Where I Belong

I’m a wife and mother. My precious SG is 4 years old. She is our joy.

It took us years of trying before we became pregnant with SG.

We tried again for baby number 2 but it hasn’t happened.

We have an only child.

Not by choice.

But for now, it’s part of God’s plan.

I have to trust God and know that whatever happens- He’s got this.

I’ve found peace with our little family.

It’s not what we planned or hoped for. But God’s plan is always better than mine. Always.

So, lately, I’ve been thinking about where I fit in this world of fertility and infertility.

I AM a mother, so I don’t really fit in the world of hurt that I lived through for so many years- the childless couples. If you’re there now, my heart aches for you. Keep praying and trusting God for His perfect plan for you and your husband.

I have not been able to become pregnant again, so I don’t really fit into the “we’re having baby number 2, 3, 4 or 5” group. Neither are we are in the our family is complete and I’m completely content group.

I’m not jealous, truly I’m not. But there is a sense of being “left behind.”

If you have one child and long for another, I know you get the left behind statement. If you don’t understand it, then that’s okay, too.

I’ve learned with infertility and food allergies, there are depths of pain, worry and stress.

I have learned to lay my worries, stress, and pain down at the foot of the cross. There is where I find peace, contentment and bask in the gloriousness of trusting it’s going to be okay even when I feel like it’s not. Ya know?

So, where do I belong?

I belong in my precious little family of three. I find joy in covering my little 4 year old with kisses and holding her precious little hands. I find joy and lots of giggles in painting her perfect little toenails bright pink. I find love and acceptance in the strong, hardworking arms of my Huzz. I find wisdom and peace in reading the Holy Bible. I find friendships and support through my sweet girlfriends. I find love and acceptance through our supportive church.

Isn’t it all too easy to dwell on the ugly and hard stuff of life? I can all too easily fall into that trap. Life with food allergies, after all, well…it’s HARD.

I have to choose joy and contentment. I have to choose to thank God for the blessings I have- and I have many. So many.

I choose to cry out to God and know that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

I choose to “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” Psalm 116:7

I choose to say “You are my God, and I will give you thanks.” Psalm 118:28

I choose to remember “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

I choose to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

I choose to believe “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

I choose to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

(All NIV)

I belong right where I am, nestled under the loving and protective wing of my Almighty God, my precious Savior Jesus, with my Huzz & my SG. That’s where I belong.

From "Who I Am" by Jessica Andrews

From “Who I Am” by Jessica Andrews

A Glimpse into Living with Food Allergies

Faith, Family & Food Allergies

I talk a lot about food allergies.

Food allergies have determined certain paths we take.

Nothing is simple.

Want to take a bible study class with childcare? Just sign up and show up.

Not me.

There are emails and phone calls involved. There are questions about snacks. There are questions about having other kids hands cleaned in the room. There are quick EpiPen training sessions for her teachers. There are procedures figured out for me to be contacted immediately in case of an allergic reaction.

The same thing with any recreational event.

SG wants to take a dance class. She is currently crazy for Barbie in the Pink Shoes and wants to learn ballet.

Just sign up for dance class and show up, right?

Not us.

I emailed one place where I had previously spoken to the manager. To my face, she was agreeable and accommodating. I emailed her with the specifics needed to keep SG safe (either wipe hands or wash and no food in the room) and CRICKETS. No reply.

I crossed that place off of the list.

I emailed another place. The owner said she would have her own child wash her hands but it was up to ME to ASK the other parents to wash their kids hands. Ummm…no. What if they say no? I know most wouldn’t, but I have had issues with this in the past.

Thankfully I found a dance studio that is willing to wipe all the girls hands before they walk in the studio. (Thanks Jill for the help!) I’m overjoyed and can’t wait for my little ballerina to take real dance classes!!!

Let’s move onto grocery shopping. Put your kiddo in the cart (or buggie as we say in the south), fill your cart with any food you want, put your groceries on the belt, pay and go.

