First Birthday Party Invitations

I’ve not shared any new posts recently, because my spare time has been very limited, and I’ve had so few words to share anyway.

Bonnie is growing and changing every day. I’m exhausted at the end of the day from having a houseful of babies all day, every day.

I kind of cannot believe that we are preparing for her first birthday party. By that, I mean that I absolutely CANNOT believe it’s been a year since she was born. I also mean that I CANNOT believe we are throwing her an actual birthday party. I’m so not a party person. I prefer small, low-key, quiet, and quaint. But my husband is the opposite, so we’ve compromised by planning a small party for her.

We settled on a bumble bee theme, simply because the play on words is too easy and fun to pass up. I made the invitations and printed them on thick card stock. Here is a look at them, with our address blurred out, of course.

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I’m filled with amazement each time I reflect upon the last year of our lives, the first year of Bonnie’s. She has lived in my heart forever… I dreamt of my own little girl even when I was just a little girl myself.

Motherhood is sweeter than I dreamed, more challenging than I dreamed, more emotional than I dreamed, and more all-around wonderful than I could possibly have imagined.

This time last year I was counting the days to Bonnie’s due date. This time the year before that I was mourning the failure of our second IUI, planning for our third. I never would have believed that our third IUI would have been unsuccessful, and that we’d end up pursuing both a fresh IVF cycle and a frozen transfer.

But what a difference a year, and then two, makes.

My life and my heart will never ever be the same. God used infertility to change me. He used fertility treatments to change me even more. And He’s using Bonnie to change and challenge me every single day.

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Eleven Months with Bonnie

Before Bonnie, I think I thought that loving someone more every day was just an expression. Yes, I love my husband now more than I did the day we got married, and I love my parents more deeply than I probably did growing up. But I have not been aware, every day over the past many years, that my love was growing. It was more like I just woke up one day, years later, and knew that I loved those people more then than I had in years past.

But with Bonnie, I can literally feel my love for her growing. Every day. The more time I spend with her, the more I learn about her, the more I watch her learn, the more I look at her, the more I love her. My love for her literally grows every day. It is so real and so life-changing. And absolutely heart-wrenching… in the very best way possible.

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It seems like so much has happened over the past month of her life. It has been nearly one month now since I’ve nursed her, and she is taking a bottle like a natural, even though she and I know that’s not the case at all! She’s also a wonderful crawler now, even though she was a bit late to the crawling scene. She took her first steps about a week ago, and thankfully, I was able to capture them on video, because she’s barely taken another step since! When I try encouraging her to walk, I can see her thinking about it. Her wheels turn, she considers the risks (falling, of course,) stick her bottom out, sits down gently, and crawls. She is so careful, and her movements are quite meticulous and methodical. She gets that from her mom.

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She has dropped down to one nap per day, and although I was nervous about the transition, it’s been really nice so far. Instead of taking two small cat naps per day, and fighting both of them, she goes down easily for one nap (around 11:00) and sleeps for about an hour and a half. I’m hoping she’ll learn to stretch that nap closer to two hours. Otherwise, her schedule is nearly the same as it’s been the past couple of months:

  • 6:00/6:30- Wake up
  • 7:00- Bottle (usually about 4 ounces, although I offer her 6)
  • 7:30/7:45- Breakfast (finger foods, usually eggs and a banana or eggs with pieces of avocado)
  • 10:30- Snack time (finger foods, and/or the occasional fruit & veggie pouch)
  • 11:00- Book, rocking/singing/praying, 4 ounce bottle, NAP
  • 12:30/1:00- Lunch (finger foods, and sometimes an applesauce pouch)
  • 2:30/3:00- Snack time (finger foods, 4 ounce bottle)
  • 5:00- Dinner
  • 5:30/5:45- Bath
  • 6:00- Book, rocking/singing/praying, bottle (between 4 and 6 ounces,) BED

She is such a happy girl, and the more mobile she becomes, the happier she gets! She loves books, her mom and dad, and all dogs. And I mean, she loves dogs. If we ever encounter a dog on our walks, her whole face brightens, she reaches out of the stroller, and says “dah.” It’s the cutest. Seriously. She can also say her own versions of bye, Mama, Daddy, and book.

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The entire time I was pregnant with Bonnie I walked several miles per day. I credit my easy labor and delivery to all the walking I did leading up to Bonnie’s birth. (That is, if you call 14 hours of unmedicated back labor “easy,”  if you call delivering a baby “sunny side up” with no meds, less than thirty minutes after arriving at the hospital “easy.”)

So it’s really ironic that Bonnie has never enjoyed our walks. She doesn’t like being strapped down, and frankly, she’s a stroller snob. But thanks to good old Craigslist, we finally found a stroller that she LIKES! We’ve been walking just a mile or two after the other babies go home in the evenings and it has been wonderful. I’ve missed walking so much, and I’m thrilled that Bonnie is finally coming around to one of my favorite past-times.

One of her favorite past-times is being in the water: baths, sinks, pools, you name it. She is really enjoying her Sunday swimming lessons, and my dad built her a little water table, which he is bringing today when he comes for a visit! It’s been a month or so since we’ve seen him. I don’t know about Bonnie, but I cannot wait for our day together!

