Monthly Archives: July 2012

Good Reads!

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I love self help books in times of hardship.  I have devotionals for couples in crisis, books on insecurity, books on rebuilding your marriage, adoption books, infertility books…I’ve experienced a need to read during all these trials.  All of the books I buy have a link to faithfulness; for me, my faith is what pulls me through.  I wanted to offer two suggestions that encouraged me during our two most recent trials:

Infertility: I believe I was led to Moments for Couples Who Long for Children by Ginger Garrett after browsing Amazon.com for another book Hannah’s Hope; in the suggested reads this book title popped up and I immediately bought it.  A blessing for women looking for comfort in the midst of infertility.  When I started the book, we were still hopeful that I would get pregnant, so I read it with the motivation to be pregnant and easing the pain until that day.  By the middle, we had moved on to adoption, so I read it with a bit of grieving and a new desire for our future as parents.  It addresses many of the things I struggled with such as anger, marriage strains, best friends having babies etc.  Each devotion starts with scripture and ends with a prayer.  An excellent daily read for those struggling with understanding our feelings during this difficult process.

Adoption: I have required readings that I have yet to read from my agency, but before we chose adoption I found Adopted for Life by Russell Moore.  Another divine accident as I was looking for literature from Beth Moore.  I thought she wrote this book and bought it before I realized my mistake.  I am having to read it twice since I read it the first time with skepticism as I had not committed to adopt yet.  This book does a better job of focusing on International Adoption since it speaks often of orpanages and abandoned children, but it also provides tips on affording adoption and how the church can help our families.  I definitely need to get my parents on board with reading these books since this will be the first adoption in both our families.

The good news is: whatever you choose to read know you are not alone in dealing with infertility and these tough issues of what to do next.  For us, God placed adoption on our hearts.  For me, it was an easy decision, for my husband it took a complete change of heart.  Literally.  He was against it since we got married, but God changed his heart of stone and now he is more excited and at peace than I am.  However, adoption is not for everyone and has just as many ups and downs as IVF and surrogacy etc.  For us, we chose after praying and then following where we had the most peace.  Since that day, doors have opened in ways we never imagined.

Pure gratefulness

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Not much to report that is new, but I wanted to share some things I am grateful for:

1. Grateful to my husband that meant the vow “In sickness and in healthy”.  Little did we know we would keep it so young, but that has been our motto this past year.  Our marriage is not based on circumstance.

2. Grateful to a compassionate RE that could have convinced us to pursue costly IVF or IUI treatments on a whim that one might work.  We had already had hesitation in our heart, but his conclusions affirmed the incredible odds of either procedures being successful.  Thankful for his honesty.

3.Grateful to a God we serve that leads us one step at a time.  He prepares our hearts for each new journey and somehow brings us closer together in this process.

4. Thankful that the adoption book is complete and is uniquely us.  My grandmother said, “I feel like I know you better after reading it.”  Hallelujah!!

5. This is strange, but thankful that the money to afford adoption is in our reach.  It breaks my heart to read of couples that know this is the only way to children, but can’t afford it.  God prepared our journey before we were born.  His story has been in the works for a long time.

I could go on and on, but blogging has allowed me to see all the great things that I do have and to stop focusing on what I don’t.  

Step Seven: Adoption Profile Book

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Birthmother Book, Adoption Profile, Baby Book…all of these labels lead me to step 7: our book.  The number one tool to introduce us to a person creating an adoption plan is an adoption profile.  This book is like a large scrapbook that states the story of our life.  When we visited AIM adoption agency, they had twenty of these sitting on a table for us to browse and get ideas of how we were going to create ours.  Some were handmade, some were made by Shutterfly or Walgreens, some were fancy papers in sheet covers…lots of variety to say the least!  A few had 15 to 20 pages, but I saw one that had up to 40-50.  All had pictures…lots and lots of pictures. Some chose to write more than others, but each page telling a complete stranger a little about you, your family and your reason for choosing adoption.

