Sunday, December 09, 2007

God of Miracles & Thoughts

My friend Anna, who I've mentioned on here before, called me yesterday. She told me, "I'm here to say God is a God of miracles." Now, coming from her, that's what her very life is a testimony of. She has had cancer twice(Hodgkins Lymphoma Stage IV - cancer of the lymphatic system) by the time she was 21. She pursued many avenues of treatment. The first time low-dose chemo plus a miracle took it completely away. Yet within 2 years is was back. This time it took taking her immune system down to nothing (read: isolation & white blood count of zero) to harvest & transplant back her own stem cells. Years of fighting this, immense pain, praying, hoping, and hanging on... With the cancer gone the second time, the Lord brought a husband into her life (a longtime friend), Glenn. With Anna back to health, the lingering effect of the cancer on her was devastating: she was told her body had already gone through menopause and she would not produce any eggs normally for a pregnancy to ensue. She is one of 10 kids herself and loves children (spending months in Romania ministering to orphans). Yet she still prayed. She and I have prayed and cried many hours for one another in this common desire.

About a month ago, while being prayed over, God gave her a specific child to pray for - Faith Joy. So she did. And within this time-frame, God has poured out His love for her and Glenn and given them this longed-for pregnancy! God is a miracle-worker. She is evidence of that in numerous ways! And so we rejoice with her for this! She has been my prayer-target, when I've felt hopelessly burdened with my load, I have cried out for her, as I did for my friend Lis. And God has answered both those cries. I guess I need a new prayer-target now. Yes.

So though it's not me, God has shown a miracle this day. And as part of my family, I rejoice for my sister Anna and God's working!!

----------
Aside from that, I have been thinking. Not long ago, someone posted about a charming little tradition of writing out the year's events on an ornament to hang. My frist thought, though, was about how that tradition is only quaint when the years have been blissful. I quickly figured 2007 could say: "IVF, Dead Baby, Granddaddy's Altzhimers, 'Unspoken Devastation', Step-Grandmother's Cancer/Stroke". I was glad we'd never had such a tradition. And then, realizing it could say much worse, I made a point to think it could also say: "GA move, Buying Our First House, Stuart's college graduation, Michael/Carter's HS graduation, Fred courting Mary, Achieving Pregnancy, Bahamas Cruise, 7 yrs at my incredible job, 3 yrs of marriage, 34 yrs of marriage for Dad&Mom, Suzanne's Great Semester at PCC, 2 beautiful healthy-nieces...etc"

My point? Though there are some serious things that have been unbelievably painful this year, there have been many more things to praise the Lord for. So even through the blinding-tears I have right now, I will praise the Lord for the "blessings" and the heart-wrenchingly painful times, because He Loves Us. That's a truth no event changes.

(P.S. I remain very scared of posting either my peaks or pitfalls. I am afraid if I post too much of my pain that I'll be ignored and thought faithless, childish, and ungrateful. I am afraid if I post of the encouragement I receive in my spirit, everyone will breathe a sigh of relief that I'm finally all right and have "gotten over" it. I know there's a balance, I've yet to find it. Thank you unspeakably Juli,Karen,Lisi&Susi for the emails/comments. Responses soon.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

newpost

I know it's been almost a month without a post, but I have not had much to say. We had a wonderful time visiting our families around Thanksgiving (always sad for it to end). My friend Rebecca & her 21 month old daughter came to visit me last week (yes, she had a free ticket & of all people came to see me). Couldn't have had a greater time with them. Jonathan & I got all our Christmas decor up, & it's gorgeous (only our 2nd Christmas we've actually been able to decorate for, what with moving the last two Decembers).

Other than that, nothing else new is going on. I've honestly been entirely too sad and discouraged to post anything, and in trying to watch what I say I will not here post how I am feeling. Yes, it was 7 weeks ago our baby died, but it still hurts immensely. Today I'd have been 14 weeks, and I don't have to count to know that, it's ingrained in my mind. We've been left with nothing to pursue until Jonathan's deployment is over, so it feels like 6 months of wasted time ahead. I try to believe it isn't, since it must be God-ordained. Perhaps if you don't understand, you can read musings on Lisi's or Molly's (who I don't know personally) or Ellen's blog entries, and know in different ways they all express places I've been (or maybe still am at).

I wish you all a wonderful, blessed, merry Christmas season!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday

I'll take a break from actually talking about my emotions and thoughts of late, although overall they are good. I had a friend send me a sermon her husband preached where he talked about the parable about the unjust judge and told us to "keep crying out." He said, "And when God seems distant, deaf, and silent, when our prayers are not answered with the swiftness and response that we desire, there is really nothing I can say to make things better. Instead, it is what God says to us. In the silence, while we wait for the justice we think needs to be served, we hear God calling to us, promising to us that he is not like a father who tries to sleep through his child's crying, or like an unjust judge that ignores the needs of others. We hear God calling to us, "Keep crying outto me! I hear you, I feel your pain, and I cry with you! Keep crying out to me, I hear you, and I am with you always! Keep crying out to me, you are my child, I hear you, and I love you!" How my heart needs that reminder (thank you Adam & Karen)!

So, for the time being we are visiting our families in North Carolina! We have not been able to visit them since July 4th weekend. Little Shiona is supposedly talking a lot now, so I cannot wait to hear that! Katrina is all excited about the girls doing a "tea party" with her, where she gets to wear a "pretty dress." I get to see Carter's new 'Stang, get to hear all about Suzanne's classes this semester, and Mary's final days working at Lancome... I could say something about everyone, but that'll just have to hold until later. Just getting to visit my family, Jonthan's family, and see friends at church will be sweet indeed.

I am, however, so sad to be away from Georgia this week, because my best friend there is probably having her baby this week! She is due the 18th, but it's her 3rd so she may go a bit early. I have been doing stuff with her multiple times a week to squeeze in as much time as possible. On Thursday we packed the baby's going home bag and picked out the cutest outfits (it's a girl!). So... it's sad, yet her mom and sister will be in town anyway, so my help won't be needed, but the fact that the baby will be a week old before I see her possibly is sad! Kristy has been so kind, the day after the miscarriage she offered to come by with Starbucks, and I really needed to not be alone. I acepted, and she brought the most thoughtful presents and stayed for as long as I needed her and has cried with me many times (who will do that for someone else's baby? she will). She has listenend to me many hours, prayed with me, and offered so much empathy and wise advice. She is such a wise, Godly woman, and one of the truest friends I have had. And she is the Life Group leader's wife. Isn't is amazing how God has lead us again and again into such real relationships with our Life Groups at all three churches? No coincidence. I love our church the more we are there, and our Life Group is really solidifying too (we haven't been meeing that long).

I would love to do some photo entries soon, but I left my cable at home. However, if I feel like it I'll update while I'm in NC. I hope people still read this, I know I'm getting ~30 hits a day on each website, but my comment level is horribly low. :/ So hopefully the more upbeat entry will prompt some of you silent people into saying hello.

Monday, November 05, 2007

More Quotes

If you aren't fond of reading quotes, I apologize. But when I simply can't put into words the depths of pain and questions and confusion that are in my heart, this is all I can offer right now. Take them as my words, because they speak what I cannot.

