Friday, August 31, 2012

Joy in the Trial

I have written so many posts about the whole miscarriage/ectopic thing.  Like all of my other emotionally-driven posts, I wrote them and let them just brew for a few days.  I usually edit, proofread, add over time, and finally post.  Now, with this, I am getting frustrated.  Frustrated?  I don't know if that is even the right word to describe what I feel.  My emotions are so unpredictable right now that a post from one day seems so awful the next day.  Or it seems insensitive on a day when I just want to cry, penned on a day when I was numb.

I was having a hard time at the beginning of this week with my own expectations of how I should grieve.  I kept telling myself that there was no "right" way to grieve and that I just needed to let myself feel what I felt.  Some days I barely thought about it, other days I spent all day crying in bed.  I felt guilty feeling like I wasn't necessarily mourning the loss of my baby, but mourning the loss of motherhood.  It made me feel selfish.  I wanted to know and feel connected to this baby, but I just couldn't.  I realized that I was relying on my imagination of a child to feel connected to this life.  Please don't read this wrong- I without a doubt believe my baby's life started at conception.  My baby wasn't just a ball of cells, or just an embryo.  My baby was real.  My baby was life.  My baby is in the arms of Jesus.

I think that's why I grieved more over being a mom than losing a child.  The only proof I had that I was pregnant were Beta number results from blood draws and a missed period.  I never got to feel my baby move.  I never got to wear maternity clothes.  I never really got to feel sick.  I am now petrified of gaining the one thing I want the most- another pregnancy.  Now that my baby is gone, I have to hold on to the joy I felt knowing I was pregnant, because it feels like it never happened.  The reason why I feel more inclined to grieve for us rather than a lost child is that I know there is no safer place for my baby to be.  There is so better life for my baby to have than with Christ.  Knowing the treasure I have in heaven with Jesus, I know I would not want my family to grieve if I had to leave this world to return home (although that is not possible and I know that).  If this baby would have been anything like his parents, I know he'd want the same.  He'd want us to know he is safe.  He'd want us to know he is happy.  He'd want us to know he is loved.  He'd want us to remember Acts 20:24:  "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace."  His task was small.  His race only took 6 weeks.  But the Lord knew this, even before we knew we were parents.  And, for this, I cannot mourn.  I could not be more proud to say my child completed the work set before him.  I can only be grateful and full of praise.

I want to say this isn't fair.  I want to say "why me?"  I want to ask why we deserve this.  But I can't.  "Fair" is a relative word.  Is this not fair because we don't deserve this and someone else does?  Is this not fair because I think I would make a better mom than the woman who never has to experience the loss of a child?  Without Christ, we know we deserve worse.  Without Christ, I guess fairness would be a legitimate concern.  But we are in Christ.  The Lord isn't in the business of making things fair between his children.  He is in the business of The Gospel.  So, we are not concerned with what is fair.  We are not concerned about whether or not we deserve to try for an entire year to conceive a child, only to have to say goodbye after 6 weeks.  We are not concerned about the fear our future holds and when and if we will ever get pregnant again or have a healthy pregnancy.  We are concerned with grace.  We are concerned with God's Word.  We are concerned with furthering the Gospel.  If these concerns mean that we have to lose a child in order to be used by the Lord, then we welcome any trial set before us:  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."- James 1:2-3.
We persevere.  Of course, we mourn.  But we persevere.  We come boldly to the throne of Grace and ask to be used.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Glory Baby

How Daddy found out, our positive tests, and telling our family.
On Sunday, we found out that our pregnancy was, in fact, tubal.  Our sweet baby opened his little eyes on that day to see the glory of the Lord.  We are broken, but we know that we will get to hold our beautiful baby when we are home with Christ.

I never tried to imagine what it would feel like to have to grieve over my own child.  I always heard testimonies of parents who lost their children and would say, "It's not supposed to happen like this.  My children should have to say goodbye to me, not the other way around".  It always made me cry to think that saying goodbye, for many parents, is the road the Lord has prepared.  But to have to do it myself is something I couldn't begin to fathom.  And, now it's here.

