the power of prayer

i had lifegroup last night.  it was an amazing meeting.  i love how my relationships with the women i seek to learn about and serve Jesus with continue to grow every week.  one of my favorite parts of the meetings is prayer time.  we always hold hands and take turns lifting up our prayer requests at the end of every meeting.  lately, my requests have been mostly focused on our fertility treatment.

after having the miscarriage and waiting for what felt like an eternity {3 months} while my body recovered from the methotrexate, we were finally able to start trying again in january.  this time we decided to be wise and seek the assistance we knew we’d need given my PCOS diagnosis.  fertility treatment makes me feel like a lab rat.  everything is trial and error until my RE finds the winning combination of drugs that lead to healthy {and the right number of} follicle growth.  my RE started slow with an oral medication in january.  it was a flop.  i ended up ovulating before my follicles were mature, but still late in my cycle.  so in februray he went stronger with oral meds followed by shots {that i gave myself… in the stomach}.  that was the magic potion in february {i call the shots miracle drugs}.  my follicles finally matured at the correct time during the cycle.  so we proceeded with ovulation induction {another shot in the tummy}, had insemination, and then waited and prayed for 13 days.  then i got my period.  bummer.

we are going to keep trying as long as my RE lets us.  we almost had a hiccup this cycle due to two pesky ovarian cysts, but we were cleared to proceed with treatment because my hormone levels looked good.  i’m in the middle of treatment now {yay tummy shots}.  until yesterday, i felt hopeful but discouraged.  i know God is powerful.  i know He can do what He wants, when He wants.  but i’m not always receptive to His timing being different than mine.  as we circled up yesterday, held hands, and prayed, my prayers went something like this:

“dear Lord, thank you for this group of women and for their care and encouragement over the past week.  please continue to be with me and hubby as we continue with fertility treatment and go to the doctor on friday to see if the medication worked.  and please give us a healthy baby when it’s your will, but sooner rather than later would be great.”

prayer time ended, and then our lifegroup leader asked if the group could pray over me.  i believe in the power of prayer, so without hesitation i agreed.  what happened next was simply amazing.  all of these sisters in Christ placed their hands on me and literally brought peace to my life.  they prayed for strength, peace no matter what the outcome of this round of treatment is, patience while i wait on the Lord and His timing, my heart as i share this journey with readers, and so many other powerful prayers.  for the first time in over year, i finally feel completely at peace.  i’ve always known that God is in control.  but i’ve always obsessed over my plan and over analyzed every detail of our treatment.  i know that i’m doing all that i can.  i know that God knows my heart’s desires.  and i trust that He will deliver our perfect little bundle of joy when He is ready for us to become parents.  i am finally at peace.

thank you to my lifegroup ladies for that powerful prayer time and for lifting my heart up last night.  i’m so honored to call you sisters.

here are some of my favorite verses about prayer and the Lord knowing our hearts.  the common thread through these verses is trust and thankfulness.  Jesus asks us to lean on Him, to hold His hand, to release our worries to Him, and to never lose sight of the blessings we already have during times of trouble.

delight yourself also in the Lord,  and He shall give you the desires of your heart.  commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. {Psalm 37:4-5}

be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God {Philippians 4:6}

devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful {Colossians 4:2}

ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  for everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened {Matthew 7:7-8}

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one thousand gifts: 1 through 30

first, today is the one year anniversary of my uterus surgery.  one year post surgery, i expected to be pregnant {i’m not}.  life does not always go as i planned, which can be hard to accept as a “type a” control freak.  i’m learning to let go and accept God’s plan and timing.  and i’m learning to be thankful in all circumstances.

my ladies lifegroup recently started a study called one thousand gifts.  the whole premise is finding joy not just in the obvious, but in life’s everyday moments, even the bad ones.  the author of the book, ann voskamp, kept a journal listing one thousand things she was thankful for, and i’ve been challenged to do the same.  my list will likely start out with the big obvious blessings, but i’m sure will gravitate towards the “ordinary” after awhile {how else am i supposed to get to one thousand}.

so here it goes {not necessarily in order}:

  1. being raised in a Christian home
  2. my husband & his patience
  3. my mom and dad & the positive role models they were for me
  4. my brother and {step} sisters & their spouses
  5. my grandmother & her faith
  6. the rest of my family
  7. my husband’s family
  8. our church, church family & sunday school class
  9. my ladies lifegroup
  10. friends
  11. health insurance
  12. medical care
  13. my reproductive endocrinologist & his sweet nurses
  14. acupuncture
  15. my education
  16. my job
  17. financial stability
  18. food to eat
  19. the roof over our heads
  20. the comfortable place to lay my head at night
  21. transportation {still rocking the 2005 jetta}
  22. living in america
  23. forgiveness from my sins
  24. the miscarriage & how my faith has grown & what i’ve learned about forgiveness
  25. clean water
  26. major appliances {dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, microwave, oven – even if ours isn’t working right now}
  27. sunny days
  28. my mobility
  29. our ability to travel & see the world {st. lucia, san francisco, napa valley, oahu, maui, italy}
  30. local Christian radio stations

in the video study ann says “thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives.  thanksgiving is the manifestation of our ‘yes!’ to His grace.”  the study also reminded me that “the discipline of thanks only comes with practice.”  how true this is.  it’s so easy to get down about my situation, despite all of the blessings and gifts God has so generously offered me.  everyday i must make the choice to be positive, to focus on all of the things that are going right in my life.  {in}fertility is undoubtedly a scary place to be, but i know it is only temporary.  i’d rather be a happy person on this part of my journey, so i’m choosing thankfulness.

between then and now

i realize it’s been a while since my last post.  i’m behind.  and i was already trying to get caught up on my {in}fertility journey so far so i could blog real time.  so that makes me really behind.  i’m going to try to sum up the rest of 2013 in this post, everything that happened post-PCOS diagnosis.

after i found out the results of my uterus surgery last summer and started charting, i pretty much made up my mind that i wanted to start trying to conceive {especially knowing that not everyone nails it on the first try}.  however, it takes two to tango, and husband wasn’t on board.  so we talked about it for maybe two months, and i finally just decided to let it rest.  but while it was resting, my brain was thinking.  and my brain kept thinking and thinking about wanting to try to conceive until i became super resentful and bitter towards husband and our difference in timing started to affect our relationship.  he wanted to wait 2-3 more months and i wanted to try immediately {so we’re not talking years here}.  this is a good example of when husband should concede to wife’s wishes.

in the meantime we started planning a big vacation for the fall.  i told husband that i do not work hard for nothing, and if we weren’t going to try to conceive, then i was going on a trip.  so we settled on italy and planned a tour of venice, florence, the cinque terre, tuscany, and rome.  but my resentfulness grew and grew and grew until at some point hubby conceded and we officially began “trying” in september.

but remember, i have PCOS.  even though i had been on metformin for two cycles, my body was not behaving.  when he prescribed metformin, RE told us that he would begin fertility treatment right away if we were ready to get pregnant.  he obviously had little faith, but we were {husband was} optimistic.  our plan was to try on our own for a few cycles and then pursue treatment if we were unsuccessful.  we tried, and boy did we fail.

i used the clearblue ovulation kit that cycle and got a smiley face signifying ovulation on day 9 of my cycle.  suspicious.  especially for someone who has 35+ day cycles.  so i called my RE’s office and asked them to confirm.  and indeed i did not ovulate.  they kept following me, i kept testing, and on day 19 of my cycle i received the news that my RE was pretty much giving up on me that cycle.  they offered to do one more blood test before we left for italy that week just to make sure, but recommended i schedule an appointment for after our trip to discuss next steps.  i sobbed.  having a baby was going to be a harder task than i thought.

so we continued to “try” knowing that i had not yet ovulated, but i pretty much decided it wouldn’t happen that cycle.  two days later when i went for my last blood test before our trip, i learned that i did indeed ovulate.  on day 20 or 21.  i was so excited.  every time i thought about the idea of carrying a baby, i had butterflies in my tummy.  i wondered if being excited/nervous like that would interfere with a baby trying to form, so i tried not to be nervous.  we embarked on our trip for italy and two days into the trip at our first destination, my period showed up.  we moved on to florence the next day, and i cried and cried thinking about just how hard the journey to parenthood would be.  and i continued to bleed for 7 days.  i think i stopped bleeding about 2 days before our trip was over {how’s that for romance in italy?}.

