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Bit of Miscellany #1
If you're playing along with the progesterone levels game, you'll be glad to know that I've managed to hit my highest peak yet - 40wupmL. And that was only 5dpo (for those unfamiliar with the infertility acronyms, that stands for "days past ovulation"), when progesterone usually crests at 7dpo.

Bit of Miscellany #2
Speaking of high peaks, did you know that when Aaron and I went to Galena for our anniversary two weeks ago, we were within a few miles of the highest elevation point in the state of Illinois? Yes, that's right folks, Charles Mound scales in at a lofty 1,235 feet above sea level. I should specify that it is the tallest natural point, because my sources tell me that the Sears Tower is actually taller. Aahh, the glories of the plains... Anyway, Aaron and I had hoped to visit this illustrious landmark, but sadly it is on private property and very rarely open to the public.

Bit of Miscellany #3
I've been monitoring visitors to my blog (yes, I am watching you!), and I'm a little curious about some of my readers. I can figure out who the Naperville & Wheaton, Waco & Austin readers are, for the most part. But who are my regular readers in San Marcos, TX*, and Clarksville, MD? And how about LaGrange, IL? Speak up if that's you; I'd like to meet you!

*I think the spellcheck tool likes Texas. It didn't question any of the cities named from the Lone Star State, but highlighted as suspicious all the cities in Illinois and Maryland.


If a Tree Falls... an apartment in the middle of the night when the residents are sleeping, does anyone hear it?

Decidedly yes. At first it is a little mysterious. What was that crash and tinkling sound? After the husband and wife consult with each other, the husband gets up and goes to the living room. He confirms that, yes, the Christmas tree has fallen over at 4 a.m. The live Christmas tree with a stand full of water that is now all over the carpet. The Christmas tree that was just decorated that very evening, and now has strewn ornaments, lights, and garland like shrapnel. Oh, and what seems like about one-third of its needles have formed a new rug for the dining room.

It took us a very groggy hour to get the tree back up in the stand, hopefully more secure (although it did start to fall over two more times while we were cleaning up, so we're not holding our breath). Thankfully, only 2 ornaments broke, and neither had great sentimental value.

As Aaron said, "It's good to have midnight adventures every now and then." Like the time we woke up to water pouring through the heat lamp in our bathroom ceiling. Or the time we heard a huge crash in the kitchen, and Aaron threw his arm protectively across me and told me to wait while he confronted the burglar - which ended up being 2 shelves of mugs that fell and shattered on the tile floor. Good times, good times*.

*But I'd rather be woken up at 4 a.m. by a baby crying than my Christmas tree toppling...


Round 6, Day 9

Quick update after today's ultrasound and bloodwork:

I have one large follicle on each ovary (20mm and 17mm), plus several smaller ones as well. I'll do another dose of Follistim tonight and then have a Thanksgiving trigger shot. Nurse Answers informed me that we cannot do an IUI this round, due to a new policy at the clinic that all males must be tested for HIV and such before any procedures can be done. (The policy used to just include female patients, so I've already had this pointless-for-us blood panel done, but now Aaron too will get to undergo useless needle-sticking.) Instead of an IUI, we'll have timed intercourse. I'm actually grateful to God for this change. IUI's have been pretty stressful for us, and it would have been hard to rearrange a busy holiday weekend around a visit to the clinic in the northern suburbs. Technically, our chances of conceiving may be lower without the IUI, but I am daring to feel somewhat optimistic about this combination of high-tech medicine and old-fashioned baby-making. Only the Lord knows when and how he will bestow the gift of life, but I pray this will be the month!

Nahum 1:7 "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him."


