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The beta on Monday confirmed what we already knew on Sunday - negative. I'm disappointed, of course, but seeing that sadness and satisfaction in Christ can co-exist. If continued infertility is how God is going to receive the most glory from my life, I'm resigned to persevere in this trial.

So today I went in for my CD3 ultrasound. I warned the nurse that I expected cysts, as I've ended up with anywhere from one to four cysts after almost every single previous medicated cycle. The nurse sweetly said that she chose to think I'd be cyst-free this time around. But this morning I blew my own record out of the waters. As soon as the nurse began the ultrasound, she murmured in shock and asked if I was in any pain. Then she started typing measurements. A lot of measurements. Just guess how many cysts I have.


Eight on the right ovary, four on the left, some as big as 4 cm.

I'm an ova-achiever. (Ba dum bum CHING.)

So now I've got a prescription for BCP to suck the life out of all those cysts. Hopefully, they'll all be gone by my next cycle so that we can do another IUI in June. In the meantime, I think I'll enjoy the recovery break, and I'll avoid any twisting, jumping, or abdominal exercises!



Yesterday, I woke up feeling anxious. One day to go until the blood test that would reveal the outcome of this IUI cycle.

Yesterday, I served in the nursery at church, holding someone else's fussing baby in my arms, standing and swaying until she calmed and slept. As the weight of her warm face pressed into my shoulder, wistfulness swelled and sighed in my heart.

Yesterday, I witnessed several young persons profess their faith in Christ and be baptized. Moms cried happily, dads proudly joined our pastors in lowering their children into the waters and raising them up again, and tears silently rolled down my cheeks as I wondered if we would ever have the joy of having children, of seeing them come to know the Savior and join his bride, the church.

Yesterday, I started to bleed.

Yesterday, Jesus Christ was the same, a rest for the weary.

Today, Jesus Christ is the same, God with me.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, and all my tomorrows, Jesus Christ will be the same, my only hope and peace.


Contentment, Drift, and the Good News

As I wait for the results of this IUI cycle, I continue to be grateful to God for the contentment he has given me even in the middle of trial. But I've discovered that contentment is accompanied by a danger; I'm no longer quite so aware of my need for God. Where I used to urgently search for daily truth and grace to sustain me in the midst of difficulty, I lately have read Scripture and prayed with a sense of complacency. At church last Sunday, the message from Hebrews 2:1-4 spurred me on to guard against the danger of drift by paying "much closer attention" to the gospel. One of the application questions for the message was, "How do your affections for the gospel compare to where they were three months ago?" That question convicted me. My hard-won contentment was born out of gratitude for the gospel, but while the contentment has lingered, the cross-centeredness had not. So I have purposed, as I spend time with the Lord each day, to look more intentionally for the good news that Christ died for my sins.

Good news wasn't too hard to find in my reading in Ephesians this morning!

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness towards us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-7).

What a celebration of the precious gospel! God is rich in mercy towards me, not stingy. Why? Because he loves me with a great love! And why does he love me? Not because of anything inherently lovely in me. I was dead in my sin, so it was as though God's love wooed a corpse. But his love is strong enough to raise the dead; he made my soul alive with Christ. What a salvation! And not only did he resurrect this dead sinner, he has given me a place with Christ in his glory, an inheritance with the heir of the universe. All this God did so that he could show me the vast wealth of his grace and kindness. All his bounty is passed on to me through Christ. Content with my lot? How can I be less than content with the riches of the gospel at my disposal?


