Why Not IVF?

Last January, I wrote about why we chose NaPro (Natural Procreative Technology) and didn't, couldn't, go the route of working with my local OB/Gyn. It honestly boiled down to a need to not have to advocate for myself every step of the way, to know that I could trust the doctors I was working with to focus on restoring and preserving fertility without having to constantly explain what, why, and how.

But there was a choice that had to come before choosing NaPro or working with our local OB/Gyn. We had to decide if we would pursue IVF or other forms of Artificial Reproductive Techology, ART (IUI, donor eggs/sperm, surrogacy, etc). (From here on, I will use ART to refer to all of these methods.) If we were choosing ART, there is a reproductive endocrinologist here in town that we could have seen.

I know there are people reading this who have gone the route of IVF or other forms of ART. Please know I write this with a sincere heart, with much love for you and your children, and as a way to document my process and maybe help someone else make a decision for their process. I will not be offended if you choose not to read this OR if you choose to read it and disagree vehemently with me. All I ask is that you read it with the spirit of love with which it is written and remember that it is simply my story, every time you see "I" or "me" or "us" or "we" in this, I am directly referring to myself and/or The Man. I do not apologize for what we believe or the choices we have made, and I would never expect anyone else to apologize for their beliefs or their choices.

So, why not ART?

One "short" answer to someone I would meet in passing is "because we are Catholic." But that's not the whole answer, at least not for us. While my faith is extremely important to me and makes up a big piece of who I am, it is not my sole reason for not pursuing ART. This answer is inadequate, because while I am Catholic, I also personally believe in what the Church teaches on this topic. This choice to not pursue ART is not, for me, an act of blind obedience. Certainly there are times when blind obedience is OK, even necessary; in this instance, quite honestly, I do not think anyone who has experienced the pain of infertility could just blindly obey the Church on this topic. You either fully understand and embrace the Church's teaching, or you do not. (If you are interested in an easy-to-read, straightforward list of what the Church teaches related to infertility treatments, go here: USCCB Reproductive Technology Guidelines).

Another "short" answer to someone I would meet in passing is "it's too expensive." This one is usually reserved for when I really don't want to talk about it. We do not have the kind of money that ART costs. However, this answer is also inadequate. I know myself well enough to know that if money were the only obstacle to ART for The Man and me, it would very quickly not be an obstacle any longer. I am a "where there's a will, there's a way" kinda girl.

So, what is the real reason, the "long" reason for why we are not pursuing ART. And honestly, there really isn't one "long" reason, but a group of reasons.

First, for us, it goes back to a lot of what we experienced when I was on "the pill" and the issues that it caused within our relationship and with my health. Our sexual relationship and our view of one another was very unhealthy. So much healing took place when we realized the necessary combination of the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual intercourse. There is a very real awareness of what happens when we separated these aspects, of the harm it causes, and of the utilitarian view of humanity it places on one another. When we were first married, we separated these by cutting out the procreative aspect of our sexuality - we focused solely on the unitive and pleasure aspects and ignored the fact that we are given a beautiful gift with which God allows us to participate in the creation of new life with Him. To pursue ART would be turning the tables, it would be using our bodies and our reproductive systems only for the purpose of creating new life and not for unifying and bonding us as a couple. We lived what happens when we separated the unitive and procreative ends of sexual intimacy once before, we are not willing to relive it.

Second, when we learned NFP we were introduced to a new thought process on children. Our society says children are possessions that we may reject (contraception and abortion) or demand (ART); something that we deserve if we want them. Our faith says children are gift that we may not demand or reject, and like any gift, they are not something we deserve. That they are a living, breathing expression of "two becoming one flesh”; they are the living, walking, talking sign of the love between their parents; they hold as much inherent dignity as adults do - as we all do. It is this very thing, the living breathing expression of love that we are hoping to create. It is this very reason that infertility is so painful, to be denied the supreme gift of marriage. To be denied a deep desire of your heart. To know and fully believe that God is capable of making the infertility go away in the blink of an eye, and yet He choses not to. However, the lessons infertility has taught me have made it clear that this was a necessary cross in my life. This understanding of children as a gift we do not deserve motivates me all the more to do what I can to heal my body and invite God to create life in the way He intended, to honor His role of "Giver" and mine of "receiver."

