Sunday, December 27, 2009

Checking in, more thoughts, and thanks for the kindness of "strangers"

Howdy, folks!

I pray you all had a blessed, Merry Christmas!

We got through Christmas and fared a little better than I had expected to. The rest of my birthday ended up going ok-we had a great dinner with my sister-in-law and her hubby, my parents and my brother and that was great fun. We spent Christmas Eve with our church family and Christmas day with my family. Both occasions were also a blessing to us. My sister-in-law was in town briefly, which was a great source of joy for us (the visit, not the brevity ;) ) Their visits are always too short and too far apart.

All independently of each other (and most all without reading this blog), the friends I mentioned from the party in my last post all reached out to us, which was of great comfort to our hearts.

On Monday a package arrived from one of the party guests-the only guest we did not know, as he was the relatively new boyfriend of one of the party goers. We'd not yet had a chance to meet him until the party. We met him and liked him very much but after the party, he was still relatively a stranger since we'd only interacted with him a couple of hours.

When the package came, I thought it was a Christmas ornament for my hubby. (They bonded over this shotgun toting Santa ornament from our game that night). The package was addressed to DH so I gave it to him and went on my merry way. A few minutes later, he came to me with a box and a letter. The letter was a incredibly touching, beautiful letter from said friend about us and our Snowflakes.

Inside the box was this:

One of the hardest parts of a miscarriage or early pregnancy loss is the feeling that the world around you doesn't really know/care/or is affected by the fact that your children existed. They're gone before anyone ever got to know them. There is no funeral or headstone. There are no memories of them. They're just here one day, and gone the next. And life just goes on around you. It's a hard place to be in. Some days I just want to stand up and scream, "my babies were here. I love them. They MATTER!"

I don't think James will ever know what a gift he gave us in acknowledging and remembering our babies with us--all of whom were lost before he even met us. We had given our moms snowflake pendants like mine a couple of years ago for mother's day. Mine was exposed to something that ruined it, and we've not been able to replace it. So on top of the sweet sentiment, it was also a gift to have a pendent again. It honors me when I see our moms wearing theirs...and I feel like I'm honoring our babies when I wear mine. I'd felt quite naked without one, so I am grateful to have one again. So, dear James, thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

This is a season of both joy and mourning for us. We're missing our babies terribly. I miss the girls something fierce, and the loss associated with our newest two babies is something altogether different, and dealing with both simultaneously is difficult.

Due to some fraud committed by the company who used to insure my hubby's employer, and some of that company's clients, we now have a couple thousand dollars in medical bills (from things from this past summer which were supposed to be paid by the insurance)...which has created a stress from the money standpoint but moreover, it's postponed another transfer indefinitely because we don't have the money to pay these bills and pay for another transfer. Considering another transfer is also a couple of thousand dollars, the prospects of any attempts in the near future is bleak. It kills me that not only have we waited 6 years already (January marks the anniversary of when we first started trying), but now we will wait longer through no fault of our own, because someone else (well, lots of someone elses) was unethical. So, I'm discouraged. Waiting is tough.

We're also mourning with friends who both lost their babies in December, too. One is another Snowflake Mommy, Heather, who lost her two babies after their first transfer. And the other is my sweet friend Grace, who lost her babies this week, and who also lost a child last year shortly after we lost our girls. Both friends are very dear to me and my heart is heavy for them. I solicit your prayers on their behalf as they walk in the valley of grief, too.

Dear friends of ours are leaving our church, which distresses me for a variety of reasons, which I won't share here. But it's left me struggling with some questions about the way God directs a family and it's left me heartbroken for one member of the couple, whose heart is torn over their departure.

But, we also have cause for great rejoicing. Over Christmas, one of our very dear friends got engaged (to James, the snowflake giver mentioned above!), and she and her fiancee have asked both DH and I to be in the wedding...which will be in 12 weeks! We are over the moon for them. They have both waited a long time for the "right one" and God has blessed their patience with each other.

Another friend from the same circle is also getting married, the weekend before friend #1. They're a great couple, too. DH is also in that wedding and we are delighted to celebrate with them, as well!

The week prior to that is the main fundraiser for my employer (a fundraiser which I coordinate) and the weekend before that is my mentor's wedding, for which I'm doing the food! So there is a lot of activity and business and cause for celebration. I'm grateful for that--it gives me some distraction. And my heart is full for my friends experiencing such joy in their lives!

