Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unfinished Business

Kutless sings this song called "I'm Still Yours" and in it there are beautiful lines, some are similar to questions that I have also been asking myself these past few years...

When my life is not what I expected

The plans I made have failed

When there’s nothing left to steal me away

Will You be enough for me?

Will my broken heart still sing?

(More lyrics here.)

And I think the truth is that it will remain a question. I will continue to ask that of myself- and have to make that daily decision quite possibly for the rest of my life.
Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt my relationship with Christ and His love for us. My view of God has not been shaken and in fact, my understanding of Him has deepened.

He is a faithful God, but what about me?
I still remain a broken person, full of crap-o-la baggage, so it doesn't mean that it makes it any easier to trust Him in the times when things are so not what you thought they should be and you have no control over it. You know what I mean?
I love that the song ends with the whole idea that regardless of my response to God... I'm still Yours.

His infinite wide arms of grace overpowers my small whatevers.
Have a listen. Hope it speaks to you too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

In Her Shoes

Yesterday we spent a day at our second session preparing us for the adoption process. It was a whole day, so was quite intense.

(The husband and I are currently putting fertility treatment on hold and since our adoption stuff seems to be having a bit of progress we thought to keep it going, since we have been keen on that too. It is hard to get our heads around it, as it has come up earlier than we'd thought and there are so many massive issues to consider... but we are still looking forward to the possibility!)

In the lunch break, after I wolfed down my vegetable pie, I went to get a baby-gift as there was this cool store close by and I'm never in the area. I have to admit I had to have a little laugh (angry/sad/ironic/what-am-I-doing) on the inside...

Here I was, a woman struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss, attending an adoption info session, stepping into a trendy and gorgeous baby shop, Nature Baby, where immediately I was confronted with clever wooden toys and merino blankets, along with a pregnant mother with her first child in the stroller (oh the jealousy) and another couple bobbing along with their cute newborn.

(I'm sure you are thinking, "Then why did you go in?!!" and yes, I constantly ask myself that too... but I think I am trying to be normal and function like a normal person, or at least pretend to be normal haha. I don't want to be held back!)

Oh how I felt like a fraud. Sure I was buying a legitimate gift, but I felt like everyone could see right through me... like they knew how ridiculous I felt walking around that shop, desiring every ounce of everything it represented.

This is not new for me. I'm sure so many others dealing with infertility know this all too well. There is no where to hide!

This morning I turned on the TV to catch Breakfast on doing a neat tribute to Christchurch and how resilient the community has been in the midst of the earthquake... and there is Pippa the delightful co-host talking who is 20 weeks pregnant with her third child talking about how she's clucky blahblahblah... I'm sorry but I had to turn down the volume as she spoke to the fortunate young couple and their baby born after the earthquake and went to get some laundry into the machine. Clean clothes is a good thing. Clean clothes is a good thing. Clean clothes is a good thing.

One of my most favourite TV shows is Project Runway (love it so much) and the recent season has only just started here a few weeks ago. I caught up on it last night and you know what's coming... the frustratingly super-beautiful and super-fertile Heidi Klum is on with her big pregnant belly staring right at me.

Please know, as I've said before, it is not that I'm actually mad at them and I know their lives are probably not all that simple either, it is just that they hold such stabbing reminders for me.

Before I go off topic haha, what I'd REALLY been wanting to say was... One of the things I've been learning about my journey is that is parallels quite closely with those who are single and desiring to be married, yet have had to wait on this too.

We both desire things that are on the whole positive (for me, to be a parent and for the single person, to be loved and cherished by a special person all your life), things that others seem to do quite naturally or easily, and we both understand that sense of being left behind while everyone else is 'progressing' ahead of you. We also both share the sense of sometimes feeling like the hope gets dimmer and dimmer as time ticks by- this may not be true but it feels like it.

I'm thankful that infertility has grown my ability to empathise with my friends who are single and wanting a husband and family. It has also taught me to be appreciative that I have the husband and am in a marriage where I could not ask for more...

