Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A poem for a friend who lost her daughter

I had the honor of spending a few hours this afternoon with a new friend from church who shared with me the beautiful pictures of her little girl who wasn't due until February but went to be with the Lord at 21 weeks. I took with me a teddy bear that I had stuffed for her along with this poem, written in dedication to her little girl:

Tender Hugs Bear
© Jennifer Saake, 2006 (Please do not duplicate without permission.)
Both bear and poem, lovingly crafted in honor and memory of Sara.

When your grieving heart is aching
And your empty arms too heavy to bear,
Hold me close and hug me tender.
I was stuffed for you with many a prayer!

You have loved and lost. They say you are “so strong”.
But they don’t see your heart weep through endless nights and days so long.
I’m just a simple teddy who can’t hope to cure your pain.
But my fur is here to catch your tears whenever your eyes rain.

With questions and emotions all over the place
And a soul-crushing longing for just one more glimpse of her face
Right now how you wrestle with faith and with fear.
Sometimes God seems unreachably distant, other moments amazingly near!

May my hugs be a reminder of our Father who knows
How painful and daily this grieving thing goes.
He too, watched His precious, beloved Baby go.
And the heartache and anguish, these well He does know!

This dark season of sorrow will slowly soften.
In time you may need to hold me less often.
When Sara’s name gradually brings more smiles than tears,
Content on a shelf, I’ll sit through the years.

And when, by surprise, a hard day blows your way
With arms open wide, I’m just a quick hug away.
So until that wonderful, glorious day when He brings reunion with Sara, face-to-face,
My prayer here and now is to be to you, a tiny reflection of His tender grace!

If you are interested in a Tender Hugs Bear in honor of a special baby in your life, please email me at infertilitymom@stuffafriend.biz for more information.

I am still having computer problems and am sorry if you have tried to email me and not received a reply over these past several weeks. I should have a new computer by January, so please get in touch with me again then.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

National Infertility Awareness Week - Oct. 29 - Nov. 4, 2006

My computer is not a happy camper the last several days, so I'm borrowing Rick's to say hello. (I can only check emails when my computer's in the mood to let me, and going on websites is pretty much out of the question for now.) I have a lot on my heart to share, and am afraid this post might jump topics rather rapidly, but I'm going to take advantage of a working computer and type it all out while I can.

We are soon to enter "National Infertility Awareness Week". Rather than trying to recreate all the infomation for you, feel free to follow this link.

There are a lot of changes happening at my home church. One new step is that Rick and I now have a home fellowship (small group) meeting weekly at our house, one of about 30+ groups meeting church-wide! It looks like the church may soon be set to launch a Celebrate Recovery program, and in conjunction with this, I'm praying about how God may be able to use me to help establish some form of organized local care/support ministry for fertility-related loss issues within our church and community. This has been my heart's desire for many years, yet the timing has never seemed to be in line with God's plan. I'm excited (and a bit nervous) to watch as His plan seems now ready to perhaps begin to unfold in this area. The recent loss of baby Sarah, the daughter of a young couple in our "young adult ministries" group, who was born at 22 weeks and lived just 45 minutes, is a painful reminder of why such a group is so urgently needed.

My health has been problematic over the last several months, especially manifest in painfulness, weakness (loss of grip, etc.), tingling and/or numbness in my hand and feet. My doctor ran a host of tests, but was unable to find anything new, so at this point we are presuming these issues simply to be new manifestations of CFIDS. There is some newer medical research and corncern indicating that CFIDS may actually be a degenerative and/or progressive nereological condition, afterall, so we may just be entering new territory in the ongoing journey of these past 16 years. Please pray for wisdom as I seek a new doctor as mine has just moved out of state.

If you are trying to contact me via email, I am sorry if I have not responded or if I haven't even received your note. Feel free to post a reply here (but please be aware that your note will be publically viewable) and I'll make sure to let you know when my computer is back on its feet again (I'm thinking it may be a while before that happens).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

In 1988 President Reagan declared October to be "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness" month. Last week, the US Senate, once again, proclaimed October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day (follow link for more info).

Proclamation 5890—Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
October 25th, 1988

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation
Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of the newborn child. National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, 1988, offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems.
Health care professionals recognize that trends of recent years, such as smaller family size and the postponement of childbearing, adds another dimension of poignance to the grief of parents who have lost infants. More than 700 local, national, and international support groups are supplying programs and strategies designed to help parents cope with their loss. Parents who have suffered their own losses, health care professionals, and specially trained hospital staff members are helping newly bereaved parents deal constructively with loss.
Compassionate Americans are also assisting women who suffer bereavement, guilt, and emotional and physical trauma that accompany post-abortion syndrome. We can and must do a much better job of encouraging adoption as an alternative to abortion; of helping the single parents who wish to raise their babies; and of offering friendship and temporal support to the courageous women and girls who give their children the gifts of life and loving adoptive parents. We can be truly grateful for the devotion and concern provided by all of these citizens, and we should offer them our cooperation and support as well.
The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 314, has designated the month of October 1988 as "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month" and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirteenth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:13 a.m., October 26, 1988]

(October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.)

And the Winner is...

Anne is the winner of the Free Book contest . Congratulations, Anne!!!
Anne has been notified by email and has been asked to respond with her mailing address by Oct. 15. If I have not heard back from her by then, I will hold a second chance drawing and name a new winner at that time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What would my life look like if Hannah's Prayer Ministries didn't exist?

Before I hit my main topic here, let me give a quick reminder that the free book contest (August 16 entry) is only open until the end of this month. Be sure to enter before time runs out!

And now, onto the topic at hand. This week is the 2nd annual pledge drive for Hannah's Prayer. I was asked to write up my testimony of what Hannah's Prayer means to me to be shared with the members of the Hannah's Prayer Community Forums (message boards) and I figured I should post this here as well:

I honestly don't know where I would be today if God hadn't brought HP into my life when He did. What about you???