Our genetic parents are coming to town this week. We are overjoyed to see them again but doubly excited because they get to meet some of our family members. There's still some chance that they might not come, so we're still praying that they do and then we'll make some fun plans!

I need to scoot off of here and do our end-of-the-year accounting but I did want to check in and update. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Birthday

Today is my birthday. Birthdays were always a big deal in my family and I've always really enjoyed it. I enjoy getting to spend time with my family, to get a break from cooking and dishes, and getting to choose the activities of the day. So, I usually look forward to it.

This year though, the fact that it's my birthday hit me hard. I'm 29 today. That's not old in the grand scheme of life, but it's old in terms of childbearing. I always wanted to be a young mom. I got married at 22. I figured we'd have our first child by 24, another at 26, another at 28 and finish with a 4th at 30. That was my plan. Oh, how different are God's ways.

I guess the realization of the fact that I won't even have 1 child by the time I'm 30 has me down today. Well, that's not true. I have 12 children, and I'm not even 30 years old ;) But, I haven't gotten to meet any of them and won't have had the chance to by that time.

I know 30 is such an arbitrary number. But, I know at that age is when my reproductive system starts to decline. We still have 4 more transfers in front of us. The fact that I could still be doing this when I'm 35-40 (when risks increase for me and baby) scares me. The fact that my nieces and nephews continue to grow older (the oldest is driving!) and thus farther in age from what our kids will be makes me sad because I don't think our kids will really get that cousin experience. Their cousins will be more like Aunts and Uncles to them. The fact that our friends' children all are getting older too so I won't get the joy of our kids growing up together makes me sad, too.

My grandma died at this time of year 12 years ago, so I'm always missing her. The loss of my grandma was one of the single most impacting things that's ever happened. At least my babies are hanging out with opportunity I still miss every day.

I wish I had something profound to say about all this but I don't. I'm just sad tonight. I miss my babies so terribly. I wish I could understand why God chose this path for us. I wish I knew when and if it would ever change. I try not to indulge the "it's not fair" thoughts and the "why" questions...I just can't even go there in my mind and I just try to stay focused on the thoughts I shared already about being content with God as the ultimate answer to every question. But, my heart still aches, even if I can keep my mind arrested.

I did have a really great weekend. We went out of town to help my in-laws pack up to move and we stayed at their house overnight (it's a vacation home) after they left to come home. The house is as nice as any hotel I've ever been in so it felt like we were on a nice little getaway. We went out for a nice supper thanks to the generosity of my in-laws. We took a walk in the mountain air. We went to visit a fantastic Christmas lights display. We just enjoyed each other's company. It was really the first alone time we'd had since "the" phone call last weekend, so it was really nice to just be together.

This morning we were back at church for a wonderful morning. Then we had a terrific lunch with Skyler's family and another family from church where we gave the kids their gifts. It was the first year in a long time that seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child wasn't too painful to enjoy and appreciate. We then traveled up to my in-laws home here in town, where we enjoyed a Christmas celebration with DH's side of the family. It's the first time all of us have been together in a long time, so that was fun. DH's sister and I are close so I'm always grateful for the time I get with her. So we really did have a wonderful, blessed weekend and I am trying to be mindful of that in spite of my sadness.

But, I also know that my God is bigger than my heart, and my mind and my emotions and my sadness. I guess I'm just bringing this to His feet; I really don't even know what else to do with it, or how to process it.

Anyway, those are my to you all. And thank you in advance for any prayers you might get a chance to offer on my behalf!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

When the Answer is "No"

I started off the weekend with a facebook status that said "Jennifer has homemade vegetable red sauce in the crock pot for tomorrow's 5 cheese lasagna. More cookie baking tomorrow and then fun with friends tomorrow night! Church Christmas dinner on will be a blessed weekend!"

When the phone call came yesterday, I was so crushed and all thoughts of blessing when out the window.

Yesterday was hard. The phone call came in the middle of getting ready for a party I was throwing. The party came and went, and though all in attendance knew of our loss, not a single person uttered a word of sympathy or condolence or asked how we were doing or even mentioned it. I don't think any of those people read this blog so this isn't to call anyone out or to shame's just to say, if you know your friends are grieving, say something. Anything. Silence is the worst choice of all. So, last night really hurt. (ETA: This is not a plug for comments or emails--I meant in a social situation-if you're in the same room as someone you know is experiencing grief, please take a moment to hug them, weep with them, squeeze their hand, say "I'm sorry," etc. We don't expect you to know what to say...we just need to know you care).