A Letter from OfIRM to Mr. Aaron Patterson

Dear Sir,

We here at the Office for Infertility Repercussion Management (henceforth OfIRM) regret to inform you that your wife has turned into a snail. This unfortunate side effect of the progesterone suppositories is marked by a distinct trail of slime* left wherever she goes.
While strict clinical studies conducted by OfIRM have proven that women taking fewer than two(2) suppositories per day are at no risk of becoming snails, a dose of three(3) or more daily suppositories has been shown to cause rare cases of gastropodism. Your wife's doctor, considering the risk negligible, prescribed a course of three(3) progesterone suppositories per day. Regretfully, Mrs. Patterson appears to be one of the select group who does, in fact, succumb to gastropodism. However, we of OfIRM assure you that gastropodism does not necessarily preclude the possibility of pregnancy. (See Exhibits A and B for evidence of the potential concurrence between snails and gestating women.) Gastropodism is not a permanent condition; upon discontinuation of the progesterone supplementation, your wife should revert from her temporary state as a snail to her usual human form. In the meantime, should you have questions regarding how to care for your wife as a snail, please contact the toll-free number for OfIRM and request Brochure #SE44898, "Managing Gastropodism: The Care and Feeding of Snails."

The Employees of OfIRM

*OfIRM and its subsidiaries cannot be held liable for any costs incurred for the cleaning of dining chairs and/or seats in cars as a result of said trail of slime.


Double Chocolate Cookies

What's that you say? You want a super-chocolatey cookie recipe? Well, alright...

Double Chocolate Cookies (makes about 24)

20 oz semisweet chocolate chips, divided
4 tbsp butter
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Heat 8 oz chocolate chips and butter in a bowl in the microwave in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Don't skimp on the time beating the eggs and sugar! It makes the difference between thinly spread, crumbly cookies and perfectly round cookies with a soft center and a meringue-like exterior.) Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate mixture. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the remaining 12 oz of chocolate chips. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2-3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12-15 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes; transfer to racks to cool completely.

Oh, yum.


Vigilante of Heart

"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." Proverbs 4:23

In his commentary* on this verse, D.A. Carson writes, "In contemporary Western symbolism, the heart is the seat of the emotions. But in the symbol-world of Scripture, the heart is the seat of the whole person. It is closer to what we mean by 'mind,' though in English 'mind' is perhaps a little too cerebral. So 'guard your heart' means more than 'be careful what, or whom, you love' - though it cannot easily mean less than that. It means something like, 'Be careful what you treasure; be careful what you set your affections and thoughts on.'"

What do I treasure? What do I most often set my affections and thoughts on? These days, I think a lot about two things: having children and buying a home. Now, neither of those is bad or wrong. They are generally good desires. But when Aaron and I consider whether this is a wise time to buy a house, I have to carefully evaluate whether or not I have placed an undue importance on owning a home. And as I wait for the results of this IUI, I need to diligently examine my heart for any inordinate reliance on a pregnancy to give me joy.

Why should I be so vigilant? Because the heart, as Carson goes on to say, "directs the rest of life. What you set your mind and emotions on determines where you go and what you do. ... If your heart is ardently pursuing peripheral things (not necessarily prurient things), then from a Christian perspective you soon come to be occupied with the merely peripheral. If what you dream of is possessing a certain thing, ...that shapes your life."

I don't want to spend my life occupied with the merely peripheral. Houses and, yes, even children are peripheral. Though having a child and owning a home would both be great blessings, neither is essential to my satisfaction. And neither makes an ultimately worthy goal for my life. I still hope to have children by some means, and I still wish to buy a home when the time is right, but those intentions must be submitted to the aim of knowing and glorifying my Savior. So I guard my heart against treasuring motherhood and home-ownership too much. He loves me without those things, and by his grace I can love him without those things.

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith." Philippians 3:8-9

*in the reading for March 17 from For the Love of God, Vol. 2


Super Size

Want to double the amount of traffic to your blog overnight? Apparently all you have to do is participate in Works-for-Me-Wednesday. Holy moley! Welcome to all of you visiting from Rocks in My Dryer.

I had an ultrasound this morning to measure my ovaries post-IUI. Judging by the reactions of the nurses, they are plenty large (I didn't ask for exact size, and I wasn't told). The right is much bigger than the left, which lines up with how I've been feeling. (I suspect a cyst, since I had them with every previous medicated IUI.) No need for the HCG booster shot, and I have instructions to call if I feel any severe pain. For now, me and my progesterone suppositories keep trucking along for the remaining week and a half until the blood test that reveals all. Amazingly, I don't feel any real anxiety or impatience as I wait to find out whether this IUI worked or not; I thank God for his Spirit's work in my heart to that end!


