To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reminding God of His Promises

Just a few, short weeks ago, Mr. C and I threw our hands up and said, "Enough."  I remember it clearly.  I had announced the night before that if there were no follicles ready to trigger by the next day (CD 22), that we would be done TTC with medication; and sure enough, as I lay on the examination table, my legs in stirrups for the millionth time it seemed, the screen on the wall before me showed a whole lot of nothing.

At that moment, I was thinking, "Okay, God, you win.  We're done.  I guess you wanted us to adopt all along."  I was defeated.  I was exhausted.  My heart was heavy and hurting.  All I could think was:

It's not fair that the majority of couples will not have to struggle with infertility.  It's not fair that nearly all of my friends have gotten pregnant easily; and if not easily, at least they eventually got pregnant.  It's not fair that this person or that person that I know (and I'm not speaking metaphorically here, I literally mean real people that I know) have gotten pregnant through a one-night stand, or has 3 kids by 3 different men, or got knocked-up in high school or by a man they've only known two weeks.  IT'S NOT FLIPPIN' FAIR!  And then, like a swift smack in the face, I would hear almost audibly:

And in my heart, I thought, "Yep, it's true."  I'm not saying I was completely defeated about it all, but I certainly had no expectations or real hope left.  I was confused, lost, and empty - the way I had felt so many times on this journey with infertility - and I went on feeling that way for a while.

Now, when I'm driving, I use that time to talk to God.  Sure, I'll blast music and sing my heart out sometimes; but most of the time, I'm praying.  Since under-going fertility treatments I have done a LOT of driving.  Conversely, I've also been doing a lot of praying.  Even after deciding to discontinue fertility treatments, I began acupuncture which is at an office 45 minutes away; so, still, LOTS and LOTS of driving.  So, I kept up on the praying.

One day earlier this month while I was driving to an acupuncture appointment, it just dawned on me that I sounded really lame.  Sincerely!  I was praying in a pleading, sad, passive-aggressive way; and I didn't like it.  What's more, I had the thought that God probably wasn't that much of a fan of it either.  How many whiny, weepy, self-indulgent prayers does God hear every day?  Probably millions.  I'm not saying He doesn't hear each and every one anyway or even that He doesn't answer them, I'm just saying that I'm sure that my prayers were a part of that dreary, droning, never-ending sea.

So what to do? 

When my sisters and I were younger, if we wanted to do something important or buy something expensive or be gifted something really special from our parents, our dad would have us present little "reports" on the "what, where, why, when, and who" of it all.  It was sort of like a little kid version of a mock courtroom that most of us have probably participated in during high school or college.  Essentially, we would present "evidence" as to what we wanted, why we wanted it, why we deserved it, and how we proposed to get "it".  I was good at this.  Even as a young kid, I knew what was logical and made sense to adults and what was preposterous and due to be ridiculed.  I knew I needed good evidence to back up my motives.

If my lawyer-like tactics worked with my earthly father, how much more would these same tactics work on my heavenly father?  I got excited!  I got bold.

In that very instant I started to pray differently.  For some reason it had never dawned on me to take control of IF or the diseases in my body that were causing it.  The scripture clearly states in Matthew 18:18, "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."  So, I started binding like crazy!  I called out PCOS and infertility, bound them in Jesus' name and cast them out of my body, my life, my marriage, and my family.  It has no place in me.  It has NO RIGHT to me!

When Jesus bore all of our infirmities on the cross, I don't think that excluded "female problems" like PCOS - no, not at all!  I Peter 2:24 says, He Himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds YOU HAVE BEEN HEALED."  Wow, amazing statement.  I'm already healed.  Then, what's holding me back?  The answer: me, myself, and I.  The way I was thinking and praying and believing about all of this.

Every day since my revelation, I've been reminding God of the infinite and wonderful promises his word holds for people dealing with IF.  Genesis 1:28 says, "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it..."  Well, God, I can't do that if you don't bless me with children!  I want to follow your will, God, but you've got to help me out here if you want me to follow this command.

Exodus 23:25-26 states, "Worship the Lord your God, and his blessings will be on your food and water.  I will take away sickness from among you, and NONE WILL MISCARRY OR BE BARREN IN THE LAND."  You PROMISED, Father God:

Genesis 28:15, "...I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

Numbers 23:19, "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and then not fulfill?"

Joshua 23:14, "...You know with your heart and soul that not one of the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed.  Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed."

God is faithful and good to fulfill every promise He has made us.  He is Jehovah Jireh: God my provider.  Isaiah 41:21 says to "present your case...set forth your arguments" before God.  Like a lawyer...or a little mid-western girl who really wants a new bike. *wink*  Isaiah 62:6-7 says, "...You who call on the Lord, give yourselves NO REST, and give HIM NO REST..."I don't think this means to "nag" God, but I certainly think it means to be persistent.  After all, God is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..." (Ephesians 3:20).

