Answered Prayer: Courtney

I just love sharing stories like these! Today Courtney is sharing her beautiful testimony for our Answered Prayer series. I met Courtney at my wedding actually. Her husband is a friend of Trey’s. Courtney is such a beautiful young woman inside and out with a love for God. Here are her words… 

My Fertility Journey

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My husband and I decided it was time to stop birth control in the Fall of 2013. We weren’t ready to start actively trying for a baby, but we thought maybe in the next year we would, and we wanted to give my body time to get back on a normal cycle. I had a close friend trying to conceive, and she gave me a book called “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. It talks about the importance of knowing and charting your cycle to help you get pregnant. I thought stopping birth control would give me time to read the book, learn about my cycle, and become more familiar with my body before we started trying for a baby. *By the way, that book was so helpful! I would recommend it to anyone trying to conceive.* So off the birth control I went, and then the problems began. I very quickly lost over 10 lbs, which on a small frame is a lot, but I did not gain my period. The months went by with no period in sight. I began to be a little concerned but the doctors said it was “normal” and that it should return within 6 months. Well 6 months rolled around and still no period, so my OB/GYN prescribed me progesterone to kick-start my cycle. Nothing happened. Then she ordered an ultrasound of my ovaries. After seeing what looked like little cysts in my ovaries, they told me I had PCOS, possibly endometriosis, and this condition would make conception more difficult.
At this point I was feeling upset and confused, wondering how this would affect my fertility. I decided to get a second opinion from a fertility specialist at Vanderbilt, a doctor my mom worked closely with and trusted. After seeing him and another ultrasound, he felt the previous doctor had misdiagnosed me. Although I showed some minor signs of PCOS, I wasn’t the typical case and to him my ovaries looked fine. This made me feel better. He prescribed one month of birth control to “kick-start” my cycle. Thankfully, it worked! I had a period for the first time in almost a year which felt like an accomplishment. From then on I started charting my cycles, and quickly found out that they were far from normal. My cycles were super long and all over the place, sometimes going 2 months without a period. I was a little worried that it would cause problems in conceiving, but at this point we still weren’t actively trying, so I just hoped things would settle out over time.
We began trying to get pregnant in February 2014. Being such a planner, I had the timeline worked out perfectly in my head. This gave us a couple of months of trying (since how many people actually hit the jackpot the first time?) before school let out for summer. This would also mean once I was pregnant, my morning sickness would be hitting over summer break, and I could have that time to just rest. It seemed perfect. HA! I sure thought I had it figured out! Boy was I wrong. After about 3 months of trying, and no positive pregnancy test, I was a little frustrated that things weren’t going as I had planned. Plus, my cycles were still anywhere from 35-50 days long and I had a hard time figuring out when I was actually ovulating, if I was at all. I had been reading Kari’s infertility blog and noticed how much she praised Dr. Williams, so I made an appointment. I loved him from the first visit, because he listened and answered all of my questions. He was so caring and understanding, because he and his wife had gone through their own infertility journey. He told me he would do everything in his power to help me become a mother. At this point though, the best thing was to just keep trying and to come back either at a year or when we got too frustrated. So back home I went to continue my cycle charting, taking my basal body temp every morning, and letting myself get consumed with trying to get pregnant. The charting became somewhat of an obsession. I would study my charts over and over, trying to make sense of them. Of course, looking back, I don’t think this helped the situation and only made me stress more. I prayed that my cycles would become more normal and I tried to gain a little weight back, thinking maybe that would help. Finally around the late summer of 2014, my cycles started to become more predictable. Even though they were still 30-40 days long, it appeared that most cycles I was ovulating, and I was able to decipher my charts a little better.
By the fall of 2014 I was ready to look into our fertility a little more. In October I had an HSG procedure done, where they check to see that the fallopian tubes are open. Everything came back normal. I had heard that some people had gotten pregnant the month after having that procedure done, as if it had “cleared out the pipes”, so naturally I hoped this would happen to me. I was disappointed yet again. In December, my husband had a semen analysis which also came back normal-thank goodness. So there we were at the end of 2014 with no baby and no answers. Needless to say, the holidays were hard for me that year.
In January, almost a year after we started trying, I decided to go back to Dr. Williams to look into our options. I started my period a few days earlier and was feeling discouraged. I had gotten on Facebook the morning of my appointment, and a friend of mine had posted a video. I watched the video, only to quickly realize it was a pregnancy announcement. Of course, at that point I couldn’t turn it off. The couple sang the sweetest song they had written together about the journey of their relationship and how they were now expecting a baby. I sat there watching as emotion flooded me, and I just cried and cried. I was happy for them, but my heart ached because I wanted Tanner and I to have the same joy and blessing in our life. My mom came with me to the doctor that day, and I cried to her in the waiting room as I told her about watching the video. It was so unlike me to cry in public, but the pain was deep, and I couldn’t hide the sadness. Dr. Williams, sensing my emotion, was so sensitive and encouraging. He diagnosed me with “unexplained infertility” and recommended trying Clomid. I was unsure about beginning fertility medications, especially since I was already ovulating on my own, but he gave me the prescription and the option. After many prayers and conversations with my husband, we decided we should give it more time. We really wanted to trust in God’s timing, even though it was hard to wait. I continued to pray that we would become pregnant naturally.
As the months passed and more negative pregnancy tests stared back at me, I began to really feel the effects of the infertility emotional roller coaster. The cycle would begin with the hope and anticipation of ovulation. Next, we would “try, try, try” on what we thought were the perfect days to conceive. Then came the awful, nerve-wracking “two week wait”. Every month I would conjure up all the pregnancy symptoms, making myself believe this was it! This was the month my prayers would be answered. Yet every month, my period would return, a sad reminder of the life that wasn’t growing inside of me. I prayed, more so than I think I ever had. I wanted a baby so badly. I wanted it to be my turn. It seemed like every day on Facebook, someone was announcing their pregnancy. With tears in my eyes, I would try to tell myself my time was coming. Soon my prayers would be answered. But it was hard. I am not one to cry often, and I do not like showing extreme emotion. I pride myself in the fact that I have always had a very “even-keeled” temperament, but experiencing the highs and lows of every cycle, made it difficult to keep this up. Some cycles I would be strong and trust in God’s timing. I would think, “It’s okay. God’s timing is best and I trust in that.” In those months I could feel God’s peace and strength so tangibly that I knew it came from Him. I praised Him for helping me though and teaching me the patience I so needed to learn. I also had months where I was heartbroken when it didn’t work out and my period returned yet again, leaving me feeling lacking in the patience department. I would be left crying, asking God “Will I ever be a mother? Will it ever be my turn? What am I doing wrong?” I struggled with the fact that some people got pregnant almost immediately, and unwanted teenage pregnancies boggled me. It didn’t seem fair. But no matter what, I found comfort in knowing that the God I served had always been faithful to take care of me and get me through hard times. So each month I would push forward, praying He would give me the strength and trust I needed to face whatever result lay ahead.
Over the next few months I tried just about anything that claimed to aid in conceiving, minus the Clomid which we still didn’t have peace about me taking. I used a myriad of herbs and supplements, and too many other things fertility bloggers assured worked for them or someone they knew. Again, like the obsessive charting, I exhausted myself trying to find the trick which would get me pregnant, all the while God was saying “If you will just let go and let Me work it out in My own time, everything will be okay”.

