We’re waiting for a big, important phone call today. We’re on the edge of our seats.
We’ve been through a lot since May – appointments, tests, questioning briefly if we should move forward with this treatment, going through a few stages of grief as we headed back into this again, applying for and getting approved for a loan, of course there was the two weeks of injections, the blood work, ultrasounds, and trips, and then the egg retrieval surgery.
The morning after the egg retrieval surgery we were updated on how many of our eggs were fertilized. I put a post-it note on our fridge that says “___ eggs fertilized – a prayer answered!” (It’s not your typical fridge note.) It’s a numbers game, sure. It’s easy to worry when you start to think about how many of those fertilized eggs will grow to a blastocyst embryo stage, and how many won’t make it that far. And that’s where we’re at now. Waiting on THE call (we’ve been waiting since Saturday morning). It’s a baby at 5 days of life! Our baby. It’s a miracle. When we did IVF in Cincinnati, we had two blastocysts transferred (twins?!), but sadly, they didn’t implant.
And here we are again. Waiting for the call. Wondering how many embryos we have. We’re praying we have some at the stage they need to be at. This time, they’ll be frozen and then they’ll go through some tests. Which means MORE WAITING. This time weeks, maybe a month or two of waiting.
It’s so hard because I feel like everything is on the line. Our future. Our family. Our dreams of having a child together.
Will we get to the end of this and have to give up the dream? Words can’t fully describe how emotional this process is. Especially when you’ve been through it before. You know all too well just how bitter and heartbreaking it is when you have a negative result.
So we wait. And we pray some more. And we remind ourselves that this is something worth doing, worth fighting for. We never planned on doing IVF, like many couples, we never thought we’d be in this place at all. But here we are. And guess what? God can still be found here. He’s there in the waiting, there in the questioning, there in the tears. Maybe we’ll get to see a side of God through all of this that we wouldn’t have normally had the ability to see, a new way of knowing him. That would make it all worth it.
This is worth the risk. It’s scary, but that’s never stopped us before.
September is the month where our IVF cycle jumped from a slow crawl to a sprint in no time at all. The shots increased to 5 times a day, appointments were daily for a few weeks, trips to Denver were more frequent, along with ultrasounds and blood work (because an IVF patient doesn’t see enough needles in a given day, amiright?), and then there was the egg retrieval surgery, followed by updates on egg count, maturity, fertilization, and then eventually there will be embryo updates. (<— we’re still waiting and praying… It’s a long process with a lot of unknowns.)
This month a lot of really BIG things happen in the span of about two weeks. It’s a continued roller coaster of “Please God, help this to work”, and ,”Please God, be with us if this doesn’t work.”
That’s why I’m so grateful that right smack in the middle of it all, there were some unexpected blessings. Things that made me pause and remember to breathe, remember to pray, and remember that I’m not alone in this.
First of all, a family bbq popped up out of nowhere. It was the first Bronco’s game of the season, and I happened to be in Greeley that night. My brother Jake made burgers & brats and it was just fun to hang out with everyone. I’m still not taking for granted this time with my family. After 12 years of living far away (and never knowing where move #14 will take us), it’s special to be able to drop by for a brat.
Then, knowing I was going to have to make a lot of trips to Denver and back, Cathy (my childhood friend’s mom – turned my friend) let me stay in her beautiful home on the side of town where I was just a quick trip to Denver, rather than driving back to Cheyenne (2 hours away) every time. Being a house guest was just what I needed during that busy and stressful week. I don’t know what it is, but I LOVE being a house guest. Maybe it’s all those years that we were on the other side of it as guesthouse hosts. Who knows. The funny thing is, Cathy wasn’t even there. She was out of town. But still, I felt loved and pampered and cared for in her home. I drank the (decaf) gingerbread tea she left out, took a hot bath and read for ages, rested and prayed. It was heavenly! It was a vacation for my soul during a trying and difficult treatment.
Thank you, Cathy for your hospitality. Even from afar you were a wonderful and kind host.
