Confessions, Infertility, Letters to My Kids

Truth is,

Child of Mine, my heart is on a roller coaster every time I go on Facebook. The truth is, I’m probably on Facebook far more than I should be. The truth is, even though I know I’m going to see 90% of my newsfeed overflowing with beautiful babies and ultrasounds and birthday parties, I can’t seem to look away.

Perhaps it’s because I want to share in the joy of my friends. I am truly thrilled for the new life that is springing up so frequently in the stage my friends are in. You can’t deny these child-bearing-years. I haven’t struggled with hearing pregnancy reveals or baby shower invitations or receiving those adorable factoid cards in the mail after the birth. It can only be credited to God’s grace that my heart hasn’t become entangled in these moments.

But my voluntary exposure to the baby craze is perhaps a little too risky. I am in a very vulnerable place right now, hoping beyond hope that this surgery is the solution to our barrenness. Praying that our years of waiting will soon be over.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone tell me, “Oh! as soon as so-and-so adopted they got pregnant!!” I would seriously have a few hundred bucks. I’ve heard all these accolades and more: “It’s all in God’s time.” “You’re going to be a wonderful mother.” “I just  know you’re going to have children of your own someday.” “Now that you’ve moved in that big home and settled into life, it’s got to be the right time.” “Just relax and it’ll happen.” “I got pregnant right away after we did such-and-such.”

And typically I can stop the emotional upheaval in time to recognize the sincere concern each of these people is trying to show by their words. I feel the love, I really do. But the words? They’re just empty. There’s nothing I can say, nothing my husband can say, nothing our families or friends can say that will make this better. 

The only fullness left is Jesus.

He’s not my magic wand or the whisperer of answers. But He is my peace, my burden-bearer, my ever present help in times of trouble (Ps 46:1).

The truth is, I’m not all that shaken up right now. I’m not angry or inconsolable. I’m just over itI’m tired of the jealousy I battle every time I see another one of my dear friends’ beautiful children. I’m tired of the hopelessness I’ve sunken into over the past 52 months. I’m tired of being poked and prodded. I’m tired of answering the same questions. I’m tired of updating the people who want to know the latest scoop. I’m tired of my loss of privacy, albeit voluntary. I’m tired of it all. 

More and more frequently women I meet ask right away if I have children. And perhaps my response is too much, too fast, but I’ve become accustomed to honestly sharing our infertility. Just get it all out on the table. More often than not, these ladies share their own journey with endometriosis or trouble conceiving. Child, this is a rampant problem that’s kept a secret by so many. It’s so private, so painful. But in sharing my own story, others are released to share theirs and we both leave encouraged. It’s just good to look someone in the eye and know they get itThe interesting pattern I’m discovering is how removed these women have become from their days of infertility. And I wonder what I will be like if and when we have our own children. How quickly will I move on from this pain, this thing that’s become my identityI don’t want to leave these stage unchanged. I don’t want to forget what it was like.

Barrenness is a scary, dry, lonely place to live. And it has left me with only Jesus

And I don’t ever want to forget.

Mama

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Confessions, Infertility, Letters to My Kids

Doctor’s Report

Dear Child of Ours,
We had our post-op visit with the doctor last Friday, October 10th. It may sound weird but I was so happy to discover she had found problems – because knowing the problem means there is a likely solution. During the laparoscopy she found mild endometriosis as well as abdominal adhesions. She also performed a hysteroscopy and a D&C, and we’re so glad she did because she found multiple uterine polyps which could have been acting as an IUD (in her words). All of that “mess” has been cleaned up, and I’m happily reporting to all who will listen that my insides are back to “factory original settings.” :D
Her prognosis is hopeful, yet our hearts are fragile. The devastation we both experienced after two unsuccessful rounds of IUI in May/June was almost more than I could handle, and I anticipate even greater emotional response to the next few months of “failure to conceive” given the invasiveness and the success of my surgery. It’s very hard to remain hopeful, without getting hopes too high; to expect God to work, without setting expectations. But God is always at work, and he is always worth hoping in; the results may or may not be what we intended, but experience tells me His plan is perfect.
Waiting on you, Child.
Waiting on Him.
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Confessions, Husband, Letters to My Kids, Marriage, Ministry

My Pastor-Husband

Dear Child,

Here’s a confession: it’s a little bit strange to have your pastor also be your husband. Or have your husband also be your pastor. I’m sure you’re going to have an interesting life ahead of you has a PK – pastor’s kid. (Hey, that’s funny…PK is also what your dad often goes by…short for Pastor Kevin.)