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Photo Cred: Natasha Thomas Photography

On a weekend in August 2015, I was supposed to start my period. I was expecting it, because my cycle had been a little different that month, and I thought we had “missed” my ovulation window. The weekend ended, and I still had not started. I had no pregnancy symptoms, not even fabricated ones, except for a little cramping (most likely due to the impending period). I woke up Monday morning, August 17, still not having started. I decided to go ahead and take a pregnancy test just to get it off my mind, bracing myself for the all familiar negative. After a year and a half of negative tests, I couldn’t help but wonder “Do these things actually work? Is there such thing as a positive test?” LOL. Much to my surprise, 2 pink lines showed up! “Could this really be it?”. I took another test (different brand), because I wasn’t convinced. Two pink lines. I was shocked. I ran to the bedroom, woke my husband, and told him, “I think I might be pregnant! Come look at these tests!” We both stood in the bathroom staring at the two tests, with two pink lines, giggling in shock and excitement as we took in the weight of the moment. Our long-awaited prayers had been answered! Nothing but praises filled my heart and mind in the coming days.

 

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Photo Cred: Natasha Thomas Photography

While we had been trying to conceive, I had written a prayer over my future pregnancy. I have to say, God not only answered our prayers for a baby, but blessed me with an enjoyable and healthy pregnancy. I loved being pregnant! It was such a wonderful time experiencing the miracle of life growing inside of me. I spent my whole pregnancy thanking God for His precious gift, and for His timing which in the end seemed more perfect than I could have planned myself. Our sweet baby boy was born April 23, 2016, and I could not be more thankful for our little blessing. He was so worth the wait.

 

Previous Answered Prayer Stories:

Kayla

Lindsay (Part 1)      Lindsay (Part 2)

 

If you have a story you would like to share for the Answered Prayer series, I would love to hear from you! Email me at dearbabybellblog@gmail.com!   – Kari B. 

 

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Relationships and Infertility

Tonight we will have our 2nd Seeds of Hope meeting/ gathering. I have chosen relationships as our topic of discussion for this month because I feel like this is a very important topic we can all relate to! 

 Relationships and Infertility

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Your spouse. It is so important to not let your infertility struggle destroy your marriage. This is a time for you to lean on each other for support, openly communicate your feelings, and  be on the same page. Easier said than done? Yes. Definitely. Trey and I had only been married six months when we realized something wasn’t right. We had been trying for a few months, but I had stopped having cycles. Obviously, a cycle is one of the necessary components to becoming pregnant. As our journey unfolded, I learned Trey and I had different ways of handling our emotions. There was nothing wrong with how either of us handled our emotions (with each other), but it was very important for me to realize he wasn’t one to talk about his feelings. I was. He had to learn to listen when I needed to just vent, and I had to learn he wasn’t the type to sit down and cry with me and tell me everything going through his head. Trey only cried in front of me twice. I cried in front of him more times than I can count.

