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Houston, We Have a Plan!

My sidebars are woefully out-of-date (new blogs and links need added, the reading list needs updating), but you might notice a change in the "Next Step" feature over there on the left. That's right, I've scheduled a consultation with my fifth RE for February 9. Back when we first started trying to get pregnant, I certainly never thought we'd be sitting here four years, seven IUIs, two IVFs, and five reproductive endocrinologists later...

Over the past few months, we've been weighing our options and being weighed down by them. IVF, donor embryos, adoption in some form, stepping away from active family building for a while - if you spin out all the variables, we had about six or seven possibilities on the table. When people have asked us how to pray, we solicited prayer for discernment among all the choices and unity in whatever decision we made.

A little over a week ago, those prayers were answered. During a dinner date, we talked over the options and felt no closer to decision or action. We left to go home; I got into the car while Aaron brushed snow and scraped ice off of all the windows. As I sat in the passenger seating waiting, a sudden shift in thinking made the way clear. You see, we had essentially sorted the possibilities into two categories: the medical category (containing procedures covered by our insurance) and the adoption category (containing domestic or international adoption). Oh, and there was also a do-nothing category. Anyway, we have two more cycles covered by insurance, and we had been debating between doing fresh IVF or using donor embryos for a frozen embryo transfer (FET). The revelation on that date night was this: the donor embryo option really belonged in the adoption category, not the medical category. If the Lord leads us to adopt, then we can consider whether to adopt at the 100-cell stage, the newborn stage, or the todler stage. If we want to exhaust our insurance coverage, we ought to use it for IVF, our last realistic chance at biological children and a procedure that we could never afford without the insurance coverage. (FET costs quite a bit less than IVF, and if we choose to adopt, we'd be fund-raising for that regardless.) Looking at the options in that new light, Aaron and I both feel confident that our next step is to try IVF again.

That leads us to the consulation with RE #5, whom I'm hoping will work within our convictions and desires to fertilize a limited number of eggs (maybe six?) and transfer all the resulting viable embryos. This clinic (which I had called way back when we originally left the care of Dr. Peppy) seems more familiar with couples in our situation. They even have an egg-freezing program, which may not be a workable option for us but which at least indicates a degree of flexibility that I haven't seen with the last two doctors. Still, we won't know for sure until I've actually met with this doctor, so please pray that he will actually be amenable to our preferences. We're grateful for the prayers that brought us to this point and excited to have a plan of action again!


2009 minus 1980 equals

Today I turn 29. Aaron jokingly called it the age I'll be for the rest of my life. Truly, I hope that I'm never abashed by my age, that I never wail about getting old, that I never wistfully long to be in a different decade of my life. I want to live every year to its fullest, with joy and grace. But, I would really like to be a mom by 30. Please, God?

Aaron took me out to celebrate on Saturday. We went to a cozy French restaurant for lunch (tea, souffle, and crepes; yum!). Then he took me to pick out a Dutch oven; I've wanted one for ages, and we found a great deal on this one.
I can't wait to cook with it!

I'm settling in for a quiet, low-key day now. Aaron, sadly, is out of town on an unavoidable business trip. It's my regular day off of work, but I do have some lesson-planning and grading to do for the homeschool co-op where I teach once a week. I slept in a little, then I made a tasty breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal with honey, cranberries, and pecans. I think I'll treat myself to a bath at some point, and I have a couple of presents from my parents to open. Aaron kept urging me to set up a lunch date with girlfriends or something, but a restful day at home appeals to me.

This morning, I read and meditated on Mark 8:34-36. I pray that this last year of my twenties would be one in which I learn to embrace my cross with greater faith, to deny myself and find the immeasurable gain of Christ and the gospel.


Lost in Translation

When Aaron and I started dating, I had fun discovering some of his unique, West Virginia style pronunciations. We laughed most together about the way he said, "color." He pronounced it the way most Americans say, "collar." We joked about the difficulties of being "collar-blind," as in, "I can't tell if you're wearing a turtleneck or a polo; I'm collar-blind." Though almost a decade in the Midwest has standardized Aaron's pronunciation of "color," we still giggle when we think about collar-blindness.

Aaron's mom, Carolyn, has lived all but a couple years of her life in West Virginia. She has an endearing accent, and I enjoy listening to catch all the variations. One of my favorites is any word ending in the letters, "ush," which she pronounces, "oosh." So "push" is "poosh," and "bush" is "boosh." That last particularly tickles me when Carolyn has talked politics over the last several years; I get a kick out of hearing her say the name of President "Boosh."

During our Christmas visit to West Virginia, I helped Carolyn do some last-minute shopping for one of Aaron's three sisters, Laurie. Aaron's younger sister, Rachel, was with us, too. Laurie had requested V-neck shirts in jewel tones, so Carolyn, Rachel and I browsed through a department store in search of the right kind of tops. I pointed out some bright button-up blouses to Rachel, thinking that leaving the top few buttons undone would create a V neckline. Rachel commented that she didn't think Laurie liked collared tops, since she had advised Aaron's oldest sister, Esther, not to wear polo shirts. I made a mental note and wandered over to see if Carolyn had found anything. When I reached her, she gestured towards a rack of vibrant blouses.

"What do you think of these?" she asked.

"Well," I replied, "they are pretty, but Rachel told me that Laurie doesn't like collars."

Carolyn turned and spoke vehemently. "Yes, she does! She asked for jewel tones!"

I blinked, startled at the non sequitur. Then it clicked. Gesturing with my hands as if grabbing imaginary lapels, I said, "No, collars. She doesn't like collars."


What Veronica's Brother-in-Law Said

Here's some recommended reading for you. Over at Toddled Dredge, Veronica's brother-in-law wrote a moving post about how suffering binds us to God. And when you're done, take time to read the entire Toddled Dredge Twelve Days of Christmas series; it's become an annual favorite for me. Rich stuff.


New Year

Welcome, day one of the new year. Welcome, day one of a new cycle. Welcome, day one of our fifth year of trying to conceive. Sigh.

During the Christmas season, I found myself mulling over this verse from "Joy to the World":

No more let sins or sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.

The curse is found right here in this broken body of mine, this frail flesh that can't create and carry life like it's intended to do. I've had four years of growing sorrow, four years of the stinging, prickly thorn of infertility. How I would dearly love for His blessings to flow in a reversal of my barrenness, for the Lord to say, "No more!" to this trial. I don't know if that will happen in 2009. But he has said, "No more!" to my sin, has turned my soul into a fruitful garden, and has given me every spiritual blessing in Christ. That's more than enough for a very happy day and happy new year.