I know that God is hearing my evidence.  (Psalm 10:17, "You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.")  I know he wants to heal me.  I know he already has.  My answer is on the way...I just know it!

Yesterday, my sister, M told me to go watch Joel Osteen's message #504I was blown away - it was exactly what I had been doing in my prayer life recently.  The title of the message is "Remind God of What He Said".  It's fabulous and full of truth; you really should go check it out.

I know there are many, many faithful women of many religions who do not get their prayers for children answered.  It haunts me most days.  But, even so, I really do think God genuinely cares for the barren woman.  If He didn't, why would He go out of His way to heal women like Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth time and time and time again?  He knows that "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him." -Psalm 127:3.  I have to keep believing that He wants to give me and YOU that gift!

I am going to continue to stand on these promises each and every day.  I'm going to continue to "remind God of what He said".  I'm never going to stop.  I'm just going to continue to present my case to the greatest judge of all...

Awaiting the Ruling,

African Children's Choir - "Walking in the Light of God"

I wish everyone had as much excitement and energy when worshiping Jesus as these adorable South African children do.  When I see things like this I realize that my heart has never really left Africa.  Maybe God will work things out for us in the future to be forever tied to this continent and its people.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

Let it Shine,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Holy Temp Spike, Batman!!!

Not only did I get a +OPK yesterday, but this morning when I took my BBT (as I have every morning for the past 2 1/2 years) there was a nice, beautiful temp spike!  Wooo!  I went ahead and dipped another OPK, and it was negative for sure; so, I can safely say I ovulated for the first time in possibly years ON MY OWN last night (and yes, don't worry, Mr. C and I DTD *wink-wink*)!!! 

If anyone out there with PCOS is doubting the power of diet, exercise, and most importantly acunpuncture, I am living proof that it DOES work!  Do not hesitate, try it now! :-)

So, I guess this means I'm in my first, all-natural 2ww!  Wow, SO COOL!  I'm so over-whelmed I feel like I could cry; but don't worry, it's tears of excitement.

Hugs and Much Love,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No Way! A Positive OPK!

Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning, POAS (OPK, not HPT, just to be clear!), and saw this:

Yes, I know it's kind of icky; but that, folks, is a POSITIVE OPK!  Wowee!

It's CD 17, and I've been keeping up my end of the bargain with daily tough exercise, a low-carb diet, and weekly acupuncture (in fact, I just had a session yesterday).  I attribute this success mostly to my acupuncturist, Dr. L.  I have no doubt at all that his treatments have made all the difference - what an amazing blessing when God sent me his way!

Now, this doesn't mean that I'll get pregnant this cycle; but it is exciting to know that my body is capable of healing itself and that my cycles might be able to get back on track naturally.  How amazing would that be?!  No matter what the outcome, there are amazingly wonderful things to be grateful for.

One of those things seems to be stress relief.  I'm a typical "type-A" personality - full of vim and vigor, a good leader, a self-starter, but also full of the constant stress and anxiety over my worth, my work, and my circumstances that most type-A'ers struggle with.

Yesterday at my acu session, Dr. L picked up on my blatant stress situation and suggested he put some needles in my arms for stress relief.  I usually feel pretty calm and soothed during an acu session; so, I didn't really notice anything different at the moment.  When it was all said and done, he put tacks (you know, those little needles attached to "band-aids" from this blog?) in those same spots in my arms and sent me on my way.

Mr. C had come to pick me up at Dr. L's office since he was running errands in Springfield; and I told him immediately that I was feeling extremely tired, almost loopy.  He suggested we get some food, which we did; but afterwards, the loopy feeling turned into uncontrollable hysteria.  I literally could not stop laughing!  At first, it was kind of funny, but after about 45 minutes of nearly constant laughter my abs, lungs, and face were in pain - ouch!  I don't think I've laughed that hard in a really long time.  I have to say, even though Mr. C probably thought I had lost it entirely, it was worth it.  I really needed a good laugh.

Sometimes it still amazes me what acupuncture has been able to heal in my body within just a few short weeks, as opposed to months and months and months of pills, injections, and other treatments from the medical world that did nothing.  God is the greatest comedian of all; I'm sure He's having a good laugh today.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

[Un]Father's Day

Dear Mr. C,

I had so many plans for today.  I was somehow thinking in my deepest of dreams that we would be pregnant on this day; and I had lots of fun things whirling in my mind's eye for you.

But the truth of the matter is that, at this moment, on this most special day, we are no closer to being parents, and you are no closer to being a father, than we were last year or the year before.  I am so sorry for this.  No matter what anyone says, or what my head knows, it cannot take away the pain my heart feels for failing you.  It's my body that has the reproductive issues, not yours.  I will never, ever be able to say "sorry" enough.