No matter what, your husband will be your husband. Baby or no baby. Treatments or not. Adoption or pursuing further treatments. You two began this journey together as husband and wife and it is so important to not lose the foundation of your marriage in the shuffle. It happens. I know it happens.

Your family. I’m still trying to figure out this part. Even though I have our story plastered on social media and here on my blog, we still have family members who are clueless about what we’ve been through. After my first surgery, we had people ask us, “When are ya’ll gonna have kids?”. Seriously. As if my ovaries were even ready to address this question so soon after surgery, right? It seemed like anytime there was a family reunion/ gathering/ cookout/ dinner/ excuse-to-get-together-and-question-my-reproduction-capabilities, the question always came up. It was easy for me to just be short. It was easy for me to be snippy and give smart @$$ remarks like, “When people stop asking us that question.” or  I would just say, “Never”. Oh that response shut people up quickly for sure. You know your family and you know how they are. Take their remarks with a grain of salt. Never feel like you have to explain your full medical history with anyone if you don’t want to. With that being said, you do need support. You need as much support as possible and maybe a few extra hands when it comes to getting your mother-in-law or nosy aunt off your back about when you’re gonna have a baby. Talk to a few people you trust. You might be surprised at how much easier those awkward family gatherings can get. Also – I am a firm believer the more people covering you in prayer, the better. If you don’t want to go into great detail, maybe just ask for prayers for your future children?

Your church. This is a sticky situation. I know some ladies who feel like they can’t open up to their church family about their struggles because infertility is such an uncomfortable topic for some men.  I was fortunate to have an amazing group of ladies in a Wednesday night class who covered me in prayer and lifted me up when I needed an extra boost. Infertility, pregnancy loss, and miscarriage are something a lot of churches (not necessarily just mine) don’t talk about. Churches will pray all day, everyday for Susie Jo Q who is so-and-so’s second cousin’s wife who stubbed her toe, but that sweet, young couple on the back pew? They  are merely a line at the bottom of the church bulletin. Why is that? Why are we afraid to talk about infertility? Why are we afraid to meet these people right where they need us? On our knees, praying FOR them during the hardest thing they’ve ever endured is where we should be. Instead, I know some women feel like they just don’t fit in anymore in those pews. Mother’s Day is a huge production at some churches.  These women suffer in silence month after month and they need to feel God and they need to be covered in prayer…right here. Right now. So ladies, I encourage you, pull someone aside. Tell them YOU need prayer. Tell them YOU are struggling and YOU need to feel God’s comfort. Don’t walk away from your church family, but don’t let your struggles get brushed under the rug either.

Last but not least… Your friendships. I pushed several people out of my life when I needed them the most. Don’t make that same mistake. Even though everyone will not understand your journey, they may still try to help. Even if that “help” looks a little different from what you think you need, that’s okay. Sometimes people don’t know what to say or what to do. They just want to do something to let you know they care or they are thinking of you! Infertility/ pregnancy loss is not something everyone has dealt with. It’s hard to speak to the emotions and heartache that come along with infertility when you haven’t necessarily been in the middle of it yourself. Sometimes people just do what they think they need to do, or they say what they think you need to hear. Sometimes people will say the wrong things. It happens. Don’t shut them out of your life or push them away. Like I said before, you need as much support and as many people as possible surrounding you in prayer. Don’t make the mistake of pushing people out of your life.

Infertility will take as much from you as you allow it to. Do not let it take your relationships. Don’t. Do. It. Don’t let it consume you. Don’t let it rob you of any more than it already has.

For more info on Seeds of Hope, please feel free to email me at  dearbabybellblog@gmail.com or Find me on Facebook  !

 

Answered Prayer: Lindsay (Part 2)

Part 2: Growing Baby Paxton

Missed Part 1? Find it here!

I continued to pray over this baby everyday. We decided to have an early ultrasound at 16 weeks to find out what we were having. To my delight it was a boy. Matt was overjoyed. He wanted a boy so bad. And we both feared that the baby we lost was a boy and this one would be a girl. But once again God showed up. Not that getting the gender we want is something God is concerned about but for me it showed me he was listening. He knew the desire of our heart and he fulfilled that.