Not me.

First, I wipe the entire cart with wipes. Okay, not the wheels. But I SCRUB the part where SG might sit. I’m teaching her to walk beside me, but sometimes I have to put her in the seat part. The part where I’ve watched countless other kids eat the free, deadly dairy and egg filled cookies from the deli. And goldfish. That seat. And then I wipe down the rest of the cart- including the inside of the cart.

Then I find my ridiculously expensive groceries, reading EVERY LABEL, EVERY TIME. Because ingredients change without warning. I have to be sure that what I buy is safe for SG. I also have to keep SG right beside me while reading labels, repeating my mantra to SG “Don’t touch anything!” or “Please keep your hands to yourself!” or “Don’t touch your face!”

When my shopping is finally done it’s time to check out and pay. I try to find our favorite cashiers who know us by name. They know to spray and wipe the belt down for us. I have seen spilled milk on the belts. And there is always some random stickiness. Who knows what that is? With a contact dairy allergy and egg allergy, I take no chances. If I can’t find any familiar faces, I go to a new cashier. I explain quietly that we have food allergies and say “Can you please wipe the belt to keep us safe?” Only one time has a cashier refused to do it. And then I lost my cool. And then she wiped the belt. Anyway, all that to get and buy groceries. And I try to ignore the stares I sometimes get as people behind me look at me like I’m a little crazy for not putting my groceries on the dirty belt.  Sometimes I feel my cheeks turn red.  Sigh.  Not that I really care what other people think. Keeping SG safe is my job as her mother. And I take it very seriously.

Let’s talk about haircuts. I love Great Clips for SG. Mostly for one reason… there is a giant bowl of Dum Dum suckers for kids to have after their hair cut. Doesn’t that sound like a silly reason to choose a place for a kid’s hair to be cut? When we are there, SG gets to have the same treat any other kid gets. It almost makes me cry. Seriously, that doesn’t happen much. We usually have to say, “No thank you. We have food allergies.” At our Great Clips, the stylists wash their hands before cutting SG’s hair and she gets a sucker afterwards.

Thank you, Great Clips. You’re awesome!

Let’s talk about eating out. Well, there’s not much to say, really. We only go out to eat on our date nights.

This whole post is not supposed to be a bummer. It’s a little glimpse into our complicated little world.

Still, I am so very blessed to be SG’s mommy. It’s something I dreamed about, prayed about and cried about for 6 years.

I am blessed to have become pregnant after battling infertility for 6 years.

I’m blessed to be a mother.

I’m blessed to be a stay at home mom.

I’m blessed to be a wife.

I’m blessed my Huzz provides abundantly for our family.

I’m blessed to have regular date nights with the love of my life.

I’m blessed to not have to worry about weight. (Eating dairy, egg and beef free and not eating out much has kept us trim!)

I’m blessed that we followed Dave Ramsey’s plan early in our marriage.

I’m blessed with friends and family who want to keep SG safe.

I’m blessed by a church that goes to great lengths to keep SG safe.

I’m blessed with a Savior who loves me and died for my sins.

I could go on and on. Sometimes I need to sit down and remind myself of my blessings.

Because sometimes, this food allergy life can weigh me down.

Today, I choose to lay it all down at Jesus’ feet and know that no matter what, He’s got this.

I might have to take extra steps and precautions, but it’s all for a very good reason. There’s nothing I won’t do for my SG.

Our Story in a Nutshell

A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to describe myself and my little family to a dear group of new friends in about 5 minutes. I tried and it just didn’t seem deep enough (and I was sick at the time and I was losing my voice so I didn’t really feel like talking too much.)

So, now, a few months later, I’m trying to describe me and my little family in a nutshell, so to speak. How to squeeze 12+ years of marriage into a few minutes? How to squeeze our heartbreaking trials and glorious triumphs (all to God’s glory) in a few minutes?

