This winter while in Alaska, my lovely mother-in-law taught me to paint watercolours. I am in love! I relax when I paint and the world fades away, plus the best part is I feel connected to my Creator when I create.
The picture above is a watercolour I did for some dear family members of ours. This family is one of warmth, authenticity, love and fun. This family recently endured something that I cannot even begin to fathom and if I am honest never want to. They have two beautiful children but sadly lost their third child, Levi Joshua. He was gorgeous! Tiny but perfect in many ways. This family has been open and have shared this journey as they have plowed their way through the piles of emotions that would obviously surface when this kind of tragedy hits. All I can say is that they have walked the faithful walk of trust even without understanding. Grace when they would have preferred bitterness. They inspire me to love God for who He is, not what He does and gives us. Those things are part of God’s nature, but at the end of each day, my (or your) circumstances will never and can never dictate the character of God. For that I am forever grateful.
As I go to bed each night I pray now, more than I ever have, for this little life that is growing inside of me. I thank God for him/her. I pray our child/ren come to know Jesus and who He really is at a young age. I pray for joy, peace and passion for life. As I pray, my heart also wanders to those who are still waiting. Waiting for their breakthrough. Waiting for God to take their pain away and to change their situation. Waiting for the anger that comes from miscarriage to subside. Waiting for the jealousy of another persons joy to fade, even just a little bit. I feel the tension here, in this place.
That was our story for 8 years. Every announcement made that wasn’t ours, every baby gift bought that wasn’t for our baby, every dedication that wasn’t ours. So as much as I am rejoicing, completely elated with the moments we are living in right now and soaking it all in. My heart is still breaking for my friends or your friends who I either know personally or who I have only heard of that are still waiting.
As a follower of Jesus, the one thing that I couldn’t contain was my hope that someday we would have a family. I had let go of the specifics of this a long time ago but hadn’t let go of the desire and innate yearning to be a mother, to see Bryan cradle our children, to see our family expand. Today I encourage those who are still in the waiting…there is always hope. For those who are praying for someone, pray they do not lose hope. It truly is the anchor of our souls and true hope is only found in Jesus. Pray they keep their eyes on Him. He is overly aware of every thought, feeling and circumstance in our lives. Nothing sneaks by Him so put your hope and trust in Him. We are still standing with you in this gap.
As you all know, our world has drastically changed since last Friday. A few days on I am still reeling from the news and shock that after our long wait, (sometimes feeling like eternity) we are pregnant. I am carrying a precious life inside of me. I will be a mother and Bryan will be a father. Our family is expanding and I don’t think either of us could be more delighted! We have watched from the outside looking in at so many of our friends over the years to have sufficiently dissipated all illusions that this next phase of life will be easy, blissful or perfect. What we do hope for is to have our hearts and minds expand as we love another human being more than we thought possible. To grow in grace for ourselves, each other and this little person/s who will demand everything from us and give us very little in return for quite sometime. To cradle our newborn and stare in awe at him/her and wonder what we ever did with our time before. There are so many hopes and dreams attached to having a family and many of them I haven’t even begun to realize. So I am praying a lot. Praying that God dreams over me as I dream over our baby. That our baby encounters Him at a young age and falls in love with Jesus the way her/his parents have. So many hopes.
Some of you may like to know how we told our families so I will give you the brief version. Once we took the phone call, heard the news, fell apart and started shaking, we made our first call to MamaChud who anxiously awaited in Alaska. It was a special moment seeing her face and knowing her heart! Then we went to the ever cool Starbucks located in the Nampa Target store and borrowed their wifi. Bryan called his brother Aaron while I called Carla, Aaron’s wife. We told them at the same time. Then repeat the cycle with Bryan’s brother Nate and his wife Marisa. These 4 conversations were so much fun, there were tears shed, questions asked and overall joy at the faithfulness of God and the ways in which only He can move our mountains.
