Faithful Living and Infertility

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

“..The time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Whenever I would previously read verses such as the above found in Luke 9:23, I would think more of serving Christ in mission work where I’m going somewhere and doing something big and exciting with God.

I have had some really awesome times in my life serving God through mission work, but what I’ve come to find is that those experiences are more “mountain-top” experiences and not the daily reality of life in the valley. Surely we can serve God and honor Him in every day of our lives, in the little things and the big things. In fact, God says that those who are faithful with a little will be faithful with greater things.

I’ll talk more later about faithful living in the little everyday things, the service that no one but God sees, but today, I want to talk about glorifying God through your struggles with infertility. If your infertility journey has been anything like mine, there are little every day moments that you struggle through and really, really big moments that drain every ounce of strength you have.

I have always tried to live through this experience with infertility with a “mission focus” by choosing to believe that God is allowing these bad things to happen to me only because there is a greater eternal perspective that only He can see and that I will someday come to fully understand. But I’ll be honest, it has been really hard at times to stay focused. I often become distracted by the things of this world and I’ve often allowed my sorrow to be greater than my desire to see God glorified. I’ve allowed my sorrow and suffering to be greater than the suffering and sorrow of those who don’t know Jesus. I’ve allowed my temporary comforts and pleasures to be greater than the joy of seeing a wounded soul come to Christ for redemption and healing.

Even though I am unworthy, God is always calling me back to the gospel. Repent of my former way of doing things and live for Him. It’s the call that every Christian receives.

In July after coming back from vacation, I came back to Christ once again after walking away from him. This verse in Luke 9:23 where Jesus tells anyone who wants to follow him to deny themselves really took on an entire new meaning for me. What does it look like in my life to deny myself?

Of course infertility is not the only area of my life where I can apply this verse. Infertility is however one of the bigger struggles in my life and there are practical steps I can take to apply this verse to faithful living with infertility.

For me personally, denying myself with infertility looks a little like:

  • Denying my grief and choosing to rejoice with those who rejoice, even in the midst of my own mourning
  • Denying my bitterness and choosing to confess that to God and close friends who can be in prayer for me and support my healing towards peace. Choosing to believe instead of God being against me, that God is for me and He is using my story in a beautiful way that corresponds with his gospel message of redemption.
  • Denying my jealousy and choosing to celebrate other’s happiness and celebrate the gift of life from God.
  • Denying my pride when someone says something hurtful or puts their foot in their mouth and choosing to forgive and offer them the same grace that I know I don’t deserve for the many times I have said wrong things.
  • Denying my first reactions to turn away from God when I’m grieving and instead turn towards Him to “cast my cares upon Him” and trust that He is going to supply all I need to make it through this struggle.
  • Denying my unbelief that the only way I can be happy is to have children. Turning to God instead and finding that true joy comes from knowing Him and His great love for me and this world!
  • Denying that I am not strong enough to go through something difficult and instead turning to Christ for my strength and trusting that He will carry me through every battle I face.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point. Our infertility doesn’t have to be a wasted season of our lives where we feel left behind and wonder how anything good could come from this. I feel that, perhaps maybe, this might even be the best season of our lives – the season where our faith shines and God is glorified in big and beautiful ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.

God is giving each of us an invitation to join in His work. We have been given this incredible freedom through what Christ has done for us, yet we are called not to use our freedom for evil desires, but for good. We are called to rise above our pain, sorrow, and grief that this world so often brings and instead live with passionate love for God and for His people that He deeply loves. God wants to show a hurting world His love. We are His hands and feet – how can we not move when He calls us to do so?

A while back, I was watching a show called Parenthood and during one of the episodes I was very moved by the words of one of the fathers on the show. His daughter was deeply hurt by something her cousin had done to her and she was going to avoid going to a special walk for autism in support of her younger brother. She didn’t want to have to deal with the added grief of seeing her cousin who wounded her. Her mother wanted to let her stay in bed and be sad, but her dad challenged her with a beautiful invitation to be strong. I’ll share the speech below and I hope it will encourage you in the same way it did me:

Father: “I know this is hard and I know how hurt you must feel.”

Daughter: “Then why aren’t you on my side?”