The calls and messages did pour in from other friends and family (including so many of you-thank you!) but because we were in the middle of a party, we couldn't really talk to anyone.

But, as much as the actions of these people hurt, I really think that God redeemed it. I’m a person who processes things by talking (or in this case, writing) through them. By the time the party was over last night, DH and I hadn’t had but a few minutes alone, no one had asked us about it, and when they all went home, we were just too exhausted to talk or think. I’d made up my mind that I was determined to be mad at God, and I’d wake up and deal with it in the morning.

Then we got to church. I wish I could describe to you how much I love our church. I intended to go in the back, sit, stone-faced, teach my lesson and slip back out. Ha! Our church loves you whether you want it or not! We received so much love, and so many hugs, and so much support. And that’s when the tears started. I sobbed my way through the music. A good friend took my class so I sat through the sermon (I normally teach children's church during the preaching) and the sermon “happened” to be on my favorite passage in scripture (John 1). I was convicted through the sermon, and then I bawled my way through Sunday School and then we were surrounded by more hugs. We are so remarkably blessed by the great love shown in this local body of Christ. This church does that part of the Body's work better than any church I've ever seen. And we are so humbled to be recipients of that love, and partakers in this church.

And I got to process through those suspended thoughts in a new context, in an environment of support, and in the light of Truth. So, from that perspective, I am glad I wasn't able to process more last night.

When I say mad, what I mean is I felt a combination of anger, forsakenness, self-pity, confusion, more anger, impatience, grief, sorrow, more anger and overwhelming sadness. And I just wanted to throw my little temper tantrum and tell God I was sick and tired of waiting for His timing, that His answers don’t make sense, that He let me down and that while He promised He wouldn’t give us more than we can handle, I felt like this time, He actually did.

Today, I still said those things, but today they were as a confession of a daughter to her Father, out of an attitude of utter helplessness and desperation for rescue. Last night they were of an entitled citizen whose “rights” had been infringed upon. What a difference a day can make!

In one of His points this morning, my Pastor connected verse 5, “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it,” with Matthew 5:16: “Let your Light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” I can’t explain it so eloquently as he did, but the net point was “A, therefore B.” I’ve always understood the passages independent of each other, but the connection today struck a chord with me.

And it dawned on me. In the modern context, a light is usually a light bulb. The light bulb doesn’t get to choose when its turned on, the wattage at which it’s turned on, or the sphere which it illuminates. Its job is to light. It serves at the behest of its master. I abdicated my “right” to turn off and hide under a bushel when I gave my life to Christ. My job is to serve as a vessel of His grace and mercy and love. Even when my feelings want to demand otherwise, I must choose to exhibit Christ in all that I do, including my mourning. There's little room for temper tantrums in that.

Skyler, the two-year-old love of my life who I mentioned a few posts ago, is at the stage where his favorite question is “Why?” As much as I adore that baby boy, I tire easily of that question. When the question is asked as the follow up to an instruction, I find myself, more often than not, answering, “Because I said so.”

I have a lot of “whys” with regard to this loss, our last loss, and our infertility journey in general. And yet as I said it again to Skyler tonight, it dawned on me that the answer is always the same to my questions: Because He said so. Because the Great I AM said so. When He is the answer, the questions suddenly become irrelevant.

And do you know what? That’s remarkably freeing. Not in a “check your logic at the door” sort of way but in a “Someone who knows more than I is in charge, and I don’t need to know all the details because I’m safe in His care” sort of way. Scripture tells us that God’s ways are not our ways. And His thoughts are not our thoughts. His mind is not our mind. But darned it all if I don’t try to make sense of things in my insufficient ways, thoughts and mind, anyway. How futile! And how exhausting!

Pastor said something in Sunday school: in the darkness of our grief even when things don’t make sense, the truth of God’s character remains the same. Praise God! His steadfastness and trustworthiness and faithfulness are not dependent on whether or not I feel them or want to acknowledge them.

No other answer matters. Because He said so. It’s not only freeing, it’s convicting.