“Bridge players tell me that there must be some money on the game, ‘or else people won’t take it seriously.’ Apparently it’s like that. Your bid – for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity – will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high, until you find that you are playing not for counters or for sixpences but for every penny you have in the world. Nothing less will shake a man – or at any rate a man like me – out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.” -C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

"Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torture your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’
That is why He warned people to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians. ‘Make no mistake,’ He says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you chose, you can push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect – until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with Me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.’" -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Quote

In Piper's Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, one of the chapters is written by a man whose son was born premature and lived only 20 minutes. He had some piercing observations that just bring me to tears with how true they are right now. No one likes to talk to or be around someone who is sad or suffering very long (I've seen this). It makes them confront the fact that if my suffering is not a punishment or explainable, they too may one day feel the pain. It's scary and uncomfortable. And yet, my life right now is one of suffering, trials, and brick wall after brick wall. When we think we've had all the trials heaped upon us we're ready to bear up under, something else comes like a swift blow and I'm left dizzy with the implications. It's just a time of intense hardship. A season, perhaps. But here's the book's quote:

“I believe this avoidance of grief in our culture results from not knowing how to deal with pain. We get uncomfortable when we hear people question God. We like to give easy answers to try to minimize the pain. When someone says that they feel God has forsaken them, we think we must quickly preach the truth that he will never leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5), or they will fall away and lose their faith.
Part of the problem is that we do not see such pain and deep grief as normative in the Christian life. Yes, we all know that suffering is normative, but we don’t take the time to really talk about the pain involved in suffering. After all, it isn’t suffering if it doesn’t hurt.
When we read about great saints of the past, we hear about their suffering, which is immediately followed by their triumph through Christ. Rarely do we truly enter with them into their dark night of the soul, when all around them nothing makes sense.
"

He then tells the story of nineteenth-century theologian Robert Dabney, who lost his two sons at different times. He said, "The great truths of the Gospel fell flat after his second son died and he remined 'numb, downcast, almost without hope and interest.' He says this makes us uncomfortable! Yet he DID triumph later & God carried him through faithfully. But he says, "Let us not so quickly go from the affliction to the deliverance and thus minimize the pain in between. God's promises of deliverance does not mean that he will immediately deliver us. For many, deliverance only comes with death."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Now & Our Story

Two weeks now. Two long weeks since we lost our baby. I wanted to write more in depth about that fateful night, but before going into that I would like to say something first. Amazingly, after a horrible first week, this last week has been much better. Better in that I am now able to receive some measure of hope and peace in my heart. Each day the first week there was something that came to remind me we weren't alone in sorrowing, we were remembered. It helped just to know that when I felt too overwhelmed to choke out anything in my prayers but tears, somehow other believers were lifting us up.

I took some time one evening to specifically seek out Truth, Biblically and Intellectually, about suffering. Outside at Starbucks alone, I read A Greif Observed, the chapters 'Is Christianity Hard or Easy' and 'Counting the Cost' in Mere Christianity, the chapter 'Waiting for the Morning during the Long Night of Weeping' in Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (written by a man whose son died shortly after birth). I gained fresh perspective, again having the truths I knew made unambiguous in my mind again. I had all the tools for battle and had been given fresh vision, yet I felt so weary knowing we're still in the trenches. God still requires much of us. But he knows how frail and weak I am, and without shame I can tell Him I don't feel I have the mental energy and spiritual stamina for this battle. He will be gracious not to rebuke, but to enable. Just a little at a time though, I know enough to be aware God wants a daily reliance on Him to be the cornerstone of my existance.

So, whoever has prayed for us, the Lord is answering. I can't thank you enough. I feel a bit shy sometimes that we need SO much prayer, but that is pride.

So, without further drivel, I wanted to tell our story. It is sad, but I'm not depressed in writing it.

Two weeks ago today Jonathan woke at 5 so he could go hunting. I reset the alarm for 7 and slept until then. I didn't feel great upon waking, I had a sore throat that threatened to become worse. Once up I showered, took my vitamins, ate breakfast and started about cleaning the house. Feeling better and especially productive, I pulled out the vacuum. It was terribly hard pushing it and I felt I shouldn't be vacuuming. But I did. I brewed myself a pot of tea and started about writing my cousin Lauren a letter. Jonathan walked in midway through it, so I set it aside.

I really don't recall what we did that day. We may have gone out for some errands. We definitely just had a relaxing and fun Satruday with each other. I think I practiced shooting arrows on my brand new bow outside in the target. We agreed to fix "breakfast for dinner" together. Around 6 we started preparing an English fry up, hash browns, cheese grits, and so on. We set a table outside on the patio and ate. It was a lovely 70 degrees and balmy and we enjoyed it so much. We were so happy to be pregnant and living our lives together. We felt good. Toward the end of the dinner the cramps started again with force. I mentioned them to Jonathan and he insisted on my laying down while he cleaned. That's when I headed to the bathroom and found the shocking, horrifying, scary blood. Not much, but any amount in pregnancy is reason for worry. I tried to tell myself it could be nothing, but I couldn't just let it be. I called the ob and was told it was normal in early pregnancy. My ultrasound was scheduled for Tuesday, but they said I could try to get in Monday morning. She mentioned that if I was really in trouble I could go to the ER and get an ultrasound.

Well, I knew the night was already ruined in terms of my mental wellbeing. I told Jonathan I would not rest assured even if I stopped bleeding unless I got an ultrasound. So off we went shortly after 7 to the hospital.

At the hospital I expected a wait. It took 3 hours until we were called back to a room of our own. In that cold waiting room, we watched football, Jonathan dozed, yet I don't recall a single thing but unnerving fear in the pit of my stomach. I'd go to that small, cramped bathroom every half hour and find blood still there, but so little. I kept hope against hope that things were ok. Maybe I'd exerted myself too much. I had cramps that were getting intense. I began timing them and at worst they came every 5 minutes, at best every 37. Though I wouldn't admit it, I was having contractions.

As we got our room, again it took hours to be seen. I got blood drawn at 11. Cramps, doubling me over in pain, came and went. I stopped watching the clock. We hardly talked. I continued to see blood, sometimes more and sometimes less. Every time I returned from the bathroom, Jonathan would ask how things were. I kept hoping.

Around 1am I went to the bathroom... As cramps came painfully, something slipped from my body... Our little one (I assume it was only one, I really am not totally sure, it could have been two). You don't have to look, but this is a picture of what a 6 weeks old fetus is.... Yeah. So sad. I came out, calm and unbelieving, and told Jonathan, "I think I just miscarried our baby" and I showed him. He cringed and grabbed me in a hug. I just kept hoping, saying "Maybe there are twins and one is ok." I knew it was unlikely, but I just couldn't believe it would be all over.

We quietly waited and in 10 minutes were wheeled to the ultrasound room. The lady said she'd been waiting half an hour for us. I didn't care, I knew seeing it earlier would not change the outcome. As she started taking pictures, I didn't know what to think. I knew I didn't see her measure a heartbeat. I've never seen an ultrasound of my uterus, so I didn't know what to look for. I've seen hundreds of my ovaries, but never this. I didn't think I saw a baby, though. She couldn't tell us anything, but had to send the pictures to a dr in India. Said we'd hear back in an hour. I remember feeling dread being wheeled back to the room. We waited, not long it seemed. The doctor came in and I think I prompted her with, "Bad news?" so she'd have a way to break it. She said, "Well, we didn't see a yolk sac or fetal pole or heartbeat. Your HCG is already at 42. I'm sorry." Tears just streamed down my face. I don't know what Jonathan did or said. The doctor asked if I wanted an exam, but I said no, I just wanted to get out of there. She told me I should, and I just didn't care. I remember lieing there and just weeping, tears pouring down into my hair, not hearing her go on about how I'd get pregnant again and I just needed to relax and not think about it. I gave her the remains of the baby, so they could do karotyping on it if possible. She told me to wait for her to give me discharge papers.

