Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Tag: miscarriage

A Thanksgiving Prayer for the Would-Be Mamas of the World

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Yesterday, I pulled up one of my favorite daily devotional blogs and read a post that was ostensibly about not letting perfectionism ruin your holiday. But really, what it focused on was creating good holiday memories for your kids. While I read the post, as still happens to me from time to time, I was hit with sharp pangs of envy, followed by a fresh wave of grief and disappointment that brought me to tears.

Don’t worry, reader, it didn’t last long. I quickly confessed the jealousy, cried it all out, and gave the negative feelings to God. He replaced them with His peace, and I was okay the rest of the day.

But I woke up this morning with a burden on my heart for all of the would-be mamas out there who are struggling to find something to be thankful for today after yet another disappointment-filled year has passed them by.

If this is you–whether, like me, you’re struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss; or you’re enduring the unimaginable grief of having lost a child; or you’re dealing with disappointment in the wake of a failed adoption attempt; or you don’t have the financial resources for either adoption or fertility treatments; or perhaps you long to be a mother but you’re still single, still waiting for God to connect you with your future mate so you can finally start building your family. Whatever your situation, for you mothers of the heart who lack living, breathing children of your own to pour your heart into, I want you to know today that you’re not forgotten. God sees you, and He knows. He collects every single one of your tears.

And I’m praying for you today. I don’t know your name, Dear Sister, but I know how you feel, and I’m lifting you up before the Lord just the same.

My prayer for is that your heart will be strengthened and encouraged today as God gently reminds you not only of the promises in His word, but also of all the times in your life that He’s proven His faithfulness and His unending love for you, and that your heart will be filled with thankfulness. That He will give you the courage to hope, and the patience to endure, and that as you wait for His best to be made reality in your life, He’ll create a renewed spirit within you. I pray that you’re able to surrender all of that grief and disappointment and envy and pain to Him, and that He will give you joy for mourning, and His peace that passes all human understanding will envelop your heart and mind today.

Have courage, Dear Sister, and take heart. You are loved, and you are seen.

In love,

Jean

 

 

 

{Linking up with Holley Gerth. Find more encouragement for your heart here.}

PCOS Awareness Month: What You Should Know

Fight Like a Girl

Image credit: didmynails on Photobucket

September is, among other things, PCOS Awareness Month. So I thought I’d break from the routine today to resurrect a (slightly modified) post from my old Blogger blog, originally posted in September of 2011.

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There’s a meme currently making the rounds on Facebook, supposedly in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, in which women are being encouraged to post fake, coy pregnancy announcements in the form of “I’m (the number of your birth month) and craving (an item of food on a list that corresponds with your birth day),” without offering further explanation. This is, somehow, supposed to raise awareness for breast cancer.

Needless to say, there’s been a lot of backlash. Men are annoyed at being intentionally left out, and rightly so, seeing as how breast cancer affects them, too, both directly and indirectly. My friend Erin Palette points out that it’s time to give equal attention to other more common and deadlier types of cancer that nevertheless hardly receive any media attention. And then there’s the Infertility/Recurrent Pregnancy Loss crowd, of whom I’m a member, who finds this meme, at best, insensitive, and at worst, downright hurtful. Others have expounded on the reasons why far more eloquently than I can, and if you’re wondering, then I encourage you to read those posts.

I admit that when I got the memo encouraging me to participate in the meme, I felt a little hurt and annoyed. I thought about how great it would make all of the friends and family feel, who’ve been hoping and praying for me to have a healthy pregnancy, to see me post something like that only to turn around and tell them, “Just kidding!” But mostly I felt bewildered, because, what does pretending you’re pregnant have to do with breast cancer, exactly? And also, Breast Cancer Awareness Month isn’t until October.

This month, September, is actually PCOS Awareness Month. If you’ve been paying attention to this blog for very long at all, then you know that this is a cause that’s near and dear to my heart. PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is the reason all of those people are praying for me. It’s most likely the reason neither of my previous pregnancies made it to the end of the first trimester[*]. It’s the reason I’m terrified of even trying to get pregnant again until I lose enough weight to cure my insulin resistance. It’s also the reason that there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to get pregnant again once we do start trying, or that it will happen quickly or without difficulty and a lot of heartache.

In the interest of doing something that actually raises awareness about a cause, here are a few facts about PCOS:

  • It’s a disorder that affects approximately five to ten percent of all women.
  • It’s one of the leading causes of infertility in women.
  • It’s closely linked with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
  • Those with PCOS who do manage to get pregnant face an increased risk of miscarriage, most likely due to said insulin resistance.
  • It can be diagnosed at any phase of life and is not limited to women of child-bearing age.

Common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Irregular periods, or no periods
  • Painful periods
  • Acne, especially at an age where acne isn’t a common affliction
  • Excess hair growth on the face and body
  • Hair loss
  • Unruptured follicles, or cysts, on the ovaries

Despite the name of the disorder, ovarian cysts aren’t always present and aren’t necessary for a diagnosis. Generally, three or more symptoms are enough for a diagnosis.

