New Diagnosis. Our Journey Continues.

Recently, we had another appointment with our OBGYN. Our plan: We are going to reassess my husband’s numbers and health. Secondly, my symptoms are pointing to: Endometriosis.

In some ways, this new diagnosis for me is very overwhelming, not knowing what all will lay ahead for us. In other ways, it feels good to finally know what it is that is going on and what I am dealing with. Suddenly — all of the dots are connected – a light bulb moment. I think I have had this for many years. I have only had pain since my most recent miscarriage – and it is usually very slight. Over the years, I do remember a couple of times when I was in SEVERE pain, related to my cycle. My flow over the years also seems indicative of endometriosis, I thought that this was “normal”. I have also had digestive issues for years, that I also thought were somewhat “normal.” From what I’ve read so far, my digestive symptoms go right along with endometriosis. I am only at the beginning of this journey of learning more specifically about this disease.

My OB/GYN is 8 hours away. Due to our recent move and then our plan to move back in 7 months, he agreed to consult for us, distantly. The closest OB/GYN that my Dr. would recommend to do the laproscopic surgery is 3 1/2 hours away. I have an appointment with him in March.

I know that God is with me and will help me through in the days ahead – despite my anxious thoughts that run or my attempt for an “instant fix.”

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Honest Moments.

I crave more honest moments.

When we were trying to conceive with my son, I didn’t share with anyone that we were having trouble trying, not even our parents. And then, we didn’t share with them until we were about 14 weeks along. I was one that wanted to keep everything private.

I’ve changed.

I crave raw, vulnerable talks with others. Life can be so difficult, at times — I want to be real with others and to not feel alone through it all.

I get tired of the superficial conversations and the picture perfect Facebook post after post.

I was blessed to be a part of one of those honest conversations today — with four other women — we were talking about trying to conceive and all 4 of us had had at least one miscarriage, one other who had had two, like myself. We talked about how difficult it is to go through, and even struggling to conceive after that. We also related how God is with us through it all. Additionally, to know that God grieves with us when we experience the loss of a child. The women that were a few years further down the road than I were able to see even more clearly God’s comfort and strength through those times and even His timing vs. our own.

My daughter recently created and honest moment for me that I wasn’t quite ready for. She is very outgoing and quickly makes friends with others. We were at our local science center waiting for a show to start. She was having a conversation with her new friend. Her friend, “that is my little baby brother with my mommy over there.” My daughter, “my mommy’s baby died and went to heaven. We are praying for another baby.” This conversation was repeated a couple of times including, “why did her baby die.” Tears came to my eyes as the memories came fresh to my mind. While I love an honest conversation, that was not the time/place or way I wanted it to happen. This conversation was easily heard across the entire room. My daughter was just being honest, in the moment. The show soon started and their conversation was no longer heard. I realize conversations like these may happen again, as I try to teach my daughter appropriate times and places to talk about certain things. I still find myself being open with my kids about what happened. I hope that it is providing good “teachable” moments. When we pray for more children, we always add – “help us to trust you, LORD, no matter what/either way.”

I Am Blessed To Be On This Journey. Part IV.

I have been blessed with 2 children. I am SO GRATEFUL for them. I think this intensify’s as time goes on. After all, they will not be living with us, as littles, forever and we are not guaranteed more children.

Loving and nurturing them. Hugs. Kisses. Snuggles. Even the many times of disciplining them throughout each day.

I even treasure my pregnant days – I remember theirs as joy-filled. I miss those days — I struggle so much, now, with the fear that I may loose the baby.

I wonder if someone striving for just one baby may just want to pull me aside and say, “Shannon, be grateful for what you have!” Yes, THANK YOU, you are right!

If Only…

I have noticed a trend in my thought life, and I wonder if I am alone in this, or if it is true for a lot of others as well.

I remember when I was single, I would constantly wish to be married. I was ecstatic to find and marry, whom I now consider to be my best friend.

Next, I was earnestly yearning for children, after almost 3 years, we were blessed with my son. Not sure if we would struggle to get pregnant again, we easily got pregnant again and were blessed with my daughter.

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Even still, my heart aches and longs for more children. But when is it going to be enough. When is it going to be “just right “.

Or, what else will I yearn for: being the perfect parents. A perfect education for our children. A perfect marriage relationship.

What about the many times I look around and compare myself to others. Wish I had it together as a mom, like her. I wish I could be more relaxed and joyful and content, like her. I wish I could be more confident like her. I wish my husbands career where one where we can stay put, call it home and stop moving.

This made me also wonder (my brain always seems to be in high gear): if anyone ever looks at me and says: If only I could be like her. They have the picture perfect family. — Little do they know of my inner struggles of discontent. Or the many “imperfect” moments in my life. Ironic, isn’t it. One may look at me and wish for or say, “If only…” While I’m looking past the good in my life due to my own preoccupation with my own “if only” and what I do not have.

