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Infertility/Miscarriage

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How Christmas Brings Hope in Miscarriage

Maya Angelou says there's no greater agony than an untold story. I've lived in silence for weeks now, swallowing down a story too private for blogs and Facebook. Because this private situation consumes me at the moment, I cannot speak well about much else. I've become mute. Perhaps if I share my story, I'll feel free to move past it.

Today, I am 11 weeks pregnant. Sort of. It is not a viable pregnancy, but my body hasn't figured that out. And so for weeks, I've managed nausea, soreness, fatigue -- the regular gamut of first trimester symptoms -- all without the exciting promise of a child, which would make these ailments worthwhile. Every night, terrible images of half-formed babies fill my dreams, and every morning I wish for any symptom of miscarriage... not because I didn't want this child. I desperately did. But I'm ready to move forward. Yet, instead of cramping and bleeding, I get more nausea, fatigue, and a uterus that is growing still steadily enough to make my clothes fit poorly.

Don't get me wrong. I am positive that God will turn this all around for good (Romans 8:28). I know He's allowing this hardship out of love, even if I don't yet see the benefits of this frustrating phase. I also know there are women in far worse situations than this. Women who deliver stillborn babies in the ninth month. Women who wait a decade for pregnancy. Women who will never know the joy I feel as the mother of two sweet girls.

Still, I'm exhausted and sad.  Yet I feel guilty for grieving... like I should be tougher than this. I wish I knew anyone personally who had gone through this same thing. What I would give for a quicker miscarriage.

My greatest comfort is that it is the Advent season. I serve a God so mighty, He will wipe out every trace of sickness and brokenness and damage in this world. Yet, rather than doing this through lightning bolts from Heaven, He was personal. God came down as a weak human embryo, and because of that, the death of my little embryo will be redeemed. This pain I feel now will have purpose.

Every night, I curl up in bed with one hand on my thickening waist and sigh sad. An empty pregnancy hurts like empty hope. And I remember that, other than Christ, whatever we hope for in this life is as empty as my womb now is. Hope in anything but Jesus leads to pain, disappointment, wasted time, shattered dreams.

But while the Earth may crumble around us, there was a Baby who did come. Emmanuel, God with us. And while He came small and humbly, He is unshakeable, eternal, reliable, our hope, and our God.

"Jesus is my hope

and I know He stills the wind

so take my very life away

as long as I get Him"

-Mandi Mapes

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how to get over the fear of miscarriage {national pregnancy & infant loss day}

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There are two rose bushes that bloom every Mother's Day in my parent's front yard.  These aren't just any ordinary rose bushes, these buds bloom for my older and younger sisters, two girls that went to Heaven before they could ever be held in my mother's arms. We don't have any pictures of them, just two simple tombstones that mark their brief time in my mother's womb. I've always wondered how life would have been different if they were alive and I know my parents have grieved their loss over the years. Losing a child (or more) to miscarriage isn't something that can be easily forgotten. No, it stays with you forever and as my mom says, you learn that life is truly a gift. 

When we found out that I was pregnant with twins, my mom asked my doctor if miscarriages were hereditary. He told her that just because a mother miscarries that does not mean that her daughter has a higher chance. This news was such a relief to my mother and I but then the twins were born three months premature and we didn't know if they would live. On the day I left the hospital for the first time without my children, I sensed that this must have been somewhat how my mother had felt all those years ago. Guilt, shame, pain. Yet, unlike my mother's situation; I had hope that maybe just maybe our girls would be able to leave the hospital and come home with us. I begged God with tears streaming down my face to allow our girls to live...and he did. 

But, I know that it doesn't always turn out that way.

Last Tuesday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I had a few friends on Facebook make their miscarriages public for the first time. Their stories of loss and redemption brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't help but think of other friends that I've know that have lost their babies through miscarriage - Stephanie, Abbey, Rachel - and take a moment to thank God for the gift that is growing inside of me right now.

A few people have asked me in private if I was scared to become pregnant again after almost losing the twins. 
My answer without hesitation: yes.

Last December, when we were seriously considering to start trying for another baby, I confessed my deepest, darkest fear to my husband.  It was this: what if I'm the reason this happened to our babies? I don't want to put another child through such pain and struggle again.