Girl sees boy. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl become Mr. and Mrs. They move to a new state to start a new life without jobs. Mr. & Mrs. find good jobs and live life as they planned. Mr. and Mrs. are moved around due to Mr.’s job. Two years into “their plan”, Mr. and Mrs. try for a baby. Countless tears followed, invasive fertility tests, dreams slowly started to die and hope was crushed month after month. Time after time. Years of trying to conceive without success brought the Mrs. to her knees many times with many tears. Six years later, on the very last try before pursuing adoption, the Mrs. became PREGNANT.

The pregnancy was rocky in the beginning due to a sub chorionic hemorrhage at 11 weeks. The hemorrhage and the belief that they were miscarrying because of cramping and bleeding brought the Mr. and Mrs. again to their knees, with a sound coming from the Mrs. that she had never heard before. The sound of agony and mourning. Yet, God healed the hemorrhage and protected baby. The hemorrhage eventually healed. The Mr. and Mrs. praised God for the healing.

God used that time of healing to bring the Mrs. closer to Him through the sweetness of His Psalms. The Mrs. learned a deep trust in God. The Mrs. learned that many were her steps and plans, but that without God it meant nothing.

The Mr. and Mrs. learned that their precious miracle baby had life threatening food allergies to cow’s milk (anything dairy) and eggs. The Mrs. sobbed and mourned the life she had planned for baby. The Mrs. learned an entirely new way to cook. The Mr. and Mrs. eliminated baby’s allergens from their house. They learned to accept this diagnosis and learned how to provide a safe and normal childhood for baby. The family of three learned to thrive, leaning on The Lord daily. The Mr. and Mrs. learned that love and care for their daughter’s special needs would come from the body of Christ.

The Mr. and Mrs. 12+ years of marriage cannot be fit into just 5 minutes. The Mr. & Mrs. have many stories of God’s provision, protection, His faithfulness, His goodness and His sovereignty in their lives. This is just a fraction of their story.

The Mrs. learned that through the many trials she faced, she could either trust God in all of His sovereignty or rail against Him. The Mrs. learned to trust God in all things and so did her Mr.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of The Lord that will stand.”
Proverbs 19:21

“The heart of man plans his way,
but The Lord establishes his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

Infertility, Food Allergies, & Faith

Today, I’ve felt a nudging. A tug to sit and let my fingers flow across the keyboard. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to write. But I’ll tell you it will be about God’s faithfulness.

For my bible study, we’ve been reading God As He Longs For You To See Him by Chip Ingram. I’m on the last chapter, “The Faithfulness of God” and I’ve been underlining a lot of sentences.

I keep coming back to two major trials in my life. And they are in the past and ongoing. Infertility and food allergies. Both are not easy and have tested my faith. I have asked:

“Why me?”

“Why this Lord?”

I can tell you we beat infertility the first time. We have a beautiful little toddler. She’ll be three on Thanksgiving this year. We have much to be thankful for. She is our little joy, a precious gift from God. And a living, breathing, walking reminder of God’s faithfulness.

Thank you Lord Jesus, for the gift of my daughter. She is an everyday reminder of Your faithfulness. When I was lost in the grief of infertility, You knew that my heart would one day be filled to overflowing with the precious child You would give us in Your very perfect timing.

There’s a story I tell SG. I hold her in my arms and snuggle her close. And it usually goes something like this:

“Mommy wants to tell you a story. Mommy wanted a baby so badly and couldn’t have one. Lots of mommies had babies but Mommy didn’t. She was so sad and cried because she didn’t have a baby. Mommy prayed for a little baby. And then, one day, The Lord put a little tiny baby in my belly. Guess who that was? “Me!”, SG answers. Yes, you, SG. You lived in my tummy and grew and grew. You kicked Mommy’s tummy. Mommy was so happy. And on November 28th, 2010, The Lord said, “Sarah Grace! It’s time to be born.” And mommy went to the hospital. And you popped out!!! We saw your beautiful little face for the first time. And we were so happy. We love you so much Sarah Grace.”

