Choose Joy

Tomorrow, I should be 10 weeks pregnant with our baby that we lost in July, but instead, we had to say goodbye and the plans and hopes I had for that little one are no more.

Today is my dad’s 60th birthday. When I found out I was pregnant and I looked ahead to the calendar realizing that my dad’s birthday coincided with the week that I would reach 10 weeks pregnant, the furthest point we have ever reached in previous pregnancies. I figured that I would have my first scan around this time so that I could announce to my dad that he was going to be a grandpa, provided that the scan went well of course. I know I shouldn’t have let my mind get so carried away with that dream, but I couldn’t help but to hope that we would be able to celebrate a baby on his birthday.

Instead of being sick from morning sickness, I’m sick from chest pains and a cough. My appointment last Friday with my doctor went exactly as I thought it would – she referred me to a GI specialist and also put me on an antacid, Nexium. My appointment with the GI specialist is not until September 16 so I have a bit of a wait to find out what’s going on. I’m feeling a little bit better after reading a GERD forum where people talked about their symptoms and problems they have from the disease. It put my mind at ease to realize that I probably didn’t need to worry about esophageal cancer. Even though my symptoms seem pretty scary, apparently GERD can cause a lot of painful problems and the chances of me having cancer are highly unlikely.

Even though I’m dealing with these pretty frustrating symptoms, knowing that I most likely don’t have a deadly disease has given me a more positive attitude and I have been feeling thankful that although I feel bad now, my future is not without hope.

But today, I hurt all over again. Today reminds me of the baby we didn’t get to meet. Today reminds me that I don’t get to share happy news with those I love.

Today, I will struggle to choose joy. But I WILL choose joy.

This world is not my home, and someday I will make it home to the place where there will be no more death or pain. But for now, I will choose joy on the good and bad days, because I’m still here, I’m still breathing and I still have a purpose. Today I will enjoy some boring household chores. Nothing to be excited about, but I can choose joy and be thankful that I have a loving husband who works hard to provide for our family and I can enjoy the chores I have to do knowing that I have loved ones to care for. Tonight my husband will come home and we will get to enjoy dinner together and take our dogs for a walk.

This weekend I will be headed to visit my dad for a surprise birthday celebration. We are going to eat lunch and go play laser tag – I will definitely choose joy over getting to celebrate my father’s life and have some fun with family.

Today I will choose joy that about 11 years ago, my dad’s life changed forever when he became a believer in Jesus Christ. On his birthday more than ever, I can reflect on the dramatic transformation that Jesus has had in my dad’s life. His transformation as a believer was the proof to me that I could also place my faith in Jesus. My dad did some really bad things before coming to Christ and my family suffered greatly from the consequences of those decisions, but God had a bigger plan to use all of that suffering for our good. My dad, me and now my older brother have now all come to faith in Jesus Christ and our lives have changed for an eternity.

A friend once asked me how I could forgive my father for what he did to our family. For me, forgiveness was not saying that what he did was not wrong. Forgiveness gave me peace, but more than that, forgiveness came easy when I realized, it wasn’t mine to give. God is the one who forgives and Jesus paid that price for my dad (AND ME) on the cross. Forgiveness was easy for me to give, because I realized early on how much I, myself, did not deserve forgiveness from God for the sins I had committed against Him and against others. I can tell you that before coming to Christ, I could identify with the adulteress woman who the religious Pharisees wanted to stone to death. I felt unworthy in every way, and yet, Jesus said, “I forgive you.”  I wanted to give forgiveness out willingly because ultimately, I am incredibly thankful for what God has done in my life and my family’s life. Why would I want to hold on to the hurt and pain that was ultimately part of Satan’s plan instead of seeing that God used that pain to bring us all to Him to heal us all completely at the foot of the cross of Jesus? I want to live abundantly in the plans that GOD has for me – and that does not include withholding forgiveness or choosing bitterness.

Today, I feel sad for the losses we have faced, but I will not choose to give into the enemy’s plans to make me bitter and angry. Instead, I choose joy because just like with the struggles and heartache my family faced, God can in the same way use my pain of recurrent miscarriage to bring about a beautiful story. The wait is hard, but He’s right here with me and I’m never alone.

Are you struggling today from the worries and weight of the world? Cast your cares on the Lord, for He cares for you deeply. Choose joy today, for “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Much love to you all,

Amber

“The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Scary Symptoms

Hi everyone! I’m sorry for the lack of blogging over the last month. Following our miscarriage last month, I was experiencing a full range of emotions as well as insomnia. Every time I tried to sit down to write on my blog, I couldn’t focus on one topic because there was just too much going on in my head.

By the grace of God, I was able to attend a local mission trip last week with a youth girl’s group I help teach. We decided to do a local trip to support a homeless ministry in my city that is currently working on starting a women’s transition house. We have worked with the pastor of that mission on many occasions so it was nice to be able to support him and his wife instead of going to some place else where it would only be a short term type of support. With this mission, we can continue to be involved so it was nice to stay put. It also worked out well with my Celiac disease as I was able to prep all of my food the weekend before and bring my meals with me every day.

The week was a lot of hard work, but it was also an amazing experience. I feel like it was just what I needed to lift me up out of the pit of despair following my miscarriage. It restored my hope in God and my joy and passion for mission work.