Fast forward 4 weeks, we head to our 20 week ultrasound at the doctor’s office. They are going to confirm the gender and do a bunch of measurements and just check on the little guy. It was great! We got to see him and confirm that indeed it was a him. He looked amazing. He was measuring right where he needed to be. During the ultrasound you can tell the tech can see something that isn’t totally normal and this is where our journey began. When I was 20 weeks pregnant I was diagnosed with complete placenta previa. This is a condition where the placenta has implanted itself low in your uterus and is covering your cervix. So the baby cannot be born any way except for a C-section. As your uterus grows usually the placenta will move and will no longer block the cervix opening. This can be a very serious and life threatening condition for the mom. If for some reason the placenta starts to break down you could start bleeding and it would be difficult to control. My doctor basically said that when the time came for the C-section I might end up with a total hysterectomy if the the bleeding gets to out of control. So we left that appointment a little nervous but overall optimistic that when I returned 4 weeks later it would have moved. Well we have our ultrasound and find out it has not moved. Still my doctor seemed optimistic it could still change positions and so were we, we went on with everyday life. 4 weeks later, on a Monday, we returned to have another ultrasound to monitor the progress. We were a little saddened to find out it still had not moved. Our doctor at this point said the likelihood of it moving was getting less. We left that appointment and again went about our day. My husband had the day off from work, thank you Columbus, so we decided to have a family day. We had lunch and then decided to take Cali to a pumpkin patch. She played and ran all over the place. We picked out a pumpkin for her and Paxton also. We left there and grabbed some dinner and headed to church. Our worship band was doing a live recording for a CD with their worship music on it. And they had invited members to be in the audience to provide the background cheering and singing. I was so excited to be a part of this. I love our worship band and could not wait for this night. So we sang praises and worshipped for 2 whole hours. It was amazing! We got home that night around 9:30 and put Cali to bed and finally got to lay down ourselves. I was pretty exhausted from the day and fell asleep pretty quickly. Around 11:15 I was suddenly awoken and realized I was bleeding. And not just a little bleeding……I had managed to get it all over the sheets. I was really bleeding. I woke Matt up and told him what was going on and said we needed to get to the hospital. Ask any mom that has been pregnant and she will tell you that seeing that much blood is very unsettling. I sort of went into shock. I was nervous and anxious and incredibly worried about our little boy. We called my parents to come and stay at our house with Cali and headed to the hospital. We got there around 11:45. After some paperwork in the ER we were taken up to the labor and delivery floor to get checked in. At this point it had been a full hour and a half since I felt Paxton move. I was starting to fear the worst. As soon as I was in bed the nurse grabbed the monitor and immediately found the heartbeat. I had never felt so much relief at one time! He was looking incredible on the monitor. He had a nice strong heartbeat and immediately started moving and rolling around. It was very comforting to hear him and see him moving around. They monitored me through the night. The next morning my doctor came in and said that Paxton looked good but they were going to keep me until the next Monday just to make sure everything was ok. He also said he noticed throughout the night I was having some contractions. So he decided I needed to be put on a Magnesium drip to help stop those contractions. I’m here to tell you, if you have never experienced Magnesium consider yourself lucky! It was torture and it lasts for 24 hours. Finally I was taken off that medicine and life kind of returned to normal, as normal as sitting in the hospital all day can be. So for the rest of the week we made the best of our stay in the hospital. We actually spent our 7th wedding anniversary in the hospital. People were sending flowers and coming to visit. It was so nice to see our village just surround us during that time. Well the following Monday my doctor comes in and says I can go home but on bed rest. I wasn’t on strict bed rest but was advised to lay down as much as possible. I lasted 3 weeks at home! Praise the Lord!!

During my at home bed rest, I was having 2 doctor’s appointments a week. One was an appointment with my doctor and an ultrasound to measure my placenta and check to see if it was moving at all. The other was for an NST. Its a non-stress test, it’s actually pretty awesome. You get to sit in a comfy recliner and watch tv while strapped to a monitor and listen to that beautiful heartbeat for 30 minutes! I really enjoyed these visits. I would get me a smoothie before the appointment and then it was just me and my boy for a solid 30 minutes. Well it was one of these appointments that things changed for me. I woke up the morning on one of my ultrasound days and I was bleeding. Now my doctor had given me strict instructions that if I started bleeding at all to head straight to the ER. Well seeing as how this was my 3rd bleeding episode, I was a little less panicked than all the other times. I knew it wasn’t a ton of bleeding and since we were heading to the doctor anyway I figured I would just mention it there. I see my doctor and tell him and he informs me to go straight home, pack a bag and head to the hospital. I wasn’t totally shocked because of the seriousness of the situation. I checked in the hospital on November 2nd at 32 weeks.

My stay in the hospital was so not what my doctor expected. He said I was able to keep Paxton in me a lot longer than I thought I was going to. The morning of November 21st was the day God chose I would meet my little boy. He came 6 weeks early and 2 weeks before my scheduled C-section. Just a little side story to show how awesome God is! I kept a quiet time journal the whole time I was in the hospital. Every morning I spent some time with the Lord. It was so awesome having that time each day. It’s hard with a toddler at home to really get 30 minutes of undisturbed time to just sit and study and read God’s word. Well the day before Paxton was born the verse God laid on my heart was Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” And also Deuteronomy 31:6-8 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave nor forsake you.” I always write down prayers I have for people or myself at the end of my quiet time. My prayer for me says, “I cannot say thank you enough for bringing Paxton and myself to this point. Lord just continue to cover us and protect both of us. Lord I know your plan is great and I know that you have already seen this ending. I just pray you continue to give me peace and know that you’ve got this.” He was preparing me that morning for what was to come, I just didn’t know it yet.

