Our Journey Through Infertility…Conclusion

Hi there!  If you are joining us for the first time today, you may want to go back to the beginning of the story part one is here , part two is here , part three is herepart 4 is here. and part 5 is here. As promised …here is the conclusion…

This time, we didn’t wait to tell our friends and family. I figured, most of them have walked most of this journey with us, might as well have them pray and walk along this stage with us too. So my younger sisters helped me a prepare a dinner for some good friends and we surprised them with the news…it was so. much. fun.

I don’t remember when we settled on the name Lucas, but I do remember speaking to him long before I could feel him moving around…I had minimal morning sickness and because I was still on Sabbatical I wasn’t overly tired because I could sleep whenever I wanted. But soon my sabbatical would be over and I would be returning to ministry and the school in the midst of a lot of upheaval…but I knew it would be short term for me because of mat leave, so the stress of it didn’t really effect me thankfully. The summer weeks flew by.

We had been invited to the wedding of some former students and now very good friends and had made plans to travel to Florida at the end of the summer…it would be just past the 12 week mark.

I was at work the day I was supposed to begin packing and I noticed some spotting…there was a moment when I felt all the fear and torment from the past 5 years rush up and try to overwhelm me…I rushed home without telling Chris, and ran around the house tearing open drawers and cupboards.

I had to find it…please don’t laugh, or roll your eyes, or get overly analytical.  I was looking for oil. It was this “anointing oil” a guest speaker had given out at a church meeting…I had scoffed at the time, thinking that if it’s in the bible, it doesn’t matter if you use olive oil, or coconut oil to pray with… I had not been convinced it was “special” , but “just in case I’m wrong” I hadn’t thrown it away…(BTW, I’m Still not sure it was special) but “just in case” I had dumped it all over myself and started thanking God that my joy would be full. FULL. FULL.

I was sitting on the floor in the room with the crib, covered in oil, when Chris got home later that evening.  BUT the spotting had stopped.  (I’ll leave it up to you what to believe, I’m just relaying my desperation in that moment to try anything…and I do give God credit for his grace throughout the journey, and for my children, and do believe I was healed that day, or earlier).

We called off the trip just to be safe…but after that day, there were no other problems in the pregnancy. The fall and winter came and went, I got bigger and bigger and happier and happier.

I started Mat leave about a month before my due date, and the next day my friends threw us a gigantic shower. Everything we needed and more was provided…we put everything away that night and I packed my hospital bag – well most of it…and the next day…He, the baby that is, decided to arrive early. Lucas would be our only baby to arrive 3 weeks early, the only one to be early period. I can’t begin to convey the joy in the hospital room…in fact the waiting room was full of people who had to be there when he arrived. Thankfully, it was in the afternoon. It was like a party hit the hospital. (Remember the friend who had called me while I was driving in Alberta? Her baby had been born the day before, in the same hospital, she was surprised to see us, because we were so early, but she just joined in the party) It was so much fun – after the grueling work of delivery that is!


After Lucas, 2 more boys arrived within four years…and I wasn’t sure if God thought he was just being funny – I mean 3 boys? I have 4 sisters, no brothers…”what does one do with boys?”… and then 6 years later our baby girl. Each of the rest of the babies took. their. blessed. time in arriving. Believe you me. But after each one, I knew, my joy was full. My cup ran over in fact. His grace is sufficient, and his love indescribable. But His joy, His joy is complete.

151017_Heaslip_048 (2)An interesting little note… in 2014 we were blessed to have Isabelle join our family. She is from China  and she is staying with us for all of high school. We love her parents like family, and she is definitely family, she fits right in, you’d never know she was an only child. She was born the year we lost Maggie. Isabelle makes every day more joyful for me, and our family. I had always said that I hoped to adopt a little girl from Asia someday, and maybe we will still…but maybe not. But I do know, that Isabelle was destined to be a part of our family from that day, and our hearts were being prepared to share life with her today, way back then. I thank God for her (and her family) everyday. Truly, our joy is full.

151017_Heaslip_024 (2)Thank you for sharing in this journey with me. Thank you for your encouragement and kind words. Someone had asked me why I decided to share now, and honestly, because I was finally ready. I want to keep writing, and I know writing through the hard stuff  is part of the process. I hope you’ll come back, I hope you’ll share some of your stories with me. I love hearing from you and thank you for your friendship and love,

xoxo

Tammara

 

 

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Our Journey through Infertility Part 3

Hi there, if you are joining us for the first time today, you may want to go back to the beginning of the story part one is here and part two is here.

