- 1. Spectator
“I’m so happy for you!”
If there was a polar opposite of happy, that was how I was feeling.
“What a joyous occasion!”
Though for me, only in the sense that joy isn’t always felt and can exist in any tortuous circumstance.
“It was a surprise was it? You thought your family was as big as it was going to get?”
I genuinely cared about my three friends … all of whom had gotten surprise pregnancies, in large families, around the same time. I had thought that after years of walking through our inability to have children that I would have developed a toughness by now. I mean I was in my late thirties, I was supposed to be a mature, capable daughter of Christ fully in His service. Jealousy was beneath me wasn’t it?
I thought things were pretty settled in trusting my Creator in this part of our journey, but still the “why’s” and the “it’s not fairs” were coming hard and fast from my wounded heart. We had trusted God through some pretty crazy times here and abroad, why was this so hard to trust Him in?
Was it even jealousy or was it that I was grieving in a deeper way every time I was confronted by what others had and I might never have? Was it somehow both? Or was this going to be another step of the journey in which pat answers had stopped making sense somewhere soon after the first unexpected bend?
“Dad, I need you now. I need to hold your hand, I need to know in my heart, not just my head that you really are walking this road right beside me.”
I meant it when I decided to be fine with whatever He choose, I recognized and was grateful that I had so much, but it still hurt. Why did I still feel such a deep desire? Was there something redemptive that I would eventually see coming out of this lonely journey of sorrow?
Little did I know those few short years ago what our Lord had in store for us and others. If you feel like the place you are at in your journey would benefit from hearing the story of someone who has walked the infertility road, I invite you to join us on this blog. Or if you would like to know more of our personal journey … Welcome!
- 2. Looking Back
Before we go forward in this story, I think it would be beneficial to look back…
For as long as I can remember I have loved babies. Even as a child, I volunteered in the church nursery just to be around them. I would day dream of finding and caring for abandoned babies in the bushes around where we lived. My Creator had some other adventures for me for many years that didn’t include life with babies, but I still enjoyed when I could be around small children and babies.
I got married and very quickly my mind started to go to babies, especially when my period came late that first month. But no, I wasn’t pregnant and am glad I didn’t know then the journey I would walk over the next decade and a bit. Another example of how God is rather smart … if by smart you mean “unbelievably wise beyond comprehension.”.
I hope that in a decade, future me can see God’s love in not allowing me to know everything I want to know now, the same way I can, looking back on past me.
- 3. Hope …
Two years had passed since my husband and I married, and still no pregnancy. We were busy traveling here and there with work and studying, so didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. And besides I had a dream about having a baby in my 34th year and that hadn’t ended yet. I felt when praying that I just needed to be patient. Now I was in the kitchen helping my sister-in-law pack up the cutlery for their big move to prepare for their international adoption, as we had told them we would.
“Would you mind getting that box over there?”
Should I tell her? It had only happened this morning … but how else could I explain refusing to lift today?
“I can’t today … I think I got a positive pregnancy test this morning, the line is faint, but I might be pregnant.”
She was happy for us, but my hesitancy affected both of our reactions. Still, I decided that I needed to be “careful” and my sister-in-law was fine with that, which relieved my mind. Although having grown up with a strong work ethic and a sense that it is right to follow through with your word, I felt guilty for not helping out as much as I usually would.
But I had to prioritize protecting Baby.
- 4. … Dashed
So here is the thing. That “protecting” I was talking about? It didn’t work. Before I even got to a doctor, I miscarried. A high and then a low. Many of you know what that feels like. On top of that disappointment of the loss, I felt embarrassed about having told so quickly. Feeling alone in this journey I had not walked before, I approached my husband.
“Rusty … can we talk about the baby?”
“I think … I think it might be better to assume it was a false positive.”
“That doesn’t seem very possible … I have done some research now and those tests can give false negatives. But, I don’t think false positives are a thing that happens much, if at all.”
“Well the alternative is believing that God promised us a baby in your dream, delivered on His promise in the same timing, and then took it from us within a month … does that make any kind of sense to you?”
I took my husband’s advise and put off processing and grieving until “later”. Feeling alone in the journey certainly was a good catalyst to get my mind and emotions going elsewhere, so I could function well. We had to get on the road again quickly for work and that kept us busy. Before we knew it the “later” had become “much, much later”.
But despite our slowness in opening up this part of our hurt to Father to give our faith a chance to grow and be able to accept this with a peace beyond our understanding. He was still faithfully working behind the scenes. We would find out what else was happening during my 34th year many years later.
So you will have to wait too.
- 5. ??
(Trust me this will make more sense in a few entries. For now, just know that the italicized entries are from a different perspective.)
During Alex’s 34th year:
The little one and the tiny bit littler one looked at each other and smiled. They didn’t have eyes, but they could see. Sometimes their vision was like they were outside of their being, sometimes like they were visualizing from inside what was understood to be their mass. What they knew for sure was that they were alive and they saw many things. Somethings that are too hard to describe in mere words, somethings looked very much like what other lives would see with natural eyes. They could also sense spiritually.
They experienced their Creator’s presence joining their smile, this became their primary comfort. They sensed what He dreamed for them together to adventure in and realized it was also what they truly wanted. These little ones knew they had great potential, a destiny to bring more true life out of their life with the Creator. Day by day they sensed themselves growing, developing, and they knew that even though they were very small, that big things were ahead of them. There was a limit over how much they knew, however, they decided to simply be content with the presence of this Loving One and each other. What else could they do?
Then something changed…
- 6. Diagnosis
In my 36th year, we found out that it was a miracle that I conceived a couple years before, as the test results showed that Rusty, possibly as a result of medication he had to take, had male factor infertility. This was hard news for both of us and we processed in different ways the grief of a dream slowly dying. We prayed about foster care and adoption, but felt to lay it down for another season, so we could be more connected with the people that we were among, many of whom were children and youth.
After laying it down and engaging in that which was present, we had a season of peace, joy and even much happiness.
This news actually completely blindsided me. I had attributed our lack of children to the fact that both Alex and myself had complete peace about working overseas for a season and sensed that God was holding off on giving us kids to give us more freedom to invest in some of the intensive, difficult opportunities he was giving to us. I truly believed that as soon as that season was over that the “right time” would start for Him to grow our family. My own parents had been married for many years before moving to a new city, attending a new church, and having a woman ask my mother if she could pray for her womb after a prayer meeting. Nine months later there I was.
This was how this story was supposed to work out. God being in complete control and providing at the “right time”.
Not me being unable to provide my wife with one of the main gifts a husband is supposed to be able to give his wife. Not me discovering, years into my marriage, that I had something “essential” missing.
“I thought that together You and I were supposed to be a majority! I thought that no plan of the enemy could prosper, that we could run through troops and climb over walls. How does it make any sense that even with You I am lacking here? Why can’t I make this right?”
I didn’t hear clear answers to my questions but I did hear reality screaming at me. The “right time” we had been trusting and believing for had come and gone. God hadn’t repeated the gift He had given my parents. Unless He “came through”, I wouldn’t be enough to make this right. I was not enough.
For at least one definition of “right” and one definition of “enough”.
- 7. Comfort in the Freeze
Where were they going? They didn’t like small spaces, they needed room to grow. But even in the moments of being sloshed into their shell they felt the peace and comfort of their Creator whispering to their spirits, “I’ve got you, just rest in me, there is more to come.”
As their environment changed from light to dark, from warm to freezing, they continued to hear His reassuring voice. Many days would pass in these surroundings for these two little ones and many days the Spirit of their Creator whispered to their spirits, “I am with you, do not fear.”