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Every month with Bonnie gets better and better. I’m so thankful for such a happy, healthy, altogether lovely, precious baby. I’m just blown away by her each and every day.

Bonnie

 

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A Letter to My Daughter on Our First Mothers Day

I’ve been thinking and praying hard on what to post on the blog in honor of Mothers Day. For the woman walking the path of infertility, it is one of the most difficult days of the year. My first thought was to post a tribute to all you mommas-in-waiting, who have had to be so strong for so long. But I really cannot stand the idea of revisiting the pain of my Mothers Days gone by, when this is my first Mothers Day in so long that is blissful, happy, and so full of joy. I do not want to ruin that by focusing on anything other than my sweet baby girl.

My Mothers Days over the past several years have been characterized by waiting, aching, longing. And this year is completely different. Instead of waiting for a time when I’d carry a precious babe in my womb, and hold her in my arms, I’m wishing I could rein in the time that seems to be passing all too quickly, and cherishing every fading, beautiful moment.

After being so clueless as to the right thing to write, on one of the loneliest days of the year for the barren woman, I decided to simply stay quiet on Mothers Day, and not to post anything at all here on the blog.

But then I read this mother’s tribute to her baby on their first Mothers Day together and thought, “Okay, I can’t not write Bonnie a letter on Mothers Day. It just has to happen.”

So this letter is my heart right now, in this very moment. It is not intended to cause any of you anymore pain than you’ve probably already been experiencing this weekend. Rather, it is intended to capture mine and Bonnie’s relationship as it is right now. Because this time is so, very fleeting.


A letter to my daughter on our first Mothers Day--- Motherhood after infertility

Dearest Bonnie,

It used to be that Mothers Day made me sad. It made me sad for myself, and it made me long for the children I wondered if I would ever have. It made me envious of all the mothers who were celebrating with children of their own. It was a painful reminder of the children I ached for, but did not have.

 But this year is so different.

 My heart still hurts for the women in my life who are where I’ve been in years past: Longing for the child that is, statistically, an improbability. Staying home from church, restaurants, shopping malls and public parks, because they just cannot bear being reminded of their empty wombs and quiet nurseries.  

But my heart is also incredibly full… Full of the joy that you’ve brought me over these past eleven months, and full of gratitude for my Savior who granted my heart’s desire when He gave me you.

 Some of our days are very long and very hard. You are teething, and your nose is running constantly during these spring months. You don’t nap much at all during the day, and we rarely get out of the house since we are busy taking care of two other babies. Yes, the days can be long. But the moments, weeks, and months are so short. I’m holding on tightly to each and every one of them.

 You are crawling, and even beginning to take some of your first steps, so you don’t need me as much as you did just a month or two ago. You are sleeping through the night, so you don’t need me at all at night. You can eat finger foods all on your own, so you don’t need me to feed you. You are taking a bottle, so you don’t need me for nursing. How I miss the days when you did! And don’t even get me started on cuddling… You can barely sit still long enough for a diaper change!

 Except when you want to read. You love to cuddle up with a good book! When you crawl over to me with one of your favorite books, and scramble into my lap, my heart swells with pride and wonder. And I love the way you can say “mama” now, and the way you reach for me when I walk into the room, or crawl toward me when you miss me. I am so proud of the way you are growing and learning. You are a different baby than you were eleven months ago, when we brought you home from the hospital as a calm, helpless, wrinkly newborn.

In years past, Mothers Day has been about me: my infertility, my emptiness, my brokenness, my loneliness, my failure, my heartache.

But this year, I’ve realized that Mothers Day is not about me at all. Instead, it is a day to celebrate you and me, together. And mostly, it is a day to celebrate our glorious Savior, because were it not for His grace in my life, you would not be sitting on the floor at my feet right now, chewing on Biscuit’s dog bone (something I should really stop letting you do.) You are my constant, beautiful, crazy reminder that we serve a God who is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine. Because you are so much more than I ever could have hoped for, and more wonderful than I ever could have imagined.

 A letter to my daughter on our first Mothers Day--- Motherhood after infertility

Every negative home pregnancy test, every needle, every blood draw, every invasive ultrasound, every penny… They were all beyond worth it for the joy of having you in my life. You are my own, personal ray of sunshine. You are the light in my life, and apart from salvation, and apart from your dad, you are the best gift I’ve ever been given. I love you more than my words can ever fully express.

 And if I teach you one thing in the coming years, let it be this: As much as I love you, we serve a Savior who loves you even more. My love pales in comparison to His. It is my deepest prayer that you will come to know Him as your own Savior at a young age, and that you will live the rest of your life according to His love for you, and yours for Him.

Being your mother has already been the greatest honor of my life. And even though you’ve been on this earth for only eleven short months, you’ve been in my heart for so much longer, and I’ll hold you close there forever; closer than you will ever know.

 And no matter if your Dad and I have several more children or none, you will always be very special, in a very special way. Because you are the daughter who made my dream of motherhood come true. And you are more, and you are better than I ever could have dreamed.