Then, as Pastor continued and preached about the miracle of God made flesh, I found Him asking me “Is that enough?” Here we are in the season focused on the precious Gift of the Christ Child, and my selfish heart is asking for more. How much I still have to learn.

I do believe that that God gives us desires of our hearts and there is a way to reconcile that with the Sufficiency of His Person. There is a Way Because He is both. I can’t quite reconcile it all in my head just yet to know how to hold on to one and rest in the other, but I know that He knows those details.

So, that’s where I’m at. I still am a mother who just lost two more children, and I grieve. But my grief doesn’t feel overwhelming, endless, or purposeless.

These are some questions we’ve received several times that I thought I’d attempt to answer.

How is this different than last time?
In a transfer, the babies are put in my uterus, but they still have to “grab on” the good old fashioned way. That’s still entirely up to God and nature. In our last transfer, they did grab on, we got pregnant, and then we miscarried. In this case, they just never implanted. We don’t now specifically when they were lost, and we were never officially pregnant in this case. The end result is the same-our babies are in Heaven and not with us. But functionally, the process is very different. For one, there is no trauma to my body like there is with a miscarriage. For that I’m grateful. In one sense, that makes it much easier. The memories I have of the night I lost the girls still haunt me to this day. I have and will have nothing like that with this loss. On the other hand, that makes it tough, too. The babies just left me one day, and we have no idea when. That ambiguity is a little odd.

Are the results conclusive?
Yes. This news was confirmed through a blood test to check for HCG, the pregnancy hormone. My blood was drawn at a late enough point in the process that even if the babies had implanted at the last possible second in the biological “window” of possible implantation time, there would still be measurable levels of HCG by now. The fact that there are none, means there never will be any, with regard to this transfer and those babies.

When will we try again?
We don’t know. We need to process this grief. We need to “detox” my body of all the hormones and let it return to normal. We need to save the money again for another transfer. Then we need to gear up another cycle of hormones in preparation. So, not for several months, at least. We still have 8 babies in frozen storage. And we are committed to giving every single one of them a chance at life. So we must do this again, at least several more times. We just don’t know when the next time will be.

We had our Christmas dinner at church tonight. It was wonderful. I spearheaded cooking dinner for 100 people and worked with my DH and some amazing ladies to get it done. We enjoyed wonderful fellowship. And sweet Skyler gave me all the hugs and snuggles I could want…the best medicine in the world. But, now, I’m exhausted. Tears, trauma and tasks will do that to you! My sweet DH has been kind enough to wait up with me while I finished this so I should wrap it up and go to bed.

Please pray for us. I feel strong and composed tonight, but I also know my flesh and will are weak. Please pray for His strength, composure and peace. Please pray for rest for us. Please pray as we continue to process and mourn. I know the coming days will be difficult.

And please join us in thanking God for His wonderful mercies: Christ has come and will come again, He loves us patiently, our babies are in Heaven with Him, He quiets the questions of our hearts, and He has given us remarkable family and friends. Despite my mid-weekend faltering, the weekend was, and we indeed are, blessed!

Love to you all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Another "no"

God's answer was "no," again. We have two more children in Heaven. I'm devastated, but mostly right now, I'm and angry. Honestly, right now I don't think His answer will ever be "yes." And that's really hard to deal with.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pray for a Christmas Miracle

Please pray for a Christmas miracle. My blood test is not too far off and all the home tests are still testing negative. I know God is not a God of numbers and tests and that He can overcome any obstacle if that is His will for us and our babies. But I confess, my heart is struggling with fear, and my faith and hope are small right now. I'm just so afraid God's answer is going to be "no" again this time and my heart is so weary of that answer. Please pray that He would see fit to let us meet these little babies here on earth. I know if that's not His plan that ultimately, it's best. But I just really wish that us getting to meet them here IS His best. We'll know for sure, soon enough. God, grow my faith and trust!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another update about nothing

Still no news...still too soon for any.

I did end up getting sick but the doctor was able to get me in right away today and get me on some antibiotics. Unfortunately there's nothing I can take for the symptoms, but killing the germs and infection mean that it should only last a few days.

