Tag Archives: secondary infertility

Birthing an Embryo

15 Jun

NB: Reveals details about my recent miscarriage.

#3 started out fun. We were on vacation, our first as a family that didn’t involve other friends or family joining us. We had a much needed, great time together at the beach. We went out for seafood one night and the low country boil I ordered smelled very bad to me, and Dave and I thought, oh, hee hee, what if we’re pregnant? And then I felt pretty sick after a glass of wine, so I thought, maybe I really am!

IMG_20180502_142323175Morris Lighthouse near Folly Beach.

img_20180428_201759My boys exploring the sand and surf. Oh how I love the ocean.

We got home and my period was supposed to start. I had some cramping, but after a couple days of no Aunt Flo and some sore boobs, I took a test. I couldn’t even wait for David to get home from work, so I had to call him with the news. I was shaking with excitement and disbelief.

“We’re going to need to get me a bigger car, honey!”

img_20180509_095855050_topIt’s a blurry pic because I was literally shaking. Though Rexy doesn’t look too pleased at the prospect of being a middle sibling haha.

Fast forward a couple weeks, where we had told grandparents but no friends yet, and we enjoyed spending a couple late nights in bed talking over baby names, especially girl names. Since we had already had two boys, obviously there were no more boy names left, so we figured out some girl options.

My brother and his family came in town over Memorial Day weekend, and right as we were about to go to dinner their first night, I popped into the restroom for a quick pee. I was pregnant, after all, and had to pee all the time. I was not expecting anything abnormal, as the morning sickness was already playing a strong game all day long every day.

Blood.

Not that much, but I told Dave anyway. Most of my pregnancy symptoms seemed to vanish the moment I saw that blood. I barely slept that night, worried about the newest baby, and our little Rex was just starting to get over a double ear infection and he was up all night with a 103° fever. The next day I rested some while the rest of the crew went downtown to shop and eat lunch, and when I bailed on dinner, wanting to eat at home, my SIL was a bit confused. So I said, “Well, to be honest, I think I’m having a miscarriage right now. I’m supposed to be about 7 weeks along.” We hugged and over the next few days I gathered my strength and we had fun.

img_20180525_210142170Cousins are the best.

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Of course this had all started on a Friday night of a holiday weekend, so by Tuesday morning I called my new doc for an appointment as soon as their doors opened. I hadn’t even seen them yet, as they don’t see OB patients until at least 8 weeks, and my first appointment with them was still two weeks away. They had me come in that morning for an ultrasound check. Dave met me there to help with the boys. I had had two and a half days of spotting, mild cramping, one hour one night of heavy bleeding, no cramping, and one day of heavy spotting, no cramping.

I went in, fully expecting nothing on the screen and a diagnosis of a miscarriage. They saw a 6 week old embryo with no heartbeat and said everything looked fine, but maybe my dates were wrong for my last period? No, I said, they were accurate. They couldn’t confirm a miscarriage based on my symptoms alone, so they sent me off with a “threatened miscarriage” diagnosis and told me to come back in a week for another ultrasound to see if anything had changed. I was very happy that they were caring and professional about it all even though I wasn’t an established patient. They offered for me to come in multiple times that week for HCG testing, but after all the blood tests I took during the IUI for Rex, I opted to just come in in a week and see if the baby had grown any more. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome either way and it seemed like only more hassle for me.

Queue heavy cramping as soon as I left the doctor’s office. Literally started in the parking lot while sitting in my car. That day I continued to only have heavy spotting, so I was on the fence about having hope. I did have a dream that night that the baby would survive and she was a girl and we named her Penelope Grace.

The next morning I woke up with no cramping and no bleeding. So I vacuumed the house. And then the cramping began. It was pretty severe; then the bleeding started. And oh the clots that came out! After an hour or so of this I started getting afraid to go to the bathroom. Luckily David was able to come home early from work and take care of the boys while I ran from the bed to the bathroom. This continued for about 2.5 hours and then it stopped completely. No more cramping. Barely any blood. I felt great, surprisingly, but knew that the end had come for #3. Dave made me a batch of dirty rice for dinner that night, which I was craving, and it’s the only thing I wanted to eat for the next three days. Bowls of that with a cup of milk, and a banana for dessert.