Always,

Your Mama

A letter to my daughter on our first Mothers Day--- Motherhood after infertility


“You can no more predict the path of the wind than you can explain how a child’s bones are formed in a mother’s womb. Even more, you will never understand the workings of the God who made all things.”
-Ecclesiastes 11:5, The Voice translation

If you came here today looking for a post about infertility and Mothers Day, you might want to read my post from last year, which you can find here. 

“It occurs to me that faith involves buying into a story-an overarching narrative that makes sense out of the universe and our part in it… Our relationship with the Hero is what gives us purpose, dignity, and HOPE… I am confident that God owns the narrative and that these unwelcome times are in His capable hands.”
-Ann Spangler, The Tender Words of God (Can’t recommend this devotional highly enough!)

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National Chiropractic Board Exam {Part 1}

If you’ve been following the blog for a few years now, you know that my husband quit his job as a high school teacher in order to go back to school for his doctorate in chiropractic. This was a really big leap of faith for us. And although we knew the risks we’d be taking, I don’t think we fully understood them; nor did we fully understand the sacrifices that would have to be made in order for him to pursue the dream God had placed within him.

It has been really hard. Like, really hard.

I know most of you do not know my husband. But if you did, you’d know just how ironic it is that he, of all people, is choosing to be a student for one more minute than he absolutely has to… let alone four more years. He’s not a natural student. He has no love of learning. He’s a terrible test taker with poor attention to detail, and a shorter attention span than our niece who is in the first grade.

I’m being so serious. The past few years have been one struggle for him after another. He is fighting tooth and nail every single day. And he’s making me so proud. He has already done so much more than he ever thought himself capable of. He tells me regularly that, had he known how difficult this was going to be, he would not have had the guts to do it.

I’m so glad we didn’t know how hard it would be, because I know this is where we are meant to be. But it’s still really, really hard.

The National Chiropractic Board Exams are divided into 5 parts, and each of those parts has several sections. Andrew will need to pass parts 1-5, as well as the Physical Therapy board exam in order to be able to practice in the state of Tennessee (not all states require chiropractors to take and pass the P.T. boards, but TN does.)

Andrew took Part 1 of his boards about two months ago, and the results came in at the beginning of this week. Of the six parts that this particular test was divided into, he passed three and failed three. This means he will need to retake the entire thing.

He was devastated when he found out. He could not have studied harder. He was mad at the situation, mad at himself, and frankly, embarrassed. I’m heartbroken for him, and it’s a pretty big deal that he’s having to take them over again. It’s a huge blow financially, but also a big blow to the timeline that we have in our minds. As long as he passes the next time he takes them, it won’t affect his graduation day, but it does affect his timeline between now and then. But since when have our timelines ever worked out??? 

Here is what is even more frustrating: The three sections Andrew did pass, he passed with flying colors. As in, he scored in the top 15% in the nation. Two of the sections he failed, he failed by a combined total of four points. He came so close. And then there was one section that just blew him out of the water.

Thankfully, Part 1 is the toughest, because it deals with basic sciences (although I use the word “basic” loosely.) Chemistry, physics, micro and macro biology, embryology, etc. These are what Andrew has struggled with the most during his time in the program. He took these classes his first year in the D.C. program and HATED every minute of it. The rest of the board exams will deal more specifically with chiropractic, and he knows his stuff when it comes to chiropractic!

After finding out about Andrew’s failing scores at the beginning of the, we’ve been handed one piece of bad news after another. By the time Wednesday rolled around, I felt like the Israelites of Exodus did: Grumbling and complaining to God, ready to pack my bags, head back to where we came from, and count our losses. I’d forgotten all the good things God has done for us and given to us over the past three years. And I’d forgotten all His promises to us that more good things are coming someday. (Jeremiah 29:11) I was ready to return to the captivity of fear, for the comfort of the familiar.

Throughout the week, as I’ve read scripture, read other blogs, and talked to friends, I’ve been reminded of many of the same passages I clung to when we were in the depths of infertility. Because even though our circumstances now are different, our God is the same.

When we were going through infertility, and especially when we were going through fertility treatments, which were indescribably difficult in so many ways, I told myself that if I could get through that, I could get through anything.

And I’m reminding myself of that again now. We got through that,  and we will get through this. And we will see God’s hand and His might woven into every detail of this chapter of our lives. I was shocked and brokenhearted when I found out Andrew did not pass Part 1 of boards, just like I was shocked and brokenhearted when we were going through IVF, and I learned that, due to severe hyperstimulation, our fresh transfer would have to be cancelled.

When the nurse called to break the news to me, I hung up the phone and sobbed. And when Andrew called to tell me about his test scores, I hung up the phone and sobbed. In both instances I questioned whether we’d done the right thing, whether we were in the right place, and what our next move should be.

But God works all things together for the good of His children, because having to cancel our fresh transfer meant that we were able to learn some vital information about our embryos, through genetic testing. And without having done that, Bonnie would not be in our lives today.

God did not make Andrew fail that exam, but He works all things together for our good, and I know that we are covered under the shadow of His wing, even in times of disappointment and failure.

And just like there was a bigger picture we could not see when we were going through our IVF disappointments, there is a bigger picture we cannot see now.

