Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hope in the Darkness

This has been a hard blog to write.  I know that some woman will feel alone or forgotten when they read it.  I hope that instead they see the love of God shining through and remember that we all have different stories.  That even though they may find themselves in different circumstances they don't feel disheartened.  My outcome is not better than their outcome and I am not more "blessed" than they are.  God has a different story for all of us and I hope that we can love each other through our different life stories.  That just because God gives someone else what we want...that does not mean that He loves us any less or them any more.

So, now that I have said what I feel I needed to say, I hope this post offers hope to those looking for it.  That it reveals the love of God and his perfect plan for our lives.

The last post I made was after my miscarriage.  Just a short backstory for those of you that did not read my older posts... I struggled with unexplained infertility for about a year.  We tried multiple forms of medication to help but nothing did.  Shortly before we saw a fertility specialist my cycles came back.  We decided that instead of going forward with fertility treatments, we would try a few months on our own.  To our surprise, it worked!  We got pregnant on our own!  We went in for an early ultrasound...the baby did not measure on track and heartbeat was a little slow.  They had us come back in two weeks to check on the baby.  To our dismay, I had a missed miscarriage.  That basically means I had lost the baby but my body did not realize that.  I still had pregnancy symptoms and no sign of miscarriage.  I was confused.  Why would God allow us to get pregnant on our own after struggling with infertility and then lose the precious life he had given us...

The best thing I could find in my searching for answers is the fact that we live in a fallen world.  God is a giver a life but because this world is fallen, babies die.  Bad things happen.  But, I was able to find hope in the fact that no matter what, God is in control and he loves me.  Because of Him...I would be reunited with my sweet baby one day.  Even though I would not be with her on this earth, I would hold Felicity in heaven.

We decided to start trying for another baby as soon as the doctor approved and she said we just needed to wait for one cycle.  The month we got pregnant was a weird month and I had a hard time tracking my cycle "symptoms" to know when ovulation was happening.  I really thought I had missed it.  After a few weeks I noticed tender breasts...this was my first sign with the last pregnancy.  I tested for two weeks before FINALLY getting a positive.  I was filled with joy but overcome with anxiety all at once.  I just had to remind myself that nothing I did would make this pregnancy a success.  It was all in God's hands and I just had to live in the moment.  Be happy for what was happening right now.

One morning, before we started telling more people about the pregnancy, I prayed and asked God for some kind of sign.  My pregnancy symptoms were not very consistent which did not help with the anxiety.  When I got to work that day a coworker of mine told me she had something for me.  She said she had been working on it for a while but did not know originally who it would be for.  She said that the Lord told her it was for me.  She pulled it out and it was a pink baby blanket.  I could not believe it.  What a beautiful sign from God.  Even the pink was significant!  I am having a baby girl!  We would not find that out for a few weeks after receiving the blanket.


We had fun telling friends and family.  We had a gender reveal party to tell everyone we were having a girl and we also did a name reveal.  Her name is Winry Rose.  We already love sweet Winry so much!

Despite all the good... I still have my bad days.  Days filled with worry and anxiety.  This morning I came across a great verse that I feel anyone can benefit from no matter what is going on in their life.

Isaiah 40:31 "but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint."

So often, I look to myself when I am going through something hard.  I don't stop and look to the giver of peace and comfort.

You see, no matter your circumstances... whether you are longing to be a mother but fertility problems are making it difficult, whether you long to be a mother but doctors have told you that you can't possibly have a child of your own, maybe you have suffered a loss of an unborn child, maybe you suffered a loss of a born child, maybe you have five kids and had no issues whatsoever getting pregnant...all of us have had our struggles.  All of us find times where we have no hope, feel unloved, like God doesn't see us, like our cries are going unheard.  But, he does hear, he hurts when we hurt, He sees our struggles and it breaks His heart.  But, he gives a hope and peace, if we would just look to Him to find it.  If we would stop letting our circumstance determine how we feel.  He is here, waiting for us to look to Him for our strength.  He will comfort us when we don't understand His plan and I truly believe He can give is peace that surpasses all understanding.

