Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Advent Devotional

Some of you asked that I post the final devotional I came up with on the Advent theme of Hope and Romans 8:24-25. This is going into a booklet our church is putting together (that I'm now working hard on editing) to lead people through the season of Advent this year. I think the final product is going to be very cool. Anyway, for those of you who wanted to read it, here is my semi-final product. I found out that the 250-word limit was more of a suggested guideline, so I got to keep mine a little longer.


“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:24-25
As a child, my favorite part of birthdays and Christmas was anticipating the surprise of the gifts. One year, my dad accidentally left one of my birthday gifts out a few weeks before my birthday, and I saw it and knew it was my gift. I was so disappointed at having the surprise spoiled that I cried. My birthday was ruined.
I love these kinds of surprises. I love waiting, guessing, counting down the days until I can see what’s beneath the wrapping. I relish every minute of the anticipation because I am sure that, even though I cannot see what’s coming, it is coming and is going to be great. I can enjoy the waiting patiently and hopefully—because I trust the people giving me the gifts.
But when it comes to other aspects of my life, I struggle against waiting for something I can’t see. I long to know, to see what’s coming, and when it’s coming, and if I will like it. I spent over a year longing to get pregnant yet uncertain of whether I would or could be pregnant and have a child. I knew my only real hope was in God’s goodness and my belief that whatever God was bringing would be good, even if I couldn’t see or know it yet. But my mind raced to find and cling to the few ratty strands of hope I could find in medicine, in my own research, in books.
Paul says that we were saved—from the agony of our present sufferings, from the bondage and decay of creation, from the hopelessness of uncertain waiting—through our hope in our future, final adoption and redemption. We are saved because we are certain that something glorious is coming, because we trust the One who will usher it in. That certainty and trust enable us to wait in patient, hopeful, eager anticipation, even though we can’t see how or when the final redemption will come.
May this advent season remind us to relish every minute of our waiting because we know how glorious the end will be.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tout Va Bien

Thanks for all your concerned comments yesterday! I just heard a beautiful, strong heartbeat at the doctor's office. Such a gorgeous sound. And the bleeding hasn't returned since yesterday morning. My doctor was puzzled as to its cause, but she said there are all kinds of things that could have caused it. But for now, all is well! Time to tell the boss....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Seeing Red

I woke up this morning to shooting pains in my lady parts and--the pregnant woman's nightmare--blood. In my early morning panic, it seemed like a lot of blood. Well, there it goes, I thought. It's over. Why'd it have to wait until 12 weeks?

I went downstairs shakily and sat on the couch while I called my doctor's office. I first talked to a nurse, who had an OB call me back. All the while I was dutifully searching the internet to remind myself that bleeding doesn't necessarily mean a miscarriage. The OB I talked to was very nice and reassuring, and told me all the things we know as pregnant women but have trouble believing when we actually see blood. That it was only something to be concerned about if I started having much worse cramping and soaking through pads really quickly. And that sometimes part of the placenta can detach and come out, but this is not dangerous for the baby (we did not have sex last night, so the post-sex bleeding wasn't a logical explanation).

And thank God, the bleeding mostly stopped within an hour or so, and the shooting pains have subsided. I already had my 12-week appointment scheduled for tomorrow morning, so I don't have to wait too long to get more reassurance, hopefully.

Still. It's scary, and I hope I don't see any more blood until around April 10 sometime.

In other news, I plan to go straight from my doctor's appointment tomorrow to my boss to tell him my news (assuming all looks and sounds good at the doctor's). I'm a little nervous, but also excited that the news can finally start getting out at work.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Q&A Chain Letter

Josey  tagged me in a fun Q&A a couple days ago. For some reason, these Q&As remind me of these long surveys that my friends and I used to pass around when we all had our first email addresses (ie junior high). Do any of you remember those? Our first attempts at social networking, I guess. But I was always a sucker for answering interesting questions about myself. I think most of us probably are. So here's my shot at Josey's questions.

1) What is your dream occupation?
First of all, my dream occupation could never involve any 9-5 office job, no matter how cool that job was. That's what I currently do, but it's okay because I know it's not permanent. I'm also just not really into working full-time at all. It's so restricting. I want to be able to do other things with my time, and I want to be able to take vacation whenever I want. I know, I'm asking a lot.