We agreed David would go back to work, and I took the boys to the grocery store and the library. Upon returning home, I started severely cramping again, the pain much more intense than it had been the day before, even though I wasn’t bleeding as much. I called David home again, took some ibuprofen and sat in bed with a heating pad. I didn’t get out of bed for the rest of the night. The off and on severe pain and bleeding continued for the rest of the weekend. One night I had a mild fever and I was concerned I was getting an infection, though my OB later told me she had never had a patient get an infection from a miscarriage (I had gotten one post-Walter’s birth so I was concerned about that).

img_20180602_102033227Doughnut treats while all this was going on.

img_20180603_121711787Grandparents came to visit to make sure we were all doing okay. It’s nice to have an OB MIL during times like this!

I went back to the doctor’s office on Monday morning for my ultrasound and nothing was there this time. Even though I had been prepared for that, it was very sad to see. I’m glad I could have that visual confirmation though, because despite everything, there was a tiny bit of hope inside me that some miracle had happened and the baby was going to be okay.

The whole experience was very surreal. After it taking two years and fertility treatments to get pregnant with Rex, I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant again so quickly, if at all, even though with Walter it had happened right away. I was still trying to wrap my head around there being a #3 when we lost the baby. In only a few short weeks I had been excited, terrified, in love, and even relieved to not have to be sick all summer during first trimester. It was a lot to process.

Dave says that I knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t work out. I was very cautious and kept saying, “If anything happens, at least we know we can get pregnant again without intervention.” It’s almost as if my pregnancy symptoms came on too strong and too fast for me to be comfortable believing in the pregnancy. Even though I have successfully made two tiny humans before, the whole process seems like magic and my fertility journey completely confounds me. I have no idea what would happen if we try again. Pregnant in a couple months? Never pregnant? Lots of miscarriages? There is no way of knowing, but oh such is life, and that’s the fun of it.

I alternate between sadness and peace every day. The baby had it’s own DNA (though most likely DNA that wasn’t quite right for this world), but I don’t think it ever had a heartbeat, which somehow relieves to me. Dave and I have grown closer during this time, which is the silver lining and blessing of the whole experience.

All in all I bled for about 2.5 weeks, and my morning sickness tapered and finished after a week. I thought because it was so early on that it would feel like a heavy period, but it was really a mix between the worst period of my life and a birth. I’ve come through this feeling very grateful to be able to connect with my friends who have had miscarriages themselves, for they helped me immensely while I was stuck in bed hurting. There should definitely be miscarriage doulas!

img_0206These guys! They, and their dad, are the lights of my life.

I’ve decided to use this as a wake up call to get fit and have already started working out and eating even healthier. I feel better than I have in a long time, and I like knowing that if the universe decides I should have another child (because really, what control do we have in this crazy thing we call life), I’ll be the best person I can for the experience. And if not, I’ll be a healthier, happier person besides.

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Pregnancy/Fertility Thoughts

28 Oct

29-weeksAlmost 7 months pregnant!

I have been growing this little one with so much joy inside my heart. It is different though, after secondary infertility and fertility treatments. I think that was why I was so anxious about the birth of this one even from the very beginning. For so many months my body had failed to give me what I wanted, and I don’t think I was truly trusting myself, even after my pregnancy continued to progress smoothly.

The first time I got pregnant, it happened after one cycle of trying. This time it took 2 years almost exactly from the date I wrote “We can start trying!!!” on our Google calendar to getting a positive pregnancy test. By the time it finally did happen, we were trying so many things at once, only God knows what did the trick. It takes three months for eggs to develop from follicles; the egg for baby boy #2 originated from the month we were doing our anti-inflammatory diet. I was going to acupuncture every two weeks. I had an endometrial biopsy the previous cycle. And, we did a Femara IUI cycle.

I think there honestly is a different feeling (for me) to getting pregnant in the quiet intimacy with my husband vs the public happenings at an RE’s office. I suppose some people can hide that aspect of their lives, but I needed the support of my friends and family throughout our years of trying. And by the time I was going to an RE’s office several times a week, it’s hard to hide from the “did you take a test today?” questions — not that I minded. I enjoyed sharing the journey.

The book on orgasmic birth really did help my anxiety. While there were things I didn’t like about that particular book (the author was a bit aggressive, for one), it helped me get in tune with the feeling that “all this is natural, just let your body do what comes naturally.” And that’s when I realized I had a block against those type of thoughts because of how this little one came to be. But the truth is, if God, or the universe, hadn’t wanted it to be, it wouldn’t have happened, no matter how many interventions. I know many people who try fertility treatments for years with no success. So I’m slowly getting back to that assurance I had with Walter that my body knows what it is doing and can handle a birth. Can more than just handle a birth.

