Anything-Can-Happen October

A week ago (while we were on our Great Western Vacation), I got one amazing piece of news. I’ve been chosen as this month’s Adopt-A-Blogger by This Cross I Embrace, a wonderful blog that I’ve been following for years, and mentioned in this previous post. I am so incredibly grateful for this. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers and support. If you’ve never heard of this beautiful prayer campaign, check this out:

Adopt-a-Blogger

I’ve been asked to write a few paragraphs about myself, and truth be told, I don’t know what to say. My infertility journey is a little unusual. At age 16, when I still hadn’t gotten my first period, my mom took me to a number of doctors until someone was finally able to figure out the issue. To everyone’s shock, we discovered that I was born with MRKH- a rare birth defect that affects 1 in 5000 women: I was born without a uterus, cervix, and, well- check this website out for more information, if you’re curious as to details. That kind of shock doesn’t just literally affect the course of your life- it also creates a huge identity crisis. Was I actually female? Was I still like every other girl? Why did God make me this way? What was the purpose of this? Why make me female and Catholic without any hope of becoming a mother?

That was 10 years ago. In that time, I’ve done a lot of grieving, and I’ve come a long way. I learned that having a uterus isn’t what makes someone a woman (even though in our English language, we refer to a girl’s first period as “becoming a woman”). I’ve learned that being a faithful Catholic does not mean that your marriage must produce 6+ children. I’ve learned that my life has meaning and value, and that God does have a purpose, even if I can’t see all of it at once.

I feel like Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz. There’s nothing in that black bag of cures for me- yet if I’ve learned that if I really want happiness, I can find it in my own back yard.

James and I are looking forward to adoption, and hopefully we’ll be able to start the process in the Spring. In these past 10 years, I thought I had done my share of grieving, and it seemed that I had come to peace with my own loss. But, oddly enough, marriage has made me start grieving again. I’m grieving for my husband’s loss. I’m grieving for our loss as a couple. I (and we) need healing and help with this grief. If you are so kind as to participate in this wonderful program with TCIE, please consider praying for our emotional healing and for us to get through this new stage of grief, and for us to have courage and success with adoption, if it is God’s will for us.

Thank you, and God bless.

Finding Our Purpose

This morning on Pinterest, I was reminded of St. Catherine of Siena’s famous quote, “If you are who you were meant to be, you will set the world on fire.” Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my purpose, the purpose of marriage, and the purpose of our marriage in particular.

Building the Kingdom. That doesn’t only mean co-creating children, necessarily. It means living to the fullest in your state of life. Christianity without suffering isn’t Christianity, it’s Paganism. We can all be nice and get along. What makes Christianity different? It’s our willingness to bear wrongs patiently in the name of our God. Its taking up your cross daily, and striving to live according to the Gospel.

We want to adopt someday. We’ve visited several local agencies and are forming a plan of how to go about this. For some reason though, I don’t feel that now is the time to start this process. We’ve only been married for a year, we have some debts we’d like to pay, and some traveling we’d like to do. We’d like to be in a position where I could stay home with the baby at least two or three days a week.

I feel like God is calling us to something else right now. I just don’t know what it is. And yes, we still have major emotional breakdowns whenever someone we know announces a pregnancy, but that has more to do with grief and less to do with adoption. Does it makes sense to say we’re peaceful about our current childlessness, yet grieving our infertility?

And so we will keep praying, keep loving, keep being. We know that God has plans for us, and so far He has only led us to beautiful, beautiful things.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

One Year Into Happily Ever After

This month we celebrated out first anniversary. James surprised me by planning a whole weekend of fun, romantic dates. Saturday we went to Mount Vernon, which I’ve never visited. As a history person growing up in the DC suburbs, I know, it’s surprising. Sunday morning we went to Mass at St. Patrick’s, the place of our wedding. After Mass we walked around Ellicott City and the Baltimore Inner Harbor, and had dinner at Rusty Scupper overlooking the water. After dinner, James took me to the hotel where we spent our wedding night, and the staff had put up a sign for us and scattered rose petals on the bed. Everything was so beautiful. I cried. In a good way.

That weekend of celebrating was kind of like our first year- happy, excited, totally in love and completely elated. We still feel like we’re on our honeymoon.

Yes, we have challenges, but we’re dealing with them together. I don’t know what lies ahead, but I think, thanks to God’s help, we’re holding hands as we go along.

Year 2 of Connie and James is forecasted to be another fun one. Hopefully we’ll be going to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and Newport Beach, CA in the Fall, and touring the United Kingdom in the Spring. We may continue pursuing the adoption process, but after our last agency visit we learned we might not be in a good enough financial position yet. While I think I might like the idea of spending a few more years to ourselves, the emotional side of infertility is currently our most difficult struggle- but that’s for another post.

No matter what lies ahead, we know we can continue to be as happy as ever, as long as we keep God first, always.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Spring!

Spring!

True to the season, we have so much to be happy about right now. There is so much to look forward to, and so many things to process.

