Monday, November 17, 2014

Born of My Heart (Part 1)

Pain comes in many forms.

I've had my experience of a few different kinds.

Physical pain is something I've come to see as a constant companion.

Of course, there is that pain that is quiet. It is often hidden...only seen during those times of great heartbreak.

I've talked about the pain of infertility a few times. I even had the privilege of sharing my thoughts with a woman's magazine and a newspaper.

What I haven't shared a lot of on my blog is the whole story. I've shared bits and pieces with women's groups and close friends. Don't ask me why it's taken 23 years to get this story on paper/computer screen.

I want to share my story through the rest of November (which happens to be a very special month here in the our house),

I am a firm believer in sharing the good things of God. There are those "good things" that can only happen during one's darkest days.

This is how it happened with me.

Like most little girls I dreamed of my future children. I need to amend that just a little bit.

I dreamed of my future husband and then I dreamed of my future children.

I had no doubt that I would have a house full.  In fact, when Troy and I were dating we 'discussed' names. I think we might have freaked Mama Teague (my beloved mother-in-law) out when we talked about possible baby names in front of her. We hadn't been dating very long.

I wanted to name our babies (get this) Luke and Leah.

Yes I did.

The irony is that The Muffin is not a Star Wars fan. That whole phenomenon somehow missed him. He just thought they were good Bible names. I didn't tell him that my name of choice when I was 12 was Gwendolyn Raquel.

Our copy lady at Staples is named Gwen. She is a neat lady, but I'm glad I didn't succeed convincing my parents to change my 'handle.' I've had enough issues remembering the name I was born with.

So obviously The Studly Muffin and I were married.

I think it was about 4-6 months after our wedding that I started noticing strange things happening to my body.

I started gaining weight. My skin had lost that creamy and flawless texture that had carried me through my teens. I started growing hair in odd places. And my monthly cycles were erratic.

I took more than my fair share of birth control tests. I need to say that at this time I wasn't taking birth control pills. We did use some kind of protection. Is this too much information? I apologize. I am sure at this moment I have an uncle or two reading through squinted eyes. "Do I have to know that, Beke?" I just feel like I need to give you the full story so you don't make the assumption that what was happening to my body was a product of hormones that I was ingesting.. That particular nightmare was to come. I am generally very private about such things. I don't want everybody to know my 'bizness.' Which is kind of awkward for a girl with a very public blog.

Back to the story. When I visited my doctor he wasn't concerned. He had seen me through my teen years. He told me to cut my calories. It was not uncommon for women to gain a little bit of weight after marriage.

Now that I look back I think that I had more going on that first year of marriage than just being a new bride.

I decided that my chosen career wasn't necessarily one I had chosen. There had been a horrible and devastating parting of ways with beloved family members. It is not something I would wish on my most vile enemy (no that I have many of those). I battled illness. Not anything life threatening. I just think stress and other factors just took chunks out of my immune system. I tend to be Miss Suzie Sunshine (when I'm not being Miss Snarky Sally or Miss Fruity Fern). Instead of looking at current stresses as something I need to manage I tend to set them aside and go to my 'happy place.' Unfortunately, the fairies and woodland creatures that live in my 'happy place' don't encourage me to get more sleep, eat right, manage my time better and do any manner of soul searching. They are content to munch french fries right along with me.

It is important for us ladies who struggle with these sort of issues to be able to cope in a real and healthy way. We can't drown our sorrows in a gallon of peanut butter cup ice cream or take out our frustrations on our husbands. Have I told you that The Studly Muffin is a saint?

I finally took myself to a gynecologist. She was a quiet older woman. I wasn't the type to ask a slew of questions. I only discovered my diagnosis by reading my chart.

Just a side note: Ladies! Ask those questions!!! Don't feel like you are going to look silly. Don't worry about taking up too much of a doctor's time. If you don't feel like you are getting the answers you want do some research.

My diagnosis was this. PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. 

I didn't even know what that was! That was before all this information was available at our fingertips. I took myself to the library and checked out a few books.

I was just a little disturbed by what I read. Mostly there wasn't a whole lot of things that doctors were doing at the time. It was known to be a cause of infertility, diabetes and uterine cancer. Those were the biggies. I was put on a regiment of Provera and birth control pills.