In the first year or two of this ministerial process, there were Sundays when I sat in the front row and verbally corrected my pastor-husband if he misquoted a reference or something. I am totally ashamed of these moments. I can’t even believe I’m telling you this, other than to pray you’ll learn from my errors.

After learning the art of respect keeping my mouth shut, I proceeded to wonder what it would be like to listen to my husband preach each week.

I’ve had to learn how to sit all by myself in that front row, missing his arm around my shoulder. It’s like we play “tag” on Sunday mornings – I’m on stage, leading worship and praying, and as I go sit down he moves from his lonely spot in the front row to his place behind the pulpit. (Thanks for the warming the pew for me, Dear. Seriously. I was really cold last Sunday and it was just a little warm from your residual body heat.)

Child, I’m so pleased to tell you the truth of the matter. I have a pastor and he happens to be my husband. He is an outstanding shepherd of God’s people, caring for and corralling my heart along with the rest of the congregation’s. He wears many hats in our relationship. There are some times we have to have business meetings with the intent of discussing church stuff. There are times when I seek his counsel and wisdom, his critic and rebuke as a parishioner to her pastor. There are times I just need him to wear his husband hat and be with me, listening, holding my hand. In all my wondering of what this life would be like, I never anticipated my husband-who-is-a-pastor would also become my pastor.

What a gift.

Following this reflection on life as a full time ministry couple are photos documenting Kevin’s ordination ceremony. It was a moving occasion, a true commissioning. I’m so thankful to be standing at his side.

 

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Kevin’s family made the long trip from Michigan to participate in the service. (L-R: Yvonne and Ralph Eccles, Melanie and Kevin, Gordon, Linda and Brian, Wanda and Mert Arvidson)

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The Elders of the Genesis Conference of the Free Methodist Church laying hands on Kevin as he is ordained

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Bishop David Roller presided over the ordination

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Bishop David and Yvonne Roller – friends from Kevin’s growing-up days in Spring Arbor, to his ordination

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Rev. KM Eccles – a nod of respect to Kevin’s great grandpa Kenneth Merrill Walton who went by “KM” and was an ordained minister in the FMC

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This certificate beautifully explains the office of Elder to which Kevin has been set apart

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Letters to My Kids

So your mom had surgery…

So you’re probably wondering how the surgery went that your mom talked about. Normally she writes all sorts of blog posts about nearly everything. When I think of something worth writing about, I usually log in to find out she wrote about it two days earlier. Well in this case, she’s going to be unconscious for most of the proceedings, so I think I might finally beat her to a post.

***Editor’s note*** I did not beat her to the post.

Also, there are a lot of people who love and support your mom and I. She told me tonight (Monday night) after I got back from band practice that I should keep people updated during the day tomorrow, so I’m opening a file now to remind me to document the process throughout the day tomorrow.

PS – that band concert? It’s going to have awesome music from great movies like Captain America, Superman, Star Wars, and others. Going to band practice is actually pretty awesome. You should play an instrument, it’s way more fun than singing in a choir like your mom does… **ahem**

So here I am the night before, trying to remember how things have been going.

September 29

9:25 – dismissed from band practice, heading out to the car

9:27 – wondering if the woman in front of me realizes that her skirt may match the color of her top, but that does not make it a good outfit.

9:31 – out at the car

9:44 – heading in from the garage, only to hear your mom sounding really happy to have me home

9:45 – finding her downstairs buried under a ton of blankets with Glee paused on the PS4.

