Category Archives: Surrogacy

Why We Are Not Pursuing Surrogacy

Sorry it’s been a while.
I’ve been too busy living my life to have time to blog about it.
I’m back, though. 🙂

In case you missed it, we finally are done with the “Why We Halted Our Adoption” series. I’m just as relieved about that fact as you, believe me.

Why is that?
Well, because that means that after about 6 months
, which included planning on going forward with adoption, being suddenly approached about surrogacy, suffering a miscarriage, and waiting out possible health complications from the unplanned pregnancy, our plans to start a family are back on! 😀

Not only are our plans for a family back on, they are in full swing, but we’ll get to all of that soon. We must deal with first things first, though. Before we can discuss how we plan on going forward with our journey to parenthood, we have to talk about what we are not planning on doing – at least not right now.

Long story short: Surrogacy is not currently an option for us.

It was far from easy coming to this conclusion, and it certainly wasn’t a decision that was solidified over night or without plenty of tears. We, especially I, really struggled with the whole thing, to be honest. I spent many nights praying, begging the Lord to just make it crystal clear to us what we were supposed to do with the selfless offer we were given literally out of the blue, an offer that to this day hasn’t been taken off the table by the other party.

I’m not going to lie. As much as we were floored (and humbled) by the opportunity to even be offered the ability to have a child through surrogacy, and as absolutely thrilled as we were with the prospect of safely having a biological child, our (especially John’s) strong, gut-reaction was to say “No” to surrogacy after finding out the costs surrounding it were going to be a lot higher (due to lacking fertility coverage like we thought) than we had anticipated or could afford without taking out a loan.  A lot higher – like $30,000+ higher (i.e. double what we thought) AT LEAST, that is if things went smoothly on the first try.

Hold the phone, people. I’m not married to Jimmy Fallon. $30,000 in the Payne (and I’m sure your) household is a huge chunk of change, and that was a conservative number. It could go a lot higher. To my husband, the more frugal one of the two of us, the new cost of pursuing parenthood through surrogacy might as well have been a $1,000,000. Not good, not good.

Though the new price caused us serious pause, we (especially John) struggled through our fear of not being good stewards of our God-given finances, should we go forward with surrogacy and have to take out a loan. We’d saved the past 3 1/2 years, but we hadn’t saved $50-80,000, hardly so. We hadn’t completely closed the door at that point, though.

We’re Christians and believe in the concept of God being Jehovah Jireh (the LORD as Provider), after all. We knew if He wanted us to pursue surrogacy, He’d provide the finances; we were absolutely sure of that. As I’ve always said, God doesn’t call the equipped but instead equips the called. We just weren’t sure if He was pulling us toward surrogacy or not.

Though due to the nature of how surrogacy became an option, many would (and did) argue that God had obviously made His will known and wanted us to go forward with pursuing it for His glory, it just wasn’t a black and white issue to us, especially to me. It was a really ugly, opaque shade of grey. If you know us, we are very much people who view life through very clear hues of black and white, so admitting we were struggling with making up our minds was hard for us. Though to our amazement (and yours) the idea of surrogacy had literally fallen into our laps, before we even found out about the new price tag associated with it, we really wrestled with the idea of spending out all this money (loan or not) to have our own biological children when so many children are waiting for their forever homes. Once we found out how much having a child through surrogacy was going to actually cost, that internal struggle just became that much harder.

We struggled with passages in Scripture that called us to take care of the orphans, and others which commanded us as Christ-followers to “die to self.” On the other hand, we also struggled with how it obviously wasn’t a sin for others (including our own parents) to have children of their own; they didn’t adopt nor deny their God-given desire to have biological children. Did that mean that just because the method by which one obtains a biological child may be different, and the financial cost may be astronomically higher, the outcome of having a blood-relative child through surrogacy really isn’t a sin (just thinking out loud here)?

Opinions on what we should do very much favored us pursuing surrogacy, no matter the cost. Clear answers, though, were few and far between. We felt torn in more ways than one.

Then life happened. A lot of lifeDuring all of this, we got unexpectedly pregnant ourselves, miscarried, and were left to deal with the loss of our biological child, a child we never imagined we’d ever conceive on our own. Talk about an unexpected, hard and fast detour in the road called life. Though that detour was filled with plenty of heartache, it also came with a blessing in disguise. We found something out that provided the clear answer for which we had searched for weeks. 

While we were dealing with my health being adversely affected by the miscarriage, we were made aware that the imunosupression medicine that most likely caused the miscarriage not only can affect any pregnancies that occur, but there is new evidence that is warning that it could also adversely affect your EGGS themselves

There is still not enough research to make a conclusive decision, since there hasn’t been enough post-transplant women of child-bearing age on it. Just knowing there were even shreds of evidence that pointed that way, however, was troubling enough for me. I knew the drug was toxic for a pregnant woman in any stage (especially the first trimester), which is why we never planned on becoming pregnant and consequently why I miscarried. The thought of my actual eggs being altered by this drug,  though, made feel physically sick. I have taken that drug every day, every 12 hours for almost the past 8 years. I had consumed literally thousands of these pills, during the years of my reproductive prime, without any knowledge of how much this nasty (but life-saving) drug could be affecting my fertility. 

To say I was disheartened is an understatement. Who wouldn’t be?

Even though I’m obviously extremely thankful to even be alive after everything I’ve gone through, and know I have no room to complain, I’m still a 27-year-old human. I’m also a woman, a woman with a God-given desire to have the ability to have children. I’m still a woman who wants to believe that, even though I can’t carry our child successfully, my eggs – my contribution to the creation of a human being – are full of life and not death. I’m still a woman who wishes my first child was currently still residing in utero instead of in Heaven. I’m still a human whose heart has been broken too many times to count.

At the end of the day, like you, I’m still a human who, a lot of the time for many different reasons, feels very broken and battered by the Fall and longs for Jesus to come and make everything new, as He’s promised to one day do.

Today is not that day, however.
So we wait.

While we wait, life does not always go as planned. Instead, unlike what prosperity teachers will tell you, life hurts; sometimes it causes what feels like absolutely unbearable pain. We press on, however, knowing that God is good and sovereign, no matter our circumstances.

No, He is not surprised by our circumstances or angered by our consequential emotions about said circumstances. He was human once, after all. All He asks of us is that in the groaning, during the daily war for our heart and our hope, we trust. All He asks is that we believe He is who He says He is, that we believe He has us in the palm of His hand when the waves of life come (and they will) crashing down upon us, that we do not lose heart in the One who has overcome the world.

Though the answer didn’t come the way we imagined, He gave us what we asked – a clear answer. That answer for our family, at least for now with the possible side effects from this particular medication, is a resounding “No.” Maybe someday I will be on different medication and that answer will change. I don’t know. I also don’t pretend to fully understand why He took us, and the precious, willing surrogate and her husband, down this path, either. In my finite thinking, it really just doesn’t make any sense, to be honest. Even though I don’t understand, I’m called to trust that His ways are higher than our ways, as are His thoughts (Is. 55:9).

So, for now, we move on. We don’t just “move on” as ones without hope but instead as those who trust and believe in Ephesians 3:20-21, which tells us:

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, cystic fibrosis, Health, Miscarriage, Purpose, Sanctification, Surrogacy

Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 2 – The Calling

56 days ago, while being examined to see if I had indeed miscarried…

Because I didn’t know what else to do while I lied there in the stirrups completely exposed and vulnerable, I decided to bare my soul, too. I told her about how I was born with cystic fibrosis and had a double lung transplant at 19, how we had always had plans to adopt, until just about a month ago when we were approached about surrogacy but then found out we couldn’t afford it, how I then started strangely feeling pregnant right after that, had fought with myself for over a week about it but been told just yesterday I was never pregnant, and then today that I most likely had been, which is why she was now examining me. As I took her through step-by-step through my life, especially the past several weeks, it began to hit me – My life thus far read like a fiction book which was “too good to be true.” Remarkably, though, none of this was fiction. No, amazingly all of it was the truth, the almost unbelievable, even for me at that point.