I'm sure that at some point, I will write as part of my grieving process.  But, I don't want a goodbye to be about my pain.  I don't want to darken the joy of my precious baby with the sorrow of my heart.  I've said it before and I will again- no matter how long we had our baby with us, we will always be his parents.  He deserved to be rejoiced over and we will do just that.  We will be brave.  I will joyfully remember the short time I got to have to carry him with me wherever I went and the joy his Daddy knew when I told him he was on his way.  There will not be a day that goes by that we will not think of him and imagine what he would have looked like and what his favorite toys would have been.  We will be proud of him, call him our first child, and tell his brothers and sisters about their baby in heaven.  We will be thankful that Christ died for us, even for this baby, and that he never had to know the sorrows of this world.  He never had to cry in sadness, feel pain, or know loneliness.  Instead, his eyes first saw Jesus.  What a lucky little glory baby.

God promises that he works all things for the good of those who love him.  He knows what is best.  Nothing is out of his hands.  So, we trust.  We trust that this is good.  This fits into God's plan.  The Lord saw fit to take our child knowing it would bring glory somehow.  Honored are we to know that God can use us this way, that it will not consume us, and that Christ will never fail us.  The past six weeks have been our best and we are full of thanksgiving.

2 Corinthians 12:9:  "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."

Romans 8:26-28:  "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Isaiah 43: 1-2 

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Sweet Glory Baby,
We love you and miss you terribly.  We will carry you with us always and rejoice in knowing you are held in the arms of Jesus.  Oh, the glory you must see!  We are so thankful for your life and that Christ knew you even before we did.  We can't wait to finally meet you face to face and hold you tight.  We couldn't be more proud of you.
Love you forever, Momma and Daddy

Disregard the actual "video" part.  Love this song.  I heard it on Pandora last year.  Never would I think it would bring special meaning to me.  My God is good.  My God is holy.  My God has been preparing my heart for this and, for that, I am grateful.
Glory Baby by Watermark

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Update on Little

We have been walking on glass since Sunday.  It has been terrifying.  Nothing else has happened to me physically, except for the fact that the spotting never came back (and I even hesitate calling it spott-ING because it was a one time deal and didn't come back once it made its appearance, but of course I didn't know that when I went into the ER).  I stayed home to rest Monday, the cramps went away, and I have felt totally fine since then.  I followed up with my OB, had more blood drawn Monday and Wednesday, and we had our first prenatal appointment Tuesday.
My blood results from Monday were inconclusive, which made the whole situation worse.
My HCG levels went up Monday from Sunday night, which was great, but the second blood test was only 18 hours after the first one.  It wasn't a long enough time period to show growth (it should take 48-72 hours to double) like they wanted to see, so I had to get more blood drawn Wednesday.  My lower back started hurting Tuesday night as well, so that was a little nerve wrecking on top of everything else going on.
Good News- HCG levels definitely doubled.  They figured out my progesterone was low (almost half of what it should be) and was 4 "points" lower than what it needs to be.  My doctor thinks this is to blame for the cramping, spotting, and backaches.  I am now taking progesterone pills to hopefully fix the problems and help everything continue smoothly.  I have more blood drawn Friday to test HCG again and another draw next Wednesday to test the progesterone to see if it is working (I don't think I am going to have blood left when this baby comes!).  Please pray that both of these levels increase and that we have a healthy pregnancy from here on out.
I used to think I knew my body pretty well.  I felt like I knew when something wasn't right and needed to call the doctor and when I could wait it out and let myself heal.  Now that I am pregnant, all bets are off.  I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the spotting, but every little thing scares me to death.  It has gotten better since we received this bit of good news, but I did think I was dying today- and it was gas.  I have been fearful also that our pregnancy is tubal, but I have no symptoms of it and my nurse said my HCG would not be doubling if it were.  They all but ruled it out when they prescribed me the progesterone, but please also be praying specifically that our pregnancy is not tubal.
Our hearts are nervous.  We should be able to hear our baby's heartbeat on September 13th.  What a glorious day that will be.  Thanks to everyone who has been praying for the three of us.  Please continue!  I don't understand how prayers fit into God's plan, but He tells us to so it must. It is hard to imagine that the same God who made the heavens and earth, holds everything together, and knows and is all things listens to and answers the prayers of his people. Truly awesome.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
Psalm 8:1-4

Monday, August 13, 2012

So This is Love...

