Well, Hello There!

Long time, no see!

I want to take a second to just say THANK YOU.  To all of you that have unconditionally supported – and continue to support – us through all the trials we’ve faced in the last 4-5 years.  It’s certainly been a roller coaster and we could NOT have made it through without the love, prayers, and encouragement that we have received.

I’ve not shared much of what happened on our adoption journey and I guess it was mostly because – for a while – we were just waiting.  While we were waiting, one of my tasks was to create a book that our adoption agent could use to show to prospective birth families.  It was supposed to have pictures of us, stories about us, where we live, grew up, what we like to do for fun, etc.

Folks, let me tell you – that book was HARD.

You know how movies have previews?  And it’s basically the highest/funniest points of the movie shown?  The ones that really sell you on the movie and make you say ” I HAVE to see that!”?  I kinda felt like that’s what we were doing.  I know it sounds a little taboo to say that we were ‘selling’ ourselves, but it felt that way.  I felt like we needed to find the best pictures and the best stories so that we’d really catch someone’s eye.  And the more I worked on the book, the more my emotions started building.

My emotions were already crazy heightened (I’m sure my husband would be happy to vouch for that), but this seemed to tip me right over the edge.  Aside from all of the obvious unfairness about adoption – birthmothers placing their children, adoption agencies making so much dang money, etc. – it did NOT feel fair that someone else got to choose if and when we got to be parents based on whether or not they liked our book.

If you know me, you know that I’ve struggled with deep, dark depression for many years.  I fought that darkness for so long while dealing with treatments and miscarriages, but all of a sudden, the perfect storm converged and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

Being a mother is something that I have longed for as far back as I can remember.  And after getting married, being a parent became a shared dream.  Never would I have thought it would stay a dream.

We fought long and hard to reach our goal.  We gladly gave up a lot of things and cut back on so many more to save everything we could.  We were asked by so many amazing people how they could help, so we reached out to all of you and you stepped up in ways we never could have imagined.  All of your donations got us SO MUCH FURTHER than we ever could have gotten alone.  And we could never fully thank all of you properly.

But as I started looking at our life, I realized that – even though the cost of adoption was high, the price we were paying through health and our marriage was even higher.

J was working two jobs (still is) and I was stretched so thin emotionally, that it started manifesting itself physically.  After talking (A LOT), praying (A LOT), crying (just me but A LOT), and realizing that we’d exhausted our donations and funds towards the adoption, we decided that we were going to just take a step back.

From the day we got married, we were so focused on starting a family that we forgot to recognize that we already WERE one.

So, that’s where we are now.  We’ve put adoption on hold and are spending time learning how to just be who we are instead of stressing over who we could be.

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Strength from Our Struggles

When you first think about that statement, it seems crazy.  But when you really think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Weightlifters have to struggle through resistance to gain strength.  Kids have to struggle through falling off their bikes to gain the strength to get back on and try again.

Sometimes, facing our fears and weaknesses can become not only our biggest strength but a great testimony.

I’ve been through a LOT in my life.  A LOT.  A lot of struggles.  A lot of pain.  A lot of junk that I remember thinking “WHY ME?!”  And in the midst of those struggles, I used to hear from people “Someday, you will be able to use this to help someone else.”  **Cue the eye roll and whiny voice**  ” But whyyyyyy do I have to go through it at ALLLL?!”

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It’s a great sentiment to tell people that their struggles will be someone else’s strength some day.  I guess I just didn’t really stop to think about how it could actually be MY strength too.

I’ve been able to speak with young women who are in abusive relationships.  I’ve been able to talk to young women who struggle with being let down by someone who they’d placed on a pedestal.  I’ve been able to talk to women who are battling with the emotions that come with empty arms.

I’m still affected by all of those things.  Some days, it feels like the blind leading the blind.  But other days…  Oh, other days it feels like all the pain and tears and struggling were worth it just to feel that connection with someone who needed to not just hear the words “I know how you feel” but needed to actually FEEL that I know how they feel.

Tonight, I was sent a link to a sermon by an old friend of mine.  It’s from Elevation Church and a series called “How to be Brave”.  The one I listened to tonight was called “See It Through” and in it he says:

“What if God wants to show you your purpose, but He wants you to see it through your pain?”

Maybe I’m starting to see my purpose through my pain.

Do I still wish that I didn’t have to struggle?  Sure.  Do I still wish that God would lighten up with the trials already?  Of course.  Do I still wish that I didn’t have to feel the pain?  Absolutely.

But I am grateful for them.  My past has helped me create my present. 

