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Round 5, Day 3

My ultrasound today revealed cysts - 2 enormous ones on my left ovary and 2 little ones that don't matter on my right. Wendy's eyes widened as soon as she saw the image on the screen, and she was very surprised that I wasn't in severe pain from them. She showed me the pictures so that I could see what was happening to my poor overburdened ovary.

The right looked something like this - see the faint oval oultine with the little black dots? The ovary is the oval shape, and it's about normal size. The little black dots are small cysts; I have 2 about 11mm each (anything under 16mm is fine for proceeding with fertility treatment).

The left, however, looked like this - that big black circle is one huge cyst, with the ovary swollen around it. Only I have 2 of those, approximately 2 inches each, bulging together. Not a pretty picture.

So, at least another month off before we attempt a new protocol. I'm supposed to take it easy for a little bit, so those fatties don't bust. Although I was praying for no cysts, I am asking God to help me see even them as a gift from Him. On a lighter note, at least all that cystiness explains the sudden swelling of my abdomen in the past couple weeks - I like that explanation better than blaming it on all the yummy desserts I was fed in Texas!

A Suitable Prayer

This morning I prayed the following prayer from The Valley of Vision, words that suited my soul but that I never would have come up with on my own:

Sovereign Lord,
When clouds of darkness, atheism, and unbelief come to me,
I see thy purpose of love,
in withdrawing the Spirit that I might prize him more,
in chastening me for my confidence in past successes,
that my wound of secret godlessness might be cured.
Help me to humble myself before thee
by seeing the vanity of honour as a conceit of men's minds,
as standing between me and thee;
by seeing that thy will must alone be done,
as much in denying as in giving spiritual enjoyments;
by seeing that my heart is nothing but evil,
mind, mouth, life void of thee;
by seeing that sin and Satan are allowed power in me
that I might know my sin, be humbled,
and gain strength thereby;
by seeing that unbelief shuts thee from me,
so that I sense not thy majesty, power, mercy, or love.
Then possess me, for thou only art good and worthy.

Thou dost not play in convicting me of sin,
Satan did not play in tempting me to it,
I do not play when I sink in deep mire,
for sin is no game, no toy, no bauble;
Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin
lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed,
as in the greatness of the person sinned against.
When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me, by showing me
that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch,
but that in Christ I am reconciled, made alive, and satisfied;
that I am feeble and unable to do any good,
but that in him I can do all things;
that what I now have in Christ is mine in part,
but that shortly I shall have it perfectly in heaven.

"Humiliation," The Valley of Vision, p. 79



Negative. Again.

The pregnancy blood test I had done at the clinic yesterday was pointless, as I started my period two hours later.

I am disappointed and discouraged, struggling to believe that God's grace is sufficient for me. It doesn't seem like I will ever be satisfied in Christ alone.


And Now, for Something Completely Different (in Honour* of Snow)

A couple days after coming home from my visit to Texas, we had our first snowfall of the season! I heard on the news that it was the fifth earliest snowfall in the Chicago area in the past 125 years. The flurries of white flakes were lovely, but of course didn’t last. However, all this cold weather (plus a conversation with my friend Amanda in Waco) got me thinking about my favorite cozy crock-pot meals. I thought I’d do something completely new on my blog and post a couple tasty recipes.

Parmesan Chicken Chowder (from Jen Flock)

3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3-4 baking potatoes, cleaned & diced
4 carrots, peeled & sliced ¼” thick
2 ribs celery, sliced ¼” thick
1 onion, diced
3 cups water
Salt & pepper
4 tbsp butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup peas (thawed if frozen)
1 cup corn (thawed if frozen)
1/3 cup Parmesan, shredded or grated

Put chicken, potatoes, carrots, celery, onion & water in crockpot. Season with salt & pepper. Cook all day. Chicken should shred easily when done. 15 minutes before serving, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, whisking for 2 minutes or until smooth. Slowly whisk in milk. Stir milk mixture into chicken mixture. Add peas, corn, and Parmesan to the chowder and stir to combine. Serve with crusty bread.