“We know that in ALL THINGS, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:8-9

As I put Bonnie to sleep last night, I sang to her this song that many of you may remember from your own childhoods:

“He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the whole wide world in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

And it’s so true.

God is good all the time, whether things are going our way or not. He is good even when you’re trudging through the muck of infertility, when you’re plotting your excuse for missing church this Sunday because you can’t bear being in public on Mothers’ Day.

He is good when your husband fails the biggest test of his life thus far.

He is good when your body is wracked with pain or cancer or fibromyalgia, or when your mind has been lost to Alzheimer’s disease, or when your marriage is hanging by a thread.

He is good. And He holds you in the palm of His tender, almighty, creative hand.

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Baby and Toddler Meal Ideas {Plus a Fairhaven Health Review}

Bonnie is doing so well with food these days! Since she is no longer nursing, she seems more open to eating more real foods than she has been in the past. And I’m enjoying preparing foods for her far more than I ever thought I would.

She seems to be turning  into a bit of a picky eater, but we are still managing to get plenty of fruits, veggies, fats, and proteins into her little body!

One of the way we do that is through “smoothies.” Her favorite smoothie contains mixed berries, banana, almond butter, spinach, and almond milk. But she also likes green smoothies.

Fairhaven Health and Fertility recently contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in reviewing any of their products. Had they contacted me a few years ago, I’d have loved to try their fertility yoga DVD, or maybe some of their fertility supplements (the FertiliTea looks particularly interesting.) Had they contacted me a few months ago, I would have loved to try some of their nursing products, but since that chapter of Bonnie’s little life has closed, I opted for these Milkies Food Trays, which happen to be perfect for Bonnie’s smoothies.

Fairhaven Health Product Review- Happy Baby Bottom Balm and Milkies Food Trays

Fairhavenhealth.com | Fairhaven Fertility Facebook Page | Fairhaven Pregnancy & Nursing Facebook

Even though we’ve only used the trays for Bonnie’s smoothies so far, they also came with a handout containing several other recipes, ideas, and thawing instructions. The trays freeze Bonnie’s smoothies in 1 ounce servings, which is just perfect for her. The small serving sizes also allow for making several different single-ingredient purees, thawing a few different ones at the same time, and then combining flavors.

Along with her smoothies, Bonnie is still eating plenty of finger foods, and is discovering new foods all the time!

Baby and Toddler Meal Ideas--- Grain Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar FreeBonnie loves avocado and strawberry, but doesn’t usually eat much ground venison. She’s usually had her fill after just a couple bites.

Baby and Toddler Meal Ideas--- Grain Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar FreeBonnie likes pickles a lot, and this particular meal was at the end of the week when we were low on fresh veggies, so we settled for pickles. We rarely give Bonnie packaged finger foods, but I keep these coconut bites in her diaper bag for emergencies. The noodles are organic red lentil noodles since Bonnie does not eat grains. She likes them lightly peppered, or with a bit of tomato sauce.

Baby and Toddler Meal Ideas--- Grain Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar FreeHer favorite thing about this meal were the chopped dates. But I don’t think this lunch had quite enough color for her! She does best when each food is a different color!

Anything involving this chicken with a side of sliced avocado and just about any other fruit is a hit in Bonnie’s book. I buy Costco’s frozen, organic, whole chicken, cook it in the Crock Pot for about eight hours on low, and then shred it. We use it for salads, soups, or finger foods for Bonnie throughout the week.

Baby and Toddler Meal Ideas--- Grain Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar FreeShe devoured the turkey burger on the day this picture was taken, but there have been other times when she’s been disinterested. She’s never disinterested in avocado though! The grapes are tricky, because they are slippery, but she can manage them is they are cut in half.

Baby and Toddler Meal Ideas--- Grain Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar FreeScrambled eggs are our go-to breakfast food, and some of Bonnie’s favorite foods. I scramble them in coconut oil, almond milk, and a bit of salt and pepper. She also loves bananas, and eats one almost every day.

If I had to say, her favorite foods are eggs, avocado, bananas, and berries. Notice there are no veggies or meats on this list. She must take after her mom….


We’ve also been using a jar of Fairhaven Health’s Happy Bottom Baby Balm for Bonnie’s little bottom. She’s been cutting teeth like crazy, which means she’s had lots of dirty diapers! I started using this stuff when I noticed her getting a little red. My favorite thing about this (other than the fact that it actually works) is its ingredient list; it’s so short and simple, and I have such peace of mind using it! My second favorite thing about it is the texture. It isn’t sticky and difficult to rub in like other ointments I’ve tried in the past. It’s a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way, and the price is worth it for us.

*** Fairhaven Health and Fertility gave me some of their products to review; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed in the post above are 100% mine. I would never endorse products that I myself do not love, and that I do not think my readers would benefit from! 

 

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Fear and Jealousy {Then and Now}

“We live with hope in the Eternal. We wait for Him, for He is our Divine Help and Impenetrable Shield. Our hearts erupt with joy in Him because we trust His holy name. O Eternal, drench us with Your endless love, even now as we wait for You.”

-Psalm 33:20-22, The Voice translation

When we were walking through infertility, I battled with so many emotions and so many thoughts that I knew were not from Christ. This list is really long, and I’ve written several blog posts about all the emotions that accompanied infertility and fertility treatments (you can find those here.) But fear and jealousy were two biggies.

