ICSI

Irreverent reverence…

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Last Sunday night I went to St. Mark’s on Capital Hill with a friend to listen to the Monks chant. This is something that I used to do on my own as well as with Bryan during university. Since moving back I have wanted to go again and experience the peace and calmness that this environment produces. In this massive church you have bodies sitting upright in pews, other sprinkled in the exterior benches and some laying down on the floor on the blanket they brought for the occasion. It is holy and unconventional. Reverent in it’s irreverence. People from all walks of life come, in silence, contemplation and respect of each other. God is clearly sang about and praised yet I imagine not everyone who attends proclaims to be a follower of Jesus. Yet when they enter this space they, in what some may consider irreverence, join in the reverence and stand, sit and lay in awe. They pause and marvel. Both those who are convinced and those still searching. It’s a beautiful illustration of the inclusiveness of Christ. He was not offended by those who did not profess him to be the Christ nor should we be offended.

This evening as I played with the boys and gave them their bath I began to think of all the areas of irreverent reverence my life encompasses, especially when it comes to my boys. So much of motherhood is finding the sacred in the ordinary. It’s finding the reverence and worship in changing the poopy nappy or wiping a dirty little face clean of food. It’s tidying up the messes that these little people create everywhere they go with a patient attitude considering it all as acts of worship. My life is full of activities that are irreverent or could be considered so, except I don’t. I choose to worship with play, with dirt, with slides and dirty hands. I worship with a tired and exhausted body that falls into bed muttering a prayer asking for a full night of uninterrupted sleep. (yes, I still pray that prayer.)

I love the pictures I have shared in this post. The bath scene is one of my favourites. My boys, initiated by Kidran, exit the bath and run into my arms. They dry off the front of their wet bodies with my clothes and I let them. They nestle in close and I hum in their ears. These are holy moments. Yes Lord, they are. When we wrestle or get ready in the morning we are together. Sometimes they pound down the door until I open it when I am doing my hair and makeup. They just want to be where I am. That is where I am moving towards with my Father. I just want to be where He is. I am asking Him to help me see the reverence in all the irreverent areas of my life. Would you consider doing the same? I would love to hear how you approach this new way of thinking and living. How do you do it? How does it change your view of your precious life? I look forward to hearing from you!

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Amma is here!

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I am so thankful for our parents! Yes, that is a massive understatement as there will never be enough words or pages to truly explain all the ways they have been there for us. They supported us through the long painful years of infertility and celebrated more than anyone else when we finally got pregnant. I remember crying with Lynda over the phone as we shared our significant news and I will never forget my Mom standing up in Mancino’s restaurant shouting ‘Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!’ While my Dad’s face beamed with a mixture of tears and elation as he expressed his delight quietly.

Since the moment our boys arrived our parents have been there. My parents came and stayed with us in Northern Ireland for six weeks and Lynda stayed for three and a half months. They have visited us wherever we have been and let us come crash into their lives by ourselves and now with our boys. Their generosity is humbling and their kindness inspiring.

It has been with great joy and contentment that we have had the pleasure of Lynda visiting us here in Kirkland the past few days. Amma Chud has had so many special moments with our boys this trip and they have embraced her with open arms!! It has made my heart swell seeing our boys connect with their Amma as it does when they are with any of our family members but grandparent connections are about the sweetest.

Since Amma Chud arrived we have enjoyed some wonderful weather and have taken advantage of it fully. We have visited parks, downtown Seattle, watched Bryan’s team play their first spring season game and simply soaked up some much needed Vitamin D. We all sit back and watch the boys with joy and pride. They provide constant entertainment for us and anyone who happens to be in their vicinity.

The picture above says it all. The boys love their Amma! They have matching curls and it’s adorable!!! Plus the picture of Bryan and I on our wedding day in the background speaks to me of the legacy our two families are creating within these little boys lives. Seeing her read to them as they sit on her lap and listen, engaging with the story and read along brings me to tears.

I find myself taking so many mental snapshots right now. I am trying to let these days, even the not so fun ones, really imprint themselves on my heart and mind. It will be ten years from now in the not so distant future and I will look back at these times with our boys and cry. Cry for what has happened, for what we didn’t capture and for the future that is coming all too quickly. Yet I will also smile and ponder these things in my heart, recounting the ways Cohen always embraced life and every adventure. I will replay the nature walks with Kidran that took three times as long because he noticed every little detail and every bug, stopping to fully take in these tiny forgotten fragments in the array of large life. I will remember Cohen’s consistent greeting of ‘Hi Momma, hi Dadda!’ with his dummy in his mouth, holding both toy bears, as if it was the first time he had seen you in ages! I will reminisce about the way Kidran always used my clothes as his towel when getting out of the bath while clinging to me, cuddling in till I put his fresh PJ’s on.