As a worship leader, I couldn’t do my job.

I don’t know how to explain this…I couldn’t sing. I literally could not get a melody out. For about 6 weeks… I do not know why…physically, psychologically? Yes, I was confused, hurt and angry with God… I became obsessed with finding out why? Why us? Why me? What had I done? What had I not done? Was I not supposed to have children? Take this cup from me…

It felt like the loving God who had never let me down like this, was suddenly absent. Nothing. No answers, no peace. My journey to embracing grace, had begun that day…

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Then, on a Sunday morning in December, I remember, we crept into the church. It was the Christmas season, so part way through the opening songs we found a seat in the back.– I had started arriving late, because I couldn’t sing, and I couldn’t just stand there and pretend everything was OK, and I was trying to avoid the uncomfortable conversations.

Everyone else was happy and I was definitely not…

Then the band started playing this song which was not a Christmas song and…I knew for a fact, had been kind of “banned” because the pastor had found it theologically questionable (and even I didn’t really “get it” I mean it was catchy, but it was “me” focused and had this chorus that didn’t jive with the verses…I digress)

… and yet…

The band, the choir, my friends and co-workers…my people… began to sing it quietly…

“I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my shame…”

I almost walked out right then… but instead hung my head and let it wash over me. It crescendos you know… and I heard that sweet, quiet voice of the Holy Spirit tell me to try and sing… and I tried…

Choking and squawking I spoke-sang those words through tears until my voice rang out clear…

“Though the sorrows may last for the night, joy comes in the morning!”

and that chorus that never made sense to me…

“Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes, Yes Lord” became my cry, to walk in the awareness of trading that sorrow…would be a willful act, everyday.

Once my voice was free, my journey toward healing and wholeness had begun.

But that’s another story, it would be another 3 years before I held my son…

I’ll share how we got there, next week.

Our Journey through Infertility…Part Two

Hi there, if you didn’t read Part 1 of this series, it may be worth your time to go back and get the beginning of the story before reading here today…My hope and prayer is that this post is encouraging to someone today.

Maggie  

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The dark clouds had begun to gather…

I had taken the day off to set up for the party but in the afternoon I felt off. Then I felt nauseous, I had not had much morning sickness so far. I tried laying down, but couldn’t sleep. I was restless, I had too much to do…

Then there was cramping, and eventually I started spotting, nothing big, just dark little spots. We went to the ER. The doctor said, it could be nothing, but I could also be losing the baby. There was nothing to be done. Go home and rest. Put your feet up. Wait and see.

The phone kept ringing. We ignored it. How to explain something we hadn’t told anyone about yet? The cramping and bleeding got worse. We prayed, we claimed life, we claimed every promise we’d ever heard. We pulled out every “faith” resource we had. I called a my friend and co-worker, one of the few I had already told. Her mom was a midwife by training and a Christian. She sat with us, and prayed with us… once, after I’d been in the washroom, she looked in the toilet and told me not to look…but that I should go back to the hospital. We waited hours to have an ultrasound, holding out hope, but not sure what to pray… when the doctor confirmed our worst fears, this loud guttural moaning noise filled the room the the hospital bed was shaking, and I eventually realized it was me…

Like that, the dream was shattered. Our baby was lost…my God, in the toilet. Gone. No solace. No light. Nothing. My womb was empty, and so was my heart. I couldn’t breathe.

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I don’t remember much about the next couple days… I remember us holding each other on the futon in the living room. Counting the flowers in the wallpaper border…and of never feeling warm enough. Standing in a hot shower and not feeling clean. I remember my friend and her mom’s tear stained faces, even though they had already guessed the truth, they held back the tears until after the hospital. I remember trying to apologize for ruining his birthday, and choking on the words. Somehow we cancelled the party. That friend made all the calls, and gave some lame excuse about a family emergency. After that, I remember the phone kept ringing, over and over. Someone, another friend, had a hunch that something was very wrong, and wouldn’t give up until she’d talked to one of us. She cried too.  Then the terrible silence of a house ready for a party, with no guests and no special news.

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We shared our sad news over that week…It was next to impossible to see our own pain reflected in the eyes of those we loved. The outpouring of love from our community was overwhelming. Meals and cards and flowers started arriving. I have kept every card…the only evidence that there really was life.