If I’d not dealt with a LOT of the things I dealt with all those years ago, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am now.  If I’d not dealt with cowering from a raised hand, I wouldn’t have learned how to defend myself.  If I’d not dealt with constant comparisons, I wouldn’t have learned how to place more worth in my opinion of myself.  If I’d not dealt with the pain of knowing what empty arms feel like, I may never have appreciated how the crook of my elbow might be the perfect pillow.

We grow through our pain.  We gain strength in our struggles.  We gain faith through fear.  And God knew that we would before we even dipped our toes in the pool of uncertainty.

Even now, J and I are facing a situation that we may be able to use to help others further down the road.  Oh, how I wish we weren’t facing it.  How I wish we knew what the outcome would be.  How I wish it didn’t hurt so much.

But oh, how it’s making us stronger.  How it’s making us dig in, dig deep and hold tightly.  To each other and to our faith.

Oh, how we are gaining strength from our struggle.

God Knows

Last week, I wrote a blog about how J & I feel like God is leading us down the path of adoption. The amount of support, encouragement and love I got from that post was overwhelming! As tough of a decision as it was, we feel peaceful about it.  Which is a sure sign that we are doing what God wants us to do… Lately, I’ve felt the need to clarify that through this entire journey, J & I have trusted God to work things out to His will.  We know that God’s ways are not our ways and that sometimes, He doesn’t answer our prayers the way that we ask Him to, but that doesn’t mean our prayers have gone unanswered. God's Plans A couple of years ago we went to a church when we lived in Louisville that we always felt so comfortable at.  We’ve been searching for a church home for a while and now that we are back in Louisville, decided to go back. The preacher that was there before is no longer there, but we still very much enjoyed it.  A very friendly man came and introduced himself to us.  He’d only been with the church for about 3 weeks but was a new ministry partner and was trying to meet as many new people as possible. The gentleman that usually does the music ministry for the church was the guest preacher on Sunday.  He spoke of avoiding distractions and using interruptions as opportunities to grow closer to God. And then…  he began to speak about how him and his wife are in the process of adopting a child.  They have grown children of their own, but they feel that God is leading them to be a miracle to a child that needs it. **Cue the waterworks** I feel that God knew we needed to be there and hear what this man had to say as a way of encouraging us. I filled out a “Visitor Card” and dropped it in the offering plate, and received the pleasant surprise of an email today from the man who introduced himself to us on Sunday.  He spoke of finding time to get together to speak of connection opportunities, learning more about the church and possibly finding a church home.  He even mentioned coming and having dinner with his family!  It was really nice to have someone reach out to us so warmly and quickly! On the adoption front…  I was disappointed to learn that the agency we’d chosen to pursue adoption with wasn’t accepting adoptive families at the time. It was hard to not be discouraged and feel completely deflated.  But I’m no quitter! I asked the woman at that agency if she had any suggestions of other agencies in the area and she gave me about 6 or 7 names.  I went online and perused through a few of them and one kind of stood out. I sent an email and received a VERY prompt reply!  I was able to talk to a woman from the agency today and we have a consultation on Thursday night!!! She works in a city that is about an hour away and is even driving here to Louisville to meet us and talk with us!  I was very impressed with her as she was so patient and personable with me as I was asking questions.  She made me feel very comfortable and I am VERY excited to meet with her and learn more! I asked her if she was ok with J’s mom joining us, because I know that we all have questions and I want to make sure that our bases are covered…  She seemed so truly excited that I had asked her that.  She said that she LOVES when whole families are involved in this process and feels like it’s so important. Today, I feel more at peace about all of this than I think I really have since we made the decision. I’m not going to get too excited, just because …  well, because I’m probably more of a realist than I should be and always feel the need to keep the “what-if’s” in mind so that my heart is protected. But at the same time, my heart is absolutely flip-flopping with joy, excitement and anticipation!! We are truly on our way to building our family!!! And it is so comforting to know that, above all else, GOD KNOWS. Blessed-By-Adoption

Being A Miracle

For those of you that are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram, you know that I made a post a bit ago that alluded to an emotional decision.  This is the blog that is going to explain that decision.

I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mommy.  I remember as a little girl subjecting my dolls to diaper changes and baths and feedings.  I have worked with children in so many different capacities and it has always been the one thing that has made my heart feel full.

Infertility has attempted to take that from me.

It has attempted to take the excitement I would feel when I see a pregnant woman.

It has attempted to take the joy I would feel when I would go to see a friend of mine who had gone into labor or had a baby.