All I can do today is try to look toward the future with some semblance of hope.  So, I am hoping and praying with all my might that next year will be the year that is finally different.  Next year, we won't feel so sad we can't go to church and we dread buying cards...  Next year, we'll either KNOW that a baby is on the way; or s/he will already be here.  I am sincerely hoping and praying for that.

So, here's to the future...a future where I'll get to say this to you:

And it won't just be a dream....

All the Love in the World,

Friday, June 17, 2011

(Acupuncture) Ticky Tacky

Photo from Acupuncture Australia.

The photo above is a pretty clear picture of acupuncture tack needles - small and connected to a band-aid like adhesive square, they can stay in place for a week or so.  I know this, because I recently wore two in my lower abdomen for 8 days straight!  Today, I have four in my stomach (over my two ovaries and two over my uterus).  The goal?  To stimulate my ovaries and uterus and cause me to ovulate on my own.

I think I forgot to mention in my past postings that about four days after my second intense acupuncture appointment, that my cycle did, indeed, reset entirely.  I had a 24-day cycle with no ovulation.  On the one hand, it was amazing - I had my first period on my own in at least 6+ months; but on the other hand it was disappointing to know that our cycle was truly "over", even though we had already moved on from Dr. S's care.

Honestly, I don't know how I feel about any of this anymore.  I know that acupuncture works, but will it work enough to help me conceive?  Is it worth it to keep worrying and trying anymore?  Mr. C and I have started the adoption process for Thailand already, but since we're not eligible until our 3rd wedding anniversary in October, we decided to "keep trying" naturally until then.

Essentially, it means that I eat a LOW carb diet, exercise like a fiend every day, and go to acupuncture weekly (sometimes bi-weekly), like a good girl.  I've been doing all of these things, yet I have no idea what to expect.  I'm actually shocked at how much apathy I have toward the situation anymore.  Maybe it's all a defense mechanism after so many failures, but I simply cannot get myself excited about the possibility of conceiving.  Terrible, I know.

I've thought that perhaps I should just go ahead and go back on some sort of BCP; because once the adoption begins "for real" we cannot get pregnant or our files are immediately terminated.  So, what to do?  What to do?

I really don't want to stop doing acupuncture.  I have been amazed at how quickly it has healed my body and caused it to work all on it's own.  Yet, the other side of my rationale tells me to just let it all go and focus on being the best adoptive mommy I can be.  I used to pray that God would answer my prayers of being a bio mom, but now I just pray that His will be done.  If He wants me to have a bio child, then I know I will.  If he wills me to be the mother of adopted children only, then no amount of screaming and crying and whining will change that.

I know that statement will probably irk some people or make some people mad.  My mom has said to me time and again that we have the power to heal ourselves through prayer, and I believe this is mostly true.  BUT, it's hard for me to believe that the person wanting desperately to be healed of cancer but died anyway just didn't "pray right or hard enough".  It's unthinkable.  That's not the God I serve; He couldn't be so heartless.  So, where does that leave us?  Well, that is for another (MUCH LONGER and BETTER THOUGHT OUT) blog; but in short, I believe that God DOES have a plan for each and every one of us.  He loves us so much!  But I also think that sometimes He knows better than we do; and sometimes what we think we want is not what we need.

My life has a plan.  I have no clue what it is most days, but I will walk down any path God sets in front of me.  I know if I do so willingly, that I will have many blessings and the most amazing adventures...I'm definitely on my way.

So Much Love,

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, IMPORTANT Decisions...

I had *nearly* forgotten what the adoption process was like...but not quite.  It's still as nerve-wrecking and stressful as always.  Don't get me wrong, I'm really looking forward to it all - even the messy parts; but it doesn't make it any easier.

After the adoption and infertility conferences a few weeks ago, we got to talk with Holt International's mid-west representative.  We told her our background with our old agency and the Ethiopia program; which explained why we are now so skittish about heading back down that road again.

She was really kind and gave us an information packet, and told us to look through the programs Holt offers and get back to her with the one that stood out to us.  Nearly immediately, we were drawn to Thailand.  The program is super stable (it's been around since the late 1970's), and it seems ethical; which puts our hearts and minds at ease.

HOWEVER (there's always a "however", isn't there?), the referral wait time for Thailand seems to be about 2 years on average.  After waiting as long as we have to have a child, 24 months feels like an eternity.  BUUUUUUT, we feel drawn to Thailand SO MUCH.  So, what do we do???

Thailand...looking beautiful and inviting...
Do we stick with our hearts and just pray like crazy that God speeds up our process in Thailand? we go with one of the other two programs we're eligible for???


Or do we try Ethiopia again...even knowing that the program is going through growing pains and difficulties?

