Waiting with unanswered questions

081916 garden bench

A little over three years ago was the last time I saw a positive pregnancy test. After months of fertility treatments, the month we did nothing, I was pregnant.

And three years ago this week, the dream crashed and burned at our ultrasound appointment, which ended in me being whisked off for an emergency surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy (and a fallopian tube).

Looking back at the blog posts then, I see my hope that God could bring about a pregnancy shrinking as I took stock of my new reality. I found myself asking: “What happens to faith in the midst of unanswered questions?” Continue reading

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When Grief Comes Knocking… Or Getting Real About Infertility. Whichever You Prefer.

Laying flat on my mat, tears spilled out of my eyes unbidden. Moments like these make me hate going to yoga. I think of myself as emotionally intelligent, but mainly that just means I do pretty decent on picking up emotions in other people. I’m excellent at ignoring and stuffing my own, particularly those volatile ones that make me feel unholy or unfeminine or like I’m going to drown in a well of sadness.

Continue reading

All in a Crazy Day

How is it possible to feel so many things in a day!  Overwhelmed by grace.  Joy at rekindling a friendship.  Grieved by recent news.  Flattened by comments on an assignment.  Nagging insecurity. Raging self-doubt.  Frustration as J and I got into an argument. Delight in hanging out with a bunch of kids at church.

And in the midst of the peaks and valleys of today, what sticks out to me?   The moment of feeling flattened by comments on an assignment.  As the recording in my mind replays critique after critique, I’m finding myself near tears.

It’s amazing for me how quickly I can turn criticism into a mirror in which I see myself.  Not as a lens of improvement, but as a sort of Dorian Gray portrait in which I see the worst of myself and imagine others to see me in that light.  Now I know that this is not a good choice, but as I sit near tears, it makes me doubt future goals.  And question the kind of person that I want to become.  Do I really want to pursue an academic life with the continuing back and forth of review and critique?  If I’m feeling this beaten down by comments on a measly assignment, how do I stand before a dissertation committee? Answer being: I need a thicker skin between now and then.

Partly nothing I do will be perfect, and the overachiever in me has to accept that.  And part of me has to give myself grace for struggling with the assignment in the first place.  The assignment as it was written seemed self-evident, but the further I got into it – the less sense it made and the less I saw how things were supposed to come together. And I’m a total rule-follower, so I just tried to hack it instead of going my own route.  I should have asked for help or flat out gone rogue, but I was sick (literally had pneumonia and didn’t know it until much later) and burnt out and just pulled out a paper.  Not my best paper.  And no – I didn’t fail it.  I just didn’t knock it out of the park like I usually do.

And perhaps I’m bummed because I was writing in part for the wrong reasons.  Writing to try and impress someone else rather than to grow myself. That’s always a bad choice for me, and usually leads to crap work. Writing something that was easy and manageable instead of reaching beyond my comfort.  And it showed in the writing.  Maybe that’s what I’m upset about too, and what makes it harder to release. And I have to let go of it.  I failed my standards in the midst of my own life chaos.  I juggled too many things, and made a choice to just check something off a to-do list rather than pursue something.

But, maybe, just maybe, I ought to give myself a little grace this time around.  So maybe I got a B on an assignment this term instead of my normal overachiever A.  But, at the same time, I didn’t tank my life completely this term like I’ve done at previous moments where life went sour.  I’m still in seminary – I’m still on track to graduate when I planned.  And given all that life has thrown at us in the past 18 months – that’s an achievement.   So, crazy-pants brain, let’s stop dwelling in the anxious self-critical place, and start being more balanced.  Yes, your professor may not think you wrote the coolest thing ever, but get over it.  You survived the semester while wrapping your head around surviving an ectopic pregnancy.  In the big scheme of things, one paper is not the biggest deal ever.

Rough Day

Grieving is a sneaky and mysterious thing.  Thought I had moved on from the ectopic pregnancy, and then found myself weeping in the shower this morning.  I would have preferred hiding out at home, but forced myself to get dressed, fix my hair and put on my face: more-or-less, to put on the armor to get myself through the day.  I just feel overwhelmingly sad today, and feeling anxious.

There’s a hymn that Indelible Grace sings called Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul, and I deeply resonate with this hymn.  In part, because I appreciate worship that reflects the both the ups and downs of Christian life – not just the high, happy, mountain peaks.  I found myself listening to it this afternoon as I sat in my car bracing myself to go into school to study.

The following stanzas hit home for me where I’m at today; gloomy doubts, fears, anxiety.  Feeling alone. And starting to feel hope dissipate. But, at the same time, I know I’m still anchored in God; where can I go away from Jesus?  Were I to run there he would still be.  And, even if I’m sad and dejected, my life does not function well apart from walking with Jesus.

