Thursday, August 11, 2016

Happy First Day of School


Wow!  It's so hard to believe that I'm writing this post, but today was the first day of school for both of my sweet babies.  Jude started Second Grade again, and Aubrey Lane started Kindergarten.  And YES, I cried.  I've had a baby at home with me for 9 years, and now all of a sudden I don't.  Of course it was and will be hard for me to adjust to this season of life.



Since blogging is my virtual scrapbook, I want to remember what each of my sweet babies is like at this age.

Jude

Jude, you are eight years old and about to start second grade for the second time.  Your daddy and I made that decision last year to hold you back one more year in elementary school with your amazing teacher and precious paraprofessionals.



We decided on this not because you weren't doing well, quite the opposite.  You have THRIVED the past 2 years at this school with this same team of educators.  You have learned to walk, started enjoy working hard at school work, and have maintained an A/B Honor Roll.  We are soooo proud of you!  We knew that staying in this same environment for an extra year would better prepare you physically and mentally for Intermediate School.  A couple of days ago when we attended open house at your school, the minute we pulled into the neighborhood, you squealed and clapped with excitement.  Then we followed you down the hallways as you lead us right to your classroom.  You remembered where you needed to go and knew exactly who would be waiting behind the door for you when you arrived; a group of the sweetest ladies who missed you and are ready to love on you.  I think they were emotionally thankful (almost as much as I am) to see you return.



Jude, at this age you are walking.... Rarely do children learn to walk this late in life.  If they haven't acquired the skill by a certain age, it is unlikely children ever walk.  However, you are in the business of defying odds, sweet boy.  I'm sure now more than ever you have a lot of tricks up your sleeve we have yet to see.

Your personality is still super funny.  You love to giggle at your little sister when she whines and cries, and you race in front of me to pull her hair when we are all walking together.  You have fully assumed the role of the antagonizing big brother, and you love it.  Her whelps of frustration with you are music to your ears. You can't get enough and don't mind getting in trouble for your reward.  However, I have witnessed some tender moments between the two of you.  You like to snuggle with Aubrey Lane and love to let her play with your curly hair.

You still don't like to eat (praying that's our next big hurdle to conquer), and you detest your glasses and hearing aids.  I don't even bother that much anymore with them because you respond to simple commands and I have yet to notice you struggle to see anything... especially your sister's hair to pull out of the corner of your eye.  I still try to make you wear them during activity times, but these days I'm all about quality of life and picking up and replacing glasses and hearing aids off the floor 274 times an hour is not my idea of a good life of quality for either of us.

You love to be read to and you love music.  Nothing brings more joy to your face than when you see someone open up a book to read to you.  And when we get in situations that make you feel a little antsy like restaurants or crowded places, headphones and nursery rhymes make you cool and calm.  And you LOVE LOVE LOVE to watch baseball games on television.  So much that your grandparents have saved games on their DVR for you.  You can't answer the question, but I bet you would want to be a baseball player when you grow up.

Jude, you are the best snuggler and you still let me rock and hold you.  And you give hugs and kisses!  When I pick you up, you wrap your arms around me and squeeze me so tight and press your face to my cheek as hard as you can.  It's kinda painful because you are sooo strong but my heart explodes every time you do it.


You are soooo social.  You give high fives and grins to everyone.  BUT, you are a grudge holder.  If I fuss at you for something, you are mad at me for the WHOLE DAY!  I kind of find pleasure in that fact because it's another concept you understand.  We find out new things about your awareness and cognition everyday lately and it's so exciting to watch you thrive.

This morning when we dropped you off, you were thrilled to be at school.  And when we picked you up, your sweet para stood in the rain to hug you one last time and tell you she loved you.  


Aubrey Lane

Oh Aubrey girl, you are five going to kindergarten and just a handful.  A good handful that I'm thankful for.  We enrolled you in a private faith based academy and I just have a confidence that you are going to bloom there.  We have already met with your teacher and I want to go to kindergarten with you because it sounds soooo fun.  I can't wait to see all the stuff you will make and learn this year.


Aubrey Lane, you are super tiny, 11th percentile in weight and 14th in height (finding uniforms to fit was quite the job), but because Jude is tiny too, you have almost caught up with him in size and I get asked if y'all are twins all the time.  Despite your size, you are a pretty good eater with a huge list of foods you willingly eat.  

At this stage in life, you are sooo funny.  You always have been though.  When you tell us an idea you have, you ask if it was a "good apple" because your daddy often ask you "how do you like them apples" and you interpreted apples as ideas.  And you tell us "let's blow up this popsicle stand" when we leave places.  You have a great imagination and you always want to "pretend" to do something.  I'm amazed at the stuff you come up with.  And you sing constantly... like always... like ALL DAY!  But you know what, it's so enjoyable because you have the prettiest little voice and you actually sing very well for your age.  Lane, who you still call Daddy Punkin,  and I will ride in silence in the car just to hear you sing along with the radio.  You still LOVE to dance and you say you want to be a gymnast when you grow up, but you have never taken one gymnastics class in your life.  That doesn't matter to you; you have been in love with the sport since we took you to the LSU gymnastics meet earlier this year.



Aubrey Lane, your personality is so impressive.  We often call you a miniature 30 year old because the way you act and talk, especially when you talk with your hands. You take a minute to warm up to new places and ideas, but once you come out of your shell, there is no putting you back in it.  You take charge and go from there.  I was so worried when I dropped you off today that you might clam up for the first couple of days and not like school from the stress of that action, but before I left the school this morning, you had called on the teacher twice with questions about your desk work.  I felt much better leaving you after that.



Dropping you off this morning was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.  I have had you or Jude as a steady day date for the past nine years.  I'm going to miss you terribly.  But you seemed to be doing fine when I left and I stayed strong to not cry a tear in front of you then LOST IT in the parking lot.  When we picked you up this afternoon you had already made friends that were jumping out of line to hug you bye.  And when we asked you how your first day of kindergarten was, you answered "PERFECT!"

Happy first day of school, little ones.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Trusting Without Borders // Part 4



So I know I've kept you waiting long enough on the wrap up of this little series; actually, I hate to call it a "wrap up" because I feel like I will never ever be quite finished with dealing with all of this.

Ok. So I started fertility treatment, and this was last August, by the way.  So into my first round, I constantly walked in prayer.  I prayed so hard for a healthy baby, but honestly, I prayed harder for God to just keep guiding me in the right direction.  I knew it was His desire to see me step out in faith and try for a sweet baby because He made it sooooo clear in His word.  But STILL... still I would get overwhelmed by numbers, probabilities, and past experience.  I'm in a couple of support groups for families affected by balanced translocation.  And even though it has been a great source of information for me, I could feel myself getting lost in everyone's personal experience.  Reading about someone who had 3 healthy children would leave me so encouraged one day.  However, the next day I would read about how someone's test results revealed the baby they were carrying was unbalanced, and it would leave me in gut wrenching fear and heartache for them and increased worry for myself.  

In those moments of incredible distress, I would turn to God and beg Him for assurance that it would be okay.  In my quiet time one day, God did speak to my heart and gently reminded me to not look to the left or the right, but keep my eyes straight on Him.


"Let your eyes look forward, fix your gaze straight ahead."
Proverbs 4:25

Now I was always taught to hold everything up to God's word to check it's truth and it's value.  So anytime I hear from God in that manner, I always like to find the biblical reference of His message.  Y'all!  Just go google scripture about turning to the right or left...
SO MANY REFERENCES!  Especially in the Old Testament when travelers are going through a foreign land or wilderness, they are instructed or they promise to stay on the King's highway and not to turn to the right or to the left.

Here I am, in a wilderness, and I need to stay on the King's Highway!  I don't need to seek my source of comfort and encouragement from anywhere else. 

So once again, I called on the Lord and He showed up in a big way.

Back to fertility treatment...  and this is where things will get a little clinical.

The doctor recommended a simple round of Clomid to get things started. So first round started... and so did the doctor appointments and tests.  The doctor warned me that the hormone therapy may make me feel crazy and hormonal, but I felt the opposite.  I could tell my body was loving what it was getting.  I had more energy, I slept better at night, my skin glowed, my hair quit falling out in handfuls, and my overall mood seemed to improve.  

