A Lesson in Hope…..

This post is LONG overdue, but life has been busy and I wanted to make sure I took the appropriate time to write it right….its long – but its good – God is good.  You have been warned. 🙂

I just re-read my last two fertility related posts and to remember where I was emotionally when we were going through IUI 5.0.  Ya’ll I was done, I was over it.  I hadn’t given up that God would work a miracle and allow us to get pregnant.  God had spoken to me long ago, “Tonya, you will be a Mom, but my timing is perfect and better than yours….but it is going to be a journey.  Ride along with me.”  I did believe that and Alex would remind me when I was weak and would doubt.  I was over the process and being consumed by appointments and shots and emotional roller coasters.  I was over being defined as “Tonya the infertile — battling through infertility.”  Going into 5.0, I was just done…that is the best way I can define it, especially when we hit a mini road bump and I had to get back on birth control for a couple weeks.  So, I made a decision — we were just going to power through 5.0 to get to 6.0 so the IUI segment of our fertility journey could be DONE.  I wasn’t going to stress about it and was just going to be me.  So, as discussed in a previous post, we did only one IUI on the day that was most convenient for us.  We had social events and drank wine.  I went to spin and didn’t stress over if I was going “too hard.”  We enjoyed life and I started to feel more like me and less like a shell of me.  God walked me through, how to do that and what that looked like.  God used my patient, gracious husband to support me exactly as I needed. He kept me balanced.  We found ourselves in IUI 5.0 still HOPING the Lord would bless us with a child, but content in our own identities.  For the first time, I felt like not being pregnant wasn’t a void, although it was something we desperately wanted.  God allowed us to be ok with being us in whatever shape God was willing to make our family portrait look.  Such peace.  It is very hard, but God has a way to comfort you in difficult times where the loss, hurt, desire, need is not gone, but you don’t feel its absence because you are allowing God to carry the loss, hurt, desire, need etc and you are not trying to battle it alone.   This has been my lesson in all of this…. Hope. That is what it looks like to HOPE in the Lord….to not hold back your desire or need, but to also fully relinquish it to Him and to LET GO and allow Him to work.

Well, following an IUI, you start the “two week wait” which is commonly discussed on fertility forums etc.  A horrible two weeks of waiting to hear “Am I” or “Am I Not.”  Stick with me, this is where my lesson in hope shifts gears.

My blood test to determine if I was pregnant or not was scheduled for Friday May 8th, 2015.  As you continue on….please hear all the ways that God used our friends and family over the next week.  God is SO faithful, even in our weaknesses. As that week began, I started getting emails, texts and phone calls from friends and family encouraging me.  Telling me they are praying for Alex and I.  Checking in on my emotional state.  On Tuesday morning, I woke up praying “God, please let this one work.”  That prayer surprised me — you know when you are praying and the words that come are not what you would have thought you would have prayed?  (anyone with me?)  Anyways, after saying that prayer I was thinking, “When is the last time I prayed that?”  I had been praying to get through to IVF, for my hormones to balance so I could finish IUI 5.0, for health and safety, but never for 5.0 to work (or 2.0 or 3.0 for that matter).  At the exact same time Lindsey texted me and said that I was heavy on her mind and that she was praying for me.  I got out of bed and decided to take a pregnancy test. I had one in a box from before we started the fertility treatment, but I had never felt inclined to take it since before Christmas.  I figured it couldn’t hurt so I took the test.  Since it was only a couple days from my blood test I also assumed it would be somewhat accurate.  Bri would always remind me to “trust the test.” So that was my plan.  (Bri and I found it was easier emotionally to just trust the test than to psycho analyze whether the test was right or wrong)  Anyways, I took the test and it was negative.  I was assuming IUI 5.0 would be unsuccessful because from a medical standpoint and based on history, we had no reason to expect otherwise.  If you are going through fertility issues, you are constant wavering between being optimistic and guarding yourself from getting your hopes up.  If you are a faith believing person this is only heightened because you are also wavering between doubting and trusting God.  My friend Caitlin texted me on Tuesday and asked how I was doing and when my blood test was scheduled.  I told her about my negative test and she offered encouraging words.  (unbeknownst to me, she had been praying and felt that God was telling her otherwise, so on that Tuesday of my negative test she ordered a onesie that read “For this child, I have prayed.)  On Thursday, Erika showed up at my office to pray for my blood test the following day.  I prayed for her as well as they were expected to find out over the weekend if this month was successful for them as well.  I had been praying for Erika fervently and KNEW that this was the month she would be pregnant.  I told her this during our time of prayer and she said she had the same feeling about me.  I unfortunately gave this comment of hers no weight because over the past 4 years, those words have been spoken by various people many times and up until now had not proven true.  (this is one of those “guard your expectations” moments)  Thursday night I spent some time with Lindsey and we discussed the test the next day.  She encouraged me with great words and I went to bed.