The shame surfaced so fast that it couldn't be contained.

I still blamed myself for what had happened to the twins...even after my Montgomery OBGYN, NICU friends, and current OB told me differently. This shame of potentially miscarrying our child or causing premature birth was holding me back from the thought of conception.

Shame was a roadblock that only God could redirect with his love, comfort, and hope.

What I've realized since December is that I can't let shame be the direction of my future. Instead, I have to have hope for the future and believe that God has plans for me, my baby, and my family. I hope every day that I will get to hold Ridley in my arms and that he will be born in March, on his due date. But, if I don't? The loss will sit heavy on my soul and I will mourn for this child. My heart will be broken and I know that only God's love can heal my pain.

Potentially having a miscarriage or infant loss can cause women to lose hope in ever receiving a child in her arms.
What I want to say to anyone struggling with this is please don't let the fear outweigh the hope.

You and I have no idea what will happen to our children during pregnancy and child birth. We can't plan on things going a certain way. But, we can take preventive action, make responsible choices, and most importantly pray. Our children are God's to begin with and we have to trust that he has a plan for them; whether here with us or in heaven with him.

I know this message might be hard to swallow coming from a girl that has not experienced miscarriage herself. I get that. But, please know that this girl hurts in a way that she doesn't fully understand whenever she hears of a pregnancy or infant loss. Also know that this girl is struggling with her own fears and is choosing to rest in hope instead.

Love to all you truth-seekers out there that feel the same way.

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

subscribe2@2013-06-10T03;03;02

 

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holding on to hope {guest post by courtney szollosy}

holding on to hope
Married to my wonderful husband, living in a house we love with our dogs and two or three kids... that was the picture in my head when we began our journey to start our family.
 
Whether or not this classic American dream was the picture that filled your head, most of us started into this journey of starting a family with a definite picture of what our family would look like.  But infertility strikes like a rock hitting a windshield and that dream starts to crack.  With the passing of time and recurring unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy, the cracks grow and some of the pieces of the picture start to fall out leaving a broken, shattered image of what your family was “supposed to” look like. So how do you hold on to hope when your future is so uncertain?
 
It was only through my walk down the emotional path of infertility that I realized what hope actually is.  It is not really what you’re feeling when you’re looking forward to an expected outcome or what you think you want.  It's not the trivial word that we toss around daily - oh, I hope she's coming to lunch today, or I hope I can find that pair of new shoes. Rather, hope is the ability to endure and confidently push on no matter how painful the journey gets.  Hope is the act of putting our faith in a God who has a destiny far better than the dreams I can dream for myself. 
I’ll admit it was a difficult process for me to find and grasp hold of this hope.  I always thought I wanted two or three kids, but as the years clicked by and yet another treatment proved ineffective, and especially as I dealt with the heart wrenching pain that came with our miscarriage, I was faced with a real fear that I may never actually have a single child.  It was hard, I was hurt, I was scared, but I knew I was a child of a God that would never forsake me.  I knew He promised that He had a plan for me and it would be good, but I had to come to terms with the fact that His plans may not look anything like mine and the reality that if that were true, then they would be better.  I desperately needed His help to truly believe that.  With all the faith I could muster (which at times I struggled to scrape together) I finally allowed myself to feel all the feelings... fear, anger, hurt, anxiety.  I asked Him to diminish those and replace them with hope in His plans for me, not for my plans for me - and He did.
Though it took effort and practice to trust His plans were better than my dreams, the hope and confidence in Him was instantly present in my life, in my heart, and in my ability to smile through the tears.  Hope is a gift described in Hebrews 6:19 as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  So when the picture of your dream is shattering and your future is uncertain, don’t be afraid to search the depths of your soul for that anchor.  It is there and will keep you grounded and give you security to hang on to God’s promises.
 
Hope is what’s left when the expectations change, the dream is shattered, another pregnancy test turns negative and you get the phone call you have been dreading.  Hope is the driving force that keeps us fighting for what we long for.  It is the beautiful gift that allows us to still find joy in the desperate situations and gives us strength to smile through the tears.  Hope is the one thing you can always hold on to.  Psalm 71:14 “But as for me, I will always have hope.”  Hope is the result of putting your faith in a God that loves you more than you can ever imagine and trust His promises that He is in control.
 