I am praying for all of us.  That this year, no matter our circumstances we will look to Him and recognize the love He has for us despite our personal circumstances.  When I am overcome with anxiety I will remember how He has worked in my life...even when I was at my lowest, His love and peace was able to shine through... but only in the moments that I focused on Him.

On another note, Felicity's due date was January 31st.  Even though I am pregnant with a second baby, I can't help but think about what life would be like.  My belly would be HUGE and we would be awaiting Felicity's arrival in the next few weeks.  It breaks my heart to think about her.  To wonder what she would have been like.  What her personality would be.  Would she look more like me or Casey? Was she actually a boy!?  I really don't know if she was a she but I had a strong feeling I was having a girl...so that's what I am going with!  These questions won't be answered for a long time.

 I wanted to do something in honor of Felicity on what would have been her birth date.  So, if you would join me that would be awesome!  I want everyone to do something kind for someone but I want you to brag and post it online.  I am sure that day will not be easy for me but seeing your posts of the kindness you are spreading in the name of Felicity...that will make my day.  So if you will post about your kind gesture on January 31st and use the hashtag #felicitytapp, that would be great! :)

Thank you!


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Miracle Working God

You came, I knew that you would come
You sang, My heart it woke up
I'm not afraid, I see your face, I am alive
You came, I knew that you would come

You are a miracle - working God
You are a miracle - working God
You are a miracle - working God
You are a miracle - working God
You are a miracle - working God
You are a miracle - working God
You are a miracle - working God
You are a miracle - working God
You are a miracle - working God

You came, I knew that you would come
You sang, My heart it woke up
I'm not afraid, I see your face, I am alive
You came, I knew that you would come

...This is just a portion of the song "You Came" by Bethel Music and it is actually written about Lazarus but when I hear it, I can't help but feel like it's about my story.  

Before I got pregnant I would cry when singing to this song.  The tears would flow as I prayed/begged God to work a miracle in me.  To give me the child I longed for. 

Once I got pregnant I cried while singing this song in worship to God for giving me the miracle I had asked for months before.  I cried remembering my tears of sadness that were tinged with hope for the future... and now with my tears of joy for the new life that was developing in my belly! Now I could sing, "you came, I knew that you would come", with confidence and not just with hopeful expectancy.

Now, as I sing this song I can't hold back the tears still.  But now it's even more complicated.  I cry remembering the days I was able to sing this song with joy for the miracle that God had given me.  I cry remembering the first time I sang this song and how I ached for a miracle, how God gave me the miracle I asked for... and then "took it away".  I cry because at times I really feel like he took it...like it is a punishment but I also cry because in my heart of hearts I know he loves me.

He did not "take" my baby.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden this world changed forever.  Sin was let in and because of that, death happens.  Life comes and goes.  Terrible things happen to good people.  This is the world we live in.  Full of sadness, frustrations, heartache, evil, and things that we can never make sense of.

But, Jesus came.  He died for our sins.  He did not "take away".  He is the giver of life.  Because of Jesus we can have eternal life.  All we have to do is believe in Him...put our trust in Him.

Because of the love of Jesus I will meet my baby one day.

I cry because I know that God, in this miracle he gave me, made me a mommy like I have always longed to be.  Even though I will not hold my baby on this earth...I will one day.  That is God's goodness.  In the midst of this broken world, God shows his love.  In the midst of our losses He provided a way for us to not lose in the end.  Jesus conquered death! 

I cry when I sing, "You came, I knew that you would come", because I know...even though right now I feel like he has left... I really know that he came.  He gave me what I asked for.  He worked a miracle in me.  For that I am thankful.  

I cry out to God now... with hopeful expectancy that He will come again.  That He will work more miracles in me.