Many of you reading can probably relate all too well: jealousy over seeing pregnant women, women with young children, or women with lots of children; jealousy over pregnancy announcements, jealousy over baby shower pictures that made their way to your newsfeed on Facebook…

Fear that you may never be a mother, and that you husband may never be a father; fear that you might live your whole life with an unfulfilled yearning in your heart, and an unfulfilled calling on your life. God convicted me so greatly of both my fear and jealousy.

Even before our battle with infertility, I’d always had a tendency toward fear. Even as a little girl I was overly cautious. As I grew, that caution turned to worry, worry to anxiety, and anxiety to a fear that I had to pray against daily.

Even now that we have Bonnie, I battle with fear, and still have to pray against it daily. And even though the jealousy I used to feel upon seeing other moms has all but vanished, I still find myself struggling with fear and jealousy.

I’m fearful for our future. Andrew’s decision to pursue his doctorate degree was a huge leap of faith. We dove all in. And now that he has only a year left, we are beginning to network and plan and prepare as best as possible for life after school. We don’t know exactly what that will look like. But any way we look at it, it’s scary.

It’s scary to take on school debt, and take out business loans, and pour your heart and livelihood into a small healthcare practice in today’s economic and political climate. It’s scary to look over the next few years of our lives and see a sea of question marks, and undefined details.

It’s the same kind of fear I felt when we were walking our journey through infertility. No, it is not as heart-wrenching or emotional, but when I let it, it can become equally as consuming and overwhelming.

And as much as I cannot believe I’m admitting this, I find myself, for the first time ever, jealous of other women’s husbands: husbands who are able to provide financially, to provide stable, somewhat predictable lives for their families; husbands who are established and fulfilled in their careers. I believe that one day Andrew will be all of those things. But me, in my human impatience, with my silly timelines and wish lists, well, I’d of course prefer that the one day be right now.  Oh, how I remember thinking those same thoughts when we were in the trenches of infertility: Why can’t it happen NOW? 

God’s character is not mean, vindictive, careless, or spiteful. Rather, He is Love, Provision, Grace, Healing, and Hope. I can’t perfectly map out the future, and I don’t know what the next few years will look like for our family. But because I know God’s character, I know that God’s waiting, and our waiting, are purposeful and intentional. I know that He uses difficult seasons to cultivate our faith in His timing, and in His heart. I know that I’m not meant to have all the answers, when I want them, the way I want them.

Fighting fear and jealousy with scripture in the midst of difficult seasons of waiting

I know that Satan can use seasons of hard waiting in our lives to allow fear and jealousy to eclipse faith and patience. But I also know that while we are waiting, God is working all things together for our good, and that when our focus is on His character, and when we focus on things above (Colossians 3:103) we open ourselves up to His goodness even in the most trying of seasons.

I love the way that The Message paraphrases Matthew 5:8: ” You’re blessed when you get your inside world- your heart and mind- put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”

Then you can see God…

In infertility, in uncertainty, in sickness, in pain, in tough transitions, in loss, in the unknown, in the past, and in the future.

 


I’m also at A Sweet Aroma today as part of Brandy’s “Wonderfully Filled Wombs” series, and so honored to be a part of such a neat project! If you are trudging through infertility, I’d encourage you to spend some time going through stories of women who have been there and are now on the other side… some awesome reminders of the loving Heavenly Father that we serve!

 

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National Infertility Awareness Week: You are Not Alone

Scripture tells us that we are part of a league of extraordinary women whose experiences with infertility served extraordinary purposes in furthering God's kingdom

Journeying through infertility can be lonely. The ache in our hearts, and the pain in our bodies can be isolating, and the enemy can use our weakest moments to trick us into believing that we are alone in our struggle… That we are the only ones walking through infertility, and that others cannot understand our grief.

But scripture tells us otherwise.

Scripture tells us that we are part of a league of extraordinary women whose experiences with infertility served extraordinary purposes in furthering God’s kingdom:

Sarah and Abraham: “Despite God’s promise, years went by. Still Abram’s wife Sarai remained childless. (Genesis 16:1).” At the age of 86, Abraham had a son with  Sarai’s servant (at Sarai’s insistence in Genesis 16:2), but at the age of 99, he and Sarah still had no children together. But again, “When Abram was 99 years old, the Eternal One appeared to him again, assuring him of the promise of a child yet to come. (Genesis 17:1).”

This next part is so neat: God told Abraham that “he will become the root of a huge family tree of multiple nations, and that “his descendants will be exceedingly fruitful. Nations and kins will descend from you.” (Genesis 17:4,6)

It gets even better when God tells Abraham that, “Sarah will receive My special blessing, and she will conceive a son by you. With My blessing on her, she will become the founding princess of nations to come. Kings of many peoples will be counted among her children (Genesis 17:16).”

How awesome is that?! She was already 90 years old when God made this promise to Abraham! And of course, God kept His promise to Abraham and Sarah, and Sarah gave birth to Isaac (Genesis 21:1).

“Is anything too difficult for the Eternal One to accomplish? At a time that I will determine, I will return here to you when life emerges from her womb. I am telling you, Sarah will give birth to a son.”

