Monthly Archives: February 2014

Heart Sick No More

When I do the dishes, I often look out from the kitchen window and notice this heart shaped rock.

Heart Rock_E

And it makes me smile. Especially when I think about my own heart and it’s own wild transformations that have taken place during the last year.

An incredible thought struck me today. I was listening to the radio and I can’t remember what song came on, but the words prompted me to think back over the past year. All 365 days worth– back to February 2013. What was I doing this time a year ago?

And then it hit me: Ah, yes. I was sitting on Dr. L’s exam table, bawling my eyes out while discussing the idea of getting a hysterectomy. So many tears. So much pain.

It was such a dark time in my life, filled with deep despair and regret. How I wished I had gone on birth control much sooner in my life so that I wouldn’t have gotten so many endometriomas and needed so many surgeries. And when my unsettling symptoms were beginning to appear in my early twenties, how I wished I had sought out more help in getting a diagnosis in the first place. But none of the past could be changed, and there I was, with eyes barely able to see beyond the day I was living in, let alone get a glimpse what hopeful changes an entire year might bring.

On that day I poured out my sadness and grief on my blog, and accurately titled it Heart Sick. Because that’s what I was living with those days– a horrible heartache that no one but God alone could heal.

What’s really neat is that God healed much of the ache in my heart before we even started IVF, or got pregnant for that matter. That’s because the wound wasn’t formed by endometriosis, multiple surgeries, infertility, an empty nursery, or any of those things. It formed out of my own disbelief in God. And out of my own unwillingness to trust God for my future, a nasty wound started tunneling deep into my heart. The more I despaired, the deeper the wound got. The wound had nothing to do with God, and everything to do with me and my lack of faith.

If there’s anything this journey has taught me, it’s that life’s situations change constantly– they threaten to cause anxiety, to wound, to shaken. But no external factor can single handedly shaken or steal our faith and our trust in God without our permission. That’s our domain and in our control. And I hope I’ll remember that in years to come.

After three awful despairing weeks, I repented of my distrusting heart to the Lord. And suddenly a prayerful plan was formed. We put our adoption on hold and started the process for IVF. I had no idea if the Lord would allow me to get pregnant. All I knew was that regardless of the results, I had to keep trusting God through it, because that was what I had committed to do: To trust the Lord through any circumstance, through children or none.

And so, as I was listening to the radio today, tears came to my eyes when I thought of the despair I was choosing to live in a year ago and how 365 days later I am now just days away from delivering our precious baby boy. God was faithful regardless of whether He chose to give us a son, but I can’t help feeling incredibly blessed. And when I forget these things (as I am apt to do), I will look out into my back yard and see little my heart rock, and be reminded once again of God’s faithfulness and steadfast character.

Heart Rock_EE

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A Peace that Surpasses Understanding

So.Many.Contractions.

It’s another late-night post, thanks to contractions every 7-8 minutes keeping me awake. After contracting on and off since Saturday, I woke up to some pretty strong contractions this morning at 3am and they haven’t let up the entire day. Needless to say, I’m pretty worn out.

I believe what I am experiencing is what’s called prodomal labor. It’s basically the early stages of labor, in which the body does little bits of work at a time to soften the cervix and gently move the baby down into the correct position. These contractions can go on for days or even weeks before true labor hits. They are usually painful but not the “I’m going to die” kind of contractions. Not everyone experiences these contractions, but for those who do, the biggest complaints are lack of sleep and fatigue from constant contracting and cramping for days leading up to labor.

Prodomal labor differs from Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions in that BH contractions are mostly painless and don’t make any changes to your cervix whatsoever. Not everyone experiences BH’s either– but some experience them as early as 20 weeks along. I personally recall having a grand total of ONE lone BH contraction. It was nothing to write home about as it didn’t hurt at all– it was just my belly hardening for about 45 seconds. I was riding in the car with my hubby and sister and looked down and said, “Hey! Guess what? I’m having a contraction!” Compared to prodomal labor (in which I have cramping–often strong enough to make walking painful– as well as abdominal tightening, queasiness, and back pain), BH contractions seem like a walk in the park.