But, no matter what, He did come.

He is a miracle working God.

I am a mommy.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ups and Downs

Hello everyone, it has been a while since I have written and a lot has happened.  I am going to start with the good things...

Ups:
My cycles continued.  They were a little longer than what is considered a typical cycle but I was able to track them for the most part.

On May 13th I finally got a positive pregnancy test! :)  It was one of the happiest moments of my life.  I could barely believe it when I saw those lines show up!  I couldn't wait to tell Casey.  We had planned on going to an early showing of the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  I woke him up early to tell him.  It was wonderful.  The next day was Mother's day and we had already planned on having our moms over for dinner that night.  We decided to go ahead and tell them even though it was early.  It just seemed too perfect to not tell them. 

On June 7th we had our first appointment and were able to see our sweet baby and it's precious heartbeat.  I can't even put my feelings into words about this moment but it was absolutely incredible.  We were surprised to hear that the baby was only measuring six weeks.  Since I had been keeping track of everything I was pretty sure I was at least seven.  But, they say your measurements can be off.  I was feeling a tad uneasy but tried to brush the feeling off.  The doctor scheduled us to come back in two weeks just to make sure everything was moving along like it should.

Initially I felt good about this appointment but the more I thought about it the more I worried.  My doctor offhandedly mentioned that she did not want to set a due date and mentioned something about wanting to wait and make sure the pregnancy was viable.  But again, I tried to remain positive.

Those two weeks of waiting were SO hard.

Downs:
At our second appointment we were taken straight back for the sonogram.  I was so nervous I thought I might throw up.  When she began the sonogram I could see her searching.  I could see that there was not a larger baby like there should have been.  Then she let us know that she needed to call our doctor down.  At that moment we knew.  We knew that our sweet baby did not make it.

I can't put into words all of the emotions I felt.  I am thankful Casey was there to comfort me and hold me. 

My doctor diagnosed me with a missed miscarriage and I had surgery on Monday, June 26th.
I had a little service that morning.  I felt like I needed to do something in order to have closure.  I sang "It is well"...or tried to at least, I read some scripture, said a prayer and wrote a letter to my sweet baby.  It was sweet, it was heartbreaking, but I really feel it helped me to deal with the grief and pain from the loss. Thankfully the surgery went well.  My doctor and all the nurses involved were so sweet, caring, and encouraging.  I am so thankful for each one of them.  
                                                (here is a picture of our sweet little "Cheeto")

My family have all been so understanding through this time as well.  I appreciate all of the calls from friends and family we have received.  We love all of you so much! 

So where in the world is the hope in this situation? How can I still have faith?

It is not something I can explain.  But, I do.  I have hope for the future and I still believe that even though I will never hold my sweet child or kiss their sweet face---God is good.  He loves me and his heart aches when mine does.  Although I won't be with my child in this life I have hope that I will one day.  One day I will meet my sweet baby and hold them close.

But I am also sad.  Unbelievably, overwhelmingly sad.  I don't understand why...after almost a year of trying...I would get pregnant...and then lose it.  It does not make sense. 

But, God is in this.  I have seen Him work.  Two days before I found out that I lost the baby I read a devotional about rejoicing in our suffering.  I almost did not read it because I was fearful God was speaking to me, preparing me for something that was about to happen.  I wrote, with hesitation, "Suffering brings forth steadfastness and endurance.  Through our trials we can see the work of God and His goodness is often revealed.  This can help our faith during the next trial...helping us remain unshaken."  I'm not sure how much of this is actually my words vs. the words from the devotional I read but either way this is great stuff.  In all this mess God gave me just what I needed before I even knew I needed it.

I would love to say that I have remained unshaken but that is not true.  I have questioned God's goodness and His love for me.  I can only hope that this trial is helping me prepare for my next.  Making my faith stronger...