But oh! when gloomy doubts prevail
I fear to call thee mine;
The springs of comfort seem to fail
And all my hopes decline.

Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust;
And still my soul would cleave to thee,
Though prostrate in the dust.

Anxiety and the Silence of God

Okay, friends and family, I’ve had a rough, semi-anxious week.  New classes with new professors, and still feeling behind on a few things.  I’m on campus every day now, and I’m feeling the energy drain from all this social interaction.  By the time my internship class this morning wrapped, I felt fried.  Now, I choose this current adventure, so I can’t complain.  I’ve just been feeling rather inadequate and not up to the challenge.  Mainly, I think I want to have a bit longer to be an ostrich and pretend that I don’t have to keep moving forward and living my life.  Maybe I’m not yet as “good” as I want to be.  Not thrilled about that acknowledgement.

Currently I’m having to write a paper about my core beliefs, values, mission, and purpose.  I’m finding myself frustrated as I write, because I don’t have a specific tunnel vision for where I’m going.  I’m pretty simple: love God and love people.  I’m not a big type-A person, so this assignment makes my life feel more complicated than it needs to be.  I’m trying to take it seriously and put some effort into it instead of making things up.  Though the making stuff up is starting to seem more appealing as this process goes on.

In an effort to take a brain break and recharge my mental batteries, I picked up one of my fun reading choices for this month, The Silence of God by Helmut Thielicke, and came across the following statement which is helpful with my current anxiety load.

Everything is now different.  We do not know what will come.  But we know who will come.  And if the last hour belongs to us, we do not need to fear the next minute.

I’ll readily acknowledge that Thielicke is not fun reading for the majority of people I know; this German theologian writes as nerdy a tome as any academic writer could dream of, but it is fun reading in the sense of I choose this stuff rather than being assigned the reading for class.   And back to the subject at hand, I’m hoping to hang on to this anti-anxiety reminder for at least a few more days. I needed the reminder that my life and fate are not ultimately in human hands (even my own), but in the One who I follow and who loves me even on the days when I can’t sense it.

Oddities

Going into surgery knowing that you’re pregnant but that when you wake up you won’t be is definitely a bizarre experience.  And further than that, waking from surgery knowing that you’re no longer pregnant but still having all the hormones in your system compounds the oddity of it all.
The bizarre experience continues as even a week and a half later I’m still waiting for the hormones to creep back down to 0 as I continue to go in for blood draws. I find myself feeling strange as I’m now hoping the HCG is back to zero when a few short weeks ago I was so surprised and overwhelmed by an increasing HCG level.

It’s a week and a half past the surgery, and I can wear normal clothes again (yay!) and don’t take pain meds anymore (also yay!).  But, I’m still sore and itchy, and wanting my body to return to normal. Wanting to be able to lift the things that I want or need (still can’t lift anything more than a jug a milk for another 3 weeks).  Wanting to be able to focus on things I need to get done for school this fall rather than procrastinating as I feel sad over not being pregnant and not being sure of whether future pregnancy is even a real possibility or not.  Now, I’m having to accept that I am taking class all year and interning all year, instead of taking time off for maternity leave in the spring.  Sometimes reality bites.  But, I’m a big girl and know that at some point tomorrow will be easier and better than today (at least temporarily till the next big disaster strikes, as it invariably does).

Dread, Hope and Moving On

I’m feel like I’m winding down on the dramatic ups and downs of this emotional roller coaster (though I did manage to have a fun few moments of extreme anger this afternoon as predicted in a recent post; but these have passed for now).
On a slightly positive note (at least I find it positive) I have finally made it to the point of being able to talk about the ectopic pregnancy situation without crying.  I know I’ve still got a few hills and valleys to ride through,  but still feel like progress has been made.

And I can finally wear pants with buttons again; who knew I’d be so excited about that?  They’re not super comfortable yet, but they don’t cause massive pain either.  So, that’s kind of a win.  Finding little things to be grateful for helps me get through the day.  Thus, pants equal a moment of “Hooray!” I appreciate being able to wear something other than sweatpants, t-shirt dresses or skirts out of the house.

One more major hurdle remains: meeting with my fertility docs on Wednesday for my post-op appointment.  Here I get to make sure I’m okay post-surgery.  Not super worried about that part.

The other part is where the dread/hope part kicks in.  The part about figuring out what this means for future attempts to have kids scares me, and it means we have to make decisions.  No, they’re not entirely urgent – but they’re more than just wake up, breathe and survive today.  Either keep on trucking with the fertility craziness for another round or two once the doc says ok, wait awhile, or quit altogether.  And that’s depending on what my actual options are.  Prayers as we figure out what God’s leading us towards are much appreciated.