-Genesis 18:14

(“At a time that I will determine…” Even then, humans had trouble trusting God’s timing. He promised Sarah a son, but she still had to trust in HIS word and in HIS timing…. She still had to trust that He would keep His promise, at the time that He determined. Wow. That convicts me so powerfully!)

“BY FAITH Abraham’s wife Sarah became fertile long after menopause because she believed God would be faithful to His promise.”

-Hebrews 11:11

Abimelech’s wife and female slaves: This was news to me, but after Abimelech took Sarah into his harem (when Abraham told him Sarah was his sister instead of his wife), he returned her repentantly upon learning the truth that Sarah was actually Abraham’s wife. Scripture tells us that, after Abimelech returned Sarah to Abraham, “Abraham prayed to God on Abimelech’s behalf, and God healed Abimelech. He also healed the infertility that plagued Abimelech’s wife and female slaves enabling them to again bare children, because God had temporarily sealed the wombs of all the females of Abimelech’s household (Genesis 20:17-18).”

Isaac and Rebekah: Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, “prayed to the Eternal One on behalf of his wife because she wasn’t becoming pregnant (Genesis 25:21).” The Lord granted Isaac’s prayer, but only after TWENTY YEARS of infertility. Rebekah conceived and gave birth to TWINS (Jacob and Esau) after twenty years of pleading with God (25:24). Isaac prayed on behalf of his wife… I bet that means God used Rebekah’s fight with infertility as a tool to strengthen her relationship with her husband. Does that hit close to home for anyone, because it sure does for me! And once again, God’s timing is vastly different from our own.

Rebekah’s son Jacob “gave rise to a great nation; indeed nation after nation will come from him. Kings and rulers shall be numbered among his descendants (Genesis 35:11).”

Rachel: Jacob, Isaac and Rebekah’s younger son (the one mentioned above), married sisters Leah and Rachel. Leah had six sons and one daughter, while the Lord closed Rachel’s womb. Rachel complained often to her husband about her infertility, saying, “I will just die if you don’t give me children (Genesis 30:1)!” Jacob and Rachel even argued about this. The Bible tells us that Jacob became angry with Rachel, saying, “Am I God? He’s the One responsible for you not getting pregnant, not me (Genesis 30:2)!” Even back then, infertility caused stress on marriages!

Finally, Scripture tells us that “God remembered Rachel. He heard her prayer and made her fertile. She conceived and gave birth to her first son. (Genesis 30:22)” She named him Joseph. Rachel died giving birth to her second son, Benjamin. Jacob set up a pillar to mark his wife’s tomb, and the pillar still stands today (Genesis 35:18).

Jacob had twelve sons, who became the twelve tribes of Israel.

Manoah’s wife: Though Scripture does not name her, it does tell us that, “Manoah, from the tribe of Dan, was married to a wife who could bear him no children (Judges 13:2).” A Messenger of the Lord came to Manoah’s wife, and told her that though she is barren, that is about to change. He told her that she will give birth to a son. He told her never to use a razor on his head, because she will raise the boy as a Nazirite, dedicated to the True God, and he will be the one to begin delivering Israel from the Philistines. Sound familiar? Manoah’s wife, who was barren, gave birth to Samson. Samson, through his physical weakness, helped deliver the people of Israel.

Hannah and Elkanah: Hannah prayed year after year after year for children. She was often consumed with thoughts of infertility, so distraught that she could not eat. The Bible tells us that Hannah was heartbroken, and she began to pray to the Eternal One, weeping uncontrollably as she did (1 Samuel 1:9-10). When Eli saw Hannah praying (she was weeping, and her lips were moving, but words were not coming out…boy does that sound familiar!) he rebuked her for being drunk. Hannah had to explain to him that she was not drunk, but that she was a woman who has been pouring out the pain in her soul before the Eternal One (1 Samuel 1:15).

Out of all of the stories I have read about infertility in the Bible, Hannah’s is the one that resonates the loudest. Her pain in something that I can feel reading the Scriptures, and it is a familiar pain, a familiar longing, and a familiar frustration. The Bible so clearly portrays the depths of her emotional, physical, and spiritual pain.

But eventually, God remembered Hannah’s petition, and she became pregnant with Samuel. After giving birth to Samuel, Hannah conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.

Her son Samuel grew tall, and wise in the ways of the Lord. He grew in favor with God and with the people he served (2:26). Samuel eventually became the last and greatest judge of Israel.

“It was this child I prayed for, and the Eternal has indeed granted me the petition I made. So, as I vowed, I will lend him back to the Eternal. For as long as he lives, let him serve our Eternal One.”

-1 Samuel 1:27

Michal: Michal was King Saul’s daughter, and the first wife of David (1 Samuel 19). She was the princess, and became the wife of a king, yet had no children. Hers is the only story of infertility in the Bible that does not end with a miracle child. Michal remained barren until her dying day (2 Samuel 6:23).

But even her infertility had a purpose. God saw the bigger picture, because He is the one who wrote and illustrated the whole story. And because Michal had no children, no descendant of Saul ever regained the throne of Israel. Through Michal’s infertility, God wrote this part of human history.