Best! Tank Tops! Ever!

So I thought I'd get in on a little Works-for-Me-Wednesday action this week. What is Works-for-Me-Wednesday, you ask? You can find out here.

Last night at our small group meeting, the gals discussed the topic of modesty. (We based our discussion on this message, in case you're curious.) Now, modesty is a matter of the heart more than anything else, but it is also a very practical issue. As we were talking about the specifics of appropriate appearance, I mentioned these tank tops. I have three of them (white, black, and brown), and I probably wear them five days out of every week. They are perfect for layering; they're long (even on a 5'10" girl like me!), and the neckline is just right, not to low, not to high. Now that the weather is finally starting to warm up, they're also great to wear alone. The fabric is light-weight enough to be comfortable, but not so thin that you need yet another layer underneath the tank. (Because, really, who wants to layer up on a hot summer day?) The tanks are form fitting enough to look feminine, but they aren't too snug. So there you have it, ode on a tank top.

How about you? What item of clothing can't you live without?


IUI Report

Everything pretty much worked out for the IUI this past weekend. My appointment on Thursday morning showed a number of growing follicles - one 15mm, one 14mm, three 13mm, and one 12mm. My estrogen levels had risen to 673, just over triple my previous levels from Tuesday. I knew from the size of the follicles that I wasn't quite ready to trigger yet, and I suspected that Dr. Owlish would want me to come in again on Friday. So before I received my instructions, I went ahead and made a preemptive phone call to the clinic to say that I would be attending my grandpa's funeral on Friday and would be unable to make any appointments that day. The nurse who called back reported that they could work around my schedule and gave me instructions to take a lower dose of Follistim that night, to trigger Friday morning, and to schedule an IUI for Saturday morning. I had a few questions about the protocol (why was I triggering in the morning if I should have had a monitoring appointment that day? why was the IUI only 24 hours after the trigger shot rather than the usual 36?), but after playing phone tag for the whole afternoon, I gave up and decided to just follow orders without getting more information. The HCG shot was not too hard to mix up and take, although I did have a reaction at the injection sight (a quarter-sized red welt) and I felt some unpleasant side-effects for a couple days (slight queasiness, tenderness, etc.). The nurse said that next time, if there is a next time, we can dilute the shot more. The IUI itself was a piece of cake. Since this clinic is so close to our apartment, we could relax at home instead of killing time in the waiting area between dropping of the sperm to be washed and the actual procedure. The nurse who performed the IUI was very gentle; I didn't have any cramping when she inserted the catheter. Then, she actually let Aaron push the plunger to send the sperm on through to the uterus; that was a little strange but also made the whole thing feel a bit more personal and less clinical. (The first word that came to my mind for that sentence was "sterile" instead of "clinical" - but it seems somehow wrong to use that word when describing our attempts to overcome infertility!) So now we're in the waiting stage. I only have one check-up between now and the pregnancy test at the end of the month. With everything surrounding my grandfather's death and funeral (which I'll write more about later), I haven't taken much time to think about the IUI or look ahead to what the results might be. I am asking that this will be the time when the Lord removes the thorn of infertility from us, but for the sake of Christ I am content with these hardships for now.

P.S. Thank you to all of the family members we saw over the weekend who expressed that you are praying for us to have children; it means more than you know to be so surrounded by support.


Quick Update on the Funeral and the IUI

It looks like the potential conflict between the funeral and the IUI has been avoided. My grandpa's funeral will be Friday morning. My next monitoring appointment is tomorrow morning, so even if Dr. Owlish instructs me to trigger tomorrow evening, Saturday would be the soonest we would do the IUI. I guess it's still possible that I would have a monitoring appointment on Friday morning, but I'm not going to worry about that yet. I'm grateful for how it all seems to be working out so far.

