Filled with hope for the future

Last night and this morning was hard. Today is the 4 year anniversary of finding out we were pregnant for the very first time with our baby, Abiygale, who was also our first miscarriage (just stating that in case anyone is new here. We do not have any living children.) Today is also the would have been due date of our second baby, Matthew, who should be 3 years old today.

Today my period is also due to start, though it hasn’t shown up yet. I took a digital test this morning just to see if maybe, by some miracle, we were pregnant, but unfortunately the test said, “not pregnant.” I cried for a minute, then sat around for a little bit feeling exhausted, texted my husband to tell him it was negative, and then decided to go outside and have some fun at the new dog park in town with my boys.

After the dog park, I stopped by Sonic to get a half-priced drink and the person who delivered my drink introduced herself saying, “Hi I’m Abigail. You ordered a diet coke?” Cue the tears. Thankfully I had sunglasses on. Coincidence that she shared the same name as my first baby in Heaven? Maybe. But I don’t believe in coincidences :-)

On the way home, I was really wishing I would see a rainbow in the sky. It’s been so long since I have and it would give me such comfort to see one on a day like today.

But instead of a rainbow, God gave me something better. I came inside and changed into some pajamas because that’s how I like to roll when I’m home ;-) While I was changing, I was thinking about the negative test and thanking God that although it’s still painful to experience infertility, it’s so much easier to bounce back from a negative than getting pregnant and having loss after loss. I was feeling grateful that although I feel sad today, this pain is easier to move beyond than the pain of a miscarriage. For anyone that experiences infertility and hasn’t had recurrent miscarriages, I don’t want to compare our pain at all. Infertility is devastating and I’m not taking away from the immense sadness of that journey. But I’m sure you can understand where I’m coming from when I say, I’d rather not get pregnant than get pregnant only to lose a baby. Both infertility and recurrent miscarriages are heartbreaking journeys. Different, certainly, but we can’t really compare on a pain scale. Pain is pain, amen?

After thinking about the negative test and trying to find a positive outlook to my circumstances, I decided to open my bible. I opened to the new testament and looked down and started to cry at the page I had opened to:

“But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a great joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.” Luke 1:13-15

Another coincidence? Maybe. But I don’t believe that at all.

God has given me what I believe to be promises before for a child, but somewhere along the journey, I started to lose hope. Waiting is hard. I prayed for my hope to be restored the other week and I feel like today, on this very special anniversary of the day I became a mother, God is starting to restore the hope I lost and remind me that, although this wait is long and at times desperately painful, it is all going to be worth it someday, in His perfect timing.

Although I still feel incredibly exhausted from today and am taking the rest of the day easy to recover from the emotions, it brings me so much hope and excitement to think that God has been writing my child’s story for a long time now. It brings me joy to think about the plans He has for their life and that, although they aren’t even here yet, God is already preparing for the plans and purpose he has for this child. I love them so much already!

Today, the test might have said, “Not pregnant” but what I feel instead, is pregnant with hope. I don’t know how the story will play out, but I know my God, and I know it’s going to be one amazing story.

For now, I’m still determined to live with a “childfree mindset” as I discussed the other week. I don’t want infertility to define my life. While I’m waiting for the child that God is going to give to us, I can live NOW. I don’t have to wait to start living. Although days like today are hard, tomorrow will be a new day and I can live victoriously. God also has good plans for my life and I don’t want to waste this precious time He has given me doing anything less than living in the abundance of His grace.

P.S. I published this and now I’m editing because I already need to add more because my Lord is just so amazing that He continues to bless me on what should be a sad, hopeless day. I read this blog post from the Compassion website today. Today is also our sponsored child, Sabenca’s birthday. Two years ago we sponsored Sabenca on this day. I was reading an article about the poverty in Haiti after the hurricane and hopped over to the compassion website to see if they were doing anything to help. Right on the front page was Sabenca, from HAITI and she needed a sponsor. It was also her birthday! You guys should know by now how I feel about coincidences. Jonathan and I sponsored her and she has given us such much hope. To think about how God has used the pain of our miscarriages and the loss of our children to bring about so much good for us and for others just fills my heart with joy. I love Jesus so much. I hope if you don’t know Jesus, you’ll get to know Him. He really loves you and wants to show you just how much He does!

Have hope my friends,

Amber

Waiting with hope:

“Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

Grieving with hope:

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

To hope again

I still have one more post that I’m hoping to share soon in my series about changes and resolutions in my life, but before I write that, I wanted to open up and share what has been on my heart today.

Fear. Fear has been on my mind and heart.

