Sugar, Sugar

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We went on a Candida Detox diet several years ago in hopes of becoming healthier and improving our chances of carrying a baby to term. I’d had had four early miscarriages and was done with doctors. I had tried a natrupathic doctor also, but the help she gave only treated the symptoms.

I had prayed for some way to help my body heal and be able to carry a baby full term. I did not feel that further fertility treatments were the way for us to go.  Then, one Sunday at church in the nursery there was a lady who told me about what had helped her. I was so excited! I knew this was an answer to my prayers! My husband and I decided to both go on it. We dragged on for the first couple weeks and then felt more energetic! We ate the same but I took garlic, oil of oregano(FYI; Never  use while pregnant!)  and bentonite clay supplements . We avoided all sugars  (fruit, milk and sugar), yeasts and white flours for 3 months and then the next 3 months we added the milk and fruits back in.  The detox diet helped my body heal and function normally. It was what my body needed.  I felt better and actually got sick less as well. My hormones regulated themselves for the first time.

After going through the 6 month detox, I became pregnant! I carried our baby girl, Karin, 16 1/2 weeks before she died due to a fatal chromosomal issue. BUT my body was finally doing what it was supposed to do!

Seven months later I became pregnant for the 6th time and this girl made it! Other than some progesterone supplements in the first trimester, I had a perfectly normal and healthy pregnancy. I went on the diet to loose baby weight  and my 7th pregnancy (I expected it to take years to have another baby since the my first live birth took over 9 years to have!)  was also completely normal and resulted in a healthy baby girl.

In view of my last pregnancy ending in miscarriage, I need to start on this diet again to get healthy.

It’s a tough diet. It requires lots of discipline, but it was truly worth the effort!

This Baby

 

This picture is not an announcement. It’s a memento.

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Last June I discovered I was pregnant for the 8th time. I never imagined I would see 8 positive pregnancy tests in my life. We were excited to be welcoming another little one into our family! Maybe this one was a boy? That would be so fun!!!  I’d be due around Valentines Day.

We kept our little one a secret and were waiting till our first Doctor appointment and ultrasound before spreading the good news…but that day didn’t come. Instead I sent a few messages saying “I’ve miscarried…again”. Not the news I wanted to share.

This was the first miscarriage after my live births. I have lost 5 babies and then had 2  live births.  Just when you think you’re past fertility challenges,  it happens again…

I’m not angry or mad at God. I know this loss was not inflicted on me… it just happens. I’m not perfect and that means my body isn’t  functioning perfectly either. Growing babies just isn’t something my body is great at.  It has taken a long time to get to this point. But I am sad that this baby left us too soon, I had lots of dreams already in the making.

Why do I bring this up now? I think I just want to acknowledge that we did have another baby even though we never saw this baby. This baby was wanted and loved. This baby will never have a replacement.

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So this little one may be gone but this baby will not be forgotten…

I’ll Hold You In My Heart (’till I can hold you in my arms)

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Four Years ago (was it that long ago?) I started piecing a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. It’s all made of one shape–a hexagon.  I had never tried paper piecing before! I started out using all the odds and ends in my box of fabrics. Then my sister bought me some when I ran out and so did my mom. It seemed like it would take forever to finish!  I imagined working on it throughout my pregnancy and holding my little baby in it.

I was on bed-rest during my 5th pregnancy due to complications and needed something to do while lying on the sofa and this seemed like the perfect time to try. But baby Karin was born a week later…straight into heaven. She never got to be wrapped up in her quilt.  I’m still working on it, though it grew to be a twin sized blanket.  I have it pinned and I’ve started quilting the pieces together, sewing around each flower by hand. It’s become a therapy for me to hold it. I almost don’t want to finish it….maybe that’s why I’m taking so long. I think of her when I sew and how special this quilt is to me.

Someday when it’s done and I’ve placed that last stitch in it, I may enter it in our local fair for others to see and I would title it simply Karin’s Quilt. And maybe, someone would think of Karin and that she must have been a special person to have a quilt hand sewn for her.

I should care

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Mother’s Day. *sigh*

I should love it. I should enjoy it. But I really don’t.

A few of my miscarriages we right around Mother’s Day…in fact my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage right before. I remember the time vividly. My family had sent me a floral arrangement expressing their sorrow and it was delivered to me while I was home alone. I was handed the flowers and the delivery boy had me sign the receipt  then said cheerfully “Happy Mother’s Day!” I shut the door and sobbed.

