Friday, December 19, 2014

He said no


It’s been a few weeks since they cut me open and took away my womb. Weeks have passed since I woke up there in that room, realizing the significance of that day and all our days to come. I remember the searing pain of my body and my heart and the hot, hot tears upon my face, streaking down my neck, an indication that I was in fact living the nightmare.

Since leaving the hospital, I can’t say much has changed. The pain is still great.  My surgeon said it will take at least 12 weeks to feel a significant difference. So my wounds, my scars- They will wait. Physical healing will take time. I will have to be patient. My regular clothes will have to wait. The swelling, it will last for a couple more months and physically I will still hurt, a reminder of all I’ve had to endure.

Menopause, that ugly little thief is here. She has taken my sleep, my sanity, my ability to make decisions. My ability to remain a certain temperature. She is my enemy and her and I will fight for six months without any hormones in me to rid myself of this awful disease I am fighting. Then I’m sure we will go a few more rounds, years I suppose. I imagine Nate would like to take a couple punches at her when her mood swings come and leave me crying for no reason or cussing at Hallmark commercials. She’s an irrational beast. I definitely dislike her. The word hate comes to mind.

In matters of the heart, we are completely depleted. The wounds are raw, the pain is searing. The tears have not stopped. When asked how we are doing I am filled with guilt that I can’t answer with a response of “better” or “improving.” Unfortunately, it’s just not our truth. Right now we are just in the midst of too much pain to have moved from this place just yet.

The other day on social media, I saw someone post, “Out celebrating God’s answers to prayers this year for our company…blah blah so on and so forth.” As I read it I thought, wow. Have they got it all wrong. They aren’t celebrating God’s answers to prayers. They are celebrating the “yes’s” they received to their prayers because is it not true that God answers all of our prayers? What would people’s reaction be if I said, “Mourning over the fact that He didn’t give us the miracle we prayed for. I hate his answer to prayer this time around.”  #hesaidno

We sat talking about this Sunday morning with our best friend Simon, who came to mourn with us, and we continued to mourn with him at the tragic loss of his sister whom he lost earlier this summer.  How sad it was to us to see how confused our society and Christian community is about our God and how he provides for us. As painful as it is to say, sometimes his provisions are in the midst of our most painful times and require the most painful of circumstances in order for us to see Him clearly.

Now of course this negates the country song “I thank God for unanswered prayers.” It just means we are thanking him for not answering our prayers in the ways we wanted them to turn out. I’ve heard time and time again that God answers all of our prayers. It’s either “No, yes, or wait.” And for all the years I’ve been married to Nate, we’ve been praying for our own baby. One that he and I made together. The answer to that prayer from God is no. Maybe one day I will celebrate that but the truth is I don’t think I ever will. I think maybe it’s a little more reasonable to think that if Nate and I ever get to the point of adoption (which we aren’t sure we will) and that is in God’s plan and he allows that for us then I will celebrate that answer to prayer. I think I will always mourn the “no” I found here.

This December is a hard one for Nate and I. Last year, following the death of my Robby, was just as hard. It’s a month that I think both of us wish we could completely avoid. Thanksgiving, I don’t even remember. I was in an anesthesia haze and that quickly followed with my birthday that I couldn’t even imagine celebrating, my hurt heart too much. This Monday, the 22nd, is Saint Nate’s 30th birthday.

If I could share with you one thing it is how hard it is to see your one true loved one ache through this journey. Last night, we had a doctor’s appointment and we had to go pick out one last gift to send to his family and throughout the entire night we kept running into a man and his young son. When we came home, I was in immense pain and just burst into tears, wanting the Christmas season to be over. Wanting my heart to not be broken, etc. Nate, came and sat by me and he said, “you know what broke me today? Seeing that young Hispanic man and his son. They were everywhere. When we went to the bathroom. They went to the bathroom. They were in the elevator, they were in the store. I will never have a son that matches me. That looks like me, like the two of them did. Running Christmas errands. Just being with me.” I looked at my husband and I just had tears streaming down my face. Nate has had several moments he has shared with me. All of which have brought me to my knees.

We both wish we could hide under the covers…for maybe a year, maybe more- but especially through this season. I haven’t done our Christmas cards yet. I know, I know. Sue me. But when I tried to think of the words I would put on them nothing felt right. Until today.

I remembered that Emmanuel means God with us. That’s what we need. That’s probably what a lot of us need. Whether the answer was yes, no, or wait. O come, O come, Emmanuel. Meet me here in the midst of my pain, in the midst of my scars. Be with us in the brokenness. In the miracles that are crushed and in the dreams that are unfulfilled. In this mess of absolute pain, and in spirits that struggle to celebrate, Nate and I still get Emmanuel- God with us.