All because of one date coming up: June 10.

If you don’t know my history (and even if you do, I’m sure you don’t remember special dates), June 10 is a very significant date in my life. 4 years ago on June 10, 2011, I found out I was pregnant for the very first time. Of course we lost that baby and had our first miscarriage.

A few months later we found out in September 2011 that we were pregnant for a second time. I was amazed when I found out the due date was June 10, 2012. I couldn’t help but hope that God was redeeming that date with our rainbow baby after a miscarriage. But sadly, our baby Matthew died at 10 weeks pregnant in November 2011 and we had our second miscarriage.

Every year, this date gets to me. It brings up a lot of emotions, even if I’m not actively thinking about it, I still seem to never be able to forget. I suppose it’s the combination of that date being the start of our recurrent miscarriage journey, our first pregnancy, and our due date for baby Matthew.

But I think it’s also a huge reminder that God did not answer our prayers in the way we hoped He would and He allowed this pain instead of giving us the miracle we longed for. It is a reminder that God allowed this to happen not once, but 5 times before, and a worry that it could happen again.

I’m fearful because my last period in May started a day early. And because of that, my period is now due to start on June 10 (my period is a very predictable 28 days. It’s unusual for my period to not start predictably on time).

4 years ago, my period was due to start on June 10, but instead we found out I was pregnant. A few days later, on June 13, I started to miscarry. June 13, was also the very first day of Vacation Bible School and I was co-leading the missions rotation with my mother-in-law.

I wasn’t really thinking about my upcoming cycle or feeling concerned with it, therefore we didn’t prevent this cycle and there’s a small chance we could have conceived. I really, really doubt it because of the timing, but because there is this tiny chance of it happening, I’m feeling fearful. Even though I’m having so many symptoms of a worse problem that could indicate significant infertility and the inability to even get pregnant, I still have a history of getting pregnant easily in the past only to miscarry and that reminder is burned in my brain.

Not only am I due to start my period on June 10, I’m also leading the 3rd grade group in Vacation bible school from June 15 through June 19. For some reason, I didn’t put all of this information together in my head at the start of this cycle and I was kind of oblivious to the fact that if I did happen to conceive this cycle, I could end up miscarrying again for VBS. For some reason, I thought VBS was later in the month of June and I just didn’t put two and two together.

If I had, I probably would have actively prevented conception in the form of abstinence so that I didn’t take any chances. That’s how fearful this date makes me.

I had a really nice 3 day weekend with my husband and had fun working out together and enjoying time together. Today, I was working out again at home and listening to worship music on YouTube when I started thinking about all of the times in the past when I have tried to focus on changing my life, taking steps to get healthy for me, only to end up getting pregnant and miscarrying and having to start all over again.

And then thinking about this upcoming period and the fear that comes with that and the fact that I’m trying to move on from infertility and trying to get my life back brought up emotions and fear.

After I finished my work out, I got in the shower and the tears and sobbing came freely. I’m so afraid that I’ll never be able to get better and heal from the pain of infertility because I’m afraid that I’ll keep losing babies.

Even though I didn’t feel like it, I poured my heart out to the Lord, praising Him and also sharing my heart and my fear with Him. I told God why I’m scared because of past circumstances and in my heart, I could feel Him reminding me of past circumstances where, even though my heart was broken, He was there with me through it all.

And I prayed a prayer that I didn’t want to pray and I said it with bitterness and fear in my heart, but I prayed anyways believing that my God is a redeemer, even when I don’t feel like it:

“Help me to hope again.”

You would think that hopefulness is an easy thing. But I think everyone struggling with infertility can understand and relate to the idea that sometimes, it’s just easier to give up hope. Sometimes, it hurts deeply to let yourself hope.

And so when I prayed that prayer it terrified me because I don’t WANT to hope anymore. But I know that the opposite of hope is not a good place to be. And I know that there is deep healing that I need to let God work through in my life. And so with a heavy heart, I prayed for what I know is good for me. For God to restore what the enemy has damaged.

After my shower while I was letting my hair air dry, I signed on twitter and read this blog post from Amateur Nester. Do yourself a favor and go read that post right now. I’ll wait for you to come back :-)

It doesn’t surprise me one bit that I would pray for God to restore my hope and read a blog post about hope during infertility just minutes after. “God is with you in everything you do.” Can I even count the number of times God has shown up like this to show me He is with me and that He is listening when I cry out to Him? I can’t possibly understand why I miscarried 5 times, but I can rest in the peace of knowing that I’m not alone through any of this pain.

