2016- a year in review
A lot of times people say to me, “Hey- why don’t you write more often?”
Is my absence because I’m procrastinating? Well, yeah. Because I’m squandering away my time on all the social medias? Totally.
But that’s not the for-real-for-real reason that I’m wildly inconsistent in blogging.
The truth is, I don’t write because I don’t really know how to tell the whole story.
If you know me IRL or on social media or we have friends-of-friends in common, you know the general gist of my family’s story. But around the end of 2015 things started changing so much and so quickly, I never know how to put words to it all.
So. We’re gonna go gang-busters-cliff’s-notes-style and I’m about to catch you all up to speed. 👊🏼
It won’t be the most eloquent version of things and there will be more typos than usual (Kind hearted editors: someone please feel sorry for me and come on board. K thx.) but I’ll hit the high notes and can switch to “real time” from there.
2016 was the year of sifting.
The dictionary defines sifting as:
-to shake and separate and retain the coarse parts of (flour, ashes, etc.) with a sieve.
-to examine closely
This was the year I knew less of what was happening than ever before. Nothing felt solid and there were constantly moving parts in every area of our lives.
We announced with our Christmas card that we had decided to adopt again.
On the heels of our official adoption announcement, and after completing our paperwork, we had a meeting with our agency. (Well, except for our home study. Because we'd sold our home in the fall of 2015 and were all crammed into a tiny apartment.😳)
They informed us they had an long list of waiting families and no incoming birth mothers at the time. Because they are generous and love us dearly, they added us to their list, but they were frank with us. We were looking at a three year wait. Minimum.
Immediately following the meeting (As in, the car ride home.) Matt looked at me and said, “It’s time to do IVF.”
A little backstory:
Mills came home just a few months into us taking a break from fertility treatments in 2012. At the time, we had been with our clinic for a year or so and tried several things including multiple failed IUIs.
After Mills came home, our perspective on those initial years of infertility drastically changed. We fully believe that God used our season of infertility to change our hearts for adoption and give us our first son.
We are forever grateful for that time and shift in our plans. We delayed pursuing further medical treatments because we thought surely we’d get pregnant now that our son was home.
We never did.
I was accepted into a “shared risk program” at our fertility clinic. This is where you purchase multiple rounds of IVF for a discounted price based on many medical factors and a doctor's recommendation. My doctor put me in the three cycle protocol. I began daily shots and one bazillion office visits to prepare for our upcoming IVF treatment. (IVF= in vitro fertilization. For more info, check here:http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/in-vitro-fertilization/home/ovc-20206838)
Another side note:
Our decision to move forward with fertility treatments was not a decision to terminate our adoption plan. I was 34 at the time and had we waited for three plus years to adopt and then made a decision about biological children, I would most likely not have qualified for treatment at my clinic.
We stayed on our agency’s list in hopes of an adoption miracle and moved forward with fertility treatments while praying for a medical miracle.
After thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars spent on medicines and procedures, countless appointments and many, many needles, our doctors harvested 8 eggs.
We ended up with (and implanted) two perfect embryos.
Two days after Mills’ fourth birthday, I received the phone call that our treatment had been unsuccessful.
This was one of the hardest months of my life.
I'd started a new job that seemed promising but I now know I was just desperate to get my mind off our recent loss. It wasn't a good fit and I was overcome with anxiety from job stress.
We began renovating a home we’d purchased many months before. (Did I mention we’d been living in an APARTMENT for eight months by this point?)
The shock of the IVF failure began to wear off and a deep depression began to trickle in. It felt haunting and fathomless.
This is the month I gave up.
I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t remember the promise.
I began to blanket myself with my fears and said things like, “This is God’s way of answering me. He knew I couldn’t handle any more children. God said no. I asked Him for more children and He turned His back on me."
I made an internal resolve that God had answered my prayers with a NO.
Only a handful of people knew we'd had the procedure. I sent them all a text message that said:
"Thank you for praying for us and believing for a miracle. We didn't get the news we wanted. We ask that you give us time to process this news and space to grieve.💔"
Translation=Leave me alone.
I fully isolated myself and fell deeper into depression.
Only those of you who’ve stared death in the face and lived to talk about it will understand what this month was like for me. Utter survival and not much more.
One part of the sifting of this last year was change in relationships. Doing life with friends or family members can be messy and painful. I'm constantly learning what it looks like to "love others well."
As time changes, so do people and it can be difficult to withstand that change. I learned what it means to grieve the death of something (a relationship) with someone (a person) who is still very much alive.
Thankfully I learned (yet again) that beauty always comes from ashes. Multiple blessings have flourished in the place of that repeal.
Each day I'm learning more about loving my people with an open hand. Now I understand that a shift in dynamics doesn't have to be the termination of connection.
I was both miserable and unproductive in my job and so decided to resign. (Which, as you can imagine, went over just swimmingly.🏊🏼♀️)
However, no longer having the stress of the new job was monumental in my healing process.
One day at the end of the summer I was crying, alone in my darkened bedroom, asking God why He wouldn't let us have any more children.
I clearly heard the internal audible voice of the Lord. He said, "I didn't say no, Amanda. You walked away. Can you trust me even if you don't know what I'm doing? Are you willing to come back and try again?"
Even now I get chills when I remember that encounter with Him. He was right. I had walked (actually run) away. I had given up because I didn't think I could bear another loss, another year of waiting, another set of bad news.
I couldn't see what He was doing and I certainly couldn't find any good.
But in that moment, I received an infusion of hope. God is so sweet to extend us another chance even when we've thrown a temper tantrum and run away in anger. In that moment I felt so seen and so loved by my Father.
And I told him yes. I would try again.
Around the same time we decided to move forward with another round of IVF, (Another round=thousands and thousands of more dollars in medicines.) we got some news about our renovation. It turned out she needed more fixing and upping than we'd originally estimated.
We had to move more money into the renovation pile which left our "fertility and adoption" fund at zero. Literally. We delayed further treatment until we were able to complete our home.
October and November 2016:
Progress on the house sped up and our cottage began to take shape.
Oh. And I turned 35.
The fog of depression had finally lifted and I felt healed from the pain of the prior months.
You know how it can seem like time is standing still month after month and then one day everything is a whirlwind instead? That was the month of December for us.
We spent the next three weeks working night and day to get settled and ready for our first Christmas in our new home.
That time was so special to us as our friends and family extended love and support (especially in the form of meals and unpacking.)
The week of Christmas we took time off from scurrying around and enjoyed the sweetness and peace of home. At last.
It was a beautiful month where we experienced so much joy and celebrated God's goodness to our family. We are filled to the brim with gratitude.
Ok, but what now?
I'm glad you asked.
The best answer I have for you is: I don't know.
I don't know what's next. I don't know when we will be able to move ahead with another round of IVF. I don't know when our agency will begin to receive more birth mothers. I don't know.
But here's what I do know. God is good. You will survive the sifting. Say yes to trying again.
I wrote this blog to catch everyone up on our story, yes. But I also wrote it to encourage those of you that may be in the midst of a sifting season of your own.
If it feels like all that was once close to you is falling away and you'll never survive the shaking-
Just hold on, friend.
Right on the other side of the shaking there is so much goodness.
Do you know what sifting really is? It's the removal of all unnecessary things so that only the good remains. When you reach the other side of this season, you'll look down into your trembling hands and find pieces of gold. Only the good lasts. Only your treasure remains.
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement and walking this story with our family. It means more than you can ever know. Your calls and emails and texts have sustained us over and over again.
I promise I'll do better about updating. Now that you know everything, I don't have any excuse, do I?
Love to you all and I'll write soon.