt at something I could publish, and I just can't. Putting words to it just seems to make it seem somehow less than what it was. Or, perhaps I should say putting words to it without eye contact and expression. Someday, maybe, I will tell the story, but for now, the important detail is the breakthrough.

The anxiety surrounding those "I"s was much less.

I'm taking post-peak estrogen.

And we wait.

And I have already been all. over. the. place.

I've counted out the days so I know when we'll know.

I've figured out how I'll tell The Man. When I'll ask Fr. D. for a blessing. When and how we'll tell our parents.

I've calculated the due date and thought about wording for the couple of emails regarding schedule changes that would need to be sent.

And I have wondered if I am completely-out-of-my-mind crazy.

Because really, what on earth makes me think for one single second that this cycle will be different?

And so hope is tempered with reality.

And I try not to think about those plans too much.

I remind myself that He is trustworthy. He is good. His plan is perfect. No matter what.

I want to rejoice in 2 weeks no matter what happens. Rejoice for a marriage that is healing and growing and getting stronger and stronger. Rejoice for a fruitful marriage. Rejoice because God is good. And maybe, just maybe rejoice because of a new life.

I want to hope without reservation.

I want to rejoice no matter what.

In reality, my hopes are covered in fear.

In reality, I question my ability to rejoice amid disappointment.

Only two things are certain: these two weeks will pass, just like all of the other two weeks before them and God will be the same in two weeks that He is today.

6.23.2014

Ten

This post is a bit overdue for many reasons, not the least of which is that my power cord to my laptop died and in an effort to be cheap save money, I ordered one for $7 only to discover it was coming from China and would take 2 weeks to arrive. Though, the disconnectedness that has resulted has not been a bad thing. I had an intense week spiritually last week that I figure I'll be processing for some time.

(To my friends who still wait for a husband, please feel free to skip on over this post. I imagine it is for you what baby pictures and updates are for me. You are in my prayers as I write.)

But, all of that doesn't change that 10 years ago, on June 12, 2004, The Man and I got married.



There are so many things I could say about the last 10 years, but mostly it boils down to the fact that I had my plan and God laughed. In so very many ways I see clearly how His plan was way better than my dreams. Looking back over the past ten years, at the joys and the sorrows and being able to see the examples of beauty and healing out of what I thought were the most painful days of my life. It is especially those instances of where the plan didn't end up like I pictured it at all, but that I am still able to say "His plan was better than mine" that I find hope today. Whether this current season of life ends with us as parents or continues on, His plans are better than my dreams. He is trustworthy. This life is not the end of the story.

On the eve of our anniversary, I had to work (an anniversary Mass, ironically) and so The Man decided to travel with me, and when work was done, we stayed at a cabin at one of our pastoral centers for 2 nights. We both realized AF was going to arrive on our actual anniversary. TTA last cycle turned out to be a huge blessing, as even though AF is never fun, to have no expectations other than that she would arrive certainly made things so much easier than had we TTC. There was something beautiful in it too - no, I have not lost my mind, stay with me here - as we began the next decade of married life together and a new cycle began.

So much has happened over these 10 years, that with this new cycle and anniversary came a new hope. A new understanding of what marriage means. Please do not think for a second we have it all figured out, if I have learned nothing it is that I do not have it figured out at all. It's just hard to put into words. The past 5 years of our marriage have been marked by great change, and if I'm honest a piece of me saw/sees this as a new start. When we married, we were nominally Catholic, though wanting to be more. We also realized our marriage was a sacrament and committed to being together for life, and I can only attest that to a moment of God seeking us and by His grace we responded.

Two big things happened on June 12, 2014 - our 10th anniversary. One was overdue by 10 years, and the other by about 6.

First, about 6 years or so ago, we purchased a new wedding band for me. (Yes, I cringe that I sold my blessed wedding band - I had no idea I wasn't supposed to do that, barely even considered that it was blessed to begin with.) Well, seeing as how we rarely went to Church, having the new ring blessed was the furthest thing from my mind, until about 18 months ago when it dawned on me that this ring I wear every day is not blessed. And at that point, I just decided that having it blessed would be a beautiful way to celebrate our 10th anniversary. So, finally, I now have a blessed wedding ring. One of the priests who helped with the infertility retreat last year, and had a huge impact on The Man did the blessing for us, and unbeknownst to me until after, a parishioner at Daily Mass, took a few photos. I am more grateful than I could say for these pictures.

After Mass, it was time to correct the other missing piece. When we married, I had zero devotion to Mary. She was barely a blip on my radar and Ave Maria was mostly an annoyance to me (I know, I know). When my mother tried to force me to have it mid-ceremony, I only avoided major conflict by agreeing to have it sung as a prelude. There were no flowers given to Mary on our wedding day, no asking for her intercession or her protection. As these last years have gone by, specifically the last 12 - 18 months, I have been more and more troubled by this. So, on June 12, 2014, we made our offering to Mary in the form of roses (yellow roses because that was our main wedding color) that can be planted at an outdoor garden at the parish where our rings were blessed (a parish that for lots of reasons we never attended when we live nearby. Perhaps another missing piece? Attending Mass there together.)


