My Grown-Up Christmas List

It used to be that I REFUSED to put up my tree or ANY kind of Christmas decoration until the day after Thanksgiving.  Actually, it was ON Thanksgiving.

After I’d eaten (and then napped), on went the Christmas music, out came the decorations, and down went the Frothy Eggnog.  (Yes, I said Frothy.  It’s eggnog, rum and ice all mixed in a blender.)

I’d start with the Christmas village, and then moved forward with the rest of the decorations.  I’ve ALWAYS had an obsession with Christmas villages.  I LOVE them!

I love to sit and look down at them and imagine all the goings-on that are happening in the tiny little town.

Children giggling in bed until all hours.  Peeking down the stairs when they hear the floors creak.  Waking up before the sun to beg mom and dad to let them check out their stockings and open presents.

About 10 years ago or so, I found little ceramic houses.  I bought one thinking it would be good to help pass the time and little did I know that 10 years later I would still be collecting them and painting them one-by-one.

One painstaking, detail-oriented, OCD-in-full-effect house at a time.  Here’s a sneak-peek at a few of them!

They all start out like this!

They all start out like this!

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And then I add the details!

And then I add the details!

And then I add glitter for snooooow!

And then I add glitter for snooooow!

I think of those little houses like us.  Blank as can be, and then God fills in all the tiny little details – right down to the number of hairs on our head.

I found that when I got out on my own, my traditions changed.

My husband and I started our own traditions 7 years ago – it all started with a tree.  And it hasn’t changed since.  (It almost ended with a tree too, but that’s a WHOLE other story!)

The holidays have been kind of rough the last couple years.  I’ve always looked forward to the holidays with children.  While it’s not at all impossible for adults to enjoy Christmas without kids (side note: people who think it is are on my list of people I don’t want to hear comments from.  ever.)  I had just always dreamed about wrapping presents and filling stockings for our kids.  I had even hoped I would be able to do a creative, fun pregnancy announcement for the holidays!  But the last couple years, I haven’t much wanted to participate.

This year…  this year is different.  There’s a new sense of cautious optimism.  A tentative joy.  A watchful hope.

J and I have been ensconced in the process of adoption…  mountains of paperwork and doctor’s appointments and reference letters and background checks.  It’s seriously a LOT of work!

Part of all the paperwork are a LARGE list of questions that J and I have to answer separately.  Questions about the other.  Questions about ourselves.

Me being COMPLETELY OCD couldn’t just leave the answers in our own handwriting – noooooooo.  I had to type them up and then highlight my name in pink and his in blue for our respective answers.  (DON’T JUDGE.)

I answered my questions on my own and had J do the same.  As I was reading through his answers and typing them out – through tears – I realized something.

INFERTILITY SUCKS.  But if it weren’t for this trial, and for the amazing blessing we are preparing to receive, we would probably have never asked each other a lot of the questions.

  • Describe your personality
  • Describe your spouse’s personality
  • What’s your biggest strength/weakness?
  • What’s your spouse’s biggest strength/weakness?
  • What makes your marriage strong?
  • Describe your happiest/worst childhood memory

How many of you can tell me what your spouse’s favorite childhood memory is?

It sure does wake something up inside of you when you hear your biggest strength and weakness in someone else’s voice.  And it certainly does something to your self-esteem when you see yourself through someone else’s eyes.

I try SO HARD to be grateful for every situation we face.  Some days I fail.  Other days I fail MISERABLY.  Other days, I can almost feel the silver lining.  But I am SO GRATEFUL that I was able to learn those things!!

This year, as I was decorating our tree, the song “My Grown-Up Christmas List” sang by Michael Bublé came on.  And as he sang about wishing for no more lives torn apart, no war, time healing all hearts, everyone having a friend and love never ending, I wanted to write my own lyrics to the song, but my rhyming skills are SERIOUSLY lacking.

As I’ve grown older, my list has gotten smaller.  I’d like to say that the things I want can’t be bought, but as we all in the infertility world know, unfortunately they really CAN put a price on a child.

But they can’t put a price on happiness.

And after I finish my Grown-Up Christmas List, I won’t be sitting on any laps to tell what it is…  No, I’ll be reading it on my knees. 

Possibilities and Prayers

The last blog I wrote was before we had our first meeting with an adoption agent…  And then I left you all hanging.  I’m SORRY!!

I was VERY emotional for about a week afterwards.  It’s a whole new set of emotions that accompany this journey…

There is SO much involved in the process of adoption.  Paperwork, background checks, home study.

But it will all be so worth it in the end.

born not of our flesh

Adoption is one of those things a lot of people talk about, but I don’t think everyone actually understands.

Some people adopt because they can never have children.  Some people adopt because they feel like God is putting it on their hearts to do so.

And then there’s the birth mother.

What a painful, heartbreaking, emotional decision.

Yet one that is so completely selfless that it just astounds me.

It takes a strong woman to realize that they may not be capable of giving their child the life that they deserve and then trusting – often total strangers – to raise that child.