My goal this time is to push the baby out with a smile on my face, instead of hyperventilating. My goal is to feel the joy coursing through me every moment of his birth, as I have for every moment of his pregnancy… well, since the unbearable nausea ended. It’s amazing to me how negatively I felt, after trying so hard, when I finally got my wish granted. I’m glad that has passed, and I’m only looking forward to the things to come, like holding this little one as close as possible for as long as possible, and sharing him with all those who love our little growing family.

The Universe’s Perfect and Ironic Timing

28 Aug

I’ve always wanted more than one child, and for two years we waited and wondered and worked to “make” that happen. You never know when the right egg and sperm will meet at the right time and it’ll all work out. It’s so hard when you’re going through it because month after month you never know when the end of the pain will be (though at first it’s not so painful, it’s just exciting). We would say to ourselves, “If only we knew how much time we had to wait, then we could relax about it” and it’s true. The not knowing when or if it’ll ever happen is very difficult to wrap your head around.

In retrospect, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way. With Walter, we wanted a baby, and *poof* I got pregnant. I never took anything for granted, but it’s not the same type of appreciation when you have to struggle for something. Not being able to get pregnant when I wanted not only made me more thankful for #2 but also for every moment with W.

I suffered so badly during first trimester that I’m not sure I would have survived if Walter was any younger. He had to play on his own during the days I couldn’t get out of bed except to feed him. And, because he is older, he really understands what is happening, and that just makes it that much more precious to me that he can share in this joy with us. He was worried about me when I was so sick and that was sweet too.

And just because the universe likes to make me laugh with its unique sense of humor, I got everything that I wanted all at once. That might sound like it’s perfect, and it is great, but there is that whole “be careful what you wish for” saying for a reason. We tried to sell our house for two years. While that process is a little more cut and dry than baby-making, trying to do so at the end of a recession and recoup your money can be a little on the tough side.

But this time, it worked, and we were able to buy the house we wanted in the right neighborhood for the right price. We moved in a week after I found out I was pregnant, and I was feeling great. Dave even moved all the heavy boxes for me. All our dreams were coming true!

Then, the sickness hit. I sat around in a brand new house (to us) feeling worse than I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt so bad that I wondered why in the heck I had ever wanted another baby. My brain started changing from “this is my dream house” to “this house and its smells and everything about it makes me sick”. After working very hard to sell our house and immediately buying and moving in to another one, it was unbelievably upsetting and worrisome to Dave to have his wife talking to the realtor about selling. Again.

It got so bad I made us stay with my mom for a few weeks, which of course was confusing to W, who had been such a trooper throughout our long move. When Dave would go work on the house, he would send me pictures, and looking at them made me nauseous. I didn’t want to talk about the house or even see highway signs that said “Marietta”. I reinstalled Zillow and was looking at Midtown condos for sale. Our doctor said it was the first time he had heard of this pregnancy side effect.

As a friend of mine told me while we were discussing this, I needed to give myself a break and wait it out. Basically in one tiny period of my life I had been dealing with selling, buying, and renovating a house, and infertility, fertility treatments, and first trimester. It was a lot to handle.

Thankfully, it passed. We’re on the side of hope and excitement, waiting for little boy to get here and enjoying every kick. We’re doing puzzles on our dining room table and loving our yard and the public library, and it’s all good. It’s still going to take time to adjust and figure out this new area of Atlanta, but hey, that’s what life is. The journey.

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A beautiful, full double rainbow we saw on W’s birthday weekend.

 

Baby #2 is a sweet little brother for our W

26 Aug

After too many months of crying and waiting and testing and trying, there’s nothing but joy here to say we’re expecting another baby January 2017. Just after health insurance deductibles switch to the new year!

BABY JOHNSTON!_0035

Already looking pretty stinkin’ cute

We had our 20 week ultrasound this morning and everything looks great! He was moving around and even sucked his thumb while we were looking. Walter enjoyed watching the ultrasound tech take pictures for a few minutes, then spent the rest of the time asking when she’d be done and talking about his cinnamon roll breakfast.

W seems just as excited for his brother as we are. He says, “My baby will be here after Christmas, and I want to keep him forever.” I’ll remind him of that sentiment when little boy #2 is old enough to mess up his Lego and magnatile creations.

It’s been a long journey to get to this point, including a first trimester that was hellish to survive, but as I feel baby moving around in there, it’s just an incredible feeling that I’m so glad I get to experience again. This procreation stuff really is a miracle.

New Years Resolution like no other

5 Jan

I’ve never really given anything up for New Years. I used to give things up for Lent, especially sugar a few times. And that was horrible for only 40 days.