Are ya’ll still with me?!?  Keep reading!

On Friday, I went to the doctor to take my blood test.  I usually do not hear from them until after lunch time, so I came into work as usual.  Around 11, I missed a call from my nurse at HFI.  As I was on hold calling them back, I went ahead and logged into the portal.  Normally when I log in after my blood test you can see your results and any messages they may have sent you.  Historically there would be no message because when they called they would say, “The test was negative, wait to start your cycle and then schedule to come in on your Day 3 to start the next round.”  I was surprised to see that I had a message.  The message read “Continue taking progesterone once per day.”  I was thinking that was odd because you normally stop on the date of your blood test.  It made me question my results, so I went over to my actual results to check my HCG level.  (FYI –> HCG = 0 when not pregnant; HCG > 0 when pregnant)  To my SHOCK, I had an HCG level!!  I was stunned.  I did what any girl does when they are super excited, I started jumping all over my end of the office.  Seeing as how it was a Friday, the office was quiet, so I ran jumped my way over to Nicole’s desk screaming “I HAVE HCG! I HAVE HCG!” to which she replied “What does that mean?” (pretty sure she thought I had an STD)  I responded “It means I AM PREGNANT!!!” to which she responded “then STOP jumping!!”  God has blessed me with such an amazing support team here at work.  Realizing I was still holding my phone waiting for the nurse, I put the phone back up to my ear.  When Joy answered the phone, I said “Am I seeing what I think I am seeing?”  She said, “we are as surprised as you.  We checked your results three times, YOU ARE PREGNANT.”

Phew…anyone else need a breath here.  WHAT?  That is right!  We are having a baby!!!

Since I royally screwed telling Alex we were pregnant when we got pregnant back in 2013, I had a plan of redemption.  I jumped in my car and drove to The Woodlands to tell Alex in person.  He was at lunch, so I parked in the parking lot and told him to come out to his car.  He was nervous to see me and I was SO nervous to see him…it was like wedding day jitters all over again.

We are having a BABY!

GUYS……we are having a BABY!!!!  Praise the Lord for answering our prayer of HOPE!

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Baby Leiva is arriving January 2016

Where to begin…..

This was posted back in May, but it was private.  I am switching to public now….trying to get caught up on some blog writing.

It has been a long time since I have posted an update on our journey through infertility.  Emotionally, it was harder to share all these details month by month as I was digesting them so I stalled my posting.  Here is a sum up….

In January, we found out that insurance would require 6 IUI attempts before they would cover IVF.  They would count the two attempts made last summer so that left four more with Houston Fertility Institute.  At the time we received this information we were a little overwhelmed with the idea of four IUIs and that this time it would involve injections.  Plus, I knew emotionally, four IUIs back to back would be very draining.

So we dove in and knocked out IUI 3.0 and 4.0 back to back with no success.  Entering into IUI 5.0, I was feeling “over” the whole process.  We still had two IUI’s to go and then IVF and I was just over it.  Then, to make it even more emotional, my hormones went crazy, so they had to put me on birth control to level off my estrogen and progesterone.  I was on birth control two weeks.  As this month was going on, it was butting up against a work trip that Alex had, so I was also nervous about completing our IUI before he left.