I woke up around 4 am on the 21st and instantly knew I was bleeding again. And also knew it was a big deal. This was now my 5th bleeding episode in 6 weeks. I called my nurse and she immediately paged my doctor and things got to moving rather quickly. I was told I would be having a c-section as quickly as possible. I’m scrambling because Matt isn’t even here, I’m all alone! I tell one of the nurses his number and they are calling him. But he isn’t answering and it hits me, he doesn’t answer random numbers and especially at 4 am. So I handed her my cell phone and told her to call him. He finally answers and rallies all of our family and everyone heads up to the hospital. It was very chaotic for a little bit. I was extremely nervous because I knew I was bleeding but there really isn’t anything they can do to stop it right now. My doctor was literally in mid-delivery of another baby. So he couldn’t just stop what he was doing but he reassured me he would be done very quickly because I needed to get to the OR soon. As I laid in the OR while they were prepping me, my mind kept going over the verse in Isaiah. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. I knew God was there, I knew he was holding me and I knew he was going to watch over us. My doctor ran into some complications once he got in there. Apparently Paxton had flipped into breach position at some point. I had an ultrasound that previous Tuesday to confirm position and weight and check my placenta. So in 4 days he flipped! But at just after 6 am my baby boy was born at 4 pounds and 11oz. I was so excited and wanted to see him. When I was able to see him the nurse held him up to my face so I could kiss him. And then he was whisked away to the NICU. Matt went with him because I told him I was fine and I wanted him to be with our son. Little did I know what was ahead.

I could tell things were not going as planned. My doctor and the surgeon assisting him seemed a little frazzled and appeared to be struggling. I asked repeatedly what was going on but didn’t get many answers. I prayed and prayed and prayed. After having Paxton and an additional hour and a half of surgery I was taken into the recovery room. God had brought me through it, just like I knew he would. Now, I was in an excruciating amount of pain, but that didn’t matter. My little boy was doing ok in the NICU and I was still around, so I was happy. I was able to see Paxton the following day after much pleading with my nurses. He was beautiful and tiny and amazing. I was in awe of our God. I was sitting next to my rainbow baby and holding his little hand. We tell the story of Noah and the ark to our little girl a lot. We remind her that God always gives us a rainbow after a storm. Paxton is my rainbow. Isaiah 66:9 says “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord.” This is so true. Hold tight to the Lord during the storms and the painful moments. He knows what he is doing and he will see you through.

Answered Prayer: Lindsay

 

I met Lindsay over eight years ago through her now husband, Matt. They have been married since October 18, 2008. They have a beautiful 4-year-old daughter named Cali and a sweet little miracle 8 month old son named Paxton. Lindsay has a huge heart and amazing faith. I pray you will feel encouraged by her story.  These are her words. . .


Photo Credits: Rebecca Kelly Photography

Part 1:

Have you ever felt like you are being attacked by the devil? It can happen at any time and without warning. Even the best Christians, with the best walks with Jesus can come under Satan’s attack.

When Cali was two and a half we found out we were pregnant….by total surprise. We had been trying for months but nothing was happening. And then randomly out of the blue we found out I was expecting. We were thrilled. So excited in fact that after only a week of finding out we told all of our families during Christmas. Everyone was thrilled for us. Well only a few short weeks after that we found out our baby had no heartbeat. We were scheduled for a repeat ultrasound in a week just to confirm. We prayed and prayed and prayed some more. I wanted a miracle, honestly I did. But I prayed mostly for God’s will. And that whatever his will he would walk me through it. It’s amazing how consistently praying can put you at ease. As we sat in the waiting room the following week for our ultrasound I knew what they were going to find. And I knew that God was there with me. In that moment, in that space, he was there holding me up and giving me this peace that surpasses all understanding. We had our ultrasound and exactly what I felt was confirmed. I was scheduled for a D&C just a couple of days later. We left and neither of us really said anything. It’s a strange feeling knowing that only a couple of weeks ago you were planning your baby’s future and now you are preparing for a surgery to remove this precious life God gave you. I put on the brave strong face. I didn’t want to upset Matt or Cali or our family. I was at peace with this and knew that God wouldn’t put me through such an ordeal without a reason. I fully believe this is when the devil crept in. I had the surgery and again kept up the brave face. I said all the right things to people when they asked how I was. I told them God had a plan and he knew what he was doing. But in the quiet of my house during my alone time, I cried out to God. I couldn’t understand what was going on. He knew how much we wanted another baby. Did he really think my faith was strong enough to withstand something like this? Did he think my faith wasn’t strong enough and so that was why he was letting me endure this, to draw me closer to him? All kinds of questions would run through my head. And some were not always accepting and loving towards Christ. I had moments of hurt and anger and sadness with God. I pulled away from my marriage. I didn’t want to be close to him because it hurt. I had one job, protect and grow a little baby and I had failed.