The suspense novel that was being played out over the past several weeks, aka my ever-twisting, unpredictable life, incredibly wasn’t over. No, an hour later, just as I had suspected, my biggest fear was confirmed. I had indeed been pregnant but sadly wasn’t anymore. The symptoms I felt, the intuitive thoughts, and most importantly, the promptings from the Holy Spirit, all of it was true.  I wasn’t crazy, after all, though I now so desperately wanted to be declared as such.

In that moment, the moment that I became a mother, yet knew I would not be given the opportunity to mother my child this side of Heaven, after everything else that had transpired before this ultimate blow, even I felt like my life was stranger the fiction. As I stood there in the hospital entryway with my husband’s arms tightly squeezed around me, with neither of us uttering a word, I longed to just be one who was just an innocent bystander to the madness, one who just read without consequence the train wreck that was my life. I wanted to be anyone instead of the one who was not just living this “hell” on earth but who was also called to share its events with others.

Yes, I said intentionally said “called.” I chose that word on purpose. I can’t say I always understand the calling to share my weaknesses with others in such an intimate way that the Lord has placed upon my life. I can’t say that in my flesh I always enjoy it, either, because I don’t – hardly so. I can say, however, that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I am following His will for my life when I allow Him to speak through me in a very public way in my most vulnerable of states. He’s used me before, and by His grace, He’s choosing to use me again. It’s not always fun. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (or should I say “usually not”) what I would choose for a way in which to glorify Him, but it’s the avenue through which He tends to give me.

So, that leaves me with a choice: Allow Him to use me as He sees fit, or forsake my calling and be a ‘normal’ person, one who processes their life in a much less public way. The most redeeming, most healing, and most obedient answer for me, at least usually, is the former. I don’t pretend to think that everyone is called to such a life, because I know that’s far from true. I also know with marriage comes a responsibility to be sensitive to your spouse’s feelings, and the way in which they are most comfortable with processing, which is why (believe it or not) everything that we go through doesn’t end up on this blog. Even I have a filter through which I pass through what ends up in the public’s eyes; my filter just happens to be named John. 😉

I am thankful that my husband sees the beauty in my desire to be vividly transparent with others, that he allows me to be extremely transparent about our life together as one. Unlike when I was single and dying and bearing my soul to the world, now bearing my soul has to do with two people’s lives, not just mine. Though his personality and usual way of processing is very different from mine, and typing out a blog post would be about the last thing he’s wanted to do after the traumatic events of our lives the past few months, he allows me to because he sees the value in my (and therefore, at least in a way, our) calling, in allowing Christ to be glorified through our weaknesses.

For some silly reason, I thought (at least sometimes) that after we wrote the 2nd book, that my life of transparency about my life may be over, at least for the most part. I thought maybe that ultra-open chapter of my life was once again ending, as it had so abruptly when I first got married 3 1/2 years ago, and a new, much-less-public, but far more rewarding, one was beginning, i.e. motherhood.

I simply had no idea that my journey to motherhood, though, would be but just another avenue by which the Lord would call me to a life of not only openness but also one of allowing Him to make beauty for ashes, too.

I had no idea that this journey would be 10x harder than 8 years ago when I almost losing my life, when I was grasping for every breath and going to sleep every time not knowing if I’d live to see another day. I had no idea that my journey to motherhood would test me and my trust in Him to the core. I had no idea that my love for my husband, and therefore my desire to keep him from experiencing all the pain I know too well, would cause me so much grief when I could no longer shield him from the inevitable.

I was far from versed in what was ahead for us down a road to parenthood so many had sojourned before us. I knew the journey would most likely be much more difficult than for most, but even I was unprepared for the trials we’ve come upon along our path. I didn’t know that “I surrender all” for me would mean the Lord allowing us to conceive and then, in His sovereignty, taking that baby to be with Him in glory. I had no idea so many opportunities to cry, to doubt, to fear, but more importantly, to smile, to trust, and to praise, were in store. I’m sure many more of both are waiting for us. Thankfully, though, my precious Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ, knew what was before and knows what lies ahead. He is all we need for this journey, no matter what is ahead. After all, this world is not our home; we’re just passing through.

As I pass through, though, I have decided to follow Jesus. For me, following Jesus means sharing my scars, my failures, my fears, and my shortcomings with all of you. It means making myself walk (in this case, type) back through every emotion I have experienced and bringing you along for the ride, so that He can impress upon your heart the same lessons He has taught me. I know from plenty of experience that these are lessons that are only learned in their fullness when you have experienced the highest highs and the deepest lows surrounding the crucible of the situation at hand.

Please think something through with me: Imagine I had gone ahead in Part 7 and told you I, unbeknownst to us, actually was pregnant myself during Part 1-6 of the last series. If that wasn’t a shock enough, in the 3 days since I had last written a post, I had actually found out I wasn’t just unknowingly pregnant but had already lost the baby. Wouldn’t that had been a lot to digest in one sitting? What if I had taken you all the way through not only that news but the surrogacy process (at least as we know it right now) in one post, too? Not only would those 2 posts had been ridiculously long, they would have been horribly emotionally overwhelming – for you and for me. Honestly, besides the obvious reasons why that method wouldn’t have been a good idea, I think dealing with what has transpired in such a way would have been irresponsible, horribly destructive, and far from wise.

Instead of being careless, I walked – and will continue to walk – you through this journey painstakingly slow on purpose. Why? Because I always live posts ahead of you. I know what is coming next and therefore know you need time to digest what has happened thus far; too much at one time, and I’ll lose you. No, I – because I honestly feel it is how God has asked me to do it – choose to walk you through my life bit by bit, always with complete emotional vulnerability, so you’re not overwhelmed by too much at one time but also feel a “part” of the “story,” at least in a way. It’s true. I wanted you to believe I was pregnant, and then that I just crazy, and then once again that I was pregnant, and then crazy again. Why? Because that’s exactly how I felt when I experienced this “story”  I call my life you log on (thanks, btw!) to read.  I wanted you to be heartbroken when, after being so thrilled for us about how surrogacy seemed to be just falling into place, you found out that the complicated process was going to cost us far more than we first thought. That is exactly how we felt, after all.

Why, though? Why get your emotions involved, too? It’s not your life, anyway; you’re just trying to read a blog post. Well, because  If I don’t get you emotionally vested, you won’t read. It’s simple as that. There are billions of other pages clamoring for your attention every time you get on the Internet. If I just lay out the facts all cut and dry, short and sweet, not only will I not be processing my life in a way that is unnatural to me, I’ll lose your attention.

If I lose your attention, I will lose the opportunity to allow Him to impress upon your hearts the message of the drum I will beat until the day I die – that God is sovereign and good – no matter what happens in your life. He’s just as sovereign and good now – 56 days after my miscarriage – as He was a few months ago when I had no idea what all was in store. He’s just as sovereign and good as He was before we were given the estimated bill for surrogacy as He was when I received that Facebook message that started it all. In fact, He’ll be just as good if, after years of heartache and trial, I die and am never able to be an earthly mother. If you get nothing out of my blog, I long for you to get that concept. Yes, bringing everything back to His greatness, my friends, is the method behind my madness.