Father: “I am on your side. I know that you’re going to roll your eyes, but asking you to do this is being on your side in a bigger way. Haddie, you can’t go through life allowing your pain to dictate how you behave. It’s easy to sit here in your bedroom and wallow in your hurt feelings. It’s hard to rise above it. This isn’t about you. This isn’t about Amber (the cousin). This is about Max (her younger brother with autism). I’m not going to force you to go but I’m asking you to do this for me. What do you say?”

I can just see God giving us the same challenge and the same invitation.

So friends, what do you say?

With love,

Amber

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy:1:7

 

 

 

The Faithfulness of Kayla Mueller: Where was Jesus?

Kayla Mueller was an American citizen who was a humanitarian aid worker for the Doctors Without Borders hospital. She was captured by ISIS and held as a prisoner until her death. From what I’ve read, ISIS claimed that she was killed in airstrikes, but American authorities regard that as false information. Today, I want to focus not on her death, but on how she lived.

Seeing the name Kayla Mueller on the news pages has been a bit odd for me. I share her last name and I share her Christian faith. My husband who usually ignores news headlines even brought it up. Seeing her last name showing up under headlines that talk of her intense persecution, abuse, and death has me wondering, “What if that was me? What if my family was the one suffering through this great loss?”

There are countless unnamed people who suffer in the world – I might never know their names and struggle to identify with their suffering. But for this special woman, she shares my last name and her life has me reflecting on her example of faith and love.

From the accounts I’ve read of this amazing woman, she had a heart for God and a heart for people. Long before she suffered persecution for her faith, she lived out God’s calling on her life to help others. Her heart led her to a very dangerous place in the world. I have no doubt in my mind that she knew full well the risks she faced going there, yet she went anyways. Some will accuse her of being foolish to go and will say things like, “What did she expect?” I respect their opinions, but I disagree with them strongly. I’m glad that there are people in the world who are willing to suffer to help others. Throughout history, people have gone to great lengths to sacrifice their lives for future generations. Just look at our own nation’s history and the great sacrifices by men and women and children that have led to our freedom. Civilization would have died long ago if not for great people laying down their lives for others.

Something I very much look forward to in heaven is hearing the stories from God and from those who have gone before me that led to my salvation and faith in Jesus. I want to know all about my lineage in Christ and be able to thank those who sacrificed greatly so that I could be saved.

I can only imagine, as I think about history, how much has been sacrificed so that we can be here today and eternally how much has been sacrificed for the hope that we will be with God forever in heaven. I cannot begin to express how thankful to God I am that He was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice so that I can live and also how thankful I am to everyone throughout the time since then, who considered that their sufferings weren’t worthy to be compared to the glory to come.

Kayla Mueller joined with Christ in the legacy of suffering for a greater cause. She brought the hope and love of Jesus to everyone around her. I’m willing to bet good money, she even had an impact on her enemies who attacked her. Those who were persecuted along with her and who now live in freedom, testify to her love, strength, faith and peace in the midst of horror. Their testimonies speak to how she cared for those around her more than for her own welfare. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, she continued to honor God by loving others deeply.

I was pleasantly surprised to see many great comments in the article I read about Kayla. She is deeply admired and for good reason. One comment really stuck out to me that said while they respected her strength, where was her Jesus in the midst of her suffering? Why didn’t He come to the rescue?

The first thought that popped in my head: Jesus was on the cross. In the book of Acts, we see Saul before his named changed to Paul, persecuting believers. In the moment of conversion for Paul, Jesus confronted him saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul asked who he was and the Lord replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Here in scripture, we see the great truth: when a believer is persecuted, Jesus is persecuted.

Where was Jesus when Kayla suffered for her faith and where is He when we suffer?

Jesus is there in Gethsemane, overwhelmed with deep sorrow to the point of death praying to God, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Where is Jesus when we cry out to Him?

Jesus is there nailed to the cross and dying in our place crying out to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Where is Jesus when we feel alone in the world?

Jesus is there, risen from the dead and proclaiming to His disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We can have confidence that God is in control because all authority has been granted to Christ and He promises throughout scripture that He will “never leave you nor forsake you.” We are never alone!

Where is Jesus when the world is falling apart and there is no hope for tomorrow?

Jesus is there making all things new: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Those who were in captivity with Kayla spoke of her strength and peace with awe. I believe with confidence that her strength came from the Lord because He was with her.