so we returned home and i waited for the usual signs of ovulation to return.  except, they didn’t.  my boobs were sore and every few days, i would leak pink liquid.  not normal when i’m supposed to have “egg white” cervical mucus signaling impending ovulation.  i remember a friend telling me about the first few weeks of her pregnancy earlier that year.  she thought she was on her period too, but actually was pregnant.  so i decided to take a pregnancy test.  three weeks post ovulation, i woke up one morning to test and saw this:test

i was excited, but in the back of my mind i had a fear that this wasn’t the real deal.  for one, that line was really faint for 5 weeks of pregnancy.  not to mention, i had a period for 7 full days, and i was currently leaking pink liquid.  i called my RE’s office and they did a blood test.  i found out the same day that indeed, i was no longer pregnant.  the nurse told me that it looked like something tried to happen, but was unsuccessful, and that this was a chemical pregnancy {translation: i was having an early miscarriage}.  she expected me to bleed soon, then we’d wait a cycle, and then we’d go full force with fertility meds. stinky.  but not as stinky as what happened next.

my RE kept watching my hcg level.  it dropped once, but then rose again.  and eventually i was advised to receive a methotrexate shot to dissolve whatever pregnancy tissue was stuck in my system.  i should’ve been seven weeks along, but my hcg level was not rising.  the level was relatively low so the tissue was still microscopic, and my RE became concerned that it could be in my tube.  instead of rupturing a tube and loosing access to a whole ovary’s egg supply, i reluctantly opted for the methotrexate {mostly because i felt like i didn’t have a choice}.  methotrexate is nasty stuff.  it robs your body of vitamins and folic acid so soft tissue can’t replicate.  it will find a pregnancy in early stages and stop it in it’s tracks, and then continue to deplete your body of vitamins.  so if you are unfortunate enough to have to go down the methotrexate path, you know that you have to wait 3 months after receiving the shot before you can try to conceive again.  disaster scenario.

my hcg level finally started to consistently drop with the help of methotrexate.  i would bleed a little every now and then, get stabbed in the arm at least once a week at my RE’s office, and then almost 6 weeks after receiving the shot my hcg finally returned to a “not pregnant” level.  during this time i was not allowed to drink or take vitamins.  i missed out on the goods at every holiday party.  and, i was flying solo during cold and flu season, which caught up to me.  i came down with a nasty cold the day after i was cleared to take vitamins again {what luck}.

this was a miserable experience to say the least.  i remember sobbing for two hours one saturday because i was so sad about the miscarriage and being delayed from trying for an extra 3 months.  not only was i depressed, but i was angry at my husband.  not that i think the result would’ve been any different had we tried earlier, i just felt like we would’ve been past this point and already seeking treatment, which is desperately where i wanted to be.  plus going through this during the holidays had to be the worst possible time.  i felt so hopeless in a season that is supposed to be full of hope.  it took me months to overcome my resentful feelings towards hubby.  months.  and sometimes, if i think about it too hard, i let the resentment creep back in.

here’s the faith part of this story.  there are four things i want to mention:

  1. every day i prayed that God would show me a sign that this would all be ok.  he gave me several.  from friends reaching out, to hearing someone’s story on the local radio station, to perfectly preparing my daily devotional, i truly felt God was sending me little messages of encouragement and hope.  i’m thankful for that.  i couldn’t have made it through those 3 months without that comfort.
  2. God also taught me that even though this part of my journey absolutely sucked, life could be worse.  i was otherwise healthy and had a life full of so many blessings.  i heard {and still hear} prayer requests at church about friends and loved ones who were literally dying from painful illnesses.  it’s all about perspective.
  3. even though i thought i was “suffering,” i really wasn’t.  Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice and suffered for every single one of us.  He was mocked, rejected, and ultimately murdered and hung on a cross to die.  that’s real suffering.
  4. Jesus forgave me, and in order to follow his example and become more Christ-like, i needed to forgive my husband.

this brings me to 2014.  january’s and february’s happenings to come soon.