But ANOTHER thing I thought of yesterday, after the adoption info session, was that infertility and loss has also expanded my empathy for birth mothers (women who for various reasons choose to give up their children for adoption). I get that they made a decision to give their baby up and a choice was made, while with infertility/pregnancy loss, it is mostly not as a result of choice... but I think I empathise with the overall sense of loss.

I guess I'm thinking that if pregnant women (why do I notice them all the time and everywhere?!), kids in the play corner, moms with strollers, baby shops, cars with baby seats, diaper ads, baby food aisles, baby showers, baby dedications, kids in supermarket trolleys, etc, constantly remind me of the babies I have yet to have or yet to meet, then it must do something quite similar for some birth mothers too.

The baby that they carried to full-term and gave up to someone else (sure they are very possibly in better care) is not with them and they have surrendered their rights to be parents. I'm sure they miss their child too.

Somehow that struck me quite strongly yesterday as someone spoke about the topic... hmmmm.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


(Took these photos this morning... been stormy around here but nice to spot some signs of spring! These are flowers of our nectarine tree...)

(See the little buds!)

This past weekend, including Friday, I attended a 3-day course and it was really good- just got really physically tired by the end of it. Out of just nine women there, there was one who was pregnant (of course!) and at first I didn't notice, so it caught me a bit by surprise (surprise #1).

However later on when we were all chatting, she openly mentioned that the baby she was expecting was an egg-donor baby (surprise #2)! That was the first time I'd ever met someone who'd gone down that route.

For her, the major reason was her age- she is 48 (surprise #3)! (She looks like she's 40.) And even though she's had two kid previously, her husband felt very strongly about having another child and that's why they are...

They even spent a fortune and went all the way to the U.S. to get the egg-donor (surprise #4)! Crazy huh...

Now I am not here to unpack all the ethical and moral issues with having a child when you are older and also having an egg-donor, I know there's a lot that could be discussed, but it was definitely interesting.

I think I'm noticing that infertility has made me a lot less quick to judge about this kind of situation. The 'pre-IF' me would be more immediately critical about it and yet now I've learnt that there is a lot to this desire to have children and it is hard to know when to keep trying and when to stop. Also, as I'm a Christian, there is a certain framework from which I may make decisions about these things, but for others, it is not quite so distinct.

Anyway. Not quite sure if this makes sense and why I brought that up but it was quite fascinating for me...

Maybe despite the complicated issue that it is, it simply just represented hope for those still waiting? (Even though I'm definitely not considering trying at 48!)

More of Sammy

We've had Sammy for almost two weeks now... here are some pics.

So rare to get a photo of him looking at me!

He likes to snooze on the beanbag when we are in the living room.

We've noticed that he likes to hide his treats instead of eat them! Seems really bizarre. You won't find me hiding any bits of chocolate (though I might try and then fail). Pretty funny watching him save his bones and biscuits and take them out and bury!

Sammy's real sweet with us but he has also come with a few issues. He has some separation anxiety and is confused with when to be protective/aggressive when we are out for walks. They say this is all linked to being in a new environment without his long-time doggy friend that he relied on in his previous home. Now we have a lot of work to try and figure this out... so we'll see how it goes. We knew it'd be hard work but we weren't quite expecting this much stuff! Honestly not quite sure whether to laugh or cry about life's issues sometimes! Anyway... here is Sammy waiting outside a room door for the husband to come out! Funny huh.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Coping Strategies

(Staying afloat!)

When I was doing our last round of fertility, I made myself list things I could still look forward to even if the round didn't 'work'. As I've gone on in this journey of treatment cycles, I've learnt to sort of plan ahead for both good news and bad. (This may sound like I don't have enough 'hope', but trust me... the impact of the disappointment I have had reflects the amount of hope I held for each round. Planning for life beyond that is brutal but was something I needed to do.)