I need to tell you that Provera makes me CRAAAZY. True Story. I would take the Provera (usually 10 days). I then would start 3 months of birth control pills. Then I would be off for 3 months. Then I would start the whole thing over again.

Have I told you that my husband is a saint? A saint!

At the time, I wasn't too worried about the question of fertility. I was more concerned about losing weight. I was also very private about what was happening to my body. I was self conscience. Especially when people I had known for years started making comments about the obvious changes in my body.

This is not a post for weight loss. That is for another day. But I will say that it was something that got deep into my fragile psyche.  I have never been an extrovert. That isn't going to happen. Gaining weight made me hide my true self away. I didn't like to go to public functions. I didn't feel pretty. I plain didn't like myself.

It isn't so uncommon being a woman without children in your early 20's. However, there are questions that will inevitably come up after marriage.

"When are you guys going to start having kids?"

In the early years I was able to laugh it off and say, "Not right now!" Later it got harder. I would sometimes tease my family that I needed to just wear a shirt that says....

"I don't ovulate." Subtle enough?

What is a common teasing question for newly married couples became a painful reminder of what was going on in my body. What is worse is because I was gaining weight people were asking if I was pregnant.

When I was 23 Troy and I moved from our comfortable positions as Children's pastors in a "bigger than most" sized church. I had been teaching preschool. I had found that I had a natural gift of teaching. My baptism in the teaching world actually came as a child when my parents urged me to take a small group of littles and teach them a program for Christmas. I never thought about becoming a teacher. I wanted to be an archaeologist!

Just a year after I married Troy I discovered my calling. I was given a job as a "teacher" in the nursery and toddler rooms of a daycare/preschool. It wasn't too long before I had lesson plans. I decorated bright bulletin boards. I created sensory boxes (before they were a thang), taught teaching songs and poems. My bosses let me fly. I snuggled babies and toddlers, wondered at their sweet baby feet and loved them like they were my own.

When we moved from Missouri to Arkansas we left the familiar and moved in a whole different environment. We moved into the Mississippi Delta. Now I had been raised in the Boston Mountains of North Central Arkansas. I was surprised to experience a bit of culture shock. I can't even tell you.

One of the biggest changes is that we became Youth Pastors. Yowsers! This was a whole new ballgame. The youth group of my teen years will always be precious to me. Those kids were my family. We were also fairly sheltered. The kids we would come to Pastor were exposed to things I never had even imagined. I will tell you that those were some of the most fruitful years of our whole ministry lives. Those particular kids in that small town located just a few miles from the Mississippi River amongst the cotton fields will always be in my heart. I still feel  like they are matter how far they have strayed from what we taught them.

I took a job as a Nanny for some of the best people on the planet. My charge wasn't 2. She was gorgeous. Smart and she loved me. That experience kinda helped me decide that I needed to talk to Troy about maybe getting serious with the whole "trying to get pregnant"thing. I knew statistically that it would be hard.

I also made the decision that I wanted to go to college. It had always been my heart's desire. I also knew what I wanted to be. A teacher.

Over the summer, I fairly floated. There was a plan for my life! My gynecologist was going to put me on Clomid. My family who I nannied for gave me their blessing to begin my journey towards my new life. I got a job as a music instructor at the local elementary school. I enrolled in college.

Everything was coming up roses.

Along the first of September of that year (1996) my gynecologist took me off the Clomid. He told me that I needed to have a break. I had obviously not gotten pregnant and my body needed a rest. I was slightly disappointed. I tucked it into the back of my mind and went on with my life. We would try again in another month or so.

I enjoyed my job teaching 2nd Grade Music. I took to my college career like fish to water.

It was after one of my college classes that the unthinkable happened. On September 1996 I had a massive car accident. I won't go into the details here.

I think sometimes that we fail to see how God has protected us. Protected, you say? How could I have been protected? I had to learn to walk again. I received a contusion to my heart that most likely caused my current condition of cardiomyopathy.

One day, months after my accident, I was convalescing at home when this thought crossed my mind. If the Clomid had worked I would have been just a few months pregnant. God knew that the loss of a child as well as what had happened to my body would have been too much.

God had something else in mind. And it was more than I could ever imagine. Only it still 5 years away.

Next time I will talk about those years of yearning and how healing can take many forms.

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