Third, if I believe (and I do) that life begins at conception and that every life has value from that moment of conception, how could I reconcile the deliberate creation of extra embryos (tiny babies, lives) in order to ensure the greatest chance of one successful pregnancy? If I believe that every life has an eternal soul from the moment of conception, and that we will all be reunited in heaven, how would I face those souls, those children whose lives were created for the purpose of creating their sibling? Again, it creates a utilitarian view of the individual, that the end result is the ultimate determination of good and the method does not matter. Just traveling this road of infertility has reinforced this. Each month, from the moment that there *might* be conception I consider the real possibility of another soul on this earth, a soul entrusted to me. To knowingly create extra souls, lives, and know that they would be frozen or worse, destroyed, just seems unfathomable to me. I've also witnessed first hand the pain this causes in women who truly do understand that these embryos are lives, are their children, and may not make it. A dear friend trusted me enough to witness her emotion upon learning her wee ones didn't make it, to say it was excruciating does not do her any justice. This is a pain I choose not to risk - for myself or my children.

Fourth, someday, God-willing, we will have a child that will want to hear about how they came into being. About why they are here on this earth. From an experience within my family, I know it is very awkward to teach your child about "the birds and the bees" and then in the next breath explain that that is not how they were created. Rather, their creation came with a mommy, a daddy, a doctor, and a nurse in an exam room. We are also not comfortable with the way the daddy is asked to provide his "part." I want to tell my young children about the "special hug" that a mommy and daddy share that invites God to create new life from their love. I want to reassure my teens that while they are horrified at the thought of their parents doing "that", it is a beautiful act of love and one of the greatest gifts God gives us. I also do not want to have to tell my children that they have siblings who died in a clinic somewhere in the attempt to create them or that are frozen in time somewhere.

Fifth, NaPro technology has better results and is healthier than ART. One question I struggled with early on, and if I'm honest, still struggle with at my darker times, is this: "Do I not want children badly enough if I am not willing to use all methods available to me to have them?" What I know is this: NaPro has better results than ART. NaPro has, as its focus, healing the underlying cause of infertility, rather than the symptom. Infertility, the inability to get pregnant (and I would also say carry to term) is a symptom related to an underlying problem. All other symptoms experienced (irregular cycles, digestive problems, etc) are related to the underlying causes of the infertility - endometriosis, PCOS, etc. It is not the other way around, the infertility does not cause endometriosis, etc. it is caused by such diseases. Also, ART utilizes very high doses of hormones and manipulation of the woman's natural cycle. I did that with "the pill". I manipulated my cycle and I paid the price, physically and emotionally, for it. For the sake of my marriage and my long term health, I am not willing to mess with that process again. I am very cautious of the level of the hormones I am taking while pursuing NaPro and am careful to monitor any side effects closely. Also, in many cases ART, because it only addresses the symptom (the inability to get pregnant) is required to be used repeatedly because the underlying cause is not treated. Whereas, NaPro, in treating the underlying cause often results in healing that restores a couple to normal, or near-normal, fertility. (While this is not a guarantee, it is much more likely to occur than with ART.) In support of this is that most insurance companies cover treatments that are part of NaPro while they do not cover ART treatments.

As I conclude, I must say that it is truly only but for the Grace of God that we did not travel down the road of ART. It is some very real experiences within my family growing up; it is walking the road of ART with a dear friend and seeing her pain; it is reading the stories of so many of you long before I ever knew we were going to struggle with infertility and learning there was an alternative to ART; and it is the experiences of contraception and separating the unitive and procreative ends of sexual intercourse that brought us to this choice of saying no to ART.

I am certain, well, as certain as you can be about an unchosen road, that if we had gone straight from contracepting to trying to conceive without NFP we would likely have ventured down the road of ART. And as certain as I am about that is how certain I also am that I'm not sure we could've survived it and remained married. Out of sheer stubbornness we might have, but I can't imagine the pain we would've caused one another along the way.