So tonight, as you tuck your own children into bed or say goodnight, whatever their age, remind them of what they were like when they were little. What did you love about them at age two? Age five? What did they do then that they do now? Tell them the silly things they did or the sweet things. Share the joy their lives bring to you with them and create some more memories!!!

Then if you want a really good cry, go watch this Ed Sheeran video! It’s absolutely one of my favourites!!

A gentler way…

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Be still my heart! This has quickly turned into one of my favourite pictures of the boys. Rarely do you get them both sitting, smiling and together!!! This is a true gem snapped by their Father extraordinaire! This picture also captures each of their ‘little but growing bigger everyday’ personalities. Kidran still fits his nickname Disney while recently I called Cohen Swag and it seems to fit. These boys experience life so differently. I love my front row seat where I can observe these differences, then watch them share with each other their unique views.

As well as being cute and hilarious they are also very rascally. Their wills are getting stronger by the day.  With that comes some meltdowns on my part and I have shouted in frustration which I am not proud of. Yet that is real motherhood and I would challenge anyone to find the mother who never once shouted at her children. She deserves the Nobel Peace Prize!!

Along with this stage of rapid development for our boys, Bryan is putting in a lot of hours. He is recruiting and getting his team ready for the quickly approaching spring season. I say to him all the time that his capacity amazes me!! Then he comes home and continues to love on me and the boys in sacrificial ways. I am one thankful woman for the man that I married!

However lately I have been feeling anxious. Anxious for many reasons, none of which are life shattering or life altering but feel important all the same. Then this morning my boys slept till 8:30, both of them!!! Shock and awe!!  It felt like a real, tangible gift from God and I took it. I spent time alone, sitting in the dark, just being. Not moving or talking or cooking or cleaning. Just sitting. Breathing.

Then today at work ( Purpose Boutique ) I was in the back steaming some sweaters that had just arrived. As I sat their steaming the wrinkles out of these sweaters I felt like I was having an Ah-hah! moment. For some time now I have been treating myself like a bunched up, article of clothing that has been shoved in a bag and taken along for the ride. When I have been taken out of the bag in the past I have ironed my creases out. Applied the heat straight to the line and forced the wrinkles to come out quickly, with no patience. Today as I steamed I saw a gentler way. Instead of trying to force myself to unwrinkle, to smooth out in a flash, I will let the steam do it gently. I will let each crease relax and fall into it’s place in it’s own time. I will allow myself to unwind, untangle and be. Have you been ironing yourself and are ready for a gentler way? I encourage us all to take those few minutes to just be. To not talk or even move and just breathe. I am by no means a master at this art form of being gentle and gracious with myself but today I took a step closer and that is what matters.

 

From Infertility to family…

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I have a secret to tell you…come close, I’m gonna whisper it.

I am writing my first book.

‘I’ means me, little old Breanna Jo Chud from Nampa, Idaho. ‘am writing’ translates to currently doing which is true, it’s actually nearly done. ‘my first book’ implies that there is more to come which I hope is equally true.

After our first failed round of ICSI fertility treatment Bryan surprised me with an overnight trip to London to see Phantom of the Opera with the London cast for my 30th birthday. This fulfilled a dream I had since university and was a great distraction from the pain of our pursuit to start our family. On that little trip we went to a small, authentic Italian restaurant close to the theatre. We ate thin crust pizza, dared each other to eat green olives which we both hate and continued to dream of our future together. There were a few tears shed but at one point we both agreed that our story needed to be written in a book someday. Well family, friends and those I hope to someday meet, in some ways that day has arrived, just not fully. Let me explain.

I have been working since February quite consistently on my first book and it’s called…The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants. I have spent hours reliving this emotional and many times painful journey. I have experienced the same emotions over failed pregnancy tests that I had years ago, etc. (It’s crazy to realise just how much your body stores your memories and emotions!) Needless to say the process has been intense and exhausting, yet very therapeutic and healing. Plus, it wouldn’t be happening at such an intense rate if it wasn’t for my amazing husband, this unique season we find ourselves in and the constant help of my friend Hilary!