Then came the difficult task of lying to my parents as we waited for a family dinner that night. We wanted to tell them all together so we lied, saying the clinic called and said it would be later…and later. Once we were at the restaurant (Dad, Mom, Brad, Lainie, Kyle and Cali as Chase was gone) and everyone had ordered Bryan gave me the wink ‘Are you going to show them the bruises on your stomach from the injections?’ I obliged, stood and lifted up my shirt to reveal what Bryan had written on my belly: ‘Coming Oct 4th Baby Chud!!!’ It was hilarious watching the confusion in some of their faces and then seeing the lights go on and the celebrations began! My mother started shouting ‘Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!’ over and over again and everyone was squealing with delight! The wait was over, the answer was here and God had granted us our request! Amazing! Still feeling the moments of that first day. My niece Cali sent a picture of my stomach to my brother Brent and his wife as they joined us later. They were so excited that they stopped and picked up the sweetest pair of Nike trainers for one of our first baby gifts. You can see them in the picture above as well as the adorable fur booties that Lynda gave us (they used to be Bryan’s and she saved them) and the pacifier that my mom couldn’t help but buy at breakfast one morning. It’s all so memorable and we are soaking it all in!!
We also made a few calls to friends in the states, Canada and then Northern Ireland! There was rejoicing all over the place and it was lovely to be the ones making the announcement this time! (Sorry to keep so many NI folks awake that night!!)
So now what? Well I go back in for another blood test to check my Beta levels on the 3rd Feb and then I have our first ultrasound on Valentine’s Day, how great is that? Happy Valentine’s Day to us!! At this ultrasound we will find out if we are having one or two (or as my nephew seems to think four) and we will be absolutely, 100% delighted with any number as long as the baby is healthy, strong and growing! Of course the additional bills are still rolling in and we continue to trust God for His miraculous provision this way. They told us from the beginning that there would be unforeseen costs as we went through the process and they were not lying. Yet right now it seems silly to do anything else but trust God as we have watched His hand at work through this whole process and even the timing of being stateside for it all to begin. If you still feel the desire to help us then don’t hesitate to contact us, we still need prayers and financial miracles and as always we are honest about that. We know that none of this could have happened without the prayers and financial support of each of you so once again we thank you from the depths of my belly where this child is making it’s home:) I am praying for a bit of each of your DNA to be transferred into this baby as in so many ways it is your child too.
Healthy development of the baby
Direction as we embark on our biggest adventure yet!
I was reading in Psalm 33:18-22 and 34:4-5 today, it says this:
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed.
I pray these verses encourage you as they have me. We had hoped for the lovingkindness of our God and have experienced it all these years of waiting. He is what kept us alive in this personal and emotional famine, He was our manna. Our souls waited on the Lord over the years and He was our shield, protecting us. He has been and always will be our one, true hope. Through this all our prayer has been to glorify God and to walk this path in faithfulness to God. The road was rocky but because we continued to look to Him, He made us radiant, and we will never be ashamed of our belief in Him, regardless of our circumstances. Yet we are so very thankful that He moved heaven and earth on our behalf this time. Thank you Abba.
There is so much that we could say but I feel the picture says it all. The world will be welcoming baby Chud somewhere around the 4th October 2014!!!!!!!!! We found out today, the 24th January at 11:45am that our treatment was successful and that we will become parents this year!!!! Thank you so much to our family and friends who have prayed for, supported in every way/shape/form and carried us during this journey over the last 8 years. This is as much your breakthrough as it is ours!
Abba, thank you for remembering us and being faithful to keep your promise. Amen and Amen!!!!
Yesterday. How do I begin to describe the unfolding of yesterday? The best place to start is with the picture above. My best friend Kelly who came to be with us for the transfer captured this candid photo. This photo shows Bryan and I in a natural moment and I love it. We were not tense or stressed. We were relaxed, comfortable and even slightly excited. The night before the transfer we were lying in bed talking and expressed how there was no fear in either of us regarding the outcome of the test that will follow in 10 days. We know the outcome we desire but we know that God is with us regardless. Each answer will be a gift from God that can be used for His glory, it will lie in how we choose to walk forward with the answer. We also ended up in a fit of the giggles in bed that didn’t allow us to fall asleep till 2am! I consider that something special and rare as well!!!