I know what we're thinking at the moment, but I can never be sure until God pushes me in the direction I'm absolutely supposed to go.  I literally praying that he just out-right shoves me!  I need him to come down from the heavens and yell, "Mandie, go this way!"  Ah, if only it were that easy, right?

In the meantime, lots and lots of prayers are going to be said by Mr. C and I.  We really want to make the right decision; our child is out there waiting somewhere...


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Uterus on Vacation: Permanently

A representation of my uterus (isn't she cute?!) to bigger and better things...possibly Paris? ;-)

Today was the clencher.  CD 22 and still no follicles ready to go (or should I say "O"? haha!).  Mr. C and I had already decided that this was it, if there wasn't anything going on today, we'd be moving on (really, "moving back") to focusing on adoption - in short, no more actively TTC.

Dr. S let us know we still had "options" - mainly ovarian drilling and IVF; but Mr. C and I agreed that we'd rather spend our money on adoption than $20,000 for two cycles of IVF that might not even be successful.  So, to us, the answer was clear.

Even though I knew it was coming, I felt so strange and sad standing there saying good-bye to Dr. S and his staff.  We both feel as though we've become friends with these people; we've seen them two times a week (or more sometimes) every week since right after Christmas this past December.  Six's flown by like a semester of college full of all the yummy classes you ever wanted to take.  I was honestly choking back tears, not so very much for our inability to conceive a baby (although that was part of it); but more because it felt like the last day of school knowing that you're moving away and won't see any of these people again.

After the dust had settled and the hours had gone by, the very real probability hit me that I will most likely never be a biological mother.  My DNA stops here.  Once I'm gone, it's gone...sinking away into the earth, back from whence it came.  Mr. C and I will most likely never get to see what a "half you, half me" looks like.  We will most likely never get to say, "S/he got it from YOU!"  We will probably never go through the joy of watching my tummy grow or the pain yet excitement of child-birth.  It's a bitter pill to swallow (BITTER), but life isn't always candy and rainbows...and I must come to grips with this, because it will very likely be my reality, my truth.

I'm not going to lie to you...I'm in tremendous pain today.  I wish I weren't.  I wish SO MUCH that I was a bigger, stronger, more enlightened person; but I'm not.  I'm so mad at my body.  I feel like damaged goods.  I feel broken and unworthy.  I feel ashamed, and I'm not even sure why.  I feel lost and sad.  At the same time, I really am extremely excited about the adoption.  I seriously am!  The program we've chosen is stable and makes me giddy just thinking about it; so, please don't think that I am regarding this adoption as "second best", because no matter how sad I am about not being a biological mother, it has no bearing on how happy my heart is to be an adoptive mom someday soon.

My sister, M, had buddy passes to Silver Dollar City for today; so, Mr. C and I took them and roamed around the park thinking we would be able to forget about having children for a few hours.  WRONG idea...we should have known that a theme park would be crawling with kids, and we were right.  At first, I was getting upset and angry; but after a while, we noticed two families that had (obviously) adopted children (as in, parents of one race and children of another race).  We watched them again and again in different areas of the park (it was like God kept bringing them into our range of sight), and they all seemed so happy and loving.  It was a real relief to witness this.  It made us laugh, and we started talking about the adoption and how excited we were.  By the end of a very hot and sweaty day, we were in better spirits.

"So, what now?", you may be asking yourself.  Well, I will continue to see Dr. L for acupuncture.  I want to try to get my PCOS under control in general for my overall well-being and health whether I'm TTC or not.  So, getting my body back on track and being totally healthy is our #1 goal right now.  At the same time, we're going to continue to move forward with the adoption.  We were pleased to learn that many of our papers from the Ethiopian adoption will still be timely and can therefore be used for this new dossier; which will save us some time and money in that department.  We need to finish the house (decorating and organizing); so that we're ready for our home study.  Also, my band is up and going again...we have our first show in our hometown on September 10th; so, there's lots to look forward to with that venture as well.

All in all, there is much to look forward to.  Lately, I've had to remind myself that there IS more to life than TTC and having children - there IS.  And, I've been largely ignoring all of the beauty and goodness around me for literally years while infertility has wrecked havoc on my heart and goals and plans.  It has ruined my life, but only because I LET IT ruin my life.  I can't allow this any more.  I just can't.  So, I won't.  I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but knowing that God has a plan is enough for me to keep pushing forward no matter how painful.

I want to leave you with a little pictorial metaphor using a still from one of my fave movies The Breakfast Club (High School Reunion Collection):

My uterus is like Judd Nelson's scrappy John Bender - maybe a little damaged by genetics and circumstances, but a true fighter.  PCOS may have won the battle, but it sure as HELL hasn't won the war!  I'm still fighting.  Every day healthy is a day I'm winning.  So, off I go...strutting across my own, proverbial football field...

Don't You Forget About Me...