I know it can be very difficult for us to wrap our minds around the suffering this world brings. I don’t want to minimize the agony and full weight of pain that people face in the world. There has to be justice and we have to fight against evil. It’s easy for me to sit in the safety and comfort of my home where I’m not facing persecution and quote scripture. But I have to believe that if the time ever comes and I am facing horrible circumstances, I will not be alone and it will not be in my own strength that I will survive. It will be that of Jesus, giving me His strength and power and love to endure to the end.

I’m thankful for the example of Kayla Mueller and the stories of her faithful living. It prompts me to examine my own life and faith and gives me hope that, the battle we face is worth the fight when we are fighting with love.

Finally, I would like to conclude that I am not encouraging people to become a martyr and put themselves into harms way with the idea of dying for your faith. I promote faithful living for Christ and showing love to those in need of the hope that Jesus brings. That hope can look like many things: feeding the hungry, caring for orphans, sharing the gospel, and so on. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and it would be unwise to purposefully seek persecution. Jesus even instructs us in this way saying: “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” We might not have a choice to flee, but if we do, we need to listen to God’s warning and go. We have a purpose in this world and until God calls us home, we should use wisdom to keep ourselves safe and protected.

God might call us on a dangerous mission, but we aren’t going so that we can die for Him, but so that we can LIVE for Him!

I hope that everyone has a great weekend and I thank you so much for taking the time to visit and read. Come back on Monday when I will be discussing some practical ways we can apply this message of faithful living to our struggle with infertility.

-Amber

 

Finally ready for this big step forward

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you might know that I have really struggled in the past with the decision to see an infertility specialist.

My husband and I were 24 when we had our first miscarriage (we are now 29- same birthday month, how cute are we). With us being so young and dealing with infertility, we obviously didn’t have the same kind of pressure that an older couple might face with limited time to conceive.

I wanted answers for why we have recurrent miscarriages but struggled with anxiety over taking the steps forward to get help. In my mind, I wanted everything to be perfect on our end before we saw a specialist. I wanted to be completely financially stable, be in good health, and feel mentally strong.

I know I went through that season of anxiety for a reason, but I wish I could go back and tell myself: “You are sick. It’s okay to get help while you are in the process of getting your life in order.” Thinking about it now, I want to compare my reasoning for not seeing a specialist to someone who thinks they can’t come to God for a relationship until everything is perfect in their life. You can’t do it alone – you need God’s help. In the same way, I don’t need to be ashamed that I’m really in need of a specialist to help me with my medical issues. And infertility is definitely a medical issue – although our culture has a good way of making infertile couples feel like we just need to “relax” and “go on a vacation”.

Last year, I didn’t feel ready to see a specialist, but I made the phone call anyways after getting a referral from my doctor following my 6th miscarriage (last July). The secretary at the infertility clinic never returned my phone call and I never got around to calling back because of many obstacles that came up with unrelated health issues. In November, I told myself that my goal was to work through some of our problems and be able to start seeing the specialist by the summer and devote our time to trying to find answers for our miscarriages. In May, I had a strong feeling that I really needed to make that phone call but I kept procrastinating and putting it off. And then I got pregnant again and all I could think was, “Why didn’t I make that call?” My ob/gyn is a very nice woman, but I don’t ever feel supported when I contact her staff. It takes so long just to get a note to my doctor for a request of blood work. And of course, that pregnancy ended in another miscarriage causing me a deep sense of regret for not pushing myself to see a specialist sooner.

While I’m hopeful that a specialist will be able to find a reason for our miscarriages and infertility, my biggest desire is to just simply have a support system in the event that I get pregnant again. Those early weeks are so hard to go through and I just need a team of people on my side to make it a little bit easier.

Also, my ob/gyn is fired. As much as I like her as a person, the staff is rude and insensitive and if we finally have a pregnancy going to full term, there is no way I want to deal with care providers who will not be there to support me as a pregnancy after loss mom. I don’t want to have anxiety about calling anytime I have a worry or concern. I need a doctor’s office that will care about my history and be compassionate with any fears I have during pregnancy. So on top of finding an infertility specialist, I’m now searching for a new ob/gyn. I might have to visit a few before I find someone that I feel will understand my situation. I’m definitely not looking forward to it, but I know my future self will thank me for going through the trouble now.

So Monday afternoon, I have my first appointment with an infertility specialist, but it’s only speaking with the financial counselor. They are going to go over my insurance coverage and I guess some estimated financial costs and programs available. After my appointment with the financial counselor, my husband and I will have our first consultation with the doctor. If we for some reason do not like this clinic, we can also drive a little bit further to Austin (TX). There are like a bazillion infertility clinics in Austin. Sigh. I wish we lived closer, but the drive is not too bad as long as we avoid traffic.