We went out for coffee at Flying M Coffee Shop in Nampa, my favourite coffee shop, before we headed to Boise. The time was special and relaxed, very normal.
A good chunk of our Idaho family turned up for the coffee date and I am so thankful (my Mom took the picture). We said our goodbyes, gave each other hugs and away we went.
We arrived at the clinic right on time, they took me back to take my valium. This was to help me and my uterus relax, it worked! About 20 minutes later they came out for me and said that Bryan, my Mom and Kelly could all come into the room for the transfer. It was incredible having each of them there for the moment of the actual transfer. We could see it on the ultrasound screen and watch the embryos move into the uterine lining by way of air bubbles marking them (which you can see in the scan). As you can imagine it was emotional, tears all around. Dr Slater and the staff were so encouraging though. They said our embryos were the strongest for the January cycle of all their patients! That is due to all the prayers for sure!
They implanted 2 embryos and at this stage they are two weeks matured so if they implant I would be three weeks along by the time the test is taken. So many things in this process are hard to wrap our heads around and this is one of them! Since the transfer I have been on bed rest and will be till Friday morning. I am recovering well from the procedure as it was not too invasive but I am a bit uncomfortable at times. I have so many people around me that are doing everything for me and feeding me very well which I am enjoying to the full!
Today we also made the decision for Bryan to extend his stay in Idaho till the test date on the 24th January. We are both so relieved and excited to know that we will find out the news together. It’s been a long road and it only seems right that we receive the call together. This fact alone brings a calm that is so sweet and reassuring, thank you Jesus!
Now the waiting begins. This is harder than the treatment at times because you can do nothing to change the outcome at this point. We will be doing our best to occupy our minds and time over the next ten days with whatever we can. I am sure it will consist of lots of walks, movies, books, magazines and the list could go on! Yet we feel strong inwardly and outwardly. We feel God’s presence at every turn of this journey. We are at peace.
We can’t fully express our gratitude to each of you for everything that you have done for us. Your prayers and support are what has gotten us through so keep praying!!
To finish this entry I want to end with a verse Kelly read the morning of the transfer that she said was for me:
Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, lived blessed! Be healed of your plague.” Mark 5:34 The Message
This whole experience has been a risk of faith for Bryan and I again. We are hoping and believing for our healing and a wholeness, that only God can accomplish, be brought to this area of our lives. We believe we will live well and blessed as we already are but with a new fullness in our personal experience!
It feels like the past few days have been pretty monumental. Bryan went in Thursday for his procedures and was a great sport through it all as you can see in the pic above. The doctors and nurses said Bryan was so much fun to have in, duh!! He ended up having 4 biopsies and they were able to get everything they needed (my husband is by far the toughest man I know and has endured more labour pains than any other man I have ever known!). Now he is 4 days into the recovery process and it is slow going. Thankfully he doesn’t have to fly till Friday. We are also so thankful that Bryan was put out for his procedure. Being under anaesthesia made it less traumatic than the first time.
Friday morning my Mom and I drove to Boise and it was my turn to go under. Anaesthesia is definitely the way to go for this kind of treatment. I didn’t feel a thing and don’t remember any of it, praise God! They were able to retrieve 20 eggs, 17 of those eggs were mature and out of the 17 eggs 15 fertilized and became embryos!!! We are over the moon with this outcome! Not all of the embryos will be good enough quality to transfer so this gives us a much better chance of having some strong embryos to use.