As she left the room, Jonathan and I just grabbed one another and cried. It felt like a Biblical mourning and weeping aloud. I remember hating seeing this hurt him. I said something dumb about not needing to cry anymore. I just wanted to be gone. I said, "I want to leave, get away from here" and Joanthan agreed. I dressed, but we had to wait another half hour until we were released. We drove home in mournful silence, I don't remember if I cried or not, but it would have been soft weeping. The outright angry, hurt, painful weeping was to come later. The drive took forever.

We got in bed near 3am, exhausted and dumbstruck. We didn't have a baby with us anymore. Suddenly, we had grown up so much. We now had a dead child. When did we become adults? Sleep was a mercy we both wanted, to put aside the fresh searing-hot pain this night had brought us. And so we slept.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Life...

Week #2 has started. I feel like I just lived through losing the baby. Jonathan and I were talking last night and he feels like it's been ages ago. It's just different, the long-term effect on us separately. I knew it would be and that is ok with me. He is over his grief for the most part while I still am experiencing it in a real way.

Have you every had two delicately chained necklaces somehow get thrown too quickly back into your jewelry box, only to pay for it later when you tried to retrieve them? They're a tangled mess, compounded if they look alike. I used to be the go-to girl in my family for tangled necklaces. I'd diligently labor over those things with my fingernails (well, as a violinist, my left hand had none), untangling it piece by piece. In under an hour, I'd have the necklaces separated and a very happy sister. Even in marriage, I've translated that into helping my husband with fishing wire and a very tangled net... No cutting, just long hard work.

Well, I've discovered my feelings over this miscarriage are much like two tangled necklaces. I discovered I am actually grieving TWO things. The immediate grief, sorrow, and hurt was over losing over baby, our baby's death, never knowing what our baby looked like, never getting to hold it, the hopes of this pregnancy destroyed, losing our firstborn.... This is expected, understood. Anyone who has lost a child in-utero has felt this I think.

But after living through my first week of realizing our baby's death, my feelings the second week turned different. The cutting grief wasn't the same. I was... depressed (something I'm not sure I've ever experienced in my whole life). I was able to cook and do laundry and work again. But the house brought a deep-seated gloom over me. Quiet thoughts turned dark. I wasn't crying as much, but it was so hard to keep from a creeping saddness over me. I wondered why I should be depressed, when I know our baby has now never known sin, never been separated from Christ, and is being cared for by the one who loved it so much He gave His life for it.... And then I saw the second chain... I began to untangle the different emotions...

I was depressed because of what it took to get pregnant. Twenty-six months to get that baby... 7 medicated cycles, three of them IUIs, one of them IVF. 17 retrieved eggs, 8 embryos with only 3 (for now) surviving (the two we transferred, the one that froze). A few thousand dollars. 31 rough, intramuscular progesterone-in-oil shots... and now the knowledge that we have a few months to try ourselves, but J's deployment will take 2-3 months from TTC and we miss out on WH's Jan IVF cycle, so we wait until May. So there is my secondary grief. Actually, I don't grieve over that, I'm just depressed looking at all it may take to even get pregnant agian. But weren't we lucky? IVF #1 worked. That doesn't mean IVF #2 will. I keep forgetting not to assume that.

So, last night I called a dear sister and friend. She knows the pain of IF plus miscarriage. I knew from emails that even with a new baby she still grieves those two lost babies and misses them. So I talked to her about the new emotions. And she listened and validated what I'll feel. She talked about how normal these stages are. She let me talk about our baby (which I want to so much!). She talked about hers. It just helped give me a feeling that I'm not so alone or so crazy or so obsessed. It's ok to think and talk about our child and how afraid I am of what it'll take to get another one to stick around. But one we've talked, we recognize God's goodness, provision, and continual grace to handle every trial that comes our way. And handling does not mean ignoring!

I got off and talked to Jonathan, that's when he told me he doesn't grieve anymore. And I didn't feel sorry for myself, we are opposite and complimentary, and one's weakness is the other's strength. I know his new emotions don't mean he doesn't care. Not in the least. I'm glad we can talk. He doesn't thinking I'm prolonging my pain. He doesn't think I'm dwelling on it for my purposes. I talked about the hardship of my tangled necklaces of miscarriage with IF.

So, as a sweet grace of God, I don't feel depressed today. I know He hears the cries of my heart, our prayers, and He gives new mercies every single morning. Sometimes the mercies look different and don't feel enough, but at the end of the day, I look and know they were sufficient. Just like He promised.

I have appreciated every comment, email, and other sweet things (notes, flowers, scriptures, calls, book recommendations). They have been kind reminders that we're loved and we're not alone. We have a family of dear believers surrounding us, loving & praying for us. We need this so very much! I can't imgaine having gone through everything without everyone's kindness, love and prayers. We are so undeserving, but thank you.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's Now 48 Hours After Our Trial Began

Well, I've had two mornings to wake up now in my un-pregnant state.

I miscarried about 1am Saturday night/Sunday morning, and we got home from the ER about 3am. I awoke that morning at 7 and for the first time faced the reality: I had no baby in me anymore. I was not sustaining another life. I was not pregnant. The reality of this was overwhelming - I carried this deep down feeling of hope against hope that this was a horrible nightmare - maybe it wasn't real! And yet, nothing changed the truth! I had lived through the previous night. I had bled, cramped, and passed my sweet baby. This was all very real. Yesterday was so hard. Everytime I get a hold of myself for a few minutes, I find myself unexpectedly weeping and feeling this crushing grief all over again. It hurts even more seeing my husband cry. Seeing the anguish on his face. Watching him clench his fists and cry for only me to see. Knowing this grief does not affect just me.

I hate the word miscarriage, because in not even the slightest way does it communicate the depths of what was lost. Not a pregnancy - a BABY. A child with Jonathan's features and mine, one of our own making. Our own child we will never see, never know, never even hold. How did I not know the utter unrelenting hurt would feel this way? You just don't know until you've been though it. We loved that baby from the moment WH called and told us we had 8 embryos. From the time 2 were placed in me, I was caring for them. We prayed for them every day, Jonathan would put his hand on my stomach and kiss it and tell them they were loved. These were real children. We have lost our firstborn.

I tried to go about my life today. J had to work. I theoretically didn't. I packed up all my progesterone, needles, estrogen, and positive tests yesterday and put it in the bag with all this IVF cycle's drugs. I will not throw it away, but it needs to be out of sight for now. I want to do something to remember this child. There are some beautiful charms I found online that I think I'll get. Jonathan gave me a charm bracelet when we were courting that had a heart and our initials on it... rather as a promise we'd get through it and get married. So it's special to me and I want to remember our baby. We loved it and we'll never have another firstborn.

Grief and sadness catch me at every turn. I'll be fine and then receive an email from someone - perhaps with more details than I ever knew about their life and previous losses. Everyone's kindness and prayers have humbled me... and I'm so grateful to not be alone. I can't seem to wash my face or shower without dissolving into uncontrollable sobs. Something about the water rushing over my face frees me to cry as I please.

We miss this baby so much. I anticipate a lot of grief triggers in the future... Pregnant friends, new babies, June 3rd, maybe even IVF #2 will be hard. We will get back on the list at WH for April 08 (our original slot anyway). If Jonathan weren't deploying we could take January. Until then, we'll TTC naturally, with what time we have. I don't think I'll ever stop fearing losing a baby again, though, even at full term.

