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!
Hello blog world! It has been nearly two months since I last updated the blog, embarrassing – yes, reasons to follow – yes. Once we arrived back in Northern Ireland we started working and life ticked on, fairly uneventful. We were reconnecting with old friends and some new ones. We were thankful for our jobs and God’s provision. At the end of March we celebrated Vineyard Church Dungannon’s 10 year anniversary which was extremely special and a bit emotional for me. In the years since we have been living here, a good chunk of that time has been spent pursuing the start of our family. Sitting, chatting with friends all while being pregnant that evening felt very much like the fulfillment of so many promises over the 10 years that we felt God had given us. We are so thankful that God called us here and included us in the mission, work and life blood of our church. It truly is the most incredible church we have been a part of and we have seen some good ones over the years. Yet the way our church lives out the Word of God, embodies Jesus and shares Him with this town has always been the hook that kept us here. We couldn’t ask or imagine a better church family to be a part of.
The pregnancy was going well, we were enjoying each day as it came and just living life. We then had our first scan here on the 7th of April which is the scan pic above (the bump pic of me in pink is also from around that same time, maybe a little later). The babies were growing well, all looked good and we even found out that it’s very likely we are having at least one boy!!! (Insert little squeal of delight here!!) Wow! That was such a surprise to be able to find out so early and also a huge blessing for both of us to share in that moment together as Bryan won’t be able to attend the Big Scan (he will be taking a ski instructing course in Austria).
From the 7th April to the 11th life was just life, nothing too eventful just enjoying each day. Then the evening of 11th April I came down with a tummy bug. Being pregnant has it’s own set of rules and one of those rules is that when you are pregnant any kind of sickness is at least 10 times worse (at least that was my experience for this bug). I don’t remember the last time I had been so ill and wretched so violently. I broke blood vessels around my eyes, on my forehead and neck due to the force in which I was being sick with. I will spare you the gorry details but let’s just say it wasn’t only the top of my body that suffered. So from Friday night to about Sunday the bug had knocked me flat on my back. Sunday evening I took extreme abdominal pain and thought death might be a better option (okay, slightly exaggerated but in the moment didn’t seem like a bad option). A few hours later the abdominal pain subsided, wasn’t just as intense but then localized to my lower right abdomen area. From Sunday night to Tuesday night I did little else other than lay on our couch in pain and watched TV. The effort and pain it caused to get up and move around was very unpleasant and things like going to the toilet or taking a bath were so hard. Tuesday night we realized maybe the soreness I was feeling was more than just muscle soreness from being so sick. Bryan gently tossed a blanket to me and it landed on my right abdomen where I was experiencing the most severe pain and I immediately burst into tears. At that point we both thought maybe this was worth going and checking out. We attended doctors on call at 11:40pm and they then sent me to the Craigavon Hospital and around 3am I was admitted.
By 5pm that same day the doctors and surgeons had decided that I needed to have surgery to remove my appendix. (Above is also a pic of my bump with the staples in after the surgery). At 7pm I was taken into surgery where they took two hours removing my appendix and cleaning up the areas in which it had spread, scraping around organs and the womb. Waking up from the anesthesia I saw Bryan and I was so relieved to see his face!!! The whole day leading up to the surgery I was drugged up and resting thankfully. So seeing his face at the end of the day was just wonderful! I wanted to hold his hand and know that he was there. By about 11pm that same night I was taken to the surgical ward and said goodnight to Bryan as well as Pete, Julie and Soph McCammon who had come up with Bryan for support. (Thank you McCammon’s!!!)
Thursday was a tough day as I was so sore and moving was difficult. (I was even beaten to the toilet by a little old man around 90. This made Bryan laugh so hard!) Thankfully Bryan came up Thursday and spent the whole day with me. Hospitals are pretty boring places when you are there for a few days so having Bryan and his energy around was just lovely! He also waited till midnight with me to have the scan of the babies post op but missed it as she didn’t come till nearly 1am! He would make me smile (not laugh as that was too painful) and made the day a whole lot brighter. I thankfully had visitors Thursday evening, Friday morning and then Friday afternoon before I was discharged. Having people come to see you when you can’t go anywhere is so important so if you have a friend or family member sick, in hospital or stuck at home or in a care facility, go visit them!
We were also fortunate during my stay at the hospital to have 4 additional scans to make sure the babies were okay which they were. They seemed totally un-phased by the whole ordeal which was nice to see. It’s never ideal to operate on a pregnant woman so the relief we both felt when we knew they were okay was quite great as you can imagine. These babies must be tough!
I got home Friday evening and have spent the last two and half weeks recovering. Thankfully the first week and a half home Bryan was here so he was looking after me between work and trying to get ready to go to Austria. Having a helpful and supportive spouse is one of God’s greatest gifts to me! Thank you Bryan for being amazing, for loving and caring for me and for always making my life better! You have been the biggest blessing in my life and I love you so much!!! (You also make a great shower assistant!)
Once Bryan left I had so many visitors call over, I have had friends come and stay the night with me and people from church are bringing me dinner each night because I can’t make my own food yet. Even though I am fit and healthy and the pregnancy was going well, this recovery is still a slow process. You aren’t allowed to lift anything heavy, I can’t go back to work for another few weeks at least and I still can’t drive. Having a church family and friends rally around us during this time is the only thing that is getting us through.
Now my job is to rest, recover and take good care of these babies. I am eating normally again so as you can see in the above pictures with me in the gray tank top, I am beginning to show a proper baby bump. I haven’t felt any movement yet but I am just 18 weeks. Our Big Scan is scheduled for the 21st May but I have a scan before then so hopefully we will find out on the 21st if not before what the sex of the other baby is. I can’t really begin to put into words how I have been feeling as so much has happened in a short space of time. I have been emotional at times, I have been exhausted, I have been so sore, I have been incredibly happy and incredibly sad. I guess that is pregnancy! Overall though, I am thankful. Thankful to be healthy, recovering and have our babies be healthy and safe. I am thankful I have a husband who loves me so well. I am thankful that this happened here in Northern Ireland as opposed to America. I am thankful for each person who has blessed me with either their food, flowers or visit while I am stuck at home. Of course this was not part of anyone’s plan and not ideal but at the end of each day I am thankful. Thank You Abba for protecting our beautiful little babies and me and for meeting us in the place of our deepest needs during this time. Thank You!
Once again though I ask you to cover us in prayer. Bryan will be away 33 more days and as much as seeing his dream come true of becoming a ski instructor is amazing, it is also difficult for him to be away from me and the babies right now. His desire to care for us is so strong and this hasn’t been easy. Pray as well for his body to hold up under the intensity of the course both physically and mentally as this course is one of the top courses and therefore extremely hard. Pray that my body makes a full recovery from the surgery and has no complications due to the surgery later on. Continue praying for these little lives I carry that they will grow and develop well and that they will be healthy and strong throughout the duration of the pregnancy. We so value and feel each prayer that is prayed so please keep them coming! Thank you! (Apologies for the length of this entry, shorter entries will be in the future!)