So, if me giving you a front row seat to my life leads you to Jesus, then I’m game. If it means not shying away from my grief and my hurt, but embracing it and allowing Him to use it for His glory, I’m all about it. If it means continually going through things that I don’t ask for, that I don’t want, that I don’t understand but things that make me more like Christ, more sensitive to His people and more aware of our desperate need for Him, I couldn’t ask for more. After all, I always ask Him to please redeem whatever difficulty I go through in His time, preferably while I can see it, in His way, for His glory and my good.

It’s my daily prayer that my openness gives others  – including you – permission to grieve, to share, to stop pretending everything’s OK, to admit life’s overwhelming and far from clean and cookie-cutter….or is that just my life? 😉

As you’ll learn more and more, my life is far from easy…but as I’m learning again, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Part 3 to come!

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, grace, Life, Marriage, Ministry, Miscarriage, Purpose, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification, Surrogacy

Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Confirmation – Part 13

It’d be so much easier to just stop now, to allow the end of Part 12 to speak for itself. After unsuccessfully trying to get this post done for the past two days, it’d be so much easier to quit writing, yet so wrong at the same time. The truth is, I’ve been dreading this day for quite some time. We’re here, though, and I must tell you the rest of the story. In doing so, I know I’ll have to go back to that painful day myself. I know I will not only have to recount the hardest day of my life thus far but, as I’ve done this whole series, also feel the emotions that come with this part, too. As I keep telling myself, though, I’ve already done that a million times in the past 13 days, so what’s one more?

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
*For more on the strange, but strong, intuition I was feeling just a little over a week after our dream of surrogacy seemed to be slipping from our hands, please see Part 7.
*For more on all the signs that just weren’t going away and ultimately pointing to my intuition being most likely true, please see Part 8.
*For more on the dramatic turn of events that took place one early morning, please see Part 9.
*For more on the painful drive, and then wait at the hospital, I endured while waiting to hear if my intuition was true, please see Part 10.
*For more on the internal conflict I felt when I found out my intuition was wrong, please see Part 11.
*For more on the decision I made to go seek a second doctor’s opinion on what had (or hadn’t) happened, please see Part 12.
______________________________________________________________________________________________
Time stood still.
I saw her mouth moving, but I couldn’t hear her words.
All I could hear was the sound of my heart shattering.
All I could taste was the hot tears running down my face.

I was screaming on the inside for air, yet I couldn’t make a sound.

Only three seconds prior, the words,“Based on all your symptoms, and my experience, I’m pretty confident you actually did have a miscarriage,”  had come out of Dr. Sharp’s mouth and left me in utter shock. What was said immediately after that, while I struggled to keep my composure, is still a mystery to me.

“Amber, I’m so sorry. I’d like to do a pelvic exam to confirm what I’m thinking,” was the first sentence I heard after what seemed like an eternity. Completely numb at that point, and unable to speak, I proceeded to place my feet in the stirrups and allow myself to be examined.

There really was no need, though.
I knew what was coming next.
I wasn’t questioning my gut anymore.

“I’m sorry. Based on everything we’ve discussed, and the fact your uterus is boggy, I’m pretty sure it was a miscarriage. I need you to go to the hospital to get an ultrasound, though, to make sure. It’s like that for one of two reasons: You were either pregnant, and your body was preparing for it, or you have an infection and we need to take care of it right away. The ultrasound will confirm either way, but I’m pretty sure you were indeed pregnant. I’m so sorry…”

She trailed off. I didn’t need to hear any more.
I knew it, and she did, too.

I can’t express to you how I have never in my life – and will never again – want so badly to not be right. I can’t express to you how much overwhelming peace, yet tremendous sorrow, I felt in that moment. Never. 

After a few seconds, Dr. Sharp continued talking, and though I said nothing to her, a conversation with myself began.

“Women have miscarriages all the time and go on to have healthy children.”
But, you see we weren’t trying to have kids in the first place. “Trying” again isn’t the answer here. It’s not a wise idea, which is why we were adopting. Then, only because we were approached, we were looking the past month or so into surrogacy. Once we heard we couldn’t afford that, I was just stressed out and had myself convinced I was pregnant, but I’m not. I’m just crazy, remember? This isn’t what was supposed to happen. You were supposed to tell me what they told me yesterday. I was supposed to leave here forgetting about all of this. Didn’t you get the game plan?”

The fetus most likely implanted for a few days, which is why your symptoms started, and then somehow dislodged. That’s why your HCG numbers were the way they were. The hormone rapidly leaves the body once implantation is disrupted, but your body (esp. one like yours which reacts very quickly to change) takes a while to catch up and accept the fact you are no longer pregnant. You probably would have only had a positive pregnancy test up until when you were supposed to start your period, possibly even only a week to a few days prior to that. These types of miscarriages happen all the time (oftentimes unbeknownst to them) to perfectly healthy women. “Even if there isn’t another reason why you miscarried, your anti-rejection medicine just wasn’t going to allow you to sustain a pregnancy. There’s absolutely nothing you could have done differently. You didn’t know, Amber. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Your transplant team wasn’t equipped to know to dig deeper. You did, though. You have nothing to feel guilty about. You did all you could, more than anyone could have asked you to do.”
But I do have plenty to feel guilty about. I knew, at least a very large part of me knew, I was pregnant over a week ago. The other part of me refused, even though I had every pregnancy symptom known to man, to let myself take a test for several days, for fear l was losing my mind. By the time I did, it was too late. I took that medicine not one but – two – times a day. I could have stopped taking it as soon as I felt I was pregnant, taken a pregnancy test and sought help right then, instead of waiting for a missed period. Then the baby would have been OK. I could have just believed what God was trying to tell me, instead of wrestling every hour with myself about my sanity, and then taken precautionary steps. I can’t say the baby would have lived, but I could have done plenty more. I didn’t do “all” I could. Don’t you understand?”

“Let’s find out for sure and get you to the hospital for that ultrasound, OK? I’ll leave you alone so you can get dressed and call John. Someone will be back in a few minutes to let you know what we’re going to do next.”
“Yes, let’s do that. She could still be wrong, which means I could be, too. I need to know, and I need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt. There’s still a plausible explanation for all of this besides a miscarriage or me losing my mind. Hopefully, I just have a tumor or a cyst on my ovaries or my uterus. I’ll have surgery, and it’ll be gone. No harm, no foul. It’s not a miscarriage. It’s a tumor.”

I didn’t buy it, even though every single part of me wanted to believe it. In that moment, though, cold and alone in an exam gown, afraid and scattered on the inside,
I was grasping at straws.

Then there was John, my loving husband. Oh, how I missed him in that moment. I tried calling and couldn’t reach him at work. I tried messaging him on Gchat and didn’t get an immediate response. He was clearly away from his desk, most likely working on a case in Judge’s office or helping his new co-worker figure out something. Though I knew he wasn’t ignoring me, and didn’t even know (for whatever reason) I was trying to reach him, I was growing impatient. All I wanted in that moment was his arms around me, the ability to bury my head in his chest and block out the rest of the world. No part of me wanted to relay this information by phone or chat, but I wasn’t going to go to the hospital for some evasive ultrasound to most likely confirm I’d lost our baby without letting him know.

When my efforts to reach him failed at first, and I felt like I was going to be swallowed whole by the emotions which were flooding my soul, I quickly messaged a few close friends letting them know what was going on and asking for prayer. I needed confirmation this wasn’t dream, that I was actually awake and experiencing all of this in real life. While I waited for my husband to call me back,  and the nurse to come back in with my instructions, I sat in the pew (yes, a pew) in the exam room and began to cry – again.