That said, I think I would really enjoy certain kinds of teaching--like teaching a grad English class. I would also really enjoy counseling, and I actually plan to take some classes in counseling at some point. But really, my dream job is and always has been doing what we're planning to do: living overseas in a country that doesn't have quite the plethora of resources that we do, raising kids, and being really involved in other people's lives and various kinds of "volunteer" work. Orphanages, counseling, community development, training, etc.

2) How many children (if any!) do you want?
We're actually crazy enough to want 4-5. All that could change in the next year, of course. But we've always loved the idea of having 2-3 biological kids and then adopting 1-2 more. And having a multi-racial family. One of the pastors at my church has 3 of his own kids between the ages of 4 and 7, and they are now in the process of adopting (via the fost-adopt system) a Hispanic sibling pair who are 4 and 6. So they now have 5 kids within a 3-year age span! Insane, but so, so cool.

3) What's your favorite memory from high school?
Singing in the chamber choir my junior and senior year. I could be modest, but I won't. My high school's choir was one of the best (if not the best) in the state of Pennsylvania. We didn't do any show-choir stuff--we sang mostly acapella and were very "professional." I'm really not that amazing of a singer, so I haven't sung in any choirs since then. Most would probably frustrate me anyway. But I really miss those goosebump moments in performance, when all our harmonies would come together and we'd be singing our hearts out in some beautiful song.... And I miss the choir tours. So much drama, but so fun.

4) What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
Ask anyone, and they'll tell you I'm really not that crazy of a person. I could give you pages of crazy things my husband has done. But I have done a few, I suppose. One thing that comes to mind took place when I was 18 and spending a year studying at an international school in Germany. A few of my roommates (I lived in a room of 10 girls--that was definitely crazy) and I discovered the school's stash of lost and found clothing from years and years past. We're talking really ugly stuff--baggy sweaters from the 80s, grandma skirts, etc. So we all put together the ugliest, most mismatched outfits we could find and walked down to a nearby coffee shop to get some pastries. This would be somewhat crazy in America, but in Germany, it was a lot crazier. Germans (at least from my impressions--please don't be offended if this is a misplaced stereotype) rarely do stuff like that. As one German guidebook explained, they "take their humor very seriously." And dressing in ugly apparel to get pastries is probably not a joke most of them would appreciate.

5) Who is your idol and why?
I might have to follow Oak's example here and say my mom. She's one of the sweetest, most patient, most enduring, most faithful, and most godly women I know. I also have to include my dad, though. He has had intense (and sometimes excruciating) constant headaches since he was in his 20s. He's sought medical treatment multiple time (and is currently in the process of trying some new things, which actually seem to be helping a bit). He's had them ease up for months or years at times, only to come back later even worse. He's had nights where he was only able to sleep a few hours because the headache pain was so bad. And through it all, he has remained so patient and accepting. I know it's taken much questioning, praying, turmoil, and frustration on his part, but in the end, he has always come back to trusting that God has brought this pain into his life for a good purpose. Even when it has kept him from doing things that one would thing God would like (like doing nonprofit work overseas). He inspires me when I'm frustrated about little physical issues.

6) If you could go back and change one decision you've made in your life, would you? If you're comfortable with it, please share the decision!
There are things I've said to people (or not said), or people I haven't reached out to when I knew I should that I regret. But it's hard to tell if even that regret is somewhat self-motivated. Do I really wish I'd said more, or am I just afraid that they thought less of me because I didn't? Anyway, that's a whole different topic. As far as actual life decisions I've made, I can't really say that I regret any. I can think of a few that I could be tempted to regret. Like going to college as an English major at a school more known for their engineering program, rather than a more artsy school. But if I hadn't gone where I did, I would never have met Pete, so there's no way I can regret that.

7) Stilettos or flip flops?
Part of me really wants to be that woman who is so comfortable in stilettos that she wears them to the mall and to the airport. (Though I always wonder if those women are really comfortable in them, or if they're just vain.) But my feet, legs, and back will have none of it. I think the longest I can stand being in any kind of heels is about 4 hours, and that's only if I'm not walking much during that time. Besides, I have a long-standing deep attachment to flip flops. I grew up in a country where flip flops were essentially the only footwear anyone wore. I wore flip flops so much during my childhood that I have a permanent gap between my big toe and second toe. 