On the note of God's goodness being revealed...
I had a friend visit me the Sunday before my surgery.  She has had a miscarriage as well. She sat, she listened, she shared her struggles, we cried together, it was hard but it was nice to have someone that understood my hurt.  She told me that her miscarriage was actually five years ago on that very day.  God used her pain from her tragic loss to comfort a friend struggling because of a loss as well.  So, even though she may have not seen God's plan...it was revealed that day.  The same day she lost her baby five years before.  If she had not gone through that experience she would not have been able to comfort me like she did.

A couple of weeks ago I was watching Supernatural the TV show.  One of the characters said, "God does not give us more than we can handle".  One of the other characters said, "that's bull sh**".  I looked at Casey and I said, "I agree!  I think God does give us more than we can handle.  That way we have to lean on him to make it through." 

So that is what I plan to do.  Lean on Him in order to make it through.  When the pain is too much and it feels like the tears won't stop... He is here.  With me in the mess and devastation that this fallen world can bring.  But he also saves.  Because of Him I will one day be reunited with my baby.

For anyone that is experiencing loss or has experienced loss...I am sorry.  There are no words.  I only hope that you don't lose faith or hope.  I pray that you will look to God.  The only one that can truly comfort and ease the pain. 

Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

Psalm 73:26 "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Answers...Sort Of

Hello everyone!  I apologize for the delay in writing this post for y'all.  I was waiting to get some answers before writing again. 

So, my 2nd fertility appointment was March 27th.  My new doctor wanted to do a sonogram for herself just to get a better idea of what she was dealing with.  During the sonogram she talked about a bunch of possibilities for what I have been experiencing based on the past information from my OBGYN but would follow each one by saying that she did not  believe I had them for different reasons.  She mentioned endometriosis and PCOS but both she did not feel I had.  She went into why but I did not take enough notes and cannot recall.  :) 

She did say that it is definitely not early menopause.  She said my egg count looked great!  She also said there was some free fluid on the sonogram which made her think I had ovulated recently.  I was so excited!  That would mean that two months in a row I went through a full cycle on my own and without any medications.  She said she wanted to do a progesterone test just to make sure.  So they took blood before I left and said they would call me back...

I don't know what it is about my OBGYN and this fertility specialist but NOBODY EVER CALLS ME BACK! It drives me crazy. 

Anyway, I waited until Thursday and decided to just call them.  When I called a lady answered, I am assuming it was the receptionist.  She said that she could see the results and that it was 1.4 or something like that (this is significantly higher from what my OBGYN saw when I took the same test there).  She said that this level did not indicate I had ovulated.  I was so bummed.  I felt sorry for myself for a little bit but I really could not shake this feeling that I had ovulated and possibly just a few days before I went in for the appointment.  This would have been about a week later than what Casey and I had originally thought... so Casey and I did not "try" that week.  After doing some research I realized that for that test to be accurate they would have to have taken the blood at least seven days after ovulation.  So it WAS still possible!  I still had a glimmer of hope. 

When I was there for the appointment she told me to call in two weeks if I had not started my period or call whenever I did (which would mean that I did ovulate).  I did my best to wait patiently...April 5th I started my period! 

THAT is the power of God y'all!  To think...I started this blog on February 12th and ovulated around the 15th for the first time on my own since coming off the pill in March of last year! And then again a month later.  I have no doubts that the prayers y'all sent up for me were heard.  Thank you! 

So, at this point we will probably give it a few tries on our own since I know for sure what to look for when I ovulate.  I have not discussed this with my doctor because surprise...THEY HAVE NOT CALLED ME BACK.  But, as long as she thinks it is safe, we will.  The only issue we may have is the lining in my uterus is still thinner than most.  My fertility specialist said that she was not super concerned about that because she knew of woman that carried babies with lining similar to mine.  So, we will see!

Please continue with the prayers.  I am so thankful for each of you for taking the time to read my blog and for lifting Casey and I up in your prayers.     