It helps me to remember God’s faithfulness every time I tell SG her/our story. God is so faithful. He is so good. I may sometimes get caught up in emotions, but this remains true. God was faithful to our prayers.

For number two, we tried again with the doctor’s help. We did not get pregnant. I know that God is faithful. I have to trust Him and His plan for our family, whatever that may be. Whether or not we ever have another biological child or not. Whether we feel The Lord leading us to adopt or not.

Recently, SG was at a salon getting her hair cut. The hairdresser innocently asked SG if she had a brother. SG looked at me through the mirror with huge eyes because she didn’t know what to say. I shook my head no, and she said “No.” The lady then asked if she had a sister. Again, the huge eyes, a shake of my head no, and she replied “No.” I don’t know why this turned my heart and squeezed it so tightly. As I felt my stomach drop, my daughter exclaimed, “But I have Hunter and Logan!!!!” with a triumphant smile on her precious face (my nephew and niece.) SG lifted me out of my little state of sorrow with her sweet heartfelt response.

Just like with our food allergies, sometimes I want to shout, “I didn’t choose this! I want more children! I don’t want to deal with infertility, painful emotions linked to innocent comments, strange looks when doing stuff for our food allergies, a different lifestyle to keep our child safe, etc.” Yet, The Lord has allowed it. And through it all, He’s faithful.

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
1st Corinthians 12:10

Lately, when the mention of food allergies and living a dairy and egg free lifestyle comes up, people have lots of questions.

“What DO you eat???”

“I could never do that!”

“How do you do it?”

To which my response usually is, “It was hard in the beginning, but it becomes a new normal.” After reading this:

image

I’ve felt convicted. I need to give God the glory. To proclaim His faithfulness in these trials. For His provision of supportive friends and family and knowledge to keep my child safe. In his financial provision because our diet is not cheap. Quite expensive, actually. Faithful to provide friends to stand in the gap. To love on us. To take extra steps to make us feel loved. Faithful to provide a local food allergy support group. People who live in my town who understand what it’s like to live with life threatening food allergies. Friends who have gone through infertility. Friends who understand the ache of empty arms. Friends who have overcome infertility. Family and friends who love me when they’ve seen the worst of me. In His provision to give me a husband who has stood by my side for eleven beautiful and messy years. Faithful to give me a beautiful, “fearfully and wonderfully made” precious little child, my SG. God is so very faithful. All the time.

“But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
Psalm 31:14

“Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you.”
Psalm 55:22

“We will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
his power, and the wonders he has done.”
Psalm 78:4

Remembering God’s faithfulness has helped me so many times. Until next time, my friend.

Letting Go of our Maybe Baby

If you are a follower of this blog, Blessed Little Family, you know that my faith shapes my views.

If you have followed my posts, you know that we have battled infertility– twice, yet we only beat it once. We have moved multiple times for the Huzz’s career. We live with life threatening food allergies. I pretty much, for some reason, have decided to just lay it all out here for the entire world to see.

After writing “Be At Rest Once More”, I have felt so much peace. (Oh, I still have my moments, but mostly I have been in a really good place.) Since then, The Lord has been moving in my heart and in our lives. We’ve decided to let go of some major things. Some I’m not ready to share yet.

One thing we decided to let go of was stuff for our “maybe baby.” By stuff, I mean a ton of baby items we used with SG: changing table, all of her beautiful baby clothes, baby toys, bumbo, swing, etc. That doesn’t sound very meaningful, but it is. It was not easy. But it has been freeing.

I feel like if I’m truly trusting in The Lord and trying to be CONTENT WITH WHAT I HAVE, then I don’t need to hang on to baby stuff I just don’t need. It’s only a REMINDER of the second child I DON’T HAVE.

We have decided if The Lord chooses to bless us with another child, we will JOYFULLY start again with everything we need. It will be pure bliss to shop for another miracle baby, IF that is what The Lord wills for our family.