8) What's the #1 place in the world that you'd like to travel to and why?
Currently, England. I am an English major who specialized in 17th and 18th century British literature, and I've never been to its birthplace, and I would absolutely love to. A close second would be Italy. I did some touring around Europe while I was living in Germany, but I simply didn't have the funds to go everywhere I wanted to. So I dream of going back.

Whew. I can be long-winded. So I guess it's my turn to pass this along. Here are the questions I want to ask:

1) What's the best dish you can cook?
2) Have you ever been mentioned in the newspaper? What for?
3) What's the worst and/or most memorable job you've ever had?
4) When you were a teenager, at what age did you envision yourself getting married? How old were you in reality when you got married?
5) What's your most hated household chore? What's your favorite?
6) What's your earliest memory?

And now for the lucky people who get to answer these, if they so choose. I won't be offended if you choose not to :).

Anxious Mummy at Anxious Mummy to 3

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Happy-Hopeful Award

Wow, this award is really making its way fast around our little blogging world. I just read three posts in a row on this topic. Thanks to Oak for nominating me!

I'm supposed to talk about one thing I'm happy about right now, and one hope I have for the future. Since the quote in the picture above includes a line about yesterday, I'm giving you an added bonus of one thing I've learned from yesterday. I tend to be a fairly short-term thinker, so what immediately jumps to mind for each of these things is something rather trivial. But I'll also make myself think a little more broadly.

In chronological order:

Lessons from Yesterday
  1. I should never make my body wait too long after getting up in the morning to eat breakfast. Doing so results in vomiting. Yes, I vomited yesterday morning, at 11 weeks, for the very first time. Along with that, I also learned vomiting does help me feel much, much, much better.
  2. Most minor health issues I deal with will eventually work themselves out and go away, and thus should not worry me nearly as much as they do. This includes insomnia, allergies, and even infertility, in a sense. And no amount of research, talking to doctors, trying various remedies, usually works for me. Time--and God--are the only real helps. Now I'm working on learning this lesson and applying it to current pregnancy discomforts.
Happiness for Today
  1. I have a seemingly healthy baby growing in my belly. I have only vomited once so far. I haven't fallen asleep at my desk yet.
  2. I'm pregnant! I think this counts as both short and long-term. But also, I have a wonderful, amazing family in far away places and a fantastic support network surrounding me nearby. And I have a husband who lovingly puts up with so much of my crap, but also shakes me out of it and doesn't overindulge me. And is the only person in the world who frequently makes me laugh until tears and mascara are rolling down my face.
Hope for Tomorrow
  1. I'm hoping that the painful bloating and gas that have been my nemesis so far in this pregnancy subside soon. I know they often stick around through an entire pregnancy. But a girl can hope.
  2. I'm very hopeful and excited about what the next couple of years will bring in our lives. I haven't talked about this much on our blog, but our plan is to move permanently to China in a couple of years. We are actually crazy enough to be planning to go there for 10 weeks a month after our baby is born next spring. Then we'll be back here for a year before packing up for real. Of course that all involves some fears on my part, but I'm also super, super excited about raising this baby (and future babies) overseas, learning Mandarin, getting to know the people and culture, traveling, and, to be honest, being away from the USA for a while (though I will definitely miss how much easier life is here). I spent the first 11 years of my life in Asia, and I am thankful every day for the richness of that upbringing. I can't wait to give that to my own kids.
And, it must be said, I can't wait to meet this baby. And that I'm also very hopeful that those of you who are reading this who are not yet pregnant and desperately want to be will be pregnant very, very soon.

Now, for my nominations. I'm going to have to do a lot of checking here, because this award is zooming around so fast that a lot of my bloggy friends have already received it! So apologies to the lovely ladies nominated if you've already been nominated by someone else and I didn't see the post yet. Consider yourself doubly loved :). I would like to pass this along to:

  1. Melissa at Banking On It
  2. Crossed Fingers at Dreaming of Our Baby
  3. InfertileFollies

Monday, September 13, 2010

Advent Devo

One of the pastors at my church is working on putting together a devotional book for the Advent season this year, made up of entries written by various people in our church. Since somehow my English major-ness is well-known among the pastors of our church, he asked me to be a part of editing it and putting it together. And then he asked me if I could write one of the entries.

The book will have 24 entries (one for each day leading up to Christmas, duh). Each of the entries will be on a verse out of the Bible pertaining to one of the advent themes (hope, peace, joy, love).

