Friday, May 23, 2014

That Time When Everything Fell Apart

One day, when we're old and gray, I know we will be sitting on a porch somewhere, watching our grandchildren play in the yard, and we will say, "Remember that time when we had two small children, no job, no home...?"  

Just a few weeks after our son was born, he began to cry.  And cry.  And cry.  We tried reflux meds, gas drops, and various feeding techniques to soothe our sweet boy, but he continued to scream all day.  Soon, we were on all sorts of prayer chains, I had to quit several things that were very dear to me, and we cried out desperately for God to heal our son from whatever ailed him.  If you have experienced this, you know what I'm talking about.  This amount of crying, no matter how miraculous this new baby is, can drive you mad.  

Three months in to our son's life, we began to see him smile.  He had two kissable dimples.  His smile actually lit up a room.  However, he still needed lots of extra love and needed to be held most of the time.  

One day, as I stood in the kitchen making dinner with one hand and holding my son with another, I got a phone call.  I remember looking at the phone and getting a sinking feeling in my stomach even before I answered it, as if God was already preparing me for what was ahead.

"I just got fired."

As I held the phone, I looked down at my infant son and my daughter playing in the other room. I found myself hoping I would be able to stay standing, stay calm for them in this moment. No severance package.  No health coverage for my babies.  

What were we going to do?!  

We prayed and asked God to deliver us.  

You see, the next day we were going to put our house on the market.  In the midst of the screaming and caring for a strong-willed toddler, we had decided it was time to find a bigger place for our growing family.  I spent three weeks, during nap times and at bedtime, de-cluttering and staging our house.  

What were we going to do?!  

We prayed and asked God to provide for us.  

Harlan had actually started looking for a new job before his termination, so he had an interview lined up.  He quickly got two more the same week.  We decided to go ahead and list the house, and within 48 hours, we had multiple offers.  We accepted a cash offer and walked out in faith, believing God would provide a new job quickly and we'd move past this minor setback. 

Then, two companies turned him down.  Another invited him to do a project, which led to another round of interviews.  Days ticked by, then weeks.  We crept closer to closing on our home, without another to go to.  Our precious resources began to drain.  

What were we going to do?!  

We prayed to the only One who could help us.  

Harlan was invited to fly out to California for another round of interviews.  He would interview with at least twelve people for a stretch of five hours.  It would be grueling, but surely it was just a formality?  A fourth round of interviews had to mean they were close to an offer, right?  A week after he returned from his interviews, we still had not heard back.  Finally, we got word.  The company had decided to relocate an internal employee instead of hiring a new one.  There was a possibility of a more mid-level position, but the recruiter couldn't be sure.  

What were we going to do?!  

Pray. Pray. Pray. 

Harlan began to interview again.  He found another promising company to work for, and they made him a verbal offer and just needed sign-off from the CEO.  It would mean a longer commute and working for a start-up, but we believed it was God's provision for us.  Then we got word:  The CEO wanted to hold off on hiring for at least one or two more quarters.  

What were we going to do?!  

We prayed to the God who is our Deliverer.  

We heard back on the other position and found out they would be interested in hiring Harlan for a more mid-level position.  He wasn't mid-level, but he loved this company.  It was his dream job, so he waited to hear more details.  Then, we closed on our home.  We walked out the door, officially homeless, jobless, with two children who were counting on us to keep them safe.  

What were we going to do?!  

Pray and pray again.  

That same day, we heard back on the job, and our hearts sank.  He was offered a position, but it wasn't even close to the salary he had been making.  We prayed, stepped out in faith again, and asked for more compensation.  This was his only prospect.

If they said no, what were we going to do?!

Please. God help us. 

We adjusted our home search criteria and began to look at houses.  We came to the realization that we'd need a place to stay while we looked, and we made the hard decision to live with parents.  Loving parents who were willing to give up part of their home for our crazy family.  We would invade their space.  We would live with parents?  At our age?  With two children?  Mercy.