Then on Saturday my two friends Bryndi and Kori were angels (in that they got up before 6am) and drove me to Denver for my appointment. Two days in a row my friend Kori / nurse extraordinaire helped me with my shots. They were more intense than she was anticipating. Ha! The three of us made a fun day out of our trip to Denver, having a delicious Cajun breakfast, seeing an impressive IMAX of the National Parks, doing a little shopping, and of course, laughing a lot. (I made sure they grabbed some caramel corn at the clinic because it’s SO SO good. Note to self: bring a bigger purse next time.) It was just nice to have some friends there for me in this tangible way – helping me with shots, driving me, and offering to push me in a wheelchair if my orange-sized ovaries (ahem, normally the size of almonds) were sore. (Awkward… but also… a reality of this treatment.)
On Sunday I was reunited with my favorite guy. We left Greeley and drove to Denver for (yet another) appointment. Then we took a few days and headed up into the mountains. We drove up the winding road, listening to Chis Stapleton, windows down, thankful for this early anniversary getaway and this time together, in a beautiful place.
A few other blessings: my dad lending me his car during my stay in Greeley, my sister-in-law running an errand for me, my mom hanging out with me, buying me dinner, and my sister B driving me to Lafayette for an appointment, letting me lounge on her couch, and spending the day with moves-like-an-old-lady me before my egg retrieval surgery.
And of course, there’s Shawn. My rock through all of this. He’s excited to see what happens, he’s hopeful, and he encourages me all the time. He leaves me notes telling me I’m brave, and that we’re in this together. I’m so grateful for him, and for our partnership on this road that we never planned on walking.
(Thanks for your continued prayers, during these September happenings, and in the next few months. We’re in the waiting game now. We continue to pray and hope.)
Some days I think this might work and I get really excited. We’re with new doctors, on a new treatment, with a new protocol, a new diagnosis (Factor 5), and I’m hopeful. I’m on new supplements and vitamins, off caffeine (cue the kicking and screaming), we’re adding a few new injections to the (long) list, and I’ve been going to the recommended weekly acupuncture appointments. Go big or go home, right?? That’s pretty much the DeAtley way.
But then as soon as I let myself enjoy that tiny sliver of hope, even if just for a minute or two, the dreaded possibility of failure returns to me. Sadness and fear creep back in, holding hands and mocking me as they skip in circles around me. They tell me that I’m wasting my time by getting my hopes up, that we’ve been through this before, that we’ve lost before, that it’s pointless to hope, to get excited.
It’s a daily roller coaster. Some days we’re excited, some days we’re nervous, some days we’re pushing forward with the treatment, the trips to Denver, some days I’m in tears, and many days it’s every emotion in one day. But every day we’re praying. The prayers are often the same: “God, give us strength.” “God, comfort us if this doesn’t work.” “God, please let this work, please allow this miracle.” It’s those few simple but meaningful prayers on repeat, day after day.
I saw a quote the other day that said, “Hope is a choice.” I thought about that for a long time. I’m wanting to hope. In many ways hope is the hardest, bravest choice. But it’s also a choice that brings light and possibility and potential when things are hard. Hope is giving in to a happy “what if…?” when the past and the reality may say otherwise. Sometimes I feel too weak to hope. I feel like I can’t hope on my own strength. I have to look to God to be my hope, to give me the hope that I need, and to remind me that no matter the outcome, he is working, and comforting, and leading, and that his greater purpose is beyond what we can see, feel, or even understand at times.
Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, even though our culture, and many cultures still treat it as a taboo. Although thankfully that seems to be changing in our culture, little by little. There’s no magic pill, potion, or formula for infertility. We’re doing this treatment in hopes to beat this disease. I’m continually having to come back to the reminder that God hasn’t forgotten about me, about us. He hasn’t chosen to give other women a child because of anything they have or haven’t done. Or because they’re more special or more loved – although to be honest that’s how it feels sometimes. That’s not how God works. He has a purpose for me right where he has me, he sees me, he knows our situation. He understands the heartbreak like only Father God can. We don’t know why some things happen the way they do, but I do know that we’re living in a sin-tainted world. That’s why we needed a Savior to come to earth in the first place. To be our remedy, our healer. Not just from infertility, but from cancer, abuse, famine, terrorism, and death itself.