Boeuf Bourguignon (modified from a recipe in Everyday Food magazine)

2-3 lbs boneless chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
¼ cup flour
6 medium carrots, peeled & sliced ½” thick
1 onion, diced
4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb cremini or button mushrooms, halved if large & stems trimmed
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp dried thyme
Salt & pepper
1 bottle dry red wine

Place chuck roast in bottom of crockpot. Sprinkle with flour; season with salt & pepper. Add carrots, onion, bacon, garlic, mushrooms & tomato paste. Season with thyme, salt & pepper. Pour wine over all. Cook on high all day (8+ hours). Meat should fall apart when stirred. (This recipe is even better reheated as leftovers, so you can also cook it overnight, refrigerate it during the day, and warm it up for dinner.)

*I’ve always thought the British spelling of words that Americans end in “or” was much more sophisticated. This seemed like a good time to use the British way.

Benefits Beyond

We had care group scheduled for the day that Aaron & I both returned from traveling, so our dear friends Josh & Katie offered to lead the meeting for us. Much to our surprise, they took part of the meeting to ask members of our care group to share how they see evidence of God’s grace at work in our lives. We were incredibly blessed and humbled by that time. One thing particularly stood out to me – many people shared how Aaron cares for people effectively and has grown in leadership. As these comments were being made, my eyes were opened to see a broader horizon of how God has been using the trial of infertility. As I have struggled through the challenges of the past two years, my husband has had to learn how to care for me in the midst of difficulty. He has had to lead us through many decisions, and he has had to point me to the Lord’s grace again and again as my sins have been exposed. Sitting in care group, I realized that not only have I been the beneficiary of Aaron’s growth in loving leadership, but other friends have received that increased care as well. I can get so focused on asking, “What is God doing in my life through my suffering?” – and I think that is a helpful question to ask. But I needed that last care group meeting to see that God has bigger purposes in mind than just my growth. He works all things together for good to all those who love him. In this trial, that means me as I’ve been sanctified and drawn closer to my Savior. It also means my husband, who has learned greater compassion and leadership. And it means our friends in care group, who have benefited from Aaron’s growth (and maybe mine, too). It lightens the load of affliction just a little bit to have my eyes taken off myself to see what God is accomplishing through circumstances that I would not have chosen. When I get these glimpses, I can honestly say that the suffering has been worth the spiritual fruit (although I certainly won’t complain if this trial comes to and end soon!).

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Here are the recent facts for Round 4:

IUI – Oct. 4
It was okay, and we were very grateful to squeeze it in before our travels. Aaron’s counts were a little lower than before, but he had 100% motility (which is a good thing, if you’re not familiar with all the terminology). Nurse Answers was great, as usual, and took the time to look at his previous counts, assured us that we still had enough for our IUI, and promised to keep an eye on future numbers. During and after the IUI, I had quite a bit of discomfort from cramping, but it wasn’t exceedingly painful.

Progesterone test – Oct. 11
My levels were very good again – 25wupmL. Clomid certainly seems to do the trick for me; we just need to get sperm to meet egg when I’m on the medication!

That’s all until this Wednesday, when we should know the big result. Honestly, I’m not very expectant (no pun intended), but I’m trying to find true hope in Christ rather than turning to either wishful thinking or pessimism.


Round 4, Day 11

Quick update before I leave for a much-anticipated vacation...

I had an ultrasound yesterday that showed 3 large follicles on my right ovary (20mm, 18mm & 16mm) and one medium follicle on my left ovary (13mm) - another big response to the meds. In fact, Wendy was astonished at how many well-developed follicles I had! All that to say, Nurse Answers told me to go ahead and trigger last night (an event that was not nearly as nerve-wracking as the first time). We go in for our IUI tomorrow morning, right before we each leave for our respective trips (Aaron to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, me to Texas). If this IUI works, we'll have quite the story to tell our child someday. "Honey, you were conceived while mommy was on a plane flying in the opposite direction of your daddy..." Not exactly anyone's romanticized idea of starting a family, but we'll take it any way it comes!

I may blog while I'm on vacation, but I may not. If you live in Austin or Waco, I hope to see you while I'm in town!

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.