I am sure I've left out some things and I'm willing to answer any questions you may have in the comments. If I could please ask that your comments be respectful and kind (you "regulars" always are :)) this is, as I know a difficult topic that we tend to feel passionately about and I know that there are people who read here who feel and have chosen differently. The one thing any of us who have considered these options share in common is this: we have experienced the pain of infertility and we have made the best decisions we could for our families. I think dialogue is important, but anyone who has prayed for a child and not been told "yes" right away has already suffered enough pain and I would hate for this post to be the cause of more pain.

I also feel like I must address why this post and why now? Why this post? Partly it is to remind myself of why we've made our choices, to see that it holds up as well on paper as it does in my head. Partly it is to prove to myself that I have formed my conscience well and this choice to not pursue ART is an act of my free will with which I am comfortable. Why now? We are both feeling like we are nearing the end of what we are willing to do medically, knowing that we are leaving options "on the table" (both with NaPro and ART). As we near this end, we have reevaluated each step, and reevaluating ART has been part of that.
Finally, as with so much of this space, it is to document our journey, our road home.



So, I got this email Sunday night telling me I had been nominated for a "Sheenazing" award from Bonnie at A Knotted Life. (Apparently "Sheentastic" is already claimed by Charlie Sheen and involves wild parties, cocaine, hookers, and pot. Who knew?!)

I follow Bonnie on twitter, but I didn't follow her blog *blushes in embarrassment* (Does this disqualify me?), so I had no idea such awards were actually taking place. I have since remedied this oversight.

So, when I click over to Bonnie's site to see what this is all about and what the categories were for nomination, I was sure to see "Train Wreck" as one of the categories because lately that's what I feel like this place is like - a bad train wreck, you know the kind where you should look away, but you just can't?

Much to my surprise, there was no "Train Wreck" category, so at least one of you must like something that happens 'round here ;).

And because of that, I am extremely humbled and honored. I often wonder to myself why I keep making all of this public, why I don't just write it out and then not hit "publish." It is for two reasons: 1) because the power of your prayers is amazing and 2) in hopes that it might help someone else someday as your blogs have helped me on countless occasions. The fact that the second one might actually be a reality is an answered prayer.

So, in the email Bonnie said we could blog about this award and ask you to vote for us. It feels a little weird to say "vote for me," especially since the only category I could come up with was the "train wreck" category and it doesn't exist. But, if you've got nothing to do and would like to vote for me, I will admit, getting to post the "Sheenazing Blogger Award" button on my blog would be pretty awesome :). I will also be very grateful.

Voting is from today through Thursday at 6:00pm. You can go here to vote, I'm in the "most inspiring" category (really? *blush*).

Finally, to whoever nominated me, thank-you. Your kindness humbles me.


The Most Recent Plan

I had my follow-up with Dr. D. on Thursday. I was very anxious leading up to the appointment, just not knowing what she might say, what could possibly be next, and because I was going by myself. The appointment was scheduled relatively quickly and because of that it was on a day when The Man had a student shadowing him and couldn't reschedule it. I know if I had asked him to he would have found a way, but honestly, we also need the money. With the payroll tax holiday expiring, our insurance premiums going up, The Man now eligible to contribute to a 401K, and having to contribute to a Health Savings Account to cover the deductible that we now have (hmmm, I seem to remember this phrase "those who have insurance will see no changes" ahem), it's just been a rough start to 2013 financially.

So, I was anxious going in.

But, before the appointment:
The not-so-good: the roads were horrible in the mountains! My black Jeep was white by the time I got there, I couldn't even see out my windows. I did make it safely, so I'll just focus on that.

The awesome: I got to meet Lillie!!!!! I took lunch to Ania and her DH and I got to hold sweet Lillie (I totally got the better end of this deal!) Oh, she's so cute!!! And Ania and Chris? Awesome parents!!!

And the appointment:
It went very well. Dr. D. made me feel much better when she said how pleased she was with my cycles and that the meds seemed to be at a good level. She explained that this is the goal, to find a good med combination and then let it work. So, we are to continue with the current protocol for 6 - 9 months. I really feel like I'm living my life in 6 - 9 month intervals. She also took cultures again to check to see if the antibiotics took care of the infections that were present in the fall. Finally, I had a blood drawn to check my estradiol because I was peri-peak. Yep, as she was taking the cultures she said "your cervix is wide open with great mucus" when I told her we hadn't used any day yet b/c we wanted to make sure the test results were as accurate as possible she said "looks like you've got a date night ahead of you." As far as recommendations go, in addition to continuing with the current dosages for meds, P+7 blood draws, and cycle reviews she recommended that we repeat the se.men analysis just to confirm that everything is ok and a follicle maturation series (series of ultrasounds to watch how my follicle develops). If no BFP in 6 - 9 months, revisit the selective HSG and laprascopy.