You see, I tried my local support group chapter of a large national infertility support organization. There was a measure of comfort in finding others who understood the agony of empty arms, and yet these women seemed as lost and hopeless as I was. How could I claw my way out of this dark pit when those I looked to in hopes of being lifted up, only seemed to keep me mired down under the weight of their own anguish? The medical/technical information was often helpful, though it was frustrating to explore treatment options with those who did not share my moral and ethical parameters, nor my conviction that a baby was a person from the moment egg and sperm united. The opening verse of the book of Psalms was clear that such counsel was fruitless for me: "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mocker."

And what of my most burning questions, the ones about God and faith and prayer and sin and how it all fit into my broken heart? These were answered with blank stares and shrugged shoulders. Yes, the medical and the emotional were important to me, but it was the spiritual side of this journey that caused me the most pain. Was there no one to understand? To come alongside? To give answers? To offer hope? The only two Christian women I knew who had dealt with infertility seemed spiritual giants who handled whatever God doled out with grace I could not fathom, leaving me to feel all the more alone in this journey.

I cried out to God over and over, from the depths of my being, yet He remained silent. Human help was not to be found. I was desperate. Suicide seemed more and more attractive. The glimmer of hope that was to have been an adopted son and daughter faded as quickly as it had come, dragging me down deeper into the pit than ever before. And then Mother's Day attacked, threatening the final blow to my shattered soul.

Rick had tried to encourage me through, but I was all-consumed. He must have felt as desperate over the loss of his wife as I was over the loss of our children who might never be. Little did we know how a single book would change my life. It took me many weeks to read my way through that treasure he brought home one day, Debra Bridwell's new book, The Ache for a Child. It hurt too much to read more than a page or two at a time, but here I was finally relating to a Christian woman who shared my convictions as well as the depths of my grief! Through her words, God began to move and mend and restore hope.

When Debbie described the Christian infertility support group she had helped start at her church, I knew this was the kind of support I had been craving with every fiber of my being. God challenged me anew with Hannah's story (a story that I had grown to truly hate over the prior year, by the way), and I knew instantly that God was birthing a new ministry called "Hannah's Prayer." Little did I know what He had in store!

We intended small monthly meetings in our living room and occasional BBQs and bowling trips with other childless families. Our first group meeting was January, 1995. The group itself remained quite small, but word spread and we started a newsletter that summer, printing 25 copies and not having any idea if we could ever use that many! But our mailing list quickly grew into the hundreds and collecting stories, editing, writing, printing and mailing those quarterly publications became my full-time focus. In the midst of all this I stood back in awe thinking, "I keep hearing from ladies how much Hannah's Prayer is helping them, but they will never understand how much HP has been an answer to my own prayers. I'm thankful that no one else has to flounder alone like we did, but HP means more to me that it ever could to anyone else! This group exists purely out of my selfish motives because I so needed the support!"

Rick could see the potential for ongoing growth and started a website against my concerned protests. I was terrified of computers and told him that if he wanted to put us "online"(whatever that was) that he had to take care of that whole part of it. I wanted nothing to do with computers and was especially leery of the Internet! But God stretched me once again and Rick soon had me answering emails and exploring websites and newsgroups (the now antiquated predecessor of message boards). When I typed "infertility"into a search engine for the first time in April, 1996, I pulled up a grand total of 5 websites. [For perspective, I just typed "infertility" into Yahoo (the search engine I believe I used for that initial search) and pulled up 16,200,000 websites, while Google gave 17,100,000 results!]

Thanks to the Internet, we soon had several small support group "chapters" scattered over a handful of US states and even two in South Africa. Each support group was outfitted with a small lending library of quality infertility and loss books and God's grace continued to unfold in heart after grieving but healing heart. I think it took me this long to realize that while HP had been a direct answer to my need, it really was not "just about me" and that God's plans were on a much grander scale. I'm so very thankful that He was never limited by my low horizons!

It was about this time that I received an email from Julie Donahue, telling me of her little email group of 30 married Christian women dealing with various stages and aspects of fertility challenges. (I was still computer illiterate enough that it took me several more months to understand that I could actually join this group myself!) Julie's done a great job in outlining God's work in the combined ministries over the years, so you can read "the rest of the story" in her post. [Within the Community Forums, this statement was linked to a post by "Ladies In Waiting" founder, Julie Donahue, also posted as a testimony on the message boards this week.]

All of this to say, while HP has been an ongoing blessing, what it means to me today has certainly changed and deepened over the years. I've seen how wrong I was in thinking that HP could never mean as much to others as it did to me, for this has long since ceased to be "my baby" but rather an awesome and mature ministry, brought about by the hours and tears and prayers and sacrifices of many! I’ve been privileged to watch from the beginning, in awe, as God's grace has blessed and grown this ministry by leaps and bounds, far beyond anything I could have ever wished or imagined!

What HP is today, He has done by raising up generation after generation of faithful leadership and a strong membership of women who are seeking hard after His heart in the midst of their deep grief. To every woman who has opened up your heart to the Lord and to your sisters here, thank you for sharing in this ongoing work of the Lord. For every prayer prayed for this ministry as a whole, or for the trials an unknown stranger-become-friend whom you have learned to love, or for wisdom and strength and grace for our leadership - thank you! To each and every leader here (past and present) who has given of your love and time sacrificially, often laying your own pain aside to bless others, please remember the scared little girl I once was, on the verge of utter hopelessness, and remember that God is repeating His grace to other broken hearts over and over through your tenderness and compassion. And most of all, to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, thank you that you love each and every one of us enough that through my selfishness, you saw every face, knew every tear, and loved every heart that would be touched by HP the day you first planted this seed of hope in my hungry heart.

One thing that deeply disturbed me about the secular support services I turned to was that there was always a cost involved. We were struggling to make ends meet, to even keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, much less surmount the costs of treatment or adoption, and when I reached out for help, it seemed heartless to face a "We'll help you when you pay us" mentality. (OK, so that's probably not the way it was intended, but that's how it came across to me at the time.) So from the very foundations of HP, there has been a strong leadership commitment to never place financial pressure on our members for any HP service. God's grace is free, and so should access to this aspect of that grace!