Now let’s be real here: my anxiety surrounding dealing with doctors is definitely still in full throttle. But I’ve been working hard this year to push through my anxiety by taking baby steps in the different struggles in my life. Instead of looking at the big picture and seeing all of the obstacles and all of the things that can go wrong (and all of the money that can possibly be poured down the drain), I’m taking things one tiny step at a time and reminding myself that my husband and I are in control here and we can move at the pace we feel comfortable with.

Here are some of the fears I’ve had in the past and some of the ways I’ve been able to address it in my head:

  • Fear #1: We are going to end up going into debt trying to have a baby and it will all be for nothing.
  • Resolution: We can take our time with this. If it takes a long time to go through this process that is okay. We can save up and pay cash. There’s no reason we have to put ourselves into debt to seek treatment. We can take this one test at a time and one treatment at a time. If we run out of money, we stop and take a break, enjoy life a little bit, and get back in the game when we have saved up the cash again. And ultimately, we can trust God with our finances and know that as we make wise decisions, He will be faithful to provide for us.
  • Fear # 2:What if we spend thousands of dollars and invest so much of ourselves into this process only to end up with empty arms at the end?
  • Resolution: Regardless of the outcome, we need to try to find answers. We don’t want to live with regret and wonder if things would have been different years down the road when it’s too late. Even if the outcome is not what we hope for, it’s still part of a resolution to move forward with our lives and will ultimately help us.
  • Fear #3: What if we are supposed to adopt or do foster parenting? There are orphans in the world that need a home. Is it selfish to spend this money on our reproductive health when it could instead go to funding an adoption?
  • Resolution: This is a hard one for me. I have a strong desire to adopt children. I can’t stand to see children in the world without a mom and dad. It breaks my heart! For me personally, my resolution has been prayer. If God’s will for us is to adopt children he would move in my husband’s heart to change his opinion on adoption. For now, my husband doesn’t want to adopt (he says that he does someday when we are older). My husband does want to see an infertility specialist, however. So I’m just trusting that for now, this is God’s will for our life, and if that changes at anytime, I will change plans willingly (and with joy – I don’t care how we have a family. Adopting a child would be a dream come true). I’m also telling myself that I’m not a savior – JESUS IS! I’m not the answered prayer to an orphan in need – my God is! I get so caught up in trusting in what I can see and I need to have more faith to believe in the God of miracles. I might look at my pocketbook and see limited funds, but God is able.
  • Fear #4: We have other life goals right now that I don’t want to get pushed aside.
  • Resolution: There is no reason we can’t continue to live out our goals and plans for the future as we walk this path. As addressed in my earlier resolution, we can do this on our timeline – not a doctor’s timeline. The control is in our hands (with God’s blessing of course) and we can decide for ourselves what we are comfortable doing and when we are comfortable doing it.

Those are all of the big fears I’ve struggled with over the years and the way I’ve been able to make resolutions to move beyond my anxiety. For me, it’s all about taking little baby steps and trusting that God will be with us every step along the way.

I’m not sure if any other women in the history of infertility have struggled the way I have with what should be a simple step forward (make me feel less crazy if you have and share please!), but I’m going to share this anyways in the hopes that how I addressed my fears with realistic resolutions will be helpful to someone else going through this.

Be brave, sisters – God is with us!

-Amber

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

 

Christ gives us hope to battle fear

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Recently, my Facebook page reminded me of a memorable life experience: my surgery in 2009 to remove a large ovarian cyst that had wrapped around my ovary and was causing me a great deal of pain. During the surgery, it was discovered that I had endometriosis and later confirmed through a biopsy of tissue. It was a diagnosis that I expected to receive but hoped against. My grandmother had endometriosis that led to her having an ectopic pregnancy and later a complete hysterectomy by age 30. I had all of the classic symptoms for endometriosis and figured it skipped a generation (lucky mom – she also skipped the arthritis that I’m now dealing with) and went to me.

When I received the diagnosis of endometriosis, I was heartbroken with fear for the future. I just knew in my heart that I was going to struggle with infertility and I gave into that fear and struggled with depression. I didn’t know how I was possibly going to be able to handle not being able to have children. The doctor tried to reassure me that I would be able to go on to have children, but I just couldn’t believe it.