We had a nice weekend. On Friday night, we went to see a local community college production of the Broadway version of A Christmas Carol. It was really excellent. Dickens was masterful, to be sure, but stage productions of his work can be so dry and well...Dickensish. Setting his writing to music was pure genius. The gal we went to see is from our church. She's a high school student and she is quite literally, the single most gifted person I have ever met. And what makes it remarkable is that she doesn't even realize it. She's so humble and when she talks about love and God and purity and compassion and faith, its without design or artifice. It's truly a blessing to behold. And such a good reminder. Faith like a child. She isn't really a child. But she has the artless faith of one. Thank you God, for your children, and the way we see You each day in them.

We ended up sleeping most of Saturday-Todd trying to get well and me trying to stay well. We had church on Sunday and decorated the Sanctuary after wards for Christmas and then konked out for most of the rest of the day, again.

On Sunday I taught the Christmas story to the kids in my class. I had a manger to show them and used the language "box of hay" to describe it. A little while later we played a game with a gift package and the word "JESUS" was written on a card placed inside. When we opened the package, I asked the boys why His name was inside the present. They thought for a minute and one said "because Jesus was born in a box?" Such sweet innocence. I got a good giggle out of that one.

Today, I just hung out at home, mostly in bed or in the recliner. Until anyone tells me otherwise, I'm resting for 3 right now ;) I'm needing to catch up on work and phone calls (BFF I still owe you a call!) and household duties.

I did make a couple of soups this weekend that turned out pretty tasty....for lack of much else to write about, I'll post them here:

Taco Soup:
1 lb ground beef
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 white onion, diced
2 TBS garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, any color, diced
8 green onions (green part only), diced
2 small tomatoes, chunked
1 can of tomato sauce (same size can as beans)
2 packages Taco Seasoning (I used Lawrys)
1 TBS ranch seasoning

Sautee beef with white onions, garlic and bell pepper. When browned, add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 35-45 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream, cheddar cheese and crushed tortilla chips (optional).

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder
6 large red potatoes, skins on, cubed
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
5 cups warm water
4 cubes chicken bouillon
1.5 cups broccoli (I used frozen)
1.5 cups cauliflower (I used frozen)
8 oz ham, cooked and diced
2-3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 TBS butter

Sautee onions and butter in a stock pot. Add carrots, potatoes, and bouillon dissolved in water. Bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer until potatoes and carrots are partially tender. Add celery and, if using fresh broccoli and cauliflower, these as well. Continue simmering until all veggies are tender. (If using frozen broccoli and cauliflower, just add them in with enough time to cook and tenderize). Pour 1/2 to 3/4 of soup (depending on personal preference) in to a food processor and pulse til chunky, like a chowder texture. Add back into pot and remaining soup mixture. Add cheese and ham and continue heating til cheese is melted and ham is heated.

This made enough for an army and one bowl was very hearty and filling. I've made this before without the ham and it's been good too. Tonight we wanted a little protein since it was all I was cooking, so I added the ham.

That's all for tonight. Wish I had more to me, I'm sure I'm far more impatient than you are!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Nothing yet

It's ENTIRELY too soon to have results yet. But that didn't stop me from taking a Home Pregnancy Test yesterday. Of course, it was negative. It would be nigh on impossible to get a positive result, even if I AM pregnant. But I did it anyway. What can I say, patience is not my virtue?

People keep asking me how I'm feeling. I feel fine. Honestly, once the valium wore off and I recovered from my sleep deprivation, I went back to feeling normal. In truth, I wish I was feeling different, because that would be an indicator that something's happening...but again, it's just much too early for that. Though we know when the babies went in, we still have to wait, just like people who get pregnant the good old fashioned way. Have I mentioned how much I love waiting (sarcasm!)

So there you have it. A big fat update about nothing! :) I hope you all are well.

I guess one small request: DH is sick with an inner ear infection. He's a little on the stubborn side and it took him a while to go to the doctor. So I've been trying to disinfect the house from the germs he "shared" in those days before the doctor put him on an antibiotic Please pray that he gets well soon, and that babies and I stay well! Thanks!