That’s where the real hope comes in. Yes, we hope IVF works! We hope we’ll finally have a baby after 11 years of praying for one. We hope these shots and this bruised belly will be worth it. But if not, we know that real hope will stand. Because real hope isn’t in our outcome, our results, our place in life, it’s in Jesus. It’s in life beyond what we can see on earth. And on days when the roller coaster is too much, that’s the comfort and the reminder that we need.
– – – – – – – – – –
– I just wanted to say that while yes, this is a difficult path, we also consider ourselves very blessed to have the opportunity to do this treatment again.
– I want to thank Shawn for being such a strong and amazing man. Giving your wife 3-4 shots a day ain’t for the faint of heart. He encourages me, supports me, pushes me to keep writing, and works so hard to make this treatment a possibility for us. I’m so thankful for a husband like Shawn.
– My time away from social media continues to be a nice way to focus on the path that’s before us. Thanks again for your continued messages, prayers, support, and kindness. We’re thankful for friends like you.
I was torn on whether or not to be “one of those bloggers” who shares such personal details from their life, who shares openly about attempt #4 at the fertility doctor. I was torn on whether or not I wanted to write about this (continued) journey.
It’s personal! It’s ripping your heart out of your chest and holding it still, hoping it doesn’t get crushed. Again.
It’s awkward, because unless you’ve been there, you can’t fully understand the fragile state of our emotions, the desire to extend our family, the excitement of trying again, the all-too-familiar fear of failure, the dread of the needles and the procedures, and the ups and downs of a long treatment plan.
But this is where we are and the next step we’ve decided to take. We’ve chosen to move forward from here and trust God as we walk back into this long, dark, scary hallway of fertility treatments. We want to look into what the problem is, to have a diagnosis of some kind, to have some answers, if possible. Our doctor in Denver was shocked that we had never been diagnosed with anything by previous doctors.
So we’re going back to the doctor, with faith and fear in tow. We hope that faith and hope can overcome the fear when doubt wants to take over. And we hope that maybe sharing this journey – openly, from the beginning, for the first time ever, can help strengthen us through your support and prayers. We hope that sharing openly with you the behind-the-scenes can help us heal along the way, and not feel alone, or that we have to hide where we are and what we’re going through. We don’t want the haters to hate, sending us messages telling us that we should have done this, or taken that, or chosen route #12, or that another path would have been better for us. We hope you can recognize that this is our journey, as Shawn & Jenn, and that this is the path we feel we should be on right now, at this place in our lives.
We hope that sharing our 4th In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, from the beginning, can also shed some light on what it’s like to walk through this grueling process. Maybe it can shed some light on what it’s like for couples like us. Maybe it can help you understand how to pray, love, and support others in your life who may be going through something like this.
We know that we have friends who have been with us on many different journeys through this blog, and we hope that no matter the outcome of this next journey, God can be glorified. Even if things don’t turn out like we hope. We hope that the bond of our friendships through this blog, and our own marriage, can grow and be strengthened.
Life is full of choices, full of risk, and full of opportunities to trust God.
Here we go, back to the doctor.
———————— There will still be aspects of this treatment that we will keep private. That means that we may not respond to every question, but we will share the journey as we feel led. We hope that in all of this, you will see God at the center, comforting us on the hardest days, and reminding us that he is always, always good.
Sometimes I mourn being able to lay his, our newborn baby on my chest.
Sometimes I mourn being able to see what OUR baby would look like from minute 1 of its life. A little bit of him, a little bit of me. I mourn being able to see him hold OUR baby, him laughing at the size of those tiny little hands compared to his.
Sometimes I mourn being able to share in the giddy early days, when nobody knows but us, that we’re having a baby together.
I mourn being able to see his reaction to this news that we’ve waited to hear.
Sometimes I mourn not being able to add another member to our growing gang of awesome nieces and nephews.
I mourn being able to watch him become a dad. Not because that’s “just what married people do”, or whatever, but because I love this person so deeply that I want to share this life experience with him. I want to see his legacy continue on in that way.
Those are some of the things I mourn. But as they say, “grief doesn’t stop, it just changes colors.” And I couldn’t agree more.