Things are about to get really real.

In an effort to get pregnant “naturally,” I have started on the craziest, most depriving, anti-inflammatory diet I’d ever hope for. And I’m lucky enough that my husband is joining in as he sees fit for his needs!

No Sugar.

Minimal Wheat.

Minimal Dairy.

Minimal Alcohol.

Take Supplements: Turmeric, Magnesium, Bee Propolis, Probiotics, and a multivitamin.

Increase Fish, Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts, Beans, and Exercise.

It was probably a mistake to ramp up my consumption of everything on the “no” list before new years, because it certainly made the first few days harder. Day 1 wasn’t so bad, but day 2 left me queasy, headachy, and shaky. I stayed up way too late during a game night, and when I got home I was suffering pretty badly. I have barely had any of the minimal stuff and have avoided alcohol.

Detoxing is no joke.

It might make no real difference in my ability to get pregnant. A recent diagnosis due to an HSG showed that my tubes (despite what I thought at the time of the test) are not fairing well. Only one side is open, and it might be damaged beyond repair. The point of this diet has nothing to do with weight, but to give my body the best chance of repairing itself and to get rid of endometriosis if that is my problem. And, if we do something like IVF, my eggs will be that much happier during the process.

My entire life I’ve said that I would never do IVF. I said, “Oh, if I can’t get pregnant, I will adopt. There are too many babies out there that need homes.” My, how life shows you how foolish you can be.

I’ve talked recently to friends who have adopted, exploring our options. My friend who went through a private adoption said that it cost them about $40,000 per child when you include all expenses such as travel etc. Even if it somehow cost us half of that, we have to cross that off our list.

I also talked to a friend who has done the foster-to-adopt route. Her story could very well be different than others, but one of the things she emphasized is that you do not know that you will be able to keep the baby you have been raising until at least a year, but most likely a year and a half. The state actively tries to take the baby away from you and give them to a family member (as it should be I suppose). Also, many babies are born addicted to drugs, and with that comes its own complications. This is an option I would like to explore later, but right now, I want at least one more that is mine.

I almost wish I hadn’t wanted 4-7 children, as I told our pastor when we were going through pre-marital counseling. It would be so much easier then.

And it doesn’t help that Walter has started saying, unprompted: “Mama, I have brothers and sisters. They just aren’t here yet. When they get here we will sit on the couch together and share my castle.”

I’m just going to continue hoping that he is prophetic. After all, my new supplements have definitely improved my mental state! I’m full of hope and happiness these days! (Seriously, I’m not joking. I’m not sure if it’s the magnesium, turmeric, or bee propolis, but I’m a new woman).

Happy 2016, folks. Here’s to life fulfilling all our innermost wishes!

Edison didn’t get it right on the first try #infertilityproblems

7 Dec

Dealing with secondary infertility is hard. On one hand, you’ve had a kid, so you don’t fit in with people who have primary infertility. And then, you don’t fit in with those of an abundance of fecundity. My least favorite reaction, that I’ve gotten from many people, is: “At least you have one”… is that supposed to make me feel better? Or stop me from feeling my feelings? Do you think I’ve forgotten how lucky I am to have my son?

But really it’s my own internal thoughts that drive me nuts. I keep wondering… If God is in charge… does he not want me to have another one? If that’s true, is it because of Walter or because of me? Is Walter so special that I need to do even more for him? Or am I not a good enough mother to deserve another one?

Then on my good days I think… maybe the kids I produce are just so very awesome that it takes a long time to get it right. My one stellar kid equals like four regular kids.

Or, maybe not everyone is supposed to get pregnant whenever they want. Maybe it’s normal to space out kids every five years or so.

Maybe I’m supposed to adopt? I feel it calling to me.

But all I really want, at this point, is to stop thinking about it. I want to stop being reminded every day by either myself or external factors that there is even an issue. I need to live in the moment.

Comme ci, comme ça

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Right now we’re at a bit of an impasse. My regular midwife says “Oh plan a big trip you can’t get out of, and then you’ll get pregnant.” The fertility specialist I’ve seen once says it’s either endometriosis or unexplained infertility, both of which require IUI or IVF. Neither of which I’m planning on doing.

I’ve had a saline sonogram (which was terrible) and an HSG (which was not). Lots of bloodwork and ultrasounds. Charting: BBT, CM, cervical position. You get really good at understanding the acronyms on TTC conceive boards.