After the appointment:
I was going to visit my friend C, but her son had strep :( poor kiddo. I don't generally get strep, but I do carry it and The Man gets it. He does not appreciate this, so I had to pass on the visit :(. I think The Man and I need to just plan a fun trip to Harrisburg. I was planning to meet up with Katie for an early dinner, but since my afternoon plans changed, I opted to head home in the daylight. Katie, I promise we'll have dinner my next trip east!

Arriving home:
I was apparently way more stressed than I thought I was because I walked in the door and absolutely laid into The Man. (My points were valid, he agrees, my method, not. ok. not. at. all. :( ). I was yelling and sobbing and I threw my phone. At our hard wood floors. It did not survive. After I finished yelling and collapsed onto the steps in a sobbing heap, and Kali (I love this dog) came over and put her head on my knees and just sent her doggy-love to me, and The Man apologized for those points that I had that were valid and I apologized for my methods, we finally discussed the options and what we are going to do moving forward. After the discussion we did indeed have our "date night," and so now we wait.

Our "Plan" (what's that we hear? God laughing? probably):
  • My surgery "expires" in June. That is 6 months from now, 18 months from the surgery date.
  • From now until June we are going to continue with the current medications and the cycle reviews (including P+7 blood draws).
  • We will not be repeating the se.men analysis. We are content with the first results, we understand results can vary because spe.rm are constantly being created, but we do not feel the need to revisit this.
  • We are "splitting the difference" on the follicle maturation series (FMS) and waiting until the end of 3 cycles. If no BFP by May, I'll be booking my room at the TCIE BB&U (Bed, Breakfast, and Ultrasound).
  • We will not spend the next 6 - 9 months "what if-ing" ourselves and worrying about what comes next. In June, if no BFP, and with the results of the FMS as more information, we will make the next set of decisions.
The Emotional Side of it all:
While the fight I started (I always start them) was not the best way of going about things, it did lead to a very fruitful, honest conversation about how we are both handling this whole IF journey. We have very different temperaments and personality types, so unsurprisingly, we are dealing with this very differently. We finally shared our whys (and not just our whats) and found out we are much more similar in the "big picture" than it appeared when focusing on the details. To say that lifted a huge weight off of our shoulders would be the understatement of the century.
We are both feeling a bit like we have done all we want to do medically, but reconciling that with the fact that we are not yet parents is a bit more challenging. Thus, the plan above. A more conservative approach than recommended but not stopping medical intervention all together. I know it seems like we jumped into medical intervention quickly, having surgery just a couple of months after my first NaPro appointment. However, if Dr. S's had not been retiring, we would have not had the surgery for 6 more months. So, while we started quickly, it was for a reason other than wanting to maximize all medical options. It was Dr. S's reputation as a surgeon that brought us to NaPro, we weren't willing to miss the opportunity for him to do my surgery.
I see how much some of you have gone through medically and I feel like such a wimp. I am being very careful to honestly ask if this is just my flight response kicking in or if it is what I truly feel is best. There will be much prayer over the next 6 months, for clarity, for courage, and, of course, for grace.



40 Years, A Day of Prayer

40 years, 55 million lives lost, countless hearts broken.
Praying for the legal protection of the unborn, for those whose lives have been hurt by abortion, and for a nation in which we respond to an unplanned pregnancy with compassion and assistance for the child, mother, and father.


Lillie is going HOME! Updated with Pictures!!

I just got the best text from Ania:

"We are coming home today! We were able to stay in a private room with her last night and it was wonderful! All she needs is one more antibiotic dose and a shot and we can go! Thank-you for praying!"

St. Therese, you rock! (I hope it's OK to tell a saint that she "rocks" ;))
All of you who've been praying, you are the best! (Yes, all of you are the best!)