I love that she shared that hope is good for our soul and it also benefits those around us. She encouraged those who are filled with hope to share and encourage others through this journey (I thought of so many amazing bloggers when I read that line who do just that and are always an encouragement to me.) And she also shared that for those of us who are struggling to hope, to find hope through others in this community who can encourage us and lift us up when we are feeling low and struggling to run our race.

Although part of me wants to hide in the dark and not admit my struggle to hope during this journey and my struggle with fear, I know that through bringing this to light I will not only help myself, I’ll help someone else.

If you are in a place where you are struggling to hope for the future, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. And if you need someone to talk with, email me and I’d be happy to talk with you: thefrugalwed@yahoo.com.

And if you are one of the amazing bloggers who share hope with this community and even through your own struggles, are always there to encourage members in this community: I thank you. You are doing an important work and you make the world a better place.

P.S. On June 10, 2013, God did restore the date of June 10, but not in the way I expected him to. I was feeling pretty sad that day and I think I had already prayed about 100 times asking God to comfort my heart. That afternoon, I was on Yahoo looking at articles when I saw the title of one article about the people in Haiti still suffering years after the hurricane. I sadly, will usually ignore an article like that so that I don’t have to think about it. But on that day, I clicked and read. And my heart broke for the people in Haiti. I wanted to give something to help so I headed over to the Compassion International website where we sponsored a child, Maria Abigial to see if they were doing anything to help the people in Haiti. I had in mind that I would give a one time donation if I found something to help with.

But instead, God had other plans. Right on the front page was little Sabenca. June 10, was her birthday and the screen said, “Today is my birthday! Will you sponsor me?” Not only was little Sabenca’s birthday June 10, but she was from Haiti. I screamed for my husband to come to the room and asked if we could sponsor Sabenca and he of course said yes.

So although this date still brings with it many emotions, it is also a beautiful reminder that God can restore joy to my heart at just the perfect time. He works things for our good and He also works for the good of others. Although I hate going through pain and suffering, it is a comfort to know that God can use my journey to help other people. And that makes days like today, worth it. Totally, absolutely, worth it.

With love,

Amber

Psalm 42:

As the deer longs for streams of water,
    so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
    When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food,
    while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

My heart is breaking
    as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
    leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
    amid the sound of a great celebration!

Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged,
    but I will remember you—
even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan,
    from the land of Mount Mizar.
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
    as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
    and through each night I sing his songs,
    praying to God who gives me life.

“O God my rock,” I cry,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
    oppressed by my enemies?”
10 Their taunts break my bones.
    They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!”

 

 

Changes and Resolutions Part 4: My Walk with God

 

If you have not done so already, please read my first 3 posts in a series I’m doing about making changes and resolutions in my life to help me heal from the pain of recurrent miscarriage and infertility.

  • First post click here
  • Second post click here
  • Third post click here

In my last post I discussed changing my priorities to have a daily routine that is focused on the most important things in my life (such as quiet time with God, quality time with my husband and dogs, and healthy eating from home). Structuring my life around what’s most important to me will allow me to feel more peace and joy in my day to day life and will help me to not overwhelm myself with a schedule that doesn’t have breathing room for my top priorities.

Today, I want to discuss changes in my walk with God. If you are new here or didn’t realize this about me, I am a Christian and I love Jesus Christ with all of my heart and soul. Although I feel like a failure more than a successful follower of Christ, my heart’s desire is to lead a life that is pleasing to God and that shows other people the way to God who don’t yet know Him and need to discover His amazing grace and mercy.

There are some changes I would like to make in my walk with God. Some of the changes are only temporary to work on healing and repairing areas in my faith that are weak. These are not changes that I will be making lightly, however. My faith is the most important thing in my life – in fact, everything else revolves around my faith. And sometimes, that can be a really fine line to walk. I’ll discuss this more below, but because of my infertility I have really struggled with fellowshipping with other brothers and sisters in Christ. I have actively participated in serving in many different ministries, but have neglected one of the most important areas of my faith and one of the great benefits of being a Christian: having a family of believers to walk through life with. But fellowship with other believers is not the only area of my life that has suffered. My daily fellowship and time spent alone with God has suffered. I have spent so much time being busy doing things “for” God, that I neglected my own spiritual need to be fed by God’s word daily and to be fed through spiritual encouragement from other believers.

The temporary change that I’m making is to step back from all service activities (just for the time being) so that I can focus on those two areas that so desperately need to be healed. I have such a hard time not stepping up and serving because I struggle with guilt and feel like I’m not a “good enough Christian” if I don’t have everything together.

I want to be more gentle with myself and give myself more grace. Perhaps it’s because of my faith and a desire to “please God” but I put way too much pressure on myself. I need to remind myself of this verse daily: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” There is nothing I need to do to earn God’s grace – it’s a free gift. He loves me just because. He is my Daddy God in Heaven who cares for me so much that He gave His Son for me. I think I really struggle sometimes with legalism and that is a dangerous path to walk. There is so much freedom in Jesus Christ – there is no freedom in religious rules and activities. Freedom is found when I run into my Father’s arms and let go of the chains of legalism and accept the gift of His grace. Sometimes I think we can turn even good things into idols in our lives. There is nothing more important than my relationship with God, not even serving Him through ministry work. I think so many women in the Christian faith probably struggle with this. We can see it in the story of Mary and Martha:

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I have a life application study bible and it includes notes at the bottom of my scripture. For the scripture on Martha and Mary it says these two things: “Mary and Martha both loved Jesus. On this occasion they were both serving him. But Martha thought Mary’s style or serving was inferior to hers. She didn’t realize that in her desire to serve, she was actually neglecting her guest. Are you so busy doing things for Jesus that you’re not spending any time with him? Don’t let your service become self-serving.” And: “Jesus did not blame Martha for being concerned about household chores. He was only asking her to set priorities. It is possible for service to Christ to degenerate into mere busywork that is no longer full of devotion to God.”

I’ve realized that a lot of the things that I’ve been doing in the church have become a joyless work for me. Part of that was my lack of a routine like I shared in my last post, but part of it is I was just doing things out of an obligation. Just saying yes because I felt like I had to. But if I’m not even spending time alone with God, how can I share God’s love with someone else? How can I be a blessing to someone else if I’m missing out on the most amazing blessing I have in my life: my relationship with God? I have to take time to fix what’s been broken in my relationship with God so that when the time comes and God leads me to serve, I will be filled with the Holy Spirit and full of joy and peace. I also need to focus on fellowship with other believers so that I won’t ever be this deeply lost again. Other believers can help encourage me and help me to make wise decisions in my life. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Part of this change is going to be simple by just making daily changes to spend time with God, but the other part is going to require taking a leap of faith and trusting other people with my heart and opening up to relationships within my church community.

One of the big changes that Jonathan and I might be making is possibly finding a new church home. We have many reasons for why we are praying and seeking this change, but I won’t go into the details right now.

My current church home stopped feeling like “home” a long time ago. We are not 100% sure at this moment if leaving and going to a new church is the right step, but we are actively looking and praying. Last week we visited a new church and I was very excited in the worship service. Something about it just felt right and I felt more comfortable worshipping God than I have in a long time. Perhaps I’m in error here and I want to tread carefully, but again, I’m going back to the freedom I have in Christ and I’m giving myself grace. God will lead me and my husband and will show us the path to what we should do. There are a million articles on the internet that talk about the wrong reasons to leave a church and the right reasons to and when I tried to read through some of those, I started to stress myself out wondering if I was making a selfish decision or if God was really leading us to leave. But again, I have to go back to what I talked about earlier: grace. There is no condemnation for me. God knows my heart and He knows how much I love Him and desire to live a life that pleases Him. I’m letting myself get too worked up over religious things instead of simply worshiping our amazing and loving God and resting in the peace that He gives. God will work all these things out and make our decisions clear for us.

The other change I’m going to make in my life is to say “no” to things that God has not led me to. So often, I’ve said yes to helping in areas of service just because I’m a people pleaser and don’t like saying no. It’s time that I prayerfully consider decisions in my life and have the guts to say “no” when it’s not the right fit for me.

Saying “no” to what God has not planned for me will give me the opportunity to say “yes” to HIS best plans for me.

I wrote the above section of this post earlier in the week and on Wednesday received an email from a church member saying that my name had been mentioned to fill a need for a 4th grade Sunday school teacher. I realized that I needed to share with someone in leadership my heart and bring to light the struggles I’ve kept hidden for so long now. I sent a message to a trusted Christian friend who leads the children’s ministry to let her know that I was not in a place to serve right now. I explained the struggle I’ve had over the last several months and shared that Jonathan and I have not even attended a life group of our own in ages, yet I’ve been teaching and serving in different areas. I explained that I didn’t think I was in a place to serve when I need to work on my own relationship with God and rebuilding fellowship with other Christians. My dear friend was so very comforting and caring and responded gracefully to encourage me that I was wise to bring this to light and thanked me for my honesty.

