You know, I have some really cool friends. They come from really cool, diverse backgrounds. They do really cool things, personally and professionally. And when you put us all together, we are the most unlikely cast of characters. I think that is my favorite thing about friendships; the unlikely transpires the likely.
For instance a few years ago, I made an unlikely friend. In fact, it took me years to even put his name and friend in the same sentence. He was arrogant and demanding, well read and well spoken. His presence commanded proficiency and focus and he brought out just about every professional insecurity I had ever had. Thankfully, he worked at another school and we only had to work together a few times a year, mainly in the summer.
I was still a relatively young teacher, maybe five years in, but I had found a rhythm with Ninth Grade Literature and so had he. We were paired up together to help create some professional development for other teachers in our county. What I didn’t tell him at the time (or even now) is that he really challenged me. Why did I teach that a certain way? Why did I choose that text over the other? Why is that my approach to that content? I would leave each work session exhausted and annoyed. One day in some not-so-professional angst, I’m pretty sure I called him a jerk and said, “I feel sorry for your wife.” Without even flinching, he responded, “You know, you and her would probably be friends.” “Yeah, right,” I thought.
Little did I know, he was right. Dang it, I hate it when he’s right! That wife of his would later become one of the most transformative friends in my life.
A few years after our professional partnership had ended, I heard a rumor that my principal had hired his wife. “What?! Great. Is this going to be awkward? Did she know that I thought her husband was a jerk?” I guess only time would tell.
Whenever we talk about that first encounter, we remember it oh so very differently. She remembers me being warm and friendly. I remember being anxious and on edge. But like I said, he was right. She is chill and stylish, has fun tattoos and a hip Bohemian style. She’s a quoter of Shakespeare and of Monica Gellar. And she’s the only person I’ve ever met who has DJ Shadow on her iPod. (Anyone? Yeah, I didn’t think so). Like I said, she’s cool and we became instant friends.
We share a lot in common; our love of Anthropologie (but never the price tag), Starbucks (I’m a latte, she’s all Chai), French inspired foods and markets (Paris Market, Savannah GA), and women’s conferences celebrating Jesus Christ (we’ve attended three now together).
In four quick years, I’ve stayed at her parents’ house twice in Savannah where her dad never fails to entertain and her mom’s hospitality is only matched by her warm hugs. But my favorite thing about this dear friend is how much she teaches me without ever really knowing it. In fact, pretty much every cool thing I have come to learn and love these past few years has come from her. Let’s face it. She’s on the forefront and “in the know” and I’m like “hang on, what is that?”
I could literally make a list of authors, products, companies, and nonprofits she has introduced me to. But instead, I want to share my latest obsession and maybe even provide a little whimsy into your summer inspired by my dear friend.
“Do you listen to podcasts?” she asked last spring while driving to the Atlanta Brunch Festival. Just two weeks post D & C, here’s another reason why I love her. She made me get out of the house and do something fun.
“Uh, not really my thing. I guess.” Maybe that was my response, but that was at least what I was thinking. I didn’t really even know what a podcast was but just the thought of listening to someone talk at me did not remotely tickle my fancy.
Eventually she taught me that purple podcast button on my iPhone served a purpose and that what lied beneath were stories waiting to be told.
I wasn’t an instant fan. The addition began slowly as I’m sure most do. However, what started with listening to a few episodes of one show (The Happy Hour hosted by Jamie Ivey) while getting ready for school a few days a week turned into a rabbit hole that I hope to never climb out of. I now have a slew of podcasts that I struggle to keep up with. Some are inspirational. Some are geared towards writers. I’m even listening to some now regarding business. But I must confess, the majority are a different genre altogether. I’m almost embarrassed to say it but . . .
Whew! I’m exhausted friends. Whoever coined the phrase, “I need a vacation from my vacation,” was so right. Having flown home late last night, I still feel like I’m on Vegas time. This morning my body couldn’t decided and I woke up at 5:30 am on Georgia time which would have been 2:30 am Vegas time. Regardless of lack of sleep, I am so glad to be home, to be back on my routine, to control my own meals, to sleep in my own bed, and to snuggle with my rowdy puppies.
Before I jump right in, I want to take a moment to sincerely express my gratitude for allowing me to share my heart and my story with you last week. I realize that is might have been too raw, too exposing but I have never felt such an incredible outpour of love and sympathy. I have a running list on my Notes app of those who have walked my shoes of miscarriage and infertility. During my prayer times, I pull out the list and just say their names aloud to our Father knowing that He knows their plot, their needs. When I began this journey of miscarriage, that list was small and intimate with just four names. With now months of writing about loss, grief, and hope, I now have 41 names on that list. How crazy is that?! Forty-one courageous women who have reached out to me letting me know that my words are their words. At times I wonder where this blog is going. What is my purpose? What is His plan? But every time I read that list, I know its purpose. It’s for those forty-one and whom else God calls to add to my list.
For those of you who have been following along, you know that not every week is so exposing. Sometimes we need a little whimsy mixed in with the heavy. So that’s what I aim to provide this week.
When my in-laws told me we were forgoing our traditional summer beach trip for a family adventure in Las Vegas, I thought, “Great, they’re taking a potentially pregnant (before I knew) woman to a densely populated city known for drinking, debauchery, and gambling with 100 degree temperatures. This will be great! (sarcasm).” But then the loss came and I thought, “Maybe I’ll just get drunk and will deal with the pain that way.” (No, I’m serious). Oddly enough I just didn’t want to. I drank once. I gambled once. And as a family, we took every tour, hit every show, and walked until my feet literally blistered in my adorable but not orthopedically sound Anthropologie sandals. I think the distraction was helpful, maybe even healing.