I spent my first few Mother’s Days with empty arms. Then we brought our foster daughter home and I was suddenly a mom…but it took 3.5 years for our adoption to be finalized, so I was her mom but still not legally for so long. We were never sure she would be with us permanently, there was always that fear of her being taken away. I always had to check that box on forms that said “other” or “guardian” not “mother”.

When we had our first biological baby, someone said to me “Happy first Mother’s Day!”  Ouch.  So adoption did not make me a mother in some eyes, I had to have a bio-baby to be a real mother.

I learned to just stay home those Sundays and now I volunteer to sit in the nursery in church. It just still feels so awkward. It reminds of the sorrow I had in those early years of infertility.  I know other women in our church who never had children and longed for them. I know single women who never married and had children they hoped for. Others have lost babies and children and are reminded of the void in their lives.  It’s like Valentines day when you are a widow or Father’s Day after loosing your dad.

I like to bring flower’s to my mom and mother in law. I appreciate the gifts my kids make for me. I may be the only mom on the verge of sobbing at the Mother’s Day Tea at school…  Yes, I am grateful I get to be a mom, but I don’t need a holiday to tell me that I am blessed in that way.

If you know someone who is struggling with this day, send them a note or card. Acknowledge that the day may be difficult for them and that you are thinking of them. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it.

Take my hand

Since it is National Infertility Awareness Week, I thought I would share some thoughts on ministry and infertility;

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Ministering To Those Struggling With Infertility

As I write this, my four daughters lay sleeping in their beds. The quiet is a nice change from our rambunctious day! But this wasn’t always the case, a silent house used to cause sorrow.  Years ago, my husband served as children’s pastor at our church and I helped him while we struggled with infertility and loss. Ministering to other people’s children when you long for your own was very challenging.  Many of our friends from Bible College were already having babies while we waited, took costly fertility drugs and then miscarried our first five babies.

Many infertile couples don’t talk about the challenges they face. I found it hard to get support in the church. Eventually, I found support from an online forum called Hannah’s Prayer (http://www.hannah.org) to help me through the joy of positive pregnancy tests, numerous doctor visits and tears of losing babies. They celebrated the adoption and births of our daughters with me. They allowed me to ask questions that I could not ask anywhere else. They encouraged me when my faith was weak.

It’s estimated that one in six couples are dealing with infertility.  Infertility is described in Webster’s dictionary as: “not fertile; especially: incapable of or unsuccessful in achieving pregnancy over a considerable period of time (as a year) in spite of determined attempts by heterosexual intercourse without contraception”. So, whether you realize it or not, someone in your church may be dealing with infertility and/or loss.

Eventually we became foster parents and adopted a beautiful little girl.  Adoption opened my eyes to how God sees us as His adopted sons who have a full inheritance.  Our daughter filled a huge void in our hearts and arms.

Our sixth pregnancy was successful and brought us a live baby girl right before our tenth wedding anniversary. Eleven months after that we welcomed an eleven month old girl into our home through foster care. We recently adopted her. Our seventh pregnancy brought us another little girl last July.

Though the experience of infertility and miscarriages has made me stronger in my faith and helped me minister to others more compassionately, it is a journey that will never be far from my heart.

Here are ten ways you can minister to a couple struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss;

1. Don’t compare my barrenness or loss with anything. Having no money, being spiritually dry or losing a pet you loved does not compare to the desire for a child. All my future hopes and dreams of motherhood may never become a reality.

2. Being infertile or miscarrying my baby doesn’t mean I lack faith or I haven’t reached a certain level of maturity. Most likely, I am already having a crisis of faith and struggle with this area. Reassure me that God does love me.

3. Keep away from clichés like “its God’s will”, “it’s probably for the best” or that you know “God will answer your prayers”. You don’t know the answers or what God has planned for my family’s future.

4. If I lost my unborn baby at six weeks, six months or six days after birth, don’t compare the level of grief I may be suffering.  Saying things like “at least you weren’t far along” belittles my child’s value as well as my grief and pain.  A child is a child no matter how old he or she is.

5. Do pray for me, and tell me that you do. There may be days or seasons when I feel like I can’t talk to God because of my heartache and grief.  Knowing someone is lifting me up in prayer encourages me.

6. If I share my struggles with you keep it confidential. Please ask permission to share it with others or before putting it on the prayer chain. I may still be dealing with the situation and need time to process it before facing others comments and questions.

7. Please remember to be sensitive on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I may skip the day to avoid the topic in the sermon, being the only one sitting while all the parents stand up or hearing someone who doesn’t know what we are going through say “When are you going to have a baby?” If I do come, there may be tears as I see other’s whose dreams for children have come true, while I still wait. Baby dedications are also hard for us and even Christmas where the focus is all on a baby (even though we know it’s baby Jesus).