Finally, there is labor. I have yet to experience it but from what I hear there is no mistaking these powerful contractions that take your breath and often your ability to walk. Of course there is always the exception, the lucky one who reports “my tummy felt funny so I went into L&D and I was already dilated to 9 cm!” But most report strong contractions that are intense enough that it makes them want to cry.

I’m sitting here typing this up while eating tortilla chips in the midst of a contraction, so there’s no way I’m in labor. But I’m encouraged– although tired out–that my body is preparing for the big day!

Speaking of the big day, I had my appointment today with my lovely OB. Many were praying over this appointment and whether or not she might be willing to induce me early (next week at 37 weeks)– if this was you, thank you so much! Going into the appointment, I had a pretty good idea she would decline an induction this early. As it turned out, I was right. She explained the situation– she told me that due to legalities with Kaiser, the only way she could induce me before 39 weeks (aside from there being life-threatening conditions to either mother or baby) was to do an amniocentesis to prove that our baby had sufficient lung maturity. My heart sank, because there was no way I would agree to an amniocentesis, especially this late in the game. The risk of spontaneous abortion is low (1%) but even that 1% is far too great a risk in my opinion. Lung immaturity is something that can be remedied in a NICU in a matter of days, if not hours. Spontaneous abortion is a completely different matter, and one I’d like to stay as far as away from as possible. It rather baffled me that an institution would be willing to risk spontaneously aborting a baby for a test they deemed necessary to prove sufficient lung maturity. Perhaps I am ignorant, but it seemed to me that it all came down to money and wanting to avoid a potential NICU admission for lung immaturity.

Insurance policy rationales aside, we declined the amniocentesis. In retrospect, I’m glad the Lord allowed it to be such a black and white decision for us to make.

In any case, the new plan became to induce at 39 weeks. So unless I deliver earlier, we’ll be a little busy on March 9th!

As of today, I have 18 more days to get through. I remember writing a blog post a while back when I was 27 weeks along and I wrote “just 13 more weeks” — essentially encouraging myself that I could make it to the end! And the Lord gave me complete peace at my appointment today as my focus shifted from “I’m so disappointed my expectations to deliver next week have been obliterated” to “18 more days left until we meet our son!” As my OB reminded me, I’ve come 36 weeks so far, with over 16 of those weeks filled with almost daily pain. So she had faith in me that I could make it 18 more days. On days when I am bed-bound with pain it is all too easy to lose sight of these facts, but tonight I am rejoicing that there is an end date in sight.

In the meantime, I am thinking about these prodomal contractions and wondering if maybe I’ll have less than 18 days to go? Wouldn’t that be something if I ended up delivering at 37 weeks after all? Oh… the irony. 🙂

Another huge blessing that has been taking place– my family members and friends have been blessing my socks off by coming over and doing various tasks like cooking, cleaning, driving me places and bagging/loading/unloading my groceries, and best of all: visiting with me. Today my little sister Wendy visited and we had a great time! She drove me to the grocery store and also to my OB appointment. And she helped cleaned my floors! In spite of these many hardships I have faced over the past months, I have much to be grateful for. The baby’s not even here yet and many are giving up of their time and energy to bless me.

Love this sister of mine!

Love this sister of mine!

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36 Weeks

Everyone keeps saying “how small I look” for how far along I’ve come, and my sister (who lives overseas) even dredged up some of her old maternity pictures from eleven years ago to prove it.  Yeah, her belly was bigger, but she was a month ahead of me! (I told her I still had thirty days to pack the pounds on). And I certainly don’t feel small when my husband has to help me get up out of bed, off the sofa, and sometimes even out of the car. In fact, just rolling over in bed feels like a mammoth-sized task (but this is probably more so because it hurts). There are also times when my husband will come home from work and exclaim “Your belly is getting HUGE!” (I would have been insulted if I hadn’t just been thinking the exact same thing.)

