How Can I Help?

Yesterday, a friend apologized for not contacting us to talk because he/she did not know what to say.  Hey, that’s okay.  Really, truly.  I get that it can be awkward.

But, please don’t feel awkward around us.  We are at the point where we can talk about stuff.  We don’t get offended if people ask how we are doing.  There’s stuff I don’t want to write about online, but that I’ll tell people in person.  We aren’t wounded. We aren’t angry.

There is a way that you can help us.

So how can you help?

We need people to pray for us–everyday.  It can feel selfish to ask you to pray, but this is the kind of stuff that will affect the rest of our lives and the little people’s lives who are entrusted to us.  And a birthmother’s life.

If there is one thing I’ve learned through all of this is that there are a ton of you who love us.  What a gift to know that.

So pray for us and pray for the kiddos that we will welcome into our home.  In all seriousness, a woman in the United States or another country could be pregnant with a child right now who will be entrusted to our care.  When I wake up at night, I think of her and pray for her.

Please pray for B and I as we make decisions about adoption–which agency to use, where to adopt from, where not to adopt from, etc.  We need the Lord’s discernment and we surrender all of this to His care.  We really need discernment and wisdom.  Please commit to praying for this with us.

We surrender this to His care, and ask that you join with us in that prayer.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be meeting with people who have adopted domestically and internationally.  Be praying for these conversations.  And if you have adopted or you are adopted, we want to learn from you.

Fondly,

m & b

Comfort

It’s that awkward song and dance.  You learn a friend is going through a difficult time and you see them for the first time.  What do you say?  Do you mention, “Hey, I am sorry ___________ happened,” do you give advice, or do you act as if nothing is happening?  Even more awkward, what if it’s a colleague and not a close friend who is hurting?

What do you do?

During the past few months, we have been blessed by people who have comforted us.  Maybe some day (probably not) I will post a blog of what not to say to a hurting friend, but, not today.  Today, I want to share things people have done that have comforted.

What is comfort?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines comfort as “to give strength and hope to and to ease the grief or trouble.”

So how have others given strength, hope, eased grief and trouble?

– The colleague and friend who baked us a chocolate cake.  When she handed it to me, I thought to myself, “B will love this” because I figured it had gluten in it.  She then said, “And of course, it is gluten free.”  WHAT?! I felt so cared for.  When she gave it to me, she said, “Because sometimes, I know you won’t want to talk about it, here is a cake to comfort.”  She brought comfort.  She listened to me a lot.  She affirmed me.  There is strength in that. Oh, and her cake was incredible.

–  The woman at church, who must have read the “news” (I don’t know what to call it) on Facebook.  She gave a real hug, and whispered, “I love you. I’m so sorry.”  It was one of those hugs that swallows you in a good way. That eased the grief.

– The family physician I’ve seen for years who asks how life is, and when I update him, stops typing, stops rushing, and just takes time to listen.  Suddenly, it does not feel like “doctor” and “patient” but humans having a convo about a season in life.  We’ve been talking for years about when B and I would have kids.  Today the convo is different.

– The student of mine who is such a good, good, good mom to a toddler. She balances motherhood and a full load of classes with more grace than anyone I’ve met.  She sends us flowers.

– The two-year old niece who has no idea what’s going on, but gives slobbery kisses and begs to see “M” and “B.”

–  Each morning, the baristas at Pour Jon’s who write notes on my latte cup.  They write lovely things to me–things that always make me smile.  Chris, the owner, gave us free coffee when he heard.  We feel loved.  We love Pour Jon’s.

– The people who write us and tell us they’ve been down this road–whether that’s infertility or adoption.

–  The student who upon seeing the adoption form in your office, says with tears in her eyes, “That is going to be one lucky kid.”

– The husband, who wakes up at 3 AM because you cannot sleep and you need to talk…and talks to you until 5 AM.  Because, yeah, that’s normal.

– The friend who is your colleague and also a therapist who says, “You guys say you are fine, and I believe you are fine.  If you ever want to talk, then I’m here.”  And when you take him up on that offer, he listens, and he offers advice– really good advice–when it’s asked for.

– The girlfriends of mine who check in, text, and call.  They always communicate support.

– The students who slip a card in the middle of the stack of homework.

– The people who remind you, in the sincerest way, that they are praying for you on a daily basis.

– My dad, who asks, “M, are you going to be okay?”  We are going to be okay.

– To the new friends who want to go for a drink.  We laugh for 60-90 minutes…all feels right with the world.

– Breakfast with college friends at Cathy’s Corner.

We are comforted.

Our Story

We had been trying to get pregnant for a few months, but each month, my body whispered the answer no. “Stress” I told myself, “it must be stress.” After all, I had just finished one of the most stressful experiences in life by finishing my doctorate. “Beer”, I told myself, “it must be that glass of beer B drinks a couple of times per week.” So he stopped drinking all alcohol. “Baths,” B asserted, “you take the hottest baths imaginable, M. I bet it’s the bath.” Infertility books said not to take hot baths, so no more hot baths for me. “Supplements,” I told B, “we must not be on the right supplements.” So, we both took the supplements all experts say infertile couples should take. “Working out” I started to wonder, “maybe I am working out too much.” But each month, my body whispered no.

These kind of thoughts can make the feistiest girl feel weak. What am I doing wrong?

Vacation. Vacation must be the answer. And so, we went on a vacation that many people considered the vacation of a lifetime. Upon our return from the vacation of a lifetime my friends and family jokingly asked, “Pregnant?” That simple one word question, said with a smile, stung so badly. They had no idea. If they did know, they never would’ve asked. Because, they did not know what happened on my vacation.