Now 7 years later, I know that not only did my worst fears come to life – they were worse than I could have ever imagined.

And yet, I feel an unexplainable joy and peace after walking through these last 5 years of infertility and loss. I am able to grieve with hope and move forward with my life knowing that God is with me in everything I do.

In June, I miscarried for a 7th time. It was very hard and I was angry with God. But I’ve come to know God very well along this journey of loss and heartache and I’m confident enough in my relationship with him to know that I can tell him the brutally honest truth: “I’m angry with you. You broke my heart when you didn’t come to the rescue.” I’ve walked away from God on a few occasions during my infertility battle, but God has always been faithful to bring me back to Him and to lavish me with His love and mercy. My circumstances would tell me otherwise, but Jesus makes me feel like I’m his beloved princess. He doesn’t hold my sin against me, but instead, welcomes me back like a prodigal daughter.

Over the last year, a certain fear has started to creep into my mind. This fear comes from my childhood experiences and the experiences of people in my life recently that have suffered from a particular loss. I don’t want to go into details here, but I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking, “What if this happens to me?” I’ve allowed the fear of my past and the fear of what could possibly happen to take away from my peace. I’ve taken my eyes off of Jesus and placed my faith in people and circumstances instead.

On Sunday in church, I was reflecting on these fears as I listened to the sermon and reminded myself of the truths found in scripture and the truths that I’ve come to see in my life as God has continued to provide for me in every way.

God has been my everything throughout my infertility journey. He is my security. He is my hope. He is my comfort. He is my grace when sin is great within me. He is my peace when anxiety is great within me. He is my salvation. He is my great reward.

There were many different fears throughout this journey as I’ve faced the idea of “What if I never have children” but one fear that sticks out the most is the fear I had during my first two miscarriages. I feared that I would walk away from God and that I would no longer believe and trust in Him because of my circumstances. As I mentioned earlier, I did walk away from Christ, but praise be to God, my faith is a gift from Him and I’m forever safe and secure in His hands. Satan might try to sift me as wheat, but my faith will not fail because Jesus has already defeated sin and death on the cross.

Jesus promises in scripture:

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”  John 10:28-29

Tonight I was speaking with a precious family member who was sharing her fears with me about the future. I think there is a lot of fear going around in our nation right now. It’s election season and our culture is screaming with what seems like a constant message of fear.

Perhaps you are living in a place of fear right now as you look at circumstances around the world or in your own life or the lives of those you love and care about. I want to encourage you to take your eyes off of these circumstances and place your eyes on Jesus. Look to the beauty of the cross, that old rugged cross where Jesus died. For the disciples and all of those who loved and followed Jesus, that is where hope died. But three days later, we know that’s not how the story ended. Jesus defeated sin and death when he rose again that beautiful Sunday morning, what we now celebrate each year as Resurrection Sunday.

In the same way that the story wasn’t over the day that Jesus died on the cross, my story isn’t over yet either, and sisters, your story isn’t over yet either.

Jesus doesn’t promise that we will have a life free of sorrow or pain, but He does promise to give his Holy Spirit to those who believe and trust in Him for salvation. As we follow Jesus, we can put our trust in Him knowing that we have the hope of God with us everywhere we go and we have the hope of eternal life.

I’m going to highlight several of my favorite passages of scripture found in Romans chapter 8 to show you the depth of this truth that I have come to know in my own life, but I encourage you to read the entire chapter for yourself and better yet, the entire book of Romans. It’s one of my favorite books in scripture.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26

“And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…”No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:35, 37

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

If you need pray today, I hope you will leave me a comment or send me an email to amberunderconstruction@yahoo.com. Thank you all so much for taking the time to read and I pray you will have a blessed week as you turn your eyes upon Jesus and His wonderful beauty and grace.

-Amber

 

 

 

What the infertility/loss community gets wrong

I had another post planned for today talking about an exciting vacation my husband and I are going to be taking, but decided to go another route. While I was doing the dishes today, I was getting fired up as I was thinking about a common theme among the infertility/loss community: success stories/rainbow babies/miracles.

I love success stories, like any good hopeful woman facing infertility does. I love to see my friends hold a baby in their arms after a long and hard struggle with loss or infertility. These are people I’ve prayed for and cried with during their struggle and I want nothing more than to see them happy. I dream of sharing my own success story someday. I dream of being able to deliver good news to those who have walked this path with me instead of feeling ashamed to share more bad news.