Once I got my marching orders, and collected myself enough to feel comfortable driving, I turned on my car and got on the road. My first stop, however, wasn’t to the hospital but instead to my workplace, just right down the street. In that moment, I needed physical contact with people who cared about me, with people I could touch and find comfort in. I needed someone to hold me and tell me it was going to be OK. The closest place to receive such comfort was at work, so that’s where I went. I walked in, not to start my day a little late as I had previously planned, but instead to let them know what was going on and ask for, of all things, a hug. I just needed a hug.

I got my hug and got back in my car to the sound of my phone ringing. John was calling me back. Since I’d sent him a message that said “Dr. Sharp thinks I had a miscarriage. I have to go get an ultrasound,” I knew he already knew what was happening, which just made answering the phone even harder. The conversation was somber and spoken in low, soft tones; words didn’t come easy from either of us. He asked me if I wanted him to go with me to the hospital. He was willing to leave work and meet me there, but there was one problem: His co-workers had already planned a surprise office birthday party for him, which was starting in just a few minutes. Tomorrow, April 3rd, was his birthday.

In just a matter of an hour or so, I was most likely going to find out I had lost our baby, the baby we never planned on conceiving but whose “loss” had been grieved for by John (and therefore by me) for years. If that wasn’t heartwrenching enough, I was going to find out our baby was gone the day before my husband’s 31st birthday. Right in the middle of his birthday party, as his life was being celebrated less than a mile away, I would be finding out that the life inside of me – the life I had tried so hard the past few weeks to convince myself didn’t exist, the life that my husband so desperately wished would have come so easily for us – was gone.

Due to the party, and all the efforts of his co-workers, we (well, I) decided it’d be best if he stay at work for now. He would go to some of the party and leave toward the end, so he didn’t have to make a scene. He’d meet me at the hospital just as soon as he could. He tried to comfort me by telling me we didn’t know for sure, that maybe there was another reason my uterus felt the way it did. I didn’t buy it, though, and I don’t think he did, either. When he asked me for the third time if I wanted him to join me, and I declined, we said “I love you” and hung up. There was nothing left to say at that point. It wasn’t that I didn’t want him to be there. Of course I did. No woman wants to sit in stirrups alone in that situation, or maybe just this woman didn’t want to do so. I guess you could say, though, as much as I wanted John to be there, the part of me that vows (right or wrong) to emotionally protect the ones I love was more important to me than his presence in that moment.

Finding out from medical professionals that life will never be the same was the life to which I was accustomed, not him. I had been in this position several times before during pivotal moments in my life, he hadn’t. Right or wrong, I felt I had to do this alone. Though no part of me would want to tell him, once everything was confirmed, I wanted him to hear it from me, not a well-meaning doctor who would deliver the news as delicately as possible but had absolutely no emotional connection whatsoever to the meaning behind their words – their words, which if they were what I was expecting, would shatter my husband’s soul.

I parked my car, walked up to the hospital’s entrance, and found my way to Main Radiology. I checked in and was called back after several minutes. As I, still cramping and in pain, was being led right and left through a long series of hallways, to the left of me a man was being wheeled the opposite way by two women. Unlike all of the other transported patients I had seen on my way, this man’s face pierced my soul. Why? Well, this man appeared to be….dead. Now, maybe he wasn’t, but the fact that those who were transporting him appeared on a very distinct mission and weren’t making eye contact with anyone, the fact he had absolutely no IVs (or evidence of IVs) or other medical equipment to speak of with him, and also the fact that he looked stiff as a board and placed very strangely in the bed, make me believe he very much so was. I will never forget that man’s face as long as I live or how I felt next.

As I dutifully walked behind the lady who was leading me to my next stop, I couldn’t help but fight the tears which were forming in my eyes. The walk we were taking now felt like “The Green Mile,” the walk that one takes when they’re walking to their death. No, death wasn’t waiting for me at the end of our walk. As I unconsciously found my hands on my stomach, though, I knew that death had already come for the life inside of me, that consequently I was about to experience an emotional death for which I wasn’t prepared. As much as I still wanted to deny it wasn’t true, I felt the inevitable in the marrow of my bones; it was a feeling I never want to experience ever, ever again.

I was led to a room to wait – again. Someone would come get me “soon” for my ultrasound. There was a bathroom just down the hall, if I needed it. Only one other person, a gentleman, was in the room with me. An old, fuzzy, tube television broadcasting March Madness highlights on Sportscenter sat high in the corner. The only time the man and I spoke is when I asked him to let them know I was in the restroom if they called my name. I’m sure he had a story, too, but I didn’t have the emotional energy to care. When I returned, I stared blankly at my phone, mindlessly checking Facebook and occasionally messaging my husband, who was waiting to go to his birthday party. I felt numb – on the inside and out. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t breathe.

Finally, someone called me back and led me, once again, to another room. I was thankful to be paired with an extremely sweet lady, who inevitably knew what was going on. She had my orders, after all. I’m sure I was just one of hundreds of people in my position with whom she’s dealt before, but for the time we were together, only I mattered. As was protocol, she reminded me that at no point during either ultrasound could she tell me any conclusions. She was simply there to administer to the test. The doctor would look at the scans and write out the report. Dr. Sharp would be called, and then she would call me back. I wasn’t to leave the hospital until Dr. Sharp got a hold of me. She suspected the process would take about an hour to an hour and a half in its entirety.

We began the first ultrasound and did our best to make small talk. As she used the ultrasound probe on my stomach, we talked about all the things I always say I hate talking about, all the “shallow” things, like the weather, that people hide behind when they don’t know what to say. She asked about my marriage, what I like to do in my free time, my job, etc. I obliged and asked her the same. I don’t know if she purposefully did it, or maybe it was just by God’s grace, but the monitor was pointed away from me the whole time.

After I changed out of my clothes and into a hospital gown, we then moved on to the next ultrasound, which was much more evasive and uncomfortable. Again, like a good professional, the ultrasound technician did her best to make the circumstances the least awkward she could.

Because I didn’t know what else to do while I lied there in the stirrups completely exposed and vulnerable, I decided to bare my soul, too. I told her about how I was born with cystic fibrosis and had a double lung transplant at 19, how we had always had plans to adopt, until just about a month ago we were approached about surrogacy but then found out we couldn’t afford it, how I then started strangely feeling pregnant right after that, had fought with myself for over a week about it but been told just yesterday I was never pregnant, and then today that I most likely had been, which is why she was now examining me. As I took her through step-by-step through my life, especially the past several weeks, it began to hit me – My life thus far read like a fiction book which was “too good to be true.” Remarkably, though, none of this was fiction. No, amazingly all of it was the truth, the almost unbelievable, even for me at that point. 

She completed the second ultrasound and told me I could get dressed. It was over. When I returned to the room, the technician was still finishing up and asked if I wanted to see some of the images she had just taken. I was admittedly curious, so I accepted her invitation.

For the first time ever, I saw my uterus. Though I’m not trained in reading ultrasounds, and my friendly technician wasn’t giving me any helpful hints (though I may have tried to get it out of her), I didn’t see any sign of life. I didn’t see any tumors or cysts, either.

No one was going to have to confirm to me what was going on. I already knew, just as deep down I already had known for days. In that moment, looking at that screen, all I saw was an empty, empty grave. In that moment, looking at that screen, part of me died, too.

I was left for several minutes alone with my thoughts until she returned to tell me that my doctor would be giving me a call soon. The technician said her warm goodbyes and indicated it was time to leave. I was reminded not to leave the hospital and shown the way out through the tunnels I’d walked through just an hour or so before. Before I left the Main Radiology department, though, I made a strange request.  I asked for a copy of the images. Though in that moment I didn’t have official confirmation, I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt my womb was a grave. Despite that, I still asked for the CD. I asked for the proof.  Though obviously perplexed by my request, the receptionist made sure I got what I wanted and said her goodbyes.