8. Fathers have a hard time too. They also long for a child and daily see their wives hurting and longing for a baby.

9. Let me say ‘no’ to situations I may not feel strong enough for. Working in the nursery or children’s ministries may not be the best place for me now. I may not feel able to face attending or helping to host a baby shower either.  Churches are very family orientated and just being there can be a challenge for me, I may struggle fitting into typical peer groups.

10. Acknowledge my baby if I miscarry. Let me talk about him or her. It’s okay to say something or send a card. Knowing that someone remembers that I carried a life and that this little life is gone helps me grieve.  I’ll probably keep the card and tuck it in a memory box.

I will carry you

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“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
― L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

I have a box where I’ve tucked away precious mementos from a little girl I didn’t get to know as much as I wanted to. I carried her for 16 1/2  weeks and was just starting to feel her flutter in my belly when her heart stopped beating. Her name is Karin Lily. That she lived that long was a miracle in itself. I had lost four previous babies through early miscarriages and with Karin, I grew more and more hopeful that she would make it.  But Karin’s little body was not able to carry on and she died. I went through labor and delivery one Sunday morning in June and counted her toes and fingers. We could see that her footprints were already formed! Later we found out she had a rare chromosomal issue (69xxx)  that is fatal and she would never had lived after birth.

Every now and then I pull out the memory box and look at the sweater set and blanket she never used. Sometimes I add some little thing that reminds me of her.  I look at her ultrasound pictures of when she was alive and kicking and it’s bittersweet…I’m thankful for the time I had with her and yet I still miss her.

Somewhere over the rainbow

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“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:1 New International Version (NIV)

Our first biological baby came as a rainbow in the midst of a storm. My mom was battling the effects of cancer and nearly died when we discovered our little girl…our 6th pregnancy… was on her way. She would be arriving just before our 10th wedding anniversary, later, much later, than we had planned, but very welcome!  Those days of waiting were not easy. They weren’t the joyful experience I had always envisioned. They were filled with the fears of pregnancy after loss (PAL). Each day brought a greater measure of hope, but also of fear. I knew anything could happen at any time through the pregnancy and birth. I was not naive about it.

She made it, though, and is a healthy and active little girl. It was not because I had faith she would, it was because I had faith in Who had a greater plan for me, whether she made it or not. That is where faith lies.

Do you know we belong together?

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JJ Heller puts it perfectly in her song The Boat Song;

If you were a boat, my darling
A boat, my darling
I’d be the wind at your back

If you were afraid, my darling
Afraid, my darling
I’d be the courage you lack

If you were a bird, then I’d be a tree
And you would come home, my darling, to me

If you were asleep, then I’d be a dream
Wherever you are, that’s where my heart will be

Oh, do you know we belong together?
Oh, do you know my heart is yours?

If you were the ocean, I’d be the sand
If you were a song, I’d be the band

If you were the stars, then I’d be the moon
A light in the dark, my darling, for you

Oh, do you know we belong together?
Oh, do you know my heart is yours?

Oh, do you know we belong together?
Oh, do you know my heart is yours?
Oh, do you know we belong together?
Oh, do you know my heart is yours?

After two miscarriages my husband and I decided to open our home to children and become foster parents. We wanted kids in our lives and this was the next step God called us to take.

We got the bedroom all set up with a twin bed and a crib (you never know what age to expect!) and it was decorated in yellow and blue (you never know what gender either!).  Buying the crib wasn’t easy. Every time I tried to pick out a crib for the room, I’d leave with tears in my eyes.  I felt like a fraud in my un- pregnant state and broken body standing there in the store isle. I finally told my husband to pick out a crib… as long as it was white. One day I walked in the door of our home  after work and walked past the spare bedroom and there it was. A crib. In my house.  And yes, I cried. (Even now it makes me cry!)

Not too long after my husband called me at work and told me we were getting a baby girl. How many husbands have the fun of  telling their wives they are going to be a mother? (And I cried again.)  That baby girl slept in that crib and later that bed. She still sleeps in that bed long after her adoption was finalized and legally became ours… because we belong together.

Getting to know me

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Well, I thought I would give this a try. I used to be an avid journal-er, but leaving a pen and book around my house proves to be disastrous.  Toddlers have the ability to go from 0 to a pen in about 3 seconds flat. And I have two toddlers right now. Yes, two. And no, they aren’t twins. I’ll tell you about that at a later date.  Any typos here I’ll blame on my 8 1/2 month old. Incomplete sentences will be courtesy of my almost 8 year old asking me questions.  Having four little girls keeps me pretty busy in a good way!