We had a little bit of a scare Sunday night {and by bit I mean huge}.  I have been a little crampy since about 5 dpo (that's 5 Days Past Ovulation for you non-charting folk), so I didn't think much of it.  My doctor said that it is normal, especially in these first few weeks as my ligaments and uterus are loosening and preparing to make room for baby. I'm used to pretty horrendous cramps, so the fact that it started so early and I didn't even feel the desire to take something to relieve it- well, relieved me.  I couldn't sleep Saturday night, partly because of the cramps, partly because we learned several sets of friends have had miscarriages in the last few months and it was fresh in my mind.  Amidst my crazy preggo dreams, I remember being half asleep and in prayer, pleading the Lord to not take my baby from me.
We had a potluck at church after service and had to stop and get Daniel some new work boots, so we didn't get home until about two.  I tried napping, but that didn't work well either.  Daniel got up to get ready to leave for evening church, and I asked if he minded if I stayed home and rested.  He left, I youtubed and facebooked, then got out of bed to get my phone to text a friend.  I started lightly spotting.
What in the world do I do?
I started crying.  I started saying "no, no, no.  Please no".  I don't know that I have been so terrified in my entire life.  I was glad I was alone.  I was glad my husband didn't have to be there to see me like that.  I decided quickly that I couldn't wait until Monday to call my doctor.  I went to the Emergency Room and Daniel met me there.
We waited for a lifetime.
They checked my HCG quants, tested my urine, and gave me an ultrasound.
Quants are doubling as they should and are close to the projected number they should be, considering my tests from last week.  Too early to be able to see anything on an ultrasound, even a tiny sac.  Tubal pregnancy unlikely, but not impossible.  Gave me the RhoGAM shot in the booty because my blood type is A- (which I knew) and, after 3 hours, we were sent home with "we will just have to wait and see" and the diagnosis of a Threatened Miscarriage (which, basically just means you are spotting and it threatens your chances of being able to carry through the first 20 weeks).
I was relieved, even just to know that there was hope.  The entire time we were in the ER, I tried to be optimistic because I knew Daniel would be assuming the worst.  I tried to be funny and make jokes and avoid eye contact so that I wouldn't cry.  I think it helped, but when we got home it all came to the surface and I cried for a while.

So this is love.  This is what it's like to be a parent.  This is what it's like to worry yourself sick that your child is safe.  I spent so much time agonizing over getting to this point that I never stopped to think that the pain of infertility would disguise itself as worry after the joy of "finding out" was relished and pregnancy became our new reality.  When I found out so many people I knew had gone through a miscarriage, I started to realize how common it was.  I worried my stomach into a knot thinking I would have one too.  I thought, "We had so much pain going through infertility-surely the Lord will spare us the pain of miscarriage.  Right?".
I wanted that to be true and I wish it were, but I know it's not.  Not because God is mean, but because my perfect life is not numero uno on his agenda (his holiness is!).  That thought made me think of Job.  Satan approached God with the argument that sure, of course God's people will praise him when life is well.  But what about when it's hard?  Surely they will curse him.  The Lord told Satan about Job. He was upright, blameless, and feared God.  Satan wanted to prove the Lord wrong through Job, and God allowed Satan to take everything from Job but his health.  God didn't spare Job loss or heartache because he had already endured enough of it and was faithful.  He let it pile up because he knew Job wouldn't curse him and would ultimately bring glory to his name.  Job lost everything, not to pay for sin but to glorify the Lord.  He was faithful.  And, in the end, he was blessed beyond measure.
Now, I'm not trying to say we are comparable to Job, or that God is allowing Satan to test us.  I'm not saying we are upright or blameless, nor am I saying that our lives will glorify God's as Job's did.  What I am saying is that God may or may not take our baby.  We don't know what He has planned for us.  He will not spare us hardship and suffering just because we feel as though we've gone through enough of it already.  I am saying that this life is his- and it is his to take.  We have nothing to boast of or hold on to with clenched, white knuckles because he gave this life to us in the first place.
Do we regret telling everyone about our baby so early?  Not at all.  We believe life starts at conception.  We believe that, no matter how long our baby is alive, he was and is just that-our baby.  We were and are parents, regardless of how long that gets to last and how different it might look from parents of birthed children.  Our child deserves to be rejoiced over, not just mourned-although I certainly hope I never have to mourn over this child.
Some people cramp and/or bleed through their pregnancy and go on to give birth to perfectly healthy children.  Will that be us?  I certainly hope so.  And if not, we will mourn and we will be devastated.  But, we will rise to worship.  God is still so good.  God is still holy and it will change nothing about his character.  It will only prove even further than my life is not my own, that the Lord knows the number of hairs on my head and the number of my days, my sins and my dark heart, and yet still loves me and died for me.  Nothing is out of his hands.  There is a place for us in his plan, even for our worry.  Hallelujah.
Please be praying that the Lord would be over my body, that he would create an environment suitable to support this baby and help it grow.  Pray that my hormone and blood levels would be where they need to be and that my doctor would have the wisdom to prescribe the most beneficial plan of action for the both of us.  Please pray that our hearts would be steadied and protected from worry and that my poor husband would be strengthened in a situation he has no control over and cannot help or improve (and can't feel like I can =D).  We have two doctors appointments this week, so I will update as soon as we know any more info.
Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  
 Psalm 139:7-10

