When I was in high school, I liked English. My teacher however made it very clear to me, on more than one occasion, that English did not like me. She held my paper up, covered in red marks, in front of both classes, and announced that I made the most mistakes in both her classes. It was a defining moment. From that point on, I became pretty insecure about my ability to write throughout high school.
Imagine my surprise then, when I tested out of the basic English composition class to move onto the next level when I arrived at college! It gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I could actually write. Combine that spark with years of journaling, and I decided to ignore my high school teachers decision of my ability.
I did this when I started blogging for the community coffee shop I opened in Northern Ireland called The Press. I would share about the experiences in the coffee shop and announce our upcoming events. I LOVED IT! Writing had always been an outlet and at that point I started to find my own voice.
Fast forward a few years. Bryan and I decided to give IVF one last shot, no pun intended! I figured the easiest way to keep people informed of our progress was through my personal blog. I had only one or two entries at that point. I guess I also need to rewind and insert this little fact. Through the years that we struggled with infertility I also journaled. I used my writing as a way of processing my pain, as a way of praying, as a way of dealing with the grief I carried, but didn’t always want the world to know. I also didn’t want to consistently be “Debbie Downer” by always talking about the sadness I felt. This could be partly my personality or partly the lies we believe that people can’t handle our pain and suffering, I’m not really sure.
Anyway, back to what I was saying. Years before the blog started, Bryan and I had made a special trip to London to see Phantom of the Opera with the London cast. It was one of my bucket list items. It happened around my 30th birthday along with our first failed round of IVF. As we sat having dinner in a little Italian restaurant across from the theater, we decided that someday, when our family had finally arrived, by whatever means it came, that we would share our story in a book.
That moment has arrived. The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants is our story from my personal perspective. I allow you to crack open pages of my own journals, private pictures, sketches and my honest response to the struggle of infertility. I really hold nothing back. I am not trying to shock people, but I am trying to wake people up. This issue is painful. Painful for those struggling and painful for those who are watching someone struggle. 1 out of every 8 couples will deal with infertility now, 1 out of 8!!! Next time you are around that many couples, just look around because I would bet my own money that someone you know really well is struggling. It’s that real friends.
This book took me almost two years to complete. Life happened in a not so kind way almost immediately after I had the full manuscript completed. My father was diagnosed with cancer. At times the book felt like a burden I couldn’t shake while dealing with the grief of watching my father deteriorate. Other times it felt like an escape and a lifeline. What definitely helped was writing. Writing has become a way of life for me. Thanks to authors like Shauna Niequist, Jen Hatmaker, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Brene′ Brown, I began to believe in the power of my own voice. I also had my husband and amazing family and friends cheering me on too!
So the other night, March 12th at 7 p.m. I had my very first book launch! I was overwhelmed to see so many lovely faces come. Some I hadn’t seen in years, and some I have only recently become friends with. It was a beautiful collection of people and I am so grateful for each person taking the time to come and support me in such a tangible way.
Now I have the privilege of promoting this much needed book. I get to share my story again and again with people. Validating each time that what I went through, what we went through, and maybe what you are going through will not be wasted if we let it help and guide others. Our pain truly can bring comfort to someone else’s suffering, if we will let it. It means standing with our hands open instead of with clenched fists.
“I would describe infertility as a process of purification. You go through the fire, but at the end you come out your truest self.” p. 51 The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants
What have you experienced by way of pain in your life? Are you willing to open that area up to even just one person? If so, I think you will find there is healing there. There is purpose in your pain there. There is also forward momentum that helps you leave the past in the past and move towards your future with hope and joy. Please share your story, the world needs it!
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.
Recently the Chud side of our family had a photo-shoot. This has become a bit of a tradition for both sides of our families when we come back to the states since everyone gathers together in one place for a brief window of time. This picture is one of my favourites even though it is probably not the one we will have printed on canvas or framed. I love this picture because it is just normal life. Not a posed moment but one that plays out daily in our marriage. Bryan is the funniest person I know and can make me laugh so hard it hurts. I have been incredibly thankful over the years for this trait in him because he has kept me from crying by making me laugh. When I was growing up my Mom would ask me what I was looking for in my husband, I always said I wanted someone who could make me laugh. I got exactly what I prayed for and I am glad I stuck to my guns because life is more fun with Bryan!
In the process of moving forward with our fertility treatment, the normal life I mentioned earlier occurs. We get up, have coffee, spend time with our families, read, exercise, make dinners, play cards, etc. Most recently though my Dad underwent a very successful open-heart surgery. In no way do I think his operation is normal life but it helps keep things in perspective that there are very real issues, very big problems that surround us. We are not the only drama taking place on the stage of life. So I am thankful for the normal day to day stuff that keeps me present and not running 10 years down the road. This journey of starting treatment again can put you on a fast track down the future lane if you let it. Yet normal life seems to be what keeps my feet firmly planted in thanking God for my daily bread. He has given enough for today and I will thank Him for today. I ask Him to help me handle whatever happens today and I will do the same tomorrow. Today I am thankful for my Dad being so strong and courageous and braving his operation with optimism and determination. Now maybe he can get back to a bit of the normal life that he craves.
For those of you who want to know how things are progressing, this is where we are at: I am still taking birth control. We should be finding out this coming Wednesday if we qualify for the Discount Program the clinic offers which would knock a chunk off the cost of the procedures. We also hope to find out an exact date of when we have to pay for all the treatment as it has to be paid in full on our first day of treatment which has yet to be determined. We have a phone consultation on Monday 16th December to set up my Plan of Care (this will be my schedule of treatment, ie. stimulation drugs,collection dates, implantation dates-much of which will be determined as we go and how my body responds). Right now we also have it in the calendar for Bryan to give his sample on the 27th December that will be used once my eggs are ready to be collected later in January. So that is where we are at right now.
We have felt loved and supported by so many as we have started this cycle of treatment. We have a committed amount of around $5400 right now and have received about $3900. This amount has been made up by the generosity of many and we constantly feel overwhelmed when we pause to think of how many people have invested into us both prayerfully and financially. We won’t stop saying it, THANK YOU!!!