He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Our IVF Journey Part 1: A little history

This is one of those posts that's been swimming around in my head for weeks now, maybe months.  It's one that I've hesitated to write because it's somewhat of a private thing but, at the same time, it's something that's such a pivotal part of who our family is, that I want to record it so that we can remember and recall the amazing works of a God who loves us and provides for us in such amazing ways.  We have learned as we've walked the cancer journey, that it is not something that we are really shy about as far as sharing with people.  Sometimes I can tell when people ask what kind of cancer Jason had and I answer "testicular"  it makes them uncomfortable, and I think it's because they feel they have violated our privacy.  That's not the case.  We hope and pray that our story can encourage someone else.  So I'm writing this for me, for us, for our girls, and hopefully there is someone out there who can be encouraged by our journey.

And, my goodness, what a journey.  There are so many things I COULD say about the process that led us toward in-vitro for the purpose of growing our family.  Wow.  Truly hard to know where to start...

Let's see if I can keep the history brief.  In a nutshell (or lack thereof - let's see if you get that, obviously not applying the filter today...)  Jason was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the oh so young (seeming younger and younger by the year) age of 27.  At the time Abbey was 14 months old and I was 8 weeks pregnant with Maddie.  Within 48 hours, Jason had surgery to remove the cancer and within another 2 weeks he had another major surgery to explore his abdomen to find where the cancer had spread as this type of cancer follows a precise path.  During this 2 weeks, we had to be very forward thinking and decide whether or not we wanted to bank "his boys" in the interest of future family planning as the major abdominal surgery he was having could potentially result in sterility.  We did (bank) and it did (result in sterility).  Within the next 2 months he had 2 very intense rounds of chemotherapy (both a week long and both requiring hospitalization because of the severe effects of the chemo).  The end.  

Ok, not really the end of the journey by a long shot, but thankfully the end of his cancer battle.  Yes, there were many months and even years of continued screenings and treatments.  And yes, of course it took his body awhile to regain strength and bounce back, but thankfully his cancer battle, though an incredibly difficult and faith building time for both of us, was somewhat short lived in the overall scheme of things.  The effect said battle had on our ability to grow our family, not so short lived... But thankfully, as God has reminded us many times over this 10 year journey, it never was "our ability to grow our family" in the first place.  It was/is/ and always will be completely and wholly His ability.

So now, a little background on my spiritual journey as far as listening for and hearing God's voice speaking into my life.  I am so thankful that having a relationship with Jesus allows me to hear His voice in very specific ways.  Usually it has been through His Word- a specific scripture for a specific need or concern.  For example, when I was 15 I had a pretty nasty bike accident.  Landed on my face scraping it up pretty badly, blacked out for a bit, had to have stitches in my mouth.  All this right before high school started- not so great for a teenage girl's self esteem to have half of her face look like meat loaf...  You know how little kid's knees look pretty much all through preschool- yeah, that was my face.  Anyway, I remember lying in my bed the first night after it happened and God leading me specifically to a verse in Isaiah.

"So do not fear for I am with you.  Do not be afraid for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  
Isaiah 41:10
How precious this verse has become in my life in all sorts of challenges!  I love the image of being upheld in God's hand.  

Another instance involves leading up to Jason's second major surgery during the cancer saga.  I was a complete basket case.  Yes, part of it was pregnancy hormones while dealing with a 15 month old while coping with the news that my husband has potentially life threatening cancer, and the other part was the fact that I am and always have been a horrible worrier.  Combine that with my nursing knowledge of the many potential problems that can come along with a 4-6 hour surgery.  Well, let's just say I was starting to work on my grieving widow plan.  (not kidding).  I was thoroughly and utterly convinced that Jason was not going to make it out of surgery.  On the morning of his surgery, December 11, 2000, I went out to the car in preparation for heading to the hospital and found that a dear friend had left a note on my windshield.  It didn't say anything beyond the words to a verse I had known for a while but God used on that day to say you DO have a future with Jason.  I have a plan for you both and I am already there.  Have you figured out the scripture?

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

(let me just say here- please don't read too much into my theology or lack thereof.  I don't claim to be a Bible scholar and I am by no means trying to take the Word out of context, but I do know from my experience how the Lord has used His Word to specifically speak to my heart)

 A little less frequently during times of prayer and seeking His heart, He impresses upon my heart a certain need or action or a very specific direction.  Most of these incidences have actually been in relation to our fertility/IVF journey.  Maybe (or definitely) He knew/knows that my stubborn heart combined with my intense need to control needed very direct guiding!