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fertility Specialist 1st Appointment

I am still working through everything I was told at my first appointment.  I meant to take notes but forgot... there is just so much information thrown at you and I feel like you never really get a straight answer.  Now, I say this not out of anger...I really like my doctor and she did the best she could to answer my questions.  All she had to go off of were my previous tests with my OBGYN.  Once I go up for another sonogram with her hopefully we will have some more answers.  So far she seems hopeful and very confident that we will get pregnant.  I asked her if she could give me an idea of what might be going on with the information she had.  She said that on paper it looks like a stress issue.  But, she said infertility is not typically caused by mental stress like a lot of people think but more along the lines of physical stress.  She said that couldn't be it.  I am apparently the perfect weight (thank you very much! lol) and so she does not feel this is the culprit.  She did say that it is possible it is a brain issue (for lack of a better term).  This is where I kind of got lost but she said something to the affect of: My brain is not emitting the signals it should for my body to go through a full cycle and ovulate.  She described it like all of my parts are working ok, they are just not getting the signal they need to get moving.  Hopefully she is correct and further testing won't show anything worse.  Worst case scenario would be I have early menopause which would mean my eggs were depleting far too quickly.  But, she does not feel that this is the problem.  

On a another note, she does believe I ovulated last month and that is why I got my period.  I am hoping to get it again this month.  If I don't I will have to take some more pills to force me to have one.  It would be great if my body would just continue to do it on it's own.  Then we can just focus on getting the lining in my uterus where it needs to be.

She felt confident that if I started taking daily shots we would get pregnant.  This is great news but these shots are typically about $30 per shot and insurance does not typically cover them.

The other option would be for me to do another round of meds like I tried with my OBGYN but with a higher dose to see if that would work.

So, please pray that more testing does not reveal something worse.  Pray that my body will continue working on it's own.  Pray that if we do have to continue with medication that the next round works so that we don't have to do the shots. Pray for Casey and I as we continue on this journey.  It can be taxing at times.

Thank you everyone for your love and support! 

Bonus picture of my fur-baby, Snickers. :)  Yes, she is wearing a diaper.
Displaying IMG_1895.JPG

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Aunt Flo Has Arrived!!!!!!

Okay, I know...TMI, Amanda!  Especially since hundreds of people might read this post but I can't help myself.  This is such an answer to prayer!! I know this happened because of all the prayers said for me, so thank you!  This is such a great reminder that God listens to our prayers.  It is also an amazing reminder that it is all in God's timing and it has nothing to do with what we do.

I am sure many of you are just like me and the second you realized you were having fertility issues you started googling ways to help your fertility.  Foods to eat, foods not to eat, the best fertility smoothies, what exercises or yoga poses would help?!?!  So for about six months I gave up coffee.  It was the only thing I was able to stick to.  Eating all wholefoods and smoothies was not happening for me.  Kudos to you if you were able to stick to these lifestyle changes... After about 6 months of no luck, I decided to start drinking coffee again.  I was frustrated and just decided I didn't care.  I was going to live my life enjoying things instead of limiting myself in hopes that maybe it would make a difference.  So, after 11 months of no period, without the help of progesterone pills, and about 3 months of drinking coffee again, I started my period!  Hallelujah!  When I told my mom and sister I told them I felt 14 again.  I was a late bloomer compared to most of my friends so I impatiently waited to start my period and even had anxiety that I never would.  :)  Surely I am not the only one that had that fear!?  Anyway, when I started my period at 14 I was so excited! Well, February 26th I was just as excited but probably more so!

So why does this matter?

From my research (I am not a doctor) I have found a lot of stuff that says a lot of the time when a woman does not have a period it is because she is not ovulating.  Her body might try to ovulate and even show signs of ovulation but does not fully complete the cycle which means you will not have a period because the egg is never released.  So, I am almost positive that I did ovulate in February and since I have been tracking my CM I think I may even know around what day, which was right at 12 days before my period started.  So, this is great news.  My body was finally able to ovulate on it's own!  But, it is possible that it won't this month.  Sometimes it can take a while for everything to start working regularly.  So please keep the prayers coming.  God works miracles!