Round 6, Day 8

Well, here we are, midway through another treatment cycle, and my blog has been pining away with no updates. (I have a good excuse, though - my husband whisked me away to this lovely B&B* for our anniversary; the house did offer internet access, but I love my husband more than my blog and therefore had better things to do with my time!) Here's the skinny on this month's fertility protocol:

Last Thursday's ultrasound showed that the monstrous cysts are completely and utterly gone - thank you, Lord! So I was given the all clear for another Clomid-IUI cycle, but this time with more injection fun! I'm adding at least 2 days of Follistim, a shot that is meant to thicken up my uterine lining (translation: we're trying to create a cozy environment for a little Patterson to snuggle up in for a good nine months, instead of a womb as a rocky place in which seed can find no purchase). As a result of the need to give myself a minimum of 3 shots this month (the new med and the one I already use to trigger ovulation), I am now the proud owner of a sharps container! Just looking out for the good garbagemen of Naperville... Anyway, I have another ultrasound tomorrow to see how the follicles and lining have developed, and pending those results, we'll probably do an IUI sometime this weekend. Please send Thanksgiving prayers our way!

Speaking of prayers, I had the following exchange with my 5-year-old nephew on Sunday:

"You and uncle Aaron are married, so you can have kids."

"That's true, we are. In fact, we would like that. You can ask God to give us a baby."

Without further ado, "Dear God, please help my uncle and aunt Andery to have a baby. Amen."

*for those of you who want to know which room we stayed in (Amanda), it was the Lene.


Inferdolatry Part 5

Thinking in terms of idolatry opened up a window of understanding into my current trial of infertility. "We don't simply suffer; we suffer as sinners with a deep propensity to run after god-replacements. And, as believers, we don't just suffer as sinners but as those who have been united with Christ and therefore no longer live under the mastery of sin" (Tripp, p. 93). Infertility is grievous; idolatry is even more grievous. I don't know how or when this affliction will end, but I do know that my idolatry will end, crumbling bit by bit here on earth and ultimately toppling when my Savior brings me to heaven. I know it will be an ongoing struggle, but I want to put my desire for a child into the proper orbit. I want God as the sun in the center of my solar system, and I want good things - like children - revolving like planets around him. 1 Peter 4:1-2 says, "Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God." As I walk through the suffering of infertility, I want to see sin diminished in my life. I want suffering to make me more like my Savior. I will still have passions - included the intense yearning for children - but I should not live for them. I live for God, who is love and life.

"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:20-21)


Inferdolatry Part 4

As I began to really see how I had made having a baby into an idol, I became very discouraged. I felt like the battle for my heart had already been lost. I was living as a functional atheist; how could I hope to change? I couldn't imagine ever wanting a baby any less. Satisfaction in God alone seemed impossible. But I had forgotten that the battle lines are not just drawn between me and my desires. The real fight is between God an my idolatry. Referring to James 4:1-10, Paul Tripp says:

"We are not battling by ourselves - God battles for us! James is saying, 'Don't you know that the Spirit who lives inside you envies intensely? In the middle of the battle you can't forget that God is a jealous God. He loves you too much to make room for other lovers. He will oppose your proud and self-absorbed living, not because he is against you, but because he loves you.' Praise God that he will settle for nothing short of the final victory in our hearts. Our hope to be who we were meant to be is directly tied to his jealous desire for our hearts....
...James says more. This jealous God is a giver of grace, the most powerful weapon in the war for the heart. God's grace gives us power to say no to powerful desires. It enables us to turn from the creation toward the Creator. It makes us willing to forsake our kingdoms for his. God's grace forgives, but it also constrains and draws and wins. It is jealous, God-focused grace, fitted for the moments we are tempted to follow our desires" (p. 84).

God wants my heart. He will make himself greater and more satisfying in my eyes than pregnancy or motherhood. No matter how great my yearning for a child, he will not rest until my affections and desires for him are even greater. He is my Hope.


Inferdolatry Part 3

The following quote really stood out to me as a picture of what has happened in my heart during my experience of infertility; I was both convicted and encouraged, and I hope you might be, too!