Still waiting to hear from my doctor, I had just walked into the hospital’s Starbucks, where I planned on drowning my sorrows in a $5 coffee, when John called me. He was on his way. He’d be there in matter of five minutes or so to comfort me and wait with me. I wouldn’t have to be alone much longer. I hung up from my call with him and, not two minutes later while perusing the menu, my phone rang again. It was a restricted number, but I had no doubt who it was – it was my doctor. It was time to learn the truth.

I answered the phone, took my purse and my CD and walked out of Starbucks to a small, secluded seating area. The walk to the seating area was a mere 30 feet, but my feet could barely get me there. My body felt numb and unresponsive. My heart was beating out of my chest. I managed to get to a chair and sit down. They always say it’s best to be seated in times like this.

I sat, and I heard:
“I have good news and bad news. The good news is that your ultrasound showed absolutely no abnormalities. There were no cysts, growths, or tumors. Things looked great. Unfortunately, though, that means you’ve definitely had a miscarriage. There is no other answer to everything. I’m so sorry, Amber.”

I responded, several times, like this:
“Are you sure? Couldn’t it have been something else? What about the HCG numbers yesterday? There has to be another explanation. Maybe I’ve blown all of this out of proportion.”

Each time, Dr. Sharp responded back:
“I’m sorry, Amber. No, there’s no other explanation. You’ve had a miscarriage.”

As we finished our conversation, and I looked out the window with tears in my eyes, I saw a familiar sight. John. He was walking up to the same entrance I had used just over an hour earlier. He was walking up to hear the truth, and like I wanted, he was going to hear it from me. Unlike I wanted, however, I was going to have to tell him our baby, the life we had created together, was gone.

I was in the process of hanging up the phone just as John was coming through the automatic doors. As I said goodbye to Dr. Sharp, I rounded the corner, forgetting my CD on the chair, and John’s tear-stained eyes met mine. I didn’t have to say anything at that point. He knew. I forced myself, though, to say it, to say words I never could have imagined I would ever have to say to my husband, words that I could barely get out of my mouth, words that still haunt me to this day. 

“I’ve had a miscarriage. I’m so sorry, Baby.”

My thoughts on our miscarriage, and my intense desire for the Lord to use it, are coming soon.

*Please note: The next series may not start for several days. Thank you to all of those who are praying for us, as well as to those who have reached out, even if I haven’t had the time, or emotional energy, to respond. Even if I haven’t responded, I am praying for you, too. We love you all and covet your prayers and support during this difficult time.  “The LORD gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD,” (Job 1:21).

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, cystic fibrosis, Life, Marriage, Ministry, Miscarriage, Purpose, Sanctification, Surrogacy

Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Truth – Part 12

It’s amazing how much life can change in a matter of a few years.
…..in a matter of a few months.
…..in a matter of a few weeks.
…..in a matter of a few days.
…..in a matter of a few hours.
…..in a matter of a few minutes.
…..or even in a matter of a few short seconds.

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
*For more on the strange, but strong, intuition I was feeling just a little over a week after our dream of surrogacy seemed to be slipping from our hands, please see Part 7.
*For more on all the signs that just weren’t going away and ultimately pointing to my intuition being most likely true, please see Part 8.
*For more on the dramatic turn of events that took place one early morning, please see Part 9.
*For more on the painful drive, and then wait at the hospital, I endured while waiting to hear if my intuition was true, please see Part 10.
*For more on the internal conflict I felt when I found out my intuition was wrong, please see Part 11.
________________________________________________________________________________________________
It was almost time.
It was almost time to move far, far away from the past week or so of my life. It was almost time to stop the madness and ignore every part of me that “swore” I was pregnant and now miscarrying. It was almost time to forsake every part that couldn’t accept the truth and was now seeking a 2nd opinion because “God” told me to get it. It was almost time to make a pact with myself to never, ever let myself get this way again. It was almost time for my torment to end, one way or the other. It was thankfully almost time.

I walked into the doctor’s office with a game plan. As I said before, I told myself that no matter what she said, I had to walk out of the office believing it. If she said I was never pregnant, as the rational part of me suspected she would, I had to move on. I had to move on for my good, the good of our marriage, and the good of our future children, however they were going to come into the world. I had to let it go. After all the stress of the past month, I desperately needed – and wanted – to get emotionally healthy again.

I desperately needed to get back to a place where I was myself again. In that moment, though, driving to my second doctor’s appointment in 24 hours, that place of serenity seemed so far, far away – almost like a mirage in a very, very dry desert.

After the longest month (in particular day) of my life, I knew if I didn’t find the sanity for which my soul longed – and soon – I was going to be in a heap of trouble. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever recover, to be honest. As one who finds great comfort in the ability to not only be in touch with my emotions, but also being able to articulate extremely well to myself – and to others – exactly how I am feeling, I wanted nothing to do with the conflicted soul I had become. I wanted nothing to do with the person who was so afraid she was insane, and consequently didn’t want others to whom she was close coming to the same conclusion, that she was telling them that it was now my transplant team’s idea that I may have indeed had a miscarriage, when it was my conviction – and solely mine – all along. It was my decision – and solely mine to seek out a second opinion, because after all, part of me felt God had made it very clear that was what I needed to do.

It was the same dreaded cycle over and over again, hour after hour: one minute I felt like “God” was speaking to me, and the next I felt I needed serious mental help for ever thinking that way. “Tortured” doesn’t begin to describe my emotional state during the previous 24 hours. If the past month wasn’t traumatic enough for me, the past day had driven me dangerously close to the edge of an emotional and mental breakdown…or maybe I was already deep in the bottomless pit of despair and further gone than I thought.

I wasn’t in a good place, but I knew the end was just minutes away.
I had arrived and checked-in.
The wait to be called back seemed like a lifetime…and then some.
Finally, my name was called.
It was time – again.

I followed the nurse who had called my name, giving myself a pep talk the whole way back.
“OK, Amber. Once you get in there, you’re going to go through everything in detail. She’s going to listen, tell you what you already know, and then you can leave. This time, though, you’re going to leave actually accepting what you’ve been told. You’re going to go work and forget all of this. Got it? Good. Let’s go.”

The friendly nurse took my vitals in one room, and then proceeded to lead me to an exam room in the back.
I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

Without any hesitation in her voice, the nurse calmly said, “OK, here’s your cup and your gown. Go to the bathroom; you know what to do with the cup. When you’re done, leave it on the toilet, and then put your gown on and go back to your room. I talked to Dr. Sharp, and she is going to want to do a pelvic exam.”

Wait. A pelvic exam? I’m just here to talk,” I said to myself.
I was startled, to say the least.
There was no time to argue, though.
An empty cup and a drafty gown were waiting for me.

I followed the nurse’s instructions, returned to my room, and waited for the only one on earth who could save me from myself, my doctor. My socked feet hanging off the exam table weren’t the only thing dangling at that point. As minutes passed, I felt my grip on my sanity loosening, too. Thankfully, Dr. Sharp didn’t take too long to come in to get our pow-wow started. As she took her place, I found peace in the fact that I was just a few more minutes away from the past week-and-a-half of my life, and the emotional torture with which it came, to be forgotten. Forever.

“OK, let’s start at the beginning,” she comfortingly said.