When is it ever going to be enough. When will I successfully be joyfully content with who I am and what I have. As a dear friend reminded me, recently, a lot of this is just part of being human and living in a sinful/broken world. The world and ourselves will never be perfect this side of eternity. Once again, this makes me realize my need for Christ. The best thing I can do is to be in His Word if Truth and in prayer and in fellowship with other believers. Being strengthened in my faith and encouraged and held up by my brothers and sisters in Christ. Carry on, this rugged journey. One day at a time!

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I Am Blessed To Be On This Journey. Part III.

Taking Care of Me.

I have always struggled with anxiety. Even to the point of panic attacks. At times, I feel like I have a good handle on my anxiety. Yet, often I am anxious and I do not even realize it. Commonly, that’s when a panic attack can sneak up on me. It’s like my body telling me to STOP, slow down, relax. I really feel like being an anxious person, along with being a perfectionist, is working against me in this journey. This really became clear to me after reading a book by James Schwartz’s called, The Mind Body Fertility Connection. In his book, he stated that 3/4 of the women he worked with for infertility were perfectionists. I scored perfectly when taking his perfection quiz — maybe that’s not such a good thing. Also, when combined with having gone through a miscarriage, it intensify’s this negative effect. For me, having just gone through 2 miscarriages — I want to get “everything right” so that it doesn’t happen again. All the while, I am creating more stress for my mind and my body.

Awareness of this is making me consistently take steps to stress less and to prioritize taking care of me. Here recently, I started journaling again. I started practicing, as Scripture says, to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 
In fact, I just did that before sitting down to write this. There are A LOT of negative thoughts that swirl around in my head. I started a notebook, specifically for this journey. It helps me to write it out – and then I pray about it and find truth in Scripture to replace it with. Writing it out really helps me to see what is going on in my head and how damaging it can be. Seeing the truth to replace it with is encouraging — and yet I find myself needing to go back and re-read it a lot!

My exercise regime is changing too. I have loved a good cardio workout for years. I am now finding myself loving yoga, Pilates and barre — getting a workout (though not as intense) and yet bringing a sense of calm and relaxation to my mind and body at the same time.

I’ve been enjoying all of the many ways to eat well – and eat deliciously as well. Eating healthy certainly doesn’t have to be boring these days.

Overall, I am grateful for these positive changes in my life. Yes, in hopes of a healthy pregnancy. But also, I am grateful for a healthier me — habits that I plan to keep with me for the rest of my lifetime.

I Am Blessed To Be On This Journey. Part II.

I feel blessed to have Jon as my husband. Especially through times like these. His patient endurance with me. His hours of listening to me as we go through this. His willingness to change our diet, together. His perseverance in giving of himself with love, time and time and time again. It is a “togetherness” journey. One that is strengthening our relationship and deepening our love for one another, despite life’s uncertainties and adversities.

One of the things I love most about my husband is him loving me for who I am, despite my many imperfections. Especially in this journey – I have and still do struggle with a lot of guilt – that I should be thankful for the children I do have. What do I do with a heart that aches and long’s for more, the pain is real. With a heart that has 2 children in heaven, whom I’ve never had the privilege of meeting. In particular, I think of those going through primary infertility, and perhaps their judgment of me. With this, I need to remember the pain that they are in and this gives me better understanding and sympathy for their journey and feelings.

This is such a growing journey for me, I am so thankful for my husband’s nonjudgmental, love and support through this journey.

I Am Blessed To Be On This Journey. Part I.

Say what?!?! Blessed to be on this secondary infertility journey?? Yes, for me, it ‘s like beauty in the making. I’m being shaped and chiseled and molded. I am ever changing, for the good. Another cycle of “not pregnant” — just another cycle to grow. There are times ( or should I say often) I feel I am being refined by fire — it does not feel good.

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Today I saw someone pregnant (with their fourth) – first thought, “It’s not fair”. I had to stop myself. “No, good for them, that is their journey.
Let my journey be my own.” Besides, I keep getting glimpses of fruit in my life that would never have been, had I not been walking this journey. Trust God’s goodness. Who knows what lay ahead for our family. Trust God’s timing. Even if it means no more biological children. I will be okay. My heart breaks and aches for the many children without a family to love and to care for them. My husband and I would love to be able to adopt, someday.

I am still valuable. I had to remind myself of this before we went to celebrate Christmas with my family. Both of my brothers have four children. “My value is not based on how many children I do/do not have. I am a child of God. That is, truly, all I need in this life. I still have value.”

While in this time of waiting, there is so much in my life in need of growth. One big area is my anxiety. I get anxious very easily. I perceive little stress as big stress, almost instantly. My heart starts pounding, anxious thoughts start to run. That’s when I realize my need for God and I run to Him and read His Word and spend time in prayer. I don’t always do this perfectly, but it goes so much better when I do. I’ve been reading through “Switch on Your Brain”, by Dr. Caroline Leaf. It is phenomenal how powerful our thoughts are. Dr. Leaf has been a part of research for years – and it is amazing how, intentionally being in God’s Word and putting God’s truth in your mind vs. fears/worries etc… changes your brain at the physiological level. It can change physical aspects of your body, your overall health and well being! Right alongside this, it is also comforting to continually be in God’s grace, because we are never going to think perfectly this side of heaven.