My doctor also decided to help out the therapy by prescribing an injectable trigger drug that will force ovulation when needed.  I remember the FedEx packing arriving... It felt soo surreal.  

Well first ultrasound to check my response was concerning.  I was right.  My body loved the treatment, so much that I over responded to it.  So much that my doctor decided against the trigger shot and called off that month.  We just couldn't run the risk of me conceiving multiple babies, and by multiples, I'm talking 5 to 8... WOW!  Blood work later that month confirmed a crazy high progesterone number which did indeed mean multiple ovulations.

The time for the next round finally arrived.  And this time, I was instructed to take half a pill of the lowest possible dose.  Ultrasound came and my response was a tiny high, but in the normal range so we pushed forward.  I had my injection, my progesterone looked good, and into the longest two week wait ever.  

I was sure it would work this time...

But it didn't... 

I cried for a week.  I couldn't understand why it just didn't work.  I couldn't understand why God would bring me down this path to not let it work....

Lane hung me a pretty porch swing in our big oak tree to cheer me up.  I sat in that swing with my little girl one day and decided that it was not the right time in our family to pursue more rounds of treatment.  She was in a part time prek program and this was my last year to be with her all the time, Jude was learning to walk and would need a lot of help to get there, and the construction of our home was finally starting after more than a year of sitting on plans.  I didn't want to be so consumed with fertility treatment and the emotions that came with it that I couldn't feel present in these important moments.  

And I had such a peace.

A couple of months ago, right in the middle of our DIY floor installation on the new house, I was praying for God to continue to bless our endeavor.  I prayed for Him to bless our time and finances to go further than we imagined.... But then I realized how crazy I would feel with a newborn in that moment.  I either wouldn't be able to help or someone would have to be watching my new baby for me, and honestly that would break this attachment parenting momma's heart.  So once again, I realized God was being practical with His prayer answering skills....

In July, I returned for another visit with my doctor.  We talked and hope to start more rounds in the fall...  Please pray as I'm not sure of our direction yet, but I'm sure He will guide us.

Okay so I know sooooo many of you were hoping for some surprise ending, and OH how I wish that was the case.  But it just wasn't His plan for me.  And I'm okay with that.  I committed a long time ago to love the Lord because of who He is, not because of what He can do for me.

So why so many posts and cliffhangers? 

Well some of the posts were written over a year ago.  And each posts was a distinct portion of my life that I feel God showed me something very specific.  To trust, to have faith, to honor, to trust some more...  

And why did I write this?  Something in me just knew that writing this would help me, and I have received so many sweet messages from women facing fertility obstacles.  It's amazing how many women feel like they need to be hush hush about this particular struggle.  

Another reason for writing this is to encourage you to constantly seek God and His plan for you in and out of the wilderness.  So many times God was completely transparent on which path He wanted me on.  There was no guess work and no questioning how clear His word was during these times.  

Stay on the King's Road in life!  Keep your eyes on Jesus!  There are going to be many situations in which you are given so much advice.  Pray for discernment and God's direction, then head that way.  Don't let the what's going on to your right or your left distract you from your destination!

Now to the hard and honest part.  Not only do I encourage anyone to get in the word and seek God's guidance in their life, but I beg you to be obedient as well.  This is hard for me to write, but one of my biggest struggles throughout this process was stepping out in faith and being obedient.  So many times the Lord prompted me to step out in faith and I let fear hold me down.  Delayed obedience is disobedience... Now I'm not saying that not being able to have a baby is a punishment from God, but it could be a consequence of my disobedience.  And if I never get to have another baby, I will always wonder "what if". What if I would have never stalled in fear from the beginning?  What if I never wasted time waiting for the genetics counseling and just stepped out in faith?  What if I missed my opportunities to have babies without medical intervention and I'm to blame?  That's a lot of what ifs; too many!

So I encourage you, please don't stall out in fear!  Don't question or doubt God's direction.  Confirm it and follow.  You might just miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime if you hesitate.  

TRUST HIM WITHOUT BORDERS!!