It took only five minutes or so to walk her back through the past week-and-a-half of my life. I candidly spoke with her about the intuition I’d had for days that I just couldn’t shake, the signs (all of them, in order) that only made me more strongly believe I had indeed been pregnant, the pain I had experienced just yesterday morning that led me to believe I was either miscarrying or the baby was in trouble, the first doctor’s appointment I had which , after having a HCG blood test, ended with me being told I had never been pregnant after all, and the strong, internal conflict I had been feeling since. As I re-told the story, I left no stone unturned. I had to get it all out, to force myself to hear myself say it all again, to force myself to hear someone else tell me – once again – what I was already told before.  It was time to accept the inevitable. It was time to move on, once and for all.

As I waited for her to process all I had just told her, and consequently formulate a comforting-yet-firm rebuttal to my argument (much like what I had been given the day before), I prepared myself for what life looked like when I walked out, for how I was going to get passed all of this, for how I was going to forgive myself in time for letting myself go this far.

During those seconds of waiting, I swore to myself that once I (once again) heard the truth, and the door to that office closed behind me, the door to all of this would be closed – for good – too. I reminded myself I had to go back to focusing on the real options (adoption and surrogacy) before us on our difficult, ever-changing journey toward parenthood. We were already going through a hard enough season in our lives without me adding to it. No, no matter how “sure” I felt “God” was telling me otherwise, it was over. There was simply no time, or emotional energy, left to focus on a child who was merely a figment of my imagination.

Once a few seconds had passed, and I was done with my second internal pep talk since I had arrived, I focused my attention back to Dr. Sharp. As she hesitated to speak, her earth-shattering, yet much-needed answer was written as clear as day all over her face.

Before she even uttered a word, I knew.
“Based on all your symptoms, and my experience, I’m pretty confident you actually did have a miscarriage…”

She kept talking, but I couldn’t hear a word. Part 13 to come.

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Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Conflict – Part 11

“Is it over yet?”
You aren’t the only one thinking this story is almost unbelievable. This God-ordained story, though, is far from over. God had more to reveal to us, and now for me to continue to reveal to you. There is a method behind my madness, one I will reveal in time. No part of me has meant to deceive you along the way; please know that. I am simply sharing the story, in its absolute entirety in chronological order, as I lived it and felt it in real time. The decision to do so is sincerely based upon a strong conviction that this is to what I’m called for the Kingdom’s sake for such a time as this. 

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
*For more on the strange, but strong, intuition I was feeling just a little over a week after our dream of surrogacy seemed to be slipping from our hands, please see Part 7.
*For more on all the signs that just weren’t going away and ultimately pointing to my intuition being most likely true, please see Part 8.
*For more on the dramatic turn of events that took place one early morning, please see Part 9.
**For more on the painful drive, and then wait at the hospital, I endured while waiting to hear if my intuition was true, please see Part 10.
________________________________________________________________________________________________
Crazy.
That’s what I was almost convinced I was when I woke up on Tuesday, April 2nd.
Almost.

After all the stress of the previous weeks, then being startled awake the day before in a fashion I never had before, then having to drive myself almost 2 hours away to endure the long wait to hear if I was indeed pregnant, miscarrying or just plain insane, and then having to come home (still in pain) to the news I wasn’t one of the first two, I was emotionally spent. No, I wasn’t just spent. I was done.  So done.

I woke up to the sight of more blood and a feeling I couldn’t shake. Once again the questions that start with “why” filled my mind.

“Why do I still feel somewhat pregnant, if I never was?”
“Why do I have this sinking feeling that I’m miscarrying?”
“Why am I losing my mind?”

“Why can’t You just leave me alone, Lord?!”

I had to be at work at 1:00pm, so thankfully I had the morning to try to pull myself together – physically and emotionally. As I sat on the couch with my computer on my lap, like I do every morning, once again I turned to a familiar friend the past several days…

Google.

It had started unbeknownst to anyone (including John) days prior to our trip over Easter. Every little new symptom that popped up caused me to race to my phone and type in the Google search bar, “_____ early pregnancy symptom” or ” _____ + implantation” or “____ + first trimester.” Over and over again. I had no shame. I was curious and knew the World Wide Web would provide me concrete answers a wide variety of speculations. While we were gone on our trip, John asked me to have my phone on just when we needed directions. He, and rightfully so, didn’t want to compete with texts/Google chat messages/Facebook for my attention on a trip that was supposed to be all about us. For the most part, I upheld his request. I tried really, really hard to honor it, anyway. My unknown Google obsession had been fed so much leading up to the trip, though, that it was hard to tame my hunger for more data on why I was not insane but instead with child.

In a span of a week to a week-and-a-half, I’d probably made no less than 25 searches…a day. 😉
I clearly needed Googleholics Annonymous.
And I was just getting started.

The night before, like I had so many other nights, I once again had turned to my “all-knowing” friend, the Google search bar. Unlike the supposed “all-knowing” pregnancy test I had taken on Easter morning, I knew Google wouldn’t let me down. I knew my emotional “salvation” was out there amongst its trillions and trillions of pages. I just had to find it by honing in my searches, by helping my friend help me. I couldn’t expect Google to do all the work. I needed to get savvy with my searches – and fast. My phone was inundated with search after search for hours on end before I went to bed that night, and now that I was awake, the search for my answers was on again.

“___  + HCG levels + miscarriage”
“____ + signs of early miscarriage”
“___+ early miscarriage”
“____ + 4 weeks pregnant  + miscarrying”
“____ + 5 weeks pregnant + miscarrying”
“____ + non-detectible miscarriage”
“____ + false HCG blood test”

You name it, I Googled it.

Now obviously I’m not saying that one should turn to Google before the Lord for their answers. I’m just being real about what went on in my mind and my heart during that very confusing, painful (emotionally and physically) time.  Of course I turned to the Lord first when I wasn’t sure what “up” was from “down.” I knew, even if I found the answers I was looking for on the Internet (which most likely I wouldn’t), Google would never provide an adequate answer which could take away the ache in my heart that begged the answer to the question, “Why?”

“Why couldn’t I just accept what medical professionals told me?”
“Why was my sanity unraveling and I, if I wasn’t already there, on the brink of an emotional breakdown?”

I spent much of that morning in prayer, begging the Father to allow me to accept the news I was given the day before. I begged Him to show me His will. I begged Him to let life return to the way it was a month ago. I begged him to let us go back to when we were going to adopt, when our quest to parenthood had only one logical answer. Most of all, I begged Him to give me the peace that passes all understanding –  no matter our circumstances – that He promises His children in His Word (Phil 4.7).

Sitting on the couch that morning, I got, at least for a few moments, the peace for which my soul was longing. I didn’t, though, like with what it came – a strange prompting.“They’re wrong. Call Dr. Sharp. Go see her.”

The idea of seeing Dr. Sharp (our PCP) had already been brought up earlier that morning by the same friend who had known since the week before I thought there was a good chance I could be pregnant. In her mind, getting a 2nd opinion by Dr. Sharp, a doctor who has OB experience, would help me better accept the news I was given yesterday, since I obviously wasn’t at peace with what I was told.  I understood her point but wasn’t planning on acting on it, to be honest. I didn’t want to sit in front of another doctor,  bear my soul and be kindly told, “No, you actually aren’t – and never have been – pregnant. You’ve just been through a lot, and your body is naturally reacting to the stress. Go home and rest. You’ll feel better soon.”

No, thank you. I was good. I’d felt dumb enough the day before. I had no desire to repeat history. No matter how hard I tried, though, I couldn’t shake the way I felt in that moment, for the past 24 hours. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was having a miscarriage, specifically a “chemical” miscarriage. I couldn’t shake the feeling we not only had conceived life, but that the baby was no longer with me. I couldn’t shake the conviction I was feeling to dig deeper into things.