With this in mind, let me leave you with this challenge. If you truly are not in a situation where you can help meet financial needs of this ministry, or if God has not called you to give here even if you are financially able, then please pray about what other gift you can offer back to Him instead - perhaps a commitment to daily prayer, or an inquiry to Erin S. about what leadership needs you might be able to offer to help fill, or the willingness to send out a few copies of the fundraising letter Hope has posted [again, linked to another post on the message boards, but the same letter is posted in full below - please feel free to pass it along].

Or if financial giving is a way God is leading you to help, what can you give up to help make this a reality? Is there a new pair of shoes you would be willing to skip buying this fall, or can you give up your trips to Starbucks for a month and send that money to HP instead? (Yes, I understand about withdrawals, but think of the withdrawals you feel here on the days the message boards go down!) I honestly don't know where I would be today if God hadn't brought HP into my life when He did. What about you??? Please take some time this week to prayerfully seek God's plan for you in the big picture of all He has planned for HP. Your gift may seem like a very small thing, but I've learned from experience that God can grow small seeds very BIG when given to Him with a full heart.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. - 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

How to Donate:
(posted by HP Treasurer, Hope)
It's time to kickoff our Second Annual Hannah's Prayer Ministries Pledge Drive! This will run until Friday night, September 29th. Last year's pledge drive was our first one and was a great success due to all the support we received. We are excited to see what God has in store for this week as we kickoff this one!

This year we have 2 goals we are working towards. The first is a one-time gifts goal of $5,000. This money will primarily be used for the 2007 Annual Board Meeting and to really kick-off our Vision Fund. The board meeting is one of our largest expenses each year and one where we often fall short.

I would like to spend a little more time explaining the Vision Fund. This is a fund the HP Board of Directors set up in 2005. We set aside some money each year to prepare for ministry growth, future needs, expanding into new territories, etc. Basically, we feel like God has blessed this ministry greatly and never want to feel like HP cannot go where He leads due to financial constraints. I think this fund is exciting as I have seen HP grow in leaps in bounds over the past few years. I am very much looking forward to how God can use this money and this ministry in the future!

The second goal this year is to increase the monthly support by $500 each month. The monthly support allows the ministry to meet its financial obligations with security through a stable income. While God has led people to give to this ministry when we have needed it and we believe in Him to continue to do so, we also believe we have a responsibility in planning and preparing to support this ministry.

Our hope is the you will prayerfully consider how you can give in one or both of these ways. As I have stated before, please remember that gifts are welcome no matter the amount. We also want to say that we know that there is a financial burden that often comes along in dealing with fertility challenges. We never wish to increase that burden! It is through a cumulative effort of those giving what they can and when they can that meets the needs of this ministry. Please do not feel saddened or guilty if you cannot give at this time.

Remember that all donations are tax-deductible!

So, you're probably asking yourself, "How do I pledge?" It's very simple. To make a pledge, simply e-mail me (hope@hannah.org) the following information,

Mailing Address
E-mail Address
Pledge Amount & Type (one time or monthly)

I will in turn e-mail to you a confirmation letter within 24 hours which will let you know the details of where you can submit your donation(through Paypal or mail).

(Feel free to copy and share or repost anywhere!)

Dear Friend,

I am writing to you on behalf of Hannah’s Prayer Ministries and the thousands of members we minister to daily. Please take a moment and read about our ministry and how you can help support what God is doing.

Did you know that infertility affects about 6.1 million Americans, or 10 percent of the reproductive age population, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine? Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive within one year of unprotected intercourse, or the inability to carry a child to live birth.

Since the term "infertility" is limited, as we have grown, we coined the term "fertility challenges" to cover the standard definition of "infertility" in conjunction with the sorrows of stillbirth, early infant death, or those who are able to get pregnant easily, but who have suffered the loss of a child at some point between conception and early infancy.

Being unable to conceive a much-wanted child, or carry a pregnancy to term, can fill a couple with sadness, grief, anger, despair, and even a sense of personal failure. Hannah’s Prayer Ministries provides Christian based support and encouragement to women around the world who are struggling with this pain.
As with any ministry, there is a financial burden. Up until now, God has blessed Hannah’s Prayer Ministries through the gifts of various generous givers and a few occasional fundraisers. With the rapid growth of this ministry, we are reaching the limits of our financial budget. That is why I am writing to you – we need your help. Would you be willing to share the blessings you have received with this incredible ministry?

Please keep in mind that Hannah's Prayer Ministries is a California based, non-profit 501( c )(3) organization. All staff members are unpaid volunteers who are proclaiming Christians (from a range of denominational backgrounds) and have personal experience with the heartache of fertility challenges.

We are asking for donations or a commitment to a monthly gift to support our efforts to help women facing fertility challenges. Would you please make out your check to Hannah’s Prayer Ministries and mail it to P.O. Box 3321 in Borger, Texas 79008? There is also an option on giving through Paypal if you would like. A lot of women who need our help would be grateful if you could send us your tax-deductible donation today.

We are sincerely grateful for your support!


P.S. We would be happy to send you more information about our ministry. You can find more information at www.hannah.org or e-mail us at fundraising@hannah.org for more information.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Breast Cancer Awareness Bear

In honor of Shelly, I want to share this!

Testimony from a Reader (pregnancy mentioned)

Carla recently shared this story and has graciously allowed me to pass it along to you:
I have hestitated sharing my story with you for fear of causing somebody more pain. But I need to give glory to God, and I long to bring other IFer's some hope and comfort. I want to say to all those out there who are still waiting and longing, I don’t know what God has in mind for you. I believe that we often suffer because we live in a bad, sinful, fallen world, not because God has willed this misfortune on us. And He doesn't always choose to reverse our losses in the way we hope or ask. But I DO know that He cares when we hurt and that He IS involved in our lives. And when He decides to intervene in human affairs, nothing can stop Him. So don’t lose your hope. Keep holding on!