Romans 12:12 says “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” 
What a beautiful way to live.
 
My husband Rob and daughter Haleigh
 
If you are on this road of starting your family and would like to hear more about our journey, I would encourage you to read more here Hope and Perseverence - The IVF Option.  If you are considering or pursuing adoption, please read my friend Jenny’s amazing story Faith and Obedience - An Adoption Journey.

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how to get over the fear of miscarriage

IMG_1098

There are two rose bushes that bloom every Mother's Day in my parent's front yard.  These aren't just any ordinary rose bushes, these buds bloom for my older and younger sisters, two girls that went to Heaven before they could ever be held in my mother's arms. We don't have any pictures of them, just two simple tombstones that mark their brief time in my mother's womb. I've always wondered how life would have been different if they were alive and I know my parents have grieved their loss over the years. Losing a child (or more) to miscarriage isn't something that can be easily forgotten. No, it stays with you forever and as my mom says, you learn that life is truly a gift. 

When we found out that I was pregnant with twins, my mom asked my doctor if miscarriages were hereditary. He told her that just because a mother miscarries that does not mean that her daughter has a higher chance. This news was such a relief to my mother and I but then the twins were born three months premature and we didn't know if they would live. On the day I left the hospital for the first time without my children, I sensed that this must have been somewhat how my mother had felt all those years ago. Guilt, shame, pain. Yet, unlike my mother's situation; I had hope that maybe just maybe our girls would be able to leave the hospital and come home with us. I begged God with tears streaming down my face to allow our girls to live...and he did. 

But, I know that it doesn't always turn out that way.

Last Tuesday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I had a few friends on Facebook make their miscarriages public for the first time. Their stories of loss and redemption brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't help but think of other friends that I've know that have lost their babies through miscarriage - Stephanie, Abbey, Rachel - and take a moment to thank God for the gift that is growing inside of me right now.

A few people have asked me in private if I was scared to become pregnant again after almost losing the twins. 
My answer without hesitation: yes.

Last December, when we were seriously considering to start trying for another baby, I confessed my deepest, darkest fear to my husband.  It was this: what if I'm the reason this happened to our babies? I don't want to put another child through such pain and struggle again.

The shame surfaced so fast that it couldn't be contained.

I still blamed myself for what had happened to the twins...even after my Montgomery OBGYN, NICU friends, and current OB told me differently. This shame of potentially miscarrying our child or causing premature birth was holding me back from the thought of conception.

Shame was a roadblock that only God could redirect with his love, comfort, and hope.

What I've realized since December is that I can't let shame be the direction of my future. Instead, I have to have hope for the future and believe that God has plans for me, my baby, and my family. I hope every day that I will get to hold Ridley in my arms and that he will be born in March, on his due date. But, if I don't? The loss will sit heavy on my soul and I will mourn for this child. My heart will be broken and I know that only God's love can heal my pain.

Potentially having a miscarriage or infant loss can cause women to lose hope in ever receiving a child in her arms.
What I want to say to anyone struggling with this is please don't let the fear outweigh the hope.

You and I have no idea what will happen to our children during pregnancy and child birth. We can't plan on things going a certain way. But, we can take preventive action, make responsible choices, and most importantly pray. Our children are God's to begin with and we have to trust that he has a plan for them; whether here with us or in heaven with him.

I know this message might be hard to swallow coming from a girl that has not experienced miscarriage herself. I get that. But, please know that this girl hurts in a way that she doesn't fully understand whenever she hears of a pregnancy or infant loss. Also know that this girl is struggling with her own fears and is choosing to rest in hope instead.

Love to all you truth-seekers out there that feel the same way.

Till next time, let your light shine!