I read through the options of verses still needing entries. And I had to choose this one.
Romans 8:24-25 "For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
I find the concept of hope so completely compelling, and I love that this verse tells us that hope is only hope if it's for something we can't see (or understand, or know, etc).

But here's the slight dilemma. How can I possibly write 200-250 honest words about this verse without mentioning infertility or pregnancy? Especially seeing as these are the two verses that precede the above:
"For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
I mean, it actually explicitly mentions pregnancy. And this is actually part of the problem. I feel like pregnancy, or even infertility, is a bit trite in the context of these verse. Or too obvious. Even if it is true that I am pregnant after infertility, and that one of the most important lessons I learned from my experience with infertility was about the nature of hope and waiting without seeing.

So instead, I'm working on digging up something else to come at this verse from a different angle.

That 250-word limit is also bound to give me some problems. Think I can slip in a few extra words since I'm the editor?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Fear of Coming Out

Thanks to all of you who gave me advice about when to tell people that I'm pregnant. It was helpful to know that I wouldn't be totally crazy if I told people before 12 weeks. Like many of you, my big hesitation with telling too many people is that work will find out before I want them to. I'm not afraid that I'll experience any subconscious discrimination, but it would be pretty awful if my boss found out from someone other than me, which would be very possible since he knows many of my friends. But I'm still feeling very indecisive about when exactly to make the news public. Part of me doesn't want to wait until 12 weeks. We have several events right around 11 weeks that would be perfect for making such announcements. But I have my next appointment at 12w2d, and it would be nice to hear that heartbeat one more time. How awful would it be to tell everyone and then not have a heartbeat just a few days later?

We did decide, however, that anyone who knew we were trying to get pregnant also deserved to know we are pregnant. And the people who knew about the infertility are definitely the people we'd want to know if something happened. The main group of friends that has been supporting us through the journey is our community group from church. I don't know what I would have done without their prayers and, well, sympathy over the past year. So after we saw the heartbeat, we decided we should announce to the group when we saw them the next day.

I was actually pretty nervous about announcing it and told Pete he was going to have to bring it up. I realized that part of my fear had to do with how difficult these announcements have been for me for the past few years. And here I am, making one myself. While I know where most couples in our group are in terms of having kids, there is one new couple and one couple who doesn't have kids but is in their mid-30s and been married over 5 years... But I figured they would have shared their own struggles with infertility if they had any after we had so openly shared ours.

And then, when we arrived, we discovered that a friend of someone in our group, who was visiting from Australia, would also be joining us for our Bible study that evening. Which we were quite happy for but, of course, made announcing a pregnancy a little awkward. But Pete decided to plunge in anyway, figuring it might be a while before we got another chance where everyone was together.

I experienced momentary fear as I looked at the new couple and thought I saw a flash of pain on the husband's face...but it was probably just my imagination. Then it was great. Everyone seemed genuinely thrilled for us. The ladies immediately surrounded me and started asking all the right questions. Two of the women (the ones who have had babies themselves) even asked to see the ultrasound picture--not that I had it with me (I'm not that pathetic). And then I gently changed the topic of conversation for the other women involved who are not yet mothers.

The visitor from Australia excused herself and went to bed, complaining of terrible jetlag.

Yesterday, I was riding in the car with one of my closest friends (and her one-year-old), who is also friends with the Aussie girl. She's known about our struggles from the beginning, so I was telling her how nerve-wracking it was for me when we made the announcement to our group. And then she told me that her friend from Australia has actually been trying to get pregnant for two years, but has endometriosis. She just had surgery a few months ago to get fibroids removed.

Crap. That's exactly what I was afraid of. She probably went to bed that night wondering why on earth she happened to come to the one meeting that involved a pregnancy announcement. Maybe even had a cry before going to sleep. Experiencing all those conflicted feelings that we know so well.

When we made the announcement, we did explain for the newbies how we had been trying for a while, and how scary the first few weeks of the pregnancy were. Maybe this made her feel a little better. But maybe it made her feel worse, since we weren't trying for as long as she has been.

I'm hoping all of our future announcements will be made to individuals in person, rather than to large groups. But I know it's pretty unavoidable that my pregnancy will cause some infertiles out there a degree of pain. And there's really nothing I can do about that. But I wish I could just know who they are and at least give them a long, sympathetic hug, and tell them I know how they're feeling.