Certain seasons, certain life happenings, bring out different colors of grief, things to mourn. Sometimes it’s the loss that has already taken place, and sometimes it’s the grief for what we don’t have, or may never have.
But then I see this friendship we have, strengthened by these hard times, by this loss, and I am grateful.
I see the way he cares for me, looks at me. This ain’t our first rodeo, so he understands and knows what stings, what makes me want to cry but I can’t because we’re surrounded by a group of people. We’ve been through this enough times that we don’t always need to talk anymore. We understand. I get the things that are hard for him, and he gets the things that are hard for me.
Sometimes I mourn not showing him through childbirth that I can be strong, that I can let pain wash over me like a wave, but he reminds me that I’m brave and strong, and that means the world to me. He’s been there to push countless needles into my body through IVF, and he’s been there for me and with me, through three surgeries, and six losses. He reminds me that I can get through this pain-du-jour, today’s grief as well.
When I struggle with feeling like nobody can relate to some of the things we’ve gone through, and the long journey we’ve been on, I remember that I’m the copilot on this awesome adventure, albeit bumpy at times, to a kind, caring, protective, encouraging, loving, wise, funny pilot and friend named Shawn DeAtley. I can look over at him and know that he knows 1 billion percent what it’s like. This is his story. And it’s mine. And it’s ours. And if there’s one thing I’d never change about all of this, it’s how sweet our relationship has become despite the hard times. And for that, I’m very, very grateful.
You’re probably familiar with the scene: there’s a swarm of people, someone trying not to burn their fingers as they light the candles on the cake, everyone sings, the birthday person blows out the candles, people cheer, and someone shouts, “Speech!” This is usually where the birthday person laughs off the comment, or they blush, maybe stuff their face with a bite of cake, or casually avoid the comment by suddenly needing to check something in the other room.
Not this birthday girl. Not Sara.
She said, “Actually, I have a speech!” And with that, she was gone, running through the house to get her speech.
The rest of us kind of just stood there, dazed and wondering if she really did have a speech.
She reappeared with a little notebook with red and blue anchors all over it, prepared to read the pages of handwritten notes that she wrote.
The whole family gathered around in the living room, dessert in hand, piling on couches and on the floor anxiously waiting to hear what the birthday girl had to say.
15 seconds in and people had tears in their eyes.
Now let me paint a little backstory for you. My family has never really been the crying type.
I remember one of the first times I met Sara we were gathered as a family (once again, piled on couches and on the floor) watching a Hallmark-style Christmas movie. Everyone in my family was trying not to cry, or not to show that they wanted to cry. We were hiding our faces and looking away when the teary parts came – and there sat Sara, crying openly and making comments on how she loves Christmas and how that movies like this one always make her cry. I loved that about her. Her vulnerability and freedom to be who she was was good for our family.
And as she stood before us reading her birthday speech, many tears flowed. What struck me the most about her speech was that she didn’t hold back. She took this as an opportunity to highlight her love for each person in the family, to publicly tell them what she respected or appreciated most about them.
And that spoke volumes to each person in that room. What a thoughtful, memorable thing to do.
Maybe this can be a new tradition. Maybe we can all get in the habit of telling people not only that we love them, but why we love them.
Sara, you bring so much joy, fun, and compassion to our family. We’re lucky to have you.
Here’s her speech:
Over the past week I’ve been asked on a number of occasions, “Sara, what do you want for your birthday?” Of course there are a number of superficial things I want for my ‘big day’:
2.) A new car
3.) To sleep past 5:45am OR
4.) To go to the bathroom by myself without two little faces staring up at me asking where their breakfast is.
But truly those are things that I can easily live without.
1.) Diamonds lose their luster.
2.) New cars lose their wonderful “new car” smell.
3.) Sleeping past 5:45 means I’d miss seeing the sunrise. AND
4.) Who really wants to pee in peace when they could by joined by the two cutest boys in the world?
No, what I want for my birthday this year is to let my crazy family know just how crazy about them I am.
I want Rick to know that he is THE most giving man that I have ever met. I want him to know that the way he loves my boys steals my heart each and every time that he hugs, tickles, or teases them. I want him to know that I enjoy our dorky conversations about history and politics. I want him to know that I love him.
