Friday, April 22, 2011

First Reflections

I've gotten through about 12% (according to my Kindle) of Jennifer Saake's book entitled "Hannah's Hope". I've read the bible passages she referenced in the first part of it, and I've read the "Burden Bearers" section meant for people (friends, family, church leaders, etc) supporting those dealing with infertility, loss, failed adoptions, etc. Below are some of the things that stuck out to me, and my reflections on them.

Saake asks at one point in her own experiences, "Would I choose bitterness and self destruction, or growth and renewed hope?" That resonated with me as I remember those dark days after our first failed cycle. I remember the extreme bitterness and depression I was battling. I think I'm difficult to deal with on a regular basis (God bless my husband and mother), but I know that I hated myself after that cycle, and I know it showed to those around me. I was terrified of what I would be like if our third cycle was a failure too. I told myself I had to stay focused on what I do have (a wonderfully supportive family and friends, and a really sweet and adorable little boy), and just keep on living life no matter how difficult that might be. I spoke with my psychiatrist last week about how I try really hard to stay away from the negative thoughts that come into my mind, but sometimes it's so hard to let it go, just like thinking about adoption if all of these cycles fail, but then thinking, I have to focus on "the now". It's so hard to turn off that type of thinking. She suggested something that she had suggested when I first started seeing her years ago and was in a bad depression, and that is that when I start to think these negative thoughts, say, "This is not helpful." And when I was first diagnosed with depression, I remember thinking "this is not helpful, but I can't think of anything else." Maybe I've been trained in how to better manage my depression since then, but my psychiatrist added to it this past week in saying that after I say that to myself, I need to redirect to focusing on the positive. This is tricky for someone like me who is dealing with secondary infertility now. Believe me when I tell you that my son is what makes me want to get up in the morning, who can resist such a sweet voice over the baby monitor (don't laugh, I have a hard time hearing him when I have the fan on in my room and the door closed to keep the dog in)? I am eternally grateful to the precious gift God continues to give us in that little boy of mine. BUT, I also have a very hard time finding a positive to focus on during a cycle that unfortunately, but realistically, may not work. In this case, my doctor suggested focusing on what I have control over. Control is a huge issue for this type A infertile. The problem is that with these cycles, you can only control so much. But she is right. I will focus on what I can control-the vitamins and supplements I am taking, my meds, how much I lay around with my butt in the air on Mother's day weekend (with the exception of going out to lunch with my mom on Sunday!), controlling what I do and do not put into my body (no caffeine!). These are the things I can control. I cannot control whether God will ultimately bless us with another pregnancy. I cannot control whether that pregnancy will result in a healthy full-term baby. I have to learn to give those things over to Him, and in doing that and letting go of what I cannot control, I believe I am growing and having more hope. I am not as bitter as I once was.

Saake talks about her own childhood memories and I find that they are rather similar to my own hopes and dreams I had as a child about becoming a mother. I always wanted to play the "mommy" when my sister and I would play pretend "House". I was always Mommy to my dolls. I remember liking to bring my dolls and strap them into the seat next to me in the car, and even dressing my cat-Toby-in infant onesies (seriously I have a picture somewhere to prove it, poor cat). These little fantasies didn't stop as I got older. I knew that the kids in the Early Childhood classes in high school got to carry around "flour babies" and so I signed up for that class, and my cabbage patch from my younger days got a sack of flour taped around his plush body, my mom took me to a consignment store to get some outfits for him, and I carried him around with me as my class called for (everywhere you could and if you couldn't take it with you, you'd better have a babysitter!) for a few weeks and most of the time loved it. His name was Austin Michael-no joke, I still remember this, LOL. The only really embarassing moment is that I must have played the part pretty well because some older woman was interested in seeing this (and by this, I mean ME) 16 year old girl's baby in the grocery store, and I didn't want to undo the blanket, show her and have to explain it. My mother was with me and I remember feeling REALLY awkward, and then my mom (who I fully expected to step in and explain our school project) said, "Go ahead, show her." I couldn't wait for the day when someone really would be interested in seeing my REAL live baby. The scary part was that as excited as I was about this role I'd one day play, I always worried. I worried I'd get divorced like my parents and be single and have to get artificially inseminated and raise a child on my own. I remember feeling like something just wouldn't be easy about having a child for me. I would watch the lifetime movies and see the people being surrogates for their close friends and not realizing just how huge a decision that would be, and all the legal and emotional matters surrounding that decision, but thinking that I would so do that for someone else, and wondering would someone do it for me if I needed that? I didn't know at that point that I had endometriosis, but I did know that I had really heavy, painful periods and it worried me. I didn't know for sure that we would have issues, but it was really eerie when we were diagnosed with all of our issues, and I realized that I'd always thought having a baby would be an issue for me.

The other thing that Saake suggests in the beginning part of the book is to "list your fears about your family as it is currently designed, then ask the Lord to help you trust him with your worries." I have prayed and asked for Him to help us continue to grow our family because I fear that we won't be able to have any more children. I've asked Him to protect our son and continue to give us so many more days and moments together because one of my biggest fears is that we will lose him (I don't think it helps to be a nurse who works with children who sometimes don't make it). I've asked Him to protect our marriage because I know how much of a toll the emotional part of infertility can take on a relationship, and how much the drugs make me a loon and I fear Archie will want to leave. I've asked Him not to give us more than we can handle emotionally, financially or physically. I've asked Him to continue to provide for us in the ways that only He can, and to help me give up the control on the things that are solely in His control. These are the things I pray for on a regular basis for our family.


  1. that last thing you said is the hardest part. Giving up control...even when we arent really in control to begin with! so hard. Just fyi I gave you an award. Feel free to come by and pick it up!

  2. you have gained a lot of insight I think. I had to laugh though about the sack of flour in baby clothes and I do remember that woman wanting to see the "baby". I guess I could have helped you more by stepping in to explain but i thought the whole thing so funny and wanted to see how you would respond and handle the situation. I was laughing just now reading this- but I am sorry you were so uncomfortable about it at the time.

  3. what a great post! I found the book very insightful...especially with regards to feeling like so many people who would make great parents have trouble conceiving, while others who don't even want children seem to get pregnant so truly gave me a new perspective on that "issue". I think reading that book during my worst time would have helped me, but I'm still glad I found it now!