You read about people who have been trying for eight years with no success, and you feel incredibly lucky. You read about people who are frustrated after four months, and you want to say: chin up, you don’t have it so bad.

We’re looking in to supplements and diet changes, as I’ve been reading a lot about naturopathy and fertility. I basically do it all wrong as it stands, which I suppose for my body really matters (even though I think I was much more unhealthy before I got knocked up with Walt). We’re also seriously thinking about adoption. Hopefully in the next year or two we’ll add a bundle of joy to the Johnston clan, no matter what biology throws at us. And if Dave is lucky, it won’t be several new kittens.

Not Everyone is a Fertile Myrtle

17 Jun

Sometimes we’re just Moaning Myrtles.

I fluctuate moment by moment on whether it is a blessing or curse that there is no baby #2 yet. Walter himself, who screams and cries all the time when I hold every friend’s new baby, said to me recently, completely unprompted, “I want a little brother or sister.” And what am I supposed to say to that?

This month I swore we would stop “trying.” But since I’ve started charting, I can see things on paper that are happening inside my body. I thought for sure this was the month. I was calm. I was silently excited. And then, broken inside, yet again. What can I do but wait, month after month, trying every piece of advice, trying not to care, trying too hard, not trying enough… It is overwhelming in its solitude. I don’t want to talk too much about it, but I don’t want to be silent either. I want to enjoy life and enjoy what I do have.

I have changed, though. I am sensitive to other mothers-to-be, and that’s not like me, or how I really feel. I like to be especially supportive of pregnant women and new mothers, as that is my passion. But when I hear a friend complain about something related to pregnancy, it makes me want to scream. Seeing a pregnant belly either makes me envious or want to cry. But this isn’t about other people. It is not a comparison. Other people aren’t more lucky than I am, and I am not more lucky than other people. That’s not the point.

Whatever is, is meant to be. It will lead me to where I am meant to be in the future too. Maybe I still will get my four babies (oh please not all at once!). If anything, it has made me appreciate even more the crazy miracle that is procreation. I have loved Walter since the moment I knew he was coming — since the moment I knew I was ready for him to come! — and yet this has still made me love him more. I don’t want to spend my life wanting something else. I want him to know that he is more than enough for me, whether he ever has any siblings or not, though I know he will make an excellent older brother. Once he gets over letting me hold another child of course!

Walter class photos Spring 2015 - Individual
I am so beyond thankful for this one it is unbelievable.

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My handsome boy with his handsome haircut.

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But I like the hippie hair too! Too hot for these Atlanta summers!

I watched Labor Day while on vacation, and Kate Winslet brought to life the struggle so many women have with fertility — though I don’t want to fall apart so completely like she did. It seems everything I read or watch lately reminds me that it’s not easy for everyone to have lots of babies. I almost think it would be better to never get pregnant again than have miscarriage after miscarriage or a stillbirth. But women live through that. We live through a lot. Those who have large families get judged for having lots of babies. Women with one child (or none) get nagged to have more. Though part of me does want to ask if they wanted more and couldn’t have them. I love hearing everyone’s stories. There are billions of them out there.

And mine is just one more to add to the collection.

The Benefits of Raspberry Leaf Tea

13 Jan

I love when life gives me signs. At least ones that point out that I’m going in the correct direction!

When my German sister-in-law was here for the holidays, she drank a million cups of tea a day, and said she does that every day (I forgot to ask her if it was just a winter thing). So I started getting in the habit of drinking tea again too because I don’t like caffeine and I always need a warm drink alternative to coffee. I had also been sick with a sore throat so tea with some honey did the trick quite well and was much more tasty than throat-numbing medicines.

My usual favorite tea is Bigelow’s I Love Lemon tea. But after a couple weeks of this I decided to branch out. In my mother’s cupboard was Raspberry Leaf Tea, and I thought that sounded familiar so I decided to brew a cup. It was good, and when I got home I continued making that tea (and drinking it out of the awesome new mug my SIL got me from a Brussels’ Starbucks).

Not but two or three days later I’m reading Outlander and nearing the end of the novel, the heroine meets an old lady who says, “I see you’re not pregnant yet. Drink raspberry leaf tea every day and that will get you knocked up.”

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The Dreaded Facebook Syndrome

7 Jan

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Lately I think I’ve been bitten by the evil Facebook bug. The one that tells you that everyone else has it so easy (even when you know that’s not true). If I were telling this to my mother she would tell me that I was having a little pity party for myself, and that is true. But it doesn’t change the fact that sometimes it can be hard to look at the good tidbits of 150+ friends and then *gasp* compare them to my own life. And since I can barely handle my Facebook newsfeed, you can imagine the anxiety that The Daily Planet inspires in me. Evil is lurking around every corner these days, did you know that?