I want Lori to know that I couldn’t have asked for a better mother-in-law. I want her to know that the cards and gifts that she gives for every holiday are greatly appreciated. I want her to know that her grandsons worship the ground she walks on. I want her to know that her daughter-in-law does too. I want her to know that I love her.
I want Shawn to know that the wisdom and insight he has supersedes the number of years he has under his belt. I want him to know that he’s the PERFECT mix of salty and sweet. I want him to know that I value his opinion greatly and always enjoy hearing what he has to say. I want him to know that I’m glad we married into the same family. I want him to know that I love him.
I want Jenn to know that she is brave. I want her to know that she is smart. I want her to know that even if I don’t tell her, I read each and every blog post, email, text message, or caption that she writes, simply because it came from her. I want her to know that love her.
I want Nick to know that I’m blown away by the person he is. I want him to know that he’s unique and special. I want him to know that even though he was homeschooled he’s still fairly normal and smart. I want him to know that I’m blessed to call him my brother-in-law. I want him to know that I love him.
I want Brittany to know that I’m so glad that we’ve become such good friends. I want her to know that I see, admire, and appreciate how well she maintains special relationships with each one of her siblings. I want her to know that the has many talents that run deep and that she has limitless potential. I want her to know that I love her.
I want Jake to know that I love spending time with him. I want him to know that I enjoy bragging about him to others. I want him to know that he brings me quite a bit of comfort whenever he is around. I want him to know that I’m in his corner. I want him to know that I love him.
I want Annie to know that she has my heart. I want her to know that her family is with her and her God is for her. I want her to know that I adore her raw honesty. I want her to know that she is beautiful. I want her to know that she is one-of-a-kind. I want her to know that she is capable of more than she could dream. I want her to know that I love her.
I want Daniel, the love of my life, to know that I am forever his. I want him to know that my favorite place to me is in his arms. I want him to know that he is the most genuine, kind hearted, HANDSOME man that I’ve ever met. I want him to know that I adore his jokes, his laugh, his weird idiosyncrasies, the way he calls me baby, his giving heart, his love of anything sweet, his dedication to his family, his leadership, and most importantly, his desire to make God proud. I want him to know I love him.
Yup, folks, that’s what I want for my birthday. To let you know I am SO glad to be a part of this family.
Sometimes the sky is clear and the hot air is dry and there’s no movement. You look up and don’t see signs of anything different.
Then the sky turns dark when it wasn’t forecasted to. The thunder is loud and close, and you take great comfort in the cold breeze that blows in, and the way the unexpected rain soaks the earth. When the storm blows in your senses come alive.
Maybe it was a rain just for you, for your soul. Maybe it was God showing you that he can change the otherwise predictable just because he wants to.
Maybe the thunder was a reminder of his power.
Maybe it came out of nowhere to remind you of his presence.
Sunny days are sweet and cheery. But not today. Today you needed a break in the norm. You needed a storm. A storm, dark and heavy, to help indulge your senses in the fact that he is never far away. Even though our earthly selves try to convince us otherwise.
The grass and the purple flowers by the highway are thankful for today’s rain too. They don’t fear the storm or dread the hot sunny days. They take it all as it comes. They are the picture of contentment. They are planted where they were placed and they don’t shy away from standing tall, blooming right where they are.
I leave the windows open and let the cold breeze toss the curtains around and I take a deep breath. The chill in the air is welcome. When the storm blows in, I sigh. I look up at the sky and try to see a God I’ve only caught a glimpse of here on earth. I look for his face. I wonder if he’s watching me from up in the sky, if he’s smiling down, like when someone watches their love sleep early in the morning. At times when he feels far, and the air is too hot and dreary, a storm blows in.
And I, along with the earth around me, am filled with gratitude.
Everyone says time flies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that to be as true as I did this year. Today, June 14th, marks one year that we’ve been back in America. It’s our first Ameriversay! (That can be a new thing we celebrate every year, right?)
It feels just like yesterday- last week at the most- that we were packing and weighing our luggage, saying heart-wrenching goodbyes to friends, expat and Senegalese alike, hugging our dear Roxy one last time, and taking in all of those last Dakar experiences.