It has attempted to take the giddiness I would feel when thinking about a baby-making opportunity with my husband.

Infertility has attempted to replace those feelings with jealousy, anxiety, feelings of failure, sadness.

And most days, infertility has won those battles.  But infertility won’t win the war.

After 32 long months of prayer, heartaches and long conversations with J,  the fact remains that our calling in life is simple.

To be parents.

If there is one lesson I have learned REPEATEDLY, it is that biology is the VERY LEAST of what makes someone a parent.

After our 3rd failed IUI, as I was messaging J through the sobs and tears, he made a comment that I have never forgotten.  “I know how badly you want this, and I do, too.  But maybe there’s a child out there that needs US more than we need this.

And with that on our hearts, we have decided to stop pursuing the avenue of IVF and go full steam ahead down the path of adoption.

I can’t lie and say that there isn’t a small part of me that feels like I am “letting go” of the dream of seeing our biological child look at me through their daddy’s eyes.  It would have been a welcome miracle to get pregnant, but to have the opportunity to be a miracle to a child that otherwise may not have a chance?  Now THAT’S big!

We have changed our IVF fundraiser to an Adoption fundraiser and will hopefully soon be having a homestudy done in order to move one step closer to building our family!

Miraculously My Own

I have SO many emotions and nerves!  I constantly find myself wondering whether I will actually be a good mom…  But I guess it’s one of those things you can’t really study for.  You just jump in the deep end and learn to swim as you go!

I know that this process can take quite a long time, so J and I would GREATLY appreciate all of the prayer and good thoughts you can send our way!

If you’d like to check out our fundraiser (or donate!) you can find it at www.youcaring.com/munchkin-mcnabb

You can also “like” our Facebook page – Munchkin McNabb

Thank you SO much to all of you for your support and love through our journey!!  We are so amazingly grateful!!

NOT the Best Day Ever

Well, the suspense was short-lived.

Patience not being my strong suit, I checked my email first thing upon waking up this morning only to find an email from the foundation we applied through. I found this…

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I know God knows. I know His plans are best. I know in my heart that we will be parents. I’m just not sure how.

Today will be hard – as will many days after – but thankfully I have an amazingly supportive husband and great friends that are feeling my pain with me and we will continue to be surrounded by encouragement and love.

I felt pretty peaceful after reading it. Then as I read my devotional this morning, I was reminded that God wants me to fully trust in Him. So, I’m going to do that. I just wish it didn’t so often feel like I’m being left behind…

So, it may not be the best day ever, but it’s not the worst either.

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One of THOSE Days

When dealing with infertility, some days are better than others.

Who am I kidding?  A day is a LONG time.

When dealing with infertility, some minutes are better than others.

I NEVER knew that I could feel so many emotions at once.  In fact, most of them are conflicting.

Lately I’ve been doing pretty good.  I’ve been pretty even-tempered and content.  But apparently, life wanted to reteach me lessons I’ve already learned.

Today (now yesterday) started out as a great day.  And it stayed that way most of the day.  And then…

And then, I tried to update my iPhone.  And lost EVERYTHING.  Pictures, data, contacts, dr’s appointments, fertility information.

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When you’re as OCD as I am and you keep all things TTC in your phone – temps, dr’s appts, cycles, symptoms – and you lose everything, it feels like you’ve lost a limb.

Even if you aren’t OCD, being thrust into the world of infertility will change all of that.  You will document everything.  You will put it on your calendar.  You will save every doctor’s phone number and address.  You will download MANY apps to track every. possible. symptom.  And if you lose it all, it’s devastating.

Infertility will change a LOT of things about you.  After walking in the storm for awhile,  you will soon realize you aren’t the same person that walked into it.

My faith is very important to me.

I trust that God knows exactly how this will all end.  I pray every day that it will end the way I dream, but more importantly, I pray that His will be done and that I will not be too stubborn or bitter to accept it.

There are days that I cry.  There are days that I scream.  There are days that I smile.  There are days that I talk.  There are days that I don’t say a word.

And they are all the right way to handle my emotions.

I’ve found that I have to let myself feel every emotion I have as they come, or it turns into something much worse later.  But I’ll go into that tomorrow.

Tonight, I’m just going to sit here and process.  And get all of my Dr’s phone numbers off the internet so I can call tomorrow and find out when our appointments are again.

And then I’m going to go to Walmart and buy a calendar and a journal so that I won’t have another one of THOSE days.

P.S.  Sorry this blog is more of a rant than an informative, National Infertility Awareness Week blog post!  But I guess that’s life, huh?!