I am not crafty.  I don’t scrapbook and I don’t create art, music, clothing, food…anything really.  Heck, I can’t even create a child…talk about uncreative!   I say my art is on the soccer field, but my husband even scoffs at that idea.  So, learning I had to be the key creator of this adoption book frightened me to say the least.  Where do I begin?  How do you sum up eleven years of life together in one album? It was a headache of decisions, but I dove right in and began the process in May.  While continuing to teach school, I would work on it a little at a time each weekend and on nights that I wasn’t exhausted.  My goal was to finish by the end of June.  We are not considered paperwork pregnant until this book is finished, so we weren’t hurrying, but we were not delaying either.  In June, my new job became full time adoption book maker.  I spent hours on this book.  Literally HOURS!

First, I chose to use Shutterfly.  There were several templates for doing this where pictures could be inserted easily or words placed on a premade sheet, but I had in my mind exactly what I wanted so I went the custom route.  Great for independence on doing what I want…horrible for getting it done quickly.  Every single minute detail of this 24 page book was decided by me…Nathan started one page, but I even ended up doing most of his also.  The color of each page, the cover, the font, the color of the font, the designs, the theme, the titles and subtitles, the angle of the picture, which picture to use, how much to write and the words to write…every detail was written and worked on with love.  A huge labor of love!  The goal was simple: create a book that when the person reads it knows exactly who we are.  Create a book that is us.

We didn’t write what we thought would get us selected; we wrote what was genuinely us.  Our favorite pictures and stories over eleven years as a couple and many more years growing up. I considered sharing the book on this blog, but I felt it was better to keep it private.  You will get to know us better for sure, but then you would know us too well 🙂  I tried to keep it simple with 24 pages: a biography of Nathan and myself, our hobbies, our families, our faith, our friends, our home and city, how we met and married, our story to adoption and our “Dear Birthmother letter”.  The most important things that make us the couple that we are.   Each word happily or tearfully written with the love of a baby in mind.  After changing it so much, I finally had to commit to just accepting it as perfect and order the printed copy.

It arrived today.

It brought tears to my eyes to see the finished product.  It brings tears to my eyes to write about it now.  Our life in one Shutterfly Photo Book.  A culmination of our adventure to a child and a family that we have never met.  Our lives crossing by the grace of God for this exact moment when we will meet and then be in each other’s lives forever.  The book is so much more than a biography of ourselves…it is documentation of a journey.  A journey to get to our family.  The second to last page is a 50 picture collage making up all the moments of our life that we highlighted in the profile.  The last page is titled “The rest is still unwritten…”  You see, our book has a sequel and that sequel will be a photo album revealing the first year of our baby’s life in our new family and the many more to follow.  I can’t wait!  God is good.  He is so very, very good.

The good news is: I hope our baby will forgive us for creating pure vomit with all the pictures of ourselves on every page.  The birth parents will get sick of looking at us…we are everywhere!!!  I will one day explain to this child that we love the camera, they all are pretty much posed because we are photogenic, and just wait unitl he/she is here because the picture taking has only begun!

An Athlete to Turn to for Motivation

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I have played soccer since I was a young girl.  I love competing.  I love the feeling of having a team to support you.  I love having something to do each week that gives me a workout while making me happy.  You would think with all this playing I would be good, but I’m still just average. I love it, but I’m average.

My first clue something was wrong was in February of 2011 when I had to walk off the field from exhaustion.  Not being out of shape…exhausted.  (Maybe in a way soccer saved me since it was a red flag very early on.)  Many months later I began the process of getting diagnosed with Lupus.  By December, I was diagnosed with Lupus and packed away my outdoor cleats for good.  Lupus is triggered by the sun and I could not take my chances in this hot, Texas heat. I have faithfully stuck with indoor and even play harder now knowing I almost thought I could never play again.

After my diagnosis, my doctor looked at me like I was crazy for continuing to play.  He was right.  I took the season off.  I was anemic and it was a bad idea, but after being medicated for a few months the anemia has lifted and I am back on two teams!  While making this transition, I googled athletes with Lupus to find some motivation of a public figure that continues to compete despite this illness. I found a golfer and a baseball player, but no one else.  Maybe the athletes have not shared their diagnosis, maybe they don’t know…even scarier, maybe all athletes that have it aren’t athletes anymore.

