Friday, July 30, 2010

Getting Ready for Change

I spent some time yesterday and today in my classroom packing things up for the move I'm anticipating. Please understand that I was told I had to move out of my classroom into another classroom, so packing up had to happen one way or the other. I was able to get everything packed up and ready to go, and I had the pleasure of having my favorite coworker (who is also a good, good friend) come by and help me out. Many hands make light work. We caught up while we worked and it made the time speed by.

It felt good to get ready to go, to prepare for a change. I'm still hopeful that I'll be chosen for a primary grade assignment at another school in the next few weeks. Principals report back to school next Thursday, and I'm sure they will begin to address their staffing needs soon thereafter. I just need everything to be settled before I have to begin my IVF bed rest. I'm hoping and praying that I'll be reassigned, and have plenty of time to get into my new classroom and set it up before then. After my IVF, I don't want to be doing anything physically demanding.

What I love most about teaching is impacting the lives of my students, challenging them to grow and learn. But the way education is these days, there is so much that can take the focus off of the classroom and the students. And it seems for every kind, helpful, education-valuing parent there are two apathetic or adversarial parents. I'm tired of feeling on the the defense. I'm there to help. I'm educated and experienced. I wish more parents would work with me, not against me. I'm hoping that I will be able to rediscover the joys of teaching this coming year, that work will be a refuge and a pleasant distraction from the grief and pain of Michael's absence.

Before I went in yesterday, my sister called me at home and she prayed with me about my work situation. After that, I felt my anxiety about it lessen considerably. I began to realize that God is so much bigger than the obstacles I have faced in finding another position up to now. I know He loves me and wants to bless me. Not because of anything I have done to deserve it, but because that's His nature. That understanding makes me think of some words of Jesus' that Pastor Bayless frequently quotes:

Or what man is there among you who if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! ~ Matthew 7:9-11

So, I'm going to keep asking and trusting the Lord to meet my needs in this regard.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Remember that monologue of George Carlin's about stuff? It was a kind of crass, but rather accurate statement about our tendency to acquire things. Some of us are worse about accumulating stuff than others. Michael was a borderline hoarder.

From the summer of 1994 until the fall of 2007, Michael lived in the guest house behind his friends' house about two miles from here. I guess it was no bigger than 700 square feet, and it was packed to the ceiling with his stuff. Most of his stuff was music related like recording equipment and instruments. The living room of that place was his home studio. When you entered, there were narrow paths between all the stuff to get to the studio area, the kitchenette, and the bedroom and bathroom. While there was a lot of music related stuff, Michael had a hard time throwing out other things and every flat surface had his stuff on it.

When he moved in here just a few weeks before our wedding, I told him I couldn't live like that. I let him take over the back bedroom so he could have his studio space, but the garage and the patio room held everything else. He promised that he would go through his things and get rid of what he didn't really need, but in the short time between our wedding and his diagnosis he did not get to it. Therefore, I am left with a lot of stuff to go through.

A couple of weeks ago a good friend of ours came over to go through his instruments with me, and then today another friend came over and began to go through the sound/recording equipment. Most of those things will be sold to friends and family members in the near future, but there's a lot of stuff that I just have to go through and throw out or donate. It's really overwhelming.

I think the hardest part of having to do this with Michael's things is that he loved his stuff so much. Stuff that looked like junk to me had sentimental value to him. Now that he's gone and I have to do this, I feel like I'm being disloyal to him in a way because I don't value his stuff like he did. And it also feels like I'm letting more and more of him go as I part with his stuff. From his Heavenly vantage point, I'm sure he doesn't mind. He's got what he needs there and none of his Earthly stuff is ever going to join him where he is. FedEx and UPS do not deliver to Heaven, but if they did I would pay any price to send him his stuff just so I wouldn't have to feel bad about getting rid of it.

Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches or moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Luke 12:33 & 34

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Time Traveler's Wife

That's kind of what my dream of Michael was like last night. I don't know how, but his mom and I were with him, and we were able to convince him that he needed to go back in time and change the course of his life so that we would have more time together. If it had been just me telling him that's what he needed to do, I don't think he would have done it, but he listened to his mom. I think that mirrors real life, because in real life I was always telling him he needed to make changes in his life. However, it wasn't until he sought the advice of his family members that he began to take action.

Then we just had to decide at what point in our history he would go back and change things. You would have thought I would have chosen to go all the way back to 1994, but in my dream I didn't want to have to go back to school to get my teaching credential all over again! So I suggested 2000. Kind of funny. Believe me, if going back in time were possible we'd go all the way back to 1994.

In the dream we were aware of the cancer and we wanted to find it sooner when it would be more treatable. So we decided that around 2006 he would start having full body scans - you know those ones that you pay for yourself. They were all the rage a few years ago. It seemed like a good plan.