When Round 8 ended in loss, I looked at that list that was supposed to help me 'carry-on' with so much distaste. I just felt inconsolable, probably like any other grieving person initially. After all, those of you in similar shoes know that there is VERY little that can measure up to getting pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy and having a child. (I have to admit that stating those three things seem like an impossibility to me now.)

But this last week or so, I'm glad I had that list. Yes they may be so different, in light of what I'd really really really like to be doing, but they are still things that are significant and I'm thankful to be able to do, or at least attempt to do them. Here they are:
- run the Auckland Half Marathon (um... if my knee lets me)
- do a Pilates Instructor course (it is this weekend!)
- continue pursuing the process of education and application towards possibly adopting (cos' if I was pregnant they make you pause this process)- very excited!
- start a local infertility support group via church (or a network of some kind at least!)- this has been something I've been wanting to do for ages! Anyone keen? Let me know.

None of these take the pain away but I'm stoked that I have these things as challenges to keep my heart and mind occupied in a positive way.

On another note, I survived buying new-born diapers for two friends who've each had their gorgeous babies born this past week. Go them! (And go me!) I heaved the two massive boxes of diapers (gifts for them) on top of my usual groceries, and to be honest, I felt like such a faker... cos' then I continued down the aisle past the REAL mothers who were picking what jars of baby food to get for their babies. Thankfully the aisles are not that long and I reached the frozen foods without running over anyone.

Which is easier? Shopping for baby clothes or buying baby diapers? I'm not that sure. (Don't get me wrong. I love getting gifts, but some days I'm just also thankful for the invention of shopping online, vouchers and gift cards!)

Anyway. I'm coping okay. Hope you are too.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sammy the Dog

Here are some pics!
Sammy is our (almost) three-year-old dog. He is a cross of some sort (they say staffie and lab). We just brought him home last night (exciting!!!), so he is still adjusting. He is a sweet dog and very cute, but he is nervous and not quite sure of his new home yet- fair enough, he's only ever had one owner and they had another dog too, so this new home may seem quieter and a little lonely. The accidents have aleady started haha! Let's hope they don't stay too long. Any tips?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bits and Bobs from Blogdom and uh... me

Expectations has been an often-on-my-mind topic to me. What do we do with them? Similar to hope, we need it and it is good to have it, but it also is hard to deal with when it is not fulfilled or takes a turn, or a lot of turns.

Today there was a post from Stirrup Queens on it that made me go, "Like TOTALLY." as with a lot of other posts from women dealing with IF stuff. Here it is if you want to read it.

The impact of death and life is something I've thought a bit about these past couple years. With a close and special friend going through the loss her mother, as well as our multiple pregnancy losses, I've been forced to think through some things that I didn't really have to before. I think a big thing for me these days is wondering what the after-life is like.

Today there was a post about the fear of death, from Jared, who has cancer and cannot escape the reality of his situation. I think it is his honesty that strikes me.

His blog is a sobering read (he takes great photos too) and a helpful way to keep some perspective on things in life- knowing how other people are going through massive things, things beyond my understanding. I've been learning a lot.

On a totally separate note/table of random objects, we are bringing home a dog today! We are so pleased to be finally getting a dog, as we have been thinking of getting one for ages. His name is Sammy and we found him free on a classified on Trade Me. (We love this NZ site for everything you can find/sell on it.)

Factors that we previously thought were issues have just worked out well or we've found a way around them, and what neat timing too. This has been a nice little burst of sunshine for us this past week.

Okay. I have to admit I have also been nervous about it, as I don't know if he'll adjust well, like it here, like us, pee everywhere and whether I'll be firm enough with him, trip over him in the night, get used to the poop-picking-up again or constantly vacuuming. So many things! Haha. It has been a while since I've had a dog. The first time for the husband and I together.

A part of me is wondering if this is a tiny peek into the anticipation of adopting a child too. Oh gosh if I'm a small wreck now waiting for a dog (pets being something I'm kinda familiar with), I'll be a junkyard of psycho with a kid!