My infertility and miracle-baby story:
“If I could just get rid of this terrible desire to have a baby…It overwhelms me, suffocating my joy and sucking the lifeblood from my heart. The music is gone. My soul is BARREN. Only a few lone cacti dare survive in this harsh desert I call my soul.” – Journal, Dec. 2005

What had naively begun as an expectedly simple process had turned into more than a 6½ year struggle with infertility. Now, after several years of intensive medical treatments, I was physically and emotionally drained. Even God was silent. I didn’t hear or feel anything from Him and sometimes wondered if He had abandoned me. After years of what seemed like endless silence, I started seeing faint tokens of His work in my life. A couple of times I even received direct promises of hope from the Bible, but after repeated disappointments I was hardly brave enough to hope. Were these really from God or the imaginings of my own desperate heart?

One such morning began rather ordinarily, but while reading the book of Daniel, I suddenly realized that God was speaking to ME. Near the end of the 70-year Babylonian captivity, Daniel asks God to restore Jerusalem’s desolations (9:17-9). “Now therefore, O our Lord, hear the pray of thy servant and his supplications, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy sanctuary that is desolate…” I knew the rest of the story well. When the time was fulfilled, God did deliver His people so they could return to their native land.

Several things from the story grabbed my attention, in such rapid succession and in such a strong manner that I felt carried beyond my own thoughts and ideas. “Sanctuary” and “desolate”…I distinctly recognized a similarity between the destruction of the temple and my own desolation (infertility). Then the 70 years…It occurred to me that the 70 years might have a time-scale significance for our lives (70=7). Could it be possible that we would have our desolations removed after 7 years of infertility (at this point, we’d been trying to have children for nearly 6 years)? It was like God had directly told me something but again I wasn’t sure if it was really Him or not.

Around this time, a friend of mine sent me a copy of the book “Hannah’s Hope”. I literally devoured it, realizing that although I’d been in tremendous pain for years, I’d not really known how to grieve my loss.

As I began to work through the issues, the fountains of long-retrained grief broke open. The tears began to bring healing. Not that the longing became less intense, but a calmness, peace and surrender began to take the place of desperation. I experienced some of the sweetest fellowship with my Lord that I had ever had before. I began to see how GOOD He really is, regardless of what I got or didn’t get in this life. For the first time in my life, I was able to praise Him in spite of my loss. Of course, the pain didn't just magically go away.

Up to this point, we had already unsuccessfully undergone 4 fresh IVF/ICSI cycles. However, our next IVF/ICSI cycle appeared to be a big success. The signs were all positive, but the following 2 blood tests showed that although there had been a short pregnancy, it was no longer viable. We were crushed--it hurt beyond words After all these years of trying, this loss was nearly unbearable. To compound everything, my body was thrown into total confusion, with several complications (including 2 large cysts).

The intervening time of waiting seemed unbearably long. We had one last IVF cycle awaiting us, but month after month rolled by and still my body wouldn’t cooperate. Finally it became apparent that we were going to have to wait until after the summer vacation to begin again. Then, after weeks of complications, my body just seemed to shut down. Nothing was happening. Out of desperation, I finally determined to go in for a blood test and ultrasound to see what was going on.

I had no clue that today would be a big way-mark in my life. Ultrasound pictures showed that the cysts were completely gone. My bloodwork indicated I was on day 1 of my cycle, and miraculously I also began my period that very day. The nurse said everything was perfect to start our last (#6) IVF cycle if we wanted. I was in total shock--my world had just turned around by 180 degrees in a matter of hours!!

But I was also a little bewildered. While I was excited to begin our last try, we already had reservations to fly home to see my parents during the summer vacation. I was torn. In bed that night, I wrestled with God and my own heart. Should we do the treatment now or later? As I prayed and asked for some clear guidance, I heard an almost audible little voice saying “Behold I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it.” (Revelation 3:8). This verse had popped into my head so suddenly, I couldn’t help but realize that God had spoken to me, urging us forward.

We cancelled our tickets and began doing intensive hormonal injections. Two weeks later I went in for the egg pick-up (4 eggs in total). In all the other treatment cycles, we’d never had more than 1 egg fertilize per stimulation cycle. But as I was lying in bed the night after the procedure, I asked God for 2 embryos as a tangible sign of His love and care. Even if I didn’t get pregnant, at least I would know He’d heard and answered our prayers. I prayed and prayed. All of a sudden, I felt I didn’t need to pray anymore. My prayers had truly been heard because three days later, two beautiful embryos were transferred to my uterus.

Then we prayed like we’d never prayed before! During this time, I had no symptoms like before and was gradually losing hope. The morning before the blood test at the clinic, I did my own pregnancy test at home because I wanted to be mentally prepared. I didn’t feel I could handle another “no” from the nurse over the phone. It was a BFN! We felt numb, sad, disillusioned. Our last try for our own child—and that was it. There was not going to be a child.

Despite our extreme disappointment, we went in for the blood test as a matter of routine. Several hours later my husband called in for the results, expecting the official “no” to come over the line. I noticed a strange look come over his face and he was nearly shouting with excitement, “What? HCG is 230? Are you sure???...”

Then I knew it! We were on! We wanted to laugh, to cry, to shout it out to the whole world! Wow!!! God had done it, and just when we had lost all hope!

It began to dawn on me that God had indeed literally fulfilled His promise about restoring our desolations. In fact, when the baby is born, it will have been exactly 7 years since we started trying to conceive, just as God promised. God had directly intervened in changing the timing of my body so we could do the last treatment cycle at that precise time. It was so marked, so unmistakable. I give Him all the glory!

Friday, September 15, 2006

National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week

I had intended to post this at least a week ago, but as I'm still in the window of dates from Sept. 11-17, 2006, I would rather get something posted, "better late than never"! A ministry that hits very close to home for me, Rest Ministries has been the driving force behind the establisment of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awarness Week (NICIAW). According to the ministy's NICIAW press release, "96% of Illness is Invisible – Many Look Good but Feel Terrible". This description often fits me all too well.