Dave and I have been trying to get pregnant again for the last 9 months. A lot of women have spoken up lately about how difficult it can be to be miscarry, and how they need to grieve. But what do you grieve when there never is a baby? How often are you allowed to feel grief? Every month? That gets exhausting and I don’t need to be depressed every single month. So then, is it only if you ever get pregnant and something goes wrong? Some months I don’t mind Aunt Flo but some months, the months that I have hope, that I think I am pregnant again, are the real killers.

Maybe every 9 months of negative tests and your monthly menses you can call that “the missing baby”.

I am so overjoyed when I see friends and family pregnant, but sometimes it feels like the universe is laughing at me. Over the last nine months I’ve had at least 30 friends either have a baby or announce a pregnancy. I know it’s just that time in my life when people are having babies, but sometimes I just want to say “Come on, really? Another one? What about me?”

And then the house. I’m sick of talking about selling our house and continuously working to improve it. To top it off, lots of friends have bought houses in the last year, and it seems to all work out for them so easily. They’re either renting when they buy, their condo sells in a weekend, or their jobs pay for their moves, and yet, for us, I don’t understand why we don’t have a hundred people on our front porch wanting to move in. Or at least one! Most real estate agents want to sell our house but not bring buyers by. They also want us to sell our house for so cheap that we’d be paying people (more) to take it off our hands, when the agents are the ones getting the easy profit. The economy isn’t that bad, folks. This is a great house. This shouldn’t be rocket science.

And to top it off, the thing I was spending most of my spare time on, being a deacon at our church, has turned into such a bad scenario for me, so draining and infuriating, that I no longer want to darken their doorstep. It would be difficult to go into detail and not write a novella, so let’s just say I tried being a very involved member and it’s just not working out anymore. I would say that I don’t even know what I believe anymore, but that’s not true. I think I know now better than I ever have before what I believe. And I love the people at our church dearly, but maybe Groucho Marx/Woody Allen are right: “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.”

I’m trying not to lose hope here. I know someday soon that all the cards will fall in to place and I’ll be the person with all the great, happy stories… full belly loading the moving van… but some days, hope is simply hiding under a large, too-heavy-to-move rock. And I cry.

Being able to write this down and share this brings me closer to the constant knowledge that I have it good. Real good. I am amazed by our clean, running water. That we give away cell phones for free. Quick, cheap, and safe vaccinations. Choice. Freedom. My little boy.

Maybe there’s a line in the middle of all this, the line that signals peace.

A thoughtful little moment in my life.

16 Dec

I was driving home from my favorite church meeting of the year last night and thinking about how lately I’ve been all “I’ll be happy when this happens” or “Once that gets done I can be happy,” and that’s just not a good way to live. It is putting qualifications on my general enjoyment of life. And while lately it has been very stressful no matter what mood I’m in, I simply need to be happy in the present. I can’t say “Oh if our house sells everything will be OK” or “If I can just get pregnant again I won’t have to worry about that anymore.”

Christmas is just one more time of year that reminds me of what I have to be thankful for. A beautiful, healthy boy. A nice roof over my head. A lovely husband to share my mealtimes and accomplishments and sorrows with. Clean, running water. Lots of friends. The ability to dress as I want and study what I please. An annoying yet cuddly kitten. I could go on and on.

Our church’s Joint Session meeting is always in December, and the deacons and elders meet for supper and sharing of our faith stories. It is an introduction as well as a deepening of understanding among some of our fellow members. Two years ago I shared my story for the first time, and as I had looked around the table there were many I didn’t know. Last night there were so many familiar faces, it was wonderful to know what being a part of something can do to integrate you into a system. I could have stayed on the outside looking in, but being in the mix is much more exhilarating. I believe I’ve made friends for life through this church, no matter where I might fly off to.

For those of you who know me well, you might know that I am a skeptical yet trusting person. Those things might be contradictory, but hey, life is full of the unexpected. When I was a kid I was enamored by the phrase “Expect the Unexpected” (frequently bombarding my family with the acronym ETU). I don’t know what life will bring, whether it be glorious and glittering, or if I will be able to make lemonade with the lemons, but I hope I continue to be both trusting and skeptical. I think my skepticism keeps me on my toes, and I can also use my trusting nature (some might call it naiveté) to make sure I don’t drown in the negativity that is so easy to wallow in.

lemonade