When faced with the need to make a quick and pretty emotional decision regarding planning for our future family, it was pretty easy for us to know that we wanted to do all we could to plan for being able to have more kids naturally.  Yes, of course we were immensely thankful for the (almost) 2 that we had, but I had always said that I wanted (at least) 5 kids and Jason was more in the 3ish ballpark, but regardless it was a decision for us that did not take too much contemplation.  We were still so young (26 and 27) and weren't ready to think that our biological family was complete.  I was one of those disgustingly happy pregnant people (I say it like that because that was only the case with the first 2) who felt fantabulous (mostly) and loved every minute of being pregnant.  Also since becoming pregnant the first  2 times was incredibly easy (weren't even officially trying), we were told when talking about fertility options that we probably wouldn't have to do much too invasive since it seemed to come so easily.   At least in my mind, 1 maybe 2 tries with artificial insemination would be all it would take!

Now the complicated part.  The decision was made.  The "boys" were banked and frozen up nicely at a lovely lab in California and we went on our merry way waiting for baby #2 to make his/her appearance (obviously "her" but Maddie was our only surprise and it was fun).  So what's complicated?  Well, our lives essentially.  Maddie was born in July, Jason continued his job another year or so and we packed up our lives in preparation to head overseas leaving our chances for baby making behind in the US as we headed to France.  Here's the thing.  I mentioned (in not so many words) that I am a total control freak.  I have a tendency to feel the need to help things along if I don't feel that God is working at the right speed or in the right direction.  Don't worry, I've gotten better, but it's still a tendency that I have to keep in check.  So remember where I said that God had spoken some very specific words to my heart as part of this journey?  Here's what He did.  About the time we were preparing to head overseas (when Maddie was around 18 months), I started getting major baby fever and started dropping little hints to Jason, both of us knowing that the process of baby making was now A LOT more complicated (especially with us heading overseas).  Would require doctor visits, careful planning, possibly medication etc etc.  Ok sorry, back to what God did/said.  I remember it incredibly clearly down to exactly where I was.   We had been in a meeting and I stepped out to stretch and walk around.  Of course I was thinking/praying about a potential next baby and just when could we get started on this, Lord?  (I mean didn't He know how complicated it could be- calling the storage lab, making proper doctor appt's etc).  Well here's what God said.  He told my heart, "Kelli, you are to keep your mouth shut about trying for another baby, as in not say one single word to your husband about it in this season.  You are to stay silent.  No hints, nothing.  Not to him, not to anyone.  Of course pour your heart out to Me, but otherwise...  Silence.  When HE (Jason) is ready for the 2 of you to move forward, he will let you know.  Be silent."


I mean, Lord, do you have ANY IDEA what you are asking of me here?  

If I don't drop hints, he will NEVER clue in to the fact that WE need to do this NOW!
(possibly you're seeing a bit of why the Good Lord felt the need to speak to my heart in this way!)

But do you know what?  I took God seriously.  Maybe like I never had before.  I recognized that He was calling me to surrender to His timing being better than mine and in doing so surrender to the leadership of my husband in our family and to TRUST that He (God) and he (Jason) did not need me to be the interpreter of the perfect timing regarding all things baby.  

So I shut up.  And I waited.  Sometimes I almost burst with the need to give my sweet man that gentle nudge that I just knew he needed to get his thoughts on baby but I controlled the urge and was quiet.  And I waited.  

And waited.

For what seemed like an eternity I waited.  

(to be continued)


Brittney Galloway said...

Maybe it's my post pregnancy hormones, but I bawled when I got to the part where God told you to be silent- I can't imagine the mixed emotions you felt- peace for hearing Him so clearly but distress as you wanted to move forward with your own plans. Can't wait to read the rest!

kellie j. said...

Love reading this! Can't wait for the next installment! :)

Kendra said...

Ahhhh! You left us hanging!! (I'm sure that's the point;)

Tara G. said...

So appreciate your testimony and it's wonderful hearing the parts of your lives "in between" your girls! Saw your post at LPM. Praying for you!!!

Kim Heuer said...

Kelli!! so good! love reading all you've been writing lately--can't wait to hear part 2! hope you are doing well!

Alison H said...

I'm blessed by this! Can't wait to get to the next part! (I'm a little behind on my blog reading...) And I love your sense of humor through your writing. Thanks for sharing! And encouraging. And being transparent. And being awesome. :)