We thank you for being with us in this long, hard journey. We hope your holiday season is just Emmanuel.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

To Touch His Cloak


A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in my sister’s living room with all of my siblings, extended siblings (Tommy and Kelly), and their significant others. The only two missing were my Nate who was back in Seattle and our Robby who left us too soon (oh how he is dearly missed). We posed the question that is any of us could go back to the life and times of Jesus what would we have wanted to witness in person.

Now before you go thinking we are so spiritual and sit around speaking of only theological things, I want you to know we were sitting down for an intentional bible study, one we had postponed for three consecutive weeks because of San Francisco Giant’s games. Ha! We love Jesus and we love Giant’s baseball.

Anyways, I have felt for years like a rare combination of Job and the bleeding woman. I’m not claiming to be any biblical hero but bits of my story can be seen in both of these accounts. So, naturally I would like to have witnessed in person when the bleeding women reached out and touched the cloak of Jesus.

If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed. These are the words this woman must have thought as she travelled her long 30 mile journey to meet Jesus in Capernaum. During those 12 years of relentless bleeding, she was considered unclean and an outcast in society.  Yet, what remained healthy in her life was her hope and her faith. She never gave up. Despite going home after every appointment with a failed remedy that only put her in debt or expensive prescriptions that wouldn’t even touch the pain, she never gave up. And when she heard the news that this Jesus guy had healed a man of various diseases, she let her faith carry her those 30 long miles, to find Jesus in that crowd.

I’ve been there. I am that bleeding woman. I’ve dealt with prolonged illness and stubborn medical conditions that amidst countless medical treatments and prescriptions don’t go away. I’ve felt like an outcast as my friends have been promoted in their jobs, bought homes, and had babies. Meanwhile I’ve been passed from specialist to specialist, been unable to hold down a job because of the pain, and experienced heartache and shattered dreams. I’ve been frustrated, embarrassed and laid sprawled, broken, and bruised across many a bathroom floor. 

When the bleeding woman reached Capernaum she found Jesus in the crowd. It was busy. There were tons of people around. Maybe it resembled somewhat of a mosh pit. But when she got her chance she reached out and touched him. And she was immediately healed. And He immediately knew. He turned to ask His disciples who had touched him and they look at each other like he was crazy. Who wasn’t touching him? They were all being pushed and prodded. But Jesus knew and so did she. He wasn’t looking to accuse someone but to affirm that it had indeed happened and with the same faith that had allowed her to reach out in the first place she stepped forward. She “fell at his feet and trembling with fear told him the whole truth.” (Mark 5:33) He looked at her with genuine care, told her that her faith had healed her, and to go and be well. Completely incredible if you ask me.

This coming year I will have been “bleeding “ for 19 years. And just like that bleeding woman I have yet to completely lose hope or faith. I will admit that there are days that I can only manage crawling from my bed to the couch or where I wonder if God still sees me down here in my unmanageable pain but seven years ago on my left wrist I tattooed the word hope on my wrist because I refuse to relinquish it. Around my house, the word is displayed in various places and my close friends and family know that it is my life theme. In general I am a lover of words and will cling to various words throughout different seasons of life but I will always head back home to hope because through my faith it is hope that allows me to continue the battles placed before me.

In some ways, I’m not sure if God’s complete healing is supposed to be a part of my story. Perhaps, my un-healing and my faith and hope in the midst of it is what God wants me to use to bring him glory. But, what I wouldn’t give to touch his cloak. While I know that that is physically impossible it has become my prayer that I would experience His cloak on different levels during this current journey.

I close my eyes and pray that perhaps His cloak will meet me in the recovery room after surgery, when I am all alone, recently barren and broken, perhaps it will lay over me with assurance that I will get through this, that not all hope has been lost. I imagine a cloak that will wrap around Nate now and in the coming months as he catches my tears over broken dreams and broken hearts, as he nurses me back to health both physically and emotionally. As crazy as it may sound, I am hoping this cloak has got some bit of anti-anxiety up its sleeves on the long lonely days of recovery, when Nate is at work, and I’m in the deep throws of menopause, doing the ugly cry, just wishing I could take any pill, instead of the handful of hormones I will be prescribed that could send me to another world or another life. I take a deep breath and I ask Jesus to send me a cloak to cuddle up with that will let me mourn my unborn babies and heal my heart so that someday soon I am ready to love babies that grew in someone else’s tummy.