For us to be chosen by one of those women would be simply amazing.

Our faith is completely in God through all of this.

He knows the ending.  And He knows everything in between.

Awhile ago I wrote about how God Never Wastes a Hurt and it still holds so true.

There are some VERY exciting possibilities happening in the next few months and we are fully aware that this process can be frustrating and often heartbreaking.  But just like every thing else that we’ve done on this journey, we are trusting it to God.

We are praying for our child, wherever they are and whatever stage in life they may be.  We are praying for their biological parents that will entrust them to our care – for comfort and peace.  We will be forever thankful to them whenever they choose us.

thank-you

And we will take any and all prayers and good thoughts that you want to send our way!!

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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Tomorrow Might Be the Best Day EVER

Or, it could be one of the lowest.

For 8 weeks and 2 days I have been silently, anxiously awaiting news of the IVF Grant that we applied for.

piggy bank

Well, I was in contact with someone from the foundation this week and assured that I haven’t missed any previous announcements and that they were making their decision on Tuesday night and would be contacting the selected couples on Friday.

Friday is almost here.

This grant would mean SO many things to us. To even apply was a HUGE step.  Not quite as hard as it was to set up our YouCaring account, but same concept.

It’s not easy to ask for help.  Especially when it comes to something that most people don’t understand.

Things have felt like they are really looking up lately and I am nervously, excitedly, terrifyingly, anxiously, nauseously awaiting our answer.  I’m going to have to work really hard to not check my email every 15 seconds!  But with all the packing we have to do, I should be able to stay pretty busy!

Either way,  I know that we are strong.  We are resourceful.  And we WILL make it!!  I know that whether or not we are able to get pregnant, that we will be parents someday.

But getting this grant would ABSOLUTELY change our lives!

When you say your prayers tonight, would you please pray that first of all, I would sleep tonight!  And also, that we will have peace.  Regardless of the answer, that we will remember that it is all in God’s hands and He knows exactly how our story goes.

But mostly, please pray that tomorrow might be the Best. Day. EVER.

dear God

 

Resolve to Know More about Keeping a Sense of Humor with Infertility

Infertility is tough.

Infertility is stressful.

Infertility is an easy journey to “lose yourself” in.

That is why it is so important to me to keep a sense of humor.  Not a sick, twisted sense of humor, but to be able to laugh at jokes that will lighten a mood after a particularly tough day, or to be able to play with your spouse after a tense conversation or situation.

My husband is a VERY laid-back kind of guy.  Our counselor likens men’s emotions/thought processes to a chest of drawers.  While women are capable of having multiple drawers open at a time, men can have one – and only one – drawer open at a time.

The “I’m hungry, what’s to eat?” drawer.  The “I’m tired and want to zone out to the TV” drawer.  The “I wonder how my wife is feeling and how I can make her feel better” drawer.  Ok, maybe there’s not really a drawer for that, but there should be.

Most of us have emotions that run from frigid to you’re-gonna-get-burned-if-you-touch-me gamut.  We can go from a 2 (sad and depressed) to an 8 (laughing and joking) in a matter of seconds.  Well, maybe just me.  But my husband goes from a 4 to a 6 and that’s about the extent of his levels.

He just believes so strongly that everything is going to be okay that things don’t really bother him.  And he’s got the rebound of a rubber band after we have an argument.  Oh, how I wish I were that way!!

sleep like my husband

After my dad met J, I will never forget him telling me “you guys balance each other out so perfectly, it’s like you were made for each other.  He will calm you down, and you may be able to rile him up sometimes.”  Well, dad was right.  He may not get riled up very often, but I know just what buttons to push!  Tee-hee.

We are both stubborn as can be and we’ve had arguments that have left us not speaking for days.

But we’re learning to smile a little more.  We’re learning to laugh a little more.  We’re learning to enjoy our intimacy – beyond the temping and the opk’s and the perfectly timed sex.

We’re in this together.

We may be 1 in 8, but we are ONE.

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http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/Managing-Infertility-Stress/grieving-and-growing-creative-outlets-to-grieving-during-infertility.html

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

 

If you’d like to donate to our IVF fund, visit: www.youcaring.com/munchkin-mcnabb

Good Friday. Great Sunday.

Today is Good Friday.

The day that made Easter Sunday possible.

Without the pain and heartbreak, we wouldn’t have hope and expectation and excitement.

Christ knew what He was headed towards.  He knew that He would suffer unbearable pain and a brutal death.  He even pled for it not to happen.

But He knew.  He knew it was His Father’s Will.  He knew our eternal lives depended on it.  So He bore it.

He took the whips.  He took the crowns.  He took the nails.  He thirst.  He breathed his last painful breath, and then turned his Spirit over and died.

three crosses

His mother wept.  The soldiers mocked.  The criminals argued.  The earth shook.

And then they wrapped Him in clothes and placed Him in a guarded tomb.