The document goes on to say:
Nearly 1 in 2 Americans has a chronic condition, and 96% of them live with an illness that is invisible. These people do no use a cane or any assistive device and may look perfectly healthy. Sixty percent are between the ages of 18 and 64. September 11-17, 2006 is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. The theme is "My Illness Is Invisible But My Hope Shines Through!” It is a major public awareness campaign sponsored by HopeKeepers Magazine, a consumer magazine that offers spiritual encouragement for those who live with chronic illness or pain.
Paul J. Donoghue and Mary Siegel, co-sponsors of the week and authors of "Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired: Living With Invisible Chronic Illness" say, "Invisible chronic illnesses (ICI) have symptoms that are difficult to see and impossible to measure such as pain and fatigue. So those with ICI frequently encounter not compassion and support but impatience and skepticism from physicians and loved ones."
“Living with an illness that is invisible to those around us can often have a more devastating affect on our emotional health than the physical pain,” explains Lisa Copen, 37, editor of HopeKeepers Magazine who lives with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. “Each day we must choose to have hope, despite how medications and alternative treatments may help or hinder us.”
Copen is the author of a book, "Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend." “Part of our campaign is to encourage people to ‘care enough to be informed,” says Copen. “Just because someone isn’t using a wheelchair doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have a disability. Friends and family of those with chronic illness care a great deal about what their loved ones are going through, but oftentimes the invisibility of the illness sets up an environment for misunderstandings and even doubt about the validity of the illness. We hope to increase awareness of how many people ‘look great’ but are hurting deeply.”
Outreach includes various events: the distribution of free literature such as a 5.5 x 8.5 card with multiple ways to encourage a chronically ill friend. Other resources include "You Look So Good: A Guide to Understanding and Encouraging People With Chronic, Debilitating Illness and Pain."
Fifteen online seminars will be held during the week featuring chronic illness coaches, authors, nutritionists and other professionals. Promotional items like t-shirts, bumper stickers and bracelets are available.
For a complete list of events and resources visit http://www.invisibleillness.com or call 888-751-7378.
“The feeling of knowing that one’s illness and pain is acknowledged can have a great impact on how a person copes with living with illness,” says Copen. “We hope that by recognizing people with illness rarely feel as good as they look, they will begin to feel better understood, leading them to a more invigorating life!”

INTERESTING FACT: HopeKeepers Magazine is published by the sponsor of Rest Ministries. It’s the only Christian consumer magazine specifically written for people in chronic pain. www.hopekeepersmagazine.com
BOOK INFO: Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend; Author: Lisa Copen; dimensions:
4.25 x 7 in.; 94 pages; Rest Ministries Publishers 2005; ISBN 0-9716600-6-9.
*(Chronic Care in America: A 21st Century Challenge, a study of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.).

I really wish I had gotten this information posted sooner as I know it is already too late to participate in most of the great chats and some of the speciality support this week. But if you are looking for encouragement for your hidden health struggles, I give Rest Ministries my highest recommendation!

Friday, September 01, 2006

11 years?

For a few weeks I had been feeling really "down" and not coping well with daily life. Rick even asked me if I was angry at him for something and I didn't have any idea I had been coming across so snappy with those I love.

When Rick went out of town for a couple days late last week, I used a long night-time house-clean session to have a long talk with the Lord (cleaning my heart along with our home). I realized that a big part of the picture is that I've been neglectful with making consistent time with Him a daily priority. I always get myself in trouble that way.

I also must admit that I've been physically really hurting, everything from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet, and almost everything in between, with many "hot spots" of more intense pain. When I'm hurting so much, it is hard to live gracefully. This is not an excuse, but rather should have been a warning sign to me to heighten my vigilance in seeking daily strength at the Pieced Feet that long to carry me in Strength when I can no longer "do it" on my own.

I do not discount either of those "factors" as to their profound impact in my ability to relate well to those around me. But I realized this week that Noel's 11th birthday would have been about now. I had thought of her quite a bit in the earlier part of the summer, but recently hadn't been "dwelling" on what time of year it was. To realize again what dates were upon us, suddenly made much of what I've been feeling "make sense".

The more years I'm distanced from my losses, the more it catches me by surprise that I'm still so profoundly impacted by due dates, anniversaries and dates of significance such as this. Now that I'm aware, God and I are working on making Him Lord of my heart, my life, and this ongoing grief journey once again. Happy 11th Birthday, my beautiful would-be-adolescent!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Yes, you knew I would have to include teddy bears in this blog eventually!

Anyone who knows me in real life probably knows of my love for teddy bears. So it was only a matter of time before the furry creatures managed to somehow creap their way into my blogs...

Here's my latest adventure (some parenting/kid talk, but also intended to be infertility and loss sensitive).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Free eBook copy of "Rain Dance"!

Read it all so you don't miss a thing.
Free ebook offer and free paper book contest offer below!

What happens when a Christian woman facing a childless future and a woman seeking an abortion are waiting to see the same doctor?

What if, after that “chance” encounter, they are unable to forget each other?

What if, in spite of their drastic differences, they find themselves drawn together by their surprising similarities?

What if they somehow find the courage to become friends?

Joy DeKok, a friend who knows infertility's grief intimately, will take you into the hearts of these two women as they journey closer to the heart of the One who offers hope and healing. Don't let the topic of abortion scare you away from reading this book. I found the infertile character mirrored my feelings so closely I sometimes wondered if Joy had lifted her directly from the pages of my private journals! And I left with a new heart of compassion for women who find themselves in unplanned pregnancy.

This story is worth the read! And best of all, right now Joy is offering her novel in electronic format free of charge! To request your free copy, visit Joy's website and look for the pink "From Me to You" box about 2/3 of the way down the page. Or contact Joy directly at raindance@joydekok.com with "Rain Dance e-Book Request" in your subject line. A paper copy of the book can also be ordered from Joy's site (along with many online bookstores) for $15.

And if you "post a comment" in reply to this message between now and September 30, 2006, I will enter your email address in a random drawing for a free book. Winner will be notified by email and posted in this blog in early October and will have a choice between a copy of Joy's Rain Dance or a copy of Hannah's Hope. Please note that you must post from a valid Blogger account and/or include a contact email address in your reply if you wish to be entered in the contest as I will have no way to notify "Anonymous" posters of winning!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

WBCL Interview Link

Thank you Mid-Morning Live! Lynne Ford, what a delightful morning with you. Thank you for allowing me to share with your listeners today.

Missed the interview? Listen here.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Aug. 1 Radio Interview (WBCL, Fort Wayne IN)

Just a quick post to say hi and share a few little rambling thoughts.