Anyway. Talk more soon.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Timely Treats

In the midst of stuff, I've been very fortunate to have friends and family caring for us. Here are some things that I'm thankful for these past few weeks.

1. Beautiful flowers (and notes) from friends!

Brightening up a rainy day. (Thanks Jul.)
Colourful gerberas light up the house. (Thanks S.)

(There was also a lovely rose- thanks L, but can't see it in the pic...)

2. Beauty in the bleak weather. (It is still a bit cold and wet around here, even though it is officially spring. )

Love these. Spidey in the rain... it got washed away later on though.

3. Be nice to your family cos' they send you nice things.

We got sent these mini Reese's cups in the mail! (Dark chocolate ones too!) They came with a bunch of books I'd gotten my bro and sis-in-law in the U.S. to send over to me, cos' Amazon shipping is a killer to NZ.

I got this cute apron from my sis-in-law in Canada, along with new photos and videos of my nephew and niece (love!) and some other things. (Had to go to the garage to find the husband to take a pic for me haha. ) Here I am wearing it with my um... running gear.

If you want one too, her friend has a shop...

Thanks guys!

4. This weekend, the husband and I got to spend some time together on Saturday night. We took the bus into downtown Auckland cos' we didn't know if traffic would be bad, as there were some closures for the two days...
We had bubble tea downtown. This place called Hulu Cat Cafe totally rocks.  (His drink is Caramel Milk Tea with Coffee Jelly. Very Asian I know...)

5. Great music- We went to a Sons of Korah gig. They are an Aussie band who sing the Psalms. Like straight from the Bible! It was beautiful.
It was held at an old church, St Pauls, so the sound and atmosphere was really cool. It was especially special cos' they ended with Psalm 91, which has been very close to my heart these past couple years.

One funny thing was that we were some of the few younger people in the crowd. Haha. Didn't know they were more appreciated by the older folk.

6. Glad we got to go. After the concert, a couple we knew there gave us a ride home! So sweet cos' even though the bus ride home isn't too bad, it was gonna be a long walk to the bus-stop.

7. My friend C gave me a cute strawberry plate as a 'cheer up' gift. I can be a bit of a random collector of interesting things, and if they are red, that's even better.

I put it on my shelf...

8. I got a new FRYING PAN! I am so stoked. (It was half-price at Farmers.)

The speckled one is the new one (ceramic). The other one is the old one, which we got from our wedding presents six years ago, which I really liked using too- had a waffle-y surface. I had gotten so used to it that I had no idea how much better a new one would be. It is heavier which already makes it fab cos' the other one never did sit straight- if you look carefully at the pic you'll see one side is more burnt than the rest haha.

Sounds silly but frying eggs was like so much fun, cos' it was super smooth and easy to flip! What a difference! Looking forward to trying it with pancakes. The ultimate test.

9. My friend L makes awesome biscotti! She dropped some off at my front door. A cool surprise.
Not the best pic but this one is strawberry and yoghurt biscotti and it tastes brilliant! I was gobbling it up.

10. Still on baking, my friend KP also made us a big box of chocolate and oat cookies (thankfully not all on the same day haha), but I didn't get a pic of them. Tasted good!

Thanks everyone. God has been sustaining us and caring for us through others.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Round 8 Ends- I Want To Wake Up

About a week and a half ago I ended my two-week-wait to Round 8. (Round 8 was ovulation induction with Puregon/Gonal F injections and IUI.) You IF girls out there know how agonizing that wait is... we found out that my blood tested positive for pregnancy hormones but it was too low to be sustained.

My two-week-wait turned into a three-week-trauma. We did a couple more blood tests following that and this week it was confirmed that the pregnancy hormone levels dropped sharply and will continue to do so. In short, we were pregnant but had an early early miscarriage.

We are gutted.

We don't know the whys and probably won't for a while. It continues to remain a mystery medically and I've resolved to be okay with that. I would love to know but in the meantime... not knowing is also okay.