As pressure mounted, we decided we needed to take a moment to breathe.  We wanted to go on a date, the first real one since our son was born, and we decided to use a gift card we were given and see a movie.  We were still waiting on a final word on compensation, but we weren't going to think about that.  We were going to have fun, darn it!  As we pulled in to the movie theater parking lot, the phone rang.  It was them.  Our last hope.  

I sat in silence as my husband spoke with the recruiter.  If it was good news, he sure had a great poker face.  Is it good news?  I prayed and prayed.  

The offer:  a bump in salary and a hefty signing bonus.  A bit more than he was previous making.  WHAT?!!!

What do I have to say about that?

This blog began with an infertility journey.  God has abundantly blessed us with two children.  As our journey continues, we firmly believe that God is our only hope, and HE IS FAITHFUL.  

The newest chapter of our life has only just begun.  It has started with tears, doubts, and questions.  We are thankful that we will never walk this path alone. Thank you, God. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Day Grayson Joseph Was Born

I just knew my son was going to enter the world with flair.  He did not disappoint.

At 40 weeks, 2 days pregnant, I was beyond uncomfortable and started pulling out all the stops to start labor.  At my doctor's appointment, a midwife checked me and I was not even 2 centimeters dilated.  I was so discouraged and decided to take the recommendation of many friends to get acupuncture that afternoon.  My midwife also suggested eggplant and pineapple, so that evening I ate Eggplant Parmesan with pineapple for dessert.  

That night, an arctic blast pushed through Austin around midnight, covering streets with ice and making for unsafe driving conditions for poor Texans who just don't have experience driving on those kinds of roads.  At 1am, I woke up with a start.  I was wet!  Did I pee myself?  Surely not!  I went to the bathroom, checked things out, decided I was officially WAY too pregnant and went back to bed.  At 4am, I woke up and discovered I was again soaking wet.  I wasn't having any contractions or other signs of labor, so I went back to bed again.  At 7am, I got up, and immediately a gush of fluids completely soaked my pants.  It was then I officially called it:  my water broke!

Since I knew conditions were bad outside and I was GBS positive and in need of antibiotics, I immediately called the birthing center.  Each time I called, the phone would immediately hang up or just ring and ring.  NOT GOOD.  I finally called a friend who delivered at the same birthing center and got the cell phone number of a midwife.  Thankfully, she answered immediately and helped me come up with a plan to safely get to the center in the middle of the ice storm.  She also revealed that 4 different midwives had tried to drive in to the center and couldn't make it due to road closures.  We started praying we'd make it there before the baby arrived!  Holy smokes!

By 9:30am, I began to have noticeable contractions.  As I made plans with my parents to come watch my daughter, I heard a sound no mother wants to hear while they're in labor:  the sound of their toddler throwing up in the next room.  Yes, that's right.  My daughter, who had not been sick for some time, started throwing up just as I started going into active labor.  You just can't make this stuff up, folks.  

Thankfully, my parents had 4 children of their own and are seasoned pros when it comes to vomiting, so they took things in stride and we made our way to the birthing center.  We passed 3-4 severely damaged cars on our drive (poor Texans), but we made it with no problem.  By the time we arrived, I was having trouble walking and my contractions were getting stronger and closer together.  I was checked when I arrived and again discouraged to find out I was only 4 centimeters dilated.  The midwife encouraged us to go ahead and stay at the center given the conditions outside, so we picked our room and started to run some water in the birthing tub.

I spent the next few hours laboring in the tub, and before I knew it, my contractions were back-to-back.  This was not going to be a gradual, 17 hour labor like I had with my daughter.  It was beyond intense!  I was checked again - 9 centimeters!  Within minutes I was ready to push.

I just could not find a comfortable pushing position in the tub, so I somehow managed to get out and into bed to push.  After pushing 4-5 times, I realized I was in WAY over my head.  Having already birthed one child naturally, I remembered this pain.  However, my current pain was so off the charts that I honestly didn't think I had it in me to continue.  That's when I did the only thing I knew to do:  I prayed my brains out.  During my conversation with God, I told Him that I was only going to be able to to this with His help.  With a birthing mirror in front of me as motivation, I took a deep breath and decided my son was coming out with this push.  Out he came!  Thanks be to God, is all I can say!