They responded, “What else can we do? We trust in you.”
And they waited and rested.
He sang over them, “Don’t you see that I formed you, before you were born, I knew you, can’t you see that my plans for you are good… can’t you see I have engraved you in the palms of my hands.”
And they waited and rested.
(inspired by – Jeremiah 49:16)
- 8. Closing Doors
When I was 38, after having still more discouraging news about our own ability to have children, we started into foster care and looked into a few adoption possibilities as well. Although we do not regret showing love, one after another of the doors closed to adopt, causing much heartache.
As I started into my 40th year, we were in a season of grieving and really letting go of what God seemed to be asking us to lay down again. Rusty and I were learning the balance of healthy grieving and self-pity. As one author* said, “Self-pity is a slimy, bottomless pit…” The only hope is to look up and see the Light of our Creator’s presence. His hand is right there to pull us up as we trust unconditionally in Him and that He truly does have good plans in our seeming mess. Even as we do this, many of us still have questions like. “Am I letting go of this dream forever?” or “How deeply do I need to grieve this dream dying?”
(*Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, July 16th entry)
- 9. Waiting
Six years had passed and nothing had changed, they felt stuck and restless at times, but His presence always brought them back to a place of peace. When their home had changed and the big freeze had come they had stopped growing and even feeling movement from place to place had ceased. They didn’t know what needed to happen for them to start growing again and to shed this yellow shell that they had gained during the change.
However, the Creator would speak over them many times,“I know you and have loved you with an everlasting love, even though you have yet to be formed in a womb.” Even though they could not grasp the concept of a womb, they knew it was something that needed to happen to be connected with the destiny the Creator had for them. All they could do was trust their Creator. And in that trust was great peace and waves of His love constantly washing over them.
(Inspired by – Jeremiah 1:5; 31:3)
- 10. Grief
As Alex mentioned earlier, one of my great regrets is when I stemmed her grief after our miscarriage. I had heard stories from a mentor of loss after loss due to a medical condition and tried to copy the way that he and his wife had come to deal with their losses. Looking back on it I expect that they mass grieved and pre-grieved allowing them to push through when their losses would occur in the midst of an important project they were invested in. I misunderstood their story and misapplied it to our lives.
I had tried to short circuit the grieving process by denying the loss, this damaged both of us. Instead of inviting Jesus into that wound and seeing what would happen, I was afraid (deep down on an unconscious level) that he wouldn’t be enough to handle it. That the unexpected and non-understandable loss would somehow prove he wasn’t who I thought he was. How could He have both promised us a child through specific dreams, conquered my infertility long enough for one miracle pregnancy and then allow our child to leave us only days after we knew of its existence? I didn’t want to risk exposing what I believed about Jesus to this inconvenient reality. So I didn’t.
Around four years later Kiaus, a good friend of mine, was brave enough to take the time and effort it required to gently expose that this ignoring was harming my faith not protecting it. With his continued prayer and loving questions I finally allowed myself to be real with Father, to be genuine about the questions, anger and sorrow I was experiencing in this fallen world. And in that process I discovered that instead of feeding my doubts or attacking my faith, it allowed me to recognize His sorrow and receive His embrace in the midst. Acknowledging the mystery of living in the “now but not yet” helped me discover first hand that a lack of understanding (even an exposed lack of understanding) doesn’t trump His peace and comfort. They can and do coexist.
Shortly after, I repented to Alex and encouraged her to bring the reality of her loss to Father as well and she has since embraced her own grief journey (which looks very different from mine).
- 11. Birthday Present?
I decided to have a big party for my 40th, I felt loved and celebrated. Although, the children that we were working with and cared deeply about were growing up, new opportunities seemed to be opening up internationally and we started traveling more. We had finally allowed ourselves to embrace our grief journey and accepted that we may never have children of our own. We had come to believe that with every closed door, God would open one better fitting the destiny and gifts He had for us.
So it was somewhat surprising when the idea of adopting a baby popped into my head again one day mid-summer when I was almost 41. I decided I should take this idea to God in prayer. I really wanted to know if He was bringing this desire back to life or if it was a distraction. So I divided the next number of days in half. On the even days I approached life with the expectation that I would adopt a baby and see if I sensed peace about it while waiting on God and going about my day. On the odd days I would go forward with the expectation that I wouldn’t adopt a baby and see what I sensed. An unexpected thing happened, which is true often when we interact with an amazing, mind boggling big God. I got a answer that I didn’t even know existed. On even days I kept feeling incredible peace about adopting but then on the odd days I would sense that somehow I would be giving birth.
“God, this is confusing, are you even leading this? Or am I just imagining that you are leading me?”
- 12. Embryo Adoption?
A little later, I felt prompted to go to a website of Focus on the Family pertaining to adoption – “Waiting to Belong”. I had gone there four years ago and nothing clicked, but this time I went to the bottom of the page and saw a couple sentences about …
“What is Embryo Adoption? Is that a thing?” I thought.
I researched for a few minutes about Snowflakes and discovered that yes, this is a thing … a thing that has been happening for over a decade now. Three to five day old embryos that have been frozen are adopted and then develop and are born from the adoptive mother’s body.
“Is this you, God?”
I immediately had peace about it and surprisingly Rusty did as well, even from the first minutes of looking at the information before us. It was like one of those light bulb moments that we have a few times in our lives. We looked into Snowflakes and loved their open adoption program, but felt that we wanted to be a part of seeing Open Embryo Adoption (EA) grow in Canada. In the end we started pursuing EA with Beginnings in Ontario, Canada. We thought it would be quick and easy, as hadn’t all the hard stuff been behind us?
- 13. Delays
We were told in July 2016 that we might be pregnant within a few months, if everything lined up. However, that was not our journey. I had our adoption profile book done within a couple weeks of the application process, but our medical files and other necessary files to go forward with embryo adoption were being held up. So we needed to wait and redo several documents, but it was in this part of the journey, that I heard God’s still small voice.
“If you focus on the destination, you will miss so much along the way.”
And what do you know, He was right. There were so many opportunities to have meaningful conversation with people I met along the way, from getting a lot of blood taken, to sitting in clinics, to going to various medical personal to get paperwork filled out. Opportunities to share about why I have the joy that I have and chances to share about open embryo adoption.
We found that even in our medical community, embryo adoption is not widely known about as an infertility option. So yes, struggling with patience at times, but seeing the greater purposes in the delays, we entered the next phase. In November of 2016, we were finally eligible to be matched with available embryos.
- 14. Heartache … again
When we were introduced to the Embryo Adoption process we were told about two embryos in particular that had been waiting a LONG time and been passed over by many couples. They didn’t know for sure why these two had been waiting so long but figured it might have something to do with not having all of the genetic father’s medical history on file or because there were only two in the batch – making the statistics of a “successful” procedure that much less likely.
We instantly felt a connection with these two embryos and did everything in our power to have the paperwork go through as quickly as possible. Unfortunately much of it ended up being out of our control.
Then after many months of plugging along we had finally jumped through the last of the hoops and were told that we were going to be presented to the donor following the weekend. The following Monday we got a call from our social worker explaining that we had just missed the opportunity. The donor had gotten tired of waiting and had pulled the embryos from the program days before we could have been presented to her.
What had happened to them? Had she changed her mind and decided to grow her family? Had she decided she wasn’t going to sink any more money into sustaining their lives in frozen storage? One of those seemed more likely than the other but we would never know for sure.
Even though we had never had a right to them, the loss still stung deeply. We had months of investing our emotions and dreams into “What ifs” that involved them and had been so sure they were the reason we had been called into this.
Fortunately we had learned our lesson from the first miscarriage and invited the Father into this grief right away instead of trying to bury it. It still hurt like crazy, and it made the chance of loss so much more real. But we felt a deeper understanding of His perspective much quicker this time. We didn’t just know, but felt, that even if the worst had happened they were with Him now, and His love was far greater for them than ours. That was the only perspective we were guaranteed a positive outcome in. The eternal one. Temporally this whole process could end in the same heartache and dashed dreams that the miscarriage, diagnosis and closed adoption doors had brought.
So – that perspective, the eternal one, was the one we had to cling to while our Father brought us weeping through the other.
- 15. When Opportunity Knocks
In December of 2016, we were still wondering what was going on, as it had only been a few weeks since our bad surprise that “our embryos” had been pulled from the adoption agency. Our social worker with Beginnings let us know that she would like to present our adoption profile to one other couple who had two embryos they didn’t feel they could bring to birth with their circumstances.
“Sure, why not.” both Rusty and I decided. We knew there would be lots of steps along the way to continue to process what we felt like God was prompting in our hearts. We knew we had been led down this way, so might as well try the door. So we did.
And it was locked. Within a couple weeks, right before Christmas, we were informed that this couple didn’t feel we were the right match for reasons we don’t know.
At the same time, we found out some other news …
- 16. Is this it?
We were told that if we waited a month or so there were a few new families that were going through the process of donating their embryos. Beginnings went through the list of families that had two embryos and one particular couple stood out to us. After a couple months, things started moving.
“Rusty, we got it!”
“Got what, a half an hour until Game’s Night starts?”
“Ha, ha – No. We got the profile from the family we were the most interested in,” I not so patiently explained.
“I will read it tomorrow, so I don’t think about it all night.”
“I guess I can wait that long,” I winked. “So what still needs to be done for set up?”
After reading it, we sat on it for a few days, to sense where the peace and joy we felt was sourced from. We did feel a potential rightness about going ahead with being matched with this family. A couple weeks after our adoption profile book was presented to them, we heard that they would like to take the next step toward seeing if this donation / adoption could work as well.
So, during the 2017 spring time, we video skyped with the family. It was very good to connect with them and both families walked away feeling that we had compatible expectations about what open embryo adoption should look like for all the children and parents involved.
- 17. It is very good.
“Something is happening! Something is happening, and it is very good!” the Creator spoke to the two little ones’ souls.
The littlest one turned to his twin brother trembling with excitement, “What do you think it is?”
- 18. He is Good …
I feel like this journey has been helping me to grow in my understanding of some of the lyrics of the worship song “King of my Heart”. In particular I think of the day we finally got to sign the legal papers and the two embryos were finally ours. It was so easy to sing “You are good, good, oh Lord!”
We were at a conference we attend every two years. The last time I had been there I had found myself at a table with a half dozen guys and we ended up having this impromptu, transparent, honest almost “support group” meeting over lunch. Bizarrely, each of us had battled through miscarriages or infertility issues and as we were honest about our struggles and how we came to terms with our losses and dealt with those who didn’t know how to deal with us, it became one of the key moments in my grief / lament journey where I was able to really see positive movement.
And now, in this same place where I had had this amazing healing experience was where I was going to become an actual father.
Between spotty WIFI, lawyer’s vacation schedules, unknown last minute red tape and other hurdles I can’t remember the entire process had taken much longer than we had anticipated. However, finally, on the second last evening of the conference we had all the right paperwork in, and everything was set up to transfer them to a fertility clinic in our province. The final step was for us to hunt down a printer and print off a copy of the final draft of the legal agreement.
Well the final, final step was to find someone to witness for us, sign it together, take pictures of it with a smartphone and send it off. I got back with the papers just as the evening session was wrapping up and pulled a friend from that grieving circle I’d experienced last conference over to a table off to the side of the main meeting room where we all signed. He gave me a huge hug of congratulations, Alexis and I hugged and then I leaned back on a planter and we beamed at each other. There was so much joy radiating out of our entire beings. It was impossible not to resonate with “You are good, good, O Lord”.
I was so excited it was hard to fall asleep but for once I didn’t mind a little battle with insomnia, not with all the joy in my heart. When I did fall asleep, I slept hard and ended up getting up late. Alexis had already left for the morning session (our room was right across the hall from the main meeting room) when I got out of the shower and pulled my clothes on. Just as I had my hand on the door to leave, I heard a massive THUD and then the muffled sound system from the meeting room that I had been hearing in the background went totally silent.
The rest of that day, and many, many days in the days to come, it became nearly impossible to resonate with “You are good, good, O Lord …
- 19. … Never Going to Let Us Down?
So I have really struggled with how to write this next part of this story. And to be honest I’m still not sure if I have the right balance to accurately share how deeply the events the day after the embryos became legally ours impacted me with ensuring that I am treating my friends, the Tallons, with respect and love. I have no desire to use their story to “sensationalize” this post and I’ve given them opportunity to read it before hand and asked for their permission to share. Though I’m tempted to wonder if even that is cruel and unloving …
The short, though no less brutal, version is that the planter, where we had signed the papers making us parents the night before, through a bizarre series of events, that planter fell over and killed their incredible daughter during the morning session the following day. I don’t feel to give any more details than that though I’d encourage you to learn about the joy and beauty that Beatrix brought into this world, as well as the public parts of Mike and Amanda’s grieving journey at their blog over here.
So many of us were praying for a miracle but didn’t see the miracle we were pounding on heaven’s doors for.
So many of us had our understanding shaken of what it means that God would “cover us with his wings” and “never let the children of the righteous beg for bread” .
Alexis and I had our confidence shaken that God would let us beat the statistics and allow both of the children that our hearts had already fallen in love with survive the thaw.
How does this work? There are so many stories of God’s miraculous protection, I can tell them from my own life … why this?
If He doesn’t promise what we thought He promises … what does He promise?
How does He actually show up in this journey?
In what perspective … what definition of “never going to let us down” do the other lyrics of “King of my heart” make sense?
I have some theories, some guesses, but I know I don’t have all these answers. I also know that there is no one I would rather have at my side walking through these mysteries than Jesus. And from my conversations with Mike since that day, I believe he’d say the same.
- 20. On an (un)ordinary day …
On a (un)ordinary day…
August 22, 2017
Today, this seems like an ordinary day, but during ordinary days, extraordinary things happen. Things happen with movement. And on this day the two little ones that we have waited for for over a decade are on the move, across provinces into the exact place they will meet us. Why you ask are we not going to their province to meet them? Well you see these little ones are extremely little and they need extra care, so they need to be brought to us in a specially equipped vehicle that we aren’t allowed into. But soon they will be welcomed into me. Soon, after so many years for all of us they will have a home.
- 21. On that same (un)ordinary day …
“We’re moving … again.”
“Moving? Like eight years ago?”
“Yes I’m sure of it … don’t you remember?”
“I think so …”
While their bodies were still inside the semi translucent plastic that seemed like their skin after being in it for so long, the whole container of what had held the essence of who they were was being moved. For a brief moment they saw bursts of brightness and moving blurs. As they were starting to adjust to this new brilliance, they were put into another container.
“Well at least we’re going together.”
“Wherever it is we’re going …”
In a few minutes, there was no more light and then soon there was a gentle rhythmic bumping.
As their spirits checked in with Him, they felt His peace rush over them. They didn’t know where they were going, but they trusted Him.
What else could they do?
- 22. Peace beyond understanding.
After over a year of being led into and then pursuing embryo adoption, it has happened, we are parents. We eagerly await hearing of their safe arrival in the clinic that we will soon be going to, where they will be transferred into me.
As I think about these two traveling in a truck and all that needs to line up in the next days to ensure a healthy life giving start to our family, anxiousness tries to claw at my stomach. I hear our Creator’s voice speak to me through my devotional Jesus Calling, “Entrust your loved ones to Me; release them into My protective care”.
Jesus’ spirit continues to speak to mine, even after my eyes drift off the page, “Even these little ones. And remember, I am the God of time.” I open my Bible and Exodus 33:14 also speaks comfort and assurance that I can trust Him, “My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest.” I feel my Creator’s peace in the midst of the not knowing how this will look. The peace that I have known for many years, in the midst of not understanding hows or whys.
I take a breath and choose to trust Him again.
What else can I do?
- 23. What if … ?
Somedays the “what if’s” of embryo adoption pour into my mind and try to affect my heart.
“What if they both survive like I’m praying for … will I really have enough energy to be a ‘good mom’ to twins in my my mid-forties and into my fifties?”
“What if one or both of them don’t make it?”
I know that it is never for nothing when we love with no visible positive outcome, I have lived long enough to have had to dwell on that a few times and press into God’s comfort and promises. He is faithful. I also know that this is not heaven yet, so I and you will still go through pain. However, our minds and bodies are not made in such a way to process pain that might be, but is not yet.
A quote from Corrie ten Boom has often come back to me through the years. Her father said to her in response question about what if they get caught rescuing Jews, “Corrie, when do we buy a train ticket?” (This was back in the days before internet.) “When we are getting ready to leave,” she responded. It always made me think that the grace, ability, and strength we need for whatever, will come right when I need it from God, but not necessarily before.
- 24. In the Moment with a Big Black Dog
I felt my Father illustrated the Corrie ten Boom quote from my last post to me powerfully this last week in Central Asia. I have been living the last weeks in a community with lots of dogs.
Dogs that easily jump their fences and come to greet me.
If you know me, you would know that for the last 25 years I have been pressing into God’s help to overcome fear of dogs I don’t know. The fear gained ground when I was 17 and had two dogs chase and attack me when running in Oregon.
So one day this last week I needed to walk to a friend’s house by myself and already knew the dogs on certain streets to her house. I knew, on these streets, where they might jump out, when there were dogs that were bigger then I, and ones that were all bark, but wouldn’t do anything. So I started walking, and on the second street there was an unexpected development.
There in the middle of the road about 40 meters ahead was a black dog sitting just looking at me as I rounded the corner. I went back to where it couldn’t see me and prayed.
“God, I really don’t want to back down and go another route or worse go home, because of what might happen. Please calm me and show me what to do.”
Although my adrenaline was flowing strongly as usually happens outside in this neighbourhood, I felt God nudge me to just keep walking and see what would happen when I got to the dog. When I was about 10 meters away, a lady just happened to be coming out her door met me and walked with me past the dog. She told me casually to just walk right past it and not to talk to it. God’s grace was there once again in the moment, but I wouldn’t have experienced that if I would have backed down with fear, because of what might be.
There were other dogs on the journey to my friend’s house, but with that fresh reminder that even if I was attacked, His grace would be enough “ in that moment”. I walked with joy in my heart knowing that the God who can guide me through this pack of vocal canines is the same God that can guide me through the unknowns of the EA path ahead of me.
- 25. So close!
It is hard to believe the time has come for these two little ones and I to be together. For the last week we have been in the same city as them and even several times in the same building preparing* for their arrival in the same room. In a few hours, they will be placed in me and I will welcome them with my body, soul, and spirit. No matter how long they live (although I believe they will live long lives.. eternal to be precise), I know that this is how our Creator has led. So I walk in confidence, knowing that they and He is a risk of love well worth taking. Although, I don’t know yet if they are even boys or girls, I know that my heart already loves them.
(*If you have an interest in what the ‘preparation time’ looks like for Mom and embryo, you are welcome to message me and I will share with you more privately. Keeping in mind that the preparation is different with Moms. )
- 26. Moving In
On a late autumn day, the two were just taking it all in, as the heat that was radiating into them almost stunned them speechless. As they were being taking out of their usual dark cold surrounding they saw a light, not bright, but enough to allow them to see forms of big objects moving. And one of those big things were moving them towards a clear glass sheet on a white counter. They looked at each other just before they were wooshed out of their yellow tube shell by droplets of clear warm liquid. They had almost forgotten that when they first came to be they didn’t have the shell.
Actually, this moment now reminded them of those first days of life… the warmth they felt, the deep seated feeling that they had potential for growth and much more life was starting to ooze out of every one of their few cells. For many years they had only a frozen cramped space that didn’t allow them to grow and actually they had the sense that they had shrunk but in essence were the same person, but today something was changing.
No more “yellow” surroundings, they were now soaring through space on the wings of a clear tube that was moving fast towards a tunnel. After a brief journey through their new environment they had landed were they now nestled into folds of a soft cuddly surface that was stretchable if they moved this way or that! After a couple days they found that they were being filled with energy of being connected in their new surroundings. And something unusual was happening, they looked at each other and knew it was true… They were GROWING!
- 27. Finally United 🙂
I can hardly believe it, the two little ones are inside of me. I will continue to speak over their lives, “You are wanted, you are loved, you are precious”.
I heard a song by Dara Maclean a few years back that I really liked that went like this; “From the day you were born and took your first breath…He was watching you…. You are wanted!”
But I don’t know if I like the song as much now, as I know that the Creator has been watching over my babies since that day they were conceived in IVF. He has been speaking to their spirits, comforting them, making Himself known to them in peace beyond understanding during the waiting. Their lives have been “wanted” and counted blessings, not burdens by their Creator. And they are wanted and loved by us now as well.
O my babies, I don’t know how many days you each will live, thousands and thousands or just a few, but I rejoice in this day I have with you. I know your number of days are out of my control, but I know He is watching over you. Matthew 10: 29-31 hit me in a new way today. “Are not two sparrows sold for one penny, yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father… so do not be afraid, You (two little ones) are worth more than many sparrows.”
So the little ones have been in me for six days and I am feeling the effects of them nestling in deeply to my uterus lining. I have been reminded of scripture that has spoke to me of adoption in years past in Psalm 87. Verse five saying, “This one and that one were born of her, and the Most High himself will establish her.”
Verses 4 – 7 are also powerful statements about how God adopts us – and many people in the past – into His kingdom, even though we were not genetically part of His family. The Lord God actually adopts these so intensely that He writes us in the “registry” saying this one is born here, they are part of the family, no denying it. These verses touch me deeply as the little ones are not genetically ours, but it will still be written, “This one and that one were born of her.” They will be loved just as much as if we had genetically connected children. But it also touches me deeply, because I realize in a deeper way that God’s love and grace has made it possible that I can be part of His family.
- 28. Settling in
Wow, what a few days it had been. They had enjoyed the couple of days of playing bumper cars and watching each other and themselves grow. The littlest of little ones had grown 200 percent faster then the his brother and had almost caught up again after losing half of his mass in the thaw. And then they both hatched. Again!
Here they thought they only had one shell that they were rid of after so many years when they had landed in their new surroundings this week. This shell was different though, not as thick and confining, and it felt like this coming out was just part of the process, not like “why did that thing have to be around me”. Soon after they hatched, they had this strange hunger like feeling and thought to themselves,
“I wonder if our new container is more then just fun to bounce off of. I wonder if we could connect to it and get some yum-yums.”
So the bigger one tried first to hook into the warm wall nearest him, as the littlest blastocyst watched with wide cellular eyes. Soon they both discovered that their hunch was right as they choose to burrow deeper and deeper into the cuddly stretchable organism that seemed to accept them so far.
They found that they were being filled with energy at being connected with their surroundings in a whole new way then they had ever experienced in their short, but not so short lives. Somehow they knew that this connection was key in becoming all that their Creator designed for them to be in Him, just like they were in and vitally attached to this organism, so this was part of their destiny with Him. Although there was definitely a mystery in it all, just like there was such a mystery in what was happening to their bodies.
- 29. Stats vs Hopes
Three more days until the blood test and today I woke up feeling anxious and a bit fearful about what would happen. I mean I felt the implantation cramps on the exact right days and saw the right coloured blood, but why do I still struggle with the anxiety? Even though there are signs that they are living and growing in me, I know that nothing is for sure, except the fact that God has the three of us in His hands for eternity. I guess because of past disappointments, and listening to other ladies’ stories puts a dapper on the faith of what I feel you are personally telling me. I need to listen to the story you are telling me more carefully. The stats say that both of them surviving is around 15 percent and I am guessing with the littlest one losing so much of it’s mass, the percentage chance is less than 10 percent. But God doesn’t always work according to the percentages, as You do supernaturally intervene according to your best plan through this broken world. I ask for your supernatural intervention in whatever way You know is best.
- 30. Loved
The little ones had now counted 10 times that the warm, embracing, accepting being they were in had stopped moving for a long time. Not that the movement bothered them at all, it was just interesting how the part of the being they were in would become more relaxed and their movements would have predictable responses. Except that one night that this being must have laid more on where they were, because the other side of the wall of their personal cavity was mighty close to their quickly developing cells. Even that few hours was still a lot nicer than those tubes they were in for so long. As they could feel each other’s presence, their Creator’s presence, and it felt like love was oozing from the very container they were in… speaking over them, “You are wanted. You are precious. You have great worth.” They understood in a deeper way what the Creator had been speaking to them so many times through the years.
- 31. The Test
I did it! I took a home pregnancy test. After I glanced at it, as I was pulling it away from my body, I flipped it over not quite ready to face what would likely be the last pregnancy test I took in my life. I spent a couple minutes praying in the midst of the strong feeling that it would always be like before.. disappointing.
The glimpse I had seen was a “negative” result, so I was trying to prepare myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the news. A few minutes later, I was ready and flipped the test over again.
Sincerely, my response was shock when I saw a very strong positive result. I felt like I was in a dream, like I had been psyching myself out (because of some type of protective mechanism), and now reality was hitting me again. Yes, I was pregnant, these little ones were alive in me and the prayers and the love were not for nothing. The blood test the next day would again clarify this joyful, but life changing fact.
- 32. Development
This was fun! They looked at each other in a way only two embryos that have been together for nine plus years could do. They were remembering their beginning days and also when they were thawed and wooshed into their home by a similar consistency of liquid surrounding them. For the last few days, their swishing room was growing consistently in the translucent circular swimming pools that encompassed them.
They also were aware of their continual development, although they didn’t know what they were becoming, they had an acute sense that it was something good. The littlest one barked sweetly to the other little one, “It almost looks like you have a tail, it is kind of cute. Mine is a bit more stubby.”
The little one spoke gently back, “Yours will come, I have a feeling, don’t worry.” They had a special relationship right from the beginning. Both were developing a tube like structure through their beings, so they were becoming less circular. These changes were what most changes can be for any of us, causing us to reflect and trust or causing us to fear. They choose to trust their Creator, as they continued to sense that all these changes were very important in what was to come and for their destiny. After all … what else could they do?
- 33. My Part vs. His
It is becoming more in my complete understanding that the little ones are indeed growing inside of me. I have less energy, so they can have more energy. I eat more carefully, so they can have the best of nutrients flowing into them. The magnitude of the life changes before me are also hitting as I have had quite of bit of freedom in my 42 years. But yes like with any changes, there is a choice before me to reflect and trust or to fear.
I am choosing, although not always perfect in it, to trust in my dependable Creator, who has already brought me through so much when I have lived in different cultures and walked through many dangers. I know His peace will be perfect for motherhood. Even if, and I pray I do have, twins. The second blood test seemed to point to the possibility of what You already know, but will be confirmed by the ultrasound in now less than a two week wait.
- 34. Thoughts about Mary
Thinking about Mary (the one in the Bible, mother of Jesus), because of the way God orchestrated things, many things in her life were unpredictable and probably not the way that she dreamed. But I am sure that if I could sit down and talk with her today, she wouldn’t have traded a thing. She forfeited her honeymoon, having a house nice and ready for her first baby to come, and her reputation. I have been struggling just with one of those things, we are in transition right now in several areas of our lives and even have another family living in our home at this time.
I want to laugh at the timing of God directing us to move on embryo adoption, as for years before this one, we had at least one spare bedroom and most of our stuff was not packed in boxes. I also think of my age, I will be just about 43 when these little ones come, definitely not the time line I would have picked, but I feel His leading through it all.
Did we miss Him somewhere, somehow? I am sure in something, some capacity we have, we all miss it and will be shocked in heaven how much our Saviour’s grace have covered our mistakes. However, I strongly sense His leading through this embryo adoption journey and that this is His plan. This is the time and place He has picked to trust Him in new ways that His grace will be enough, like it was for Mary. And I choose the joy of the Lord that made Mary sing in Luke 1:49, “for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy (awesome, worthy of all my praise) is His name.” I feel incredibly privileged to be the mother of these two little ones.
- 35. Heartbeats
“Hey do you hear that thumping coming from yourself?” the littlest one asked.
“Yes, I have been hearing it for a while now.” said the little one. “I feel more and more ‘here’ the more I grow.”
He laughed and pumped the paddle like structures, two near his head and two near his shrinking tail. These “paddles” allowed him to move more easily in the liquid he rested in.
The littlest one laughed to.
“Life is good.”
He smiled and settled down to sleep. The thumping in the little one’s chest was neat … but as close as it was, the Creator’s heartbeat felt closer still. They never knew what exactly their Creator had for them next in this crazy journey, but so far He had proven that He would never leave or forsake them. Why doubt now?
“Life is an adventure!”
After doing one more little flip assisted by his new technology, the little one, realizing he wasn’t going to convince the littlest one to join him in exercising, yawned and decided to join his brother in sleep instead.
- 36. What else could they do?
One day the Creator approached them and said. “Littlest one, I have a new adventure for you … do you trust me?”
“Then I need you to come with me I have a new role for you to play in my creation.”
The Littlest one jiggled with joy.
“A special role … for me?”
The creator smiled and nodded. The Little one was excited too.
“O good when do we go?”
“We, the littlest one and I, go now … but we, you and I, need to stay longer yet … I’m not done with you on this earth …. I need you to receive and give more love here.”
The two siblings looked at each other in shock … to be separated … after so long having only had each other …
“But you didn’t only have each other did you.” The creator said in response to their thoughts. You’ve always had me, and you always will. And it won’t be long, though it may feel long, until you are reunited. Trust me.”
What else could they do?
- 37. Grieving again
Early in week 8, we had to travel for work to the states. The business of the time had pushed down the grief and full reality of the moment when we had seen the ultrasound monitor the day before we left Canada. Our littlest one had disappeared and was no longer with us, his Creator had called him home. We were stunned, as we really thought both would survive into this world. And we found the next weeks a strange place to be, as we rejoiced that the ultrasound revealed that we had a strong little one, but we grieved as the littlest one who was gone. Joy and grief all wrapped into one time frame. I think God must understand how we feel as He longs for all His children, but some will never be in His arms. At least I get to see and hug my two little ones that I can’t hold on this earth in heaven.
Encourage you to listen to “Glory Baby” by Watermark and “They Called Him Laughter”, by Micheal Card to understand a bit more or be comforted yourself.
- 38. Alone but not …
It had been a few weeks since the little one’s twin had gone quiet, still, and the realization that his sibling was gone stung in his wee beating heart. If he had the ability to have a facial expression, it would have been of sorrow for those hours of realization that his twin was not present in the womb with him anymore. He couldn’t fully comprehend why the Creator needed them to be separate for awhile for adventures with Him, but there was that peace that passes all his understanding that kept soothing him, like it had when they had been waiting for so many years for the full purpose of their little lives to be more revealed. There was also great joy and discovery in these weeks, it felt like every day something new was happening to his body. He could sense and do things that were not even known to him the day before.
“Developing into more of who You have designed me to be and adventuring with You is sure exciting but I feel sleepy a lot too.” he whispered as he floated into his sleep world again.
- 38. Reassurance
Oh how good it was to hear the little ones beating heart after so many weeks of only having the last memory hearing his heart beat being dulled by the given knowledge that there was only one heart beat. This time it was pure joy, and a bit of relief to hear the strong sound of life pour from our baby. So many prayers have been prayed over this boy in the last weeks, that strengthened our faith in what God was doing. However, at times fears still would creep in because of past losses. Each day of this little ones life, we feel reinforced that Jeremiah 29:11 is so true for our lives and this baby’s life…. that God has good plans in this, for a future and a hope. There are no guarantees about each day that is given, but feel that we will see this little ones face.
- 39. Dance Class
“It’s so amazing,” exclaimed the little one to his Creator, “There are so many parts of me that can move. Watch this I can even do things with my mouth.” This was followed by a small sucking sound and a swallow that was noticeable in the babies throat. Immediately after this was accomplished this baby, the size of avocado, made it’s face into a slight smile, and he could feel the Creator’s joy over his development. The Creator knew also that as the little one’s muscles continued to develop that smile would become bigger and bigger. He could hardly contain the joy He felt in thinking how this one would experience so much joy in Himself. But the Creator also knew that this little one was being born into a not yet perfectly joyful world and that there would be sad looks on that little face and even tears that would fall, that He already longed to wipe away forever. As for now, He would enjoy this protected communion and watch him once again start on his daily water aerobic class. The Creator cheered, “Good job with getting that left kick down and I love the way your arms move, it looks very ‘danceful’.” “What does danceful mean”, asked the tiny mover and shaker. “You will find out some day,” the Great One said with a glimmer in His eye, “for now just enjoy this.”
- 40. Dance Studio
Kick, kick, nudge.
Well, the little one is certainly active. He is making it known to me that he is present. And like every pregnant mother experiences, he is creating awareness of ligaments and muscles that we don’t know existed before this baby has joined our lives. There is joy in carrying this little one, but like with most true joys, there is also a price accompanying the joy. The last days the price has been some pain, but nothing compared to the price that was paid for me to enter into God’s full joy. Thinking of Jesus’ joy in this particular journey also gives me joy, for He is the one who says, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me…”*
I feel like I am receiving so much from this little one’s presence in my life, even before I see his sweet face. Isn’t that like our God, we are blessed as we bless others. It is hard to out give the greatest Giver. One of the things I am receiving is a deeper revelation of certain parts of what I believe to be God’s love letter to me and each person. I was reading parts of the Easter story in the Bible* this last week, and as well some from Jesus Always*. These sentences grabbed me: “Through My resurrection from the dead, you have new birth into a living hope… The old has gone, the new has come! Your adoption into My royal family occurred…” It started me thinking about the baby boy in me. Until he was adopted into a new family, he couldn’t experience the full life he had been created for. He was frozen, even stuck. That is how we are before Christ resurrection life flows through us, but then we are adopted into His family. But His adoption and transfer happened instantaneously, we don’t have to wait sometimes months to be transferred. Immediately life, His life can be felt coursing through our veins and He gives to us far greater life than any parent can hope to give their child. God gives to us eternal life!
*Luke 9:48b, Romans 6:4, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Peter 1:3-4, March 27th entry by Sarah Young
- 41. Ultrasound
I had a bit of nerves going into this ultrasound day, as the last one several weeks ago brought a shock of news that numbed me for the rest of the ultrasound. But by the time I was in the hospital, I had the peace that passes our understanding and experiences wash over me. We were excited to see the little one move and pictures of more of who this one is. It is a hard to describe the feeling when you see your little ones perfectly made feet move around and the silhouette of their unique and precious face come into focus, but it is indeed a holy moment. I felt in awe of God who knits us in our mother’s womb.
There was a surprise though, although definitely not a bad one this time. We would have been happy with either a boy or a girl, and I thought we were having a girl, and Rusty didn’t know. Both of us have learned through the years that our God loves surprises and we are having a boy! We are very excited for him, for us, and for God’s dreams to come to pass in our family.
- 42. Twenty-two weeks and growing
“Sweet, I did it again.. that was the fastest flip I have ever done.” The Creator smiled at the little boy who already enjoyed speed and motion. “Yes, you are quite the creation of mine and your quickness will continue to give me great pleasure, but don’t forget to enjoy whatever you are doing with me… a flip, a lick of ice cream, even inputting the healthy taste of spinach. Because if you rush, you will miss so much if you don’t smell the…” The little one broke in speaking in rapid fire, “What is ice cream? Is this a lick?” The baby boy stuck his tongue out about a millimetre out of his mouth at the Creator of the universe. “Your getting close with the lick and ice cream will be one of those good surprises,” his best friend spoke with a sparkle in his eye. The little one determined he would wait for this good surprise, but he had one more question that couldn’t wait, “Is spinach that stuff that I have been tasting and smelling a lot of in the last week? Is it going to be a surprise like that?”
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
- 43. Second Trimester
I have been thinking about the second trimester and how God perfectly designed pregnancy to have a bit of a lull in it, when you are not dealing with nausea as much or being exceeding round and big. A time when it has really dawned on us, we are going to have a baby and adjusting to that news while the kicks aren’t as sharp, but we can experience life inside of us with mostly pleasure. The little one has lots of room still to play as well. It makes me think about how my Father designed heaven, when there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more darkness, just His amazing light and joy. Our Creator gives us so many glimpses in the midst of living in a world that does have pain and sorrow of what His heart is for us and what He is creating heaven to be like. And I just discovered a new glimpse, “most”of second trimester.
- 44. This is a thing that’s actually happening.
The further along in the pregnancy that we are getting, the more real it is becoming that our son will likely be born alive. Every day that he gives me high fives through Alex’s tummy, every day that I pray for him to grow in stature and wisdom and favour with God and man, and every day that I hear his heartbeat at a midwife appointment, it becomes more real that I am a father and will likely get to fully embrace that role with my son as he grows up in this world.
Sometimes I find myself thinking about possibilities. Usually those possibilities involve some sort of tragedy happening to Alex, myself or my son. And as the due date is drawing closer these imaginations seem to happen more and more frequently. I think this is normal. I think with the long journey and losses we’ve experienced along the way, not to mention the due date being very close to the death anniversary of some dear friends’ daughter, I think it’s understandable that I would deal with thoughts like these, at times, as the birth draws near.
And I’m glad I don’t have to process them alone. I don’t go into details with Alex, but I’ll let her know when they are happening more often, and I know we’re praying for each other. Also, I frequently find myself inviting Father God into those thoughts and, where before I’d be looking for guarantees from Him that he won’t allow our family to experience any more tragedies, now I find myself asking him to remain at our side throughout whatever comes our way. I also ask for release from fear and for help to direct my thoughts positively to dreaming good “what ifs” with Him.
I still feel a little melancholy as I write this, but I can also remember just a couple hours ago, when I was on the lawn tractor, the joy of dreaming about foraging with my son for wild asparagus and raspberries and grapes in our tree line. In the same sweep around the property I passed by the plaque dedicating a fruitful apple tree to his brother’s memory, the fire pit where I look forward to making smores together and the field where I can teach him archery.
And I think that is happening more and more too. That the dreams really are outnumbering the fears.
My son’s birth is a thing that is actually happening.
- 45. Hannah
Today was reading about Hannah in 1 Samuel in the Bible. It is interesting to me that her song of praise wasn’t until she had really in action given her son to God. I felt challenged that even though I now will have a son, in reality and in my heart’s desire this little boy is God’s. And that the more I give him to do His Creator’s will and not necessarily what I would like his life to look like, the more I will be freed to truly sing a song of praise to my Lord. But what does that mean in my heart attitude and the motivation of why I do what I do as a Mom? What does this look like in the daily life? In the choices I make in how to protect his little heart, but also give opportunity for our boy to risk in loving… am I willing to let go and trust when Jesus prompts me? I am sure many parents through the years have wrestled through these questions. I realize I now join the ranks of ordinary parents, but I want to trust an extraordinary capable God with my son. Would love to hear from those of you who have walked this journey in the comments.
- 46. Growing
Swish, swish, swish. Little Russell Jr. watched his fist as he swung it through the H20 environment that both confined him and kept him safe. He especially liked it when his fist would bounce off the soft surroundings of his bubble. The rebound was exhilarating, as it was unexpected. He wondered how long he would be able to play this game as he seemed to be getting bigger and his whole body flips seemed to be much harder to succeed at. Was he getting bigger? Or was his bubble shrinking? He was almost tempted to worry and wonder what would happen, when he felt His Creator’s voice speak in his innermost being. “I know the future and I will always be with you, no matter what changes happen. So you can keep trusting me.” With that Russell Jr. mind became free again and he returned to bouncing limb game. This time he tried it with his left foot against the bubble, but it didn’t seem to bounce like his fist. His foot seemed to sink in… he liked that feeling, but not as much as knowing that he would never be alone.
- 47. Third Trimester
Third Trimester Reality
So Russell Jr. and I are in the third trimester. Woohoo. I have been amazed and feel incredibly blessed that my pregnancy has gone so well. The reality of the little guy inside is becoming increasingly obvious, as he even wakes me up at times with his fun. Russell Jr. moves a lot when he hears music or I drink sweet things. He likes playing high five with his Dad, Rusty. It is hard to describe what it is like having a life inside of you growing, moving, and even responding to their environment. Although it is wonderful, it can also make me feel out of control, which is a good thing when one wants to draw closer to the One who is in control of all. I hear His voice speak to my innermost being. “I know the future and I will always be with you, no matter what changes happen. So you can keep trusting me.” At that, I like my little one, continue on the play that life can be when we are free from worry and connected to the Creator, although I think Russell Jr. is better at it. 🙂
I am reminded of Bible verses about faith like a little child. Mark 10:15- “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Matthew 11:25 is an interesting read as well.
- 48. Treasure
“You are a treasure. My treasure. You are worth more than one could ever count.”
These words from the Creator placed such a warmth and security in Russell Jr’s little heart, but he didn’t really understand what “treasure” was.
“PaPa. What is treasure? What is true treasure worth”. He cocked his head to one side to look at the Light that now he could see in his home of many months. He knew that his Creator thought of him as something good, so a treasure is something good.
“A treasure is something or someone that is very hard to put a price on… because there is so much care for them.”
“What is a price?”
“You ask good questions Russell Jr. For now, just remember that a treasure is someone so worth “it” that you would give lots of your energy and love so that they can be truly safe and know they are thought of with the utmost care.”
“I think I understand more. Like this…” At that, his tiny hands and legs started to move as fast as they can in a dancing pattern for five whole minutes. As Russell Jr’s eyes fell sleepy again, he whispered to the Creator, “Like that right. You taught me dancing can… be… for…You.” At that the little boy fell asleep, and only the reverberation of the Creator’s words impacted his heart, without him fully processing them. “That is right my boy, when you give all you are to bless someone’s heart. You understand what treasure is.”
Matthew 13:44-46 – “…treasure… When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
- 49. Home Stretch
Wow, it is hard to believe some mornings that I am on the home stretch of this pregnancy. But then I get on my feet and the reality of how I feel confirms it to me. Even with the uncomfortableness of these days, I feel incredibly blessed to be on this journey. Learning much from the little one who is so carefree in me and from the One who reminds me that I am to be like him. (Having the faith and simple trust of a little child.) Fear tries to come in with the “what if’s” of labor and the first weeks of nursing and little sleep, but as I spend time with the Creator and Sustainer of all, I know that He is not going to suddenly shift His character and actions towards me as soon as I am in crisis. I have tasted and seen that He is good in so many situations in my life, even difficult ones. And I am reminded of a verse that has spoke to my heart many times during the last months….“…he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
- 50. An ‘ug?
“I don’t understand, why are you allowing my room to get so small. It has been weeks like this and I liked to do the flips and fun dance moves. I thought you liked them too.”
“Oh, I do,” said the Creator with a glow on His face. “Someday you will understand that I take certain things away, because I am preparing for you something even better, more designed for who you are.”
“But what could be better than doing the flips and talking with you?” questioned Russell Jr.
“Don’t worry, you will be able to talk with me during everything that is coming next, because I will never be away from you. And you will do flips again, but they will be a bit different, but ‘good’. Can you trust me?”
“Yes, I can. You have never let me down.” said Russell Jr. softly as both his arms and legs pressed against his seemingly shrinking home.
Suddenly, his home walls become hard and not flexible to all his strength. He even felt squished a bit. “What was that? It has been happening a lot these days,” his high pitched voice cried.
“That is called a ‘hug’.”
“Almost, but not exactly,” the Great One said through smiling lips. “It is what needs to happen for you to come out of this small room to experience all that I have for you. You will be experiencing more and more of them until you come out, but don’t be afraid. Imagine that the squeezing times are My arms and know that they won’t squeeze too hard, because indeed my arms are around you and you will be safe.”
As his closest Companion spoke, little Russell felt something impact the way he was feeling. He felt calm and content.* He wasn’t sure if the Creator himself was giving him a supernatural shot of feel good medicine as he was speaking or if it was coming from his room that he was still interconnected with, but either way he was now convinced that every truly “good” thing came from the One who made him. He relaxed and imagined that his yet smaller quarters were the Creator’s ‘ug and drifted into sleep. When he woke up he knew He would be closer to the new room that he could do flips in and that the Creator would be there with him.
***This often happens via the oxytocin that is released in the mother’s body during labour. (https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/wellbeing/what-birth-feels-like-for-a-baby-1.355610)
- 51. It happened!
It happened! Russell Jr. was born on a late summer’s day. Waltzing into our arms as a six pound immeasurable treasure of cuteness and determination after being born at home. (We had felt while praying that we were to have a home birth and a way was made, even though I was in my 43rd year barely. God showed His faithfulness and His “with-us-ness” through the whole process, but that would be another blog stream – maybe some day when I remember what a full night’s sleep is like … 🙂 )
Our hearts are smitten with a love that, as parents know, is hard to describe. There were waves of strong emotion in those first couple weeks pertaining to the miracle we now held. All three of us had been waiting for about a decade for this miracle to unfold in a different dimension. We stand in awe of how our Creator makes each of us so intricately and delicately, but also how He holds the end from the beginning, knowing all, having a plan through it all. Having a good plan for Rusty, for Russell Jr., and for me as well. He has known that ache that has been in my heart for over three decades for the hidden treasures in this world that sometimes come in small delicate packages called embryos. Someday we will meet face to face one of these little ones named Stephen who experienced some weeks of love and embrace inside of me. And for this season (and we know it is quick) we get the amazing privilege to love our son Russell Jr.