We talked about how things would be different. How we would go to church together. How many kids we would have. How we would make our home larger and build a studio for him. All those things we wanted to do in real life but didn't have the time to do so. He even said he wouldn't travel for work so we'd have more time together. We were both really excited about how things would be different.

The best part of the dream was the sensation that we were together - that we were holding hands and looking at one another face to face. After agreeing upon what needed to be done, he set off to do what he needed to do and I went home to wait for him. The dream ended with me waiting for him to return.

It was such an elaborate dream and I didn't want it to end. I wanted to see what life would be like in that alternate reality. After Buffy got me up to feed her, I went back to bed to try and get back into the dream. I had more dreams but not that dream. Just goes to show that you can never go back.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another Look Back

After spending the previous week in Hawai'i with my family, we returned home. And on this day last year Michael had his nephrectomy, or the day his left kidney and the tumor were surgically removed. Everything went so well. His cough seemed to improve and he was up and walking around in no time. Michael came home just a couple of days after the surgery and he recovered nicely for the first two or three weeks. We were hopeful that he would start HDIL-2 soon afterward, and that we'd get the cancer in remission and keep enjoying our life together. But that was not to be.

It's still hard to believe that just one year later he's not here. Whenever these significant dates come up on the calendar, I find myself in more of a funk than usual. I can't help but reflect back on where we were and contrast that to where I am now. Life was difficult then, but at least we were fighting the fight together. I wouldn't want Michael to be here now if he was still suffering, but I miss sharing the journey with him.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who Does This?

Here's an email I received earlier this evening from

I read your blog on occasion and you sound so miserably unhappy all the time, as though nothing is going well in your life. I hope you feel better soon and are able to think about and do things that make you happy. Therapy might help. The counseling you received did not seem to help you so perhaps you might want to think about going to a cognitive psychologist who can help you reframe the issues that you talk about. At this point in your life old girlfriends shouldn't be bothering you. I hope you are able to focus on other things soon.

Jackson, please don't read my blog anymore, and if you just can't help yourself please don't bother commenting or sending me your thoughts via email. You obviously have no clue or compassion regarding what I've gone through in the last year.

A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.
Proverbs 18:2

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Loose Lips

Since getting over my hurt feelings after all the hoopla surrounding Michael's funeral mass and memorial service, I have made an effort to continue to grow my relationship with my in-laws. They are really such nice people and I adore them. Michael's mom has been incredibly supportive of my attempts to get pregnant and I really appreciate that. I know it would make her so happy to have grandchildren of Michael's, and I'd love to give her that.

One night recently, I went out to their house so that my mother-in-law could give me my progesterone injection. This was before the second BETA test, obviously. My father-in-law offered to take us out for dinner, and Michael's aunt was going to join us. I really like Michael's aunt. She's a sweetheart. But after dinner, she brought up Michael's ex-girlfriend and that she was moving into a new apartment. Yada, yada, yada. I was shocked that "she" would ever be brought up as casual conversation in front of me.

I'm sure it was just stream-of-consciousness talking. You know Michael's aunt is sitting next to me, that makes her think of Michael, and then the ex-girlfriend. But still! I seriously doubt that my name and what is going on in my life is ever mentioned to the ex-girlfriend out of consideration for her feelings, and I'd prefer that it wasn't. The ex is someone who hates me with a passion and threatened Michael that she was going to have me killed. She's nuts! I don't think they realize how hateful and mean she has been to me. She's got them snowed.

I didn't say anything this time. In fact I didn't say anything at all. I just sat there uncomfortably looking out the window. But if something like that happens again, I'm going to ask that they not mention her to me again. Ugh!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Bit of a Disappointment

I went in for my day three ultrasound this morning, and everything looked good according to the physicians assistant. But, the nurse just called and said that my Estradiol level (E2) was higher than the doctor wanted it to be (102), and because of that they want me to wait another cycle to begin this IVF. The normal range for Estradiol levels on day three is between 25 and 75. The doctor is concerned that my level would inhibit the number of eggs I'm able to develop once I start stimming. More than likely it's high because I was taking 4 mg of Estradiol during the last cycle. So, I don't think it's naturally high.

The good news was that my FSH was only 6 and that's considered to be very good for my age. A high FSH indicates a low ovarian reserve and that means few or fewer eggs. For more information on E2 and FSH click here.

I expressed my concerns that the next cycle would bump up against my return to work, but the nurse was reassuring and she said if need be they would briefly extend my medical leave of absence. I hope it doesn't come to that.

So, it looks like I'm in a holding pattern for another three weeks or so. I had a feeling this would happen. Aside from when we were doing IUIs with Clomid, I've never been able to cycle back-to-back. I will continue to see my acupuncturist twice a week in the meantime. I'm pretty sure that's contributing to my great FSH number. Thank you, Dr. Pak!