In terms of God, I am not angry with Him, I do not feel mistreated. I would rather deal with the pain of losing a baby than to never have had this one. I did get pregnant. I don't know Why I've been chosen for IF and Miscarriage, but I will walk through it. I'll be real and imperfect, but I will try to let my feelings not rule what I know to be true. Which is God's character never changes. I don't always know His plans, but He calls Himself faithful, merciful, compassionate. And I believe it. I may feel far from His goodness right now, I may feel I've been given more than I can bear, but I AM bearing this, aren't I? Jonathan and I are trying to walk through all that this new trial means. I want to feel everything and hopefully heal, together. Because God means it to work for Good, in the only definition of the word that matters: His definition, not a wordly finite one.

Thank you ALL for your kind, thoughtful, sweet comments and emails. They have meant SO MUCH. I was checking my email all day yesterday, getting comfort from every little comment. Going to Life Group was feeling the Body of Christ in action. Having friends far and near lift us up in even a moment of prayer has kept our hearts I'm sure. Thank you for that. I'm not yet really good at conversations or replies, but give me a little time and I will be. Love you all.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Our Angel

Last night, at about 1am, our sweet little baby went to be with Jesus.

I had some light blood show up at 7pm with cramping, and we went to the ER to get an ultrasound. In the 7 hour wait, I miscarried our precious little one. I saw it... Yes, there had been just one. An ultrasound confirmed no fetal pole, no yolk sac. My blood HCG beta was already down to 42.

Jonathan and I are very sad and mourning our precious child in heaven, who only had a little over 4 weeks on earth in my womb. We don't doubt God, but this hurts all the more for what it took to get here. Pray for us.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

News

I know I haven't posted in a while, been busy and just not had much to say!

Yesterday Jonathan had off after some early morning hunting so we made the most of the day and went to the GA national fair. Not as big as the NC state fair, but still fun! Rode rides, ate lots of delicious "fair food", looked at exhibitions, etc. It was really hot outside, which I think is outrageous for fair time. Should be brisk fall weather! I didn't realize GA would be so different form NC weather-wise, but it's quite a bit warmer here. Texas I expected that, GA not so much. I miss REAL winters with snow!

Jonathan's work schedule has been pretty busy. He missed out on a week of training when he was in Texas for our IVF, so they've typically had him flying 2/x a week. Flying day are about 10-12 hour work days. We hope it'll slow down soon. We're potentially looking at an end of Nov deployment date, for about 70 days. We talk about it, but the reality is generally absent. That'll change as we get closer, I know from experience.

The pregnancy is going fine. Really no symptoms, except for perhaps not my typical energy level on very taxing days (where we awaken at 5am and spend tons of time walking and delay eating, like the fair or Charleston). Today I am 6 weeks! I really am anxious to get the ultrasound next Tuesday. To be honest, I have a hard time not wanting to just see our baby(ies) to see if they're ok. At 5w2d I had some really bad cramping which has continued to appear most evenings at a mild level. This (with no other symptoms) can be normal from the uterus stretching/growing, as most women are just now finding out they're pregnant. A lady who went through IVF with me just miscarried, plus while I was going through my IVF a best friend had a missed miscarriage (the baby died at 6wk but she didn't start miscarrying until 9wk), so it is pretty close to my mind/heart. I want my heart to be open for wherever the Lord may take this, and to trust His goodness. But generally I just can't wait for next Tues! (The appt switched from Mon to Tues b/c I switched providers to one w/ a midwife, which thrills me to no end that I get to have one!!)

Now, I promised Charleston pictures last week, so here they are! It was quite a unique city with a very old-world appeal!






Sunday, September 30, 2007

Quantitative Beta HCG #2 Results!

Sorry I did not update until now, we spent a romantic and wonderful weekend in Charleston, SC. We'd planned this a while ago, and the timing seemed really good considering that whether we got a positive or negative beta, we'd have lots to talk about as a couple.

Anyway, I'd post pics, but we've been home all of 10 minutes and I've only just checked my email. So, later!

However, my news is good!!! My 1st number was 56 and they look for it to double in 48 hours. My 2nd number 48 hours later was 153! Nearly triple, with a doubling time of 33.1 hours. This is good! It indicates definitely a good, healthy pregnancy. With that number, there is still a chance of twins also. I am to get an ultrasound at about 7 weeks (10/16), so we'll definitely know then.

The news again was just a grace of God. I have given this pregnancy to the Lord to take where He wants and want to keep a grateful, open hand. We are thankful for this blessing that I know we don't deserve.

More later - but for now I've got things calling my name!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quantitative Beta HCG Results

Dearest Friends & Family,

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." Romans 11:33-26

Although many of you have already been told through the phone, I wanted the chance to write an official notice.

It's so hard to realize that after 26 months we have finally achieved what we have so prayed and longed for. Honestly, my feelings upon this realization are, "I don't deserve this." Because I simply don't. To have our (& your) prayers answered finally in the way we have hoped - this is a grace of God that is joyful to receive. Sunday, as we drove down to the game, we were both pretty discouraged at not having received any hint of a positive test. I was discouraged, thinking this IVF cycle would turn out like all our other attempts (natural or medical). I wasn't surprised in my heart, and I was already readying myself to be a "Multiple IVF'er." I know plenty of ladies who have gone through multiple IVFs. I thought how fortunate those ladies are who achieve pregnancy on their 1st IVF. At that point, I just didn't think I would be a part of that group. And I had the thought that I didn't really feel like I deserved all this trouble to achieve something that comes so easy to most of the population. I didn't feel like I deserved God's further pruning and I don't feel like I deserve his grace via answered prayer.


And yet, He has chosen, for now, to give us our so longed for pregnancy! Yes!!! Monday I had the faintest hint of a positive pregnancy test (Tuesday and Wednesday also). Finally, at my quantitative beta HCG blood draw today, it was confirmed with a level of 56.4!

We are SO HAPPY. I am grateful beyond words at God's answered prayer!!! I have a hard time believeing this is happening to me. That its real. I don't think I really every saw myself being here.

I do get another HCG blood test on Friday, as this level should double approx every 48 hours. If it does, I get an early ultrasound at 6-8 weeks. It it did not, that would indicate a problem, such as an ectopic pregnancy. The chances of this are higher with IVF, so we still covet your prayers!

I feel with all the heartbreak there's been with recent situations I can't disclose, this is God's way of giving some glimmers of sweet hope for answered prayer.

"His mission is to make us trophies of his grace. Never consider it a sign of God’s favor when you regularly find yourself feasting on perennial abundance, soaking up constant fun and sun, and cruising along those carefree boulevards where pain and suffering are perfect strangers. Godliness does not blossom on playgrounds; it flourishes in war zones. If we don’t get worked over and melted down by adversity now and then, it doesn’t mean God is blessing us; it more likely means he is disowning us (Hebrews 12:5-10)."

For now, I am 4 weeks, 1 day Pregnant! Due date is June 3, 2008. Rejoice with us you who have labored long in prayer with us!!!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Panthers vs Falcons @ Atlanta!!!

Yesterday we had tickets to see the Panthers play the Falcons in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome. We haven't been to a game since we lived in Charlotte in '05 so we were both VERY excited.

The game started at 4, so we arrived in Atlanta at 1 for a special brunch at the
Pleasant Peasant. The restaurant itself was small and the setting full of whimsey and ambiance. Exposed brick wall, poured tin ceilings, large mirrors, booth-type tables looked like they'd been made of old mahogany benches with pillows to recline on... Lovely. We enjoyed a quiet, unhurried, and delicious brunch - so much fun!!! Then we found parking and walked a mile to the Georgia Dome (1st time for us both in an indoor NFL arena).