For IUIs, the doctors prefer to do two attempts back to back.  When scheduling our IUI, Vanessa, my nurse at HFI asked me if we wanted to do IUI on Thursday and Friday or Friday and Saturday.  I informed her that I only wanted to do one IUI.  I just wanted to get IUI 5.0 over with so we could move on to our last IUI.  Each day you spend at the surgery center for the IUI you are sitting in a waiting room for half the day for a 10 minute procedure – I was not interested in doing that two days for 5.0.  She then said, “ok your best chance will be to do the IUI on Saturday then.”  I told her I would rather do Friday because Alex had a golf tournament on Saturday.  She just kind of laughed at the fact that we were trying to get pregnant, yet didn’t want to do two attempts or complete IUI on the day that gives us the best odds.

We completed IUI 5.0 on Friday and went about our business in the “two week wait” for the blood test.

Defeat is a four letter word….

Have you ever had one of those weeks, or couple of weeks, where you just felt overwhelmed, insufficient, drained and well….defeated?

This is the way I have felt much of the last month.  What is strange is that there is no HUGE drama or issue that would cause me to feel this way.  It was just a serious of small things that never seemed to go exactly right.  Like a puzzle piece that looks like it fits, but is just not quite right.  Small things at work, where I felt inadequate and wanted to scream “I am doing the best that I can people. I am only human.”  Times where you try to approach things with integrity, try to be fair to those you work with, give to others and end your day feeling like you just didn’t cut it.  It.just.wasn’t.enough.

But then at the end of the day, my wonderful, patient husband would ask me how my day went and why I felt so defeated, and I wouldn’t be able to express one particular thing that took me down.  On top of tangible dramas, the last month has been a challenge for me emotionally – this is likely more so the cause of feeling so overburdened.  We started this month ready to jump into IUI 5.0 but my hormones were out of whack and a cyst showed up on my left ovary.  This meant that IUI 5.0 had to take a back seat and I had to go on birth control for a couple weeks.  (a little known fact: while it seems VERY counterproductive, when going through fertility treatments, you often have to jump on and off birth control to help level out hormones, shrink cysts etc)  I was so frustrated to have to slow the process and get on birth control.  In my mind, I just want to get through IUI 5.0 and IUI 6.0 so we can move on to IVF.  There I go again, pushing my time table and my schedule….rather than trusting God through the process. Entering our FIFTH IUI was hard for me mentally too — not close to being “done” with this phase, but also not new to it.  After 3 months of hormone injections and progesterone supplements and 6 week cycles, followed by 3 week cycles, followed by 2 week cycles, it is no wonder my body is confused.  Come on body — just keep up with me a little bit longer.  We can do this!

Anyways, I just go to the point where I was thinking ” I am just over this….I am over the shots and blood draws and ultrasounds and the mentality of just wanting to “get through” the IUIs to get to IVF.  Nothing will make you feel defeated like spending all this time, energy and money, but yet not expecting a result because the doctor says it is unlikely the IUI will be effective.  Blah.

On Easter, the Pastor at my parents church was talking about the resurrection (shocking I know being Easter).  He spent a good amount of time talking about Jesus defeating the grave.  It made me evaluate how I define defeat versus how Jesus defines defeat in defeating the grave through resurrection.  In my definition of defeat, I allow outside circumstances and my own personal enemies to bring me down and define me.  Jesus defeated the grave because He allowed God’s will to be done.  He chose obedience in God’s will over his own emotions.  Prior to being crucified, He even asked God that if His will would be possible without the crucifixion, that God would allow that to occur.  It obviously was not possible and Jesus obediently followed and fulfilled His calling.  In my defeat, I am taking all my worldly fears, stresses and doubts and pouring them over myself like a molding clay and pretty soon, my exterior is no longer me, but is the defeat I have smothered myself with.  Instead, I need to be allowing God to fight my battles for me from the inside out.  He can shield me from all the things life throws at me.

“Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.
 He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer,my shield,              in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”  -Psalm 144:1-2

I have prayed a lot the last few weeks.  I have prayed that I would lean in to God in my times of weakness.   I have prayed that I would trust Him.  I have prayed that I would not have the attitude of “I just need to get through this” and would instead appreciate every day we are blessed to have life.  I don’t want to miss what God has for me in this season that is SO challenging. I don’t want to miss the relationships he is developing or the ways He is and will use my story.

