To be honest, I've gone back and forth on whether or not I should even write this blog post. But what I've decided is that this blog is really a place to record our memories, our feelings at this particular point in our lives. All of that to say, this topic is pretty personal but it's a part of who I am. So, fair warning.
August is a hard month for me. Three years ago, Sam and I went on an incredible trip to Italy, Croatia, and Ireland. The idea was that it was going to be a time to explore our roots and to see where our families came from before we started a family of our own. We officially started "trying" that August. After a year of trying, I finally got a positive on a home pregnancy test. I immediately called the doctor and went in for a blood test. The nurse came back and told me that it must have been a false positive. I was not pregnant.
After that, we started looking into fertility clinics. We came across a clinic in Bellevue, about a 2 hour and 15 minute drive away. I went to the initial meeting with the doctor by myself. I really had a good feeling about the place. They seemed so nice and supportive. I remember the doctor saying, "I should have you throwing up by Thanksgiving!" Isn't that funny? No.
Next came tests, blood work, all sorts of fun things. The day after that visit, I was getting in my car to go home after work. I checked my voicemail and had a message from one of the doctors at the clinic. She said that my bloodwork showed that I was in fact, pregnant. Let me tell you, not the way I pictured finding out that I was pregnant, but there it was. Listening to a voicemail in my car, in the Adam's parking lot. But something was off in my hormone levels, so there was concern that it might not "take." I drove home, told Sam and started praying that everything would be fine.
The next day on my lunch break, I went to get another blood test. I was in a team meeting when I got the call from the doctor. She said that the levels had gone down, which means it must have been a miscarriage. I was crushed. But I will never forget walking back into my team meeting; the way my team came alongside me and comforted me.
Again, Sam and I drove back to Bellevue for more tests. I really love Sufjan Stevens' album, "All Delighted People," but it will forever remind me of those drives back and forth from Bellevue.
A couple months later, we drove to Seattle to take engagement pictures of Sam's cousin Tony and his fiance Amanda. Once again, I got a call from the doctor. I was pregnant. I got off the phone, told Sam, called my parents, called my sister, called my brother, called friends. I know you shouldn't tell people right away, but I didn't care. I was so excited. I would be due right before Tony and Amanda's wedding. The next day we went to the Seahawks game and told Sam's brothers. Everyone was so happy for us.
They wanted me to come back in for more tests. This time my mom went to Bellevue with me. I got more bloodwork done, but they wanted me to wait to drive home until they had the results. They thought there was a possibility that it was a tubal pregnancy. I remember going across the street to World Trade Market, trying to occupy my mind while I waited. Wandering aimlessly, wondering if everything was alright. Then I got the call. Apparently they figured out that I have a rare protein that looks like the pregnancy hormone on a blood test, when really I may not be pregnant at all. In short, I was not, after all, pregnant. They assured me that this only affects blood tests. If I took a home pregnancy test, it would still be accurate.
So the next month, I kid you not, I got a positive on a home pregnancy test. Are you seeing the pattern yet? Again, I went in to get a blood test done, only to find out that I was not pregnant.
I tried several months of fertility drugs with no success. They said that my only option was IVF, which costs about $30,000 with no guarantee that it would work. Yes, you read that correctly. My salary for a year with no guarantee of a baby by the end of it. But if you think that's bad, wait 'til you hear this! They handed me a pamphlet that said "Buy 2 procedures, get the 3rd one free!" What? Am I buying candy bars? Maybe they would get me throwing up by Thanksgiving. I was disgusted. And I was done. I couldn't do it anymore.
So we quit. We tried to move on. We tried to process the fact that we would most likely not be having a biological child. It took me another year to even start thinking of any other options.
For some reason, I could not get excited about having a child through foster care or adoption. I always thought that I would like to adopt. But now that it might be my only option, I just couldn't accept it. I didn't feel ready. It didn't feel right.
Two and half years after we started this whole process, we got offered jobs to teach in Croatia. Now here's the thing. Being 28, married for 7 years, I didn't picture myself childless, living overseas. And yet, this is the door that was opened to me. What I've come to realize is that you can't be so set in your own plans, that you don't see God's plan for your life.
I don't know why we went through all of this. Having this experience in Zagreb in no way makes everything better. It's not running away from the problem. It doesn't "fix" anything. But it does allow me to realize that if I would have had a baby 3 years ago, I would not be here. And for that reason, I have to believe that I am in this very spot right now for a reason.
It might not be the life I imagined, but it might just be better.
"Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around." Proverbs 13:12
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Monday, August 13, 2012
August 6, 2012
We drive up to our apartment, in a beautiful neighborhood with lots of trees and nice houses. But our building is a little lacking in love, with some graffiti and some grass that could use some water and a little fertilizer. We park in front which requires us to pay for parking. Sam goes over to pay while I wait in the car. He comes back and asks for 10 Kuna which should cover us for the time being. He walks back to pay, comes back and says the machine won’t print us a parking receipt. So we furiously unload our car and take it up the front steps. I wait with the luggage while Sam finds a spot behind our apartment. He comes back and we load our things into the elevator (which smells like it could use a little Lysol and Febreze.) Up we go to the sixth floor of our new building. We turn the lock and open up to our new home. It looks like an Ikea store, with lots of built in shelves and simple, modern furniture.
Since Sam complimented our landlords on their taste in art, they’ve left us some lovely paintings of horses (those come down almost immediately.) We survey the place, the view, the space that we’ll be filling with memories. And immediately start unpacking. Things start coming out of suitcases. Why did I pack so many coats? I only brought 1 nightshirt?? Where is Lucy’s furminator and nail clippers? I really wish I would have packed my memory foam mattress topper.
The next four hours are spent unloading and finding new homes for the oddities that were packed. Based on a recommendation from an expat that moved to Zagreb, I’ve filled an entire suitcase with shampoo, conditioner, face wash, contact solution and makeup. Apparently that sort of thing is cheaper in the states and contact solution proved to be an impossible thing to find. I begin setting up my own personal drug store in one of my Ikea cabinets. We survey the kitchen. They’ve left silverware, plates, cups and pots and pans. But no small appliances; coffee maker, toaster, etc. The shopping list begins.
The thing about shopping in Europe is that everyone only buys what they need for the day. So when we come in and fill 2 grocery carts with hangers, soap dishes, bowls, and laundry baskets, we get a few of those Croatian stares. Apparently they aren’t starting from scratch like we are.We spend the next several days settling in. We sleep in. Make coffee. Eat breakfast on our balcony. Take a walk to Maksimir Park or the café down the street. We get our bearings and figure out where things are. Also, we watch some American television to help us feel not so far from home.
After 4 days of settling in, we finally start exploring our new city. We decide to try taking the tram. This is initially a source of anxiety to me as I always feel anxious when trying something new. We head down towards the tram line, not knowing how to buy a ticket. Eventually we find someone who speaks English, and we buy our tickets for the tram. We take route 12 to downtown. The tram takes us to Ban Jelačić Square (the main square in Zagreb.) The next several hours are spent wandering the street, going nowhere in particular. It’s so wonderful to be in a new place, with no time constraints, allowed to just wander with no end point in mind. We stumble upon the Zagreb Cathedral, Dolac Market, and St. Mark’s square. We go to the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art. We have some delicious pasta with zucchini and truffle oil at the Dubrovnik Café. On the way home, we buy a loaf of bread from the Pekarna (bakery).
It feels so foreign and yet exactly what I have anticipated over the last several months. I feel so very lucky to be having this experience. Though I miss my home and my family and friends, I know that this is only a chapter of my life. One that I will look back on and cherish as an amazing experience. I hope I’m able to soak it all in.