For days, His followers and family mourned and grieved.  And then…

The tomb was empty.  He’d risen just like He said He would.

empty tomb

What a beautiful display of love.  That He thought of me as He hung on that cross and bore a pain that is unimaginable.

Unspeakable love.  Unthinkable mercy.  Unfathomable grace.

GRACEGod’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

We can’t earn it, it’s already ours.  Paid for by the sacrifice of a Son for the world.  Paid for by the blood of Someone that loved us so much that He suffered torture and death.

And then He rose again on that beautiful Sunday.

It’s the hope of Sunday that gives us strength to carry on.  To fight battles that we feel we are losing.  To trust our Father who loves us to bless us as He sees fit.  To give us a peace that passes understanding and a joy that comes in the morning.

It was Good Friday that gave us a Great Sunday.

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A Lot of Love + A Little Science

As I sit here, my lovely Aunt has decided to delay her arrival by a few days.  For the last 25 years of my life – well let’s call it 20, since it took some time to get it regulated after I started my cycles at the tender age of 10 – my cycle has been the ONE THING that I could count on.  The ONE THING that was constant.  And then January happened.  I’ve never looked forward to my period…  until after I bled for 11 days last month and was kind of anticipating when I would start again.  Not because I WANTED to.  But because I REALLLY hoped that after all this time that the ONE thing I’ve been able to count on being constant – isn’t changing.

change-same

Of course, it could be a GOOD thing.  I’ve even had some ‘symptoms’ over the last week or so.

Crampy feelings?  Check.

CRAZY tired?  Check.

Cold symptoms?  Check.

BUT, I’ve tested negative on every home test I’ve taken.  All one of them.  Don’t judge.  I can’t take that much bad news.

The irony is NOT lost on me that I just had my 35th birthday in January and now all of THIS crap.  I already know all of the statistics that say that my chances of getting pregnant naturally after 30 years old go WAY down – I didn’t need a reminder!  I’d already been dreading 35, as if it were some magic number.

After all of the issues with the bleeding from last month, in a visit with my OB I asked if there was anything that could be tested to tell if my body would even ACCEPT a pregnancy.  There is a panel of tests that they can do that will support that… but it is VERY costly and normally only done after a woman has 2-3 miscarriages.  Due to that fact that I’ve already had one, we’ve had 3 failed treatments and my age (ugh), my OB decided that they would go ahead and order that test.  It totally WIPED me out!! The first time I went in, they stuck me 4 times and could only get one vial.  The next day I went in and they got all they needed without a hitch, but it kinda sent me into a tailspin.  I’ve recovered from that but got to do the fun runaround on the phone today trying to get the results to my dr’s office so that I can find out just what the answer is!!  I told my sister and best friend earlier that I may just not be bleeding this month because I lost so much last month, my body may not have any to spare!!

blood

Anyway!  Did you know that a woman is born with ALLLL the eggs she’ll ever have?  A baby girl is born with over a million eggs!!  (I can’t help but picture Dr Evil, pinky to mouth, “one milllllllion eggs”)  By puberty, only 300,000 of them are left and only about 300 of THOSE will actually mature and release through ovulation.  According to an article I read on babble.com,  “many studies show that a healthy 30-year-old woman trying for a baby has about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month.  At 40, that number shrinks to 5 percent.  Add to it that the rate of miscarriage is higher in our 30s, as is the chance of having a baby with a genetic abnormality.”

So much information.  Some days it’s really hard to not get discouraged.  There has been a lack of blogs from me lately, mainly because I try not to write when I’m down.

I always have people telling me “Don’t lose faith” “Keep your hopes up” “If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen” and other such anecdotes.  I want this to be crystal clear…

I haven’t lost faith.  If anything, my faith has grown.  I have faith that God knows just what is going to happen.  I hope every month that it will be THE month.  But, unfortunately, that doesn’t make having to wait any better.  It doesn’t make negative tests any less painful to see.  It doesn’t make answers – or no answers – any easier to hear.

Many people have issues with women relying on science to get pregnant.  They feel that it goes against God’s will.  (Yes, I’ve actually had someone say that.)  My response is simply this…  Do you feel that way about medicine?  What if someone you knew had cancer?  Do you feel like it’d be going against God’s will for them to participate in chemo or radiation?  I know that cancer and infertility seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum as far as diseases go.  And I agree that the outcome can be much worse if cancer isn’t treated, but studies show that “women with fertility problems are as stressed, anxious, and depressed as women with cancer, heart disease, or HIV.  Blood tests, pills, injections, ultrasounds, and procedures cause stress and emotional upheaval in women.  Also, society fails to recognize the grief caused by infertility, so people denied parenthood tend to hide their sorrow, which only increases their feelings of shame and isolation.”  My point is – why is it ok to believe that God would give men and women the knowledge to create treatments that can cure diseases, but not include infertility treatments in that knowledge?  I’ve NEVER been more grateful for science IN MY LIFE!

love+science