Ania shared these photos with me and said that since it would be a while before she got a blog post up I could share them with you! So, introducing Lillie Therese:

Hopefully this is the last post from me about Lillie because that will mean all continues to go well and Ania will be sharing her daughter with us herself! (Until then, please keep comments here not on FB or Ania's blog :).)


One Year

One year ago today I had my surgery.

Stage 2 endo was removed. My blocked tubes were opened. Hope was restored.

(And, that means one year ago tomorrow I met Amy, Ania, Pokadot, and E in person for the first time and The Man got to witness first hand just how awesome this community is.)

Today I am feeling a bit numb. There was always a piece of me that knew there still might not be a little one here, but that piece of me was kept pretty quiet. Sure, as time passed, it seemed to become more and more of a reality. As test results came back positive, I started to realize just how long this road could be. What I keep coming back to is 12 - 18 months. That's how long my tubes are "guaranteed" to be open. Month 13 begins today. I feel like the clock is ticking just a bit louder each day.

I see Dr. D again on the 24th, one week from today. I have no idea what she is going to recommend, say, do. My brain wants to go down the list of all of the potential next steps, scour all of the blogs to see what came next after the one year mark - and yet I also realize most people don't make it to the one year mark without conceiving.

Just one month ago today I declared that I did indeed trust my doctor and began my practice of surrendering. Having no idea what might come next is helping me to do this. I am fighting every urge to research every possibility, to allow myself to get lost in all of the details and not feel the emotions that are just waiting to spill over. I know I must surrender to this, I know it deep down inside me that  part of what I must learn is to let go, to truly say "be it done unto me according to Thy word."

(PS Here is the most recent information on Lillie if you are looking for it.)


Novena for Baby Lillie

First an update: Ania will be released tomorrow, but sweet Lillie will be staying in the NICU for up to 2 weeks depending on what the infection does. Both Ania and her DH are, understandably, very saddened to be leaving their sweet girl behind. But, Ania reported that a friend, who doesn't know about St. Therese or the request for prayers for her intercession, sent her pink roses. As we know, St. Therese always sends roses when she is interceding, so Ania is encouraged by that.

Second, I will be beginning this novena today: Little Flower Novena for Lillie's health and healing and going home soon, and Ania and her DH to have peace in their hearts as they head home and leave their sweet daughter in the NICU. If you would like to join me, please do!

Finally, Ania said the prayers mean the world to her.

(As before, please keep all encouraging comments and prayer promises here on my blog and not on Ania's blog or FB page.)

Prayers for Labor and Delivery - Updated Again.

Update, Wednesday Afternoon: Lillie is doing better - she is breathing fine but does have an infection of some sort. Ania is hanging in there, but is feeling very overwhelmed. Please keep praying for this sweet family, of course for Lillie, but for peace for this new mommy. Ania thanks everyone for their prayers and for respecting her wishes to not post things to FB or her blog. I'm not sure if she is checking in here or not, but I am relaying your prayers and well wishes to her.

Hi ladies!

I just got an email from Ania at the 411 on the 418's - she is in labor! She is 5cm and had just received her epidural when she emailed. She said she "feels great" right now.

Please keep her in your prayers as she brings her wee on into the world and meets her son or daughter.

Please do NOT post to Ania's FB or her blog as she is not telling everyone she knows IRL until after they are home. SO, if you have well wishes for Ania, her DH, and baby, please leave them here :).

Update: Lillie Therese is here! If you could please say some prayers as she is in the NICU with a fever and some breathing difficulties. Please also say some prayers for Ania, as she is a nervous wreck, being a NICU nurse, she knows too much. Ania specifically asked for St. Therese's intercession. Please remember no posts to FB or Ania's blog - just leave all your love here :) and Ania will see it and I'm passing it on to her.


Living the Regret

Do you want children?

Oh, how the answer to this question has changed over the years. Or has it? After much reflection the past week or so, one of the benefits of extra time in the car, I am seeing my prior answers in a different light.

I apologize for the length of this, but this post, as much as it is for anyone who it might help, it is for me. I'm adding this paragraph after writing the rest, only now realizing where it was going, what it was teaching me. The title was originally that first line, the question, but that's not really what this is about. I see that now.