Off to make some more Christmas cookies and hang out with DH!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Transfer Update

Thanks so much for all your prayers, well wishes and encouragement as we approached and completed our transfer today. Thanks also for the calls and texts to follow up on how things went. Between getting just a few hours of sleep last night and having to be on Valium today, I was so beyond exhausted that I fell asleep on the car ride home and then went immediately to bed when we arrived here. I didn't even have the energy to send out an update or answer any of the calls or texts. Thanks for your patience :)

The first thing we learned when we got there was the results of the transfer. In one particular grading scale, embryos are graded on 3 points: a scale of 1 to 5 grades how well/much they're expanded (5 is high, 1 is low). A grading of A-C (A being best) grades the quality of the inner cell mass. A second grading of A-C grades the quality of the outer ring, called the trophectoderm. The trophectoderm is what becomes the placenta. So, the best rating an embryo can get is 5AA. After that 5AB, 5BB, 4AA, 4AB and 4BB are all considered very good. The doctor told us that we had one 5BB and one 4BB. This was the evaluation they gave them after the thawing process today. Both survived just perfectly. The embryos were rated years ago by the Genetic Parents' Embryologist who created and froze them. The best rating we had from them was right in that same range so that means the Embryos didn't deteriorate much, if at all, during the freezing/storage/thaw process! Hooray! We are grateful to God for protecting our babies through the freezing and thawing process.

The one on the left is the 4 and the other is the right. The bumpy area is the cell mass. The "shell" is the soon-to-be placenta. The excess area is just fluid. If the babies grow as they should, the cells on the left will eventually fill out the whole ring just like the one on the right, and then they'll "hatch" and then they can grab on to the uterus and implant. Isn't it amazing how complex they are at such an early age? God is truly a God of wonder and miracles and intricacies. I don't know how anyone can look at something like this and think that we were created by chance or accident.

The whole thing is guided by ultrasound. They use a catheter to insert the embryos. It's so cool to watch and then suddenly there's this "puff" of white that appears on the screen like a firework or a starburst. We didn't really get to see that last time because the doctor didn't really communicate with us and didn't make us seeing the screen a priority. I'd heard it described before but it was really cool to see.

Forgive the labeling of the bladder-I hope it's not crass. But I wanted to explain the huge black mass! The full bladder pushes the intestine back and the uterus down and then it's clear so they can see through it (think trying to look through a blown up balloon verses an uninflated one).

The white dot is not ACTUALLY the embryos but it's the puff of air they're surrounded in. Without the air, you wouldn't be able to see them at all because they're too small.

Overall this procedure was so much more peaceful than the other. I came out of it feeling so different. I felt like the doctor really communicated with me and I knew a lot more about what was going on. I was more relaxed and I felt physically better.

The doctor said that the embryos looked really good. He said that the transfer itself went "perfectly." It took less than 10 minutes-he got in easily and to the exact right spot with no trouble. This was especially impressive because normally the doctor will do a "practice round." This doctor didn't think it was necessary since I'd had a practice round before the last transfer as well as the transfer itself, in addition to all sorts of ultrasounds, so he thought he had enough data. He just went straight in and out, with no fumbling around or repositioning. He was so skilled--it really made me appreciate that God directed us out of the the care of the previous doctors and allowed such a skilled one to care for us and our babies. The doctor was even commenting to his nurse and the Embryologist about how perfectly everything went--it sounded almost like this was better than even things normally go for folks. He said that he thinks we have a "very good chance of getting pregnant."

After it was over we went to this charming 87 year old Mexican restaurant in this old farm house. It looks like a cross between a Tea Room and a Cantina. We love to go there when we can. Todd said we're teaching the kids early to love Mexican Food (DH LOVES Mexican seriously LOVES it. I like it a lot too, but he has an inordinate attachment to it, as does his dad).

This is our first family picture with all 4 of us. We forgot to get one at the doctor's office, but the fact that it's outside a Mexican restaurant amuses me so much...especially if you know our family!

My parents live in Tucson so they joined us for lunch. My brother surprised us by driving down (from Phoenix), too.

So now, I am officially PUPO--Pregnant until Proven Otherwise. I'm taking it easy today tomorrow and then I'm back to my normal routine.

Thanks so much for praying us through this! All of our requests were answered, save for knowing the actual results, which we'll have to wait some time for. We are so humbled and grateful that everything went so well, and for your friendship and love and encouragement and support!

Grace and peace dear friends,

Todd and Jen + 2 :)

Sleepless Night

Tonight is a sleepless night...hopefully one of many to come--(so long as they're caused by sweet baby cries ;) )

Our transfer is in about 8 hours. All day long I've been at peace. But now, my mind, heart and body are racing.