For now, I will:

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for The Lord has been good to you.”
Psalm 116:7

I continue to hold onto this verse and seek contentment in all of the wonderful blessings The Lord has given me.

I am blessed, indeed.

Yes, very much so.

Be at Rest Once More

image

I need to keep reminding myself of some things. The Huzz has a good job and I’m blessed to stay home. My cup runneth over. I have my long awaited, long prayed for miracle baby. My cup runneth over. I have a Savior who died for me. Him for me. My cup runneth over.

I have been praying lately over baby number two. Should we go back to the fertility doctor? We tried already off and on for over a year for number two without success. We stopped trying with fertility procedures late last fall. Should we move onto adoption? Should we just be content with our life as it is? Neither the Huzz or I have felt a peace about which direction to take. So, we have just been waiting.

Last week, I found this verse in the Psalms and I read it all week. I just kept coming back to it.

“Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for The Lord has been good to you.”
Psalm 116:7

Thank you Lord. He has been SO good to me. Perhaps it’s time for me to be content with what The Lord has given to me. A Huzz who adores me, a beautiful child, a beautiful home, two loving families, wonderful friends… And on and on…

A few evenings ago, the Huzz and I sat outside in chairs watching SG go up our two front stairs and hop down each one, with such a happy and triumphant look on her little face. I had tears in my eyes watching her. I told the Huzz that I was so happy watching her and I remembered back to when I wondered if we would ever have a child of our own. Would I ever get to experience pregnancy? Or would I always eye round pregnant bellies and try to smile and not feel envy? Would I ever get to watch my child play?

As much as I want another child (and I would be lying if I said I didn’t), I think it’s time to completely and totally surrender this to The Lord. I’m ready to “be still” and know that God has this! He does. And of course, all along I’ve known this. And I believe it. And know it’s time to live it.

Here’s more of Psalm 116, with a little skipping around:
“I love The Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy…
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of The Lord…
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion…
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for The Lord has been good to you.”
Verses 1, 3b-5, 7

A few hours after I wrote this, I was driving and heard this song. I knew I had to come back and add the lyrics to this post. It’s a song by Casting Crowns. Already There. Here it is:

From where You’re standing
Lord, You see a grand design
That You imagined
When You breathed me into life
And all the chaos
Comes together in Your hands

Like a masterpiece
Of Your picture perfect plan

When I’m lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You’re already there

He has heard my cry, captured each and every tear through every trial and has seen me through my entire life. It’s time to be at rest once more. My cup runneth over.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares The Lord,’plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'”
Jeremiah 29:11

Our Journey through Infertility

image I first wrote about our journey through infertility almost two years ago for my friend’s blog. For the past year we have journeyed again down the same road trying for baby number two- without success. This time around has been different. I know I can become pregnant. I’m busy chasing after a 28 month old. And I amazingly have cried only once over not being able to become pregnant with number two.

As I post this again, I’m in a better place. We’re praying that The Lord would reveal His will for our family. As the Psalms say, “He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.” Psalm 113:9

I’m hoping and praying that we will eventually go from one child to children (plural)! I’m reposting our journey because I need to. I need to remind myself of where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. And to not lose hope and trust in the One who creates life.

Here’s our story (again) of infertility:

Infertility. Even now, my heartbeat is speeding up as I remember the crazy highs and lows of our journey. Tears come to my eyes as I vividly remember how my heart ached for a baby. First, let me introduce myself. I have been married for over nine years and two years into our marriage we decided we were ready to have a baby. Little did we know that years later we would be diagnosed as having “unexplained infertility.”

We tried to conceive on our own for about three and a half years before fearfully undergoing tons of invasive fertility tests. Everything checked out okay, we went on Clomid and didn’t have any success. When we first started Clomid, which is a medicine that helps women produce more eggs, I felt like a crazy person. It gave me tremendous highs and lows and I felt out of control emotionally. We lived on a calendar, counting days and waiting until the results of my blood test to let me know if my progesterone level was high enough. Most times it wasn’t, and the minute I found out, I would throw myself across the bed and cry. Sometimes, I would pour my heart out to God and other times I’d just lie there, cry, and feel sorry for myself. I often wondered why our love was not enough to make a baby. I was especially emotional when I would find out a friend or family member was pregnant. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy for them, it was just a stark reminder that I wasn’t pregnant. The slap in the face was when people complained about the aches and pains of pregnancy.