I know that this surgery will only address one of my health problems and is not even a guarantee to get rid of this awful disease but I know that Jesus is with me, even in those dark moments of pain when I think He has forgotten. I have yet to abandon hope and He has yet to abandon me. My 19 years of bleeding may turn into 20 and those may turn into 30 but with my faith I still have opportunities to touch his cloak. I just have to open my eyes and see them. Don’t we all? We may not live in the life and times of Jesus and physically be able to reach out and touch his clothes but He still shows up. Miracles still exist.

I do believe that, even if I can’t see it right now. So, tonight, this week, the months ahead…I’m going to pray…for you and for me….that we get opportunities to feel his cloak. Personally right now I want it to feel like a warm, cozy winter blanket….but more than that I want it to feel like peace, comfort, bandages, cool compresses, a true binding of brokenness and for my heart to feel joy again.
Oh if we could just touch his cloak…and yet I think we still can today, with gathered faith and prayers. And I also think we get the blessing to be a part of the cloaks he lays on all of us. I know that you have all been a part of our story by loving us praying, and sending your support. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It Came to This.

I've hesitated to give this season in my life a voice. I've floundered with whom to share my pain, with how to share the depth of our reality, of where our path was ultimately winding to. I want to tell you I didn't see our story coming to this.

And yet here we are. We entered our marriage with the vow of in sickness and health and my beloved husband has held true to standing by me through all the sickness. We have yet to experience the healthy years of that vow. We also entered our marriage immediately ready to start a family and began the process of trying to have children together. Unfortunately, our infertility was not just a season. After countless doctors visits, 14 plus surgeries, fertility tests and second and third opinions we have come to realize it is permanent. In about a week and a half I will have a hysterectomy.

I can't express the tears we've shed or the day a walk in the neighborhood brought me to my knees after I received bad news at our fertility clinic simply and then saw a mother pushing her child on a swing set. I've wept one too many times on the bathroom floor at a negative pregnancy test and I've experienced horrific loss every 24 days or so for several years now as I realized my female body had not done it's job for the thousandth month in a row. Yet, I put on a smile to the outside world, my friends, my family, and I carried on.

But now, my voice which I've only shared with so few has to speak up because if I'm honest, I'll tell you that I think I've failed. We live in a society where being a mom, having "the bump," breastfeeding, pregnancy, motherhood- it's all the total package, what womanhood is all about. It shows that you are the ultimate woman.  My whole life- I knew I wanted to be a wife to my husband, to love him, so that I could then be his partner in making and raising a family with him.

For Nate and I there will be no sonograms on our refrigerator, no gender reveal, no chances for my sweet husband to feel our baby kick in my ever expanding belly, no doctors appointment where we are left speechless by the heartbeat, no posted pictures of my "bump."

What there will be is an operating room. Where I will be taken and they will remove the diseased parts that have caused me pain for so long. And when I wake up I will be alone, unable to see Nate at first, raw and recently stripped of my womanhood. What I picture in that moment is darkness and a sadness that i can't imagine overcoming. What I ask from you is prayer. That I will feel the Holy Spirit's presence. That I will feel gentleness and not failure, but peace.

I pray that when I see my husband, my Saint Nate, that I will not feel shame. I pray that I will still feel like a woman. That we will move through this journey of grief together. We ask that the Lord will begin to place joy in our hearts again. That He will bind up our wounds.

We are asking for your prayer. I have been told recovery will take up to three months. Please feel free to send emails, text messages, notes of encouragement, etc to Nate. He needs an army behind him as he takes on the battle of taking care of me. We know not only are we entering into a battle of physical surgery, it is our hearts that will take much longer to find their way to the light again.

A dear friend of mine told me, "it will probably get darker before it gets any easier..." We would have to agree. Right now we are straining to get by but I'm trusting that you all are holding onto the hope for us that we are going to get through this and that we can lean on you because right now I'm not certain of my own footing.

We love you all and will keep you updated with more in a couple days. We are so sad it came to this. You never plan for this.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Grandma June


These last weeks have been exhausting. The kind where you run on pure reserve energy that comes from the spare tank you weren't even aware existed. You're the kind of busy where you forget to eat because you're so emotionally exhausted that even food forgets to cross your mind. That's what these weeks have been. Completely encompassing and right now as I head into this new week the exhaust smoke will continue to billow. 

On Wednesday we buried my Grandma. On Sunday we sat in pews, in a beautiful stained glass church and celebrated her life and entrance into Heaven. I say it so matter of fact because I'm still trying to convince myself of its truth, the reality of it all. 

It's not the fact that I have never lost someone so dear and close to me. In the last couple of years I have lost a few people I have dearly loved. I have known heartache and grief. But this time, with the loss of my sweet Grandma I think in some ways I've lost an intimate connection with my Savior. While I know in reality this is not the case, every time I was in the presence of my Grandma June she brought me into a deeper relationship with Christ. She ministered to me in ways that no one else has nor perhaps ever will. 