A little memory to share in the midst of all of this is when I got the call regarding the embryos. Friday night we had a slumber party for my Mom’s 70th birthday party. We were out at my oldest brother’s house, Brent and Trudy, when the call came Saturday morning. After I took the call I walked out and announced to many of my female family members the good news. Everyone screamed, we cried, there were hugs! Such a special memory to have and one that I am thankful for. Being with our families during this whole process has been such an incredible gift from God that we could not have planned.
So what next? Monday the clinic will call and let us know how many of the embryos look good enough to use. We will then go in for the transfer on Wednesday. My friend Kelly also arrives on Monday afternoon. Kelly is coming to be here for the transfer and to support us, so special! From Wednesday to the 10 day test mark feels like the hardest part. They transfer Wednesday, then we take a blood test 10 days later and during that time you just wait. You wait to feel any little thing, any hint that it has worked. You wait to start your period in a sign that it hasn’t worked, you wait in hope for the future all the while replaying the past. The line is hard to walk. We want to believe for the best and hope for that yet sometimes our past experience creeps in and reminds us of the previous hurt. So for this next season please pray for us. Pray the following:
Pray for at least 1 embryo that is good enough to transfer
Pray my womb is a safe and welcoming place for this potential new life to thrive and grow
Pray for Bryan’s continued recovery
Pray that we keep our eyes on Jesus and keep His perspective in all of this
Thank you for following our journey, for praying and partnering with us. We appreciate it so so so much!!!!!
Just a little extra pic so you have an idea of what the beginning of our family slumber parties look like!
Thank you everyone for your continued prayers, emails, text messages and encouraging verses that you have been passing on to us. We cannot imagine how much harder this process would be without each of you carrying us this way.
Yesterday we drove to Meridian for Bryan’s appointment with Dr Greer of IUI. After filling out what seemed like a mountain of paperwork we were taken in and met with the doctor. We went through our fertility history, he looked at Bryan’s sample records, gave him a health check and came to this conclusion: Bryan will be going in for another testicular biopsy this Thursday or Friday morning (taking as many sample tissues as they need till they arrive at the desired amount of sperm). The news was good news yet hard at the same time to hear. As we approached doing treatment again we did not want Bryan to have to endure another traumatic procedure. This news meant that once again he would have to go through something most men only have nightmares about. Yet it was good news because it meant that the doctor felt we could proceed with treatment. There is also a silver lining, Bryan will be put out this time unlike his first experience of being very awake and present. Now that we know Bryan has to have this procedure we were able to change his ticket back to Alaska. This has also brought about a positive spin within the whole journey. Bryan staying longer means that he will be here with me during egg retrieval (possibly happening this Friday or Saturday) and he will also be here for the transfer/implantation (most likely sometime next week).
I had another ultrasound and blood draw this morning. The staff have been so kind and helpful plus everything is looking good on my end. They were able to tell me that my uterine lining is at 8.5 which she said was perfect for right now. Upon examination they could see that I have potentially 13 eggs in the right ovary and 7 in the left. These eggs, once mature and ready for collection will be used to create the embryos. How many they use will be determined by the volume of sperm Dr Greer is able to collect.
Despite the fact that Bryan has to go through his procedure again we are feeling hopeful and optimistic. This time around we both will be under anesthesia for our procedures (me for both collection of the eggs and transfer). The simple fact that we will both fall asleep and wake up to things being done is a huge relief. Going through the procedures the first time fully awake was quite difficult. We are trying to keep our eyes up, focused on Jesus and the hope that He brings throughout all of this too. When we receive verses from people or songs we read/listen, soak and just thank God for His constant presence in a very unpredictable process.
As many of you know we had reached our target goal for the initial cost of our treatment. This goal was met by what has been committed, not necessarily by what we have received as we knew some people could not contribute till January after the holidays. Now however, with this additional procedure we will need additional funds. In total Bryan’s procedure is going to cost around $5000! I know, I can’t believe it either. So if you had thought about supporting us financially but hadn’t moved forward with it once we met our initial target, we would greatly appreciate you revisiting the thought. It is not fun to even write about this or be so direct but we have been blown away by everyone’s generosity and hearts for us, plus we know at the end of the day God is the one in charge of all the resources so He can help with this the way He has before.