Right now, life is in upheaval as we rearrange things in order to attend the funeral. A few weeks ago, I had agreed to watch my nephews and niece for the day tomorrow while my sister-in-law travels and brother-in-law works. So today is my last day of work for the week, which means I'm trying to cram three days worth of tasks into one. We'll try to meet my family for dinner tonight, and then we'll pack. Tomorrow will consist of a lot of juggling, in order to get Aaron's sister to the airport, me to my appointment, our nephews to and from kindergarten and preschool, and ourselves on the road to Michigan as soon as we can after handing the kids back over to my brother-in-law. It's quite hectic, but I'm trying to remember that Christ is in loving control of all these things.

Please continue to pray for safe travel and for the IUI scheduling and all these other tasks not to interfere with the time to be with family and remember my grandfather.


At the Intersection of Death and Life

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die... (Eccles. 3:1-2)

My grandfather died today. His death was not unexpected; he was in his late nineties, and he has suffered several strokes in recent years. He had another stroke yesterday, and he passed away this morning. The funeral will be either Friday or Saturday. My dad, mom, and brother fly into Chicago tomorrow, and they'll drive from here up to Michigan, where most of my dad's family live. Aaron and I hope to join them there over the weekend.

However, it's possible that the IUI will be scheduled for the weekend. At my appointment this morning, I had three dominant follicles measuring at 12, 11, and 10 mm, plus a few smaller ones. I'm still waiting for further instructions, but my guess is that I will stim for a few more days and then trigger (usually done when the dominant follicle is between 17 and 20 mm). If the IUI and the funeral end up scheduled for the same day, we'll probably have to choose between them. My mom says that we should opt to do the IUI rather than canceling the cycle, if that ends up being the case, but we're not so sure. I don't know yet what my dad would prefer. It seems so bizarre that we might have to decide either to honor a life that has ended or to take a chance of bringing a new life into the world, but we're trusting God's sovereignty in these matters.

We'd appreciate your prayers, for all of the details related to the funeral and the IUI, for safety for my family as they travel, and for the comfort of Christ in this time of loss.


Ready, Set, Go!

The cycle for IUI #5 has officially begun. I visited the offices of Dr. Owlish for my first monitoring appointment this morning. According to the ultrasound gal, everything (antral follicles, uterine lining, etc.) looks "gorgeous." This afternoon, I retrieved my instructions from my clinic-assigned voicemail box (fancy!). I start with 100 units of Follistim tonight and keep that up until my next monitoring appointment on Tuesday. Let the fun begin! (That may sound strange, considering I'm referring to giving myself daily shots and pursuing procreation in a highly technical and medical manner, but after such a long break from treatments I feel almost giddy about proactively cycling again!)


An Encouraging Reflection

Last night, we had a very encouraging care group meeting. We each answered the question, "How have you seen the Lord at work transforming your heart over the past nine or so months, and what means (circumstances, people, etc.) has he used to do so?" As I thought about how to best summarize the work God has done in me in the past year, these words from Isaiah 26:3 came to mind.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

I spent a lot of time last year seeking to stay my mind on the Lord by studying his character. (To direct my study, I used Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem and Knowing God by J.I. Packer - very helpful and inspiring materials!) Studying God's character developed a greater personal trust in him. As turbulent circumstances continued to unroll - failed IVFs, changing doctors and diagnoses, a wretched HSG, the laparoscopy, etc. - I experienced a degree of steadfast peace that persisted through everything. I still felt (and feel) sorrow, fear, anxiety, but confidence in the Lord's promised goodness predominates. When I receive bad news or encounter disappointment, my soul now rebounds to God's truth much quicker than it once did. By fixing my attention on the Savior, I find that gratitude for the gospel softens and sweetens any sharp pangs of affliction. This is all a work of God's grace! I can still hardly believe that satisfaction in Christ and ongoing infertility can coexist in my life. It's not perfect, of course, but peace is abidingly present.

How about you? How has the Lord done his transforming work in your heart in recent months?