But I think sometimes in this community, we focus too much on “someday”. We tell each other to “keep holding onto hope that our miracle is coming”. We say things like, “Next year could be completely different” or “everything can change in a moment.”

But sometimes, that’s just not true. For some people, their infertility journey is going to be much shorter. But for others, it could be years and years. And for some…the resolution could be moving forward with a childless life.

Should the family who never ends up having children be considered a failure story? Or can they find success, a miracle even, through living a happy life without children?

Last year, I discovered a website and resource through Facebook called, Still Mothers. It was formed through the Still Standing organization as a resource for childless mothers after loss. It’s not a place where you’ll have the triggers of hearing about rainbow babies, but it is a resource to connect with other women who are learning to live a childless life after loss (or losses).

I’m so thankful for that resource, but I can’t help but wonder about the women who never conceived and had a positive pregnancy test. I hope there is something out there for women living a childless life after infertility.

Going through another miscarriage has me really thinking about the role that I can play in this community. What can I do to help encourage women facing infertility and loss or making the decision to live a childless life after a brutal journey of infertility?

I want to advocate for women and be a voice of hope that you do not need a traditional success story to have a better life. I think we all know that infertility will always be painful (even after you have a child in your arms), but we can learn to live with hope and to enjoy life even in the midst of pain and suffering.

I want to be a voice of hope encouraging women to be brave and to fight for a good life.

We might not have children, but we still have a unique and beautiful purpose in this world. We can still leave a lasting legacy that will impact future generations. We can still choose to live with joy and have a wonderful life.

I have said goodbye to 7 babies, but I am not without hope. I grieve with hope and I live with hope.

I hope and pray that God will give me the honor of being able to share my story and share my hope with women facing similar circumstances. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I have hopes and dreams for my story to be used in a special way and I look forward to seeing what exactly that will be.

Sending love to all of you,

Amber

Suggested reading: This blog post is from a blogger that wrote back in 2008 about her infertility journey. I go back and re-read this post and many others from her blog when I need encouragement. Go check it out by clicking here

Also this blog post from Sondra at A Calm Persistence: I had to go back to her blog to find this because I just remembered she wrote this very powerful post about how we define beating infertility.

 

 

 

I had another miscarriage

This last month has been a whirlwind. So much can change in just a month, but for today, I wanted to talk about the biggest change in my life: I found out I was pregnant for a 7th time this month and I had my 7th miscarriage last weekend right before Father’s Day.

I should start by saying that just a little over a month ago, I felt led to pray for a baby. Now you might assume that because I have been infertile for 5 years and have had multiple losses, I pray all the time for a baby. But for me, I have grown weary in praying for a baby. In fact, it made me angry to pray for a baby, because it seemed like every time I prayed, God would answer that pray with the excitement of new life, only to take it away with the crushing heartache of death in my own body.

Last month, something came over me and I felt compelled to be brave and pray for a baby.

Looking back, I need to remember that prayer. When I want to question the direction of my life and wonder why I’m suffering so many losses, when I begin to question what was the point of this child’s life – I have to remind myself that God answered that pray and God had a very unique and special purpose for her life – and my life.

Last year, I wrestled with God over a similar injustice. My husband is a detective and he witnesses a lot of evil. But the two events that stick out more than anything are the murders of two precious children. The first was in the spring last year with a little girl who was 3 years old. The same age as my first 3 children should have been. Her own father killed her. When Jonathan told me about going to that scene that day, I was broken up for weeks. Why did God give a child to a man who was going to murder his own daughter? Why did our own babies die when they would have had an amazing father who would have not only loved them but would have even given his own life to protect them? It haunted me to think that my husband had to witness such an evil act done to a child.

Later in the year, in November, the same month that our baby Matthew died in 2011, my husband was the detective unfortunate enough to witness the autopsy of a 2 year old boy killed by his father. The person who did the autopsy said it was one of the worst cases of child abuse she had ever witnessed in years.

I can’t speak for my husband because he is a very quiet and strong man and he doesn’t show his grief or emotions in the same vocal way that I do. But for me, there is something so painful knowing that these men who killed their children were given this beautiful gift of a child, while I can’t give this gift to my amazing husband. The thought that my husband had to see the evil act these men did against their children and the thought that he has to live with those images in his mind makes me angry and heartbroken.