We lit the Candle of Anticipation this week for Advent. I've really been meditating on that this week. Our hearts are full of so much expectation. And that expression of hope, and joy, is only rightfully directed toward our Coming King. Our desire for them is only a fraction of what ought be our desire for Him. The stirring in my heart is a constant reminder of that. Through my longing for my children, the Holy Spirit reminds and exhorts, "Do you long for me, Daughter?" By God's grace and through His Spirit, I do. And yet I need the reminder and the redirection of my focus, for I am weak and easily distracted. I praise God for His mercy in binding my heart to Him and His.

Last night was as close to perfect as it could have been. I worked in the morning. Then I headed toward the gym and got in the pool--I'd forgotten how much I loved doing that! I cut my finger pretty severely on Thanksgiving and have 11 stitches. I still can't get my hand wet so I had to gimp around the pool with the one hand wrapped in a grocery sack and suspended up in the air--I giggled at the sight I must have been. I enjoyed the jacuzzi next, and then went and got my hair cut and styled (SO relaxing, and I like my sassy new 'do). Then DH and I had a wonderful dinner of salad, cheese and chocolate fondues at the M.elting P.ot...yumm! We hit the jacuzzi again on the way home and then drove through this little street nearby that gets all decked out for Christmas. We came home, snuggled with the puppies. We prayed and then I fell asleep as DH read to me Psalms about God's love and mercy and protection and provision and administration of His will. I was so perfectly relaxed, which was such a wonderful answer to prayer. Between the pain I've felt from my finger, and the yucky way my meds have made me feel, I was stressed about being able to relax (ironic, isn't it?) But God answered that prayer so generously!

Now, 5 hours later, I'm awake. I've been praying for our babies, and for my sweet husband. I am already, so, so blessed. I need to remember that. I have the most amazing husband in the world. And if God desires for us to remain just a family of 2 on this earth, that will be enough for me. Dwelling with my sweet husband within the Will of God is far beyond living outside it with a whole brood of children. May the desires of our hearts be answered only so long as they reside in within the desires of His heart!

On that note about my wonderful hubby, I thank God for another year in my hubby's life and another year of hubby being in my life. We celebrated his birthday on Thanksgiving day. It was his birthday, but those of us in his life are the ones who received the gifts. Happy birthday, sweet Hunny of mine!

I am going to go and attempt to get a little more sleep. Thank you all for checking on us and for the many emails we've received. My bum finger has prevented updates for the past week as typing still hurts and I do it as little as possible (plus, I'm really funny and say goofy things when on mass doses of Vicodin-not that my family knows that from Thanksgiving day or anything ;) ).

We instructed the clinic to thaw one vial of two embryos.

If you are so inclined to join us in prayer and interceded on our behalf, these are our specific requests for the transfer:

•That both embryos survive the thaw
•That if one or both embryos do(es) not survive, the death(s) would be evident beyond a shadow of a doubt, eliminating any "gray areas" and guess work
•That the embryologist and doctor would respect our wishes to transfer any embryos with *any* living cells and not discard what they might think is "questionable" (hence the previous prayer request). Our doctor has not given us any indication to believe that he will not respect our wishes, but the contracts are a bit ambiguous and we know other doctors in other clinics have exploited "gray area" situations.
•That the transfer would go smoothly for me and for the babies and the doctor would be able to clearly see and access everything he needs to
•That the transfer would be successful: we pray specifically that all embryos transferred will burrow in deeply in the correct place, and that we would become pregnant, carry a full-term healthy pregnancy and give birth to (a) healthy child(ren).
•That the physical challenges I am is experiencing from the barrage of medications would lessen
•That we would be able to travel safely to and from Tucson (about 2 hours from here) on Wednesday
•That God would protect us from fear and grant us acceptance of His will, regardless of the outcome of the transfer. We have longed for children for so many years, that between that and last year's miscarriage, it's difficult not to get carried away sometimes with fear and worry.

Thank you very much! We rest in the knowledge that the lives of our babies are in the hands of their Creator, and that He loves them more than we ever could.

I'll leave you with my prayers for God's richest of blessings in your lives and for our one picture from last night. I think we now have half a dozen pictures like this, where the only thing that changes is our clothing but nevertheless, I like it a lot!

Nighty night! Or...good morning!