In life today there are very few constants. The list of things I feel I’ve been able to count on in my life is relatively short. I’m blessed that I even have a list and if I’m completely honest I know my list is really only Christ. However, for as long as I can remember my Grandma June has been a constant in my life. She’s been there for birthdays, basketball games, choir concerts, graduations, and my wedding. On every birthday she gifted me with a porcelain doll figurine that had my age on it that I proudly displayed in my room until I moved out of my parent’s house and each Christmas she gifted me with a special ornament and a gift certificate for a happy meal that she promised I’d use when we went on a lunch date. I practiced piano at her house and she is responsible for my favorite food being waffles because every time I spent the night she’d make me the best Belgian waffles and they were the most glorious things I had ever tasted. They are now my comfort food in every way. I treasured sleepovers at her house and loved her dog Rowdy. Even as a squeamish kid I’d sit with her and my grandpa and work on puzzles. She sewed me costumes (one year I even convinced her to make me a basketball costume) and blankets. And then there was the one time made me the most beautiful red coat with the red anchor buttons that she let me specially pick out on my own during a trip to the fabric store.  

The year my grandpa passed away happened to be the year all of my health problems started. My grandma joined in on the “fun” and went to all the doctors appointments with my parents and I so I had someone to keep me company in the waiting room when my parents had to spend time talking to the doctors and I was too young to hear what they were saying. This began a long and faithful journey that my sweet grandma would accompany me on through the next 18 years. 

As my health would continue to take hits and we would continue to find out one physical ailment after the other, my spirits would greatly suffer as well. My grandma recognized the toll it was taking on me physically and emotionally, she began instilling in me the mindset that giving up was never an option, that my strength was in Christ and that I had to lean into Jesus to get through every battle I was going to face. As a twelve-year-old girl she had me read books by Joni Ereckson Tada and I fell in love with them, wishing she had an endless supply.

We connected intimately over the health battles in each of our lives and I knew she was praying for me faithfully everyday with each obstacle I was facing head on. I often would send her emails pouring my heart out to her about my pain not only physically but the anguish in my heart and she would soon send a card with an encouraging verse or poem, reminding me that I was not alone-that God had not left me. As the years passed we grew closer and closer as life seemed to get harder and harder. I leaned into Grandma June and her spiritual wisdom because I wanted to learn everything I could from her journey with Christ and her deep faith.

After Nate and I got married we lived for a short time in San Jose and while we were looking for a place to live we got the amazing opportunity to live with her and Grandpa Jerry. As awkward as it was for newlyweds to be sleeping in two twin beds in the bride’s grandparent’s house it was a time I would never trade for anything. They counseled us in ways to make our marriage flourish, of how to live life together, and the four of us would sit together over dinner with no place to be or over a puzzle just sharing life.

With every health scare she had and every visit we shared there would be laughter and tears, sweet embraces and kisses and I’d beg her to keep hanging on as I told her I wasn’t ready for her to leave quite yet. I would always remind her that I still had things to learn. On what such visit, when we thought Grandma June might be getting close to death(but we were wrong) my Grandma gave me one of her bibles. For the last couple of years, as I’ve journeyed through a particular hard time in my life I have been reading through her bible, noticing the things she underlined and made notes on in the margins. Besides my wedding ring, I’ve never received a better gift.

Just over a year ago I found out the severity of my fertility issues and they crushed me. I literally have struggled in ways this year physically and emotionally that I have never experienced nor knew even existed. When I received the news and as each doctor’s appointment came and more news revealed, around every turn there was my grandma. Sending devotionals, emailing me verses,leaving voicemails to tell me she and Grandpa Jerry had just prayed for me. While I was doing everything on my end to hold onto my faith she was there to tell me she was holding me up with hers as well.

Two months ago when I received the news that Grandma June’s long, exhausting health battle was really coming to a close I came home to be with her. I wanted to make sure I told her how much she meant to me, how she impacted my life, and that because of her I knew Christ on another level that I may had never been able to experience because of how she had poured into me in the midst of my depression, poor health, and relentless pain. When I first arrived, she told me face to face that this time she would actually leave, and was in fact eager to get to Heaven, and then that lump caught in my throat. Ready or not I had to let her go and figure out a way to still learn from her faith without her physically being here.

I will say we had some hard conversations before her breathing deteriorated so intensely that talking was beyond what any of us wanted her to do. She challenged me, which was typical of her in every way, but she so sweetly spoke to me in love, showing her concern for my well being in life. I continued to visit her every few days and it wasn’t until the Sunday, six days before she went home to Heaven that I really grasped she wasn’t kidding, she was preparing for her last trip.