The rest of the day was spent having a leisurely lunch with Father to thank him for the blessing and his friendship; taking a nap while it rained; and having a dinner at a local restaurant. We relaxed, remembered, and looked forward with an understanding that God's presence in our lives is more important than anything else. The peace that surrounded our few days away, a calm amidst the storm that has been swirling is the best gift we could have received.

6.09.2014

Paying God a Compliment

You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.
~St. Teresa of Avila

I've written numerous times about how since my very first prayer for a baby, I have also prayed for grace to handle whatever comes. It was for two specific reasons that I prayed for grace:
  1. By looking at my charts I had very normal fertility, there was some brown bleeding, but it had not really become a major problem. I had a good peak day and temperature shift each month. On paper, it looked like pregnancy would come easily. In addition to that, I had been reading and commenting on the blogs of so many women who were infertile, and praying for them and learning of this struggle. I was so very afraid I would become the person that caused them pain and I looked up to them all so much (still do!) and was in awe of the deepness of their faith. I prayed for grace to still be gentle and not say insensitive things and to continue to look up to them.
  2. Because I had been reading these blogs, I knew that pregnancy was no guarantee. I prayed that should I become one of "the IF bloggers" that I would do so with grace and faith as so many others have.
I've prayed for grace so often that it has become my first prayer and I have only one time ever simply just prayed for a baby (the words were very eloquent: "Please Lord, let this work" during the "fertile" window of my ultrasound series cycle, more a prayer of desperation than trust).

A few times, I have wondered if this prayer for grace, while genuine, wasn't also a sign of a lack of trust. Like, "I know You aren't going to give me what I want, so can You at least give me grace to deal with it." While I have never used those exact words, more than once it has entered my mind that perhaps there is fear in just putting it out there. Fear that He will say no, and I will have no "back-up"; no example of an answered prayer, as I do with the grace. It is always there, sometimes I choose to ignore it, but it is always there. And tonight, I was thinking about a time, when I was barely Catholic but really feeling a tug to put faith back into my life, when I made it very clear to God what I wanted. There was no fear, no expectation, just a very clear statement of what I wanted. In fact, it is why the scripture at the top of my blog has been Ecclesiastes from the very beginning. The Man and I were in a season of life that had us living married life in towns 2 1/2 hours apart. My prayer was simple "God, just in case you weren't aware, I'm done with this season." and the next day the one and only offer on the house we were trying to sell was made.

Yet, in these years of infertility, I have never once just laid it out and asked Him for what I want. There has always been a yielding to His will; a secondary request for grace (that has become a primary request); a holding back. While the first two things are good, the third is not, and if the third is motivation for the first two, then they are also not good.

And so, entering into a new cycle after our two TTA cycles and knowing that we will TTC once again, 3 months after my second surgery with the clock on my tubes ticking, I am feeling like it is now or never. Like if I do not put it out there, I will look back in 10 years and wonder what if I had just made my desires known...

It is clear that for The Man and I to conceive, God must will it. He must will all new life, but we are much more aware of that and realize we are truly at His mercy than we ever were prior to infertility. I have said it many times, because I need constant reminding, but He is trustworthy. Whether he answers my prayer in the way I want or in the opposite, He is trustworthy. His plan is better than mine.

And so, I am taking St. Teresa of Avila's advice and asking great things of God. My prayer, my request of God, with no qualifiers and no apologies is this:
Lord, we've had a talk like this before. It was summer time about 6 years ago and The Man and I had been in a season of life that I was ready to see end. We have once again been in a season of life that I am ready to see end. The end to this season of life is making us parents. I trust in You and know You are able to make this happen. I want to be a mommy, I want The Man to be a daddy. I want to see 2 pink lines, and a peanut on a screen. I want to make decisions about childbirth and ask two dear friends to be godparents. I want to see water poured over my child's head as s/he is claimed for You; I want to see First Communion and Confirmation. I want to see first steps and first days of school; loose teeth and skinned knees; artwork on my refrigerator and muddy footprints on my floors. I want to hear "I love you mommy" and "you are the worst mother ever"; hungry cries and break-up cries; laughter and sorrow. I want to sign up for swim lessons and sports lessons and music lessons. I want to see preschool programs, middle school concerts, and high school graduations. I want to go on college visits and a pack a car much too full. I want to meet a fiance and watch a new family begin or see a life given entirely to You. The good, the great, the bad, and the awful - all that comes with being a mommy, I am ready for that. I'm ready for this season of my life to end, and for the next to start. Lord, I'm asking, please make The Man and I parents. Lord, I trust you. I trust that however you answer this prayer, Your grace will carry me through. I do not ask for it this time because I know it is there. You've promised it would always be there, and you are trustworthy.