(I'm going to be upfront and say: If you have any new suggestions for reasons or ways to overcome recurrent miscarriage please DON'T share them with me right now, unless you yourself have gone through the same thing. It is just hard for me to receive such info at the moment.)

The word 'pregnant' has never been harder to spit out. I didn't want to use it because it sorta speaks it into 'being'. Sort of like saying it means I have to engage in all the possibilities it brings. I know some of you are familiar with this feeling too, whether or not the pregnancy is going well, where we don't dare to embrace the thought or reality because it could be too hard.

However, the truth is that egg-met-sperm, there was implantation, there was life, but beyond that, we don't know. It didn't go as we'd hoped.

I knew it'd get awkward at some point, blogging so openly about my life. Now I'm here- I don't know how to describe it. I want to be open, but sometimes that comes back to bite me because my vulnerability is also up for grabs.

As this dragged on, I struggled to have any social contact because I have not been functioning like a normal person. Up till a couple days ago, I pretty much just hid in my little shell and hoped everything would go away.

I hate that I've become so familiar with grief. I've been here before, but I didn't want to be here again, or this often. (Grief not just to do with loss but also to do with the disappointment of unexpected procedures, failed cycles, negative tests, the arrival of the pd- or AF.)

That 'shock' that really isn't just a simple zappy-jolt, but a lingering weight lasts longer than you think- where you are wading through a bog of thick air and everything is just empty inside. Hollowed-out. The worst part is that you feel like you are outside of time, but reality is that you are not and you desperately want the world to stop spinning because your everything has just frozen.

It has felt so much like a bad dream. A recurring one. Except the part where you wake up doesn't happen.

I hate that my texts/messages to those who have been waiting and praying with us have become the same: 'Worked but it is not going well...'

Sick of it.

I've had about ten days since the initial news to grieve, so the anger and frustration has subsided quite a bit. Thank you for praying for us and giving me the space to lie low. I'm very fortunate to have understanding friends and an empathetic workplace.

It has felt like it has gotten harder each round. We know it has probably got a lot to do with the reality of loss... so simply 'trying again' is really not so straightforward. It feels like another round is too hard to bear right now, so we are just going to try and focus on other things and see how it goes.

I hate that this is our fourth pregnancy loss and I hate that it sounds like just another number. This little bud of life was as precious to us as each of the other ones... and yet it is so hard to know how to acknowledge him/her because it was so brief and so invisible.

Oh Lord I have so many questions for you.

Thank you for praying for us and being there for us. We prayed for a miracle and in a sense we got it, but in another sense, we're also not sure what happened.

Thankfully, I'm been okay physically and I know the husband and I will recover. We know God is a God of hope, as much as it is hard to see.

In the meantime, yeah... this SUCKS so bad. But one-day-at-a-time continues to sound pretty handle-able.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Desert Song

It has been a long week.

Are you empty, desolate and worn? Is your soul parched and your heart hoarse?

This is me.

The other day my friend Ruth wrote to me (all the way from LA) and shared this song with me, Desert Song, which is a good reminder to praise God in the times we don't want to. Funnily enough, the writer of the song (and one of the singers) is Brooke Fraser, who is a much respected local (NZ) musician who also does stuff with Hillsong. (Her new album is coming out soon, sounds like it could be a good one!)

You may already know the song but if not do have a listen! (Oh. Just letting you know, the link contains video too. I don't always like looking at people worship as I find it a little weird/invasive, but that's just me ha. I think I just get easily distracted visually... so I just focus on the music.)

R actually specifically shared this with me because of the story behind the song's main singer, Jill. So if you want, you can also listen to the interview clip as it talks about the lead (Jill McCloghry) singer's experience of baby loss close to when she was recording this album.

Thanks for sharing girl!

I'm Still Here!

Just wanted to drop in and say I haven't dropped off the face of the earth! (Though some days I really wouldn't mind disappearing from reality for a while.)

Will be posting again soon!