On the last day of the mission trip I woke up sick Friday morning and had to go to the doctor. After my doctor’s appointment, I went back to the mission to finish out the day with the girls. On top of my getting sick, the other leader twisted her ankle that morning. I’m calling it a divine redirection because our original plans for the final night was to go prayer walking around the neighborhood and just be praying for the community. But because I was not feeling well and because my friend hurt her ankle, we decided instead to head to the grocery store to pass out tracks (which are just like little brochures that share the message of salvation).

After handing out several tracks to people, there was a young man that was standing around reading it. I didn’t want to bug him, but I just had this leading feeling in me that I should ask him if he had any questions. We started talking and had a really great conversation. He opened up to me about a lot of problems in his life. He also shared that several people in the recent past had been speaking to him about Jesus and he was starting to wonder if it was more than a coincidence. I was able to share the simple message of the gospel and had the pleasure of asking him if he would like to receive the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. He said YES!

I called all of the youth girls over and my other leader and asked them to pray with us and I think the other leader could tell I needed help in the prayer so she took over for me and led him in a prayer to ask Jesus to save him.

After all I have been through this year, after all of the tears and struggles and hard work, this was such a miracle. After losing my baby last month and agonizing over whether or not I should go on the mission trip, it was like a hand-picked gift by God to give me the pleasure of being able to lead this man to Christ. It was one of the best moments in my life – I’ll never forget the joy I felt when he said yes to Jesus!

I hate that we had to say goodbye to my baby, but I know that she is smiling down at her mama as I keep fighting back the dark and reaching a hurting world with the love of Jesus. Someday I will hold her and all of the pain of yesterday will melt away.

While I would love to live on that mountain top “high” from our mission trip, unfortunately daily life calls me back to the valley and back to reality. This has been a hard year. This year has just brought trial after trial after trial. Thankfully, I have the lessons I learned on our trip last week and the memories to give me more of a positive attitude and hopefulness about some of the troubles we are facing.

Getting a consultation to see the RE is unfortunately being put on the back burner for the moment. Since January (I believe), I’ve had some bizarre symptoms throughout the year that kind of made me wonder if I should get in to see a doctor to check on my health. I really wanted to go, but I never had a free moment to get into the doctor and it seemed like every time I did have a free day, our stupid car was breaking down and in the shop.

Like seriously, our stupid car is driving me crazy! Jonathan has a work car, thank God, but I’m getting a little frustrated constantly dealing with repairs. And two days before my mission trip, we were headed to my nephew’s birthday party when we ran over some kind of sharp metal object on the highway. It completely ruined our tire. We were trying to wait a little bit longer before we replaced all 4 tires, but went ahead and got them all taken care of at once since we really needed to get it done anyways. Sigh!

So my health issues have taken a seat on the back burner and I’m now regretting not taking things more seriously when I first started having symptoms.

Back in January, I started having trouble swallowing food. It was just things like baked potatoes or bread (gluten free of course). But they would feel like they were getting stuck in the middle of my chest where your sternum is. It hurt really bad and took a long time for the food to finally pass. I kind of panicked a bit wondering what was causing my trouble swallowing, but a quick google search made me feel better when I saw something about “GERD”.

I’m not really sure you should take “GERD” as lightly as I did, but I was just kind of like, “Oh, it’s just some type of acid reflux or heartburn. Whatever. I’ll just not eat that food and it will go away.” I literally came to this conclusion after looking on the internet for about a minute. Seriously, if I could back in time and slap myself and say, “go to the doctor, you fool”, I would.

I can’t remember when exactly it started, but I think it was definitely by April that I started to experience chest pain right in the spot where I have been having difficulty swallowing food. Don’t ask me why I didn’t put two and two together. Honestly, I’m not usually this dumb. I think I’ve been so distracted and busy this year that I literally have just kind of brushed everything under the rug that I didn’t have time to “deal with”.

It was also in April when I got a bad cough. So bad that I had irritation either in my esophagus or throat that caused light bleeding in my mucus when I spit up. I didn’t think much of the blood because it was such a light amount and it was obviously just from irritation from coughing so much.

The cough went away but the chest pain continued on.

Because of all the stress I was under, I started to think that maybe my chest pain was from anxiety. Again, I’m not sure why I wouldn’t take it seriously enough to see a doctor because the chest pain is constant. It’s like a pressure in my chest that doesn’t go away. Even when I sleep it affects me.

Last month during my miscarriage, I noticed that my lymph nodes in my throat and behind my ears were swollen again. I’ve noticed this has happened a lot over the last year, every time I get sick with a cold/cough (now looking back I’m realizing how much I keep getting sick). The day after I started to miscarry, I also got sick with yet another cough/cold.

I started to feel better after about 7 days, but the cough has not gone away (we are going on 4 almost 5 weeks of coughing now). It’s been a very minor cough, just coughing here and there, but I can feel the cough in the center of my chest right where I’m having chest pain and right where I’m having trouble swallowing.

Last week on Tuesday I was at the mission center having dinner and eating a sandwich. The bread again got caught in my chest, but this time it took a really long time for it to pass. I was really starting to worry and for a minute I thought I might have to go to the ER because I was so worried it wasn’t going to pass this time. Thankfully it finally passed with the help of water, but I was scared to keep eating my bread after that so I just took the sandwich meat off and ate that by itself. I would have stopped eating all together, but I was starving from doing yard work in 100 degree weather all day.

I thought that doing all of the work at the mission center would make my cough worse, but it was pretty minor the entire time. I just coughed here and there, but nothing major. There was only one time during the week when I had a bad coughing fit and one of the young girl’s asked if I was okay. I said, “Oh yeah, I just have a lingering cough that’s taking a while to go away.”

