Friday, April 17, 2015

Finding Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

"Anybody here found joy in the middle of sorrow,
Just Say Amen!" - Finding Favour, "Say Amen"

There's no other phrase that sums up living with infertility for me - "finding joy in the midst of sorrow." We can't go around being angry, sad, and frustrated all the time. Trust me, I've tried. After a while, you get to a point where you start to hate yourself, to hate who you've become. It's exhausting and depressing. Then the next thing you know, you really are depressed and questioning whether your life has any value. (Perhaps a slight exaggeration.)

So here are a few things that have brought me joy lately.

  • Finding out on Easter Monday that the hellebores I thought had died had survived the winter
  • The scent of hyacinths (I would say that they're one of my favorite flowers, but I think I have too many favorites!)
  • Purring cats
  • A good book, a bowl of popcorn, and a roaring fire on a cold night
  • Finally being able to turn the heat off and open windows!
  • Playing board games with friends
  • Starting to think about throwing an "Un-Bachelor" Party for Husbandido (or should it be a birthday party? He will turn 40 this year...)
I'm not sure I can say that I've found "peace in the storm" or "hope for tomorrow," but I'm trying hard to find those moments of joy, in the midst of so much sorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Apostle to the Apostles*

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdelene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (Matthew 28:1-8, NRSV)

Apostle to the apostles* - this phrase has been stuck in my head since Easter. In the early church, Mary Magdalene and the other(s) with her that morning were considered as apostles to the apostles. But what is an apostle, exactly? In the original Greek, apostle means messenger (literally, one who has been sent). Over time the idea of this special role for these women was lost; I think much was lost when we lost this idea.

Today we are all called to spread the good news, to be apostles, sent into the world. But I think there is a special role for our community, for those suffering from IF and miscarriage. I think we, too, are called to be apostles to the apostles. If that is the case, then what is our message? 

Life is a gift.

Day by day, month by month, in our words and our actions, we are called to testify that life is a gift. In our culture and world, where we so casually speak of planning our families and of "death with dignity," there is a strong need for the world to hear that life is simply a gift. Though sometimes you can plan for it, most often it will take you by surprise. Each life, each day has value. No matter what your struggles, sufferings, or weaknesses are, your life is a gift. The child who dies before birth? A difficult gift, but a gift nonetheless. Whether a person lives a few days or more than a hundred years, that life is a gift. 

There are many others called to spread this same message; Kara Tippetts did so beautifully and eloquently in how she lived and how she died. So many messengers are needed because the world doesn't want to hear it; we all want to believe that we can live our lives on our terms. "We can make our dreams come true if we try hard enough. We can eliminate suffering if we all come together." How many times have we heard this message? From commencement speeches to self-help books to TV and movies, we hear it constantly. Except we can't. Life is simply a gift. It is a surprise; we don't know what will be contained within. We must simply accept the gift as given. Suffering is a real and necessary part of life; it, too, is a gift. It isn't easy to be grateful for suffering, but perhaps we can learn to accept it is part of the great gift that is life. 

* I was initially remembering a form of this phrase as "apostle apostlodorum," which doesn't seem to be the correct Greek or Latin. I also was unable to find the phrase in my notebook from my course in "Women in the Biblical World." (I hate to admit that it's nearly 20 years since I took that class.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

On Setting Boundaries and Knowing When to Stop

Before I go any further, I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to comment recently. I thoroughly appreciate your thoughts, prayers, and concerns. You have given us much to think about and consider as we decide what to do next.

At this point, Husbandido and I have decided that it is worth sending my charts and medical records to PPVI for another opinion. Beyond that we have not decided how much else we are willing to do; it will come down to what is suggested and the rationale behind it. We have agreed that if they suggest doing the ultrasound series, I will do that. At the opposite end, we have agreed that it would take a very compelling reason for me to have surgery again. (Something along the lines of "Let's see what's going on" or "There has to be something else causing problems" would not do it.) We have also discussed limits on what dietary changes I am willing to make, since I saw no effect, either in how I felt or my antibody titers, when I went GF. 

Why did we decide to request another opinion? The first reason is wondering if there is something else going on, something that has been missed. None of the diagnoses I have received so far are such that conceiving is unlikely (Hashimoto's syndrome, diffuse stage I endometriosis, which was removed, and type III luteal phase defect). Based on what has been looked at so far, I respond well to treatment, with hormone levels in the desired ranges. Together with the not infrequent mistakes and confusion we have gotten from our doctor's office, it leaves us wondering if there is something else going on. Secondly, there is the simple fact that right now I am, at best, ambivalent about adoption. Most often the thought of adopting leaves me upset and depressed. Due to childhood verbal and emotional abuse I am very touchy on the subject of being second best or not good enough. The conventional wisdom that focuses on the loss and trauma that leaves a child eligible for adoption has me incredibly fearful of investing so much time, money, energy, and love into raising a child or children who will reject me/us as not good enough, not their "real" family, not enough. Tomorrow evening we are speaking to Bilbo and Biscuit's (two of our cats) foster mom, who was adopted as an infant and has raised an adopted son to adulthood. (She now has two grandchildren.) We also plan to speak to a couple from our parish who adopted their son from Peru (their son is about our age). So while we look further into the medical situation, we are also trying to deal with my fears about adoption. 

While we can't yet put a definite limit on when we will stop, this certainly isn't a commitment to try everything suggested. We will listen to the opinion we receive and decide from there. Usually I hate leaving anything up in the air, but I think this is the best decision we can make for now.