Habakkuk 2:3
"For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail.  Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay."

Sidenote:
I attended Deeper Journey's Ladies Conference today and it was so good!  The verse above was actually the theme verse for this Conference and it is perfect for this time in my life.  There were so many wise speakers...
Kelly Minter (she has such a love for the Word of God)
Ellie Holcomb (she has an amazing voice and is so honest about the feelings that women face)
Marilyn Meberg (had a great story about the love God has for us)
Anita Renfroe (she is just hilarious)
Each of their stories were so different but all so inspiring.  I will share some of what I learned from them in my next post. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

When God's Plan Doesn't Make Sense

 Hello everyone, I hope this post is not too confusing.  I had a lot I wanted to say and I did my best to write it in a way that flowed well and that "made sense".  :)

I am sure everyone has an experience or at least has heard of an experience where something seemed to be going great or you knew for sure what was happening was a part of God's perfect plan...just to watch it be destroyed. Maybe you met the man of your dreams, had a wonderful wedding and then month's later it fell apart.  Or, maybe you lost your job, quickly found another job that seemed perfect and then a week later they let you go.  Maybe you lost a child in a miscarriage or an adoption fell through.  Maybe you just knew that this would be the perfect time to get pregnant, but you couldn't.   All of these things are hard to find the "silver lining".  What good can come out of any of these situations?

When these things happen it is easy to start questioning God...whether you are directly related to the situation or not.  How could God allow that to happen?  What is he thinking?!

These questions are understandable and I think God understands our frustration.  But, we have to make sure we seek understanding in the right ways.  Although doubt may creep in we have to look to the Bible and other Christians for truth.  

Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding."

Romans 8:18 says, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

We should not fear because we know that in the end, whether here on this earth or one day in heaven, we will see God's goodness.  His plan will be revealed and we will see what God had in store.  Until then, we can rest in His comfort. 

Isaiah 41:10
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."


Another thing we should consider is where are we putting God vs. the people and things in our lives?  Are we putting His plan above our own?


Philippians 3:8
"Indeed, I count everything as a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I might gain Christ"

This verse can be really hard to read.  I will "count them as rubbish"?  In case you didn't know, the word "rubbish" means trash.  I will count all things as trash.  Now, like I have said before... I am not a Bible scholar but I don't think this verse is trying to say that our family, children, and fur-babies are trash but I do think it means we should be putting Christ at the forefront and that we should be looking to God above all things.  We should be giving all of our earthly things to Christ and putting Him above it all.  We know that He is the ultimate prize.  If we put God first, we are able to see more clearly and may even be able to trust His plan more fully.

Do you put God at the forefront?
I'll be honest.  The answer about 85% of the time for me is "NO".  So often I look to this world to fulfill my needs/wants.  I plan out my life and try and make things just right.  I look to my husband to make me happy, I look to my friends to find my worth, I look to my students to boost my sense of achievement and rarely do I seek God to find these things.  Rarely do I seek God when my plans change and the outcomes don't make sense.   If I could learn to put God at the forefront I would not be so self-focused, I would be happier, I would be less stressed and I would be better at loving others!  I may even be able to see God even when the plan does not go the direction I thought it would.  I might be able to feel His comfort no matter the outcome. 


Colossians 1:16
"For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."

I hope that I will be better at putting God first.  In doing so, I will find peace when things don't go my way and if I give all the other stuff to God, I may be able to find peace in the midst of challenges because I know that what I had or what could have been was not mine to begin with.  It is all His.   

So, when God's plans don't make sense...let's seek Him and make sure we are searching for answers in the right places.  Not looking to ourselves and our knowledge to figure it out.