I have another birthday on Monday - wow the years fly by faster and faster with each one! Then on Tuesday morning I have a live radio interview (via telephone) that airs at 9:05 am EST on WBCL Radio out of Fort Wayne, Indiana . Because I'm west coast, this means I have to interview at 6am (and I'm not a morning person), so please pray that I can be awake enough for clear thinking and answering and that God will use my words to His glory to meet hurting hearts.

I heard from Shelly that this round of chemo was much easier than the previous two. Praise God! Only one more round and then her radiation (she's currently undecided about doing the radiation step, so please pray for wisdom on this issue).

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Shelly's Update

I've been sharing Shelly's story and asking for your prayers. For those who want to follow along with me, here is a direct link to Shelly's blog.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Recap of My Trip and Looking Forward to New Projects

Life's been a whirlwind since my trip in April. What a great joy to be able to share with the ladies at First Baptist Church of Everett and also to work with the wonderful folks at the Marriage Uncensored television program up in Canada.

There are several specific ladies and infertile couples who have remained on my heart and in my prayers since coming home. In Everett, several women with the hidden heartache of chronic health challenges trusted me with their pain. During this eight day trip, I was humbled to share time with 7 moms of precious stillborn babies, 4 of them survivors of at least 2 stillbirths each! (While I "know" dozens of stillbirth moms over the internet, this was the most concentrated face-to-face contact with so many moms of stillborn babies I have ever experienced in such a short amount of time.) Only 3 months after Jeremiah's very scary birth, it was a very emotional experience. I cannot pretend to understand the mind and ways of God. Why was I shown such grace? Why have these ladies known such sorrow?

The trip up to Canada was such a joy. My sister-in-law, Diana, and I realized that in the many years we have been part of one another's lives, we have never just gone away for any extended "girl's time" together, so this 2-day road trip was a special treasure. There was some tension about crossing the boarder because I had left a necessary piece of paperwork back in Nevada, but Rick was able to have a notarized letter faxed to us in Washington and the Family Life Today crew up in Canada prayed us across the boarder without a glitch - praise the Lord! The Peace Arch at the US/Canada boarder was surrounded by a breath-takingly beautiful garden. We didn't have time to stop on this trip, but just driving past was enough to make me want to visit again some day and explore.

I don't even know where to begin in describing the experience with the Marriage Uncensored group. They were so wonderful to work with! My friend Christie arranged such a nice little get-together at the hotel coffee shop before the filming and it was a joy to get to know one of my "imaginary friends" (that's what her husband calls her internet buddies) in person. It was a joy to also meet another HP lady, Lisa, and get introduced to the Canadian delicacy of "fried green beans"! (Long story, but in a nutshell, this is an inside joke from the ladies who attended the pre-taping get together.) And I would be remiss if I failed to mention my introduction to Nanamio Bars - yummy!

I had been quite nervous about recording the program itself, but the hosts had done their homework on the topic of infertility well, had already recorded short interviews with 3 other infertile couples and an RE, and they themselves were so funny off camera and "real" that it was easy to just relax and let God lead the conversation. Beth, thank you again for your beautiful work on my makeup and for sharing your own heart with me as we prepared for the show. FLT of Canada, praising God for all of you!

My Saturday in Everret was equally lovely. It was Tulip Festival in that part of Washington the week I was up there, and the luncheon followed this beautiful spring theme, with tulips on each table and georgous tulip photograph greeting cards gracing each plate. The women's ministry team had worked hard to make it a refreshing day, carefully preparing delicious food, choosing wonderful worship music, and taking care to make me and all the guests feel welcome. A special thanks to my friend, Jane, who first extended the invitation for me to come to this delightful day. I would also like to thank the ladies of FBC for their generosity in their love offering to more than cover my expenses of the trip.

Changing gears now, I would like to ask your prayers for my friend Shelly. We met through the support group I led in Roseville, CA in the mid 90s, going through primary infertility, surgeries, treatments and miscarriages together. Now living in Florida, Shelly is in a battle for her life against breast cancer. She has lost both breast and her hair, but continues to keep her fighting spirit and faith in the Lord. She will be undergoing her second round of chemo tomorrow. Please pray for her and her family this week as the first round made her extrodinarily ill.

--- Motherhood After Infertility Addressed Below ---

And as for my future plans, I'm getting the writing bug again! Infertility changes us for life, and deeply impacts our views of children and parenthood. I so isolated myself from children during our infertility as a form of self-protection, that when we finally did become parents, I found myself floundering in what to do now. This seems to be a common issue for those who go on to either adoption or biological parenthood after infertility. I believe there is a great need for a resource for those who enter motherhood after infertility and/or loss.

I want to have a good portion of the book already written before ever taking it to a publisher, rather than starting with a simple proposal then being up against the stress of a deadline to do the bulk of my writing this time around, so, unless God has different plans, my guess is that we are still probably at least 5 years from seeing this book on store shelves. But I am taking my first huge step by getting brave and saying here, "I am going to try to do this!" If anyone has specific stories or ideas you would like to share with me, please feel free to email me. As I get to the more serious stages, I plan to put together some sort of questionnaire and would welcome the input of anyone who wants to fill that out for me. I ask your prayers for wisdom for me to be obedient to the Lord's calling, in the Lord's timing for this project.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Family Life Today (Canada) infertility televison interview

The interview recorded with Marriage Uncensored last month is now viewable online! I pray it will be an encouragement to many. Follow this link to watch Empty Arms: Facing the Heartbreak of Infertility

Friday, May 12, 2006

Was it you who prayed? (Mother's Day Comfort)

As in past years, my heart has been greatly burdened this week for all for whom this Mother's Day will be painful. I think of so many friends and loved ones (both single and married) who are longing for motherhood, Mommies grieving the deaths of your precious children, those in strained/hurting/broken relationships with their moms and/or children, and my precious friends who are grieving the losses of their own mothers. My heart is burdened to pray not only for each of them individually, but also for the countless, nameless, faceless masses of women who are grieving and dreading this weekend.