“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. Then you will call upon me and come and pay to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:11,12 NIV
- 52. Lullabies
“Russell you are a gift of God,
Russell you’re a miracle.
Russell you are our son and we love you,
Russell you’re a gift of God.”
As I hold our son in our arms, I string together this prayer / expression of mystery and find myself singing these lines over and over again. I love fathering! This is what I want to do with the rest of my life.
I know there are no guarantees that I get to, but somehow that just makes me want to embrace the moment even more. Somehow, the heartache, the questions, the mystery of this journey don’t make me want shrink from more hurt but to embrace the journey. I’m sure I will be tempted in the future to try to control things I can’t control, but I also know Father will be walking with this father, helping me to trust and love more fully, more like He does.
Russell Jr. starts to cry and I find myself stringing together the following song.
“You can tell me all about it,
You can tell me how you feel.
You can tell me all about it,
I’m your father I’m right here.
You can tell me when you’re happy,
You can tell me when your sad.
You can tell me all about it,
You can tell me I’m your dad.
You can tell me when your anxious,
You can tell me when at peace.
You can tell me all about it,
It will put your heart at ease.
You can tell me when your frightened,
You can tell me of your joys.
You can tell me all about it,
You can tell me you’re my boy.”
I’m not sure where this song came from, did I hear someone sing it to their kids once? It seems so familiar. Maybe, but then again maybe my spirit has been hearing if from another source for over a decade now. As Russell Jr. quiets down and looks at my face I start again.
“We can tell Him all about it,
We can tell Him how we feel.
We can tell Him all about it,
He’s our Father, He is near.
We can tell Him when we’re happy,
We can tell Him when we’re sad.
We can tell Him all about it,
We can tell Him, He’s our Dad.
We can tell Him when we’re anxious,
We can tell Him when at peace.
We can tell Him all about it,
It will put our heart’s at ease.
We can tell Him when we’re frightened,
We can tell Him of our joys.
We can tell Him all about it,
We can tell Him we’re His boys.”
I can’t begin to tell you all what an encouragement it has been to be able to share this miracle journey we have been on with you. Thank you for reading. Remembering where we have come from has made our current joys so much sweeter and harder to take for granted. I pray some of it has been an encouragement for you as well.
- 53. Our (in)fertility journey final post.
Thank you for journeying with us through this (in)fertility blog. Doubtlessly, you will be hearing more about our son through the years on our blog site here, but this part of the journey has now transitioned and so we will pause the story here. If you have been reading regularly, you probably have picked up some of the reasons we felt to be so open in our journey. We want to bring awareness to the path that many couples now walk with infertility (1 in 6 we have heard). We desire at least some of them not feel as alone in their journey and reach out to others. (A website we recommend is: hannah.org ) We also have wanted to just plain share our journey with some that might be interested and to be stretched in being creatively vulnerable.
We hopefully have not offended, but brought attention to the unborn, even little embryos. And even if you do not agree with our take on their “life” status, we hope that we have brought more awareness to the option of embryo adoption / donation that is now available. Both for those who struggle with infertility and those who don’t.
Our prayer for you is that somehow you would have also sensed the love of God and care for you personally through sharing our story as well. Again, thank you for listening to our story and we would love to hear yours. And in this place of mutual sharing, we hope to continue the journey together.
Alex, Rusty & Russell Jr.
Resources and links for understanding more about embryo adoption / donation:
In Canada: www.beginnings.ca
In the United States: Snowflakes
- Post for Canadians – Urgent request
Hello Canadians (currently more than half of those who regularly visit this blog 🙂 ) we just wanted to let you know about a current event that could have a huge impact on Embryo Adoption in Canada and to ask you to pray about possibly taking action response.
There are new Proposed Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) Regulations currently being put forward in Canada. For the most part we have no issue with them as they make it illegal to create and sell embryos for financial gain. However, there is one part that doesn’t seem to take Embryo Adoption or (Open Embryo Donation in Canadian legalese) into account. They are not being treated the same as sperm and ova and it says that the only expenses a donor can legally be reimbursed for are storage and transportation of the embryos. Previously (as in our case) the recipient would also reimburse the donor for counseling expenses and for legal expenses in creating the legal contract around the transfer (same as those donating sperm and ova).
What the change means is that if a donor wants to provide their embryos for open embryo donation it could cost them thousands of dollars to do so, which is a heavy burden to put on people who are allowing their embryos to be adopted by prospective parents.
We agree that they shouldn’t make money on the donation, but feel strongly that there should be provision for the added expenses of the donation to be covered by the recipient. This will allow more embryos to be available for adoption and fewer to be destroyed.
You can find out more about the proposed regulations and how you can give your input online at the following links.
Our own response on the electronic questionnaire above is as follows:
5. If there are any other categories of expenditures that should be considered for reimbursement, please describe them and explain why below.
As a recipient of donated embryos (2) and the new father of a healthy baby boy, I believe that the donors of embryos should have the same reimbursement rights as the donors of sperm and ova. It makes no sense to me why sperm and ova donors should have the right to be reimbursed for counseling and legal expenses but the donors of embryos shouldn’t. It seems to make it harder for people to do embryo donation (especially open embryo donation where genetic siblings grow up aware of each other and any medical conditions that develop) by putting an extra burden on the donors to pay for their own legal and counseling expenses. It seems like it would decrease the supply of embryos available for donation as more and more potential donors will choose their destruction rather than making them available for donation due to the increased expense at the end of what has already been an expensive procedure (their own IVF).
Thanks so much for reading this and for your considered response. I’ll be cutting and pasting an email we received from Beginnings regarding this below.
Rusty, Alexis and Russell Jr.
BEGINNINGS NEEDS YOUR HELP. After 14 years without clear regulations governing the infertility field, the federal Department of Health has just published the new proposed regulations for the Assisted Human Reproductive Act (AHRA). Unfortunately, the government is not treating embryo donations the same as sperm and egg donations and has only allowed two expenses for embryo donation – shipping and storage. What the new regulations will not allow for is reimbursement for legal advice or legal agreements or for counselling for our embryo donors. WHAT THIS MEANS – the donors, who are altruistically donating their embryos, will now have to pay for these costs themselves. The recipients/intended parents will no longer be allowed to cover these costs. Nor could Beginnings. In OPEN embryo donation, we believe that it is critical that all of our embryo donors receive counselling, an assessment and legal consultation. This change in the regulations seems to suggest that the government has no understanding of how open, child focused embryo donation works.
WE NEED YOU to go to the government website and to provide feedback.
Here’s the link to provide your feedback Urge the government to add counseling and legal advice to the list of allowable expenses for embryo donation. Donors need these services but they should not have to pay for them out of their own pockets.
You could also contact your local MP, the federal Minister of Health (Ginette Petitpas Taylor), or anyone you know in the Department of Health.
Without your help, our embryo donation program could be gravely impacted. 1 in 6 people in Canada is impacted by infertility. Beginnings has worked with 53 donors, had 42 matches, and seen 17 babies born with 5 more on the way.
Thanks for anything you can do to let the government know how important open embryo donation is and how important it is to have multiple options for Canadians to build their families. Insist that embryo donors get treated fairly. The more feedback the better! Please feel free to share this email widely.