Sunday, May 8, 2016

The journey

Mother's Day seemed like an appropriate time to share more of my journey to motherhood.  This entry ends rather abruptly, because it was a story still being written.  Despite the pain, I'm thankful for the journey we walked and for the Savior Who walked it with us.


It's 4 am, and after crying out of utter exhaustion during Zoe's last feeding a few hours ago, I am now surprisingly awake.  Clearly, having just a few hours of sleep is the perfect time to be reflective.

Everything about my world now looks different than it did last October.  In the midst of the roller coaster of beautiful highs and emotional and physical lows (a girlfriend of mine very accurately referred to new parenthood as the equivalent of hazing), I can't help but return to the words I wrote a year ago.  

Be forewarned; these glimpses into my heart during our (often painful) journey to becoming parents are sometimes messy.  Some of what I wrote during those dark days where I longed to be a mom but God said, "not yet," have resolution and hope.  Other entries lack the pretty bow on top, and just reveal the messy package that was my heart during the 11 months we tried to get pregnant.  Despite the mess, I want to share that roller coaster... Because I believe in being vulnerable, because I think it's too easy to look at someone's exterior and assume it all came easily for them- and because the girlfriends in my world who honestly and bravely shared their difficulties provided so much comfort for me. There is something sacred in knowing you are not alone.

Let's go back to 2014, shall we?


I've shared before that I was supposed to get married at 22. Not that I had been dating anyone; just that there was a certain sequence of events I thought my life should be following, and that was next. High school? Check. College? Check. Fall in love, get engaged, get married? Hmmm... Not quite on schedule for that one.

But instead, I was almost 27, and despite the tears I cried over singleness before that day, I wouldn't change a thing.  I made great friends, learned invaluable life lessons, and met Jesus in sweet ways in that time before Cori.  It was right for me to meet and marry Cori exactly when I did. 

Early in marriage, starting a family was always something we wanted- some day.  We soaked up marriage, reveled in lazy Saturday mornings with just us, and enjoyed the season of life we were in.  

But around our second anniversary, my heart was starting to turn.  I was no longer terrified by the idea of accidentally getting pregnant and could feel God preparing me for motherhood.  At this point, however, we were getting ready to move back to Virginia.  We missed our families, our friends, the greenery.  As Cori prepared to go back to school to become a Physician Assistant, we had intentionally sought out schools that would take us home.  I was thrilled that my alma mater, James Madison University, was the winner, but I also knew that the intensive 2.5 year program would put a delay on my budding desires to start a family.

That first fall in Virginia, I longed to be a mother.  Friends and acquaintances shared pregnancy news and baby pictures, and my heart pinged with jealousy.  Cori, on the other hand, was up to his head with school, and with his practical nature, it seemed like it'd be a couple more years before he was ready to start trying.  So, I prayed.  I prayed for God to open his heart to parenthood, prayed that we would be on the same page. 

And that winter, God surprised me.  Out of the blue, Cori started talking about what it would look like to trust God to expand our family, and a few months later, we started trying.  It was casual at first and became more intentional with time.

But what I hadn't been prepared for was how hard it would be.  For no good reason, I assumed pregnancy would come easily for us. I daydreamed about surprising family and friends, who would make comments about how they didn't know we'd been trying, to which I'd coyly respond, "Well, we just started trying and it happened on our first try!" 

Well.  About that.  It didn't happen on our first try, or our second. Or our third, for that matter. And all of a sudden, I gained a whole new heart for friends who have gone before us and struggled with the process of adding a child to their families.

I wasn't ready for the crushing blow of negative pregnancy tests.  I wasn't ready for the constant wondering, insistent hoping, "could I be pregnant?!" I didn't know my cycle would go crazy and that after four negative tests, I'd finally get my period again after an excruciating 52 days.  I didn't know that each menstrual cramp would make me want to burst into tears because of their insulting reminder that we'd failed once again.  I didn't realize that even if it's just been a few months of trying, every period you have makes you fear that you or your spouse is infertile, that maybe it'll be years before you're a parent.  

I didn't know that I could be fine one day, content with where we were in the process, and then the next day struggle to breathe under the crushing weight of the plague of questions and comparisons.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

During the 11 months we struggled to get pregnant, I processed my thoughts in unpublished blog posts.  Today, as we celebrate the year anniversary of that first positive pregnancy test, I'm being brave.  I'm sharing my heart. Over the next few weeks, I'll be back tracking and posting some of the entries I wrote during that difficult year.  Be forewarned that it isn't always pretty- but it's real.  I wrote this first post the day after we found out we were pregnant.


I expected to scream, or cry, or at the very least have a mini dance party. 

But instead, I was in shock. After 11 months of trying and praying, 11 months of crazy periods and 2 month long cycles, 11 months of worsening anxiety and wondering where this story would take us, 11 months of negative tests... There it was. A positive.  I had wondered for two days, and then, just minutes before, my daily temperature had dropped and I mentally attributed the two day late period to my anxiety and some sickness. 

Cori had just come and stood next to me, chatting with me for a moment while I busied myself in the bathroom, doing anything but look at the test as the timer counted down.  

And then the timer went off and I looked at the test... And it was positive.  I told Cori in disbelief, confusion.  Neither of us could believe it was true.  Cori, true to form, took the practical route, and I left for work, armed with the game plan that I'd take another test that evening and the next morning.  Maybe then we'd believe it was true.

And we are. Slowly. There are three positive tests sitting next to my bathroom sink right now, because what do you do with a peed on stick that tells you that what you've been longing for over a year is coming true?