A little obsessive about Kari Jobe.  Get ova it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Baby Gibson

After a long year of waiting, the Lord has finally blessed us with a pregnancy.
We are expecting!

We are due April 14th!

I still can't believe this is true and that I get to write this post.  Really?  Am I dreaming?  I kept all of my pregnancy tests and I keep going to the bathroom to look in the cabinet to make sure it's true (don't worry-I had a positive Beta at the doc, too).  I feel like I'm visiting my baby!  I'm not sure if its the fact that I don't actually feel pregnant yet or that, despite my best efforts to stay positive, I never thought this day would come.

If you're new to this party, you can read up on our fertility journey herehere, and here.  Long story short, I was on birth control for about 5 years.  I was put on it before we got married because I passed out from cramps one day while I was in the shower (my mom rescued me.  Thanks mom!).  It fixed the cramps and obviously did its job while we were newly married.  I went off of it last August when we started "trying"  and my hormones weren't able to get back to where they needed to be to make me ovulate.  I had really long cycles, formed cysts, and gained a few pounds (cool.  Real cool).  My doctor finally prescribed me Clomid and it worked the first cycle I took it.  I was out of town while ovulating, so that obviously didn't work.  This last cycle was my second cycle on the fertility meds and they worked again.  I started charting my Basal Body Temp ("BBT"-I will post about this later.  I'm a freak about it and believe every child-bearing-aged-woman would imensely benefit from doing it) in January, which is how I knew I wasn't ovulating and how we were able to conceive our baby (well, obviously God is the author of life, but you get the picture!).
I'm not going to lie- trying to conceive a child for an entire 12 months (exactly) was tough.  There were times that I could bear the burden and didn't mind it, and then there were times when I literally just wanted to give up.  The first cycle I ovulated but didn't conceive was actually one of the top worst months.  I had always thought that if I knew I was "fixed", it would take the pain away.  It didn't.  I didn't know why.  I knew that even though it worked, it might not work again.  I knew that even though it worked, my hormones still might not be where they needed to be and later my doctor told me my levels were so low that I wouldn't have been able to support a viable pregnancy.  I knew that no matter what chemical I put into my body or what my chart showed, God could and would prevent a pregnancy if it didn't fit his plan of glory.   But, I knew the Lord would shepherd us and guide us no matter what road we had to travel.  I know, "it's easy to say that now that you have what you want".  I remember talking to several friends and my husband a few months ago and saying that I was actually glad we didn't get pregnant right away.
I am one that tends to take things for granted.  I am one that is self-motivated with high expectations-so of course, I tend to rush into things and forget to sit back and pay attention to the lesson God is teaching me or pray about whether the situation is what God wants us to do.  We prayed early in our marriage that we wouldn't fall into that pattern of behavior when it came to having children.  While I don't think we rushed into "trying", it obviously brought God more glory to make us wait than to give us the desires of our heart immediately.  I have learned more in the last year about my marriage and my relationship with Christ than I have at any other time in my life.  I told Daniel and the people I confided in that I was thankful for the time we had to support each other and learn to trust Christ.  I told them that I wouldn't have changed the last year to be any other way, even though it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  But, I was ready for that chapter of our life to be over.
The truth?  God would have been just as holy and good had he never given us a child.  Did I always manage my emotions collectively?  No.  Did I get pulled into a depression and struggle with believing lies about myself that were not true?  Sure did.  Did getting pregnant take the pain away?  Yes.  Will I forget that pain?  Never. 
I think it's hard to understand from the outside what infertility feels like when you've never had to experience it.  I'm not going to sit here and act like other people aren't in pain.  They are.  God cares as much for their pain as he does mine.  But it is just a little different-not worse, just different.  After talking to other people who have had the same problems, I can tell you that it almost feels like a miscarriage.  When you start trying to conceive, you conceive the thought of a child.  No matter how you try to guard yourself from planning too far ahead or imagining this child, you feel like you carry this child before you conceive.  When you go from month to month with no baby, it feels as if this baby has died.  And, so, you begin to mourn.  But, at the same time, you want a baby so badly that you try ferociously to have one.  Throw in burdens of feeling that your inadequacy is affecting your husband and his relationships and you. want. to. crumble.
 I don't think it's wrong to mourn.  It's okay to be sad and it's okay to struggle with your emotions.  At the end of the day, though, you have to believe God's promises and that they apply to you if you are in Christ.  He never promised me children, but He has always promised to never leave me, to guide me, to love me, to do what is best for me, and to always bring glory to Himself.  You have to let other people invest in your life so that you don't think about it and you have to realize that, as many blessings as there are in this life, nothing compares to the treasures we have stored in heaven because of our relationship with Christ-children or not.
I cannot wait to feel pregnant.  I cannot wait to feel sick, to grow a belly (erh, add to the one I've already got!), to be tired and feel huge.  I cannot wait to watch my husband talk to his son or daughter via belly button, prepare our nursery, and one day meet our precious child.  Having that pain tucked away deep in my heart makes this joy that much more intense.
We have lots of fun things to share throughout our pregnancy- and since my Mom and Sister don't live close to me, I will be updating frequently to keep them in the loop.