Blessings, christen

subscribe2@2013-06-10T03;03;02

 

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falling to peace(s) {guest post by heather riggleman}

Today's guest post is by another fellow M.O.M. Initiative buddy, Heather Riggleman.  When we were at our retreat in Colorado, Heather was one of our brave ones leading us in our tubing escapades down the mountain.  I love her vivacity for life and her stories.  She is inspiring and real.  You are absolutely going to love her post today {and her recipe at the end!}

Heatherriggleman (1)

My first memory of stained glass windows is forever etched into my mind. It was a rare moment when my mother would cradle me in church. Surrounded by other church goers, they all stood and worshipped while mom held me with the sun shining through the mosaics of colors, warming my skin. Entranced by the beauty, I studied each hue but would quickly shut my eyes tight when mama looked down at me—only to peek at the colors moments later. All the different pieces and colors. If I only looked at one piece, it was just that—a piece. A shape of blue or a square of yellow bet when I focused on the whole picture, I saw Jesus holding a lamb—the final picture of a masterpiece.

As I perspire over my oven, I’m reminded of how my life is like that window. Different pieces. Mom. Sister. Wife. Ministry leader. Employee. Lover of food. Child of God.

Then there are other pieces of me I don’t like to admit to.

Quit when things get tough. Sensitive. Wanting to be perfect. Wanting be in control. Yeller. Cry baby. Stubborn.

As I brush the hair out of my eyes, I’m keenly aware of the stillness and his words in the silence.

“I broke you so I could rebuild you.”

The window flashes to my mind again, all the different pieces and my mind jumps to all that God broke in me these last several months. The memories flood my mind as I soothe my soul with a taste of the slow roasted tomato sauce.

Losing the baby. Cheyenne’s autism diagnosis. The Financial collapse. Getting benched from ministry. Falling apart in front of everyone. Yes, my carefully laid plans for life fell apart. The masquerade that I had it all together shattered to bits. But God was there and he rejoiced. I smile, licking my lips as I pour another cup of red wine into the sauce, stirring.

There is beauty when we break. It means we admit we are frail and then God is able work through us. This is when grace abounds and covers a multitude of imperfections. We discover things about ourselves we didn’t know were there as God “peace’(s) us back together—like right now, in this very moment, I’m savoring a new discovery—cooking. The chemistry of love mixed with labor and toil. In the quiet of my kitchen as I roast tomatoes and peppers from my garden, it will later nourish my family’s bodies while comforting their souls with a mama’s love.

Surrender isn’t such a bad thing, neither is being broken and yet we are so afraid of it. And we shouldn’t be, Jesus’ body was broken for us and it is the most beautiful mosaic I can think of. When he breaks us, he begins to piece us back together, a new art form—Just like those stained glass windows, our lives begin reflecting his light.

What is God is trying to break and rebuild in you? What is it that you’re afraid of?

If it’s the fear of being found out, let it happen—your friends will love you more. If it’s the fear of being out of control, that’s okay, we were never really in control in the first place. If it’s the worry of what your past, let it splash onto the front page, grace will cover it and then some.

And what you’ll find is freedom. Freedom to be the woman, the mama, the wife God created you to be as he becomes the cement that holds all the different pieces of your life together. So go ahead, fall apart and let God “peace” you back together. In the meantime, let those words stir in your heart while you make up a batch of fresh garden tomato sauce.

Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce Ingredients • 20 tomatoes (any variety), halved • 1/4 cup olive oil • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt • 1 teaspoon pepper • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar • 1 cup finely diced onion ( I used tiny pearl onions) • 3 to 4 bell peppers or any mild garden pepper • 2 teaspoons minced garlic • 2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano leaves • 2 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves • 1 tablespoon chopped basil • 1 cup red wine Instructions • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. • In 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans place tomato halves cut side up. • Sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper, onion, garlic, and herbs. • Bake tomatoes for 2 hours. • Check the tomatoes after 1 hour and turn down the heat if they seem to be cooking too quickly. • Then turn the oven to 400 degrees and bake another 30 minutes. • Remove from the oven and process tomatoes with a puree a hand blender in a saucepan. • Add wine, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. BY HEATHER RIGGLEMAN / ADAPTED FROM ALTON BROWN

Heather-Riggleman-Head-Shot1-150x150 Bio: Heather Riggleman is an over caffeinated mama to 3 crazy-busy kids & married to her high school  sweetheart. By day she’s a mama, a food junky, and writes on the fly on her blog: Falling to Peace(s):  Reflections on letting go, grace & imperfection. By night she’s a Production Assistant for Nebraska TV News.  You can read more of Heather’s thoughts in her book, Mama Needs a Time Out or visit her author site:  heatherriggleman.com

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