A wonderful new realization occurred to me today. If God is burdening my heart like this, as I'm sure He is burdening many others to pray as well, then it is very probable that back at that horrid Mother's Day of 1994 when I was so overwhelmed with grief and depression, He was burdening someone (maybe many "someones") to pray for me as well! I may have been on her heart specifically, or I may have been part of her burden for "all infertile women hurting this Mother's Day," but the reality is that God honored those prayers! As alone and discouraged as I felt, God's hand was there. In my own strength I could only have given into despair, but in God's grace He redeemed by pain for His glory.

Where would I be today had it not been for those prayers that someone lifted before the Throne of Grace? Was it you who prayed for me? If so, there are not words of adequate thanks!

Are you the one in need of prayer this year? If so, please be encouraged - God has not forgotten you and you are on the hearts and in the prayers of countless women who have already walked this path ahead of you, along with many who yet join you in the ongoing grief and use their own pain as a catalyst to pray.

For Mother's Day this year I have asked my husband for flowers and asked my pastor to allow me to place these at the front of our church and run a small notice in the bulletin simply stating, "The flowers at the podium are placed in prayerful and loving honor of all mothers and mothers-at-heart, with special recognition of those for whom this holiday may be painful: those who have lost mothers or children, women longing for motherhood, and mothers and children in broken relationships." While we may not be sitting together this Sunday, these flowers are in your honor as well!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Back home from Washington and Canada

I've been back from the northwest for just over 2 weeks already. I am so sorry that I have yet to answer many emails since my return. I sprained my neck on the trip (makes sitting/typing pretty uncomfortable) and my father-in-law was hospitalized for a week soon after my return home. I'm trying to get caught up and hope to post more details about the trip soon. It was a wonderful experience. Thank you for all the prayer support!

Want to help people hear about Hannah's Hope?

If you would like to use the image at the right as a link to direct friends to this website, please feel free to save it to your computer and link it to www.HannahsHopeBook.com from your website. :)

Friday, April 14, 2006

Resources for Difficult Times

Here's a broad-range resource list I have compiled to hand out at my talk next weekend in Washington. Though not exclusive to fertility-related issues (in fact, some relate to unplanned pregnancy or parenting), I am posting in hopes of bringing a bit of hope to someone who might need it:

- Devotional Journals for Infertility, Pregnancy Loss, Infant Death, and Grieving the Loss of a Loved One - www.HopeLifters.com/resources.shtml

- Grieving the Loss of a Family Member or Friend - GriefShare.org/

- Death of a Child (any age) - www.CompassionateFriends.org/

- Infertility or Pregnancy Loss Support - www.Hannah.org

- Infant Death – www.mend.org

- Continuing Pregnancy After Learning Your Baby Will Die - www.erichad.com/wwl/

- Poor or Difficult Prenatal Diagnosis - BeNotAfraid.net

- High Risk Pregnancy – www.sidelines.org

- Postpartum Mood Disorders and Post Adoption Depression - OutOfTheValley.org

- Adoption – www.ShaohannahsHope.org

- Unplanned Pregnancy - www.care-net.org/

- Abortion – www.HopeAfterAbortion.com/

- Depression - cdp.gospelcom.net

- Suicide - www.road2healing.com/suicidal.html

- Widowhood – www.foycwidows-widowers.com/

- Living Single – ChristianSinglesToday.com

- Divorce – – www.DivorceCare.org

- Divorce, Domestic Violence or Abuse – www.FocusMinistries1.org/

- Pornography, Sexual Promiscuity, Homosexuality www.NationalCoalition.org/

- Abuse and Addictions, Life Stresses, Relationships, Transitions – TroubledWith.org

- Drug/Alcohol Abuse, Addictions, Depression, Eating Disorders and Unplanned Pregnancy – MercyMinistries.org

- Family Life Issues - www.FLToday.org/

- Chronic Pain or Illness - www.RestMinistries.org

- Cancer – www.AmyGivler.com or www.cancerclub.com

- Homeschooling Special Needs Children - nathhan.com/

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Marriage Uncensored E-Zine Interview

Here is my interview published in the April MU Ezine, giving you a taste for what the television show might be like. I just heard from host Dave Currie, National Director of FamilyLife Canada and host of Marriage Uncensored, that my show will be one of 8 episodes to pilot in the US market through PBS. Watch for details! :)

Monday, March 20, 2006

let's meet up in Washington or Canada

Deadlines age getting close to register for the "Experiencing Hope in Difficult Times" luncheon on April 22 or to be part of the studio audience for a taping of Marriage Uncensored in Surrey, B.C. on the 19. Here are the details in review:


EVENT: Marriage Uncensored television interview about infertility (studio audience needed)
DATE: April 19

TIME: 7:30 - 9:00 pm
PLACE: Surrey, B.C. - find directions at http://www.marriageuncensored.com/audience_directions.php
COST: free tickets required - register at http://www.marriageuncensored.com/audience_reservations.php
CONTACT: christie@familylifecanada.com

Join Jenni and some of the ladies from Hannah's Prayer Ministries for a casual reception coffee time before from 3-5. Email Christie if interested.


EVENT: Experiencing Hope in Difficult Times luncheon (women only)
DATE: April 22

TIME: 10:30am - 2:30pm
PLACE: First Baptist Church, 1616 Pacific Avenue, Everett
COST: $10 (registration deadline April 14)
CONTACT: 425 259-9166

To the outside observer, it may seem that Jennifer Saake has the "perfect" life - loving husband, three beautiful children, nice house, great friends... But a casual glance doesnt tell you the surprising story behind Jennis journey to todays blessings. Through 15 years of chronic pain and illness, a decade of infertility, the loss of ten children (miscarriages and adoptions), financial devastation, depression, bankrupt friendships and a deep spiritual crisis, she knows firsthand what it means to struggle! Registration includes lunch and childcare if requested. Sponsor: Womens ministries of First Baptist

Jenni will also be going out to a early dinner with a few friends after the luncheon. If you would like to join us (husbands and children welcome as well), please contact me by April 14 and plan to bring cash to cover your meal as Flying Pigs will not split the bill for groups.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A New Way to Keep in Touch