I had joined a group of ladies at church around this time. I had been leading a women’s small group for about a year and we were starting discipleship groups that fall. In order to lead a discipleship group you must first yourself go through the discipleship process. I was excited to get connected with some more ladies and really dig into the word. I just knew it would bring me out of my funk. So I joined and things seem to pick up. Matt and I became closer and eventually decided to start trying again. Well we decided we weren’t going to prevent anything. If the Lord blessed us with another baby then great, if not then we were ok with that also. So everything was moving along. I had an incredible support system of girlfriends who had experienced the same loss and we regularly chatted and shared our hearts with one another and it was awesome. After a few weeks in this discipleship class I find out I am once again pregnant. And because God is who he is, he showed up. I went to my discipleship class and our leader started out by sharing a verse that for some reason that morning God laid on her heart. It was Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” I cried…and everyone looked at me a little crazy. I apologized and said that verse just really speaks to me. After we were done with group my leader pulls me aside to let me know if I need to talk or to pray she is there. So I told her we had just found out we were pregnant again and I was a nervous wreck. How was I supposed to relax and trust in God when he took my second baby home with him? She said I think it’s crazy this verse was laid on my heart. She said it was truly from out of nowhere and that she felt God telling her to share it with us. I relaxed a little. God was there, he is in the midst and he knew my anxiety. Well I prayed and prayed and prayed during the weeks leading up to our first doctor’s appointment. And we went and I thought I was going to throw up I was so nervous while sitting in that waiting room. We get called back and there is a heart beat! This little one has a heart beat and I can see the beautiful heart beating away on the screen. Next to seeing Cali’s heartbeat the first time, this was an incredible day. I left that appointment a little more confident in this pregnancy.

 

Riding On Faith…Of Others?

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends. --John Lennon:

This morning I was preparing my thoughts for our first Seeds of Hope meeting and praying for God to show me what He wants me to share. Mid prayer I felt Him lay this concept on my heart: Riding on the faith of others. Isn’t it crazy how He does things like that sometimes?  It seems so appropriate for today especially since He has given us ( Kayla and me) this opportunity to witness to some amazing women. He has entrusted to us these women who are in a dark season of their lives. He is trusting US… little Kari and little Kayla to encourage, give advice, listen, and pray with these women. I do not take this task lightly, and I pray daily that I am fulfilling God’s plan in a way that is pleasing unto Him.

 

Romans 1:12 – “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” 

♥Share from your heart. Share with love. Personally, I feel so encouraged myself by the women who have been placed in my path the last two years. Their faith is remarkable.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 – “A time to cry and a time to laugh, A time to grieve and a time to dance.”

♥Don’t shy away from a “God Moment”. I know there are women who are afraid/ shy/ embarrassed when it comes to talking about infertility. I realize not everyone will fall into our laps, send us messages, or come to us. I realize I need to look for the women who are crying in the corner. It isn’t always going to be comfortable. God didn’t ask me to be comfortable though, did He?

It is a little less painful to go through infertility when you have someone in your corner. We are sharing the moments of tears, heartache, and doubt with these amazing women. You better believe we will be rejoicing when each of them have a pregnancy announcement!

2Corinthians 5:20 – “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.”

♥Actions speak so much louder than words. Sometimes I’m guily of shying away from reaching out or speaking to someone because I fear I do not have the words. I don’t know what the right thing to say would be. Anyone else feel that way? No. Just me? As an ambassador of Christ- As an example of God’s love, I shouldn’t do that though! Each opportunity He gives me to show His love to someone in need, I should take that opportunity and run with it. Actions carried out in love will send a stronger message.

2Timothy 1:8 – “So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for Him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.”

♥You cannot do life alone. Sharing your struggles with others is a way to open the door for God to use your struggle for something beautiful. I’m not suggesting you air all of your struggles via a Facebook status. Please. Don’t be THAT person. I will tell you this though – by me opening up to just a few people about my own struggles, it allowed God to show me people who could shine a light for me.

 

Listen. Sit down for a second. Come close and let me whisper these words to you – It is OKAY to be a little weak. It is ok to feel a little defeated at times. You don’t have to put on your superhero mask today, ladies and gents. If your are in a dark season, I can assure you someone is waiting to hold the light to help you through. As Christians, we are called to step out on faith and encourage others. If you are in a season of life where you are needing encouragement or you are needing a hand to hold, that is ok. One day you will be able to hold the light for someone else during their own dark season.

“Honor each opportunity [to witness] as a moment created and planned by God.” – Elise Cleary

 

If you would like more info about our faith-based support group, please send me a little message, fill out the form below, or find me on Facebook – http://www.fb.com/dearbabybell .

Is This Enough? 

I did not plan to write today. Today I had every intention of unplugging and just being present in the moment. That lasted an entire 45 minutes this morning. As soon as I finished my spin class, I hopped on Pinterest to look for kitchen remodel inspiration. That search lead to me noticing I had some Facebook notifications… Which led to me scrolling for a scripture to share with a friend. That led to me typing a long email explaining why I couldn’t meet another friend for coffee this evening. 

I thank God daily for the way He uses me. I ask Him daily to show me opportunities to encourage others. Today though? Today I asked Him for grace. I know I’m needed. I know my kids need me. I know my husband needs me. I know my support group needs me. I know my friendships need me. I just wonder if I am enough. I make it to 9:00 each night and I just can’t seem to shut my brain off. I feel like I have so much I want to do, so much I need to say, but there’s nothing left of me. 

I feel like sometimes my husband get the scraps that are left of me at the end of the day. He often comes home from work and I’m preoccupied with laundry, supper, kids, emails, or just me crying. Yes. Crying. There are days when I feel ashamed for crying, but other days I will completely own it. Yesterday I owned it. I 100% owned the fact I am in a season of my life where I have to start saying “no”. I can’t be everywhere. I can’t do everything. There isn’t enough of me and I need to realize it is ok to verbalize that. I’m grateful he understands that. 