This first book is about our struggle over 9 years with infertility that eventually led to having a family. The book is a handbook/guidebook of sorts for those experiencing infertility on a personal level as well as for those who know someone going through infertility. In the book I share my personal experiences of treatment, the emotional roller coaster of infertility/fertility treatment and also give what I consider to be some helpful and practical advice on surviving along the way. I also have stories of other people who have struggled as well as the impact infertility has on your relationships. In many ways it’s a journal of sorts that I am giving people permission to go through and read. It feels a lot like the dream where you are walking down the hall with no clothes on and everyone is staring at you naked, yep, that one, the really unnerving one.

This book is aimed at a wide audience of people because I know infertility touches so many lives whether it be your life, your wife, daughter or friend, we all know someone who has been affected by infertility. My desire is to allow my own vulnerability and honesty to help someone else along the way. Am I terrified? Yes!!! But I think that’s part of what makes it worthwhile, it scares me! The reason this is hopefully only my first book is that I would like to write a second book chronicling the faith journey I went on in more detail. It will be a very different book with a different audience yet I feel both books are valid and important enough to distinguish between and write.

I am planning on publishing the book myself in the coming weeks while also sending it to publishing companies. Once I can get the final edit done and figure out all of the publishing lingo I will be flying! So watch this space!!! I will be putting any book updates here on my blog, on facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

(For those interested, I am sharing a bit about the book and my journey at Causeway Coast Vineyard Women’s Breakfast Club on the 24th June, 2016. If you would like to come reserve your space by clicking the link!)

 

Settling in…

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We are past the two month mark and we are settling into being a little family. The boys are growing so fast and getting stronger everyday. We love watching them hold their heads up now to look around as they are taking in more and more of their surroundings. I am a little sad that they are getting so big but also enjoying this new stage. They have started to smile and that makes you feel amazing! Seeing their faces light up when you talk to them is probably one of the best feelings I have ever felt. Sleep deprivation has been lessened thanks to my incredible husband and his amazing Mom. Everyone is so concerned for my well-being making sure I am eating properly and getting enough sleep that sometimes I feel like I am more rested than everyone else! I will enjoy it while it lasts thank you very much!

People keep asking what has been the best thing about having Kidran and Cohen here and that is so hard to answer because it’s not just one thing. Each of them has their own personality, likes and dislikes. They have their individual cries and preferred holding positions. They feed differently, sleep differently and are so unique in every way and that is a beautiful thing. The best thing is that they are real, here and are ours, no one else’s.

People also keep asking what’s been the biggest adjustment? In all honesty it hasn’t been that different than what we imagined. It is hard, really hard at times but so incredible that it just seems worth it. Period. I would say I do miss time with Bryan but that will come back too and we are already planning date nights to make the most out of having a constant babysitter right now with great credentials!

More than anything we are finding our way, getting to know our wee men and soaking up every second of this stage. These times are precious, times that become fixed in your memory and that you will replay constantly as they grow up, and eventually leave home (no, I am not ready to think about that in any way!!) These feel like the moments that we will share with them as they get bigger. Cohen, we remember when you used to sit straight up as we tried to burp you and look around taking in everything. Kidran, we remember when you used to grunt and groan all the way through a feed with your raspy voice. I could continue listing these little memories but I would bore you all.

Abba, I don’t spend a lot of time talking to You these days. I do spend a lot of time thanking You under my breath. Thank you for Kidran and every detail of his perfect face. Thank you for Cohen’s pensive eyes and sweet smiles. Thank you for entrusting us with these two treasured gifts. We pray you help us be the best parents for them, seeking You in every stage of their lives so that we can direct them to You. We pray you protect them, speak to them from an early age and that you give them courage to be the men of God you have designed them to be. Thank you again Father, Amen.

Forever changed…forever blessed!

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On the 1st September 2014, Bryan and I welcomed the arrival of our two beautiful sons. Kidran J Caleb Chud was born at 11:48am weighing 5lbs6oz and Cohen V Ryan Chud was born at 11:49am weighing 5lbs1oz. From the moment we heard Kidran and Cohen’s first cries our lives were forever changed. The boys are incredible! They are handsome, sweet, have reasonably chilled attitudes so far but with very distinctive personalities. We are in love! Hours are spent each day simply staring at their perfection and the blessing that they represent in our lives from God. We are caught in the web of not wanting them to grow up already yet longing to see how they change and develop in time. Each day is precious whether it be an easy day or a difficult one. We are living each moment as much as we can and enjoying the journey. Thankfully this has been made easier by the help of my giving and generous parents who are here for 6 weeks. We also had the privilege of our good friend Molly Olsen coming and helping us get onto pure breastfeeding for a whole week! The help doesn’t end there as Bryan’s mum Lynda arrives the beginning of October to stay for 3 months. It has been such a huge adjustment having our two wee bundles at home but we are loving it. We have been inundated with such extreme generosity from our family, church family and friends both here and in America and feel incredibly fortunate that so many people are celebrating the birth of our boys with us! Thank you to each person who has blessed us!!!!