But even her infertility served a purpose. God saw the bigger picture, because He is the One who wrote and illustrated the whole story.

The Shunammite Woman: The Bible does not even tell us this woman’s name. We only know that she was kind and hospitable to the prophet Elisha. She was barren, but Elisha promised her that, in exchange for her good service to him, she would conceive a son. Although the woman claimed that such would be impossible, she held her son in her arms one year after Elisha prophesied over her (2 Kings 4:16-17).

Elizabeth and Zecharias: We learn in Luke 1:6 that Elizabeth and Zecharias were good and just people in God’s sight, walking with integrity in the Lord’s ways. But they had the sadness that, due to Elizabeth’s infertility, they were childless. Additionally, they were both well past childbearing years.

There are just so many cool things about this story. A Messenger of the Lord came to Zecharias and explained to him that his wife would have a son, whom they were to call John. He would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even in Elizabeth’s womb, and he would be born with the mission to turn many of the people of Israel around to follow the path of the Lord their God (Luke 1:14-16).

Elizabeth’s son was being born to fulfill a prophesy. He was being born as the Lord’s forerunner, the one who would prepare the people and make them ready for God (Luke 1:17)!!!

“When the time was right (Here we go again with waiting on God’s timing!) Elizabeth gave birth to a son. News about the Lord’s special kindness to her had spread through her extended family and the community. Everyone shared her joy, for after all these years of infertility, she had a son!”

-Luke 1:57,58

Because of Elizabeth’s journey through infertility, “People were certain that God’s hand was on this child, and they wondered what sort of person John would turn out to be when he became a man (Luke 1:66).”

Elizabeth was old and barren. This created the perfect situation for God to perform a miracle! Through Elizabeth’s story, people were already certain that God’s hand was in John’s life before he was even born. He had a platform while still in her womb!

After years of infertility, Elizabeth became the mother of John the Baptist.

In each of these stories, including the story of Michal, who had no children, God used infertility to show His miraculous power, and to carry out His plan for human history.

Except for Michal, God opened all the wombs of these previously barren woman. In two instances the women were clearly beyond child- bearing years, yet they bore sons of promise. I realize why God did not allow Michal to have children, but even now, my heart hurts for her. I do not understand the ways of God. I do not understand the heart of God, and I do not understand His timing. But I know He performed miracles then, and He performs them still today.

So for all of you mommas-in-waiting, I know you are painfully aware of your infertility, not just during this one week of the year, but every day of every week of each year that passes leaving your womb empty and your arms childless.

But be aware of this also: We serve a God who is not blind to our pain. We serve a God who knows our pain, who feels it with us, and who is working while we wait. He sees the big picture, because He is the one who painted it. It is lovely, it’s meaningful, and it is greater than we could ever imagine.

“Into the home of the childless bride, He sends children who are, for her, a cause of happiness beyond measure.

Praise the Eternal!”

-Psalm 113:9

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Finding Patience in the Emptiness {A Guest Post}

This guest post if from Ann of Life Bubbles Blog. So many of her posts have blessed me, and I’m honored to have her posting here today!

Finding patience in the emptiness of infertility

 

Have you ever felt numb? You know… empty? That feeling where you don’t have any answers, yet you can’t be bothered to ask questions. That feeling where you don’t care what happens or doesn’t happen. That feeling where you aren’t even sure of what exactly you are feeling; except the emptiness, of course.

I’ve been feeling like this since my last cycle began. Not about everything, but about our trying to conceive journey. The fertility specialist recommended trying for another three months on Letrozole/Femara. The first thought that came to mind back then was: ‘That’s another three months wasted’. We just finished our third month. Still barren.

The first two months, I felt rather optimistic. Regardless of that gloomy thought that crossed my mind, I saw a glimmer of hope in the darkness. As always, our timing was perfect, but maybe the medication would change it all. The first attempt became a second. ‘Oh well, maybe my body needs adjustment to the medication first,’ I lifted myself up. Until the second month became history too. And then the third.

Where I am now? At the start of our 18th cycle. Feeling numb. Feeling empty. It’s almost as if I can’t be bothered anymore, yet I do. I can’t wait to start reading pregnancy books, buy baby clothing, build our nursery, hear our baby’s heartbeat for the first time, feel our miracle growing inside me, touch his or her little toes and fingers, kiss him or her goodnight on the forehead,…

‘Patience, Ann’… that one word the Lord gave me at the start of this year: patience. Only four months into it, I can already say that 2015 has tested my patience greatly. Now, whenever I feel impatient, I try to remind myself of God’s word:

‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.’

(James 1:2-4).

He also referred me to ‘The First Book of Samuel’ after praying to Him about my infertility. Reading Hannah’s story reminded me that I need perseverance to keep communicating to Him in prayers, and to never doubt His abilities to give us our heart’s desires (1 Samuel 1:5-20). Even Paul reminds us that persistence is key, as well as giving thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

I know that there is a silver lining in it all, although I don’t always see it. It has already made our marriage stronger, and it probably will do even more with every extra month added. It also made me connect more with God and Jesus. Maybe that’s why we are going through this. Maybe, but I won’t know for sure until I can look back on this time with a smile on my face and a baby in my arms.