So where are we now?  We are just doing life.  It's busy and I am determined to enjoy every minute of it.  I tuck my babies in bed and look at the miracle of Jude's thriving life and at the blessing of my sweet Aubrey Lane, and I am happy.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Trusting Without Borders // Part 3


So there we were, heading straight out into the wilderness to try for a sweet baby.  And since we conceived both our first sweet babies quick and easy, we only prayed that God would give us a healthy baby and a joyful pregnancy without fear.

In the late winter, I was serving on a prayer team for a ladies' ministry and we had been out in the wilderness a few months now.  I remember attending the first few meetings with excitement thinking that in a few weeks I would have an exciting pregnancy announcement for my sisters.  And what better timing?  My pregnancy and baby would get bathed in prayer and all would be wonderful.    

But month after month, I never got to make that sweet announcement.  And month after month, frustration started to grow.  I remember being in the prayer room during that ministry weekend, and hearing from God that I still didn't fully trust him with my future babies.  It was a punch in the gut, but I knew it was true.  However, I was walking in a direction towards Him, and I was trusting that He would give me the faith I was lacking.  My sweetest friend once encouraged me that I should start walking in the direction I knew was right even if done in fear, and that God would meet me where I was and provide the faith I needed to keep going.  

Despite months and months without any sign of pregnancy, I refused to think anything was wrong other than my genetic disposition- I mean my body was telling me that everything was fine.  The genetics doctor had warned me that my affected embryos may not even implant and I was sure that was the culprit. It was referred to as genetic infertility.  Even so at my annual during the summer, I casually mentioned to my doctor that we had been trying for a while without any results other than a chemical pregnancy in December. Being on the border of advanced maternal age, she decided that it would be best for me to go ahead and do some testing.  Thinking that nothing would be wrong and without a worry in the world, I agreed.  

First round of blood work went fine.  Nothing to worry about.  Nothing looked out of place.  Second round was a different story... a nurse called me one day in August to give me my results and inform me that we were genuinely suffering from secondary infertility on top of our genetic infertility.  My body had deceived me and had not been doing what it was supposed to be all along, and it wouldn't without the help of fertility drugs.  I was DEVASTATED!!!  I hated my body for failing me AGAIN and I felt completely out of control!  How could this be?  Not only did I have to step out in faith to conceive, but now I would have to do it on fertility drugs and run the risk of having twins... twins that could suffer from a genetic abnormality and life threatening medical issues and severe development delays... I wanted to throw up!  I think I actually did. 

How could God do this to me?  I stepped out in faith!  I sought Him on every move!  I stayed in the Word!  I stayed away from methods that I thought would dishonor Him and my witness! Why didn't He reward all that with a quick healthy pregnancy?!  That was the plan, right?!

I remember putting my kiddos favorite cartoon on the television, and then hiding in our closet on the phone with my best friend.  All I could do was cry.  And all she did was listen, tell me that her heart hurt for me, and remind me that she loved me.  And that was the best thing she could do for me.  You see God was using my pain and grief to draw me in closer to Him.  He was present in my pain.  And I encourage you, when you are comforting a friend in the midst of great emotional grief, just be there for them because God is using their pain you are in the presence of holiness so you don't have to say a thing.

Lane came home from work early and decided to take me and the kids to Houston for some home shopping I had been wanting to do and to get away and think.  I couldn't decide if fertility drugs were right for us, and I felt back to square one; terrified again.  The nurse had given me the option to start fertility treatment that very same day or to take a month or two to think about it.  After praying, Lane said that we shouldn't wait; that our circumstances will not have changed in a month and we didn't want to stall out in fear again. 

So the nurse called in my prescription, and we picked it up on our way out of town.  

That same best friend and I had been to the Outcry Tour in New Orleans just a week before that.  It was an amazing night of worship with Crowder, Lauren Daigle, Kari Jobe, Bethel, and Hillsong.  So all the way to Houston, I sang "Oceans" by Hillsong.  And I knew God wanted me to trust Him without borders.  He wanted me to go where I had no choice but to trust in Him and only Him.  It was clear to me that I had to go where I was the most fearful and vulnerable in order to get freedom from this fear and experience His presence like never before.  And so I followed and started my first round of fertility treatment that night.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where my feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.

You can hear the song and see the video here.



to be continued...