I still took my Bible and my Beth Moore devotional on David and sat on my 35th floor balcony every morning (minus the 5am Grand Canyon morning) and read aloud. If New York is the city that never sleeps, Las Vegas is the city that is never silent. Yet even over the blaring music, rowdy street goers, and consistent sirens, I knew that God could hear me. He always hears me. It is I that struggle to tune the rest of the world out to hear Him. I asked God to keep us all safe. I asked God to sanctify this time with my husband and my in-laws. I asked God to speak to me over the noise and the grandeur. He answered all my prayers and I’m sure a lot more.
So what did God say to me in the city that is never silent? Well, here are four things He not only said but proved.
To say that the month of May was emotional is the greatest of all understatements. I turned 33, celebrated ten years of marriage, resigned from teaching after ten years, packed up my classroom, hugged my colleagues, hugged all my kids (some for the very last time), and lost a pregnancy.
Yeah, I know. I should probably back up and hit rewind. After months of testing, and re-testing, and calling around to every doctor that Jason and I had seen regarding trying to start our family, my new doctor in Atlanta was finally ready to meet once again. With a patient file as dense as a 90s phone book, we sat in his office where he literally sketched out a plan on a plain white sheet of computer paper. This number shows this. This lab shows this. This is what we’ve tried. This is what we haven’t tried. “Ok, let’s get started. Today.” He ended the conversation so matter of factly. Jason and I looked at each other in amazement. We like this guy. He’s direct, straight to the point.
We moved across the hall to a pre-treatment ultrasound and consultation. Hormones began the next day. So May began with hope. May began with anxiety. Already knowing that I needed to meet with my principal about my resignation, I would now meet with her on hormones . . . great! This was also yearbook week, with the always-emotional yearbook banquet the Thursday night before distribution Friday where I would tell my staff of my departure as well. And I would be on hormones.
In case you don’t remember how hormones previously manifested in me, go back and read restoration. They make me a hot mess. A crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, emotional, hot mess. And’s that putting it gently. Thankfully, I was not training for a marathon this time and would not subject my running partners to monsoon meltdowns on unsuspecting downtown streets.
But there was no monsoon. No tornados. No hurricanes. No scattered thunderstorms or even summer showers. In what I can only attribute to God controlled, this round of triple dose hormones instead filled me with optimism, excitement, and even energy. When I stood before my students on Thursday night at our banquet space at Mellow Mushroom, all I could do was beam with joy. When I told them I was leaving, I couldn’t shed one tear because deep in my heart I was hiding the greatest secret of all; hope.
Having just told my principal the day before, she cried and I couldn’t. I was fearful she thought I was heartless but I was just really overcome with actual hope. Maybe I was finally getting everything I ever wanted? Still the week continued with a bundle of stress and excitement. Every day during lunch I was self-testing looking for a positive LH surge meaning I was ovulating. All I needed was one positive result and I could schedule the artificial insemination the following day. I kept praying that I wouldn’t miss my last yearbook day and God answered that prayer. With no positive surge indicated, my doctor ordered me a shot that I self-injected to force my body into action. So after the most emotional week of my career, after my last yearbook banquet, my last yearbook day, I drove home exhausted and shot myself up. Jason and I were scheduled back to Atlanta both Saturday and Sunday mornings for two rounds of IUI, intrauterine insemination.
Without going into the awkward details, we emptied our savings and poured out all our faith. Before leaving on Sunday, I asked my doctor the dumbest question possible. “So, what percent of pregnancy am I now looking at?” Without missing a beat, he responded “Oh, about 15%.” Wait?! What? Like 1-5-%? “That’s correct,” he smiled. With a pat on my shoulder he told me to have a good weekend and good luck.
For the second time that weekend, Jason and I drove the 55 miles north in a haze of emotions that even this writer can’t fully put into words. For next two weeks we waited. We held our breaths and we prayed. I told my core group of friends and our families, of course. That might have been a bad idea since I felt like all eyes were on me for the next two weeks. Well, was she, or wasn’t she?
Jason and I were planning our ten-year anniversary get-a-way. We would spend this weekend away to celebrate our first decade as husband and wife and we would also test to see if there was another reason to celebrate. Mother’s Day was the weekend prior. In years’ past where I would hold up in my fortress and avoid, this year I smiled. This was the perfect timing and this feeling in my heart told me that God was granting our desire. My everyday prayers became more and more like chants for life and for hope, stream of consciousness conversations with the creator of all life. I ended every thought with Thy Will Be Done.
The Thursday before we left to go out of town, Jason’s great uncle passed away at the age of 95. Instead of spending the weekend away, we would spend it with family honoring the legacy of a faithful follower of Christ and faithful husband of 64 years.
Before the long Saturday of funeral arrangements, I just had to know. Did I have a reason to mourn or a reason to rejoice? At 5am on that Saturday morning, I peed on a stick, set it down, and walked away. Forcing myself not to wait, I made my cup of coffee and headed toward my spot. I would pass the time waiting with my Father. In prayer. In song. Through tears. I sat in my office begging God for the one thing I could not hustle my way through. For all my achiever tendencies, accomplishment driven traits, He is God and I am not.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation