Seasons

I went back and looked at our calendar from a year ago. I could feel myself slipping into quite a bit of a pity party as I rushed from one chore to another in the two hours I have while Chad watches the babies in between their feedings. Complaining about how tired I am, of how there is always something more to do and yet somehow it still never feels like enough.  Grumbling under my breath that the house isn’t clean and I haven’t had a shower and how life has this sense of moving at light speed and yet drag at the same time. So I needed a reminder. A year ago, I was taking Letrizole leading up to a week of shots and an eventual IUI that wasn’t successful and caused a lot of heartache. A year ago, I was more rested and we maybe had a bit more money and I didn’t constantly smell like formula but I was still in a difficult season. This year, we have somehow managed to keep two precious humans alive for 3 and a half months. And according to their pediatrician, they are even thriving. Sure, they have colic and they cry a lot. I might have on occasion (and in one very exhausted stretch) referred to them as tyrants but they are the absolute best things Chad and I have ever seen.

Becoming a mother has only reinforced my big belief in seasons of life.  Last April, it was a season of expectation and waiting. Of hoping, dreaming, weeping, and needles. This year is more characterized by busyness and rushing and colic but I never, ever want to stop the awareness that this is a season of longing fulfilled. Fulfilled in the form of a baby boy who is starting to smile and has learned how to suck his thumb.  Fulfilled in the form of a baby girl who’s favorite thing to do is look at lights and kicks her legs like a Rockette. It’s a hard phase of life in feeling like there is not enough of me to go around but I much prefer this one to where we were a year ago.  To all my friends in that season, I pray for you. I can’t promise that God will do for you what He has done for me but I pray that whatever your heart longs for, you will be fulfilled. In Jesus, if nothing else.

Luke and Leia were conceived in a doctor’s office in downtown Charlotte. Not exactly what we always dreamed of to grow our family but I was reminded of a pretty cool thing yesterday. I didn’t want such a holy moment to feel so sterile and impersonal so I asked if I could play some music on my phone during our procedure. I cannot hear those songs today without having tears pour down my face. And the song that was playing when they did the IUI that resulted in my precious twins? “Every Season” by Nichole Nordeman. It’s a song I have loved since college and how appropriate that it’s the song that will always remind me of getting my greatest desire of starting family with Chad fulfilled.

This season of colic and constipation and 7 feedings a day will end. I know that I will look back someday and miss it. Miss being able to hold them both in my arms and, to a large degree protect them. The next season will probably be equally as hard. The opportunity to complain will likely rise again and I hope that God gently pushes me to remember as He did today. That every season may tough but in every season, He is faithful.

Every Season by Nichole Nordeman 

Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours
And I notice You
In children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer

And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come
You are autumn

And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And still I notice you
When branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be
As You are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring

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Yes, I am Naming My Baby….

I never intended to be someone who guarded their baby’s name to “release it” when the baby was born. We are not celebrities; our babies names do not need to be treated with the protection of national security (really, no names do). The reason we have not announced baby girl’s name on social media is much more simple. I didn’t want to deal with the backlash. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has had input into what we should name our little girl. Chad and I knew that if we ever had a son, we would name him after Chad and his late father.  Hence, Lucas “Luke” Richard Beach came really easily. Chad and I also have a hard time agreeing on names in general.  You might not know this, but we are pretty big opposites. Dating Chad became a (sub)cultural experience in “nerdom” the likes of which I never imagined.  I distinctly remember telling one of my best friends after our 2nd date that he painted something called “miniatures” which I thought were just really small canvases.  Apparently, as I now know very well, miniatures are little metal toy solider looking things that you paint under a microscope and people buy them for ridiculous prices. Never would have known that if not for Chad.

Not saying he didn’t have an education in dating me as well.  As much as I hate this expression, I am pretty much a basic white girl.  I like leggings, boots, PSL’s, romantic comedies, puppies, and all of that stuff. I had never watched anime, read a fantasy based book, or heard about RPG’s (role playing games). Chad has two sisters so he knew about most girly things but they weren’t really his thing. Add together these two people together and ask them to name anything, even a car, and we would have two very different knowledge pools from which to draw.

For years, Chad has said that every name I like sounds Elvin or like something from Lord of the Rings (I wouldn’t know, I fell asleep in all of them, those movies are LONG!). The names he liked sounded old and dated. He wanted Biblical names or family names but Chad’s family are excellent procreator’s so we would be hard pressed to find a name that hadn’t been used before. I wanted turn of the century names straight out of Downton Abbey or a Jane Austen novel. He HATED all of them. And then we would discuss it with family and invariably, everyone has some connection to a name from elementary school or this name belonged to that kid who used to launder money and was now in federal prison. Plus we had the added bonus of making it go with the last name Beach which is awesome but can also tend to make a child’s name sound like a destination.

So, without further ado, we are naming our babies Luke and Leia. From Star Wars. Movies that i had not seen in their entirety until last year. Chad had jokingly called baby girl Leia for a long time, supposedly as a joke, but now I think it was subtle subliminal conditioning! I had said when we found out it was twins that if it was boy/girl we could talk about naming them Luke and Leia but that seemed to be a long shot. I really wanted boy/girl twins but didn’t want my daughter to hate me for naming her Leia when she was 15.

As I began to feel them move and kick in my belly, I would try on different names for her for a day at a time. I really wanted Sadie or Emerson. My family loved Eleanor and Chad’s family wanted her to be Lucy. Chad was set on either Leia, Sarah, or some other 40 year old name. So, for a day, I would call her Lucy or Sadie and invariably, none of them seemed to fit. I would come back calling her Leia in my head and of course, Chad would coo Leia at her all the time.

I researched that Leia meant Child of Heaven in Hawaiian and that started to make it more appealing. Baby B was my child from heaven, she had come a long way and survived some odds we didn’t think that she would. It was also unique and not in the top 100 which was something I wanted and it went well with Luke.

I started to tell family and friends that I thought her name was Leia. It started to feel like a decision that was almost outside of me, as if this was simply her name and that was the fact. I felt her “move and live and have her being” inside my belly and she had this feisty personality and she was a fighter. She would kick her brother and raise her fist at him when he encroached on her territory. She was and is still our little spunky lady who kicks me forcefully when I push on my ribs to get some relief from her invading them 24/7. And she is Chad’s princess. She is Leia in every way.

We are set to meet these babies in less than 3 weeks (heavens, I hope sooner). And time will tell if they like their names as much as we have come to. We put a lot of thought and prayer into the naming of each baby and despite naming them after pop culture, we did take it seriously. And though it has been hard for this people-pleasing mama, I am naming my babies after Star Wars and I am actually really, really ok with it. If you are one of the many who think we are crazy, all I can say is, May the Force Be With You.

The Little Baby That Could…

Currently, there are 3 people in the world who know the genders of our babies and Chad and I are not among them! Today we had our 19 week ultrasound with Maternal Fetal Medicine and got to see our babies after a long 6 weeks. We were completely spoiled by our experience at Reach in which we got to see them every two weeks. Guys, they are the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Yes, they bear a strong resemblance to ET and Voldemort but they are mine and I cannot see them on a screen without just weeping.  I see them and the nausea fades a bit and the pain gets a little less intense and I do glimpse that it is all so very worth it.  So there’s that! Our families and closest friends will gather via FaceTime and in person to find out the genders of these long-anticipated and much wanted babes.  We will of course post the results!!

Because I have more hormones than anyone ever in existence, I am reflecting back on what our journey has been to get here.  To finally know what these beautiful babes are and give them names of significance and identity.  So many people have asked me what it was like to hear that we were having twins and I’m afraid my answer has been pretty lame.  The only word that has ever come to mind was SHOCK.  I had written at length about how we were warned that multiples were a strong possibility but I still don’t think anything prepares you for that.  Honestly, I was just relieved to have the pregnancy 100% confirmed by a doctor after so many negatives so I couldn’t even emotionally prepare for a second baby.  Our nurse told us that the doctor would take a minute to study the ultrasound screen first and then let us look.  I promise you, for this anxious woman, the pregnant pause of her looking at the screen with a great poker face was without a doubt, the longest 90 seconds of my life.  The Sound of Music was shorter! Eventually, Dr. Johnson turns the screen around and I see this microscopic 6 week old baby sitting in my belly.  Cue the gulping sobs.  All she says is here is your baby.  And then she moves the wand a bit and says “and over here is Baby B”. If I was sobbing before, I think I began to blubber in a completely incoherent language that could only be understood by dogs.  And wouldn’t it have been great had the story just faded to black there? But that’s not how it goes and that wasn’t how it went for the Beach babies.

Any woman or family trying to conceive knows the agony of the two week wait.  There have been many, many two week waits in my life.  My graduate school had a comprehensive test at the end of the program that you had to pass in order to graduate and the results took two weeks to get.  That was a long two weeks.  Working the two weeks notice at a job where I was completely burned out seemed to last two months.  And then infertility introduced months and months of waiting the dreaded two week wait to take a pregnancy test.  However, I can confidently say that the longest two weeks of my life, two of the hardest weeks of my life was after our 6 week ultrasound.  Baby A was on full display, heart beating away and sitting front and center.  Baby B was our little Waldo.  He was hard for the doctor to get with the ultrasound wand and when she looked in depth, his (Reach always calls babies a boy until we know differently) heartbeat seemed to be much slower and much less pronounced.  He looked to be measuring the same as Baby A but with his hard position in my uterus, Dr. Johnson felt that this was a pregnancy we were going to have to “monitor closely”.  I had heard from several people about the concept of a “vanishing twin” and I found myself so elated and so terrified at the same time.  Once I saw that tiny little “grain of rice” as Reach called him, I wanted him with everything in me.  I didn’t want this life to vanish.  I would absolutely feel his absence in my life even though I had just found out about his existence.  Our doctors final diagnosis was that Baby A was great, she felt excellent about him but she was “cautiously optimistic” about Baby B and he had a decidedly lower heart rate.

So often in life, we get wonderful, joyous news and then hardship in the same breath.  I find and marry the man I have prayed for my whole life and his father’s cancer finally takes him home to the Lord.  We close on our  first house and I receive news that affects my career in some of the most painful ways.  And I find out that God has doubly blessed us with two babies and I am launched into a spiral of fear for my sweet little “BOGO” baby.  I have never prayed so hard.  For one of the first times in my life, I forced myself to fight my natural pessimism and just cling to that cautious optimism and trust that God was in control and my baby would be fine.  Both my babies were fine and growing in my womb.  God was still knitting them together and I had to rest in trust. Can all my anxious girls raise their hands if they’ve felt this and it sounds like climbing Everest with no training or oxygen.

Chad bought us chalkboard letters in the shape of A and B and I would write my prayers on their letters.  “Beat strong” and “Grow” and “I love you” were written and re-written.  I looked at them everyday.  I encouraged A to help their sibling and teach their heart how to beat stronger.  And at our 8 week ultrasound, with very little pomp and circumstance, Dr. Johnson turned the screen around and both my babies were growing and strong.  God had done it again! My little baby B became my little baby that could.  Despite not great odds, his/her little heart was racing and mine was soaring.  Like true twins, both A and B had the exact same heart rate of 167.66 at that ultrasound.  Today, at our 19 week ultrasound, Baby B was actually measuring bigger than A.  It might not be a sea parting or water turning to wine but for me, this is a miracle.

Our babies have continued to grow and show us awesome glimpses of their God-given personalities.  A has always been a rascal to get a good photo of, he/she bounces in the womb, does somersaults, waves at us, and spent most of the ultrasound today on his head.  The tech called him a shrimp! B is always laying on their back, calm and resting.  We get the best profile shots of baby B and at 10 weeks, he/she shook their booty at us and we fell further in love.  Even at 19 weeks, and despite still being in the midst of a hard pregnancy, I am enamored and completely smitten with both my babies.  Equally.  And yet I feel certain that there will be many days in my life when I will look at Baby B and think of how far we have come and how much God wanted him/her to be in our family.  I know that just as they do now, my eyes will fill with tears and I will thank God for that little baby with a decidedly slower heart rate who changed my life forever.

Equal Opportunity Whiner

Tonight I broke down and googled “twin pregnancy: is it supposed to be this hard?” I’ve been debating posting this blog for over two weeks because I really am so thankful to be pregnant after our journey but I am struggling, guys.  I feel like pregnant women get this oxytocin-induced amnesia after delivery and they have a hard time remembering the pains (literal and otherwise) of pregnancy.  Everyone has said that once you hold your babies, you forget about all the stuff that led up to you having them.  At 16 weeks and experiencing worse nausea and all-day sickness than in the first trimester, I pray that is true.  I feel certain that it will be.  Someone I love dearly, who may or may not share some of my DNA, also told me recently to stop complaining about it because all I talked about for a year was how much I wanted to be pregnant (It wasn’t Chad, he’s been amazing!!) I took this to heart and realized that it’s absolutely true and whileI don’t want to whine but I also want to be as authentic in my pregnancy as I was in our infertility.  As a first time pregnant woman, I have read it all and signed up for every email. What to Expect comes to me on the reg, as does the Bump, Barycenter, Pregnant Chicken and a specific one for mothers of multiples since we are having twins.  And all of them have this magical glow to them that mention the symptoms but characterize them in fairly harmless or innocuous ways such as “you might be feeling a bit sick to your stomach lately but that just means your baby is growing”. I was surprised to have the feeling I had experienced in our infertility journey of “am I the biggest whiner? Is no other pregnant woman this miserable??” No one tells you that everything inside your stomach has the uncanny desire to be on the outside of your body, most of the day.  And if you smell onions or deli meat, you could and might cause actual bodily harm to your husband in an effort to make it to the toilet in time.

If I am very honest, pregnancy has brought me to my knees. Literally. Often in front of the porcelain stallion.  I have been sick almost every day and around 11 weeks it sort of changed from just a sudden urge to vomit to an all-day feeling of being ready to vomit and often actually vomiting.  I have been absolutely exhausted most of the day, every day.  There has been acne. In various places. I am amazed at how much snot the human body can hold on a daily basis from this congestion. There has been changes to anatomy parts.  There is a constant and persistent feeling that someone is kneeing me in the crotch (it’s called pubic symphysis pain and it’s usually worse with twins). At 14 weeks, I began sleeping with 3 pillows around me and between my legs.  Recently, the lower back pain has kicked in.  And there has been things that even I, the over-sharer, would be too embarrassed to tell you.

All of this to say, pregnancy has been hard for me.  My hopes clung to a reprieve at our second trimester but that hasn’t happened yet.  And in my anxious mind and heart, it begins to feel like I will never feel good again and that the next 5 months will be more than I can take.  I do take comfort in the fact that billions of women have done this and survived, even if I swear sometimes I will be the one who doesn’t make it. The google search produced a much-needed laugh and feeling of camaraderie with other pregnant woman who read Scary Mommy.  Apparently, it’s perfectly normal to feel as if you are hiking Everest when doing just about everything! Getting down on the floor to play cars with your nephew presents pains that last for the next two days.  And getting up not only makes you hate all your life choices but also takes about 5 minutes.  The good news is that while I am still very much over-anxious most of the time, I have complained enough to my doctors and I have finally been getting some good meds! Sleeping and allergy pills, for the win!

Sometimes I think about when I’m finally not sick everyday. About how I will have two newborns who need all of me, all the time.  It’s just a bit overwhelming sometimes.  So, what is wrong with admitting that something that might not be hard for millions of other women, has been much harder than I expected it would be? Can I share that and not be judged? I’m not asking for all your sympathy or for you to do anything about it;  Chad has learned the hard way that there is not much he can do when I’m sick or in pain, though he tries valiantly! All I’m encouraging us to do is understand that things that are easier for some are harder for others and vice versa.

Motherhood might be second nature to you. It’s not for some. You might have taken to marriage like a fish (or duck?) to water, but that isn’t how most people adjust to it.  Please allow things to be hard for other people even if they weren’t for you.  And maybe don’t offer platitudes or words you think will help them.  Often, we offer those things to make ourselves feel useful but they don’t help the person we are trying to comfort.  But you can be honest with them about something that makes you feel weak.  You can hold their hand, rub their back, or send them a meal.  It’s ok for things to be hard.  We aren’t bad Christians or weak women or failures if we admit that.  Go for it, I promise I’ll listen!

Pour One Out For My Homies

I wasn’t supposed to look at the test until Chad was beside me but as I glanced down, my first and only thought was “there is only one word there!!!” I had gotten so used to the NOT PREGNANT staring at me from the digital EPT test that I knew about how much space the words took up on the screen.  And there was definitely one word showing, not two. Cry/laughing, I ran to Chad and shared the news that after countless negative tests, we had a positive.  It was a moment I thought I would never get.  I felt certain that I would hear that I was pregnant through a voicemail or an email or a test result from my doctor.  The intimate moment of it just being between my husband and I was a sweet blessing I thought I would have to forgo.  The awe set in; I was going to have a baby.  This child I had prayed for and wept for was growing inside me.  And then I felt this wave of guilt roll over me.  Perhaps guilt is too strong a word but I’m at a loss for one more appropriate.

I, who had broadcast our infertility to the universe, had conceived on just our second procedure.  Me, the woman who shared all about our reproductive failure, I was going to be a mom? I started blogging as an outlet because I assumed we had many more months, if not years, ahead of us in this journey.  And two and a half months later, I was knocked up! The test said so! And the three I took after it said so too!

What about all those women who line Morehead St. in downtown Charlotte for blood draw every morning at 7 am praying to hear their progesterone levels are high enough to begin the next cycle of treatment?  What about the couples who have exhausted all their resources with failed IVF attempts? The men and women who try for seven years to get pregnant and aren’t successful.  Me, the girl who blabbed about my faulty womb had made a baby on the second IUI. I felt I had spoken too early.  I felt unworthy to be a voice for infertile women when my journey was only a little over a year.  I was immediately invalidating our own struggle to get to our Promised Land and probably discounting the glory God had done in our lives at the same time.  Chad has said it to me often in our marriage, “Comparison leads to strife” and I was very guilty of this during our infertility phase of life.  The journey is different for us all and trying to conceive is no different.

What added to the sense of awe and guilt was that I felt I had just found a purpose in our infertility. I had connected not only to other women and men struggling with it but also to a deep place inside myself that needed to be honest with what was happening in our lives.  I have struggled with authenticity my whole life and I finally got to a place where even though things looked bleak, I could share our circumstances.  Which leads me to all of you!  Did you know that you, yourself, you, the person reading this are part of a miracle? It doesn’t involve a sickness being lifted or someone coming back from the dead but it’s awesome nonetheless.  You were a part of freeing a woman who very desperately needed freedom.  Quite simply, I was trapped.  I was trapped in negativity, fear, sadness and loneliness until I started writing this stuff down.  And you all responded so kindly that it has encouraged me to the point that all I want is for people to get free too.  I want everyone to uncover those big things they are hiding in their lives and let (safe) people into them.  I want communities to rally around people willing to share their pain and fears and I want us to lift each other up as you all have done for Chad and I.  We have been bolstered by your prayers, your words, and your heartfelt messages. Our sincerest thanks could never be put into words!

This feeling of survivor guilt eventually went away as I realized that when God blesses you, don’t waste time asking why!! Just enjoy it.  Enjoy the moment when you hear that two babies are growing inside you instead of one, when you feel the Lord do what He loves to do and pour out more blessing than you can even imagine.  When He gives the orphan a family and the barren woman a child.  Stop, and enjoy seeing God do what He loves to do to His children.  And for me, honor those women that I stood shoulder to shoulder with in the clinics hoping for anything positive at all.  My twisted mind conjured up the image of a rapper “pouring one out for his homies”. RIP Tupac! And while the idea of drinking a 40 of alcohol is not only strictly forbidden right now but also rather unappealing, ladies, please know, I am pouring out some ginger ale for you.  I have not forgotten those hard doctors appointments, or the invasive procedures, or the many tears shed.  I am pouring it out for you and praying each day that God pours all the love back into you.  My arms and heart are still open, even if my womb is finally full.

Some Lessons Learned In Infertility

I wrote this in May, just for reference!!

Sometimes you go on a date night on Wednesday night to celebrate good follicle growth on cycle day 12.  My blood work and ultrasound showed today that we have not one but 4 matured follicles that could be ovulated.  Our second IUI is scheduled for tomorrow at 11 am, which is two days sooner than I thought it would be.  It’s times like today when I feel the emotional whiplash that can happen in life.  Even good things create it.  Getting married.  Having babies. New pets.  New jobs.  I have had head down for the last 12 days, going through the motions for our second IUI but largely not letting myself hope too much.  I then get a call from the doctor that they need us to verbally confirm that we are ok with having that many viable follicles because our chances of multiples is very, very high.  We are already 5x more likely than the average 32 year old couple to conceive multiples because of the treatments but the nurse wanted me to know that this is serious.  She cautioned that some couples postpone IUI’s because they don’t want to risk it.  I assured her that this is something we have prayed about and that this womb is open for ALL THE BABIES.