I felt fine all day Thursday, hardly any coughing at all. Friday morning I woke up, went to the bathroom and then had another bad coughing fit. Only this time, there was so much mucus inside my chest that I started gagging and throwing up.

And the reality that this wasn’t a normal cough hit when I realized I was coughing up blood every time I spit up, and not like before where it was obviously from being irritated from a cough. This was a pretty significant amount. Not so much that I was like, “Oh I’m dying!” but enough that I realized I needed to get into see a doctor right away.

The doctor wasn’t terribly concerned by my cough not going away yet, but she was concerned by my chest pains. Like a fool, I didn’t write down all of my symptoms and at the time, for some reason, I didn’t really think my problems swallowing were connected to my cough and chest pain, so I forgot to mention that pretty important symptom. She sent me for a chest x-ray and asked me to come back in a week if the cough did not go away (with some medicine to help).

The chest x-ray came back clear and I felt relief. But I started to feel a little irritated. What’s wrong with my chest? Why am I having this pain? There has to be something causing this!

A little bit more research online and I discovered those symptoms could be caused by GERD (this time I took it more seriously and read for more than a minute) but I also discovered my symptoms could be indicating much more serious problems – Barrett’s Esophagus or even Esophageal cancer, which is a very fast-growing, deadly cancer that you don’t mess around with.

These issues would need to be diagnosed most likely through an endoscopy. I’m sure that I’m just having a bad case of GERD, but because the symptoms are the same for more dangerous conditions, and because long term GERD can lead to dangerous complications, I’m not going to wait around and take this lightly any longer.

I’ll be back in the doctor tomorrow morning and I’m sure they will send me to the GI specialist. It took me three months to get into see the GI doctor for Celiac disease, so I really, really hope it doesn’t take that long this time around. I want an endoscopy as soon as possible. I hope because of the serious nature of my symptoms, I’ll get bumped up to a quick appointment. I don’t think I can handle waiting and spending all this time wondering, “Is it GERD or cancer?”

I’m obviously nervous about what’s to come, but I’m just trying to stay positive and hope for a good outcome.

The good thing about all of this is I’m realizing how much healing has occurred over the last few years in my heart. Even though we are still experiencing loss and troubles, I have this hope that keeps me in the fight, and even a joy that is coming back again, Praise God! I remember I used to sob on an almost nightly basis after our first three losses, and I would just beg God to end my life and take me home. With these scary symptoms, I’m kind of facing mortality and thinking a lot about when God will call me home. And I have this strong desire to keep living. I have been praying in tears that God will let me live because I know He has good plans for my life and I want to be here to see all of it unfold. I’m not afraid of the pain my infertility brings anymore because I know that while it hurts now, there is a beautiful story that God is working on, and it’s worth it for me to hold on and trust Him while I wait to see all the beauty He is restoring through these ashes. I’m already seeing so many beautiful miracles (hello, a new brother-in-Christ!).

If you would like to pray for me specifically, I would appreciate prayers for peace and not worry, prayers for God to provide for the tests for diagnosis, prayers for answers to my health problems, and prayers that it will be a minor health issue and not a life threatening diagnosis.

Blessings and love to you all,

Amber

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will go with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Forward

Life is already moving forward, ready or not. I’m not ready. I don’t even want to get back into my normal daily routine because all I can think about is how I felt fine just one short week ago, and one week later, I feel this huge loss in my heart.

Part of me feels like I’m betraying the baby I just loved and lost to move forward and make plans for the future. I would like to take the time to just simply grieve, but I just have no choice but to look ahead. This is different than a death because this is also an illness. I have to get into the mindset of treating this like the illness that it is, just like I would do with any other medical condition.

And so I’m moving forward, regardless of if I like it or not.

My doctor’s office finally called this morning with my blood work results from Friday and I shared the news that I lost the pregnancy on Sunday. They want me to do follow up hcg blood work on the 20th just to make sure it returns to 0. My hcg on Friday was 15 so I’m sure my doctor figured I was going to miscarry. It was early when they called this morning so I wasn’t prepared to take notes about my blood work. My blood levels (checking my platelets) were in normal range. My thyroid was a normal range and they said a number that I can’t remember now for my progesterone but didn’t say whether it was normal or not. I didn’t question anything because I was still drowsy and unprepared for the phone call and I figured I’ll be discussing all of this and probably getting several more blood testing done with the specialist.

The nurse that I spoke with said my doctor really recommended I get a referral to the infertility specialist at the hospital’s infertility clinic (same center – different part of the building as my obgyn office) and I said that I would very much appreciate my doctor do so.

She called back about 10 minutes afterwards and said my doctor sent over the referral and gave me the direct line to the secretary for the infertility clinic. I called and left a message with all of my information and should receive a call back by the end of the business day to schedule our first appointment. My husband said to schedule it for any day and he would use a vacation day to get off work. What’s amazing about that is a year ago, he would not have been able to get a day off of work for a doctor’s appointment. We could try, but they were always short on officers and it was difficult to get time off without advance warning. When he was on patrol, our entire lives had to revolve around his work schedule. Now that he’s a detective, he has a lot more freedom and it’s not a big deal to get a day off. That is such a blessing to me! I’m thanking God right now that He opened the doors for Jonathan to have this position.

When the voicemail said this is so and so with the “blank” infertility clinic, I started to cry and had to pull myself together. It just really hit home that I’m actually taking a step in this direction and suddenly became even more real. Has anyone else cried over your first phone call or visit to the reproductive endocrinologist? Seriously, share if you have. It will make me feel less crazy.

And now we wait to find out when my first appointment will be. I don’t really have any expectations. I’ll be surprised if they are able to get me in soon. I’m just imagining that I might have to wait a few months. But, who knows? I wish they would hurry up and call. I feel like all I have done the last week is sit around waiting for doctors to call me back. I guess I should probably start getting used to this feeling, huh?

I called my mom afterwards to tell her that I was pregnant last week and now I’m not and that I’m finally seeing a reproductive endocrinologist. My mom was very, very happy to hear that I finally got a referral to meet with a specialist. She already knew that I was talking about going this summer for a different reason than recurrent miscarriage, but she was happy to hear that I have now actually taken the first step. My mom knows me well and knows I can spend a long time talking about something before I actually go through with doing it.

I’ll discuss it more in a future post on why I was already planning to see the specialist before this most recent miscarriage happened, but it doesn’t really relate to what I’m talking about right now so I’m going to move on.

My mom has been going through a hard time the last few years as my grandmother’s (her mother) health is failing and she has been in and out of the hospital. My mom was venting to me and talking about how she hopes she never has to see the inside of a hospital again unless it’s going to see me with my baby in my arms. She said, everyday when she was in the hospital, she would see new families coming out with baby carriers and think about how badly she wants to be able to walk into a hospital room and see me holding her grandchild for the first time. Of course we were both crying as she shared this and I told her I hope for that too. Although it made me sad that my mom is hurting too, it also was nice to hear her open up about how this is hard on her as well as me.

My family has always just worried about me and my health and no one has really shared that they are hurting too over the loss of our children and the loss of dreams for what should be. It felt nice to hear her say that today and know that this doesn’t just affect me and Jonathan – this is hurting our entire family and we are all in this together.

As far as my plans with the reproductive endocrinologist go, I’m not really making any plans. I’m realizing more and more how much I suffer with anxiety and I’m learning that I need to tackle this journey one simple step at a time. It might seem silly, but just calling and making an appointment was a huge step for me. I already feel a sense of relief and accomplishment as ridiculous as that might sound.

Ridiculous or not, I’m embracing this part of my life. I’m not going to pray that God takes away this struggle with anxiety, I’m going to pray that He helps me to learn how to embrace this unique part of who I am and learn to live victoriously with it. I think so often, we hurt ourselves when we look at a struggle and feel like it’s a burden that hinders us from having a good life. A blind person can choose to see their blindness as a negative part of their lives, but that would only prevent them from finding joy. Same with someone who is deaf or missing a limb or even limbs. But isn’t it amazing, that in these instances, more times than not I’m sure, you see people rising above what the world says is a “handicap” and overcoming and sharing amazing gifts and talents with the world.

I saw this inspiring video a few months ago and couldn’t help but to think of my own journey. This video shows Rebekah Gregory crossing the Boston marathon finish line. Watch the video here.

This is the scripture that she shared on her Facebook page on the day she crossed the finish line:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:7

I cried when I watched that video because I know that God has given me my own set of gifts and talents and unique circumstances and challenges that are going to make my own story one of beautiful victory. And I believe with everything in me, that just like with so many others in the world who have suffered as a result of this fallen world we live in, I will be a light in a dark world to shine Christ’s love and push back the darkness. The loss of my children won’t stop me from fighting for love – it only inspires me to fight even harder and love harder.

This song just recently came out on Christian radio and I am loving it in every way. I think this is my new theme song for my infertility/loss journey:

Keep Fighting the Good Fight by Unspoken – YouTube

While my heart is hurting and there is great adversity to overcome, I choose to believe that I will overcome every single struggle I face.

With love and hope,

Amber

Sad Update

I’ll have more to write about in the coming days as I start working through my grief and as I try to figure out what to do next, but I thought I would update my support system and prayer warriors here.

I’m sorry to share that this baby has passed from this world and my miscarriage started late this morning. I knew that it was coming, but wasn’t willing to give up all hope until it was confirmed. Last night I took another pregnancy test and the second line was even more faint and hard to see – a sign of pregnancy hormones dropping.

Right before I started bleeding, I was meditating and singing part of a song we sometimes sing in my church: “Oh how he loves you. Oh how he loves me. Oh how he loves you and me.” When I saw the bleeding, I cried at the sight, but continued to think about the words of the song. As much as the enemy might try to confuse me and make me feel unloved right now – I will choose to believe this beautiful promise in scripture:

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I really love the way this translation words this passage of scripture. The apostle Paul who wrote these beautiful words of God was a man of many trials and intense persecution. No doubt, the words God gave him to write gave him hope through many sorrowful and painful nights. Thousands of years later, they are still bringing hope to many and they give me hope today.

I don’t understand what I’m going through right now and even if I did, I’m not sure it would take away from the pain of having to say goodbye to this little one we love so much.

Last night I wrestled with thoughts of feeling unworthy and hopeless. I wondered to myself, “Why should I even bother moving forward with life when this just keeps happening?”

But as soon as I even started to think like that, I stopped myself.

I am not going to give up.

I will keep fighting and I will fight harder.

I will not let my child’s life be wasted. God gave us this blessing for a reason. I don’t have to understand what that reason is, but with faith and hope in God’s plan, I will push forward believing that something good is coming from this pain.

I will choose to humble myself and admit my weaknesses. It’s not okay what I’m going through right now. This is not a little thing that will pass or that I can “buck up and get over.” This is a deep burden that I need to share – with a support system in my life, here, in my real life with friends and family, and with a professional counselor who can help me move forward in victory and not fear.

I will choose to take my life one day at a time. I keep thinking too far into the future and worrying too much about “what to do next”. But today has enough burdens as it is and it’s more peaceful if I focus on doing what I can do today.

Tomorrow my doctor’s office will call with the blood results from Friday and I’ll share the update with them about my bleeding. I will also receive the results of my platelet levels so do please be in prayer that my platelet levels are in a healthy range. I will also be asking for a referral tomorrow to see a reproductive endocrinologist, but I’m not going to discuss that right now as it makes me anxious if I think too much about it. I told Jonathan that we are just going to take things one step at a time and deal with everything when it comes to that, and focus on what we can deal with for right now.

Please pray for my health and safety as I go about the physical parts of the miscarriage. I’m thankful that Jonathan has today and tomorrow off of work so that I’m not alone while I’m going through this.

Thank you all for your love and support,

Amber

 

Still Waiting

I’m still waiting to see if this pregnancy is going to end or maybe by some hope continue. I’m still spotting and cramping but not bleeding. My doctor finally called back yesterday afternoon and I had blood work done, but it was right before the lab closed so I won’t be able to get the results until Monday. I have the worst veins in the world and after trying my arms she finally had to take blood from the big, ugly vein on my hand. Ouch!

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I didn’t take any pregnancy tests this morning because I’m too afraid they will be more faint or show negative now and then I’ll know for sure this is over. Looking at the positive tests from yesterday sitting on my bathroom counter is like some kind of slap in the face. Seeing a positive test is such a beautiful site after seeing negative tests for so long, but knowing that it probably is going to end aches like nothing else.

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I keep holding my stomach and asking the baby to stay with me. It has only been a brief moment in time with this precious gift, but I love them with every fiber of my being and I’m going to miss them so much if they go.

Please pray that by some miracle this baby will live and we won’t suffer the pain of another loss. I appreciate all of your love and support. Jonathan and I have no one in our lives to talk to about this right now. We were forced to tell his mother today, though I didn’t want to. She’s in town from teaching overseas before going back and I wanted her to know why we aren’t attending a family member’s birthday tonight. I just hate having to share this with anyone unless I am choosing to do so because I feel comfortable enough with that person. I just want it to be on my own timetable and not something I’m forced into sharing because of circumstances. The same thing goes with a local mission trip I’m supposed to be helping with in a few weeks. I think I’m going to need to find a replacement but I’m angry that I’ll have to share my miscarriage if I’m not ready to do so. This all just makes me feel so hurt and confused.

Even writing about this on here makes me feel vulnerable. This is such a supportive community but I can’t help but to wonder what people are thinking of me. I hate feeling like a victim. I don’t want to be this sad girl over and over again going through loss. Perhaps that’s my pride issue showing and I need to humble myself and realize that I’m not a victim and by sharing this I’m simply telling my story because life is hard for all of us at times and the more open we are, the more healing can occur. Of course, this is much easier on my blog. This is a much safer place because you get it and understand the trials, because you live through them as well. But to open up to those in my real life? It’s going to take an amazing amount of courage that I’m not sure I’m ready to fight for at the moment. It’s exhausting having to choose grace or gently educate people about such a deeply personal and painful battle.

I don’t even need to think about that now. I worry about too many things. I just need to focus on today and try to cherish what could be my last moments with this baby.

Thank you to everyone who has left comments and said prayers for us. At some point in time I will respond to you all personally, but just know I’m grateful for you all.

Amber

Treasure in Jars of Clay

Things are not going well with my 6th pregnancy.

My doctor’s office finally called me back this morning. It only took 3 days of waiting! And of course, it wasn’t even my doctor’s secretary who I requested to speak with about the blood work – it was a nurse. So now the nurse is putting in my request for blood work to the doctor and the doctor’s secretary will call me back. That’s what I wanted in the first place, but whatever.

But I doubt it even matters at this point. I started having some pretty nerve-wrecking cramps last night and this morning, spotting. Of course, you could say that’s all a normal part of pregnancy, but this is my 6th pregnancy so I know what feels right and what feels wrong. I wasn’t going to keep testing, but now that I’m going to have to deal with blood work, I’d rather find out on my own if this is ending than over the phone from a nurse.

I took my off brand first response and it seemed lighter than the other day, but I wasn’t really sure because it’s a blue color and not the standard pink color I usually test with. So I went to buy some first response tests this morning and this is the second line at 4 weeks and 2 days pregnant:

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That is way too faint for this point in pregnancy. And don’t even get me started on how faint the second line is on the dollar tree test now. So that’s just great.

All signs point to an early miscarriage.

I have been sobbing all morning long. I don’t understand any of this. I don’t know what to do either.

Not only that, but I noticed a spot right below my jaw a few days ago that was hurting and I googled it and read that it could be a swollen lymph node. I get swollen lymph nodes behind my ears every time I get sick with a cold or flu or sinus infection. So I checked behind my ears and sure enough, I felt the raised and painful bump behind my ears.

I’m not sick at all! There should be no reason why they are swollen! But I honestly think my body treats pregnancy like an illness.

BAH! I’m just so tired of all of this. All I could think about the last 3 days was how hard it is to experience pregnancy for a 6th time and I kept thinking, “I really hope this is it. I can’t go through all of this anxiety and torture for nothing.” And now I’m irritated that I have to deal with my stupid doctor’s office. I didn’t want to call them on Wednesday but my husband asked me to go ahead with calling. I just wanted to make it to 5 weeks first. Every time I talk to them on the phone, my hands shake from the anxiety, my heart pounds out of my chest, tears come to my eyes and I have to keep myself from crying . Don’t even get me started on actually going to get my blood work done. Jonathan said this will still be good to get my blood tests done even if I lose the baby to check on my platelet levels.

And if anything good is to come out of this situation, maybe it’s that I’m learning how much anxiety I have that needs to be looked into. I mean, I hate to use this definition, but it honestly feels like I have a little bit of PTSD regarding pregnancy. I realize that probably sounds extreme, but I can’t think of any other way to describe the way I feel regarding pregnancy, regarding going to the doctor, or even calling the doctor.

I wanted a break from loss and infertility so badly and I really felt like I was moving on with my life. And then this happened and it’s like suddenly, I’m forced back into this world.

It just feels so devastating and out of my control. I don’t even know what steps to take next after this ordeal is over with.

Thank you all for your well wishes and prayers on my announcement post the other day. I really, really appreciate the support and love. I’m sorry that I don’t have better news to share and I so wish that I could be an encouragement to someone in the form of a miracle. I hate that anyone reading my story might come here after having one miscarriage and might become fearful that my story will be their story of having loss after loss.

As devastated as I am and as heartbroken as I am, there is one thing that I will always continue to believe and reflect on: God is good. His goodness is not defined by my circumstances. I don’t have to understand why this is happening, and I don’t. I can think of several reasons for why he’s allowed this pain to come into my life, but God’s reasoning is not black and white. I rest on the promises that he is working all things out for my good and for the good of others.

I rest in the promises that Jesus spoke of when he said, “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.”

I rest in knowing that my brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world are right now suffering intense persecution and even death for their faith in Jesus. They are mistreated, they are beaten, they are put in prison, they are tortured, they are killed. But the testimonies that you hear from those Christians who have lived through persecution gives you hope: hope that even in the worst trials in life, there is peace with God. There is blessing to stand firm in your faith and continue to follow Christ even when the entire world stands against you. And there is joy in knowing Jesus is coming again and will “wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

I rest in believing when Jesus said, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

I rest in knowing that I don’t cry alone: “Jesus wept.”

And I still believe, even after everything, that He is still a God of miracles. Perhaps, maybe not always in the way we imagine, but I still believe with every ounce of strength that I have – even if that strength is pretty small right now.

I had a thought while writing that last sentence reflecting on the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Mary and Martha believed and fully expected Jesus to heal their brother. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”

Martha expected the miracle of Jesus healing her brother from sickness so that he would not die. He did it for others, after all. Going from place to place healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and so on. Like me, I think about how God has healed so many from infertility and miscarriage, even recurrent miscarriage. Why not me too, Lord?

What Jesus wanted to do next was weird. I can only imagine. I’m sure I would probably look at him like a crazy person!

“Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”  Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

Perhaps, we believe and trust that God is going to give us a miracle, but maybe that miracle that God really wants to give is not one that can fit inside the tiny box of expectations we limit Him to. Perhaps, that miracle is much, much greater:

“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me. When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.”

Like Martha, I might wonder where was Jesus in this pregnancy. Why is he allowing this loss to happen? But like Martha, I can also choose to believe and declare to Him, “Even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

God will be glorified through this and I will stand amazed. Just wait for it – the miracle is coming! Call me crazy all you want.

For now, He comforts me in this current pain. Because like a dear blogger friend shared before, the glory of the miracle coming does not take away from the pain of right now. Jesus meets with us in our pain. I know that God is using this for good and I know that someday, all of this pain is going to be wiped away when I’m finally home in Heaven with my sweet little babies that I can’t wait to hold. But still, I’m here in the valley. Knowing all of that does not change the pain of today. Today my heart feels crushed. Today, our fallen world feels a little bit darker.

I’m going to go cry in my Father’s arms now and rest in the peace that only He can give me.

Much love and hope to all of you and remember to never, ever give up! Keep hoping, keep fighting, keep praying, keep believing, and keep pushing back the dark,

Amber

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

 

 

Unexpected Surprise

Today’s post is going to be hard to write because today’s post fills me with excitement and hope, but it also fills me with worry that I’m going to hurt someone reading this.

Today’s post is a pregnancy announcement. Normally, I might want to lead up to a more exciting announcement, but I have lived in this infertility community for too long and I feel it would be heartless to do so. If you are hurting right now and reading the rest of this is going to cause you pain, please, please sign off. You can always check back in with me later when you are feeling better. But if you need to feel peace right now, I completely understand anyone that needs to walk away and stop following my blog to protect your heart. Go do something you love that brings you joy: walk with your dogs, go see a movie with a friend, watch a funny show, whatever. Just don’t feel the need to stick around and read about my happiness if it’s going to make you miserable. The last thing in the world I want is to cause pain to anyone else and it hurts to think that this post is going to be difficult for someone out there who is already hurting. I’m sending you hugs and love if that’s you!

Now to begin with that random announcement that came out of nowhere. I guess not nowhere – this is an infertility blog after all! But, still, it was unexpected to me and maybe even to some of you.

So, I’m pregnant! 4 weeks pregnant to be exact. I don’t even really know where to begin. I guess we’ll start with some updates to my life and how this last month has been going. I meant to blog since my last post, but was occupied with other activities and I really wasn’t quite sure what to blog about to be honest. My best friend was married a month ago and the wedding was beautiful and I was so thankful to be a part of it, but I’m really glad it’s over now. Being a matron-of-honor is exhausting!

The following week I taught VBS at my church and it went well. My grandmother ended up in the hospital after suffering from a minor heart attack so I had to drive out of town to visit her the Sunday before VBS started and I missed the first day of VBS. Thankfully my grandmother is doing much better now and is home from the hospital.

After VBS was over, my husband and I got started back up on our Dave Ramsey budget plan. We spent a small fortune in the two weddings I was in this year and it’s time to get back into our gazelle intense mode and get mad at debt. In the last month we managed to get our emergency savings of $1,000 fully re-funded only to be needed when our car broke down last week. I was just really thankful that we got back on the budget plan when we did or I’m not sure what we would have done. God provides! Now we will work hard again to get that emergency fund re-built and hope and pray that it will stay put for a bit longer this time so we can move on to baby step 2 (paying off debt). Well there is that one little detail of a baby on the way that might slow down baby step #2, but I’m feeling confident we will get that all figured out with time.

So the last few weeks have been pretty boring. My house was completely neglected over the last 6 months so I have spent all of my free time cleaning and organizing. I organized my junk drawer for the first time in like 2 years and it looks amazing! The dollar tree is amazing for organizing containers by the way – check it out. And cooking homemade meals which is very helpful to our budget! So yeah, life is pretty boring when you are living on a budget, but I’m enjoying all of my free time after a very busy season of life.

So let’s get to the fun part of this post: my pregnancy! EEEK! I can’t believe I’m even writing that. Seriously, how exciting!

Jonathan and I weren’t trying to get pregnant this month, but I guess we ended up together at just the right time. I think it was a few days after we were together that I started having some pretty intense cramping that made me wonder for half a second if something exciting was starting to happen. But I brushed it off and moved on to more interesting things, like organizing junk drawers haha. This blog makes me feel even more boring. Oh well.

Last week I was rinsing out dishes in the sink and smelled something funny and started gagging and nearly threw up. It made me wonder if I was pregnant, but I doubted it. But every day after that, I continued to have feelings of queasiness and on the 4th of July, I actually vomited. I still didn’t really think much of it. I was just worried I ate something that was bad.

But on Tuesday, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should take a pregnancy test. Not wanting to waste money on an expensive test just to see a negative result, I went to the dollar tree. After about a minute or two, I didn’t really see anything on the test. I kind of thought I saw a little something, but convinced myself it was my infertility brain playing tricks on me saying to myself, “You could see a line on anything!” I started to walk away and about a minute later, grabbed the test out of the trash just for one more look. And sure enough, there was definitely a second line now. But I didn’t believe it. I had literally no emotion over that second line.

I convinced myself that it must have been an evaporation line or I just screwed up the test by throwing it in the trash and taking it back out.

Yesterday morning I took another dollar tree test and expected to see a negative result. Within a minute or less, the second line was showing. Cue a little bit of mild excitement! But not much. It’s still just a dollar tree test and I wasn’t about to let such a cheap test get my hopes up.

I went to the grocery store to purchase a digital and a first response line test. I wasn’t going to waste a digital unless I saw a second line on the first response. My store was all out of first response tests so I got the off brand version of it. Thankfully, they did have the clear blue digital.

The off brand first response showed a clear second line so I worked up the courage to take a digital test. I knew I was pregnant, but my fear was that it would just be a chemical pregnancy. And with 2 of my chemical pregnancies in the past, the digital test never showed pregnant. I got out my video camera for this part, just in case.

But I was still convinced it wouldn’t show up pregnant, because, well, I have such a bad history with digital pregnancy tests and the “not pregnant” response stabs you in the heart like nothing else.

I was in complete shock when the test showed: Pregnant.

Finally! Finally!

The last time a test said that was in January 2012 when my pregnancy made it all the way to 10 weeks. It definitely does give me a little bit more confidence that at least this pregnancy is going better than my last 2 that ended right at four weeks.

I cried when it came up showing pregnant and I previously had no response to the other positive tests. But I think, I just really needed to see the digital positive test to believe it’s real. I’m glad I had the camera out so I could capture a bit of my reaction. It’s a really short video because I was speechless and crying and wanted to quickly text my husband the good news.

I sent him this picture:

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He was really excited and just as shocked to see that as I was. He told his boss that something came up at home and took the rest of the day off.

We called my doctor’s office to request blood work. I have no desire to test my hcg levels as I know it’s just going to create anxiety in me, but unfortunately I don’t really have a choice. On top of the pregnancy blood testing, I also have to get my blood counts check since I have a history of low platelets during pregnancy. I’m still waiting for a call back from my doctor’s office but they should respond today or tomorrow.

Just calling the doctor’s office today gave me huge anxiety. I almost started crying on the phone because of how worked up I got. But the receptionist on the phone was very helpful and sweet to me and even teased me saying, “You’re not excited are you? I couldn’t tell.” And told me congratulations and best wishes for my pregnancy so that felt good to hear.

When the doctor calls me back I’m also hoping to ask if they can test my progesterone levels and my thyroid. Maybe my doctor can put me on progesterone as a precaution? Any advice would be appreciated. Bah, this is why people see a specialist so they don’t have to be filled with anxiety on how to handle this kind of stuff. Oh vey! And the other issue is that it has been so long since I did any kind of pregnancy/miscarriage related research that I don’t remember everything from before. Yesterday for instance, I ate tuna and then wondered after the fact if that’s allowed. Are you even kidding me? I used to have the list of foods you shouldn’t eat memorized! This all just feels so unreal to me. I really thought we were not going to get pregnant again (or ever) for a long, long time.

I’ll find out for sure after blood work and talking with my doctor to hear her recommendations, but after talking with my husband today, I have decided I’m most comfortable waiting until we reach close to the end of the first trimester for an ultrasound. During my 3rd pregnancy, with baby Hope, we had 3 ultrasounds over the course of my 10 week pregnancy. The first at 5 weeks 5 days, the second at 7 weeks 5 days, and the third around 9, almost 10 weeks. It caused me great anxiety to have a constant series of two week wait periods in between ultrasounds and I was so focused on the ultrasound and what we saw that I couldn’t breath easy during the wait. Following that loss during miscarriage testing, I spoke with my doctor about future pregnancies and shared with her my desire to not have so many ultrasounds in the future. She thought that was a good idea so I’m assuming she will still be okay with me requesting a more specific plan of treatment that I’m most comfortable with. But that was back in 2012! I can’t even believe how long ago all of that was.

I’m hoping that I can get her to wait until we reach 10 weeks for an ultrasound. The doctor’s office has a policy of doing 8 week ultrasounds, but I really feel like that will be a waste of my time. Even if everything is perfect during the 8 week ultrasound, I’m still going to want to come back at 10 weeks, because I didn’t lose my babies until 10 weeks previously. And I know I’m going to have huge anxiety during my 10th week of pregnancy and that ultrasound will be a life saver. After that point, I’m not really sure when I would want another ultrasound. I know for sure I will not want to wait until an anatomy scan or gender reveal because I’ll probably also want to know that baby is still around at the start of my second trimester. So maybe she’ll be willing to do an ultrasound at 10 weeks and then an ultrasound at 13/14 weeks? I sure hope so. But I’ll just try to wait patiently.

For now, I have a long road ahead of me and a nice long wait before I need to get worked up over those details. Right now, I just feel so hopeful but yet at the same time I am terrified that this is all going to be taken away from me and Jonathan in the blink of an eye. I just really, really want to get beyond 4 and 5 weeks and then I think I’ll be able to breath a little bit easier knowing we passed the point of having a chemical pregnancy.

My husband is being really sweet and loving, but he is driving me a little bit crazy. Every time I start to express a little bit of concern, he says, “No! Don’t worry – the baby is going to live. Stop saying anything bad.” I think he’s just so nervous and he’s worried that if I have anxiety and stress it might make things worse. So he’s trying to get me to calm down, but telling me to relax doesn’t really help. What does help is when he talks about the baby and speaks about the future with confidence. It gives me so much hope to know that he is believing for me that this baby is going to stay put.

At the same time, however, every time I let myself dream about the future and get excited for planning for the days ahead, I start to feel like a fraud. Like I shouldn’t really be planning anything because in what world do my pregnancies end well. That makes me really sad and I really think from now on when I start thinking that way, I do need to stop and pray for God to replace those negative feelings with peace. These two verses I think are going to help get me through the first trimester and probably the entire pregnancy if we are being honest. I can’t imagine ever feeling 100% confident.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Something that gives me great hope is the scripture I turned to a month ago on the 4 year anniversary of finding out we were pregnant with our first baby and what would have been our second baby, Matthew’s 3rd birthday. I had a negative pregnancy test last month on that day, but I wrote about the hope that God gave me for the future in this post here.

Yesterday after calling the doctor’s office, I was praying about the future appointments and my fear over the ultrasounds. I opened my bible and it turned to Luke, where I read that scripture a month ago. Only yesterday, it was the cover page to Luke. I have a life application study bible and before each book in the bible, it has a cover page giving a summary of what that book is about, who the author is, who it was written too, and so on. On the very top of the page it said, “Every birth is a miracle, and every child is a gift from God.” This was of course leading into the discussion of the miracle or miracles: the birth of Jesus! It was such a nice reminder that just a month ago I read a scripture that gave me hope for the future and not even a month later, God has answered with this precious gift.

My due date for this baby is March 16/17th. I can’t really remember for sure if I started my cycle on June 10 (that night) or the next morning, June 11. As scared as I am that this will all just be a dream that never comes true, I also feel so much hope that we are going to be welcoming a precious baby to the world in March. That will be right after our five year wedding anniversary! I remember spending our very first wedding anniversary having just miscarried our third baby, Hope and wondering how so much loss could happen in just one short year. To think that this time is going to be redeemed and that we might actually be celebrating the coming arrival of our baby on our 5 year anniversary brings tears to my eyes. And March 7 is the day that we started dating in 2007 so March is one of my favorite months of the year. So basically, March is the perfect time for a due date :-)

I’m sure this post is getting way too long so I’ll go ahead and end this here. I do think I will plan to do weekly pregnancy updates on my blog and possibly YouTube. I’ve often debated in my mind if I would do that, but I really think it will be good for me to celebrate each milestone and allow myself the joy of enjoying pregnancy. I’m still thinking about it though – we’ll see if I even have the energy to go there.

Ah, this is exciting! And scary and unknown! But truly, truly exciting.

My heart and love goes out to all of you. Have hope my friends – our stories are not over yet!

-Amber