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!
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.