We had our last real conversation that day. The next day she would remain in bed and we’d only have little conversations with her as she began her hospice meds. I loved entering her room and giving her kisses and a squeeze- letting her know I was there. She knew it was me, would recognize me and tell me she loved me through mumbled words. I would relish when it was my turn right next to her head, where I would whisper that it was okay for her to go home, to go see Carl and Kevin, where I would get to rub her hair and pray for her.

On my last night with her, I think she knew I was there or at least that she wasn’t alone. We all knew it would be at any time and while all other nights that week I had left between 12am and 2:30am I couldn’t bring myself to leave. Her breathing was so labored and there were so many times when I thought a certain breath would be her last. In those times, I cradled her head oh so gently and I prayed for peace. I asked for the Holy Spirit’s presence to fill the room. I literally looked for angels to fill in the room around me. I sang to her her favorite hymns and told her how greatly loved she was, what a servant of Christ she’d been to all who knew for so long.

As dawn began to break I opened the window and cracked the blinds and put on a CD of her favorite hymns. I put it on repeat because I wanted it to continually play her favorite ones. Around twenty minutes after seven I prepared to leave because I knew my Grandpa would be there pretty soon. I told my Grandma I’d be back in a few hours to check on her but then thought twice and told her the last things I needed her to hear just in case those were my final moments in her presence. I texted Grandpa Jerry an update of all that had happened during the night, and headed to my car. Apparently we entered and exited through different doors because as I reached my car around 7:30 he had just reached her room, received my update and left me a voicemail. I decided to continue on my way home instead of going back to her room to see Grandpa Jerry as I was exhausted from staying up all night.

Shortly after returning home, I received the call that my Grandma finally got her lifelong desire to meet the Father face to face. With Grandpa Jerry by her side, she entered into Heaven at 8:05am and I know she was finally able to take a deep breath after having struggled to do so for these last two months. As a talented lifelong singer, I think she joined her most favorite choir with a heavenly host of angels.

Initially, I sat stunned that she was really gone. Even though I knew it would be any minute I had been in the mode of just taking care of her, being in that room, and perhaps thinking that’s what I’d do long term. Every night after work, I’d spend the nights sitting by her bed.

My grandma knew I had a big medical appointment coming up this week about my ongoing physical battles and she knew with it I would be faced with one of the biggest decisions of my life. As it approaches I feel a void where she’d normally be. Of course she wouldn’t be able to make the decision for me, but knowing her prayerful presence would be placing me at the foot of Jesus always brought me comfort.

This decision I face will most likely terminate my ablility to ever have children. My grandmother knows the great anguish I feel over this part of my life. The pain that has been eating away at me for so long and I so badly wish she was here to cry with. My desired plan for so long has been to have a daughter and for their middle name to be June. The namesake of my grandmother, my constant, a spiritual saint, and unwavering women of the Word. In my head I wanted her to come to the hospital and for me to hand her her great granddaughter. To present this precious baby to her, with a name that is a symbol of a tiny, tiny token of my massive gratitude for who she has been to me. Maybe with God’s grace there will one day be a child for Nate and I and he or she will know their Great Grandpa Jerry but until that time I feel the responsibility to carry on her legacy since I can’t do it with her name. I may not have her eyes, oh what I would give to see them open and sparkle at me with her smile just one more time, but I can pray to have a heart after Jesus which I so believe she had. It will take me a lifetime to achieve but I want to be like June. I want her intimacy with our savior because I always felt she had a better connection to Him than anyone else.

You may be gone, sweet Grandma June- but never forgotten. May I spend my days how you lived yours.- Pursuing Christ with everything in me and investing in others so they may come into a more richer, deeper, relationship with Him. I’m not sure where I go from here without you, but if I live my life like you did I trust I will be taken care of by our Father. I love you.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

To Toddy, on your big day.

Dear Toddy, Pooks, Dewty, Uncle Dewteroo,

Wow, Can You believe it’s here? The day you’ll wait down that aisle and when Kris and I walk towards you this time we won’t be in white and those treasured friends and brothers standing beside you are this time standing with you and for you and not you next to them in a supporting role. And when we finally all meet you up there, you’ll have Dad and Ryan by your side and Mom looking on with tears in her eyes and there she’ll be…You’re girl. The one you’ve fought for. And She’ll walk towards you in white and you’ll become man and wife. And you’ll take on your most important role yet. Husband.

It’s hard for me, your little sister, to imagine a more important role in your life than big brother because you’ve been the best one I could have ever dreamed of or hoped for.  Having had the opportunity to walk alongside of you for all of our lives and because of your amazing qualities as a big brother, I’m confidant that you’ll make one heck of a husband. And while at weddings it’s customary for the bride’s parents to give away their daughter to her groom…at this rehearsal dinner, in this moment, this little sister is giving her big brother away to his bride.