Amazon.com is now offering "Amazon Connect" to authors as a way of staying in touch with readers. If you have purchased a copy of my book through Amazon, you will be able to see more comments and thoughts from me on the Hannah's Hope page at Amazon.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Marriage Chapter reprinted at Crosswalk.com

The majority of one of the "marriage chapters" of Hannah's Hope was reprinted in today's (Jan. 12) issue of "Crosswalk Marriage". It is kind of weird for me to read one chapter as a stand-alone article without the full context of the book to surround it, but I am praying that these words will bring healing and encouragement to God's intended audience. The link to view this article is http://www.crosswalk.com/family/marriage/1371247.html.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Reflections on pregnancy after miscarriage and infertility

I first posted this to the Hannah's Prayer Community Forums on Dec. 27, 2005. There are living children and a current pregnancy mentioned, along with references to the thirteen years that have brought us to this point and our babies in Heaven:

Eleven years ago this morning, I woke up cramping and bleeding. It was one of the roughest periods of my life, both emotionally and physically. The negative pregnancy test the night before should have prepared me, but I was still devastated. I had been seeing my doctor for testing and was anticipating an ultrasound of a breast lump as soon as we got back home from visiting my parents for Christmas, so it had been an emotional month anyway. But it had seemed "different" in a hopeful way and I just couldn't quite let myself believe there had been no baby for yet another month - just over two years now since we had started out on this baby quest.

By the time of my doctor's appointment the following week, the large lump was completely gone and the breast ultrasound totally clear. The next 8 1/2 months my body refused to cycle. In the midst of all this, I shared with my doctor my suspicion that I had indeed been pregnant in December and she confirmed that she too suspected an early miscarriage. Late in coming and no solid medical "evidence" (proof of a positive hcg, etc.) but finally conformation that I was not crazy and "permission" to grieve the baby my heart had known all along, yet my mind had logically denied as "only a late period" for the past five months. As if on cue, knowing when I should have gone into labor, my period returned with a vengeance two weeks before my would-have-been due date.

It's been 11 years. The first few anniversaries were devastating with weeks of worry and anticipation building up to the dreaded due dates. Then came Joshua, our injectables/IUI miracle, born the very week but 5 years after his big sister, Noel Alexis, made her journey to Heaven. What a gift!

A year later we were just starting to "feel infertile" again as secondary infertility became a reality, only to find out mid-January that we had experienced the miracle of natural conception on New Year's Day... When Joel quickly followed Noel to Heaven, the reality that "this may not be so easy" was once again upon us with renewed grief. Hannah kissed my womb only a few months later, but she too was gone almost as quickly as she had come, leaving only a positive hpt and bittersweet tears as her legacy.

By the next Christmas, Noel's 7th in Heaven, we had gone 7 more months without conception, our miracle baby boy was turning two and we were preparing for the laparascopy I would have in January for endometriosis that had agressively returned. Rick was feeling our family complete, or maybe God was leading us toward adoption, and I was grieving that only 1 of our 4 precious babies was here to share this life with us.

As only God could do, the next Christmas found me a month from the delivery of our precious baby girl, Ruth! The laparscopy had turned into a 3 1/2 hour event and I had woken up to the news that we had less than 5% chance of ever conceiving again even with medical aid, and that even if we could conceive, my ability to carry was highly questionable. Though I spent the entire third trimester on bedrest, God carried our little girl to full term healthy birth against those odds.

Over the past two Christmases, I've sought contentment in the family we have been given, learning to trust God with my husband's decision that I had been through all the grief he wanted to watch me undergo and that our efforts to grow our family were done. Then God surprised us this past June to learn that He wasn't done growing our family, so this Christmas I sit 7 months pregnant, once again fighting ongoing contractions, bedrest and an irritable uterus, and finding myself surging with tearful hormones. I thought I was OK with where we had been, that this year infertility and grief were truly behind me. That Noel, and Joel and Hannah, while always a part of my heart, no longer demanded ongoing grief work or specific recognition of their landmarks. I didn't dread the coming of the 26th and 27th (negative pregnancy test and onset of bleeding) because I could thankfully focus on the Baby in the manger with joy this year and rejoicing in our own three living miracles...

So why did I wake up yesterday snappy at Joshua and picking a fight with Rick right off the bat? Why was the packing away of Christmas decorations such an emotional endeavor? Why did I spend the day wiping secret tears from my eyes in the solitude of the bathroom? Why did I have an explosion at my son in angry frustration as we were putting him to bed last night? Why did thoughts assault me all day that even though our other losses have been so early and we in pretty safe territory even if I had to deliver Jeremiah today, that there are still never any guarantees? "This can't be grief. I have too much to be thankful for. It's been too long."

Well after darkness fell and too many angry words had been spoken to my loved ones over insignificant events, I finally I admitted to Rick that I was missing Noel and very scared for Jeremiah. I broke down and sobbed and the cleansing tears melted away the accumulated stress of the day.

I didn't expect him to understand. I guess I anticipated he too would think it had been "too long" for me to need to revisit active grief. But he pulled me close and held me and asked, "So is that what's been going on today?! Why didn't you tell me???" I cried for me and Noel and Joel and Hannah. I cried out my fears for Jeremiah and the frustration of bedrest and contractions and all the unknowns of when true labor will hit, how it will happen and what outcome will unfold. I cried for Julie D. and her Christmas Eve Katie who went to Heaven 5 years ago. I cried for Traci G. and her Noel who just joined two big sisters in Heaven this Christmas, and for Jenny whose Joshua (one of three siblings to journey to Heaven this year) should have been due at the same time I am, and for Lois as she learns to accept her husband's plan above her own will, and for Rae as she seeks the joy of new life in the shadow of death, and for so many others who have known so much grief this year...

Not quite sure how I'm feeling today. Definitely better than yesterday. Grief shared is indeed grief divided and I was overwhelmed with the loving acceptance of Rick and my parents when I admitted to them (and myself) why I had been having such a rough day. The release of anxiety and hormones in that flood of tears certainly helped! I don't feel like I am living imprisoned to fear this pregnancy as I did with Joshua, but I still know that I have no promises beyond this moment. Pregnancy after loss can be such a bumpy ride!