I still feel conflicted on where God is leading us, to stay at our church or attend a new place of worship, but either way, I have full confidence that God is using this difficult time in my life to strengthen me and help me become the woman He desires me to be.

I do appreciate your prayers in this matter and although I know I’m sharing this blog in a public space, I ask that you not share your personal feelings about my decision to stay or leave my church. Although I will appreciate hearing your own experiences, I’m trusting that God alone will show my husband and I the right path to take.

I hope reading this was an encouragement to others and I hope you’ll stop back by later this weekend for my next post where I will be talking about changes in my health and plans to visit a doctor.

Thank you for reading,

Amber

Changes and Resolutions Part 3: Priorities

If you have not done so already, I have 2 other posts talking about changes in my life and resolutions as I work towards resolving to live an abundant life of joy, with or without children.

-The first post is here

-The second post is here

In my last post, I talked about working towards a new mindset. So often I feel like I’m giving into the “victim” mentality of infertility instead of living as an overcomer. I believe that God has a beautiful purpose for my life and I don’t feel like remaining in this sadness is a part of His plan for me. I’m taking steps to change my life and work towards a road through healing and detailing my plan for what they will look like in my life.

Although planning out the steps I need to take might seem restrictive, I actually believe that freedom comes through a well thought out plan. For instance, when I menu plan, I’m able to stay within my budget at the grocery store and I don’t have to wonder what we are going to eat at night. I don’t stick to my meal plan religiously, but it gives me options and I’m not left scrambling to figure out what’s for dinner.

In the same way as a meal plan, I think that having a plan in place for healing from the pain of infertility will be a huge benefit to me. I’m sharing the steps that I’m taking on this journey for my own personal benefit and also to hopefully help anyone else who can relate to this struggle.

To begin, one of the first resolutions I’m working on is changing my priorities and putting myself and my family first. Like I said in my first post of this series most of the outside of the home commitments I was involved in are coming to a close and I’m going to have a lot more me time. I can already feel the benefits of the reduced stress in my life over the last week. I feel like I’m already breathing easier.

Because many things in my life seem out of my control, I feel much better when I have a daily/weekly routine that I can count on. When life gets so busy that I don’t have time to stick to my basic routine, I feel out of control, more stressed, and I end up throwing my hands in the air in defeat. I’m sure part of this is related to the losses and infertility and Celiac disease, but I also just think that as an adult, I enjoy having a routine that helps me stay on top of important things in my life.

My most important daily priorities are: alone time with God (prayer and reading scripture/listening to worship music), quality time with my husband and dogs, cooking healthy meals from home, keeping the home clutter free and tidied up (I’m okay if my house is not perfectly clean, but I need the laundry to be kept up with, the kitchen to be clean, and things put away to feel peace in my home), exercise or some kind of physical activity even if it’s just taking my dogs for a walk.

There are other things that I would like to do from a day to day basis and I of course think that other areas of my life are important (friendships, serving in ministry, hobbies, etc) but those are the basic parts of a happy routine for me that bring me peace. If I have time to focus on my top priorities while serving in ministry, I feel like I’m able to give 100% of my heart with joy to the service as opposed to when I don’t have the time for my daily routine, I feel bitter and less generous with my time and energy. It’s not just with ministry work either: when my friend Gwen was getting married earlier this year, I wasn’t able to fully enjoy her bachelorette party and wedding because I was just simply so exhausted from a too-full schedule.

I also think my Celiac disease plays a large role in my life as I struggle with things that used to seem more simple. Having a daily routine ensures that I’m going to be able to eat from home and not risk getting sick. Going out of town is much more complicated now because I have to plan in advance. It is also hard when I’m participating in events where I can’t control what food is available. I’m learning better to have snacks in my purse, but it is still difficult when you want to socialize with others and not draw attention to your eating habits. Inevitably, my Celiac disease always becomes a big topic and people want to know how I was diagnosed and what kind of symptoms I have. My diagnosis was from my miscarriages so it’s not something I want to talk about and I just have to give them a brief answer of “health problems” and hope they don’t keep asking more. Most people are gracious enough and get the point, but it’s still a point of anxiety for me.  I also don’t want to talk about symptoms I have as they are embarrassing. I never really thought that having Celiac disease would be a struggle in ways that you don’t think about, but there is a huge mental aspect to this disease.

For me, having that daily routine as much as I’m able to and making my top priorities a primary focus in my life gives me a sense of peace. For the most part, that’s the biggest change I need to make in my life and I feel like I’ll see huge results just from that change.