Side note:  My hubby is one amazing guy.  With contractions coming so fast and everything happening at warp speed, I could not be more thankful to have him by my side.  During labor with my daughter, he was a great help, but this time, I leaned on him and he was truly my rock.  I may have broken all the fingers in his hands, but he never complained!

There are just no adequate words to describe holding your child for the first time.  It made all the pain worth it.  Seeing that my son had red hair was just icing on the cake.  I'm absolutely smitten by my Little Man.

Sharing how God has answered prayer with this little fella is even more precious to me.  As soon as we found out we were pregnant, I began to pray very specifically, and God has been gracious to answer each and every one of them:

*I prayed for a strong, healthy baby and a healthy birth weight: Grayson was 8 pounds, 3.5 ounces!
*I prayed he would have a strong desire to breastfeed and tell me when he was hungry: Grayson is a happy, healthy eater who didn't even lose 10% of his birthweight after birth.
*I prayed my milk would come in quickly.  If you have read my blog in the past, you know it took almost 2 weeks for my milk to come in with my daughter: My milk came in at the end of day 2!

We are overjoyed, and a little overwhelmed, to now be a family of 4.  To God be all the glory!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Due Date

Hebrews 11:1 - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

The last time I blogged, we announced the incredible news that God had blessed us with a second child after another excruciating struggle with infertility.  Sadly, a busy life as a work-at-home mom (I work here and here), Bible Study leader, and mom of a toddler has prevented me from blogging as much as I'd like, but I thought it was only fitting to sit down and share some things with you on my DUE DATE!

Yes, that's right.  Today is my due date.  I actually never thought I'd make it to this day.  My daughter was 5 days early, so I was quite certain I'd be holding my son by now.  Since we're still waiting for him to make an appearance, let's recap what's happened over these last 40 weeks! 

We found out we were having a boy at around 17 weeks.  In my heart, I knew I was having a boy, but seeing the visual of this on the ultrasound screen brought a mix of emotions for me.  A son.  One day he'll become a man.  Yowza.  The responsibility and weight of that truth is something I pray about daily.

Deciding on a name for my son was another long process.  As with my daughter, we wanted the name to have special meaning since our babies are miracles.  Last year, I was able to study the book of Genesis for 9 months, and I knew I wanted include the name Joseph after learning more about his life. I'll wait to reveal his first name until after he's born, but his middle name will be Joseph.  Joseph endured many unfair trials in his life, but he trusted God, even when he was sold as a slave and thrown into prison for something he didn't do.  He knew: "the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper." - Genesis 39:23

So, my son, that is my prayer for you.  I pray that God will stir your heart at a young age to follow Him, and no matter what lies ahead of you, I pray your faith in Him will remain unwavering, like Joseph.  Seek to please Him above all else, sweet boy, and you will be "like a tree, planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers" - Psalm 1: 3. 

I thought I'd share a few pictures of the nursery with you.  The hubby was pretty opinionated about what it was going to look like, so much of what you see is because of him.  The original inspiration came from this screen print he found:

Here's a picture of me at 39 weeks, thinking he'd be arriving soon.  I was wrong!

We need to do a better job of taking pictures.  I guess that's the story with a second baby - there's a lot less time to squeeze in pictures with all the other activities going on with a toddler!  The nursery is mainly grey and orange, with pops of aqua.  We're ready for you, Baby G!

Big Sis seems to be ready as well!  We continue to marvel at how smart and loving she is.  She has a vocabulary that astounds us ("No big deal, Mommy" is the newest phrase we hear a lot) and is a such bright spot in my life.  God has been gracious to us, indeed.