. My pastors gave me time off. They spoke with us about how to mourn, how to let go.  I just remember wondering, “How do you let go of someone you never got to hold?” How do you ever feel safe to dream again? What’s the point? The unfinished pregnancy journal was mocking me from the table…

I took the time to grieve. Words that could only be spoken in quiet places, where an empty and broken heart was safe. Saying goodbye to the one who occupied my dreams that fall and facing the reality that now I was a woman with that story, whether I wanted to be or not.

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Eventually, we had to go into the world, our world, again…and the barrage of well-meaning but stupid words came at us. “You weren’t ready to be parents anyway”…”Maybe there was something horribly wrong and Nature/God took care of it so you wouldn’t have to”… “well obviously you weren’t praying enough”, “maybe there’s some sin you don’t know about, or aren’t admitting”…“you’ll have another”(like this one didn’t count)… Religion has a way of destroying the silence that real faith grows in. I was walking through an emotional mine field, daily. But there was one truth that I hung onto with all my heart.

“This loss, this pain, this grief…it will not own me”

I knew I had to feel the full force of everything. I could not hide from it or run, but I must walk through it, and win…no matter what.” I had to hold onto the truth that God was the same, even if my circumstances had changed. That He still…that he always loved me. I didn’t realize then that the journey toward healing and fulfillment had only begun.

 

 

Our Journey through Infertility…Part One

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We got married in the late nineties, newly graduated from bible school and ready to change the world with big dreams and what we thought, was unshakable faith. As one who was recruited to remain on staff of aforementioned bible school, we were in a unique social circle. Most of our close friends and fellow graduates had either moved on to further studies in other cities or they had taken posts in missions around the world. We were suddenly bereft of a social circle of friends who were like us, married, no kids. We were surrounded mostly by high school graduates starting out in Bible School or couples who’d been married several years ahead of us and were now moving on into the next phase of typical family life, having children.

Not having kids yet probably wouldn’t have been a big deal in a different place and time. But at that point, we felt a bit like we couldn’t relate to anyone. After a few months of marriage, the negative side effects of taking birth control caused us to decide that if we got pregnant that year, it was ok because we had both wanted a big family. A year passed and we enjoyed our couple-hood. He was busy travelling in his new job and I was working in full time ministry – I was happy to go to work every day and be with my students and co-workers. I was working in a Creative Arts in Ministry school, leading worship every morning, and also working in the music ministry of a vibrant church.

After that first year, we put a little more thought into family planning. We wanted kids, and my mom had never had any trouble getting pregnant (I have four younger sisters), so I figured it would be a piece of cake. I was almost 25 now. Time to make it happen if I wanted to be done by 30. Silly me, I thought it was up to me, this having babies thing. When another year passed, the niggling doubts started to creep in. Maybe something was wrong with one or both of us. So we went and got things checked out. The doctor said everything was in working order. Stop worrying about it, it would happen, eventually.

But, there was stress. The stress of things not being in my control. Of course this stress would mess with my biology. A vicious 28 day cycle of anxiety, hope and crushing disappointment became my new normal. For another year, I would slap on a happy face each day, because I was in ministry, and these were the days of faith without visible struggle. When doubts and fears and negativity in general were not acceptable. I didn’t want to be that woman, obsessed with her infertility. I had a friend, she cried with me every month, she already had 2 kids, and I’d even been in the room when the second was born. She mourned with me well. But the happy face was driving a wedge between God and I, because not being real on the outside, was causing me to not be real on the inside.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life

And then, one day… the light shone in. The cycle was interrupted. Hope was not followed by crushing disappointment. The darkness of the previous years was lost in the light of this little seed of hope. My heart came alive, my dreams took flight. I saw this baby in my heart. I prayed like never before, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of protection and love. I had one of those books that had pictures of how she was developing each week – and each day I would offer up thanksgiving for the heart, the limbs, the feet, the spine…my joy was full. We heard the heartbeat at 8 weeks. I had been keeping a pregnancy journal and it was filled with hopes, dreams and plans.

My expectation  and my joy grew daily. We had decided to share our good news with friends and family on my husband’s birthday. We’d be just past the first trimester by then, so planned the party and waited eagerly for that November to arrive.

I had a feeling in my heart it was a girl. I liked the name Marion – the name was in both our families. We told my parents, and my father in law – with a balloon that said “Grandpa” – he was overjoyed. (He’d been asking for grandbabies since the wedding). He loved the name…”can I call her Maggie?” and I’d hear him whistle the Foster and Allen song – Maggie to himself, over and over. We also told that friend, the one who cried with me, and we laughed like school girls. That fall, everyday felt like I awoke to a world of sunshine and butterflies…

Until the night before the party…when the dark clouds began to gather…