In the mean time, I’ll fight this numb feeling and accept the empty womb, for God has a plan. A better plan than I can ever imagine. One with perfect timing too.

 

Finding patience in the emptiness of infertilityAnn with her husband, during their engagement session in 2013.

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Weaning {A Quick Update}

By the time this post goes up, it will have been well over 48 hours since the last time I nursed Bonnie. Until Friday, she’d been nursing twice a day, morning and night. My plan was to drop Bonnie’s morning feeding on Friday, and only to feed her at night. By Friday evening at her bedtime, she’d yet to fuss about not being nursed. She hadn’t pulled on my shirt or tried to nurse a single time.

I made a spur of the moment decision (which is so unlike me) to try giving her a bottle before bed instead of nursing her. I told myself if she fussed at all, I would nurse her, and wait to drop her bedtime feeding until next week, like I’d originally planned. But she didn’t fuss. So I didn’t nurse her.

And I haven’t nursed her since.

When I came downstairs from putting Bonnie to bed on Friday, I cried and cried, because I realized that I probably wouldn’t ever nurse Bonnie again. She is taking breast milk in her bottle as if it’s the most normal and natural thing in the world… After nearly ten months of refusing every bottle I’d ever offered her, something just clicked.

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing her with a bottle. It’s the strangest thing.

Since she is doing so much better with taking breast milk from a bottle (in the beginning she’d only take almond milk) I feel much less stressed about getting real food into her little body. She eats finger foods at home, and usually feeds them to herself. The only time I give her the pouches is when we are out and about, and I don’t have anything else handy. She’s doing so well with finger foods, and with feeding herself. It sounds silly, but I love watching her eat and chew! It’s just so cute. It does make me realize how quickly she is growing up, which makes me happy, but also nostalgic.

Now that I am done nursing Bonnie, it’t time to start wrapping my head around the idea of doing our next transfer! I’m actually trying not to focus on the logistics and the details, because I’m afraid I’ll get overwhelmed by them all. The first step will be to call GRS. I know that we cannot begin the process until I’ve not been breastfeeding for a month, but beyond that I’m not sure what the timeline will look like.

And to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how much I will blog about our next frozen transfer. I’m so glad I blogged about our journey toward having Bonnie. But I can also see the benefits to going through it quietly. Plus, time to blog is not something that is easily come by lately!

But for now, one step at a time…

 

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10 Months with Bonnie

The past month has been absolutely wonderful… maybe my favorite month with her yet. But I say that about every month. They truly keep getting better and better!

Bonnie learned to wave, finally. And she also learned to crawl. FINALLY. I was beginning to thing that one was just never going to happen.

She can stand and pull up very well, and can walk along furniture, or while holding my hands. The first thing she does when she wakes up each morning is stand in her crib and look around.

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She still has six teeth, but has two new ones that are beginning to pop through her gums on the bottom. Her bottom ones never seem to bother her as badly as the top ones do when they are coming in. Thank Goodness. Teething woes are the last thing this little girl needs right now!

Our biggest challenges this month have been getting Bonnie through and over her sinus infection, which took a solid three weeks, and beginning the process of weaning. Transitioning from four feedings to three wasn’t hard for Bonnie at all. But cutting back to two has been really difficult for both of us. It is so hard to watch and hear my baby cry, knowing that I could fix it instantly by nursing her. And I want so badly to be able to nurse her, but I’m still very motivated to get her weaned over the course of the next few weeks, in spite of what an emotional journey it’s been so far. Even though she will take a bottle, she is very particular about when she will take it, and if she is really hungry or tired, she just wants to nurse. There have been some really heartbreaking moments over the past week, but I’m continuously amazed by how adaptable she is.

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Baby-led weaning was so fun and stress-free. Since I knew Bonnie was getting everything she needed through my breast milk, I was never focused on how much food she was getting. I was only focused on introducing her to new, wholesome foods, and letting her experiment with them. Some days she ate, and ate, and ate, and some days she would not be interested in eating at all. And it really didn’t matter either way. But now that she’s beginning to rely more and more on food for nutrition, calories, and mental and physical development, I’ve found myself a little stressed over what to give her, when, how much, etc. I’m open to any ideas and suggestions that any of you might have! The more, the better!

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On a brighter note, Bonnie started swim lessons! The lessons were a gift to her from my mom, for her first birthday. (We’ve always given birthday gifts early in my family. None of us handle suspense well.) Her first lesson was Sunday. Andrew got in the water with her this time, but I will usually be the one with her, and I cannot wait! She loves the water, and I’m hoping to foster that love in her for years and years to come.

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As I sat near the pool watching her, I realized that this would be the first of many hours spent taking her to activities and events, watching her and taking pictures, feeling proud of her, and awed by her. I can’t help but wonder what she will want to do when she gets a little older: swim, dance, play the piano, play golf… Her little personality has blossomed so much just in the past month. It is crazy to imagine what she will be like in the next year, two, and three.

The joy that she brings into our lives each and every day is beyond anything I could ever have imagined.

And for all you Mommas-in-Waiting… Hang in there. Because the wait is so worth it. 

So, so worth it.

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