 

Our first married Easter was beautiful. We are truly blessed. My parents joined us for Mass, followed by brunch at our house. It was really wonderful. My sister had gone to the Vigil the night before, so she hung out in my kitchen and cooked while were at church.

 

Later, James and I went to his side for dinner. We had a wonderful time visiting with everyone. After talking with his mom, aunts and cousins over the course of the weekend, there was one recurring idea that was mentioned.

“Why don’t you guys put in the application, get the home study, and leave the rest in God’s hands?”

Wow. Honestly it’s such a mind-blowing idea, though it might not sound like it to some. It’s a little different than just deciding to “try” like our fertile friends. If you get pregnant right away, you usually have 9 months to prepare for the baby. If you get chosen right away, with adoption, it can be WEEKS or, in rare cases, DAYS before a baby is in your hands. Of course, it can also take several years.

That, perhaps, is why many have said to put it all in God’s hands. Nothing will happen without a home study, of course, but after that, leave it, and trust.

I think I can do that. Trusting can be hard, but it is something we’re not strangers to. I know that with our family, if we were stuck and needed baby stuff in a pinch, they would help us. As for careers and child care, maybe God will lead me to something I can do part time or from home. My other worry has to do with all the traveling I want to do. Can we take the baby with us? Will we be good at that? I mean if Will and Kate can take George to Australia, surely James and I can take our baby to the great cities of Europe. Does that sound ridiculous? I mean people live with babies every day in every city of the world. It’s more expensive, but it has to be doable, right?

Maybe this is where trust comes in.

Just don’t open it.

Just don’t open it.

Those ancient Greeks were pretty insightful when you think about it. Pandora, the first woman, had a box full of crazy that was better left closed. I bet most of us can relate to that. I found mine a few weeks ago.

Christmas Eve was a tough one this year, emotionally. The week of Thanksgiving, I had a CT scan that showed I had a didelphic uterus, rather than uterine remnants. The difference here is huge. My original diagnosis from 10 years ago meant there was never, ever, any chance of pregnancy, ever. The message from the CT scan meant that there may in fact be a chance of something, someday, with minor surgery. After 10 years of grieving, someone gave a glimmer of hope. So, to get a better sense of this confusing situation, I scheduled an ultrasound for the morning of December 24th.

I had put this behind me. 2004 was the year I spent going to doctor after doctor, getting test after test to figure out what was going on inside of me. MRKH was a blow. It was so hard. It has taken almost a decade to come to grips with. I have spent 10 years grieving the loss of any hope of pregnancy, ever. To have the door of possibility opened again after all of this time is so scary. I want to hope for it, but I’m so afraid to get my hopes up.

The ultrasound went fine, but about 10 minutes after I left the building, they called and asked me to come back for another one. I cried. I thought my days of being a guinea pig were over.

It was easier when I was 16. When I was 16, I didn’t really understand what this meant for my life, and it didn’t really matter.

I want to know which way to go. I want to know if I should continue with my grieving and move toward adoption, or if I should continue seeking medical treatment. I imagine that this is the way it feels for countless other couples dealing with infertility. When is it time to leave behind the doctors? When do you decide that you are done with tests, exams, and rude questions? How do you make the choice to leave behind any chance of pregnancy?

Do you ever stop believing in miracles?

After a week of hoping, the news came back (on December 31) that everything was as it was before, and the doctor only ordered more tests because of a possible renal track anomaly. I wonder if he had any idea what kind of emotional worm-can this opened. I heard on the news yesterday that 9 women in Sweden received uterus transplants, but pregnancy would still have to be achieved via IVF. That’s a step closer, but I still don’t think there’s anything in that black bag for me.

In the last 2 weeks, I’ve gotten back to where I was before Thanksgiving. Maybe I’m even better than I was before. We signed up for our first adoption agency information meeting. It’s not for a few weeks, but that is perfectly fine. We’re going to take our time with this.

I do believe in miracles, and I always will. Right now, though, I think our miracle is going to come in the way we least expect.

And, truth be told, there is so much good happening in my life right now that I can hardly wait until my next post to fill you in.

“One small step…”

Knowing that I will never be pregnant, no matter how hard I storm the gates of heaven, is something that has taken me many years to accept. I still have my off days. Some days are smiles, some days are tears, some days are calm, and some days are far from it. Some days, the best days, are beautiful opportunities for growth.

It might not look like much, but it was a milestone for me today when I created my adoption board on Pinterest. “Adoption is the new pregnant” is my title, after a shirt I saw on the site. It may be a little overly cheery for those facing the sharp pain of infertility (including me on my off days), but I think I am finally ready to embrace this line. Pretty sure. I hope.

While attempting to focus on the positive and scouring Pinterest for adoption pins, I found the blog of this amazing woman. She’s in her 20s, like me, and she’s been down the same road. Like me, she has known since her teens that she could never be pregnant. I’ve only read some of her blog so far, and I find it to be well beyond inspirational. It was exactly what God needed me to see at this point in my life. Thank you, Mrs. O’Brien, if you ever read this. And thank you, God, for helping me and James along this road.