We had seats on the 30yd line, 18th row up, right behind the Panthers bench. IT WAS AWESOME!!! I took pictures, and most of them I'm hardly zooming up. It was incredible being SO CLOSE! When Delhomme got hurt, I saw him wince and hobble off the line! We watched Kasay practice kick for the field goals/extra points. So cool!

So now we're back to our work-week, but so refreshed from our wonderful weekend together. We tried to go bow hunting for deer on Friday and got soaked 1 hr into it!!! So much fun - I just love being caught in rainstorms!!!!

Smith, Colbert, Delhomme warming up!
John Fox walking around mid-game

Kasay practicing
Delhomme hurt

FINAL SCORE BABY!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

IVF #1 - Freeze Report & Thoughts

By way of a little update, I'm HOME (got home Monday)! I was never so glad to see a place. :) It's so nice to be back in my home with my husband, as much as I loved being with our dear friends in San Antonio. Even though I was there two whole weeks, they never made me feel like they were tired of my presence! I have been blessed to have those friendships to have friends to go through a time like that. A true blessing.

As far as our news.... one of our precious little embryos kept growing the 5 days to blastocyst stage and is now cryopreserved (I'd wrongly stated previously that blast stage was reached at 3 days!). Blastocyst stage is marked by two cell types present (and too many cells to count): the types that form the placenta, and the types that form the fetus. At blastocyst stage, the embryo is almost ready to attach to the uterine wall (implantation) - it needs only to "hatch" from it's shell (called the zona pellucida) and then successfuly attach. Blastocysts typically maintain or raise the pregnancy rate over 3-day embryos. So, we currently have one waiting for us to use.

I really won't have much to say by way of update for another 5 days or so, until the HCG beta test on Wednesday. I have been trying to spend my time and energy on resting, reflecting, praying, and spending purposeful time in the Word in the interim. Honestly, as big a deal as IVF is, I am not going crazy waiting. I'm not anxious. I'm not wondering about every little symptom. What is has been destined by the hand of God. I cannot change that, so best I submit my heart to Him now when I don't know so that when it's revealed what He's done, I am already trusting.

I have this great quote from a book I completed on my SAT trip, Polishing God's Monuments. Excellent.

"Christian common sense should also remind us that divine revelation is always a far more reliable barometer of reality than our personal perceptions. Don’t always be awash in how things seem; anchor your faith on how divine revelation says they are. With that adjustment, one can trust his goodness even when God may not seem to be good; one can trust he is acting in character even when he may not seem to be measuring up to his own revealed profile; one can trust his power even when it seems he is weak; one can trust his faithfulness even when it seems he is not being faithful.
Is that bind faith? No, not at all. It is humble faith. But doesn’t that seem like gullibility? No, it is patience – with a biblical memory.
That was Job. Did the faith of a poor tormented soul ever look as misplaced as his stubborn faith? He was frustrated out of his mind and bewildered to the bone, yes, but in the end unyielding, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him!” (Job 13:15). Then, finally- after forever it must have seemed – the Lord intervened and vindicated Job’s trust, restoring his fortunes greater than before. What a historical monument for any confused by the inscrutable ways of God."

Friday, September 14, 2007

IVF #1 - Transfer

Well, as you all knew, on Wednesday (24 hours after Retrieval), we received a call from WH stating of the 17 eggs they got, 13 were mature (this is common to have immature ones in the group). Of those 13, 7 fertilized. Our next report was this morning.

When we went in for the Transfer this morning, we were told one extra embryo fertilized late, so we had 8 now. However, none of them were perfect quality (meaning, no fragmentation in the cells). No one agrees upon a grading scale/method, but WH uses A-D, A being no fragmentation, B minor fragmentation, etc. D's rarely make it I think, because they're severely fragmented. Anyway, all of ours were B's.

They also look for them to be 7-8 cells on Day 3 (Transfer Day). We didn't have any with that many, but we had a 6-cell, 3 5-cells, 2 4-cells, and 2 3-cells. The 3-cells they do not expect to keep growing. Whatever is still growing on Sunday will be frozen. It may be all, may be none, we don't know. We were offered a chance to transfer 3 (highly unusual considering my age!), but considering that we had no perfect embryos I guess they thought it worth offering. We chose to only transfer the 6-cell and a 5-cell, simply because we did not think we could honestly pray for a triplet pregnancy/babies.

I'm a little discouraged, given my age and our "unexplained" status, that we didn't get anything better. But the Lord has been in control and it remains that way.

Thank you so much for all your love and prayers. No matter what, I get a blood test on 9/26 to determine the outcome of all this. So until then just pray for the survival of these two embryos inside me. Jonathan flys home tomorrow, I fly home Monday. I'm resting a lot until then. :)

I've only done two of the Progersterone in Oil shots. I have to do this 2 weeks if not pregnant, 7 weeks if pregnant. The first was a breeze (this IM shot is agreed upon by the IVF community as the WORST)... the 2nd, I think I hit my sciatic nerve, because I woke up at 4 in intense pain and could not sleep after an hour w/o Tylenol! So I've got to get better at that.

If you want to see actual pictures of what I'm talking about with cells and fragmentation, just click the pages below.

http://www.advancedfertility.com/embryoquality.htm

http://www.ohiorepromed.com/embryo_grading.htm

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

IVF #1 - Fertilization Report

WH called today & gave us our report.... Of the 17 eggs they retrieved, 13 were mature. That means 4 were not mature/large enough to have eggs in them (this is quite normal). Of those 13 mature, 7 fertilized - over half! We're (again) grateful to have gotten to this point.

Friday morning at 10 we'll go in for the transfer of the two best looking embryos. We're praying that all of them keep growing strong. Not all usually do, but all that are still growing by Sunday (5 day old embryos, at the blastocyst stage) will be frozen.

We continue to ask for you prayers for these embryos to grow strong and well... all of them, if the Lord wills! Thank you for all your calls, emails, love and support. Update on Friday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

IVF #1 - Retrieval!

Retrieval was this morning at 10:15. Showed up at 7:30 & did some prep. I was totallly awake for it, remember everything (which I liked)! Mildly painful, right now I'm pretty comfortable resting at home with Jonathan (with Dunkin Donuts he got me!). They got 17 eggs!!!!! We are so blessed and happy at the news, and I'm especially delighted to feel so good. THANK YOU for all your prayers, they have been answered and have meant so much to both of us!

We'll receive a fertilization report tomorrow. More update then.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

IVF #1 - 9 Days of Meds - Ultrasound #4

Went in this morning for my blood work and ultrasound and got good news!

Lining: 10.6
Left: 18.3, 18.0, 17.9, 17.4, 17.1, 17.0, 16.5, 16.4, 16.1, 15.6, 15.2, 12.3, 12.0 (13 total)
Right: 20.6, 19.0, 18.8, 18.6, 15.0, 13.2, 12.0 (7 total)


Because there's one over 20mm, we are ready for the HCG trigger shot tonight & retrieval is scheduled for 10:15 Tuesday morning! My Estradiol level was over 4000 (lots of growing eggs in there)!!!

Jonathan flew out Saturday and gets to be here until Saturday. It is such an emotional and physical strength for me to have him here.

So Tueday is Big Day #1. As you remember us that morning, please pray for what'll go on. I should get a report the next day on how many fertilized. This could be a very good number or a very bad number - we do not know.... So just be aware the news is extremely uncertain at this point since we're "unexplained." You are all very appreciated and loved.