Thank you for praying for us and with us- continue to pray that we will be able to carry this baby full term, that I will have a healthy and manageable pregnancy (this girl has to teach until due date!), and that our child will come to know the Lord and have salvation in Christ.

Dear Baby,
Your Dad and I found out about you just a few days ago, but how we already love you!  You are only the size of a poppy seed, but we know that you are working hard to grow and that Jesus already knows you by name.  You are already loved more than you could ever imagine.  There are so many people who have been asking God to give you to us and cannot wait to meet you!  You have the best Daddy in the world.  He tells everyone he sees about you and is so proud of you.  He is already making plans for things he wants to build for you and can't stop talking about the day he finally gets to hold you. 
We pray for you every day and I already talk to you all the time.  I'm sure you are already sick of my laugh, but I think I'm pretty funny so you"ll have to learn to like it.  You have a furry big brother that I think knows you are on the way.  His name is Oscar and you will weigh as much as he does very soon!  He likes to protect me, especially when I sleep, and even growls at Daddy when he tries to wake me up with kisses before he leaves for work.  You will have lots of fun playing together!
Hold on to Jesus while you are in there.  You'll have a life full of love and joy, but it will be hard sometimes and He's the only one who can make it better (we will try our best of course!).  We'll tell you more about Him later.  For now, be safe and healthy-and please don't grow hair all over your back like your Daddy did when he was a baby.  But, even if you do, we will love you all the more.
Love, Momma and Daddy

Friday, August 3, 2012

Best Chocolate Chip Recipe Ever

I was talking to my mother in law the other day about cookies and how both of ours seem to melt instead of bake and then cool flat.  Don't get me wrong, they taste great (I mean, how can butter, sugar, and chocolate taste bad?), but I think it's fair to say a girl likes a good, fluffy, soft cookie.
I had seen a pin on Pinterest about adding corn starch to the cookie dough and I was skeptical.  Pinterest can really be hit-and-miss sometimes.  I used to make an awesome cookie that had shortening in it and they were huge, chewy, and perfectly baked.  I have searched high and low for the recipe and cannot find it.
BUT, I found this recipe at Apple a Day and tried it out.  Perfect.  The dough is a little dry, so my KitchenAid paddle left a lot of flour in the bottom of the bowl that I had to mix by hand.  It's taking all that is in me to not each the whole batch.

1.5 sticks butter, softened (I like salty cookies, but you can use either salted or unsalted)
3/4 c. brown sugar 
1/4 c. granulated sugar 
1 egg 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2 c. all purpose flour 
2 tsp. cornstarch 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1.5 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.
3.  Mix flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.  Add 1/3 of the mixture at a time, barely mixing each time.  Make sure it is completely mixed, then stir in chocolate chips.
4.  Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 8-9 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  No longer.

BEWARE.  So delicious!
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