And when I found out just a few days before Father’s Day that my 7th pregnancy was not viable, it was a crushing blow to have to share more bad news with my husband. I was ashamed at my body for not being able to carry a baby to full term. I just wanted to give my husband something happy to redeem all the sorrow we have faced in the last 5 years.  I wanted to give him a rainbow.

I usually feel “strong” in my faith after my losses. But this time, I just feel angry with God. Logically, I know and believe all that the scriptures say about God being for me and not against me. My heart can’t seem to catch up this time though. And I’m okay with that.

I’m not beating myself up for feeling what I feel. The only way I can move forward is to just work through those feelings and not live in them and prolong my grief by making myself feel guilty.

The first day of my loss, I felt ashamed and I felt sorrow that my infertility journey was not ending. I told Jonathan that I felt selfish that I was more sad for myself than I was sad to say goodbye to a baby.

The weekend of Father’s day I felt angry and mad at everyone and everything. I was also having a miscarriage and dealing with dropping hormone levels.

During the weekday, after the worst of my bleeding had passed, I felt a little back to normal and was even happy. I think part of that happiness was the relief that I didn’t have pregnancy after loss anxiety. Another part of feeling normal was getting ready for family to visit during the week and my friends from out of town visiting on the weekend.

By Friday, I felt exhausted and low and sad at the loss of my baby. I cried all throughout the day. My friend and her husband were coming that night for a visit and I knew that would cheer me up, but I had a rough day before they arrived.

This morning, my friends went back home and I’ve spent the day feeling down again. I always feel a bit lonely and sad when people leave after visiting. Our house suddenly feels too quiet. Although I’m happy to have some down time to relax, a big part of me just feels sad.

All this to say, my emotions and feelings are just all over the place right now and I’m just taking things one day at a time. On the bad days, I try to remind myself that I won’t always feel this horrible and on the good days, I allow myself to enjoy being happy without feeling guilty over some preconceived idea of how I “should” be feeling.

The morning before we found out that we were going to have another miscarriage, I told my husband that I thought the baby was a girl and was thinking about the name Evelyn Rose. He was playing a video game and wasn’t paying much attention, but about 30 minutes later told me, “Evelyn Rose. I like that.”

Perhaps some people might think it’s strange to give a name to a baby that you didn’t even know the gender of. But honestly, I can think of no better way to honor my little ones in heaven than to give them a name and to remember them. It gives me hope that I will see them again.

Evelyn Rose lived for a reason. She was an answered prayer. She was a miracle. She had a short life, but her purpose will live on through me and through my husband, and God willing, someday, our future children will know her and her brothers and sisters and they will honor her memory with their lives.

The two children that were killed last year – their lives mattered too. I don’t know their names. I only know that their precious lives were cut short too soon. But I’m going to honor them too in the way I live my life.

I don’t know what exactly that looks like. Maybe it looks like loving when it’s hard to love. Or celebrating others when I’d rather hide from the world. Maybe it’s just the simple act of trying to see beauty in little everyday things, like the sun rising and setting. Whatever it is, I’ve been given the gift of life and I’m going to remember them by living my life fully.

In the coming days I’ll be sharing more, but for now I just want to share this update.

Thank you for reading,

-Amber

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.”

 

 

My first gray hair!

Yesterday morning after waking up to brush my teeth, I noticed something interesting in the mirror: my first gray hair!

And not just one gray hair, but 3 plus 1 tiny baby hair in the front of my head that appears to be coming in gray. Oh my!

I’m sure it’s alarming the first time anyone notices gray hair in the reflection looking back at them, but this came as quite the shock as I’m one week away from turning 29. I was sure I would probably someday have a few gray hairs in my older years, but I didn’t expect to see the sign of “old age” before I even turn 30.

Surprisingly I don’t feel upset about this or worried. From everything I read on the internet, there really isn’t a solid answer for what causes premature graying. Some studies link to stress in our modern lifestyle causing premature aging, others say it has nothing to do with stress it’s all about genes, and others point to lifestyle (things like a thyroid problem, autoimmune disease, and so on).

I really can’t say if it’s linked to my genes. My dad (who I take after with my hair) didn’t start getting gray hairs until he was in his 40s. My mom always dyed her hair or highlighted her hair so I don’t think she would have a clue as to when she started getting gray hairs. My brother is 5 years older than me and I don’t think that he has started to get gray hair yet, but I’ll ask him the next time I speak with him.