9:46 – Admiring just how “fabulous” some of the costumes on Glee are

9:53 – Deciding I need a snack, we head upstairs

9:54 – I remember we have Mexican Sunrise Bread (my mom makes it…it’s awesome. It’s like a taco baked into a loaf of bread, and it’s glorious)

9:55 – I find the last piece of cheesecake in the fridge that Donna made for us last Friday.

9:56 – I accuse your mom of “hiding the cheesecake by omission” since she’s had two pieces since I last saw it.

9:57 – we agree to stop discussing the idea of “hiding by omission”

10:01 – I eat delicious cheesecake while my toast is making your mom jealous.

10:05 – we clean up dishes and I head downstairs to start typing this out

10:20 – I head to bed, hoping tomorrow goes well

10:21 – I tell your mom about this minute-by-minute idea, and she seems skeptical

10:25 – we fall asleep.

September 30

5:00 – Alarm goes off on both cell phones, we turn them off. Mom hits snooze.

5:05 – Alarm goes off again.

5:10 – Alarm goes off again.

5:15 – Alarm goes off again, Mom heads to do devotions, I hit the shower.

5:40 – We trade, and I go to drink cider (apple cider is the best!), make coffee, and get ready to leave.

6:09 – The coffee is delicious, but I forgot your mom can’t have any. Oops.

6:12 – We grab last minute things, and pack up.

6:20 – We arrive at the outpatient surgery place, and we’re the only ones in the parking lot…

6:22 – Relieved to see more than a few nurses in the waiting room, apparently they park out back

6:30 – Check-in completed, nurses chatted with, and they take Mel back for prep

6:50 – I get called back, your mom is in a **styling** hair net and hospital gown (seriously she makes it look good), and we get to talk together while we wait for the doctor to arrive.

6:55 (ish) – we warn the doctors that Mel is a “lightweight” when it comes to anesthesia…

7:05 – We notice that the nurses and doctors running around are having a “normal” workday. What’s big and a bit scary for us is what they do every day. It’s comforting to know that they’ve done this a hundred times (or more!)

7:10 – the doctor arrives a bit early to say hi before they take her back for surgery. A few basic questions later and she’s ready to go!

7:15 – I’m back in the waiting room typing this out, admiring the 80 Mbit/sec download speeds, and waiting to see your mom again.

7:16 – I check the clock

7:17 – I check my watch

7:18 – I check the clock

…you get the idea.

While I was waiting, I think God was teaching me something. As I waited for the Dr. to come tell me how the surgery went, I knew exactly what I’d say to me if I were worried. It is a “minor” surgery. The incisions will be small. There was almost zero chance something would go seriously wrong. God was in control. I had just told her 20 minutes earlier that she’d be fine. I believed that.

I was still nervous. I still couldn’t shake the feeling of “what if something goes wrong?”

I think God taught me that having Faith isn’t the same thing as having no worries…it’s trusting God even when you’re worried and scared.

What felt like a small eternity later (but was really about an hour and a half), the doctor came and took me back into another room. Even though I’d just realized that I could trust God, and that everything could be ok, just about every scary thing raced through my head in the eight seconds it took me to walk twenty feet to that little conference room. When I sat down, the Dr. was smiling.

At this point I had a Charlie Brown moment. If you’ve ever seen the old Peanuts comics, the adults always mumble and drone on. That’s exactly what happened to me when the Dr. started talking. “When we saw the *mufflemuffle* then we did *mufflemuffle* but I’m very optimistic. I think this will really help you.”

In that moment I finally heard her. She was not only saying that Mel was ok, she was also saying that it went well, and she was optimistic. That was a word I had learned to not associate with fertility or pregnancy. I’d learned that we would try and try, and nothing much was going to change. But this doctor was now saying she was optimistic.

I don’t know exactly how this is going to turn out. Your mom is recovering right now (last week…). She’s doing pretty well, although it still hurts her if she forgets to be careful and not poke herself in the stomach.

But we have new hope. I hope to meet you soon.

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