So, I called up her office and made an appointment.
I told myself that no matter what she said, I had to walk out of the office believing it. If she said I was never pregnant, as the rational part of me suspected she would, I had to move on. I had to move on for my good, the good of our marriage, and the good of our future children, however they were going to come into the world. I had to let it go. After all the stress of the past month, I desperately needed – and wanted – to get emotionally healthy again.

I let work know that I was going to be a little late, got ready and once again headed off to hear the truth, probably again.

Though I was hoping it would, life wasn’t about to get any easier.

Part 12 – and a definite answer – to come.

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, cystic fibrosis, Life, Marriage, Purpose, Sanctification, Surrogacy

Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Wait – Part 10

I so wish there weren’t so many parts to this story. As much as you enjoy reading it, I wish I didn’t have so much “drama” to share. I often wish my life was “boring,” to be honest. Yes, in my flesh, I wish my life were easier, but alas, it is the life to which I am called. More than that, my life is the one to which I am not only called but called to share for God’s glory and purpose. Though its ups and downs can get tiring, it’s a life I feel privileged to live, a life I wouldn’t trade for a second.

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
*For more on the strange, but strong, intuition I was feeling just a little over a week after our dream of surrogacy seemed to be slipping from our hands, please see Part 7.
*For more on all the signs that just weren’t going away and ultimately pointing to my intuition being most likely true, please see Part 8.
*For more on the dramatic turn of events that took place one early morning, please see Part 9.
______________________________________________________________________________________________

I drove toward Columbus full of every emotion known to man.

I was at peace.
I was full of fear.
I was convinced I was pregnant and losing the baby.
I was convinced I was insane and need of clinical help.
I was, for lack of better words, a hot mess.

About forty-five minutes out of downtown Columbus, I called my transplant nurse, Ashley, and filled her in on the past week-and-a-half or so of my life. I told her the symptoms of pregnancy I had been having and what had transpired earlier that morning. I assured her that John and I certainly hadn’t been trying to get pregnant and begged her not to be upset with me if I was. I told her about the negative pregnancy test I had on Sunday, but how I wasn’t convinced that my pain this morning was caused by just a late period.

I didn’t tell her, but I’d asked her just on Friday if she’d been reading my blog because I had a sneaking suspicion that the next conversation we would be having was the one we were having at that moment. By “prepping” her with my blog posts, I wanted to drive home the fact that trying to get pregnant was the last thing on our minds the past several weeks, not that we had been trying before, either.  She hadn’t had time in her busy schedule to read any of the blog, though, so my plan was thwarted. Ashley did her best to assure me that no one was going to be upset with me if I was having a baby, that we’d all get through it together and to just take my time driving into town.  She’d order the HCG blood test to be added to my labs. I wouldn’t go to x-ray afterward. I’d just come up to clinic, do my pulmonary function tests and wait.

It would all be OK.
We’d have answers soon.

I walked into Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Outpatient Care Center, knowing full well that life would never be the same. I walked in fully aware that I could be wrong about my intuition and sent home to deal with my emotional demons, ones I wasn’t prepared to face and had no idea how to handle. Worse yet, I was also very aware I could have actually been right all along but now possibly losing the baby, the one I had unsuccessfully tried to convince myself for over a week didn’t exist.

I headed straight to the bathroom first and was thankful to see that the bleeding had tapered off, at least for now. Like I had done dozens of times before, after I finished up, I took the elevator down to the lower level to get my blood work. I checked-in at the front desk and went back to wait for someone to come out and draw my numerous viles of blood.

The wait, though only a few minutes, seemed like a lifetime.
And then some.

Though I have given probably thousands of viles of blood in my life, not a single one of them seemed as important to me as one of the several they were about to take – the one which would be processed for HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), the hormone which is produced upon one becoming pregnant.  A quantitative HCG blood test, especially in the beginning of pregnancy, is far more accurate than any urine test. A concrete answer was finally just a few hours away.

The lady who came out to draw my blood was a very familiar face. She knew me by name and was very excited to see me. I don’t go to the hospital nearly as much as most transplant patients, so the lab ladies don’t get to see me more than 2-3 times a year. If just seeing me didn’t make her happy enough, upon reading the blood work ordered for the day, she enthusiastically proclaimed, “HCG! Oh, Amber! HCG! You are going to have a baby? I have am so excited for you!”  As I sat in the chair with my abdomen still cramping, I did my best to keep my composure and say, “Well, I don’t know. I definitely think I could be. If I am, we certainly weren’t trying.” She took the multiple colors and sizes of viles of blood she needed, gave her congrats, said she hoped to see me and my “big belly” soon, and sent me on my way.

Instead of making my usual next stop at Radiology, I headed straight up to clinic to wait for my fate.

I was given a room and proceeded to have my vitals taken. My blood pressure was sky-high, but whose wouldn’t be in my situation? My exceptionally high reading was chalked up to nerves; everything else was thankfully fine. I left the vitals room and met my respiratory therapist (another friendly face) who performed my pulmonary function test, a test I’ve been doing – and competing with myself in – since around the age of four. I couldn’t help but “spill the beans” to her, and the other therapist who I knew very well, before we started the test. I was beyond nervous and felt I needed to justify my upcoming, lackluster “performance” on the test before we even began. The therapists, too, were intrigued with my symptoms and couldn’t wait to hear the results. Like I suspected, my numbers were a bit off. After several attempts, I would have to settle with a 98% for my lung function; it was less than my usual 100%+, but my head really wasn’t “in the game” at that point.

I didn’t want to do the test in the first place.
I just wanted to know – was I pregnant or not?

I got back to my exam room and was met by my nurse, Ashley, and the team’s new social worker, whose name I honestly can’t remember. They were both clearly anxiously awaiting my blood work results, which were ordered STAT for all of our sanity’s sake. The three of us chatted for a while until Dr. Kirkby showed up and once again assured me that everything was going to be fine. We’d figure this out. Things happen. As Ashley said, things don’t just happen; they happen for a reason.

Of course they did. If I was pregnant, God was sovereign over that fact and had allowed it. We weren’t even trying to conceive. If I was indeed with child, the baby was known by the Lord before the foundation of time. Things like this just don’t “happen”, even for a “reason.” They happen because God’s ways are thoughts and ways are higher than ours. They happen because God works in mysterious, glorious ways for His glory and our good.

If I was pregnant, though, and hadn’t already lost the baby, there were no easy answers. Our transplant program had never dealt with one of their patients becoming pregnant; we would be in uncharted, somewhat scary, territory. As I’ve said before, there aren’t a lot of women who have become pregnant after transplant; therefore there isn’t a lot of research on post-transplant pregnancy (favorable or unfavorable). Because of the lack of data, doctors’ usual advice is just to play it safe and not get pregnant. Despite the risks, some women still have consciously chosen to get pregnant and have thankfully had successful pregnancies and a healthy life afterward; other women’s results were sadly the complete opposite.

There was no way of getting around it – pregnancy post-transplant was a gamble, a huge gamble. Of course we believed in God’s ability to get me and a baby through a pregnancy unscathed, no matter what risks were present. We also believed, though, in personal responsibility and being wise, too; this certainly wasn’t planned. If I was pregnant, there was no turning back now. Abortion wasn’t an option in our minds. No child is EVER an accident, no matter what that meant for my future health. If I was pregnant, I wasn’t going to murder our baby to save myself, and no one was going to convince me otherwise.