There is so much I could say but my brain won’t really allow me too and there’s not a lot of time as the boys feed every 3 hours at the moment. (Totally worth the sleep deprivation as Kidran now weighs 6lbs1oz and Cohen weighs 5lbs15oz!) As you can imagine there have been so many moments that have wrecked both Bryan and I when we contemplate the road we have travelled to arrive where we are. God’s faithfulness displayed in such splendor is almost too much at times to take in! Yet one of my favourite moments that comes to mind is the day we brought our boys home from the hospital. As we drove down the M1 back to Dungannon Bryan played an album by Kristine Mueller- Those Who Dream. (If you can, buy this album! You will not be sorry!) The album has special significance to us as it was played non-stop during our first two failed attempts at IVF. A few years on we lost the album when our computer crashed. This Christmas Bryan was able to get it again and as we moved forward with another round of treatment the songs took on greater meaning. One of the lyrics talks about God making us into mountains that cannot be moved or shaken. Throughout our journey to start our family we have felt God so close and had many ‘thin place’ experiences. We do not believe He orchestrated our struggle to have a family but we do believe He walked through it with us. He used the experience to make us into mountains. Mountains that display the grandeur of God’s faithfulness and His attention to every detail of our lives. Through the process we have become stronger, our faith more solid than ever before. Things that used to shake us or tried to move us have less of a hold. That does not mean what lies ahead will be easy or we will be unshaken. Still we have the promise of God always being with us and this settles my heart and mind. Another lyric states this fact: ‘Over and over, you prove yourself faithful’. As we drove home with our physical representations of God’s promises fulfilled, we were both overwhelmed by God’s proof of being faithful. Our eyes filled with tears, our hearts beat that much fuller and we knew we had met with God, we had experienced one of the holiest moments of our lives.

So here are a few pictures of our beautiful boys! They are from the first week so already they have changed and grown so much but I wanted to capture them this way as much as we could! Enjoy!!!

32 weeks and counting!!!!

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Looking back at the blog I see that it has now been nearly two months since I last posted anything!!! Where does the time go? It seems like so much has happened since my last post and I will do my best to condense it. The two new pictures are of me with some of my fellow prego mommies!! Our church seems to be having a baby boom as there are a few ladies not even in this pic from our church who are pregnant. There is also another girl pregnant with twins so we have had fun comparing notes. I think it is a sign that God truly is up to something magnificent and big for the upcoming years as these little boys and girls grow up in His presence!

Shortly after the last entry Bryan and I went and stayed two nights in Belfast at the Europa Hotel to celebrate our 12 year wedding anniversary. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that it has been 12 years since we said ‘I do’ but a lot has happened to fill those years. We had a wonderful, relaxing time in Belfast. The highlight would have to be our anniversary journals. One of our wedding gifts when we got married were two journals, one for each of us. The couple who gave them to us encouraged us to write about each year of our marriage and then share that with each other as part of our anniversary traditions. We have done this each year and found it to be tedious yet rewarding and this year was no different. Although there was a difference. In our entries over the years we have written about our trials and the ups and downs of our journey to start a family. Sharing those entries has been bittersweet at times as we were never blind to the fact that we still had not been able to start a family yet we always were overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness, presence and extreme blessings in our lives. This year we sat in the piano bar at the Europa Hotel, with the World Cup muted in the background and read to each other our view of this last year. As we did, we both sat with tears streaming down our faces at the miraculous events that had taken place in our lives namely us finally getting pregnant. It felt so monumental for our journey and seems to us like a script that not even Hollywood could write. God does love a good story and He is the giver of good gifts and good surprises and we are proof of that. After all the years of waiting, of hoping, of crying, of anger, of pain…at the end was a beautiful picture of resurrection. (If you own Nathan Chud’s album Moratorium, now would be a good time to listen to resurrection.) Jesus had taken our dead and buried dreams and brought them back to life in fullness! Thank you Father for hearing every prayer and giving us this privilege of become parents and having a family!

After our time in Belfast we came back to Dungannon for church that Sunday morning. Bryan celebrated his first Father’s Day and it was awesome to experience!! That brings us into July where we had people come and stay with us nearly every weekend of the month. We enjoyed the time catching up with friends and family whom we have not seen for quite some time but I must admit I was a little tired by the end of it and have enjoyed time with just Bryan since everyone has gone.