Yes, 4

When The Man and I were engaged and people would ask us if we wanted children my answer was always, "yes, 4." (And The Man would kinda look at me like I was a little crazy, but he never argued the point.) I remember many conversations with my mom and Nan, them telling me I was crazy for wanting 4 children. When we picked out our first house, I knew which room would be the "nursery" and even thought how we might have our first 2 there before we moved onto our "forever home."

In 5 years

And then we got married and I was starting a new job with a long commute and The Man was still in school and our answer to the question changed to "we'll start having kids in 5 years." It seemed a reasonable response, it would give The Man time to finish school and find a good job, and we could get our new home established and settled. Then I could either work part-time or at least move to a job closer to home. Oh, and it would give us time to see if Kali lived :). When we put the fence up, we talked about how it would be so nice to have a place where the kids could play safely.

Well, we all know what happens when we plan. Over those 5 years lots of good happened, but lots that wasn't according to our "plan" happened as well. The Man had a hard time finding a good job. He also had wrist surgery (remember, he's a massage therapist) twice. Instead of loving the town we had chosen to live in, we hated it and wanted to move so badly. My job was extremely high stress. And we made bad choices. Instead of living within our means, we had a ton of debt. We also had friends all around us with none or 1 child and got very used to living life with no children. We somehow lost sight of who we were and what was important to us.


So, when we moved back to Morgantown, into a tiny one-bedroom apartment, the answer to the question changed again. My career was in limbo and The Man finally had a job with potential, but we knew it would take years for it to become the "good job" we'd planned for years earlier. Nothing about our lives had gone according to our plan. I turned 30 and instead of planning for my first child or to start trying for that first child, all I could see was failure. And when I was asked the question "do you want children" I said "no." I said "no" so many times I convinced myself of it. In fact, just a couple of weeks after my 30th birthday, I wrote a post wondering about what our life would look like, even said I didn't want children and expressed guilt over that feeling. It was probably one of the darkest times of my life and our marriage (so much beyond not having children was going on at that time). By the grace of God, (it really is all His grace, isn't it?), even in that post, I left the door open. I wonder what he had in store for us.

I even had a moment where I realized that if I felt the desire for motherhood after I was biologically capable of having them, adoption would be a wonderful option. It wasn't a "oh, we'll just adopt" kind of moment, it was a realization that gave me such peace. Looking back, I see it as the me who so desperately wanting children looking to the future with hope that some day we'd figure out how to make life work. Another grace came at the end of 2009 as we had our eyes opened to the harm contraception was causing in our marriage. We soon learned NFP and for a while as we didn't struggle at all to follow the rules to avoid pregnancy, despite some long periods of abstinence due to our waaay-conservative application of the rules, we really thought God was calling us to be the couple that isn't called to be parents to speak about the effectiveness of NFP.


As time passed, and instead of the litany of bad things that had happened, now good things started to happen. By mid-summer 2010, The Man's job started blossoming into the "good job" that we had hoped it would be, I had found a good job that I enjoyed and was close to home, lower stress and, perfectly, at a day care center. We finally had enough money to move out of our one-bedroom apartment and into a house. And all of the dreams we had made 5 years earlier starting to seem like they were coming true, and we were finding ourselves again. And now, when people asked us "the" question we generally answered with "someday" or a vague answer, I knew we wanted them, but I didn't want the whole world to know it. Most people who knew us were under the impression that we weren't going to have children, so few people that we knew well asked anymore. It was really in meeting new people that I was answering this question. I was reminded of my desire for 4 children and started imagining children running around our house again. All of a sudden, the struggles of the past few years seemed to have had a bit of a purpose and as we moved into our house I again knew exactly which room would be the nursery and imagined bringing a baby home to that room.

When God gives us one

For a while, when we were first trying, I started answering the question this way. It felt the most honest, as we were trying and knew it wasn't all up to us, but doesn't generally invite further questions. As time has gone on, I've stuck with it. For people who don't speak "IF" it is enough to answer their question and most don't ask for more information. For those who do speak "IF," it may prompt a follow-up question, or at the very least an understanding nod or smile. For now, it is what I say when asked "do you want children?" It isn't perfect, it isn't the detailed truth, but it is true.