So if you’re looking for someone to organize a bake sale- don’t look at me. I can’t do it right now, but I’d appreciate it if you dropped off a cake and sat on the couch with me for a chat. We can eat cake! If you’re wanting me to head a committee- look further. I have a support group I am pouring my heart into. It is my passion. It is my dream come true. It deserves me and not my scraps. My kids, my husband, my support group, and myself- all deserve my best. That is what I have to give in this season of life. I hope that is enough… 

Hope

In order to take God’s words deep into your heart, in order to allow them to alter your thoughts and ease your mind, you will need to calm yourself.”  – Pregnant With Hope : Good News For Infertile Couples

Last night I shared this quote with the ladies in Seeds of Hope. A couple of the ladies have reached out to us and shared their fears, worries, and doubts about their upcoming cycles. I get it. I remember being in that deep, dark place of doubt. I remember wanting to give up because I just didn’t feel like I could push forward anymore. I felt defeated. I allowed my own emotions and doubt to swallow me whole. I shut people out of my life. I became a person I did not even recognize. I. WAS. CONSUMED.

Sometimes it is easier to follow our own plan versus listening for God to reveal His plan, right? Raise your hand if you like to be in control. Do you like to call the shots? Do you like to know what is just over the horizon? Are you holding a tight grip on something? My hand is raised. Both of them. “Me. Me. Me!!!” I had it all planned out. In my mind I knew just how the story should go. Much to my surprise though, God had an even better story for me. I just needed to let go of that tight grip I had on MY plan. I had to stop trying to call the shots. I had to stop doubting. That’s all easier said than done. I know it is. We have to do it though. As hard as it seems. As vulnerable as it makes us feel. We have to do it.

We have to let go and know God will catch us. We have to push our feelings of self-doubt, constant worry, hopelessness, and defeat aside. Those feelings are clouding our vision. They are not beneficial to us at all. We cannot see what God is trying to reveal to us when we are consumed with these feelings. He’s got this, folks. His fingerprints are everywhere! We just have to be still, release our grip, and listen.

Seeds of Hope

 

The day has come. Today my vision, our vision, God’s plan  comes to life. Today I am so excited to introduce…


History of the Vision 

I have prayed for God to use my story to encourage others. He has. I’ve had a handful of women tell me they felt encouraged by my blog. I’ve felt like I needed to do more though. When I was in the middle of my own battle three years ago, I searched for local support groups. There weren’t any. If there were, I couldn’t find them. I was blessed to have a friend from high school to talk to who understood the lingo, had been through the ups and downs, and she was able to shine some light in the middle of what felt like a dark, never-ending tunnel. I had very supportive friends and family. Do not get me wrong, I appreciated every prayer, card, flower arrangement, bowl of soup, and gallon of ice cream. I truly appreciated it. I felt like I needed more though. I still felt alone.

Once life calmed down a little after R&A were born, I began praying for God to show me what was next. I prayed for Him to use my story, my struggles, and my miracle babies. The idea of starting a support group crossed my mind a few times, but I always pushed the idea to the back burner. I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think I would have time to fully dedicate myself to a support group. God had a different plan though. God has a way of nudging us sometimes, doesn’t He? God placed not one, not two, but THREE women in my path. Through those women and their stories, I realized God was after my heart. He was opening doors and showing me what was next for me and my story. He made a way.

Several months ago, I pitched the idea to my friend, Kayla. {you can read her story here!} She was one of the women God had placed in my path previously. She had recently given birth to her own miracle. She had also told me about a few women who had reached out to her for support. She told me she liked the idea of a support group. She gave me a few ideas and said she would help me in any way she could, but she wasn’t sure how involved she could be. A few weeks ago, I asked Kayla to pray about it and let me know how involved she would like to be. I told her I felt like it was time for me to launch Seeds of Hope.

This week, Kayla reached out to me. She said she was ready to do this. Seeds of Hope is the result of two women who had a dream of doing something more. We have both prayed about this group for several months. We have asked God to give us the words He needs these women to hear. We pray we will be able to share His word in a way these women will have a renewed faith and feel hopeful for His plan for them and their future families. Most of all, we want them to realize they are not alone. Infertility is not something people openly talk about. We want these women to know they can talk to us. We will pray for them. We will cry with them. We will hold their hands. We will be the listening ear they need. We want to give them the seeds of hope they need on the days when they feel hopeless.

Who are these women?

We are praying for God to show us women who are:

  • struggling to conceive
  • have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth

 

Where will they meet?

Well. That’s totally up to the women of the group. Kayla and I want this to be less formal. We are not wanting to say we have to meet every second Thursday of the month. We would rather facilitate the group in way that encourages women to say, “Hey. Let’s get together this weekend and have a prayer.” We want this to be more of a community of women supporting and encouraging each other. So we will meet wherever is convenient for the women of the group. Come if you can, if not – we have a private group on Facebook- maybe you can join us next time we meet up? We plan to use the Facebook group to share prayers, updates, words of encouragement, and announce meetings/ gatherings.

How can you help?

Could you pray for us? Please. Pray for the women who will be coming to the meetings, the women who will join our online community, and the women who will personally reach out to us. Pray we will share God’s word with these women in a way that is pleasing to God.