We look forward in anticipation to the days to come!  Check back in a few weeks - Hopefully I'll have a birth story to share with you!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

More Than My Wildest Dreams

I took a home test at 6am because I really didn't want to go get my blood drawn again.  I just knew I wasn't pregnant, and I if I didn't get to the blood lab by 7am I'd be stuck waiting there for an hour.  If I just confirmed I wasn't pregnant at home, I'd just call my doctor and forget the lab all together.

My sister gave me a test she had left over - it was the only one I had in the house.  I don't even keep them in the house anymore.  Way too depressing when they're always negative.

Here we go again...

I took the test and went about keeping myself busy while it was processing.  I peeked.  Oops.

I see 2 lines!  I see 2 lines? I SEE 2 LINES!!!!

I jumped on my completely-asleep husband because at this point, I knew I got up too early and I was hallucinating.

Hubby looked at the test, without his glasses, and pronounced his verdict: It's negative.  He doesn't see 2 lines.  I knew it...

I handed him his glasses.  He sees 2 lines.  He sees 2 lines?  HE SEES 2 LINES!!!!

5 hours later, a blood test confirmed I was pregnant and all looked well.  One week and 2 more blood tests - all still looked good.  2 weeks later, we saw a beautiful, beating heart.  My miracle daughter sat in her father's lap and listened to her sibling's precious little heart beating away.  I must be dreaming...

I'm so thankful for the chance to tell this story.  I prayed specifically that God would give me another story to tell.  I prayed that I would have the opportunity to raise my children with my friends, and even more importantly, to be pregnant with my sister.  That might seem silly, but managing a newborn is not easy, and the support of your friends and family is invaluable.  I didn't want to do it alone.  I didn't want to be left behind.

Our second round of infertility was so hard.  It didn't take as long to get pregnant, but those months were like a concentrated dose of our first struggle.  Our family had decided it was time for a long break to just be a family.  Have fun.  Not think about doctor's visits, negative tests, and what-ifs.

As my theme verse states. God is able to do so much more than I can wrap my mind around.  It takes surrender to Him when the only hope left lies in Him alone.  My neighbor shared this verse on my Facebook page in The Message version, and I love it so much I wanted to share it with you.

"God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!" - Ephesians 3:20-21

Don't give up, dear friends.  He is able!

P.S.  My sister is pregnant.  Our babies will be 5 weeks apart!

Friday, April 12, 2013


One of my friends encouraged me to blog a bit more.  I was surprised to see how long it had been since I last posted.  It's a mixture of things, really.  I have never been more busy chasing a toddler around, working 2 jobs, and leading a Bible study.  If I'm honest, I also wonder if you, my readers, will grow tired of me repeating the same things over and over.

God has given me a rich, full life, but in the world of infertility, the battle rages in cycles, very dependent on doctors visits, blood draws, and medications.  My emotions go a little something like this: heartbreak, hope, determination, prayer and pleading, surrender, loss of hope, heartbreak...repeat.   I believe that God is sovereign over each and every day of my life, but since I am unable to escape doctors appointments, ovulation tests, lab work, and more, I'm also submersed in infertility on a daily basis...and it's tough.

I know my friend won't mind if I mention this. She sent me the best text one day.  God had placed this on her heart, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect:

Remember that infertility does not define you. I know it is hard so think about the things that bring hope and life.  You are first and foremost a child of God.  You are also Harlan's wife and Harper's mom.   You are a great friend to many and a beloved daughter and sister.  Cling to and draw strength from those identities.  Infertility is an obstacle and can be used to shape and make you stronger, but it is not Rachel.  You are so much more!

There are some days it is hard to breathe.  Days when I can see no light at the end of the tunnel and am reduced to a hopeless mess.  I am thankful that my identity lies in so much more!

New Struggles 

In my last round of infertility, God timed things so perfectly that I had the opportunity to go through my entire pregnancy with friends and family who were having babies right around the same time.  It was such a special time.  After the babies were born, I also learned there is nothing better than being able to ask questions of friends in the middle of the night who are also up nursing babies!