“If my heart is ruled by the desire for a certain thing, it will affect my relationship with God in two principal ways. First, it will shape my attitude when I pray. Rather than prayer being a worshipful act of submission to God, I will pray self-centered and demanding prayers – if I pray at all. I may be so intent on getting what I want that I forget God. Not only will my attitude in prayer be affected, but the kind of god I want will change as well. Let me explain.
If a certain set of desire rules my heart, I will not want God to be a wise, loving, sovereign Father who gives me what he knows is best. Instead, I will want a divine waiter who delivers what I have set my heart on….
When a certain set of desires rules our hearts, we reduce prayer to the menu of human desire. Worse, we shrink God from his position of all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful Father to a divine waiter we expect to deliver everything we ask. But God will not shrink to this size. He will only be our Father and King, who ‘satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s’ (Ps. 103.5). He knows what is best, and he will not let there be peace until he alone controls our hearts. He is a Warrior King, who will not rest when we are captive to other kings. He fights for us, for the thoughts and desires of our hearts.”
Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, p. 83


Inferdolatry Part 2

How does the good desire for a child turn into an idol? On pp. 86-87 of Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, Paul Tripp narrates the progression of idolatry. What starts as a desire becomes a demand, then a perceived need, which leads to expectation and disappointment. When my desire for children becomes a demand, I start insisting that God ought to give me a baby when and how I want one. "Demand is the closing of my fists over a desire. Even though I may be unaware that I have done it, I have left my proper position of submission to God. I have decided that I must have what I have set my heart on and nothing can stand in the way. I am no longer comforted by God's desire for me; I am threatened by it, because God's will potentially stands in the way of my demand" (p. 86). Then, the demand for children according to my plan becomes, in my mind, a need. I start to believe that I need children to be happy, to be satisfied, to have any joy. So I set up expectations: if children are what I need to have a good life, God will give them to me, right? If I can just get God to agree with me about how important this is, he'll make sure our family grows according to my plans. These are the false expectations produced by my demand. Then, when God doesn't accept my dictation, when his accomplishment of his perfect purposes doesn't match up with my idea of what I need, I am disappointed with him. He has not in fact disappointed or tempted me, but when the Lord of all doesn't bow down in worship to my idol of a baby, I wrongly accuse him of being unloving, unfair, unkind, and generally against me. I stop believing his character and his promises. In essence, I become just like the people described in Romans 1:22-23. "Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." God offers me the glory of Christ and of sharing with him in his sufferings, and I think I would rather have a baby instead. No wonder I end up so miserable in the face of my struggles with infertility!



James 1:12-15 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

What has infertility to do with idolatry? (Apologies to Tertullian.) At first glance, not much. Infertility is technically defined as the inability to conceive after one year of trying. Idolatry makes most people think of little statues and false gods. But when you define idolatry as worshiping anything other than the one true, triune God, a connection between infertility and idolatry is made. Infertility is difficult for me primarily because I desire a child more than I desire God.

James 1 tells me that it is my own desire that entices me away from loving God. All the sins that have been exposed in my life over the past year and a half - jealousy, self-pity, anxiety, unbelief, pride - they all have been conceived by my desire for a child. (Not the kind of conception I'm really aiming for!) This does not mean that my desire for a child is itself wrong or sinful. In fact, God's word makes it clear that children are gifts, blessings. But most idolatry lies not in what we want, but in wanting it too much. If I pursue something good, like a child, more than I pursue my Lord and Savior, who is good and does good, then I am an idolater.

I've spent some time in recent weeks reading through Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands Ch. 5 and meditating on James 1 & 4 and Galatians 5. I'd like to take several posts to share what I've learned about the idolatry in my heart and about the hope for change offered to me by Jesus. Here's a quote from the beginning of Paul Tripp's book to set a foundation for the rest to come:

"As sinners, we have a natural bent to turn away from the Creator to serve the creation. We turn away from hope in a Person to hope in systems, ideas, people, or possessions. Real Hope stares us in the face, but we do not see Him. ... We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles. We offer people a Redeemer." (p. 8)