Please pray for the timing of this and my return to work - that everything would coincide, and that I'll be able to be where I'm supposed to be when I'm supposed to be there.


Yeah, feeling pretty concerned about the timing of it all. I feel like I don't have control over much of anything in my life right now. It's overwhelming, really. Makes me miss Michael all the more.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hot Tears

As of yesterday, summer arrived in these parts. Instead of overcast skies and cool temperatures, we are experiencing a heatwave. I am being frugal and decided to forgo turning on the air conditioner for now. So it was 87 degrees in the living room this afternoon.

Just a few minutes ago, I went to dress for bed. I remembered a white, cotton nightgown of mine that is good for hot summer nights, and went to get it out of my dresser. As I pulled it out of the drawer, I noticed that Michael must have been the last person to fold it and put it away. He had a different way of folding clothes than I do, so it was easy for me to tell. It was bittersweet to realize that he had been the last person to touch my nightgown.

Earlier this evening, I got sucked into watching Bethenny Getting Married. I really avoid all the Housewives of This, That, and the Other Place and their spinoffs - not my thing. But I let the remote linger there just a second or two longer than I should. Watching her and her husband revel in their new marriage and their feelings for one another brought back so many memories of the first eighteen months of our marriage. The joy in calling each other husband and wife. The way Michael tenderly called me Mrs. Labrador. All the sweet things we liked to say to one another. I really miss that. We never really got out of that honeymoon phase. We never had the time to take one another for granted.

I have been missing him so much this week. I can't believe this is my life. I can't believe Michael got cancer and died. It just shouldn't be this way. He should be here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Perplexed In My Pajamas

Today has been a pajama day. I woke up much too early and have found that I possessed very little motivation to get dressed and do much of anything. The weight of last week's events is heavy on my heart. Added to my feelings of grief is this perplexity - this Why?

Why does everything have to be so hard for me?

Why am I a widow?

Why am I childless?

Why can't I have my husband's babies?

Why does my job have to make me so unhappy?

What is your will for me, Lord?

Sounds like a big ole pity party doesn't it? Well, there might have been a little self pity going on, but more than that there is a sincere desire to understand.

That last question is a big one for me these days. I think any Christian living through a season of loss and/or difficulties must ask that question. When things are going well, I don't think we give it much thought. Things are good, so this must be what God wants for me. When things aren't going well, it's a question that's hard to avoid. Things are really, really bad. Is this what God wants for me right now, or am I experiencing these things so that I can be redirected to His will for me?

As much time as I've thought about all that, prayed about it, and so on, I still don't have an answer. There's a lot of Biblical teaching about all the blessings available to us because of what Christ did on the cross for us. I printed out six pages of scriptures pertaining to God's will for His people to be fruitful and multiple, about His love for children, about children being a blessing from God, and about women in the Bible who overcame infertility by God's provision - Sarah, Hannah, Rebekah, and Elizabeth. I meditated on those verses earlier today and I will continue to do so. I believe the supernatural can overcome the natural, although I can tell you from experience that it doesn't always work out that way and I don't know why. But I do know that God's ways are not my ways:

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9

But at the heart of all of this is that big question - What is God's will for my life?

I really want to know.

I can tell you what I've always wanted for my life. From the time I was in my late teens or early twenties I just wanted to get married and have a family. I wanted a big family, too. I was thinking four kids would be nice. I would never have imagined that I would have a career or an advanced degree, not that those are bad things. I just thought I'd be raising all those kids, managing a home, and caring for my husband. That desire has been so deeply rooted in my heart that quite honestly I've always felt like a fish out of water in my own life. This was not the way it was supposed to be - according to me, anyway.

Was there some other calling on my life that I just didn't pick up on?

Was there some other path I was supposed to take that I was too blind to see?

Ugh! I just don't know and I hate that. Thus the perplexity, and the hurt. There's a lot about my life that hasn't lived up to my expectations.

Anyway some of the things I'm clinging to today are:

1. I need to continue to put my trust in the Lord. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

2. I need to continue to seek Him instead of isolating myself from Him in my hurt and confusion. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:33-34

3. God is good and He is the giver of all good things. For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalm 84:11

Now, I would really love to hear from those of you who have been walking with the Lord for a while. It would really bless me for you to share the wisdom you have gained in your relationship with Him. How do you seek and find God's will for your life? What verses in the Bible have given you direction, strength, and/or comfort when you're perplexed about life?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beta #2 and a Big Decision

Today's results weren't what we all were hoping for. My HCG was just 4. So, this was just another chemical pregnancy. I'm okay right now. I think I dealt with most of the negative feelings on Thursday.