Anyhow, I enjoy it when other bloggers post updates and pictures of this sort of thing, so here’s my 36 week picture. I’m living in yoga pants these days because the bands around my jeans feel too tight against my tummy!

36 weeks 1 day.

36 weeks 1 day.

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Trusting God Through the Yuck

Valentines day or not, yesterday was a lovely day. I felt great almost the entire day! My husband brought me flowers and a Jamba Juice smoothie on his way home from work. We enjoyed a ‘gourmet’ meal of homemade sandwiches and store bought candy bars for dessert with our smoothies. (Okay, so it was pretty low-key as far as Valentines dinners go, but I was just so excited to be feeling better!) I felt good enough that I was even able tackle a few small projects I’d been wanting to get done around the house. It was great!

However, as soon as I woke up this morning, I knew I was going to be in for a hard day. I could hardly get out of bed. Plus, somehow I managed to get a nasty kink in my neck while I was sleeping (so much for turning my head to the right!). When I’m feeling this bad, I’ve found I want to do either two things: Hide/sleep and be impatient with my husband when he tries to help me, or to just start crying. Yup, those are my two defaults, and as you can guess, it’s the pits. Either way, my husband has to deal with me and my floundering emotional state and faltering resistance towards despair. So this upcoming part in this blog post is meant to be an encouragement not only to you but to me as well. When I’m struggling, like I am today, I have to preach to myself and remind myself constantly of God’s faithfulness. 

The other day I came across this really good article on infertility that a fellow blogger of mine (redeeminginfertility.wordpress.com) shared, and I wanted to do the same with you. I think this article, titled “Your Womanhood Is Not On Hold” applies to any woman who is simply “waiting” for the next phase of life to happen– whether it be marriage, children, or, like me, waiting to give birth in the midst of chronic pain. The author, Courtney Reissig, wrote something that really resounded with me:

“The ultimate mark of womanhood is hoping in God.”  

I know, it’s simple.

But isn’t it so true? How often have I told the Lord “I don’t know if I can keep living like this” and His Spirit has gently whispered to me “Do you trust me in this?” Because really, no matter what we go through in life, He asks us to trust Him, to rest assured that He can make good things come from the messy and hard circumstances of life. You may think your singleness is a curse, or maybe your infertility. For me my chronic pain often feels like a curse. But I have to trust that God is working out something beautiful in the midst of it. And I have to choose to rest in that when I can’t see beyond today or even this very moment.

So please check it out if you have time! It’s a quick read, and you’ll be blessed. 

 

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Filed under Infertility, Pain

I thought we might have a Valentines Baby

I just can’t keep myself away from L&D, apparently. I must secretly love that place! Yes, I had trip #3 to L&D  yesterday. Because two trips wasn’t enough already. I need to get to know all the nurses and doctors before I have this baby, I guess!

The past few days have been filled with braxton hicks contractions. In fact, a couple of nights ago I was up with nausea and contractions every ten minutes or so. I had them on and off the next day, which is pretty standard. But then yesterday morning, while lying in bed, I realized that I was having pretty regular contractions so I got out of bed and started timing them. Every 2-5 minutes. They came with nausea, cramping, and abdominal tightening. I changed up my activities and drank water. Took a shower, tried walking around, laying down… but it didn’t matter, the contractions kept up with regular frequency. I called the OB advice nurse (because, hey, who wants to make another unnecessary trip to L&D? NOT me!) The advice nurse made a really big deal about the contractions and made me promise I would get to the hospital ASAP and that I wouldn’t drive myself. She made it sound like I was going to have the baby at home if I didn’t scoot to the hospital right away. I tried to explain that the contractions weren’t really increasing in intensity, which was why I was calling to get her opinion, but that seemed to make no difference to her. So I hung up the phone and called my neighbor, since hubby was 40 minutes away at work. My wonderful neighbor agreed to take me to the hospital and said she’d be right over and I called the hubs to let him know to come meet me at the hospital. My neighbor picked me up about 5 minutes later, and off we went.