In complete and utter honesty, I’m not sure I’d be here without you Toddy. And I know a lot of people toss around that phrase, but if you know me, and you know my brother, this isn’t something I say lightly. There has been many a ledge this brother of mine has talked me down from or offered me hand and helped me off of, many a times where he was the one that showed up on that white horse and rescued me when no one else was around. I’ll never forget the summer where you spent a month sleeping on my floor because I was deeply struggling and there you were. You just showed up. Night after night, you’d make your bed on the floor next to my bed just to make sure I wasn’t alone.  Then there have been the encouraging letters you’ve left me that somehow appear just when I need them and the countless times you’ve answered the phone at any hour of the night. Sometimes, when I’m having a hard time, the best suggestion Nate has is “Should we call Toddy?”

You’ve taught me so much in life. Maybe most important being all the lyrics to Regulate by Warren G in the summer of  ’94. I’d rap the Nate Dogg part and you’d be Warren G. I don’t think any other 5th Grader that September had memorized that over the summer. You’ve helped me keep an open mind about a lot of things I might not have otherwise- in regards to politics and the world as a whole. I heard my first cuss words from your friends and cussed for the first time in front of you. You made sure I ushered in my 21st birthday properly and would show up at college or grad school when I couldn’t go home for a holiday so just you and I could celebrate it together. I’ll never forget when you threw me a surprise birthday party my freshman year at college and made me my favorite cake from scratch because the past year I’d spent my birthday at Remuda. You even went out of your way to invite my crush.

While our younger years were spent with you having a desire to torture me and a daily mission of yours was to make me cry, even after we got in trouble and were sent to our rooms, you’d creatively make amends with me by asking to color with me from our doorways. As we would slide our favorite Mr. Sketch markers back and forth, from doorway to doorway, up and down the hallway, you’d draw pictures of Dad passing gas because we were mad at him for making us stay in our rooms, and all would be okay between us again.  12 years down the road you’d use those same markers to draw me pictures of the sun and flowers while you were a senior in college and I a senior in high school, and you sent them to me in hopes of cheering me up as I fought for my life in a treatment center for anorexia.

I blame you and Ryno for the fact that I don’t laugh easily at other people’s lame jokes or attempts at being funny. You two have had me cracking up forever. I am never sillier than when I am with both of you. You are beyond funny. The three of us are so odd and Kris is so lucky to have us. How can we forget the day we pretended we were announcing the Kentucky Derby. That poor, poor horse. We’ll never know what happened but what a moment that was. Constant comedy in the fact that we’ve all become pros at sharing one bathroom between the four of us growing up and to this day when I’m visiting we get right back into our rhythm. Our bathroom conversations are always hysterical.

Katy, I’m excited to welcome you into this family. As you know we are a wild and crazy bunch and we love big and hard. I’m looking forward to getting to know you more. Things you may already know but must make a point of while being married to my brother: always hop on board if he’s making a sandwich- he has a gift. Let him make forts. He’s the king of cozy and can make any spot on the floor feel sweeter than a pillow top mattress. Buy a big refrigerator. Half of it will be 
consumed by condiments. Or at least ingredients he’ll use to concoct his own. Two words: Preventative Medicine- He’s horrible when he’s sick. He’s great at cleaning just ask my mom she’ll go on and on for hours about how he’s better at most things domestic than Kristi or I ever will be- more proof he’s her favorite. And as much as I’m sure you’re dreading this---you’ve signed up for a life of weekends that revolve around sports seasons and the foods we eat during them. That’s life as a Scudder, Gill, Miksch, or Bruce.

Toddy, I’m sad to say goodbye to the end of an era with you. To the days at 968, to us all getting ready for bed together, to pillow talk, to you coming in to say good night, to family trips where it’s Kristi and her fam in one room and me and my brothers in another, to me being your number one girl (even though I relinquished that position long ago when you and Katy got much more serious), and to most of all our childhood. Looks like you’re really growing up, huh? But, I’m so excited to watch you be a husband and then a father because I know you will be great at it.