This round has been so different.  Almost every friend I know who struggled with infertility has gotten pregnant with their second right away, with no problems.  Several close friends are pregnant, and I watch on the sidelines as their bellies continue to grow and they make plans for the future.  There is nothing more joyful than celebrating these miracles with my friends, but it takes every ounce of my being not collapse with grief.  I simply don't understand.

So here's what it takes.  Looking to the hope I have in Christ, the identity He has given me and the life He has blessed me with.  Here's a look at some of those blessings, in no particular order:

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Everything went wrong.  Everything.

My first month back at the Fertility Center has already been a roller coaster.  We started off with high hopes - the medicine worked.  Soon after, my body began to react differently than it should, and we discovered things had gone terribly wrong and we would have to start over.  Worst of all, we would have to wait a month before beginning again.

My first reaction, unfortunately, was to doubt God's goodness.  Why would He continue to allow such suffering?  Why do some seemingly snap their fingers and have a baby, while we, who desperately want to grow our family, must spend great amounts of money and go through such anguish, only to be disappointed again and again.

But I've been through this before.

I know these feelings are perfectly normal, but I learn every day about the God I love and serve.  He is good.  He has given me so many amazing things.  He didn't promise me an easy life, but He did promise He would never leave me and would always keep His promises.

Take a look at this miracle, and you know what a faithful, good God we have:

I heard the best sermon at church about depression.  After listening to the whole thing, I discovered it was more about trials and suffering.  If you have a chance, it's definitely worth a listen:

So, even though I don't know why, I continue to remind myself about the truth of who God really is.  I've written this verse down and put on the fridge to remind me:

"Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God"  Psalm 42:11.  

I choose hope.

Thanks for praying, friends.  Keep it up.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Reopening Old Wounds

As I write this, I'm looking around my living room at the little trails my sweet toddler has made.  Tupperware lids from the kitchen, an old box from Christmas, Dr. Suess books, and pieces of fake food from her new kitchen - I am blessed indeed in the very busy life I live.

Harper Grayce is 15 months old.  She's independent, smart, sassy, and makes me laugh every day.  She's constantly talking (very loudly), and I'm actually starting to understand her little language that doesn't quite sound like English yet.  Every day -- and I mean EVERY SINGLE DAY -- I thank God for giving me the opportunity to be her mother.  Here's a few snapshots from the last few months.

And...The Update

I went back to the Fertility Center last week.  There.  I said it.  I feel better!

I prayed my brains out that God would heal me of PCOS and we would be able to have an easier time bringing another baby in to the world.  Harper literally runs up to other children on the playground with a huge smile on her face and wants to play and interact.  She loves people, especially children, so we really want to add another member to our family.

Unfortunately, my body is still the same.

It makes me sad.

Going to the Fertility Center is like reopening an old wound.  That wound had almost healed, but it came right back open when I stepped through those doors.  My doctor confirmed that I would need to take meds in order to try for a baby, so I have started my first round of Femara in hopes we will be able to try for another Elam.

When I started this blog over 2 years ago, I wasn't sure what God had in store for me.  We had a rough year, but in the end, I held my newborn daughter in my arms.  Now, that teeny girl calls me "Momma" and plants sloppy kisses on me even when she wasn't invited.

As I look back on my journey, I am left wondering what I didn't learn the first time around.  Why does God want me to go through all this pain again?  Then, I wonder if I'm looking at it wrong.  This journey means a closer walk with Jesus, and a constant reminder that God is in control.  Better yet, His plans are for my good, and they make me more mature and complete.

Just as I learned so much from the book of Isaiah during my first battle with infertility, so God is teaching me through my study of Genesis, and more specifically, the life of Abraham.  Just this week, I read this verse:

"Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised" Romans 4:20-21

As I start this journey again, I want that to be my anthem.  I don't want to waver through unbelief.  I want this experience to strengthen my faith, give God all the glory.  He has the power to add an Elam to our family!

Will you pray this with me, blog friends?  I surely need it.

Much love,