And then I went in search of a paper bag and a quiet corner because holy God, all the babies?? 4? I joked with the doctor doing my ultrasound asking him if I was going to have quadruplets and he said no but multiples were definitely a possibility.  Similar to the idea that if you are going to have sex, you need to be prepared for pregnancy, if you are going to do infertility treatments, I feel you need to ready yourself for the idea of multiples.  My mom is an identical twin so it already runs in our family.  (Yes, this makes our chances EVEN higher).  We have always hoped that someone in our family would have twins or multiples but when it’s staring me in the face, it’s driving me to my knees.  It’s always been a fun thought but in reality, even one kid sometimes scares so the idea of a whole gang in my uterus makes me hyperventilate sometimes.  And sometimes, it makes me over the moon excited.  I love a deal as much as the next girl but 3 or 4 babies for the price of 1 is a bargain that could kill me!

Chad and I have talked about the possibility of multiples several times.  We are firm in our belief that life begins at conception, so the idea of “reducing” or terminating any pregnancy is not on the table for us.  It’s not so much that we want more than one newborn at a time but we understand that the odds of us having more than one at a time is an option.  Also, I am not the woman and we are not the couple who will never complain about pregnancy, labor, delivery, recovery or parenting simply because it took us so long to get pregnant.  I am an equal opportunity whiner so I will exercise my right to whine even in those situations.  It’s not all going to be magical.  Like currently, I’m having a hard time getting a deep breath into my lungs just trying to imagine breast-feeding more than one child at a time. What do I do with my arms??

Breathe. Jesus take the wheel.

On our impromptu date tonight (sushi, because I’m eating all I can before the next IUI), I realized that just like most things, there is a beautiful layer to this hard time in our life.  There is beauty in the intentionality that comes with infertility.  To know the exact day and time that our baby was formed in my body is amazing.  To know that we can tell our future children that there is no way they are here by accident.  That we have prayed for them and gone through blood, (lots of) sweat, and tears for them.  It’s kind of cool to know that tomorrow, your whole life could change.  That tomorrow, a miracle could take place.

I am not good at living in the moment.  I have a hard time just being in this season and not looking ahead to the next one.  Infertility is painfully teaching me that I have to take today for today.  I get to cherish today because tomorrow everything could be different.  And for this woman who likes to plan every detail, that’s a rewarding experience.  It’s not a hipster concept of YOLO, it’s a deep gratitude for today and everyday I have to be with Chad and those I love.  To snuggle my 11.5 year old puppy.  To treat each day as a gift and be in this sacred moment of waiting.  And to finally begin to understand that Solomon tells us in Proverbs about not boasting about what can happen tomorrow for we don’t know what a day might bring.  I pray that all of us greet tomorrow with the hope of a miracle.

Our First (Spoiler Alert: Unsuccessful) IUI

I wrote this in April, just for reference! Doesn’t everyone have a sharps container by their coffee maker??

Two things my cervix was compared to today would be a.) a powdered sugar donut and b.) an eyeball.  What has two thumbs and will never eat a powdered sugar donut again? This girl! Three days ago, Chad gave me a double shot of Ovidrel which is basically straight up HCG to make you ovulate in order to do the procedure we did today at 11 am, the intrauterine insemination. This week has been the hardest week of our infertility journey as yet.  I have been at the clinic by 7 am 4 out the last 5 days and today we went back at 11 for the procedure.  That’s four days of blood draw, three shots, four ultrasounds, several crying meltdowns, one delayed IUI procedure waiting for progesterone to peak, one successful IUI procedure, and a whole lot of uncertainty over the next two weeks.

The first IUI procedure only carries about a 20% chance of success in the first cycle.  It’s success rate climbs with each cycle after that but there is an 80% chance that we will be doing this all over again next month.  It’s hard to think about the fact that we care closer than we have ever been but also possibly very far away.  In preparing for the IUI today, I did some research and gained perhaps a little perspective into why infertility seems to be such a lonesome journey for so many people.  I read the blogs, books, posts from other women and if anything, it only makes me frustrated and more anxious.  I read one woman’s blog about her four year, 4 IUI, 4 IVF cycle battle with infertility with no insurance coverage and thought, dear God, what if that is us? You never know.  You hear of people conceiving with IUI all the time but the details are unclear.  And it is assumed that if a couple does IVF and handles the $13,000 expense, they are going to have a baby.  But that was not this woman’s story and it’s so easy to hear her battle and make it your own.  It’s straddling the bridge between hope and realism.  And I have to confess, when reading a lot of these other people’s struggles, I feel inadequate.  They have these beautiful, prosaic things to say that are so true but seem so far out of the realm in which I live.