Today, my parents gave me this article.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-07-23/shannon-boxx-lupus/56443924/1

Finally, an athlete with Lupus and a soccer player at that.  In fact, even a midfielder which is my position and the one that runs the most.  Hallelujah!  A motivation to never give up on the things you love and to fight this disease until we find a cure.  I know the severity of this disease is different for each person and just because she can do it doesn’t mean I can or should, but it is hope.  Hope that with increased awareness a cure will be found.  Hope that if you are able, you can still be active and do the sports you love.  If nothing else, it is knowledge of a disease that is widely unknown besides being a punchline on a popular television show.  Today, the article inspired me and reminded me Lupus has taken away a lot, but not everything.

The good news is: Thank you, Shannon, for going public with your diagnosis.  I understand why you haven’t said anything for so long; you don’t want it to be an excuse or for others to treat you differently.  But, because you did, athletes like me have some motivation to keep pushing ourselves as long as we can, but to also listen to our bodies when we cannot.  Today, I continue to be grateful that my symptoms are mild.  My heart goes out to those that have it worse, but know we are (I speak for Shannon Boxx in my downtime) running up and down that field for you and for all of us until we find a cure.

Two Crazy Places I Never Thought We Would Go…

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In the devastation of infertility (a club no one wants to be in) you get to see some places that you only hear about or see in movies, but never thought you would be invited to visit.

For HIM: my poor husband got a backstage pass to the sperm clinic.  When I heard he needed to visit this doctor, I thought for sure our pursuit to identify the cause of our infertility was over.  No way would he go to put a sample in a cup to be tested.  How awkward!  My gynecologist put it bluntly, “If you have to get poked and prodded month to month then he can endure it this one time!”  I don’t want to embarrass him or speak for him all of what he went through, but I can tell you it involved a nice and innocent nurse which made the matter worse, there was porn in the room to help the process and there was a backdoor (he did not know about) to leave without facing the looks of the staff on duty.  Obviously, they are professionals and to them it is no big deal…but in a man’s world-it was one of the craziest things he has ever done.

For HER: an infertility clinic!  My story is not as comical…it was more sombersome.  (I think that is a word.)  Knowing that each person sitting there with you is having the same struggles you are having and are willing to do whatever it takes to fix it.  Women of all ages, races, sizes, appearances, economic statuses…infertility does not discriminate!!!  On both of my appointments they completed an ultrasound to see what was happening in my uterus and both times I later cried.  I always thought our first ultrasound would be to see a baby not a lifeless womb.  Our doctor was amazing and was our biggest ally to push through and never give up.  However, he was also honest enough to break the news that he would gladly take our money to pursue this, but the chances of success were low using my egg and his sperm.  He suggested a donor egg and we chose not to go there.

I write all this to say anyone that happens upon this blog and is dealing with infertility you know what the inside of both these places looks like.  You know the emotions that come with it, the shock, the empathy and the thankfulness that they are there to give you answers.  Isn’t that what we are all looking for (besides a baby) to know why?

The good news is: I don’t know why Nathan and I cannot procreate, but I know we are not alone in our struggle.  We are not the first and we won’t be the last.  Our only redeeming factor is to share our testimony with others that with fertile eggs or not God is good!

Random Thoughts on a Hot Summer Day

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First random thought. Today, the realization that we are deeper into the adoption became hotmail official. As I looked back over the past few months, I noticed I had quite a few emails concerning the adoption. Correspondence with the agency, invitations I want to keep for our baby book, contact with the group of families that we met from our group study and our invitation to work with the agency for our adoption. As I looked over this list of emails, I realized that I need to keep them all together so I made an Adoption folder. That is right…one of the folders now says “adoption” and it felt Hotmail official. Things are starting to roll in this process and I like it!