I sometimes spend too much time comparing myself to other women who seem to have it all together. You know, that mom with 3 kids who works full time, teaching a bible study, teaches Sunday school, and serves at the homeless mission? Yeah, that one exhausts me just looking at her schedule. (And I really am referring to a friend here that does all of these things, lol.)

But I can’t live my life comparing myself to other people. I have my own set of limitations and I’m created differently than they are. And that’s okay. I also have my own set of gifts and talents that I need to recognize and be thankful for.

These new changes in my life are all about giving myself grace and allowing myself to get focused on a routine I can count on. In the future, I’ll be in a healthier place to involve myself in more things, but for now, I have to recognize that I’m struggling to just stick to the basics, and that’s okay.

I have a lot on my plate between my husband’s police career, infertility struggles and Celiac disease. I have unique circumstances that can’t be compared to anyone else and it’s okay for me to plan my life in a way that makes it easier for me to find daily joy.

Back in April when I was so busy and stressed out that I was only getting a few hours of sleep at night, I found this video that was very encouraging me to me and inspired me to figure out what daily priorities are important to me. I tried to start implementing some of those daily priorities at the time, but it was still a big struggle with just too many demands at once. Thankfully, I made it through that season, and now I have so much more breathing room to get back to the basics. And for anyone who is curious, I am a full time homemaker (aka, I stay home). I worked a few years ago and ended up quitting my job when I was in the middle of grief. It’s a decision that I wish I had not made during that season of my life, but I do enjoy homemaking and I think there is so much value in finding contentment and joy in the home. While it might seem old-fashioned to some, I enjoy serving my husband by providing a peaceful home life for him. And my husband enjoys being spoiled :-)

If you are in a busy season of life or just struggling with a daily routine, I would encourage you to watch this video from How Jen Does It on YouTube for some helpful tips. I like how she talks about focusing all of her daily routines around her most important priorities and then building from there.

Here’s the video again if you would like to check it out:

I hope that this post is encouraging and helpful for anyone else who can relate to my struggles and if you enjoyed reading this, come back by tomorrow evening. My next post will be discussing changes I’m making in my walk with God. Even if you are not a Christian, I think you’ll enjoy reading it.

Thank you all for your loving kindness and support,

Amber

Changes and Resolutions Part 2: A New Mindset

If you have not done so already, please go read part 1 of my “Changes and Resolutions” post.

As Jonathan and I are talking about and praying about the idea of resolving to live “childfree”, there are certain steps we want to take to make positive changes in our life that will help us make this important decision and move forward in a healthy way. But before I get into discussing more the steps I’d like to take towards a brighter future, I want to explain my vision of what a “childfree” life would be like for me.

I felt very bitter on Mother’s Day and the days following the holiday. I didn’t expect to feel that way about the holiday as I was able to have a good day the previous year and I wasn’t dreading the day this year because of that good experience. However, when I took the cheap dollar store test and saw a faint second line, followed by the hopefulness of maybe being pregnant, followed by the downfall of finding out that I definitely was not pregnant – it brought out the monster in me.

I realized that I don’t want to continue to let infertility define my life and my emotions. Although that feels like an impossible statement, I want to do everything in my power to take back my life. I don’t want to keep living in the past and keep feeling like a victim. I want to move forward with my life, regardless of whether or not I have a child with me. I know that my children in Heaven don’t want me to mourn their lives forever and it certainly doesn’t honor them to do so.  I also know that if we are destined to have children in the future, they wouldn’t want their mom to stop living until they are here. I can’t be a good mother that way.

My parents divorced when I was a young girl and I’ll be honest in saying that there are still parts of that experience that affect me today. But that experience no longer makes me feel like a victim. I have been able to forgive the people who wronged me and caused me pain from that experience and I’ve been able to accept that although it was a tragic time for my family, God used that pain to bring about a beautiful alternative. I can look back now and see that God’s hand was working through every situation in my childhood to bring me to Him and I wouldn’t change the story knowing what I do now.

I feel like the same healing can take place from the pain of recurrent miscarriage and infertility. I feel like someday, I’ll be able to look back on this time in my life and see how God was using it all for a beautiful purpose.