The way our clinic is structured, you check in on the second floor, and then typically move to the third floor for blood draw and labs.  Procedures are done on the first and second floors.  The third floor also houses what I dub “the sperm suite” for the male samples.  I have realized in the last 6 weeks that Chad are either the most immature people who have fought infertility or the only ones who have a sense of humor.

Chad has had to frequent the sperm suite three times.  It is off the blood lab so there’s no mystery at all what the men whose name get called are doing mere yards from you.  The funniest part to both of us is the mural on the wall in the blood lab that has a volcano with sperm coming out of it and eggs wearing coconut bras. It’s hysterical.

So we wait to get our respective labs done and neither of us can help but smirk when a man walks in and then out.  Today, Chad swore he heard a man “doing his business” to what sounded like clown porn!  Yesterday, a woman’s partner was called back when she was in the bathroom and she interrupted all the blood work (and other sample accumulation) to demand to see if he had her purse. If we can’t laugh about it, we wouldn’t be true to who we are!! Our doctor allows us and indulges our perversion or humor depending on how you look at it and we like her all the more for it.  This doesn’t have to be the Victorian era where a woman is put into confinement for three months and can come back into mixed company after she has been “churched”.  I don’t want to sit across from someone at dinner and talk about the catheter full of my husbands swimmers that was injected into my cervix today.  But I do want to tell you that we had an IUI and that we are trying and that it’s been hard.  I probably also want to tell you about the sperm volcano too but that is because I do border on inappropriate sometimes!

This last week in April is called Infertility Awareness Week.  Only one friend has spoken about her journey and it left me stymied.  She has had four IVF cycles. 4! She is the mother of two beautiful kids but I had no idea that she suffered so much.  I grew frustrated reading it because I wish so much she had been honest when it was happening.  She ended her post asking people to pray for their friends because “the journey is hard but it doesn’t have to be lonely!” Heart emoji.  But she never posted about it so we couldn’t pray for her.  And what’s more, I’m not posting about it either.  It will remain a lonely, scary journey if we don’t talk about it.  And I don’t mean talk about it how I often hear people talk about it with things like “God brought us through so much!” Or “believe that God is going to bless your efforts as He did ours.”  People only want to hear about it if it’s a success story.  And I would rather know how someone was feeling in the midst of it.  Not when it has been resolved or we know what is happening.  I want someone to preach to me about the difficulty of infertility and the faithfulness of God simultaneously.

One would think that I would be alone at the doctors office at 7am waiting for bloodwork and ultrasounds.  Guys, it is jam-packed, line out the door, people waiting for the doors to unlock busy.  Every morning, there are men and women standing outside the door in downtown Charlotte waiting for the doors to open at 7am.  As I learned this week, 1 in 6 couples will deal with infertility.  But how accurate is that statistic when so many of us don’t talk about our problems?  Undeniably, you know someone who has struggled to conceive and I hope that you better understand what they went through from our journey.  That’s my only hope greater than you drawing closer to Jesus during confusing complicated times.

Because I want to be honest, the IUI wasn’t painful.  It is a speculum situation again but it’s not painful.  Apparently, the cervix while also being like a powdered donut, is porous and there is an opening.  Didn’t know that. There is some cramping but I have had other biopsies done that hurt a lot more and won’t possibly result in a pregnancy so I didn’t find the IUI too bad.  The hormones and injections leading up to it are a bitch.  No way around it.  The trigger shot of Ovidril has made me feel 100% pregnant the last three days.  I am peeing all the time, four times a night.  I am slightly nauseous.  Pretty sweaty.  And also usually weepy.  But there is no way there is a baby in there and that sucks to feel that way before you conceive.

Once we were in the room today, my apprehension over it not being an organic way to make a baby sort of evaporated.  Without a doubt, I can look my baby in the eye and let them know how badly they were wanted.  The lengths and needles we went to to get them.  The things that we don’t talk about in polite conversation that became our routine were all for those precious lives we get to mold and love.  The agonizing two week wait to see if our procedure resulted in a life was all worth the wait.  So while our story will not be unique, or “normal”, or easy, it will be ours and it will be funny, true, authentic and full of awe in the One who made us.  And one day, we might even be able to take our child to see the sperm made out of construction paper that leads to a volcano.