Friday, September 07, 2007

IVF #1 - 6 Days of Meds - Ultrasound #3

My newest update contains info from yesterday's appt. Today I start a new med, Gani.rilex. I'd go into what it does, but it's too technical to matter. I get seen again Sunday, and Jonathan comes in tomorrow. We were finally able to get him cleared to miss a week's worth of training (if needed). That was a huge relief. So, now:

Thursday Scan, Day 7 on meds (scans before 7th dose)
Left: 5 at 10mm, 3 at 11mm, 2 at 12mm, 4 less than 10mm (14 total)
Right: 2 at 12mm, 1 at 11mm, 1 at 10mm, few less than 10mm (4+ total)
Lining: 12.1

Perhaps when we go in Sunday that'll be trigger day. If it isn't, I'll come in Monday & every day until the time, I think. Retrieval is 36 hours after trigger, I think.

Yesterday was a tough day emotionally and physically. The waiting and being without Jonathan has been tough. In addition to that, I've had a dear friend go through a terrible loss and I've felt it greatly. And another situation came up today that was devastating. I've never had so much hit in a week. I have been crying all day and personally grieving so many things. I don't know what God is doing, but I feel numb at it all right now.

Not to end on that note, I'm enjoying time with my old San Antonio friends. Tubing trip tomorrow and coffee w/my old LG leader's wife Tues. Those will be great for catch-up. I'll update after my Sun appt - Jonathan & I get to go to our old church! We're so glad!

Thank you ALL for checking in often, for your comments, prayers, and encouragement! They are a Lifesaver to my heart.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

IVF Update #1

So, after a wonderful weekend with the Freas family in GA, I got back to San Antonio Monday night!

I'd flown from GA to TX on Wed for a Thurs appt, and planned on flying back Thurs afternoon after the appt, & returning Mon night to TX for the Tuesday morn next appt. Then I'd stay here 2 weeks or whatever it takes for stims, ER, ET, and any further follow-up. 2 trips aren't as cost-effective, but I'm already going to be apart from my husband a long time as it is, and we'd planned on having the Freas for Labor Day Weekend! We agreed this schedule was worth the cost/hassle. And if something forced me to stay in TX longer, I'd stay because of course IVF comes first. That was our mindset.

So Thurs (Appt #1, Baseline Date!) I got to WH at 5:30, but found the lab no longer keeps the tickets outside! So I have to try to get my ultrasound number and then hope I don't get a bad nubmer at the lab (it's a huge hassle & lots of people lining up). :( Bleh. I didn't know which doc I'd get for ultrasound, but I got my fav, very wonderful for this particular day!!! Mostly because I had a cyst, big enough to be on the border of needing draining (from the supression meds I'd been on prior to IVF). The dr was so nice. He was doing the ultrasound, and started on the right, looked around a few seconds, and then mumbled a concerned, "Oh Sweetheart, what's this?" He told me the cyst was small enough I might be able to proceed, but when my blood levels came back that would tell whether or not I needed it drained. He said he would call. He usually gives the feeling that I can take all the time I need to ask questions, but he seemed hurried today. I understood, IVF there is busy.

Typically I'd have told him I was trying to fly out back to GA later that day, but I wasn't sure they exactly liked me not being driving-distance from the clinic - even though they didn't want to see me again until Tues morning. So I told him if it needed draining no problem. I had to stick around until 10 for the injections/meds class anyway, and figured he would call anytime. Apparently he had a meeting and wasn't even around to ask personally then (and my blood had been ready since 7 that morning!). I assumed his latency in calling must have meant things were ok. So I proceeded to get a ride to the airport to catch my 1:10 flight (my friend's dad had set aside his whole morning to take me when I was ready). I arrived there and sat at my gate. I did want to make it home on the original plan, but was not wanting to leave the city w/o his call. Sure enough, 12:30ish, he calls and tells me the cyst needs draining. I told him I'd be there ASAP. A catch: he wanted me to take valium/percoset for the procedure, as it can be painful. This would prohibit me from driving myself back to the airport. I told him I preferred no meds so I could drive myself... & he ok'ed it (His words: "If you want to Civil War Style it, you can.") I grabbed the quickest rental car I could get (cheaper than a taxi, I checked) and headed back to WH. I had called J & we prayed. I felt such peace about everything that was happening. Not worried about getting to GA that night, not scared about the procedure, not upset. Just peace. Even the gate agent kindly switched my flight to a later one.

I got to WH and was seen immediately. They were all a little amused at my desire for no meds, but got right down to business. My doc told me, "You know this room, I met you here." It was the same for my hysteroscopy last Oct. How on earth does a doctor remember when & where they met you? (See why I love him? I'm not a number and a chart, I'm a person.) The whole thing was over in about 30 minutes and was actually not very painful. (I was later commended for my behavior as better than women on meds!) And a bonus from getting the cyst aspiration: that procedure is the exact same as the IVF Retrieval. That's the only part I was nervous about on this whole IVF (everything else I've experienced before). Now, I've experienced that too, so nothing to be nervous about.

I got back to GA late that night with a 3+ hour delay, but I was home! We had the entire weekend to spend w/the Freas family & every day we lived it out to the max with fun, fun, fun!!! (Pics later)


This morn, Appt #2 was fast. Even though I arrived at 5:30a I was #2... by the time all the ladies arrived for scans, there were about 20; it was ridiculous! I'm so glad I went early, that would have been such a hassle waiting around. Was in & out in like 3 minutes & got an ok doc. I think he was impressed I didn't seem anxious/worried or have tons of questions (that'll come later!).

So, Tuesday's scan, after 4 days of meds (150iu Follistim in am, 15cc HCG in pm) revealed:
Left: 12 less than 10mm, largest 7.8
Right: 10.2, 12.1 and 4 (not sure I heard right on that?) less than 10mm,
Lining: 6.7

My left has always outgrown my right, but whatever. After my labs came back, they called & told me tomorrow take my Follistim down to 125iu. Guess my E2 is a bit high. No prob since they give me a pre-mixed "pen" for injecting any amount, rather than mixing my doses & such. My stomach is a bit sore around the injection sites, because I've done 2 on my right and 8 on my left - beacuse the 1st HCG on the right bruised badly! The soreness makes it hard to pinch the skin for the injection. :/

I scheduled my 1st IVF Acupuncture. I'll have 5 appts, the first will be 5-9 days pre-retrieval. Statistically, even though it can't be explained, Acupuncture increases pregnancy rates w/ IVF.

Overall, though, I realized upon pondering Thursday's events, I'm not sure I've ever had just one thing after another go so smoothly and so much peace surround my spirit when it's not the perfect way we hope. I don't think a lack of problems grows my faith as much as God's provision when problems arise. I know the Lord is answering prayer. I know I can be level-headed often, but last time this happened (in April, for a much less important procedure) I was so distraught! I felt kicked around and left bruised by it all, and mostly I felt alone. This was different. I KNOW it is because there are so many people praying for us and the Lord is showing me by exposing my needs He is meeting them in answered prayer for so many. That's a great thought.

I go in this Thurs & pray I can get some idea when Jonathan needs to be out here. I'd ask all you wonderful friends to PLEASE keep praying for the Lord's grace, providence, direction and peace every day. Pray for Jonathan & my hearts to walk through this with true faith in God's unchanging Character.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Last Update Before San Antonio!

So.... this will be my last update until I'm settled into San Antonio. I go there this Wednesday/Thursday, and then come back to spend Labor Day weekend with my husband and the Freas. I then leave out Monday afternoon Sept 3 until Sept 18th! I cannot comprehend being away from Jonathan that long. Sure we've gone it, but not happily! I know he'll be there for 2 days minimum (4 max?) in the middle/end of that time, but it's odd me being the one initiating leaving. I am accusom to the military sending him away!