If my intuition was right, even if I came into things with absolutely no medical history, the bleeding I currently was experiencing probably wasn’t a good sign. On the other hand, I knew women who had a scare like this early on in their pregnancy and went on to deliver a perfectly healthy child. As I sat surrounded by medical professionals, like I had so many other defining moments of my life, I had to face the fact that not only was I bleeding, I did come into all of this with serious health complications; if there was a baby, and it made it through this scare, there was so much else to think about, too. It was clear from the beginning that we wouldn’t be going into pregnancy without an extreme risk for complications. That is why all along John and I weren’t planning on going down that road, no matter how much we desperately wanted to do so. It appeared we had “gone there,” though, so as we awaited my test results, an action plan was already starting to form.

I already knew my current drug regimen was going to pose a serious problem. Due to one of my current anti-rejection medicines not being “pregnancy friendly,” it would have to be changed immediately. There would be no easing off of it, no slow detox. I would have to begin a new drug cocktail and forgo the medicine I had religiously taken every 12 hours for almost 7 1/2 years, the medicine my body was trained to anticipate. In addition, since I was a CF/double lung transplant, I would not only need a local OB/GYN but also a “high risk” obstetrician in Columbus. I would need to most likely deliver in Columbus, too, which was almost a two-hour drive from our home.

If things went as well as they could, there were still no guarantees that the baby – or I – would come out of the pregnancy unscathed. Only time would tell.

 Finally, the results were back…
Ashley peered over her computer and began to utter the words we had waited hours to hear. I couldn’t breathe as I waited for her to speak. The results revealed that my almost undetectable HCG levels showed I wasn’t – and never had been – pregnant. Sighs from my transplant team of admitted relief quickly filled the exam room. As Dr. Kirkby walked back into the room, his response to the news was, “Smile! You’re not pregnant!”

My eyes immediately filled with tears, not of relief but of horror.
I really was crazy, then.
I thought to myself,


“So, this IS what it really feels like to have an emotional breakdown. Great.”

Ashley and Dr. Kirkby both quickly assured me that it is very common for women to convince themselves that they’re pregnant when so many symptoms don’t seem to have another cause. According to them, I had no reason at all to feel badly for thinking I was pregnant. These things happen, more often than you think. Besides, I had been under a TON of stress; babies had inevitably been on my mind. They were so thankful I had been so pro-active and let them know what was going on. It was always better to be safe than sorry, but no, I wasn’t – and hadn’t been – pregnant; they were very, very sure of it. They didn’t want me to feel stupid and not be as pro-active if this happened again (again, seriously?). Though Ashley felt bad for me, she admittedly was relieved.  She told me that, though, 25% of her wanted me to be pregnant, 75% didn’t; she knew the road ahead of me would have been full of risk, too many risks for someone who had done so extremely well post-transplant.

Driving home, I felt more conflicted than ever. Though I desperately wanted to be, I still wasn’t convinced I wasn’t pregnant, or more specifically, in the midst of a miscarriage. I tried to talk myself down by talking to the only friend who knew what was going on and to John; both assured me that the test had confirmed the truth. I wasn’t pregnant, nor had I had a miscarriage. I was just having my period (albeit a rough one because of the stress I was under) and life was about to return to normal. For the remainder of the day, between Googling on miscarriage and HCG levels, I prayed and cried once again. I petitioned to the Lord for the symptoms which had planted the seed of hope that I was pregnant (and then the seed of despair once I thought I was having a miscarriage) into my mind to just go away once and for all, for this supposed “period” pain to subside.

It was over. I had to move on. I had to let it go.
After all, I had my results.
I had my answer…or did I? 

Part 11 to come.

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, cystic fibrosis, Life, Marriage, Purpose, Sanctification, Surrogacy

Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Turn – Part 9

Not what you were expecting next in the story, huh? 😉
Yeah, me either.
God was certainly up to something, though.
I just wasn’t sure exactly what.

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
*For more on the strange, but strong, intuition I was feeling just a little over a week after our dream of surrogacy seemed to be slipping from our hands, please see Part 7.
*For more on all the signs that just weren’t going away and ultimately pointing to my intuition being most likely true, please see Part 8.
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It was Monday, April 1st.
I woke up at 5:00am dripping in a cold sweat.

My first thought was, “I don’t feel as pregnant anymore.”
Next thing I know I feel like someone is standing over me stabbing my abdomen with a pitchfork.
This wasn’t the way my usual monthly visitor announces her arrival.
Something was very, very wrong.

I mumbled something to John about not being able to sleep (which I’m not even sure if he heard), got out of bed, went to the bathroom and was relieved – yet worried – when I didn’t see any blood. I wasn’t starting my period, so what was going on? I made my way to our family room. I pulled out my old, but newly bound (thanks to my hubby) Bible and turned to I Samuel 1 – that old familiar text I had wept over so many times before in the past 3 years. This time, though, the cries of Hannah hit me in a way they never had before. I had read that text hundreds of times before, but never once did it hit me like it was in the early morning hours of that day. 

I turned on the song I had wept to for 6 hours (of the 12 hours total I cried) just a little over 2 weeks before and, at times, prayed for the Lord to spare our child. Other times I prayed for the Lord to take away my insanity and just leave me alone.  I fought with myself bitterly for several minutes.

Was I pregnant?
Was I not?
Was I pregnant but in trouble?
Did I need mental help?
Was this what it felt like to have an emotional breakdown?

As I poured over the Scriptures, I began to weep.
In that moment, I was Hannah.
I got on my hands and knees and cried out to the Lord.
Unlike Hannah, I did not pray for a child I hadn’t conceived.
I prayed instead for the one I believed in my heart I already had.

It was 6:00am – an hour had passed.

I needed to get ready to leave for Columbus. The cramps had let up a bit, but I was still in a lot of pain.
I headed back to the bathroom and I saw it. Blood.
Blood on the toilet paper. Blood in the toilet.
My heart sank.
My plans to take another pregnancy test that morning had been hijacked.

John was awake at this point. I told him what was going on and that I thought I might be miscarrying. He assured me I was just finally starting my period. Things were fine. I wasn’t buying it. He clearly had other things on his mind, though I could tell he was conflicted. He had a very busy day ahead at work. His new co-worker was starting that day, which was going to make his day rather abnormally hectic. Consequently, he wasn’t planning on going with me to Columbus. As the minutes passed on, though, and I wasn’t getting ready as quickly as normal, he finally asked me if I was OK to drive or if I needed him to go.

He asked several times what I wanted to do, and every time I said “No, I’m OK. I’ll go.”

I wasn’t OK. I knew it, and I think he did, too. In my mind, though, I had to protect him from the news I felt I knew I was going to get. In my mind I had no choice but to go and face this alone. I had to be brave. After all, being a bother or a burden to him has always been my worst fear.

As I gathered my things to leave, and gave John a hug and kiss goodbye, I couldn’t help but say, “Please don’t be mad at me, no matter what happens.”  He assured me that he loved me, that things were fine so I had nothing to worry about, and proceeded to lock the door behind me.

As I pulled out of our driveway on that dreary Monday morning, I knew I had a long day ahead of me. I think I also knew life would never be the same, no matter what they told me.

For the time being, though, I knew I needed to still call my transplant team on my way down and let them know what had been going on, that I still needed a HCG blood test to determine if I was (at least at this time) indeed pregnant and had no business getting a chest x-ray in the current state I was in.

As I drove down a rural state highway I knew like the back of my hand while my cramps continued, and a familiar song came on the radio, my eyes filled with tears.

All I could manage to say over and over again was
“What are you doing, Lord, and why are you doing it?”

Part 10 to come.

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, cystic fibrosis, Life, Marriage, Purpose, Surrogacy