 

 

NIAW 2016 – #StartAsking

 

It is National Infertility Awareness Week! What exactly does that mean? It means this week bloggers unite to raise awareness for a disease that affects 1 in 8 couples. This week we get the conversation started and bring awareness to something a lot of people are afraid to talk about. To learn more about this movement, you can visit www.resolve.org .

#StartAsking

Infertility isn’t easy to talk about. I know. I’ve been there. It was so hard for me to open up about our struggle. I felt like I was so alone and nobody would understand, but one day I stepped out of my comfort zone and began sharing our story. The truth is, once I opened up about what I was facing, I received so much support from others within the TTC community, close friends, and some family. I wasn’t alone! I had a wonderful support system during my journey, and I have made it a passion of mine to be a supporter for other women.

What is infertility? According to resolve.org, infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system often diagnosed after a couple has had one year of unprotected, well-timed intercourse, or if the woman has suffered from multiple miscarriages and the woman is under 35 years of age. If the woman is over 35 years old, it is diagnosed after 6 months of unprotected, well-timed intercourse.

What should you ask?

  • I’m a firm believer you should feel comfortable with your doctor. Ask questions. Ask if he/she has much experience dealing with infertility. If not, ask if you can be referred to someone else.
  • Ask. Questions. If you feel like your doctor does not have time to answer all of your questions, it is time to find a new doctor!
  • Ask you spouse / partner how they feel. Communication is so important when you are faced with an infertility journey. It is so easy to get lost in the emotional roller coaster. Make sure you talk about it with your spouse even if you do not feel like talking to anyone else. You are both in this together!
  • Ask friends, family, or church family to pray for you. If you are not comfortable sharing details, that is completely okay! Just simply asking them to pray for you.
  • If you are not personally experiencing an infertility journey, but someone close to you is, please try to educate yourself on what exactly infertility is. You can learn more at http://www.reslove.org or this Infertility Etiquette Fact Sheet.

 

Here is my  post for National Infertility Awareness Week 2014  –  NIAW : Resolve to Know

Answered Prayer: Kayla

My best friend, Rachel, had told me about Kayla a couple of years ago. It wasn’t until Rachel’s wedding in June of 2014 that I would meet Kayla in person. Obviously a wedding reception wasn’t the best place to talk to Kayla about infertility. On top of that, I was currently 9 weeks pregnant myself. I wasn’t sure how to even approach her. So I prayed. A month later, I received an inbox message on Facebook from Kayla. God had sent me the person He wanted me to inspire, encourage, and pray for. God sent me Kayla. 

 
When Kayla first reached out to me, she congratulated me on my pregnancy with the twins and told me Rachel had shared bits and pieces of my story with her. I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I basically just went with what was in my heart. I told her:
Hang in there. I know it is so tough from time to time, but one day it will all be worth it…if you ever need ANYTHING, I’ve been there and I will gladly listen! “

She then opened up to me about her own two-year journey. She admitted to me that she had struggled with the fact she wasn’t trusting the Lord would give them a child in HIS timing. She told me about how she struggled to stay positive from time to time. She told me how she felt when she saw yet another pregnancy announcement. She wasn’t angry or jealous, but she just wondered if that would ever be her? I remember reading her words with tears in my eyes and thinking, “She sounds just like I did. These are my own words. I remember feeling like this myself!” I saw so much of myself and my own journey in Kayla.

As our relationship grew, she told me how she and her husband were not only praying they would one day BE pregnant, but they were also already praying FOR their child. She was already thanking God for the child He would send them. THAT IS FAITH! In all honesty, sometimes it is hard to stand in such strong faith when you are in the middle of a storm. I know she had her hard days where she just felt so much disappointment. She shared those days with me too, but for the most part Kayla knew she would be a mother… she just wasn’t sure how long she would be waiting.

Kayla shared this journal entry with me from her journey:
“It was at this appointment that our journey really hit home to me. Until this point I had been very strong….of course each time I started [my period] it would hurt but I was anxious to just move on to the next month. Well this appointment was different. We talked about doing the HSG procedure and then two more 100 mg of Clomid. Her next statement made me cry. …’If the HSG is okay and Clomid doesn’t work, we will move on to doing a round of IUI.’ Wow. I never thought my body would not allow me to get pregnant on my own….” 

I don’t remember the date. I just remember sitting in my bedroom rocking one of my twins when my phone rang. It was a FaceTime call from Rachel. I remember thinking, “Why on Earth is this girl calling me on FaceTime?! Doesn’t she know I’m a mess?!” When I answered, Rachel said “Kayla has something to tell you.” She turned the phone so I could see Kayla holding a small University of Tennessee onesie. I immediately started crying. Happy tears of course. The child we had hoped, prayed, and believed for was on the way. Kayla was finally pregnant. OUR prayers had been answered. Precious Kayla had remained faithful. She stood in faith that God would answer her prayer.. in His time. And He did.
I am so grateful God placed Kayla in my life. I have learned so much from her. She is such a caring person. She and I have worked together over the last several months to encourage mothers-in-waiting on their own journeys. It is so beautiful to see how God has used such a difficult time in each of our lives so we can shine a light for others.