Once I arrive in San Antonio on the 3rd, I'll being every 2-3 day trips into the doctors there, and I'll be updating this site with interesting news I get. Specifically, when we get dates for Retrieval and Transfer I'll post those. Those are very important days!!! I am so grateful to be in a city with doctors I know (and like) and to be surrounded by dear friends. I am already making plans for Starbucks trips, tubing trips, sushi, lots of authentic Mexican, RiverWalk time, all that lovely San Antonio life with dear people!

I would ask for prayer that we can see God's plan unfolding, that we'd experience grace for any good or bad that comes our way, that we realize and can proclaim (with our lives) the glory of God, and that we find Joy. True Joy is not to be found apart from Christ. Lewis said, "The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting." True joy is not found in achieving pregnancy or having a child of our own - that is just a shadow of the real Joy. They are the "Island in the West" (a nod to Pilgrim's Regress) leading us to search out the fountain of Joy - Christ!

So for now we wait, some more. I'm happy to receive phone calls/emails wile I'm in Texas too, don't be afraid of disturbing me!

I'll close with a picture of us from our Florida trip. We LOVED it! Our time was just so wonderfully restful and fun!!! Tons of beach time, great seafood every day, and our final day (Sunday) we booked a 4 hour deep-sea fishing trip! It was super exciting and we caught a bunch of red snapper (6-8 worth keeping, bunches of more smaller) and Jonathan got a King Mackrel! They put up a great fight and when you gaff it & pull it up to the boat, it kicks around and blood spurts everywhere: it's so thrilling! That trip was well worth it and so now not only do we have a great trip in our memories, we have fish in the freezer. :) I forgot my camera the fishing trip, but they would have made great pics! Here is us on the beach though!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Happy 4th Anniversary, Seth & Karen!

Today marks 4 years that Seth & Karen have been married! It's amazing it's been that long, and yet it feels like 4 years isn't so long! I thought I'd do a quick picture recap of their lives together.

They met on June 16, 2001 at Jeremiah & Lisi Forshey's wedding. Seth was smitten immediately and came quickly into our lives. He formed a fast friendship with Stuart, honestly was Stuart's best friend. It was so cool. He got to know our family that year, and by summer '02 he'd asked Dad if he could court Karen. Karen had a committment to serve the Lord in singleness that wasn't up until Jan 03, so Seth waited and just got to know Karen. Alas the day arrived and they began courting. Seth was the first person to break into the Graydon family's togetherness, and at times we really had a hard time with this new addition to our family. We all made mistakes and had some hard times, but we grew together! Poor Seth... at the time the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was coming out on video, and we woefully referred to what was happening as "The Breaking of the Fellowship." Dad and Mom have done an excellent, tremendous job building family love, loyalty and deep friendships. It took time for some of us to grow enough to embrace a new part of the family - but we did, joyfully! (Let it be noted Suzanne set & still sets the prime example for us of welcoming each new person into the family.)

They became engaged on April 6th, 2003! Planning the first Graydon girl's wedding was SOOOOOOO fun! My beloved sister included us in everything! I was her Maid of Honor and got to make their wedding cake!!! Their reception was the prettiest I've ever been to. They moved into a home 10 miles away, so we saw them a wonderful lot that first year! Seth truly was one of the family and has an amazing sense of humor, is eager to talk of spiritual things and has a living active Walk, can fix just about anything, works swiftly and is always chipping in, no matter the job (he washes dishes almost as much as the girls do - go see, family dinners, Thanksgiving, you name it - he's there!). He is a true friend to many and has a compassionate heart.

Of course... 4 years of marriage has brought 2 beautiful little girls into their lives. These little girls are the light of everyone's lives! Karen is the most naturally joyful mother I've ever met and she serves Seth and the girls happily day in, day out. She makes time to talk to me weekly and loves those around her. Seth & Karen are perfect fits. So this is a Congratulations on their anniversary!!!!

Officially Courting!!! :)

Engaged!

8/23/03 Married!!!!!!!!!!!

6/6/04 Enter Katrina Joy Robinson!

5/20/06 Enter Shiona Joy Robinson!

Still very much in love!


One Big Happy Family!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Off to Florida! :)

Well, we're off for a 4 day trip to sunny Florida! When we return home I'll post some pictures and a recap of highlights. This is a very welcome vacation for us two!!!

Just already feels over even though it's only halfway through; it has extraordinarily been busy (for us)! We are extremely excited about our wonderful friends, Doug & Kristin, and their 3 girls, driving down from Charlotte to visit us for Labor Day Weekend! I have eagerly been awaiting visits from friends!!! They have been faithful and fun friends even when we've lived 1000 miles away. I have stayed with them I think every time I've visited Charlotte. Their home is always open and welcoming to so many people. I don't have any pics of the whole family on my computer, but here's Kristin & the girls.... & Jonathan & I with the girls. I can't wait!


Our last night in Charlotte before we moved (after Kristin rounded up people to help me clean on move-out day!), we stayed at their house, that's what this pic is, our last morning there.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Thoughts on Suffering...

While in church this morning, I was having thoughts about how being in need actually increases our spiritual awareness. Yesterday we caught the end of a shark program and the guy on there was going out (in a normal swim suit) to some 4-foot water where many sharks were swimming around. He was trying to prove that sharks weren't predatory toward humans, that if they attack it's because we made them feel unsafe. With a badly scarred leg from a recent shark bite, he mentioned how he now goes out hungry, to keep his senses acute.

I guess when we were singing "Blessed Be Your Name" this morning, I realized times of suffering, pain, and darkness keep our spiritual senses acute. I know when I have a glaring need in my life, I am much more purposeful about times in the Word and prayer with the Lord. I recognize and know my need much more readily. Trials in life remind us this in not our home, and they remind us we're put here for more than earthly pleasure. Clearly there is something Eternal more worthy than all this.

I Peter 1:6-9 tells us, "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

I sang: "Blessed be Your name, On the road marked with suffering, Though there's pain in the offering, Blessed be Your name. Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise, When the darkness closes in, Lord Still I will say, Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be Your name. Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be Your glorious name."

I thought how singing this at times in church is easy, and other times it's hard. Sometimes a song like this takes faith to even say the words. How often at CrossBridge in San Antonio the church sang this and I could barely choke it out, tears just pouring rapidly. Today, in what feels like the calm before the storm, I sang - knowing soon I'll be tested on calling Him blessed and praising perhaps in darkness. I hope I'm ready. I find myself thinking more and more about IVF next month, religiously checking the blogs of my current friends doing IVF to see whether theirs failed or succeeded - as if that had any bearing on us! I find myself unable to grasp how I'd feel if it were a complete failure. So I just pray for a ready heart.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Flying!!!

