New Life Grows Hope

New life. LIFE. No doctors. No drugs. And yet LIFE. To say that I’m shocked is an understatement. We had come to the tentative decision to end this infertility journey after walking a bumpy road of trials once again. Nate was on one page and I on another. I went to therapy to try to FIND his page. To muster the courage to try again with all that means for us. Drugs and doctors. Ultrasounds and needles. Nothing about this process is romantic or spontaneous. And yet – this time – it was. I had been on the pill for two months after yet another failed cycle and the total devastation of failed hope over and over again. Why did I let myself open that door only to be completely crushed yet again? I push away the pain and popped a birth control pill to make even a thought of pregnancy an impossibility.

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We were putting our house on the market to sell and I had enough stress in my life. We had been to a particularly difficult grief group meeting for baby loss and Nate was suddenly on the page I was on so many months ago. Facing fear of yet another variable of loss and pain, we put hopes aside and just lived. We sold our home to the first people who looked at in a single weekend. Two God loving people ready to start their life together in a home that’s brought us such joy. We started the task of finding a new home – in a market that had few to choose from. I came home in tears many nights after seeing nothing but cat piss and wet basements. Then we came upon a foreclosure that we had driven by when it was still pre-forclosure on the very first day we even pondered the thought of house hunting. After a lengthly process it was ours and we packed our bags and moved in with the help of our family and friends. This ugly duckling is on its way slowly to becoming a swan. Well. Some day.

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In the midst of that insanity I got the awful news that my cousin – just 37 years old – was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was ANGRY. So angry. I was fearful for her and then for me and my mind kept jumping to the two months of birth control pills I had somewhat selfishly taken to shut my brain off in regards to conception. All I saw was this huge blinking sign that said “RISK”. Why did I do that? Couldn’t we just have abstained with the same outcome? This did a number on my head. I opened the drawer filled with ovulation test strips. We had been trying for months without stimulation drugs. I refused to go back on them. We tracked with a home ovulation monitor and ultrasounds but only saw that elusive peak symbol once. Even with the ovulation injection it didn’t work in the past. Month after month, nothing.

What in the world do I do with all these stupid test sticks? I begged Nate to try one more time. Help my brain reverse the reasoning of those two months of birth control pills. If I were seeing the endocrinologist again he would have had me on them to calm my ovaries and encourage rebound ovulation. Sometimes it can happen the month after the pill. And there it was again. Hope. Do I dare even consider it again? I refused to go back to yet another doctor who didn’t listen to my story or understand my grief. Let’s do this on our own. Use the remaining test sticks and the home monitor. It would tell us if I ovulated or not. And hey – it’s the last week in our first home. Why not try to enjoy it? We can officially end our fertility attempts on OUR terms and I’ll have one less box of test strips to pack. Sure enough – the monitor peaked. I stared at that symbol on the monitor for a long time before believing it was true. We had three days in the house without family there helping us fill boxes and we made the most of them – no doctors, no needles. I marked the appropriate test day on the calendar and promptly forgot about it all completely (FYI: this never happens).

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We made the move and lived in the midst of chaos for two weeks. We went camping with family and relaxed by the fire. I didn’t think once about what I should or shouldn’t be doing or eating which is something I never imagined I’d be capable of after ten years of trials. I kept having signs that something was going on however. I pushed the thoughts away until Monday morning when I pulled up my calendar and there was the test day reminder.

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My head was suddenly spinning. I grabbed the stick and waited. There it was. The words I never imagined I’d see on a test. Pregnant.

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I’ve never in my life seen a positive home pregnancy test having always done blood work before home tests. I sat there shaking. The things my body were telling me confirmed the thought and my head was going a million miles a minute. I called for an HCG confirmation and sure enough my doctor was the one on call. She immediately ordered three every other day labs to watch the HCG levels rise – and they did – perfectly. I drove to Nate’s office and told him in the parking lot with a shaky hand and heart. Baby Bear peaked out of the gift bag as he did back in 2007 with our second pregnancy – ultimately ending in an ectopic surgery. The bear had lived with us through every pregnancy since so why not this time too?

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Every appointment God has surrounded me by friends and family who are prayer warriors and could provide a hug during a time that was incredibly scary for me. I continue to be amazed by His hand in this. The days following have been filled with a roller coaster of emotions as we both try to grasp the reality of what this all means for our future. We know there are no promises in this life especially after learning the stories of so many losses. We’re no longer naive and unaware of how terribly wrong things can go. Yet our prayers remain the same for a healthy pregnancy for both myself and baby. After what we’ve lived through there are moments when I feel like that’s impossible. It’s hard to utter that word knowing that God has done just that however – the impossible. We conceived a child on our own after doctors have told us we cannot. Now we try to walk in faith and hope that the impossible continues and He blesses us with a healthy and safe pregnancy.

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We ask that you pray with us as this journey continues knowing that you’ve walked this with us before faithfully. We realize that this is not an easy thing to ask of many of you and respect your grief, worry and fears in the midst of our own. That said we also know the joy this life can bring and pray you see that for us as well.

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** I wrote this post within the first two weeks of getting our good news. I’d had four HCG labs that continued to double as hoped and one ultrasound showing that the pregnancy is placed appropriately in the uterus (not ectopic) and confirming a single sac. Since that time we’ve had many ultrasounds after a few scares (all which are fine now) and heard baby’s heart on doppler. We are truly blessed by this miracle baby and are trying to savor every moment of joy we’re given while pushing away as many of the fears as we’re able. We appreciate your prayers!

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You Came Back To Me

One of the sessions at the 2014 Stillbirth Summit was a free writing workshop. After such an intense few days of medical research and information I was ready for a creative release. Although I’ve enjoyed writing for quite some time I haven’t really sat down in a creative sense since my days in college. I was shocked at how incredibly freeing it was. I was more shocked at how special it was to write TO my children.

We were asked to read the poem Beloved by Toni Morrison and write in response to a single line that spoke to us. The intention here was to write without ceasing or thought. Simply let the words pour out of you and then step back and see what you have. No editing. No picking apart. Just living with the words that came.

The line that I chose to respond to was, “You came back to me.” This is what came of that session.

You Came Back To Me
by Janelle Wourms

You came back to me.
You were lost and I was lost with you for what felt like forever.
The fog came in and darkened my door.
Closed inside.
Dark.
Alone.
Where are you?
I need you.

The clouds broke one day from the corner window with the shade pulled tight.
Do I open it?
Are you there?
Can I find you once again?

My eternal hope sees you in my arms wrapped tightly.
Safe.
Warm.
Encircled in sunshine.
My break from the storm.

I step out into the darkened door and look for you.
Moments slip by and I see you in ways I never imagined.
The dragonfly darting by.
Three birds on a wire.
Fresh strawberries.
The warm sun on my face.

Wait.
There it is.
Light.
Hope.
The replacing warmth of your memory.
The pieces, fragmented still, but becoming clear.

Walking from the fog and grasping for your hand.
You are there.
You are there.
You are here.
You came back to me.