So much of our life has been about learning to adjust, and our move from West Africa back to America was certainly no exception.
It was a difficult year as we tried not only to acclimate to this culture and deal with reentry stress, but it was overwhelming to try and wrap our minds around not being full-time missionaries anymore. Our entire life path had moved, our role had shifted. And it moved us from one country to another. We went through the “where should we live, what should we do, what does the rest of our life look like” freak out phase, questioning what was next for us.
Looking back on this past year, we see that God went ahead of us and arranged so much, caring for us, and providing for our needs before we even knew what they were. From providing housing (in three different states!), to providing a temporary job for Shawn (hauling silage in a semi for a local farm), to helping us find the right church with a great small group of friends, to finding a career for Shawn, with a promotion after two months, to providing two different jobs for me, both of which I enjoy.
Returning to your home country after years of living overseas is so complex, complicated, and full of unexpected joys and challenges. Our first few months kind of felt like another home assignment, like we were here temporarily. But it wasn’t temporary, we were moving back. And it was our first time back in two years, so seeing family, friends, grass, carpet, water fountains, green veggies, and good pizza were definitely something to take in and enjoy.
This year was definitely about transition, adjustment, learning to fall in love with living in America again, looking for God in the midst of change, and ultimately, it was about finding peace. Even when the reentry stress took over and we didn’t feel like we fully belonged here or there- Senegal or America, and even when we felt like nomads trying to decide where to settle, God’s peace came over us. It’s been evident before but it was especially evident this year during such a big life change. We left Senegal with a sense of peace about what we did during our time serving in West Africa, and even now here in Wyoming, a place we would have never fathomed we’d be living in, we’re at peace.
Our time overseas will always be a part of our story. It’s a lifetime of experiences we’ll never forget. And now our story continues on, right here in good ol’ US of A.
He comes home from California with an “I heart SD” shirt. We both laugh because we know it stands for San Diego AND Shawn DeAtley.
This whole him-traveling-and-me-staying-home thing is so new to us. I’m not really a big fan. It’s not that I don’t like being alone, because to be honest there are things that I enjoy about it. I love the quiet and the chance to binge watch whatever I want and have a dinner consisting of cherries, pepperjack cheese, Triscuits, snap peas, and wine. But the reason I’m not a big fan is because #1 I miss him when he’s gone, and #2 trips and travels have always been our thing. From day one I’ve been his co-pilot. I’ve changed the radio station and he’s known what time we should arrive at our gate. I’ve had the 20-question game ready to roll at any unexpected layover, and he’s always played along with whatever road trip game I decided to create on a whim. We have traveled all over the world side by side. On airplanes, boats, trains, in cars, and… nope, no motorcycle tours to speak of yet. It’s been a good way to get to know each other, through the stress and fear and excitement of travel. The curiosity of exploring a new place can really pull two people together. We’ve lived some comical and unusual experiences during our travels together. Traveling was a part of our life, our career, and our mission.
And now, it’s an occasional part of his job. This year Shawn has been on three different one-week trips for his job with Denver Mattress. They’ve been great trips and fantastic opportunities. Two of them were training in Denver, and the most recent trip (this past week) was in San Diego. This was a work/fun/educational trip. Normally there will just be one trip per year, but since he promoted so quickly he had to “catch up” on the other trips.
So even though these trips have been a brand new chapter for us, and I’m not always a fan because they’re yet another adjustment to being back in the US, I view them as a voyage of sorts – for the both of us. We’re still together and this new chapter is molding us just as the trips we’ve taken in the past have molded us. Even when he’s a few states away, or on a plane, and I’m in our home in Cheyenne, we’re in this together.
A LOT has changed this year. For the past 11 years we’ve worked together almost every day. Now we have separate jobs and often times separate schedules. But we’re still on the same journey. It’s called life. It’s called marriage.
Saturday night we had a reunion at a charming little Mexican restaurant in town, the kind with colorful painted chairs and a fountain made with beautiful tiles. We enjoyed catching up on the past week. We enjoyed taking turns talking about our week, telling the weird stories and the awkward moments and the times we missed each other the most stories.
So, buckle up, SD. We’re going to continue to make this voyage called life and marriage one exciting ride.