In the last month God has shown me is that defeat is a choice.  You can choose to defeat your struggle or you can let your struggle defeat you.  God has also blessed me hugely in the last month to discover Revolution Studio.  This spin studio is like NO OTHER spin studio in existence.  Their goal is to leave you empowered and inspired.  Oh my – do they ever.  I have left almost in tears more than once because how the instructors encourage.  At Revolution Studio, they call themselves warriors.  If you ride with them, you are also a warrior.  They remind you to push through struggle — to battle it out.  They remind you that your time in the studio is ONLY for you! Finally something FOR me! I was trying to explain it to my friend today.  When you are going through infertility, your life is consumed with details about your body, your emotions, your medications, your cycle, you, you, you.  It seems like you have a microscope on everything — its all about you.  It is draining and exposing; it is all about you, but….it is not FOR you.  You go through every day thinking about what day you are on, “Hi my name is Tonya and I am a day 12″(any of my other infertility sisters with me?), what medication you need to take today, what time you have to be at the doctor, what side effect you will be feeling etc etc, all while seeing everyone (or what feels like everyone) growing their families with ease.  That overexposure sometimes can leave you feeling empty.  Well, the instructors at Revolution Studio remind you that this time is just for you.  Leave your baggage on the bike through sweat and tears.  It is FOR you.

Picture Courtesy of Revolution Studio

I just can’t say enough about the blessing of Revolution Studio.  I can’t spin during the “two week wait” but can’t wait to my next ride.  Thank you to Michael, Sydney, Mel and Kim for changing my life.  (those are the only instructors I have been able to ride with yet)  Anyways, check them out if you want a community where you can encourage one another and sweat something crazy.  You won’t regret it.  They have three Houston locations.

Wrapping up I promise – this week is National Infertility Awareness Week.  If you are trying to have a baby and feeling lost or defeated, know that there is God who loves you and can comfort you.  Know also, that you have a friend in me that can and we can walk through the journey together.  Find a way to battle through the struggle — for me it is in His healing Word, through the support of my amazing husband, family and sisters and in my time at Revolution Studio.

Blessings my friends!

Stitch Fix

Have you tried Stitch Fix yet???

Stitch Fix is an online personal shopper.  You go online and fill out a profile and then as scheduled, they send you 5 articles of clothing.  You are not obligated to buy anything, so if you don’t find anything you like, you can return and you are just out the $20 shipping.

I recently tried my second Stitch Fix.   Here are the pieces I received:

1.) Bandana Tank – this was really cute on, but the price point was higher than I wanted to pay.

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2.) Navy Blue – Pleather Jacket –> Loved this and did end up buying it.

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3.) Blue Dress – I really liked this, but the size wasn’t quite right.

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4.) Spring Sweater – although this was cute, sweaters in Spring in Texas don’t really work out too well.

 

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5.) Black Skinny Jeans – I actually requested no pants for this go round, so these were a little disappointing.

 

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Overall, I really like Stitch Fix.  I have scheduled my next one for May, so we will see what I get.  My friends have said each “fix” gets better and better and closer to your particular style.

If you want to schedule your own fix, go here!

Let me know if you try it out!

Fill This House

What is it about a house that brings people together?  When we first discussed moving out of the Wilcrest house and looking for a new home, it was in large part to be part of a community and find a home that allowed us to know our neighbors and feel connected.  When our builder mentioned his available Taylorcrest lot, we were very excited about its location and really felt right about moving forward.  This was especially true because at the time we met with our builder back in 2013, we were expecting after trying for over a year.  After our first meeting with the architect, I was giddy.  We drove through our new neighborhood on our way home from the meeting and drove by the lot that would one day host our home and all I could think was “we finally get to fill our house!”  I also may have excitedly mentioned to Alex that I could finally join the Wilchester Mom’s Club.  I was in the club.