Next random thought involves my pills that I take for Lupus. For the first time in my life, I had to buy a day of the week pill box. I bought a fancier orange one so I would enjoy looking at it each day. I have never felt so connected with my grandmother as I did the day I bought my organizer.  The sad thing is I refill the box each week and it is a constant reminder how fast my summer seems to be going.  Today, realizing I had to refill it made me sad because that means an entire week has already gone by.  My pill box mostly keeps vitamins, but all are recommended to supply the nutrients this disease needs most. I have two prescribed medications that are clearly working because I have gained five pounds over the summer. (Honestly, it is the pills mixed with eating poorly and not getting up to do much of anything until three in the afternoon, but I will still blame the meds.) I needed to gain weight because I was looking sickly. While taking my Saturday meds today I took all seven pills at once and felt proud of myself since taking the meds are a daily chore.  I warned you these were random.

Final random thought. I giggled because I pulled the L card today. You know…the Lupus card. Most of the time I do not need it because thank the Lord my symptoms are mild.  In fact, I spend most of time convincing everyone around me that I feel great and to stop worrying.  So thankful that I learned about this disease early so we could treat it right away before the damage became worse. Last night, I played soccer without a sub and I ran back and forth down a field for a total of forty minutes with no break. Proud that I can still do this; last night I even felt great afterward. Today, I feel the fatigue. The L card came out to justify that I should be resting all day.

(Now, please know that this disease truly hurts and that the symptoms in a flare feel like the flu times ten. Many people have been afflicted with heart, liver and kidney trouble and functioning day to day is a very real and difficult challenge. Lupus is not an excuse…it is a reason and very real one for their hurt and inability to live at 100%.  I am choosing to make light of a very serious situation by sharing that in our house it is called “pulling the L card.”  Plus, I am spoiled because my medication is working and I don’t have to go to work…August will hit me hard as I go back to my daily job and full schedule.)

After blaming the Lupus for my fatigue, I realized that my non Lupus teammates were hurting this morning also. So, Lupus got framed today! Happy we can still keep a good sense of humor in our home because my husband called me out immediately and said “You randomly bring that up when it works to your advantage and I have nothing to say to fight it.” He is right. I do. I call it my little L card! (PS. I’m sure he would have accepted “I am tired from playing a full soccer game without a sub”, but that would have been too easy.)

The good news: a sense of humor and excitement over the little things is what keeps me going!

Been There…Done That!

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I have had a full morning communicating with other women that have had infertility struggles or have adopted a child.  I know whenever we are plagued with worries and doubts we should go straight to God rather then stress about it or even seek advice from others.  I fail at that all the time.  I talk about it, get others opinions, dwell on it until I finally realize I should pray about it then let it go. Wasted time thinking I could solve it.  However I am reminded of the Bible verse 2 Corinthians 1:4

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are
troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

Today, I have needed these godly women to encourage me and comfort me.  So thankful that they were willing to read and respond (I messaged them instead of calling).  I even messaged the wrong person with a long list of questions by accident…can’t wait until she opens that email up!  Wish I could figure out how to take back an email before they read it.

I watched a commercial about retirement and there was a man saying how excited he was when he had grandkids because he knew a piece of him would still be here when he left.  It made me think about infertilitiy and adoption and how it is a struggle.  I am 100% committed and excited to be part of this journey, but the reality is that the emotions involved are challenging.  The birthmom struggles with an unplanned pregnancy; wanting was is best for the child.  The adoptive parents struggle with the loss of having biological children and her loss in giving them this gift.  All families are affected as well either in loss or gain as new families are created. It’s a decision for a lifetime, but I do believe God knows what he is doing.  Families are created on much more than blood…they are created in love.  I think of how much I love my husband and would die for him, but realize he looks nothing like me and his blood is not my blood.  Love never fails.

Infertility and adoption existed even in biblical times.  He placed those stories to inspire, encourage and remind us that He knows.  There are a whole lot of “what ifs” and “hope nots” that can occur, but I have been here before in my marriage.  What I learned is that: God will provide.  He will give light to each new step as I get there, but never before the time is right.  He is preparing me daily for the highlights and hardships that are sure to come.  I have to take it day by day.  I can look back to remember, but then need to turn around and move forward.

The good news: He is trustworthy.  He has provided me the Bible for scriptures of encouragement and placed people in my life when I need it.  I have a supportive husband that prays with me and for us.  I am not alone. God’s got my back!