I got to the hospital and they hooked me up to the monitor and… you guessed it– no more regular contractions. That’s right. After steady, consistent contractions for 3 hours, I had a grand total of 3 contractions while lying there on the hospital bed. They checked me– my cervix was still VERY closed and baby still VERY high. I wasn’t even close to being ready to have this baby! They did find a yeast infection and said that was likely the cause of the contractions (pretty strange to be told you have an infection when you don’t have any symptoms).

We left the hospital and I felt disappointed. I was mentally prepared to meet our son. I even took our hospital bag with his little outfits and hats in them. Even so, I’m glad he’ll have more time to grow and avoid some time in the NICU. Still, false labor is the pits. I guess next time I’ll wait it out at home until I either can’t walk or can’t talk from the pain… then maybe it’ll actually be the real thing!

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A Blog Post About Ice Cream! (I wish) …

I’m up late tonight, unable to sleep (again) from pain. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to write a coherent blog post. But I’ll give it a try if it means that someone reading this will be praying for me (thanks if that’s you!).

No, I’m sorry, this is not a blog post about ice cream. I wish it were. Maybe some day. I just couldn’t bring myself to title another blog post on pain… again.

It’s been another hard week. I came down with some sort of gut bug on Monday that rendered me mostly incapacitated. I was nauseous all day with abdominal cramps so strong they brought tears to my eyes. My stomach hurt all day. And then the shooting sciatica nerve pain hit my right leg and I was done. So over it. Hubby took half the day off of work to help me limp around. I even called my sister and asked her to come over the next day to help me out since at that point I couldn’t walk or even bend over.

I was nauseous all night and Tuesday started off crummy but got better and better as the day went on. My sister and I had a nice visit. I felt silly for asking her to come over and “help” when I didn’t really need it but oh well. I can’t ever predict when the good days will come. All I know is that I’m thankful when they do come. I got tested for H. Pylori that day (which came back negative).

On Wednesday my mother in law came and visited and she did some vacuuming for me, which was a blessing because that always kills me. We sat a lot (which I was grateful for) and visited, and I was blessed by her company.

And then today struck. Today, oh yuckiest of days. The kind of day where I have been in bed with agonizing pain all day and then just finally burst into tears when hubby walked in the door (yes, you should feel sorry for him, he has to deal with this often from me). The tears come and there is often little that can be done. But I do pray. I ask God again for mercy, for stamina to keep going. When the pain doesn’t let up neither do my prayers. Nothing else gets me through it.

There has been much of me that has been whittled away during this process. I wrestle with my pride and there are times when I don’t want to blog anymore because I feel like I am always saying the same thing. I am always talking about pain and I’m always asking for prayer. But then the pain gets so severe and my endurance frightfully lacking that I know I MUST ask others to be praying for me. So I am suffering, but God is breaking away my self sufficient shell of an exterior, and I know it’s a good place to be. Not that it’s ever easy.

I’m hoping to be induced a little early at 37 weeks, which is 16 days away. Actually, I’m praying for it. As a NICU nurse I know what I’m dealing with and that the consequences are. There will probably be none, but you never know. I know there are some out there who might say “Why not wait until 40 weeks? What’s a few more weeks of your life?” And my response would be this: “Clearly you have never dealt with chronic pain before. Thankfully you don’t understand what that’s like, and what a dark hole pain and misery are constantly threatening to bury me in, save the blood of Jesus and the prayers of the Saints.” So… yes. That would be my response at a time like this, after a day like today. I could probably word it a little more graciously, but I think it explains the toll that chronic pain takes on a person.

So there you have it. A raw blog post written by pregnant mama who’s undone tonight by pain. But who rests knowing her Almighty is merciful.

Thank you, fellow saints, for your prayers. They are greatly treasured.

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Filed under Pain, Pregnancy