So, last night we'd finished my Ethiopian meal and were wondering "What should we do tonight?" What do you think we did? Went FLYING!!!! This was SO MUCH more enjoyable for me. I knew I'd be a bit scared/nervous from the last time, but as I anticipated it, it made it much easier. Plus Jonathan was very understanding and would gently tell me what we were doing. He purposely wanted to do some things we hadn't done before (like 45 degree turns, touch & go's, and letting me fly & do an easy 360 at a 30 degree turn). Anyway, I LOVED it! It was incredible! When he did the 45 degree turn, he warned me he had to not only pull the aircraft right (into the turn), but also up, as you lost altitude in a steep turn. He told me I'd have 2 G's of pressure on me. Let me tell you, you lose your stomach!!! It's like a fair ride! I desperately wanted to do it again, but at the same time that close on the heels of dinner & the queasiness in my stomach told me to wait. :) We flew over our house, so I've posted a pic below. Our house is in the exact middle.
That all said, I can't wait to go again! It being later in the day & hot, there was a fair amount of turbulence, so it'll be much nicer to go in the fall. I am excited about the pursuit of my license, however the ground school I was going to attend in Charlotte is at a time I can't go. So we'll have to see when I can do it now.
So after we got some ice cream we went home & Jonathan beat me in Madden on the Xbox 360... But it was CLOSE. He scored in the last 10 seconds & it was 38/45 (so his final touchdown made him win... all because I was in the lead and chose a stupid field goal instead of going for a touchdown). Anyway, it wasn't much fun to lose, but he IS fun to play!!!
And tonight, in just about 2 hours, Daddy comes in! He'll only be here until Thursday, he's coming to do indexes with me. But I'm SO GLAD!!! We'll have a good time tomorrow working together (we always do!) Hooray! I'm just sorry Mom couldn't come with him... :(
So now, the pics. Us in the airplane & then our house...


Right after we landed... we have our bulky headsets off

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Salute to a few brands Par Excellence!

I don't know how you all are about certain brands, but if I have a bad experience with a company, I usually let other people know. Likewise, when I have a really outstanding experience, I want to commend that company. So, here are a few that I want you guys to know about, because they're worth using for the good service.

Delta!: Remember my experience from Greensboro to Atlanta to San Antonio back in April? The planes with mechanical trouble that delayed me getting to ATL and eventually had me miss my flight to SAT wreaking all sorts of havoc? Well, because of all that mess, I was out $240.92 (hotel & rental car). So I wrote Delta a nice letter explaining all the trouble I had, and I included detailed explaination of the cost they incurred. I told them I knew they were not oblgated to refund me anything, but I would appreciate anything from a travel voucher, check, or free companion ticket. Well, a little while later I got a nice letter apologizing for the trouble and giving me a $50 voucher and a $150 check; basically $200. Can you believe it? This company cared about my business enough to do something. I would recommend them for the way they eventually got me to SAT and the way they handled the situation when brought to their attention. Fly Delta!

Mr Coffee: (Yes!) I was chatting with Carter today (BTW, go to his site & see his bald SIGNED head!!!), as I was enjoying a just-made cappuccino. And I realized that I have owned this cappuccino maker for 12 years... Twelve!!! I have never, ever had a problem with it. Now obviously, it's just a plain steam-driven machine (as opposed to pump-driven, which makes the only acceptable espressos). But for the $40 or $50 I paid back in 1995, it has really done well! The carafe has broken a few times, as it is glass and has survived my roughness and 4 moves cross-country. Since the cost of the carafe is $10 (& an entirely new maker now only costs $30) this last break I opted not to replace it and instead wear it out until I can buy a new one.

So, that's it for today. I am making a South African meal tonight: Lamb Bobotie with geel rys. I think I'll serve it with the ever-popular Insalata Caprese we've been enjoying. Can't wait!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

July Happenings

The lack of updates has been directly related to the amount of activity in the Wilson household. As usual, we've traveled around a lot. Sometimes I've had my camera, other times I have simply been satisfied to live the moment rather than capture it.

I continue to be deeply touched at how many of the people I've gotten to see face-to-face since our IVF decision have honestly desired to talk about it. I expected a lot more of the "elephant in the room" syndrome and frankly, some censure too. But I've really just had kind, curious, interested people. Thank You - all of you - for your genuine love so far! It still seems so far away (over a month until my 1st appt), and yet I'm glad for this time to reflect and continue to enjoy this honeymoon-like state I find myself in with Jonathan and his current Air Force schedule. I purchased my 1st ticket out for an initial appointment, and it cost $5 because I was able to use Delta miles. Over a year ago, Jonathan realized how much travel we were doing and wisely switched us to a credit card that rewards with miles. His foresight has allowed 4 free tickets so far!

I continue to try my hand at another step in domesticity as I'm sewing curtains for the living room. Crystal helped a lot reading the pattern and teaching things I was "expected" to know. It's been joyful to productively spend time each day on a project so gratifying!

The garden has been pouring in produce each day. Our biggest producers are yellow squash, okra, and tomatoes. The beets' growth are stunted, and the watermelons have but a week or two more to ripeness! The 2nd corn planting hasn't happened yet. Because of the heavy tomato volume, at Crystal's encouragement, we bought 2 lbs of buffalo mozzarella at Sam's and have nightly been serving "Salad Caprese". You simply slice the tomatoes and mozarella into rounds, layering it alternately on a plate. Then drizzle on extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil shreds, fresh-ground pepper and sea salt. Truly delicious with all fresh ingredients!

Now, because I have little to add at the time, I shall conclude with a picture update of the last 2 weeks. I shall attempt more regular updates!!!

The Fourth Of July - Graydons, Wilsons, Robinsons, O'Malleys.
Girls Jumping in the pool, then Christopher & Sarah. She is SO cute.
Girls Jumping Chris & Sarah

Suzanne had a broken toe, so she couldn't walk much. Here's Cath & Suz talking, then Steph & Mary in the pool.
Suz & Cath Steph & Mary

Katrina Joy! Crystal outside the aircraft that took us back to Georgia. Jonathan let her fly for about 30 minutes, & she liked it.
IMG_1358 IMG_1425

Seth & Carter... love the bald head.... Then Jonathan cooking up Injera (Ethiopian flat bread). What a good meal!
Seth Carter J making injera

This is the runway at Robins... And Jonathan bringing us in for a landing. His landings honestly are better than I've ever experienced - very smooth!
RAFB Runway Lading

Crystal & me at the Atlanta Acquarium... Jonathan & me at a South African restaurant we took Crystal to, called 10 Degrees South. Truly delicious.
Denise & Crystal Aquarium J&D 10 Degrees South

Crystal playing with my kitty Peaches, then her and I at our Daily Starbucks trip! How many wonderful talks we had there!
Crystal & Peaches SBUX

Monday, July 02, 2007

Jonathan is Wonderful! :)

So, where do you think we were this weekend???? How about THE BEACH!

Friday evening, Jonathan & I took a walk in the woods (how nice to live near woods!) after dinner. We were figuring how to spend our evening. Jonathan, the king of great ideas, blurts out, "Let's run home and get out our laptops, and see if we can find a hotel room at a Georgia beach for less than $$." Excitedly, we searched... And found a hotel on the beach-front at Jekyll Island, just 3 hours east of where we live. So we packed the car, went to bed, and headed out at 7 the next morning for THE BEACH. We both LOVE the beach. Have so much fun reading, flying kites, swimming, fishing, laughing, talking, walking, and exploring the islands. We were ready for some sun - hadn't been to the beach since our Destin trip the 1st week May (2 whole months! Spoiled, I know!).

We had the bestest weekend together, and drove back Sunday so joyously relaxed. Best friends on the adventure of our life! We are so in love and happy with this season between us! Next trip we'll visit another island, they're all quite different down there. A 3 hour trip is very doable for a weekend for us, so I'm hoping we can do this again maybe in August or late September. Of course, September is our big San Antonio trip, so maybe it won't work. But we always have loads of fun there, so I won't care!

Now tomorrow Jonathan will FLY us in a 4 passenger aircraft from Warner Robins, GA to Danville, VA. Should be a 3 hour flight. I have never flown with him yet, so I'm nervous and excited! And we get Crystal to fly back with us on Thursday, Lord willing, for a week's of fun here with me! Pray for safety when you think of us! Until I'm back with some pictures..... :)