Something else marked July for us unfortunately and that was the death of my beloved Grandpa Maier on the 10th July, 2014. My Grandpa was one of my favourite people and growing up I respected him so much and that only grew as I became an adult. He loved people, served people and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. More importantly he was a man who gave his entire being to Jesus and was so passionately in love with Jesus that he couldn’t help but be a contagious spreader of the love of Christ. I always said to him that I wanted a double portion of what he had and my Mom kindly reminded me that I had been given that double portion, God had given us two boys! When he passed he was surrounded by my lovely Grandma Ardith, my Mom and her sisters and the entire Maier clan. They sang old hymns and songs to him, they told him their favourite memories and was there until he breathed his last. Moments like this make the distance between us and the rest of my family so very big and hard. I just wanted to be there with my Mom, my Grandma and the rest of my family who were grieving the loss of this incredible patriarch. I wanted to cry with them, tell stories with them, relive our best moments with Grandpa Maier (him tickle/pinching us as kids, making us wooden toys, him leading the Lion of Judah at convention, him preaching at Fellowship Tabernacle, the list goes on and on). I just wanted to be with my family. So being heavily pregnant was probably the only good excuse I could use to justify to myself not being there with all of them. Thankfully Brent, my eldest brother, organized to have the funeral streamed so I was able to witness the celebration of his life and his incredible legacy. I will miss and love you forever Grandpa, thank you for showing me what a life centered around Jesus looks like and the fulfillment that only He can bring to this life looks like. You will never be replaced but always remembered.

Now we are into August and I am 32 weeks today! This baffles me! The time has flown by and outside of the whole appendix episode, the pregnancy has gone really well. I have been enjoying feeling more movements from the boys as they are now estimated to weigh 4lbs 3oz and 4lbs 10oz! So when they move it is no longer a gentle nudge or tap but feels more like a wrestling match is going on inside of my stomach! We have made great strides in getting the nursery set up for the boys arrival thanks to the generosity of so many and even have the hospital bag and nappy bag packed in case I go into preterm labour. I am scheduled to have another scan on the 28th August and will then get a date for my C-section.

I have also finished up my job which was a wonderful job during this time but my body was ready to rest. Over here it is quite common for women to finish work a month before their due date to rest and prepare for the arrival of the baby/ies and I am so thankful to be living here because of this! I know it’s not that way for my American friends. At work they made me a sweet little peanut butter and buttercream iced cake that said Yummy Mummy on it and we all had a coffee break together, it was very sweet. Now it is time to get the rest of the nursery set up, try to make a few meals for the freezer and clean the house from top to bottom (which because of the lack of negotiating I can do with the bump will take me probably two weeks)!!! There is always the chance that the babies could come earlier than planned which is okay as their weights are getting up there and we have already had the steroid injections to mature their lungs. Yet it would be nice to have my Mom and Dad here before they come or at least as soon as they arrive. I know we can’t control this aspect of pregnancy so we are trusting that they will come when they are ready and healthy enough to be brought home.

To finish this long overdue and lengthy update I wanted to share a very sweet moment I had the other evening. Bryan was playing a chilled out song on the guitar that was beautiful and as he was playing I was folding the baby clothes that I have washed so far and picking out which pieces I would pack for the hospital. As I stood their in that moment, tears began to fill my eyes. The complete reality of what I was doing hit me. I was folding the clothes that our little boys will wear. Our boys. Not someone else’s miracles but ours, the two gifts that God has blessed us with. It was one of those surreal moments that felt like time stood still. My heart felt like it could explode in gratitude and joy! I paused and thanked God for every prayer He heard, for every tear He kept and for releasing His Kingdom power into our lives in this way at this time. It was precious and not a moment I will ever forget. Bryan came in a few minutes later and we both stood, hugging, in awe of what these little clothes represented in our story. Thank you Abba!

If you would like to pray for us here are a few prayer points that we would love you to partner with us in:
*Pray for continued healthy development of the boys and that they will come only when they are healthy, strong and ready to come home.
*Pray for us to find a new car that will be more suitable for our growing family needs:)
*Pray for job opportunities for Bryan to come up.
*Pray for the safe arrival of our family and friends who are so graciously coming to help support us through the first few months of becoming parents, hallelujah!!!
*Pray that the delivery, whatever way it happens, is smooth and uncomplicated.

Thank you for your continued support!!!