Well, as you know, God did not allow us to meet that precious baby and I am not officially “in the club” {YET} but I continued to pray, God fill this house, God fill this house.  We want a family, fill this house!  God is still walking us through the process of trying to conceive and is teaching us a lot about trust, grace, patience, oh and trust.  What surprised me though is that God DID answer my prayer to fill our home even without blessing us with a baby.  On Valentine’s Day, we invited over our friends The Jacksons and The Pinckney’s.  They each have a little boy that is almost three.  We spent the night sharing a meal, and enjoying the outdoors (it was one of our gorgeous 70 degree weekends before the last cold fronts of the year pushed through).  The boys spent the night playing….they played in the cul de sac and watched some of their favorite shows.  Towards the end of the evening, they had taken to the backyard to play “ninja” and run.  They ran and giggled and tumbled and squealed.  All the adults would take turns “scaring” them and they would collapse with laughter onto the grass.  At that moment, I was catching my breath from chasing the kids around and God gently tapped on my heart and said “see, your house is FULL and not with people but with love.”

FAMILY

Where life begins and love never ends.

Since moving in, we have hosted Alex’s family, my family, our friends and our neighbors.  We have even had a couple overnight guests – one of which is VERY special to me.

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There are few things that I love more than this little girl, as well as my friends’ children.  God is teaching me a new definition of Family.  It is not about bloodline – it is about love.  Plus, being an adult that wants children of my own, but not at the point yet where God has allowed that to happen, I am BEYOND grateful to my friends that allow me to love THEIR children as if they were my own.

I have said it numerous times, but the greatest blessing out of our Infertility Story thus far is that I will NEVER doubt the support system God has established around Alex and I.  From supporting us in our journey specifically, to filling our hearts with our family.  Let me introduce you to my family…..they can be seen in our parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles, or in our cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, but my family also includes our friends, in my besties and WOW sisters.  My family live here in Texas, but also in Minnesota, Bellingham, Culver City and Nashville and even abroad.  Thank you God for filling our home with LOVE.

My roommate from College, Lori, makes these beautiful wood signs.  When we first contracted with our builder, I asked her to make me one for my home.  I told her I wanted Romans 12:10-13 to be the prayer of my home and family.  A part of our family mission statement if you will.

“Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.”

Here is what Lori came up with…..it is perfect!  And now recognizing the ways God has already filled our home with love, these verses mean even more to me.

Check Lori out on Facebook. Good Day Gifts, Franklin.

Blessings on your Friday.  I have lots of blogging to catch up on…don’t give up on me!

What Blessing Looks Like

Do you know what blessing looks like?  It is more than something you give or receive; it has a persona all its own.  I have been blessed to be a part of a bible study for over 6 years….and God used this weekend to remind me yet again how much He has provided through this study.  
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In over three years of trying to get pregnant, this group of women (not all are pictured above), has prayed for Alex and I, cheered for us, cried with us, gotten angry with us, and supported us every step of the way.  I will NEVER deserve the love I receive from these ladies — but God gave me such a beautiful vision of blessing in these ladies at our bible study retreat this past weekend.

Because of some insurance requirements, we will be doing a few months of IUI before jumping into IVF.  Our fertility doctor uses injections instead of Clomid, so as luck would have it, my very first injection ever was Friday night at bible study retreat.  I was a little nervous to do my injection, so all my girls decided to circle around me and pray as Alex and I start the process and then they all wanted to watch me take my first injection.

Here is my cheer squad as Christy, Kim and I prepped my first injection.  It actually was such a sweet moment with my friends that I never forget it.  Made me excited about the process.

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Saturday during retreat we shopped around Gruene in the rain and finished up at the Gristmill.  Kim took this pic of us all walking out arm in arm and I just love it.  Such sweet friendships.

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We spent most of the weekend at Lessie’s beautiful house in Gruene talking and laughing.  Can I please tell you that 48 hours of laughing is just good for the soul.  I came back feeling so refreshed.

Thank you Jesus for teaching me about blessing.  I look forward to how you will continue to weave the love within this group of women.  I know that no matter WHAT life throws at us, we will walk through life’s joys, sorrows, challenges and fun, arm in arm, one foot after another.

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