Since then, I've had time to give serious consideration to another round of IVF with Michael's frozen sperm, and I've decided that it's something I want to do. I figured out how to pay for it - that was the greatest obstacle.

Now I'll wait for my period to start, and hopefully my ovaries will be in a good place to begin IVF this next cycle. I have to get this done before I have to report back to school the first of September. I feel pressured for time in that regard.

I can't believe I'm doing this again! But I just want to finish what I started with Michael. This is my last chance at motherhood. I don't think I will endeavor beyond this.

Thank you for all the love you've shown me and the prayers you pray on my behalf. I am so blessed to have so many friends to lift me up on this journey. One of the things I pray is that you will be blessed for carrying me in prayer like you do.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beta Results

Very low beta number of just 14. It's likely this is just another chemical pregnancy. If you don't know what that is, please google it.

One more blood test on Saturday morning to see if it's increasing.

Not sure how to explain what I'm feeling. It's not good.


I wish I could better express how I felt this afternoon when Dr. D gave me those results, but it's really hard to explain. On the one hand, there's that part of me that didn't want to be disappointed and/or devastated once again, so I remained cynical about my chances all along. But another part of me, the bigger part of me, was very hopeful all along and was hoping and praying for a nice big beta number. One that would let me breathe a sigh of relief and feel somewhat confident about this pregnancy.

So, part of me said, "Well, there you go. Another failure. What did you expect?"

And the other part of me just felt stunned and sad. How could this fail? I did everything right. Those embryos were practically perfect. Dr. D said he thought I had an excellent chance of success.

I also felt anger toward Michael for not being here, and for delaying our marriage to the point where my fertility was on its last legs. I know that's wasted energy, but I'm just being honest. It doesn't change my love for him, and if he were here he would take responsibility for that. If he were here, I probably wouldn't care quite so much either. I would have him and that would be enough and/or it would leave us more options than I have on my own.

Then I thought about the frozen sperm and doing another IVF cycle. That's going to take a lot more consideration.

Then I got on the Intenet and found several sites (forums and message boards) where other women shared their pregnancy success stories despite having betas as low or lower than mine.

So, this evening I'm feeling slightly more hopeful. There is still a chance that Saturday's blood test will have a higher number. The doctor is looking for it to double between now and then.

I've got a small army of people praying for me. I believe in the power of prayer. Even though I feel discouraged, I will choose to remain hopeful and continue praying for Saturday to bring better news.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Four Months

Today marks four months since Michael went home.

Four months since I've seen his sweet face in anything but a photograph.

Four months since I've held his hands.

Four months since I've heard his beautiful voice call me his precious wife and tell me that he loves me.

That cancer was merciless and I wouldn't have wanted him to suffer another day.

But I hate being left behind to do life without him.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Four Years Ago

After several months of a complicated paper chase, four years ago today my adoption dossier was logged in with the China Center for Adoption Affairs. When I had decided to adopt from China in the fall of 2005, the wait was only about six months long. But by the time my paperwork was finished it was stretching out, and if I hadn't forfeited the adoption to marry Michael I would still be waiting for my referral today.

So much has happened in those four years. I forfeited the adoption thirteen or fourteen months after I was logged in with China. There was nothing I wanted more than to marry Michael, and so I have absolutely no regrets about walking away from the adoption process. After our November wedding, we began fertility treatments right away. In the first eighteen months of our marriage we did five IUIs and an IVF.

I wish I could be sure that everything I've done to become a mother in the last five years would result in a positive pregnancy test on Thursday (for starters). If life was fair, I suppose that would be the case. But life isn't fair, and I've only known disappointment and heartache when it comes to my lifelong goal of being married and having children.

Nevertheless, I remain hopeful. The past doesn't determine the future. With God all things are possible.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Waiting & Hoping

Monday's transfer went very smoothly. I had an acupuncture session just prior to the transfer, and another following the transfer. Michael's mom stayed with me and held my hand during the transfer, and my mom waited and prayed in the waiting room.

Both embryos "defrosted" perfectly according to the embryologist. One was already hatching, and they considered that to be a very good thing. Hatching just refers to the stage of development where the embryo is expanding out of its protective exterior in preparation for implantation in the uterus. One of the embryos was considered to be grade AA and the other grade BB. Those grades usually refer to the expansion of the embryo and the inner cell mass quality. My doctor has told me that my embryos were good quality, and on Monday he said he thinks we have an excellent chance for success.

Since Monday afternoon, I've just been taking it easy resting in bed. Today is my first day out of bed, but I'm supposed to be sedentary through Sunday. I'm being well-cared for by my mom, Michael's mom, and my sister.

The pregnancy test is scheduled for next Thursday. We're hoping and praying for a positive result, of course. Thanks for keeping me in your prayers and for all the wonderful messages of support here and on Facebook. I really appreciate all the love!