The next few days are going to be exciting, nerve-racking and a continued roller coaster! Prayers are what we hope you continue to offer up on our behalf. Pray for the sample, pray for the egg retrieval, pray for the transfer and implantation. Each step of the way seems to only be made clear as we arrive to it that morning. There’s an old song we used to sing growing up ‘One day at a time, sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking from You’. It’s funny how some things from your childhood come back to bring you comfort and reassurance in your later years. That is exactly what this song has done for me. Jesus, one day at a time. Please help me be flexible, help me to actively trust you, help me to keep a good attitude today. I will pray this again tomorrow and the next day and the next.
We are back from the mountains of McCall, Idaho where we spent three nights in a beautiful home with my immediate family. This meant that for three days/nights we had fun! Our time included meals out, great coffees, games, puzzles, shaving my Dad’s beard as a family and much more. I am so thankful for the trip to McCall. It got our minds off of what lay ahead in this journey. It was relaxing and we were able to reconnect with my side of the family. One of my favourite memories of the trip though has to be sitting around the table working on a puzzle with Bryan. Our nieces and nephews gathered around the table as well and chatted flat out for at least 2 1/2 hours. One of our nephews was also renamed the ‘Man of a million voices’ by his big sister because of how much he talked that night. We laughed so hard and it felt so good! Lighthearted moments all together reminding me of the simple beauty that my family possesses. We are so thankful for each one of them!
Since the last blog post we have been into the clinic numerous times. Our first appointment included my baseline ultrasound, my uterine wash, my blood draw and Bryan’s first sample. Everything on my end looked healthy and good. Even though we have been through this before there are still things that catch you off guard. For example, my ultrasound was quite uncomfortable. I know this is true of any internal exam but the reality of how many more exams I will have before all is said and done is not a fun thought. The most difficult obstacle however has been Bryan’s samples. The first sample produced only 1 sperm that was worth freezing. Since then he has given two more samples and is now scheduled to see a eurologist as it looks like he may have to have another biopsy or possibly a more invasive procedure. Of course we knew this was always a possibility but we were strongly hoping for a different experience this time.
I have also started my injections which is the picture posted above. The first time I was quite nervous and was shaking. Bryan is a bit squeamish with the shots and he kept having to look away while capturing this in photos. I am in again tomorrow morning for an ultrasound that will show how my ovaries are responding to the treatment thus far. To be completely honest, I am not even thinking about that. I am thinking about Bryan’s evaluation on Monday with the other doctor to determine what they can do to help us continue with our treatment plan. From here on out the next few weeks will most likely be a blur of doctor’s appointments, procedures and I am sure a roller coast of emotions.
As we have processed the past few days and bad news regarding Bryan’s sample, our hearts have been heavy. I will not lie and say that we have not felt the impact of this. We have been sad, felt deflated and defeated. We have questioned God asking if not one part of this could be remotely easy? Yet our faith is not shaken; we hope in God not the treatment. The other morning I found myself once again singing Matt Redman’s song ‘Never Once’. The words ring true:
Never once have we ever walked alone,
never once did You leave us on our own.
You are faithful, God you are faithful.
Right now this where we are at. We are living life in the midst of our stormy hearts. We are enjoying the times with my family as they are rare and precious. We had our annual Carpenter gyoza making session on the 1st January and it was a blast! We ate till we felt ill and played games that made us laugh till we almost cried. We have moments of grief, frustration and emptiness mingled with moments of feeling full to overflowing. This is life. One of my favourite authors puts it this way…life is bittersweet. Yes it is.
Please keep praying for us and with us. Pray that we do not lose hope. Pray for the doctors and their ability to help us. Pray that we can move forward with our treatment. Thank you for your prayers already and long may they continue.