So for me, resolving to live a “childfree” life is about embracing my story. It’s about learning to accept the reality of my situation and move forward with my life knowing that I deserve an abundant life of peace and joy. It’s believing that although I have suffered trauma from my losses, I deserve better than living in defeat. For me, resolving to live childfree is not giving up on ever having a child. It’s also not me taking a break from trying to conceive (we won’t be trying, but it’s not a break) . We will not be doing anything to prevent pregnancy unless circumstances like health issues or some other unknown factor lead us to do so. I’ll be discussing this later in a different blog post, but part of my resolution is actually going to include seeing a reproductive endocrinologist this summer. I’m not going with the purpose of seeking treatment, however. I’ll discuss this more in a later post :-)

When I think about this resolution, I imagine a changing of my mindset. It will involve changing where I place my hope. It will involve changing my mindset from believing that I can only be happy once I reach the other side of infertility with arms full of children, to believing that I can find joy right now in the present blessings in my life.  It’s changing my mindset to believing that even if we should never receive the blessing of a child in this life, I can have a wonderful, fulfilling, purposeful, and joy-filled adventure wherever God leads me.

Resolving to live childfree will be about accepting that our family unit does not include children and learning to be content with the family God has given me.

For me to reach this shifting mindset, it’s going to require a lot of hard work, prayer, and support from safe people in my life.

Although I can’t say for sure if we will resolve to live childfree and not take any extra steps to try to grow our family, I do know that I want to move forward working towards a shifting mindset from “victim” to “overcomer”.

I’m ready to take back my life and find joy in the plans that God has made for me.

Stay tuned friends,

Amber

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

 

Changes and Resolutions

Hi everyone! I’m getting really excited that some commitments in my life are starting to end and/or slow down and I’m going to have more ME time. I’m ready to start blogging again. Although I have had down time to blog, I was so drained the last 5 months that I couldn’t seem to find the words to express myself on here, though I tried many times.

Even now as I sit to start writing, I’m finding trouble figuring out where to start. But I am determined to keep going and get back into the habit of blogging. I am really, truly excited that I have so much more time to do so now.

After Mother’s Day, I started my period on Wednesday, a day early. It definitely was NOT a chemical pregnancy, so that first cheap dollar store test I took with a second line was a fluke. I had an emotional day one day that week where I might have thrown every cheap pregnancy test in the trash and then almost threw away my expensive digital pregnancy tests. I looked at them, starting to throw them away, and then thought, “These are so expensive and nice – they shouldn’t go to waste” and started crying my eyes out. Oh good grief, can we say hormonal? Anyways, they are still sitting out on my dresser as I haven’t decided what to do with them. I don’t want to keep them in my house because quite honestly, I don’t want to ever take a pregnancy test again. I feel so much anger over the 3 chemical pregnancies I had in the past (and 2 miscarriages of course- but those made it to 10 weeks) that I never want to know again if I’m pregnant, only to lose the baby right away.

I honestly think that the chemical pregnancies, in a different kind of way, feel worse than the losses I had at 10 weeks. Now don’t get me wrong, I was more attached by that point and I had more time to feel hopeful for a good outcome, but the chemical pregnancies feel like such a kick in the gut. You only get to enjoy the moment for such a brief period of time before it falls apart. And the last 2 pregnancies (in September 2013 and February 2014) I was just praying that I would get beyond 4 weeks so that I could actually have a chance to try to do something to save my baby. I didn’t even have a chance to call my doctor and get put on medication that might be able to help.

I feel so conflicted in my mind and I don’t really know if part of the issues are my hormones being out of whack or if it’s a defense mechanism or a little of both, but I have two opposing thoughts.

The first is that, I feel irresponsible not going to see a doctor to investigate more why I had 5 miscarriages. I feel like a bad mother to any future children that I might conceive by not going to the doctor to possibly prevent it from happening again. I don’t really feel like I or even a doctor have that much control over the matter, but I still struggle with the guilt of not doing anything to try.

The second conflicting emotion is that, I feel like I might could find happiness by resolving to live “childfree”. As much as I long to conceive and give birth to healthy, living children, part of me is just beyond exhausted by the toll this journey has taken on me. I feel like I’ve lost so much of myself and really feel like I haven’t been truly living the last 4 years. I just turned 28 last month and yet I feel like an old woman. I feel like I’ve missed out on so much youth.

And there is a part of me that thinks, even if I give trying everything I have and I succeed and have a healthy baby in my arms at the end of it, I don’t feel like I’m healthy enough to be able to enjoy the gift of a child. I feel like I’m so broken and scarred from my experiences and from living in the “infertility mindset” for 4 years, that I wouldn’t even know how to shift into a new mindset of motherhood. I feel so much bitterness from this journey that it seems impossible to imagine that I would ever be okay enough to allow myself to enjoy motherhood. I’m not sure if that makes sense to anyone else, but I just really feel like having a baby is not the cure to my suffering.