As I said, I've found myself doing a lot of reflecting lately. In some of my most painful moments on this road, I've asked God why he didn't just leave me where I was at when I was saying "I didn't want children." Why did I have to walk this road, I was fine right where I was. I've come back to this over and over, why, if I wasn't going to be able to have children, couldn't I have stayed in that place where I didn't want them. And what I've come to realize is, I was never really in that place. Yes, I said those words, and yes, I thought I meant them. I still claim them. But the words were more a reaction to my circumstances, what I thought was the only answer I could give. We had no money, no space, and no reliable income, of course we couldn't have children, and so my answer was. And yet, if just a moment after I had said "no," we had magically been given more space, more employment, more money, the answer would have changed. Immediately. I realize that now. I've said I have no "fight" response, only "flight." And, I think, this is just one more example of my flight response. Instead of owning what my heart desired, instead of owning what I wanted my marriage to be like, I took the path of least resistance. I yielded to what society says is necessary to have children, I yielded to the idea that children are somehow a bonus for those who've "made it."

There are times I find myself wondering what could have been. Yet, I know those thoughts are not of the Lord. I know that I cannot change the past, and quite honestly given the choice, I wouldn't. It is our road and has led us to where we are today. I've been given many gifts as a result of our IF, and without it, I know I am a much different person. There are times I want to take back all of the selfish comments I made about children; all the times I said I didn't want them. But I can't. There is no going back. But what I am slowly doing is forgiving myself. Forgiving myself for losing myself, for losing that girl who wanted 4 children and laughed in the face at anyone who told her differently. I am understanding now a bit more why I am so determined to walk the line between the life I have and the life I want so carefully. I lost sight of the life I wanted once before, and I am living the regret that I so dread.

It is freeing to say that. To admit there is regret. To find a bit of a reason behind my intense desire to get this road of IF "right." To acknowledge that I can have regret, but at the same time say I wouldn't change the road we've taken. There is an awareness that the road, that has not been what I planned, got me to where I am today. And it is in that awareness that my hope is found. That despite this road leading to more pain than I ever dreamed possible, will lead to a joy beyond imagination. That somehow, someway, this cross will be lifted. That it leads to life.


Missing Them

Is it too late to say Happy New Year? Since this is my first post of 2013, I'm gonna say it's not too late 'round here, so Happy New Year!

I've had a bit of writer's block and a lot of busy to start the New Year, but something January posted today got me thinking about an experience from last night that I noted at the time, but didn't have words for and would probably have forgotten about.

About a month ago, I shared Laura Bush's comments on infertility.

And today, January posted about that same quote and the song "Call Me, Maybe." She highlighted the specific line of: Before you came into my life I missed you so bad, you should know that I missed you so, so bad.

While Mrs. Bush speaks on infertility and Carly Rae Jepsen sings about finding a husband, it has been noted many times in this blogosphere that the waiting experienced in both can be similar, without any idea of how long it will continue. It is true, there are no words to describe someone who is not there, so we are left with saying we "miss" the child or husband who is not yet in our lives.

When we look to our future, at any time, we all have dreams, hopes, plans, goals. It is our human nature to look forward to what may come. For most of you reading this, and myself, we dreamt of a husband and children. For a long time, those dreams are joyous look-forward-tos; plans for the future; sources of excitement. But then, something happens and time passes, and those dreams start to become reminders of what isn't and may never be, moments of missing the future planned.

So many times in our early marriage when The Man and I would sit down to have dinner, I would picture children and find joy in planning our future. I would smile at the thought of crumbs on the table or a child playing nearby who had finished quickly and been excused from the table.

But last night, as we sat down to dinner, I glanced around and I missed those children. I looked right at the spot where I could picture one playing (a bit too close to the dog's tail), and I looked to the table where I could see the crumbs and chubby fingers full of crackers. It was as if I could see the life, the lives, the people, that I dreamt of, only instead of seeing it as a future and full of joy, I saw it as a shadow of what could be, and I missed it. It was a fleeting moment, a pause in a dinner conversation of laughter, teasing, and silliness; a moment that The Man, if he noticed a change on my face, he didn't say anything about it.

Yes, someone(s) I've never had, never met, I missed. Someone(s) I may never have, may never meet, I missed. I miss them.