We went to a fertility specialist and underwent IUI’s (intrauterine insemination) throughout the course of a year. Talk about invasive! More Clomid, painful shots, uncomfortable ultrasounds, insemination, and then holding my breath for two weeks waiting to find out the results…negative. Always a negative pregnancy test. By the time we were halfway through our IUI’s, I was numb. I felt sad when I found out I wasn’t pregnant, but then, just like that, I started my meds again and we were trying again. I found it hard to talk about our infertility at times and at other times I was an open book. It just depended on my mood and where we were in our trying.

I found an e-mail I sent to my mother just before we started our last try. I had just found out I wasn’t pregnant and couldn’t bring myself to call her and tell her because I knew I would fall apart.

Here’s my e-mail:

Fertility update: I got my period this morning. I have bad cramps and can’t seem to get motivated to get out of the house. Emotionally, I’m ok. Not great but not bad. I was pretty sad last night and felt like I was mourning the absence of life in my womb. I normally get a teeny bit sad and then move on. I’ve become so numb to the negative pregnancy tests. I think it just hit me that I might not get pregnant. When I finally prayed and laid it down at Jesus’ feet, I felt so much better and lighter. We want God’s will for our lives, but I guess I always assumed I would eventually get pregnant. Anyway, R told me last night that he thinks we should try one last time, but that he is excited about starting the adoption process and that is on his heart. That was good for me to hear. God’s plan isn’t always easy, but I know He will sustain me. Thanks for praying for us! I start my meds on Sunday, so just like that we begin the fertility process again. I hope I didn’t sadden you with these details. It helped me to just get it out and talk (type!) about it. I wanted you to know, but I don’t feel like talking about it on the phone. It’s just easier this way for me. I don’t want to hear my mom’s voice and start crying. Love, E

We started to research adoption because we thought maybe the Lord was calling us to that. We were on our very last try and we were waiting for the dreaded monthly, when my husband insisted I take a pregnancy test so we could know and move on. I was so scared to take that test because it meant giving up. We weren’t going to try anymore. This was it. We were tired of the emotional roller coaster. I was tired of trying, tired of the doctor’s visits, tired of getting my hopes up only to have them crushed.

I took the test and could not believe it when I saw the faintest second line. I screamed for my husband and he said he thought he saw a second line. Tears started streaming down our faces and I called the nurse. A few hours later a blood test confirmed that WE WERE PREGNANT!

We prayed and thanked God for this miracle baby. We longed for this for six years! I clung to this bible verse during the last year of trying to conceive and throughout my pregnancy:

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.”
1st Samuel 1:27

Now that was true for me! We rejoiced that our prayers were answered.

On November 28, 2010, I gave birth to a beautiful, tiny, 5 lbs 6.8 oz baby girl named Sarah Grace and she is our joy, our precious gift from God. We named her Sarah, for like Sarah in the Bible, we waited a long time for our child. And Grace, because by the grace of God, we made it through our battle with infertility.

Do you have a friend or family member who is struggling with infertility? Ask her if she wants to talk about it. Respect her silence if that’s how she is dealing with it. Tell her you’ll pray for her. Love her. Hug her. Be there for her. Be a shoulder for her to cry on, because she needs one. But please don’t ignore it. I think loved ones don’t know how to deal with this and don’t know what to say. There’s really nothing you can say to ease the aching heart of a woman who’s trying to get pregnant and hasn’t. But I can tell you this, God is faithful and He will see you through it. He blessed me with a beautiful child and carried both my husband and me through this long and emotional trial called infertility.