You, my big brother, are loyal, hospitable, kind, compassionate, caring, family-oriented, generous witty, intelligent, big-hearted, humorous, worthy, deeply loved, and becoming more and more like Dad everyday. You understand me in a way that no one else can. And vice versa. I hope it’s a special connection we will always have. But now you have Katy and the two of you will take part in one of the most important and intimate relationships two people can venture on together. It will require patience, trust, and the act of living out love. There is no better time than now for this next adventure to begin. June 14, 2014: She will approach you in white and you’ll take her as your wife, and just as you’ve protected me, cherished me, cared for me as my older brother and best friend you will do the 
same for her and much, much more, but as her husband, confidant, love, and life partner. I love you, Dewty. Thank you for loving me like you have and looking out for me like you did. I’m so proud of you and who you are. I’m here cheering you and Katy on. Do me a favor and keep your phone on, K? You never know if I still might need a late night phone call once in awhile.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Looking for Sundays

National Infertility Awareness Week:

Introduction-


I am extremely blessed beyond words to have my partner, best friend, and husband alongside of me for every part of our journey. He keeps us laughing, he is selfless, and refuses to give up. We both believe that the length of our relationship has seen much more than some relationships and marriages will experience in their entirety. Lucky us!
This year especially has been one that has wiped us out. It has been a year where both of us have not known how to hold on as the storms have raged around us. We have kept to ourselves as we have suffered and tried to process through the news of our infertility. We wondered if it was appropriate news to share, who to share it with, how to share it, how people might respond, etc. Ultimately, with the encouragement of my husband we have decided to share with you via this blog. Some things we say might not make sense and that’s okay. This topic really can’t make sense unless you’re experiencing it or have experienced it. This week, National Infertility Awareness Week, is important to me. It’s the only time when I feel it’s really safe to say anything about this highly unspoken about topic.
This infertility has caused a great deal of stress in so many ways. It’s not what I expected but I didn’t really expect it. This National Infertility Awareness Week has given me time to reflect and think to how my life has changed a bit since my diagnosis. If I could offer two bits of advice for this week that most people don’t think about it would be this: a) Don’t ask an individual when her and her husband plan to have kids. I get this all the time and unless she’s one of your best friends it’s not appropriate and something we don’t want to have to think about if for some reason we are distracted and not fixated on it at the time.  b) I really debate sharing this one- I’ve strayed away from social media a lot since my diagnosis and have blocked some friends but perhaps it’s not necessary to post a picture of your child everyday on social media. I know they are adorable. I love them too but maybe just send it to family and close friends via text. I’m probably overstepping my grounds so I will stop.