It definitely wouldn’t shock me if this was related to stress. Hello, the last 5 years of dealing with being a newlywed, marriage to a police officer and then transitioning to his job as a major crimes detective, our 6 pregnancy losses and infertility, health issues and other life stressors is likely bound to affect me physically.

I also wouldn’t be shocked if this was caused by an autoimmune condition or imbalance of some kind.

Regardless of what the cause is, I’m not going to let myself worry about it.

In my most recent post, I talked about my journey in dealing with anxiety and taking steps to overcome that burden. While I can’t change the stress of the past and I have only so much control in reducing my current stressors, I know that I’m on the forward path towards a future that will be much better than the past has been.

Just last week we paid off $800 in debt and another $150 this weekend. We are that much closer towards financial freedom. While being debt free certainly won’t solve all of my problems, it will give us peace and the freedom to not have to worry about finances while dealing with other stressful events. An example of how this will give me more peace: if I’m ever blessed to carry another child again in pregnancy, while dealing with anxiety during pregnancy, I won’t have the added anxiety of worrying about medical bills or going into more debt if an emergency situation should arise. It won’t take away from the anxiety of dealing with medical issues, but it will give me peace of mind to not have one extra thing to think about.

By my 30th birthday, we will be completely credit card debt free and well on our way to total debt freedom if not fully debt free (my husband is able to make a lot of money in overtime – but it’s not predictable. If we are fortunate and he is able to pick up a lot of hours of overtime there is a good chance we could be completely debt free in a year).

Even though my current season of life is really stressful, I’m tired and exhausted and sometimes I just want to throw my hands in the air and give up, I’m taking this one day at a time and focusing on the goal that is not all that far away. My 20s have been sad. I’ve tried to remain positive, but the truth is that this gray hair on my head is very symbolic of the last 5 years of my life.

I almost feel like this gray hair is a badge of honor for everything I have survived. I’ve told my husband many times that I feel like we are much older than we actually are because of the things we’ve experienced at a young age. We were only 24 when we said goodbye to our first 3 babies. Loss changes you and yes I even think loss ages you.

Aside from the negative aspects of the last 5 years, I can also look back on that time as walking through the valley of the shadow of death with God. There was a long season or stretch of time where I couldn’t feel God. I felt abandoned by Him. I didn’t understand His plans for me. I thought He wanted me to suffer and didn’t care about what I was going through. I remember at one time saying, “Why does God continue to allow loss after loss after loss? As soon as I grieve one loss and try to move forward with positivity, he brings more loss into my life. It’s as if He wants me to live a life of sorrow.” God pulled me through that dark season and showed up as only He can do. There have been so many moments where He revealed Himself in special ways in my life – so many little testimonies of His faithfulness at just the perfect time.

God has given me faith to believe that He is trustworthy. He has given me faith to believe that He is working for my good. He has given me faith to trust that He is protecting me from harm. He has given me faith to believe that my testimony, my miracle is going to be one our great joy and celebration. I don’t take credit for any of this faith. I’ve doubted more times that I can count. But in the moments where I was ready to give up on God, He showed up with His grace to show me how much He cares and to give me hope for His plans for my life.

A few years ago, I was worried about getting older. While some of you might think that is silly because I’m still in my 20s, the worry for me came based on the fact that I’ve already faced so many reproductive problems at an early age. The idea of getting older each year and having my reproductive options decline even more was scary. I think we assume that youth is supposed to be on our side, but if I had this many problems in my youth, what would getting older look like for me?

But now? I’m not scared of getting older. My 20s have been a time of growth and maturing. I will carry the wisdom of this decade with me throughout my years. But do I think turning into a new decade will bring worse fate?

Absolutely not. I’m very much looking forward to my 30s. We will be debt free in our 30s. We will be able to take active steps towards growing our family (more on this in a later post). In our 30s, we will likely purchase our first home where we will God willing bring our children home. There are many things to look forward to as we grow older and I’m excited for what the next decade will bring. I’m sure there will still be plenty of hard times and trials, but I’m not afraid anymore.

I’m not sure what I’ll do about my gray hair. For now it’s just a few. To be honest, I actually kind of like it. The gray is more of a silver color. I really feel like it’s a badge of honor and I love what the bible has to say about gray hair and growing older:

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.”

Cheers to growing older, gray hair and all!

-Amber