Aside

MTHFR & Me

Where do I even start?  This last week has been torture.  I despise waiting…  ESPECIALLY when it’s the kind of waiting that is wrought with anticipation.  Remember that insanely LARGE amount of blood that I had drawn a couple of weeks ago?  Well, I finally got the results of that.  I don’t fully understand what it means just yet, but I am digging as deep as I can to learn, so bear with me as I try to explain it…

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I was diagnosed with a compound heterozygous MTHFR mutation.  (No, It’s not an abbreviation for a dirty word, although it’s VERY fitting!)  I had some additional blood work done today to find out whether I will need to be referred to a hematologist or simply be treated by Family Care Dr.  There isn’t much information on it yet, as it’s still something that’s being studied.  One of the simplest blogs I’ve read that helps explain it is by Kate Powe, titled “From Infertility to Depression to Cancer.  Why you need to get to know MTHFR”  where she breaks it down into kind of an MTHFR for Dummies!  One way she describes it is – it’s a mutation of a gene who’s “role is to produce an enzyme that converts folate into the body’s bioactive form, methylfolate.”  She says “If you happen to have this genetic hiccup, it results in a defective MTHFR enzyme which leads to a substantial reduction of the enzyme’s function …  The impact that a faulty MTHFR gene can have on the entire body is so far-reaching, it’s considered to be linked to a host of chronic diseases, including: cardiovascular disease, clotting disorders and thromboembolism, congenital defects, recurrent miscarriage, neural tube defects, infertility, chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, migraine, anxiety, ADD, autism, cancer, diabetes, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar and addictions.”  (italics by me)

There are a couple of spots on a certain strand of DNA that this gene can mutate/copy.  Position 677 & 1298.  There are a few different ways that it can copy also.  Heterozygous means there is 1 copy of either the 677 or 1298 mutation from one parent plus a normal gene from the other, homozygous means there are 2 copies of the 677 & 1298 mutation, one from each parent.  Compound heterozygous (me) means you have one copy of the 677 mutation from one parent and one copy of the 1298 mutation from the other parent.

As it relates to pregnancy, it can cause blood clots, miscarriage, neural tube defects, pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, Down Syndrome, just to name a few.

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Ok, enough of the science mumbo-jumbo…  what does it all MEAN?!  From what I can understand, it means that with this mutation  (side note: every time I hear that word I think of X-men)  my body can’t process certain things the way that it’s supposed to which increases my risk of risk of a variety of cancers, heart problems & all kinds of other stuff that makes it sound like the speed talking portion of the side effects on a medicine commercial!

So, as you can see, it’s a LOT to take in.  My head is spinning and my brain is on information overload!  Prayers for answers have not gone unheard, it’s just not what I was expecting – AT ALL!  Since it’s something that’s in my DNA, it can’t be “fixed” (yet) but it seems fairly treatable.  It seems through diet and lifestyle changes, the levels that this mutation throws off can be balanced, and therefore the side effects lessened.  I will be taking a low-dose (81mg) aspirin every day, and while TTC will be needing to take extra folate.  If I can get pregnant again,  it seems I will need to take – either by injection or pill – a blood thinner so as to decrease the chance of clots that may result in another miscarriage.  It really does explain a LOT of the chronic illnesses and such that I’ve dealt with throughout my life!

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We still have so much more to learn and honestly, it terrifies me.  But we’ve fought so hard to get where we are, that it would make NO SENSE to roll over and give up now!

In other news, with my period being the absolute latest its EVER been (7 days!) and being in some severe pain over the weekend, I had some blood work and an ultrasound done today that confirmed that not only am I NOT pregnant but I have yet another cyst on my left ovary.  After a complete level 4 breakdown in the OB’s office – which I feel bad about cuz they’re so used to helping women that are pregnant, that they don’t quite know what to do with one that can’t get there – I dried my tears long enough to make it home and collapse in a heap.  I started the medication that I am supposed to take for 5 days in order to bring on my period in about two weeks, only to discover that it only took one pill in order to make my aunt arrive.

This last week has been torture…  But answers are slowly coming.  I’ve felt so discouraged and broken.  Just when I feel like my heart might be mending, something comes along and shatters it just a little bit more.  I KNOW that God knows.  I know that He has a plan.  I know that I’m PROBABLY stronger than I feel… but dang it all if I don’t just feel so beat up lately.  I’m gonna pull myself up by the bootstraps and learn about what our options are for conceiving and exactly what the relationship will be for MTHFR & me.

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