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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Looking back, looking forward...

Many of you have noticed that Ben and I are still enjoying child free living, despite being married almost 8 years and together for 13. It isn't because we don't like or want them, we both love children and want them more than anything on this earth. That dream experienced a hiccup when I had a health scare in 2008 and developed an extensive blood clot in my leg that developed into a pulmonary embolism (where the clot broke off and lodged in my lungs, becoming life threatening). It was discovered that I had a hereditary blood clotting disorder that was the root of the problem. God spared my life and I am so grateful for that. Due to some issues related to that illness and the three surgeries I had during that time, I have been strongly discouraged by multiple doctors from attempting to endure a pregnancy. The risk to my health would be very great and the likelihood of frequent late term miscarriages would be very high despite the large doses of blood thinners that I would be taking. This realization was devastating and heartbreaking. The reminder of it now makes me tear up but it was something that I was told a few years ago and I have made some peace with it. It's even more frustrating now since I am in very good health and feel great most of the time. Nevertheless, losing me during or after a pregnancy is not a risk that Ben is willing to take and I certainly understand his feelings.

The opportunity presented itself to try to become pregnant through IVF and the use of a gestational carrier. That means it would biologically be our child we would just be borrowing an "oven.":) It was one of the most special and selfless gifts that I could have ever experienced. This person took on our problems and heartache and attempted to help us. It wasn't easy, the medicines involved were not fun and the invasion of personal privacy was not comfortable, but she loved us so much that she endured months of this for us. We were so excited. The first time we tried, we became pregnant. We wanted to tell everyone immediately but decided to wait until a certain date since it was very early. We experienced a miscarriage within the first 8 weeks that was really devastating. We went in for our first ultrasound and they could not find anything. We had apparently lost the baby a few days prior. It hurt more than anything I can remember. We had allowed ourselves to get excited, and the fall from such a high was tough. We tried again with her and we became pregnant again! We tried to learn our lesson from getting too excited the previous time so we played it semi-cool. We actually were able to see this baby twice on ultrasound and have pictures of little Baby Berry that would have been born 6-15-2012. Looking at the pictures helps it feel more real. I didn't get to experience the physical feelings, such as mood swings or food cravings that our carrier experienced, so this picture is really all I have to let me know that I was a mommy for a short time. At around 10 weeks there were some complications. We went to the doctor, saw our baby was doing well, it eased our mind and we went out for lunch and dinner that day to celebrate. Here is one of the pictures from that day.

The doctor said that the risk of miscarriage at this point was extremely low and we became ecstatic. We had already picked out a boy and girl name and we began planning how we would turn the office in our house into a nursery. We planned on telling everyone the great news at Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, late that same night we got a phone call about some problems with the pregnancy and before we knew it our baby was gone. This stuff is almost impossible to talk about in person. I am not a person who likes to cry in front of people at all and I'm incoherent when I start bawling anyways. The fact that I have been unable to talk about it with more people makes me feel more alone and isolated as I've gone through this experience. This has all happened over the last few months so the pain is all very fresh. We have a great family and they have offered a lot of support. I don't like to be sad, I much prefer light hearted joking around, so I often avoid the one topic that hurts me the most. I also dislike receiving pity or being a Debbie Downer so I just smile and talk about other things.
These last few months have been very tough but I am trusting that better days are ahead. I recently was reminded of a great quote about friends dividing sorrows and multiplying joy. We have experienced much sorrow over the last year, and I'm trusting in God that there will someday be joy in this area of my life and I will want it to be multiplied, so I need to talk about the subject more with others. We talked about fears today in Sunday School and I would have to say my biggest fear is that I will never get to become a mother. However, I find it hard to believe that with all of the children in the world that need parents that God wouldn't pair a few of them up with Ben and myself, who would try our best to make incredible parents. So I hope and pray for the best. Since I first met Ben, I knew he would make a wonderful dad someday and I feel awful that I can't help him out with that. There is a song by the Dixie Chicks called "So Hard" that sums up these guilty feelings better than I can,

"It felt like a given
Something a woman's born to do
A natural ambition
To see a reflection of me and you
And I'd feel so guilty
If that was a gift I couldn't give
And could you be happy
If life wasn't how we pictured it."

Ben and I have talked about our desire to adopt for over 10 years, long before we realized that biological children were not in our future. He handles it so well (much better than I do) and is excited to be a dad no matter how it happens. I am very thankful for that.

Well, so that is looking back and explaining our past. We count our blessings often and we lose count because there are so many. All that's missing are little ones who can share in our many blessings. Another reason I finally decided to write about this now is because Ben and I wanted to formally announce that we are expecting...to adopt a few children over the next few years :). We are interested in domestic infant adoption and we are also in the paperwork stage of the long process of international adoption through the Philippines. We are excited to have started this journey. We had our home study recently and it went well. We will need love, emotional support, and prayers throughout the process as we look forward to bringing the little ones home that God has picked out for us. We are open for any questions and conversations about this subject. I believe that talking about painful subjects is therapeutic so I look forward to being healed of the pain surrounding this part of my life.