There is no known cure for PCOS. Currently, the only known medical treatment for PCOS is the birth control pill, which is not exactly helpful for those with the disorder who want to get pregnant. Fortunately, however, studies have shown that treating the related insulin resistance through a healthy, low-glycemic diet and regular exercise, or even with medications such as Metformin, can serve to lessen the severity of PCOS symptoms, and has even resulted in healthy pregnancies in women who have been prone to miscarriage.

If you’d like more information on PCOS, or if you think you or a loved one might suffer from this disorder, or for information on treating the disorder, please check out the following links:

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*I’ve since discovered that the most likely culprit was a thrombophilia (i.e, blood clotting) disorder, but controlling my blood sugar will still be a vital component of a successful pregnancy.

I would also like to add that women with PCOS are more likely to also have a thyroid disorder and gluten resistance, and also have a greater chance of developing Type II diabetes and heart disease if it goes untreated. And while taking the birth control pill can help regulate your cycles and give you easier periods, it does nothing to treat the underlying condition.

And here’s a good news update: Earlier this summer, my husband and I made the decision for me to stop taking the birth control pill and switch to a natural family planning method (specifically the one detailed in the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler), prompted by concerns about side-effects and health risks associated with long-term use of the pill. I was concerned that once I went off the pill my cycles would once again be all over the map, but I’m happy to say that so far, they’ve been pretty regular for the first time in my life–which tells me that the changes I made in my diet and lifestyle are working.

For more information about controlling PCOS through diet and lifestyle, I highly recommend both PCOS Diva and PCOS Diet Support. Both sites offer a number of paid resources like ready-made PCOS-friendly meal plans and online courses, but they also both contain a lot of free information and resources.

Personally, I’ve checked out some of the sample meal plans and found them too complicated for my lifestyle, so I just sort of do my own thing by following Zone diet principles, avoiding gluten and dairy as much as I can, and incorporating PCOS-friendly foods as much as possible. In addition to regular cycles, I’ve also noticed other improvements, such as increased energy and the near-elimination of my acne.

If you meet any of the criteria listed above, please talk to your doctor about the possibility of PCOS. This is serious stuff that affects far more than your reproductive health, but as you can see by my example, it’s completely manageable if you’re willing to make some lifestyle changes.

In love,

Jean

P.S. – Once again I’m linking up with Holley Gerth. Check out her post for more encouragement and “Coffee for Your Heart.”

New Beginnings

With God there are no endings, only new beginnings.

I’ve never been good at waiting. I always have to have a plan, always looking five steps ahead. I have a tendency to run ahead and do things my own way, and then pray afterwards that God will bless it.

But He’s been using this season of my life to teach me to relax, to be patient, to let go of MY plans and let HIS plans unfold on HIS timetable.

It hasn’t been easy. There’ve been times that I’ve been chomping at the bit to try and force something to happen. To take charge in hurrying God’s plans along.

Except it doesn’t work that way, and I’m finally getting the message.

But I think I’m finally starting to be allowed to move again, albeit with baby steps. Over these last few weeks I feel like God’s been planting some seeds in me, instilling new dreams and pointing me in new directions. I think this blog is part of that (by the by, how do you like the new look?).

I think I’m also being called to write my testimony about finding healing after my pregnancy losses. Not only for the losses themselves, but for all of the emotional and spiritual scars I bore–and there were a lot of them. I’ve been feeling for a while now like that’s something I’m supposed to share, but the time hasn’t felt right. But yesterday I obeyed an urge to open up a blank journal and start writing my story in it, and the words began to flow.

Today, as I stood in the kitchen making my lunch, I realized that I don’t really have a satisfying ending for my story yet. Like I said, I’m mostly still in a place of waiting. Although God has healed my brokenness and depression and put me back together whole, I don’t have a Hallmark movie ending — a successful pregnancy, a successful business, a bestselling book — something that, if my life were a novel, would provide a definitive “happy ending” and leave the reader feeling hopeful.

So I prayed, “Lord, it would sure help this book I think you’re telling me to write if I could give it a definitive ending.”

And this is the response I heard: “With Me there are no endings, only new beginnings.”

Whoa.

Of course, this is true. This is the God whose mercy is new every morning. Every day is a new beginning, with a clean slate. This is the same God who sent His Son to conquer death, so that even that is not an ending but merely the beginning of our next life.

Whatever He has planned for me and my husband as far as being parents goes, whether we’ll get to have a baby in our middle age, or be led to adopt, or make peace with being child-free, or something so totally unexpected it will blow our minds at God’s amazingness, it won’t be an ending to this story. It will just be the start of a new chapter.

There are other seeds I think He’s in the process of planting, but it’s too soon to talk about those just yet. Suffice to say that I’m starting to see a new vision taking shape, providing a new direction, and I’m daring to allow myself to get excited about it.

Because it is exciting, looking forward to seeing what God will do.

Love,

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PS – Is God sewing any seeds in your life? Are you embarking on any new beginnings, big or small? I’d love to chat about your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

PPS – Join us for coffee and encouragement over at the Coffee For Your Heart weekly linkup at HolleyGerth.com!