Looking for Sundays
This year I abruptly entered a new decade. For what seemed like maybe even years prior the actual day that I would hit thirty years old, I felt flustered. In my head, I wasn’t worried about the number, getting older, etc- but for me it was a benchmark. A time that not only I was supposed to, but others as well, would stop and look back at what had happened so far. To be honest, even typing those words now increases my heart rate and has me looking around the room for a place to escape. That benchmark that I unconsciously placed in my head and on my heart was so far off from where I was, where I am now, and perhaps where I’ll ever be.
            The day I actually turned thirty I barely remember. Looking back now I can’t even recall the day of the week. I don’t even remember waking up and remembering it was my birthday. Very few days prior to my birthday I lost my little brother. Not the son of my mother and father but a young man I had known since the day he was born. His family and my family have been intertwined since before I was born- over 30 years. He was mine, he was ours. We lost him so unexpectedly that the days following the news of His departure were filled with shock, disbelief, horror, and a million things to do. I began the million things to do. I don’t think I slept for the better part of six days and when someone stopped to mention my birthday I was horrified. There was nothing to celebrate. Robby was gone. It was fitting now; it was fitting in my life. I ate breakfast at a restaurant, ordered a hot chocolate, and called it a day.
            Now this benchmark I mentioned. I pictured thirty as a time with a bit more stability. I mean, I know, I know- not a vacation home, 3-car family stability but definitely stability greater than this. I didn’t know that 18 years ago the journey that I began with my health and it’s difficulties would only continue to grow and debilitate me greater and greater as each day and year passes. I wasn’t aware that I would be an over-achiever for the first half of my life, graduate with two degrees, to only now be unable to work due to my illness and be completely ashamed of that. I didn’t know that my health would not only cause great financial stress on my family and prevent my husband and I from the only future we only dreamed of- being a mom and dad. That Benchmark- It had me standing tall- with the ability to look people in the eyes and tell them about what career I’m pursuing with my costly education, it saw me with two children(by now) or at least in the midst of raising one with one expected to arrived anytime now, and it saw me making my husband’s dreams of being a father come true. It wasn’t anything extreme. It didn’t even include the great American dream of owning a home(not yet at least). Yet I didn’t make it.
            This past summer, after a major operation and some extensive testing, Nate and I were told that we would never conceive a child on our own. Furthermore, we were told that someone should have told us this news when we first got married because it was never going to happen. In fact, if someone had told me when I was first diagnosed 10 years prior I might have had a chance at saving my eggs. Upon, seeing our fertility doctor we were then told the ranges I needed to be in were in the below, below normal range. I believe "dismal" is the word they were trying to find on their charts. As far as egg supply goes, I’m not even on the chart anymore.
            There has never been a time in our marriage where Nate and I haven’t been “trying” to start a family. Having had to have emergency surgery on my reproductive organs just 3 weeks before our wedding and having had a total of over 13 reproductive surgeries we knew that it was never something we should put on hold. However, the finality of the words from a doctor that it would “never,” that I was “barren,” that we should have been told this “years ago,” that it was time for a “hysterectomy,” they sent us to a place where we never thought we’d see. A place where silence rang a blood curdling scream, and where words failed to issue any repose.
            I cried. I screamed. I didn’t leave the house for days at a time. I withered in pain and Nate and I stared endlessly at each other as we realized our dreams and the future as we had always imagined was over. I grieved the daughter Nate and I named years ago even though she never really existed.  The son I dreamed would look just like my husband, I tried to lay to rest in my mind. And then I realized I couldn’t pack it all away in a box in a few weeks time because a month went by and I was still not okay and one month became two and two became five and our story just seemed like it left us farther and farther alone.
At first we didn’t know how to share our new normal or even if to share or who to share it with.  I remember begging Nate to not tell his family, afraid that they might not want me as his wife if I couldn’t give them any little babies. As we researched further and met more with our doctors we researched we did have the option to try IVF and that they encouraged it. But it was likely to take three rounds and with our circumstances one round would cost between $30-35,000. But, it was this one bit of hope.  
As we began to tell close family and friends we began to notice a separation begin to develop between them and us. At first everyone suggested adoption or foster care right off the bat. We had researched and are proponents of both but feel like right now our hearts couldn’t handle the uncertainty of foster to adopt and while I have an adopted brother and nephew and that is not completely off our plates but we struggle with the financial aspect of that and the emotional impact of that in our lives right now as we are so freshly grieving infertility. A blog that explains this well, from a mother who actually did adopt can be found at: (http://hannahbunker.com/formysistersstillwaitingformotherhood/). Also, those that we told said they’d start a fundraiser on our behalf for IVF. Something we’d never heard of but we were thankful for based on my medical circumstances but also something we never saw come to fruition. It was hard to talk about with anyone because unless you’ve truly been there you can’t understand and that’s totally okay but at the same time you so deeply yearn to be understood. Many of my relationships have suffered because of this awful disease, including my closest ones with my mom, sister, and siblings. While on the flip side, your friends, are all at a thriving place in their lives, pregnant or raising families, feeling almost guilty for having something they’ve worked hard for but you can’t have. It’s this invisible barrier between the two of you and if you’re on the infertile side you realize that as life progresses that bridge only grows wider because family is what we want all our lives to be about and Nate and I are scratching our heads right now trying to figure out what the future is like if we aren’t raising a family and spending time with our friends and their families. How do we not covet? How do we not get jealous? How are we not frustrated or angry at our circumstances? How come having a family for us will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars that we do not have access to when they just got to intimately love their husband or wife?
On Good Friday, at the end of the service the pastor got up and said in summary, “What’s great about Friday for us is that we know Sunday is coming. We can go through tonight and tomorrow and come Sunday morning we can rejoice and know that there is Victory and Death no more. However, what breaks my heart is that there are so many of us in this room that are living in a Friday world. Where you are depressed. Where things are constantly broken. Where you are broken and hopeless and filled with pain. Or you are living in a Saturday world. Where you are brooding, wondering what the future holds, or if it holds anything in store for you. Again, it just seems so desperate or hopeless. You are living in a world without Sundays.” Without looking at my husband, I knew this hit his heart like it had mine. Currently, we are living in a world without Sundays. I don’t know if I will miraculously one day carry a child or if we will one day be in a financial position where we can afford to adopt a family, but I know God wants victory in our pain, in our brokenness, and in our defeat. I can tell you right now it hurts more than I thought possible and to see my husband’s pain through this will never be something I can bring to justice but this isn’t about benchmarks. It’s about the raw sanctity of life and how it’s never how we planned and how if people are looking and they get a glimpse of mine, oh well. Take a good hard look. It’s not anything like I planned. And I’m guessing if we were in the lunch yard in elementary school you wouldn’t be trying to trade me a darn thing. But, here I am- I cry in the car when I’m driving alone and sometimes when I catch my husband staring at a baby or child while we are running errands on the weekend. I know I’ll recognize it when I see it, I’m hoping it’s soon and whether it’s wrapped and swaddled with sweet red hair or a deep breath of air, a warmth, or a peace, I’ll see her when she’s coming and she shall be called Sunday.