I knew I was infertile. I learned that I was infertile on vacation. How? You won’t believe me. Why? Because these things don’t happen in real life. But they do–they did in my life. So what happened?

B and I were in Positano, Italy about to leave for Switzerland to celebrate 10 great years of marriage. I went to bed like I always go to bed. And like always, I woke up at 3 AM. Normally, I roll over and fall back asleep. However, this time, I felt like someone woke me up. I sat up in the bed while B snored. “M, you are infertile. Read the story of Sarah in the Bible. My promise to you is to work in Mighty ways.” Quickly, I tried to remember the story of Sarah. I grabbed my iPhone and read through the Bible online. I woke B up and said, “B, something weird just happened.” He rubbed my back and started snoring again. M, you are infertile. The next morning, I told B what happened. “Interesting,” was his response. That’s always the answer he gives me when he doesn’t think something is interesting or does not want to think about what I want him to think about.

So as soon as we got home, I called my doctor. I could not get in to see him until the end of September. Dang it. Another two months of waiting, wondering. Another two months of no. So I did what any stressed woman does, I charted my cycle. After one month, I knew I had problems. I even knew the word for the problem. I called my sister, after all, she’s a nurse.

So, my husband and I each told our parents about one month before my appointment. I could hear sadness in my mom’s voice–sadness for me.

Leading up to my doctor’s appointment, my charts continued to tell the same story, to blare the same problem, to tell me that my body was not working as it should.

And so my brain did what all brains do.

Why the heck can Snooky get pregnant, but I can’t?

I mean, do we need more Snookies in the world?

Come on, really…this one girl I know smoked the entire time she was pregnant. I eat all organic food. (self-righteous, anyone?)

Is this punishment for a past sin? (False theology, right there.)

Will B still love me? (Duh, of course he will still adore you.)

And even more statements that I said to myself that are far too personal to share with anyone except my family.

But my doctor confirmed what I saw in my chart. Yes, I even have a diagnosis…and one that I do not feel comfortable broadcasting into the “internets.” I was devastated. Anguish. Despair. Such a deep sadness and guilt. Fear. Pressure. Doubt. Anger. Rage. Emptiness. That cry you cry when you cannot catch your breath kind of cry and your nose is running as fast as the tears. I just felt like I was letting everyone else down, disappointing them. Numb. Shock.

As I drove home from the doctor, I wondered if I was worthy of love anymore (yeah, I know…dramatic. But infertility sucks. God made me to want to conceive. To feel otherwise would be ignoring just a few years of history, people.).

Am I worthy of love?

Have I ever told you I hate my real name? Blech. In that moment of pure ugly cry, I remembered that I was supposed to be a boy. And, I was a girl. And, my parents fought and fought over my name. And they named me M. Do you know what M means?

Worthy…of…LOVE.

Out of all of the names in the universe, my parents gave me a reminder by NAMING me “WORTHY OF LOVE.” Man, what a precious gift. That single thought made me see that I am worthy of love, not for who I am or what I do, but just because I am. I am worthy of love. What a precious gift my name has been since one week ago today.

As soon as I got home from the doctor, I told B that we needed to get him tested. I told him before they put me on any drugs that would make me hard to live with, we had to get him tested. And so we drove back to the hospital for an experience that was unlike any other I ever want to experience again. We looked at each other and said, “None of this process feels right for us.”

It wasn’t.

On Tuesday night, I could not sleep. “Lord, tell me what to do. I want you to slam the doors shut that you want shut.” Overwhelmingly, I felt more inclined to adopt than to seek out infertility treatments. But, would others accept this choice? I knew B would. For the past several YEARS, we had talked about intentionally not having biological children and focusing our attention to adoption. We even prayed for guidance. I woke him up, “I want to adopt.” He replied, “Me too.” Then I said, “No, I mean I don’t want to put myself or us through infertility treatments.” B said, “Me neither.” Infertility treatments never felt right for us. We talked about it in the two months leading up to the appointment.

But I still felt guilt. I still felt like others might blame me, be disappointed, or feel like it was unfair. That is too much pressure for any person. But, it is the pressure of infertility.

And then last Thursday, the nurse called me. “M, is your husband on any weird prescription medications?”

“No,” I said. But I wanted to say, “He doesn’t even drink beer.”

“Did he have any trauma?” she asked.

“Yes, as a child he had a surgery twice.”

She responded, “Oh thank God! Then you might have wondered if he is sterile???”

I replied, “Yes. It’s why I was so adamant that we test him.”

The nurse said, “Your husband has no sperm. Not one. His Ph level is great. No sperm.”

My dad was right, when we were 20 he told us B might be sterile because of that surgery. Other docs said, “No, he’ll be fine.” I’ve learned that my dad is the best doctor ever. He was right.

So immediately, I went home and found B.

“B, we have been praying for God to reveal to us what we should do. I think he has answered our prayers in an unexpected way. I love you. You are sterile. You didn’t have even one swimmer.”

And then we started cracking up.

And he hugged me, and he laughed, and then he cried, and then he said, “I told your sister to pray for this when we learned that you were infertile.” The look on his face was relief. He meant it.

There is no guilt or blame between us. We feel as though we have discernment on the path ahead. We are processing through all of the events of last week. We are adjusting to our new reality, and in that, there is appropriate grief. Whereas last week I was on an emotional tailspin, today I wrote this entire entry without crying. Sure, there are moments of, “Oh my gosh, our biological kids would’ve had the biggest smiles ever.” But now, that just feels superficial.

There is peace (not denial) in knowing that someone is working out all of the details. I know God is.

What a story. I’m thankful for the story God has written. I am thankful he knows our child, and I cannot wait to welcome him or her into our home.