I feel like if I make a resolution with my husband to live a childfree life (unless God decides otherwise or moves in our hearts to go forward with something like foster parenting or adoption) I could take steps to heal and move forward with my life. I feel like I might be one of the women in the world who is okay with my family being complete with my husband and myself. I also think that I’ve probably felt this way for a long time without understanding what I was feeling as I’ve always had an aversion to seeing an infertility specialist.

Now I don’t want to confirm that this is the decision we have reached as we might have to work through a process of grief and acceptance before fully moving onto to this resolution. Like I said earlier, I’m not sure where these feelings are coming from exactly, so I have been hesitant to share this on the blog. This is just me sharing my current feelings as I begin to take steps to work through this process and figure out where we go from here.

While I work through these feelings and my husband and I talk and pray through this process, I do have some plans to help us reach a resolution.

I continued writing this blog post and it ended up being way too long and kind of all over the place. I’ve decided to break down my “resolutions” into several blog posts to go up each day. I would like to start blogging on a regular basis, though I’m not quite sure how to schedule that. Ideally I would say that I’ll blog 5 days a week, but with this being a blog primarily about my infertility, I don’t always want to blog about that every day. I don’t always have something to share. Therefore, I’m not going to put myself under the pressure to blog every single day, but I will commit to blogging one to two times a week. I might end up doing more, but for now, I’m confident in that resolution.

For this week however, look forward to reading the following parts of “changes and resolutions” to come each day.

Thank you all for reading and I hope you are each doing well and enjoying life.

Much love,

Amber

BFN

I took another pg test today and it was negative. So I guess the faint second line I saw the other day was just a fluke. UGHHHHHHHH!

I wasn’t even feeling that emotional about Mother’s Day until I took a test earlier this week and now this entire weekend has just been a complete disaster. I’m sick as a dog and it was so hard to get up this morning for church. But I was determined to go. I think it’s just a cold or sinus infection but either way, I’m surprised I was able to make it to church.

And let me tell you – it was a mistake. I was not in a place to worship God. I tried so hard but all I could think about the entire service was how angry I feel at my church for not giving flowers to all women – just the mothers. And going on and on about honoring mothers during the sermon.

I shouldn’t have gone. It was a huge mistake.

And the worst part of all, I can’t even feel God’s love right now. I just feel so far away from Him. This is a complete opposite to how I felt last year. I think that hurts worse than anything. I want God to be my everything, but right now, I just feel forgotten and alone.

Then I came home and took a pregnancy test after church and of course it was negative. I wasn’t shocked – I completely expected the test to be negative.

But it still hurts really bad. I wish this journey was over but I guess I’m still going to be infertile.

Today I don’t feel strong. Today, I feel really, really weak and hurt.

I wish I could be hopeful for a miracle someday, but right now, I’m hurting too much to care about the future. I hurt RIGHT NOW! Right now matters to me. I don’t care if I get a baby 15 years from now. It doesn’t change the grief of today.

Edit: I wrote this earlier in the day when I was feeling the height of my emotions and I’m now feeling a lot better. I decided not to turn away from God and open my bible and pray. I was feeling especially guilty going to Him since I was acting cold towards Him today and I was worried for what I would read. I opened to the most comforting scripture possible: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. A sweet reminder that I can always come to God and start fresh – even if I turned away for a moment.

I read several other encouraging parts in scripture and am feeling a lot better just knowing that God has not forgotten me and that He sees me today.

I’m also thinking about the future. I’ve always worried in my heart that this would be a very long wait until we have a child. And the reality is that it might be a long wait. I can’t keep letting myself get this upset over motherhood things. I need to focus on the blessings I do have in my life and be content with this current season of my life.

But that also means I’m going to be making some changes. I’ve been the “yes” girl for so long and am always available for helping in different children’s ministries. But for the moment, I really just need to step away from children’s ministry. It just hurts too much and I don’t feel any joy in serving.

One area that has been on my heart lately is the idea of starting an infertility support group. I’m a little nervous about what exactly this will look like and if there is even a need in my area for that group, but I’ll be praying over the next few months to see if God is leading me in that direction.

I don’t know what the future looks like, but I do know that I need to give myself more grace and be more compassionate towards my feelings. Maybe next year I won’t put myself through the torture of Mother’s Day service if I’m also dealing with an expected period and hormones LOL! My husband has already suggested that we might should think about taking a vacation next year on Mother’s Day.

Who knows, maybe next year I’ll worship God on top of a mountain or in front of a beautiful beach :-)

But I do know, that after all I’ve been through, I owe it to myself to start enjoying the blessings I do have in my life. I hope you all are doing okay and surviving better than I did today.

I’m thinking of you all today,

Amber