Monday, September 27, 2010

Becoming Braelyn

I've noticed a change in Braelyn. It began this summer. And if I had to pick a moment, I think it began when she tried putting her head under water for the first time. She was so proud of herself, and ever since then, she has been far more willing to fight her fears and attempt new things.

Exhibit A: The Aquarium
On Saturday we met up with some of our favorite friends at the Aquarium in downtown Houston. Now, you can get a Super-Fun pass to see the aquarium plus ride all the rides, but "knowing our daughter," we decided to get just the aquarium pass plus a ticket for the shark train. Little did we know...

In the Aquarium: Where things are normal.

Pals! Joshua & Braelyn

Checkin' out some sting ray bellies.

Joshua getting his growl on after the white tiger exhibit.
(By the way...why is there a white tiger exhibit at the aquarium? Just curious.)

In the Amusement Park: Where things are very ABnormal and my daughter freaks me out with her courageousness and care-free attitude.

On the shark train.

Sharks...swimming over our heads, while on train. Thrilling!
So, after the shark train, I'm pretty sure MY daughter got off with some other family, and another very cute and adorable little girl, who also happens to answer to the name Braelyn got off with us. I'm sure that's what happened, because would MY daughter even consider, much less be excited to ride THIS?!?
No. No she would not. Not ever.
She doesn't even go down the tunnel slide at the park!

But she is, my friends!!! Cool as a cucumber.

"What? A hundred feet ain't nothin'. Shoot."

And believe it or not, folks,
this is her first carousel ride.
I guess she decided it was no big deal after the ferris wheel.
Fun family photo op!

Exhibit B:
At Braelyn's dance studio, the 4 year old class takes 30 minutes of ballet, followed by 30 minutes of tap. When we signed up, however, Braelyn made it quite clear that she wanted nothing to do with tap. Thankfully, the teachers were very understanding and didn't press the issue, so each week, while her dance mates are switching their shoes, Braelyn quietly steps out of class.

Not this week.
Look who's tapping now!!!
Man, I am so proud of that girl for trying new things!
Of course, it doesn't matter to me whether she rides ferris wheels, or takes tap class, but what does matter to me is that she enjoys figuring out who she is and has the confidence to take some chances. What a joy it is to watch those things happen!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Consider It Joy

Warning: This is long and hard and confusing and I'm sure I could have written a shorter version, but I guess I want to have the facts down so I don't forget. Here 'goes.

In July, I began seeing a new fertility doctor in the area and started treatment again. This time, I was put on a drug called Femara. A few weeks later, after we got back from our Arizona trip, a couple of subtle symptoms led me to take the first of about 6 pregnancy tests. They were positive. We were excited of course, but cautiously. Getting pregnant is only a quarter of my battle. Staying pregnant is the other three-quarters. Being very, very early in the pregnancy, there wasn't much to do except go in every few days for blood work, so they could watch what my HCG levels were doing. The first two tests, weren't perfect, but the numbers were increasing...which was good. Then, one morning before my third blood test I woke up knowing that it was over. I don't know how or why. There were no obvious signs of miscarriage yet, but I just knew.

I took the third blood test, got the results...72 (which was an increase, but hadn't doubled as it should have). Sure enough, a day or two later my body started showing me what my heart already knew. Our 4th miscarriage.'s where it gets crazy.

So, Casey and I are in the middle of mourning this loss, dealing with our great disappointment, when I get the results back from a forth blood test. 72. It stayed the same. We...Casey, me, my nurse, my doctor, we all found this to be a little odd. Considering the very real evidence of miscarriage, we assumed the number would have plummeted. My doctor was still calling it a "live pregnancy," and wanted to do more blood work. I was a bit frustrated by this. I knew what was happening. There was no way this was still a "live pregnancy," but what could I do, but continue with the testing?

A few days later, my blood work came back with an increased HCG...136! I had no idea how this could be. I didn't know what to think. The physical process of miscarriage seemed to be coming to a close. My numbers, while they were increasing, weren't increasing fast enough to sustain a healthy pregnancy. These are the things I knew. But, against my own will, I couldn't help but start to wonder...start to hope...that maybe there was still hope.

Next ultrasound. It was a Monday morning and Casey and I went together. Technically, I was 7 weeks into the pregnancy. After a few moments of searching, the technician found a perfect-looking 5 week pregnancy. Perfect size. Perfect shape. Lining looked good.

On the drive home, I was in shock. Numb. Terrified. I had already faced this loss. Do I start hoping again? Do I start praying for a miracle? I didn't know what to do...cause I knew for sure that I couldn't be disappointed again. I didn't think I could go through that again. Not yet. But I couldn't help it...I did hope. And I did begin to pray. Hard.

The next blood test came back...230-something. My mind was reeling, and my doctor seemed pretty perplexed by the whole thing, as well. I was a mess. There seemed to be this little glimmer of hope, but I had to stay guarded at the same time.

They took more blood. And we waited. While we waited, my body began to show me, once again, that things were not going well. I began to prepare my heart and mind once more. At this point, more than anything, I just needed to way or the other. I needed this month of confusion and uncertainty to be over.

We had a second ultrasound this past Monday. This time there was nothing there.

After that crazy, painful emotional roller-coaster, here is where I'm at:
I am heartbroken.
I thought my long wait for a baby was over, and it's not.
I feel panicky sometimes that maybe I will never have another biological child.
I look at Braelyn and see more and more what a miracle she is.
I am not ready to stop trying yet. But I suppose that day will come.
I know full well that the Lord can give me another baby. And I know that He doesn't have to.

It is in these times that the Gospel begs to be spoken...even if it's just to yourself. It should come to our minds, Believer, as easily as tears come to our eyes. And when we think we can endure no more, the Holy Spirit equips us to say along with James, that we consider it pure joy to face trials of many kinds...because in times like this the Gospel is so real and true and beautiful you can taste it. What grace God has poured out on me!...That He would share more of Himself with me! That I have TASTED the goodness of His Gospel!

I was an enemy of God. Alone. With nothing. Broken. Empty. Cast out. But God, by pouring His anger towards my sin onto His perfect and precious Son, made a way. And He found me. And He called me by name and robed me in the righteousness of Christ and showed me my place at His table.

So I had nothing. And then, by no work of my own, I had everything.

The Gospel: It answers for all sin and all pain and all suffering. It satisfies it all.
Maybe I would question if that were really true, if the past 3 years had been different.
But now I is true.

Thank you, to all who have prayed on our behalf. God has heard your prayers and has showered us with His grace and perfect love.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pretty Ballerina

My sweet girl had her first ballet class this week! There were a few tears before class, but I don't think they lasted long. She came out of class a happy ballerina, anxious to show me what she learned. Unfortunately, they had the curtain over the window, so I couldn't watch, but I think next week is "Open Curtain" week. Too bad this studio doesn't know about one-way glass! (I guess all studios can't be as awesome as KPDS! :)

Also, I just wanted to say briefly, that I hate that I have been so neglectful of my blog. I post about events here and there, but I really miss writing...letting you in on what is really going on with us and what we are learning and feeling, the mistakes we are making, the testing of our faith, and all that good stuff. It just so happens that the Lord has us in a particularly hard season right now, so there is a lot of learning and feelings and mistakes and faith testing to report on. So, hopefully, I will get to documenting some of those things very soon. For those who have stuck with me through this particularly long, dry season...thanks for stickin'.

Have a great weekend, guys!