Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The year of the POSSIBLE

HELLO 2015! New Years resolution's are kind of a tricky thing. There are two very difficult parts to the New Year's resolution: concocting them and committing to them. This year when I was trying to decide on what mine would be I realized that I naturally think of New Years resolution's as something I will give up. If you are familiar with the practice of Lent, New Years resolution's are usually thought of as a lot like the Lenten sacrifice. They usually are something like " I am going to stop eating junk food" or "I am going to stop spending money on things I don't need" etc, etc, etc. Every year the resolution is similar and every year the outcome is just the same, it doesn't happen. So this year I decided to do things a little differently.

2014 was a rough year. As Jason described it, 2014 was the year of the vacuum. I spent most of the year dealing with the impossible. The impossible was not only the theme of most events last year, but it was my way of thinking. I was juggling working as a home health nurse, going to school full time, dealing with loss and infertility, being a wife, friend, daughter, sister...and VOILA! there you go, I had my excuse. This was my excuse to pull the impossible card. I think we all do that sometimes, it's easier than finding a way to make things possible.  Honestly, looking back on it, that was such as waste of time and energy. Don't get me wrong, there was some good that came out of the 2014 struggle. Throughout the struggles of last year I met so many people who would not be in my life otherwise, deepened relationships, and did a whole lot of growing. I also learn a whole lot about strength and trust. I am very thankful for these things and I wouldn't have done much differently. With that being said, I have decided this year will be a completely different chapter. This year will be the year of the possible. I am leaving the "Impossible state of mind" where it belongs, in the past.

I guess I feel like if I write all this down it will hold me accountable for my resolutions. The first and most important IMPOSSIBLE to me is Jason and my IVF cycle this year. Actually, the fact that we are actually able to do this still seems impossible to me. Most times I have to pinch myself because I am still thinking " There is NO WAY that this is really happening to us". So I then thought, "if that is possible, then what else is possible?" Well for me the answer is running a 10K. I am terrified...beyond terrified to do this, but I am going to do it. I might need an oxygen mask or possibly CPR, but a 10K is possible this year. Thirdly, I am going to write on a consistent basis. I do not know how to write, never done it before, never tried, but realized that I actually really enjoy it. I am actually taking a creative writing class!

You only get to go around once, so you might as well get your bang for your buck. Matthew 6:34 says "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." I interpret this as God telling us to live for today. Tomorrow is going to come no matter what and today will be gone, can't ever get it back. Cheers to today and 2015!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Help grant a family their baby!

Happy Thanksgiving Ya'll!!!

This year Jason and I have the MOST to be thankful for out of all our Thanksgivings thus far. We can not believe what our lives have brought us over the past year. Last weekend we received the most amazing gift we could ever receive. We were given the gift of possibly bringing our baby home to us. Thanks to Sarah's Laughter and Dr. Bobby Webster we will be starting our IVF journey in 2015. There are not enough words in the english dictionary to explain what this means to us. Throughout this journey we have met countless couples who are walking our same steps and every single one of them have changed our lives forever. This is why Jason and I want to pay it forward. We have made it our goal for the New Year to give another couple the same gift that we were given. If God has already sent you your babies then let's help get the rest of those baby angels to their Mom's and Dad's. If you are struggling through this same battle help your infertility family :) TRUST ME, you never know when a miracle will happen to you.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Psalm 27:14

WOW! What a weekend it has been. Over the past two years I have learned more about life, God, and the power of people than I have in my 27 years being alive all put together. Every day there is a new lesson to be learned, but every once in a while there is a "MONUMENTAL IN YOUR FACE EXPLOSION!” Jason and I most definitely had one of those explosive moments this weekend and I am once again in complete awe of the possibilities around us.


A little back story: Since sending our little angel, Rowan, back home in May a lot has changed around here. It would probably take me until next Christmas to explain all the ways our lives have changed. Our marriage and faith and comfort in God have been forever changed for the better. Everyone goes through horrible things in their lives, and I truly believe that there is a purpose for each and every one of those things. It is so cliché to say "Everything happens for a reason". Trust me, sometimes I want to scream when I hear people say that. Psalm 27:14 says so very plain and simple "Trust in the Lord. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the Lord."  Well that sounds pretty simple right? That's all we need to do! Yea right, not that easy sometimes. This seems impossible when we are going through those horrible times. I think it is human nature to think about only things in close proximity during those times. We want to know why, how, and is there a way out and we want those answers NOW. When I was faced with what I thought was so unfair and it was unfathomable that I would ever move on, that is exactly how I thought. Throughout our journey through infertility, sickness and loss I have flipped back and forth from having the strongest faith imaginable to sometimes being just down right mad. Some days I feel like I am so strong and I am on top of it all!  Other days I feel like I am the weakest person in the world and I can show you the craziest mess of emotions you have ever seen! Crazy girl stuff :) But, on those weak days I remind myself of what was written in the big book. “Trust in the Lord. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the Lord."
I am not claiming to know anything about the right and wrong way to deal with anything that life throws me. I do know that I have tried many things in my life to get where I want to be and love the life I'm living. When Jason and I were faced with the suffering of infertility and then loss, we both knew that the only one who could truly help us was God. Now, this sounds like I am saying that every friend, family member, and even stranger that has helped carry us over the past year and a half did not play the important role that they did. That is not the case at all. When we decided that we had to put all of our trust in Him and let go of the idea of "What can WE do to change things?” everything changed. Honestly, it's because there is absolutely nothing you can do alone to change anything.  

With all that being said, since beginning our journey, we have learned so many things. One thing being that the power of people caring for each other is the greatest physical force that there is on this earth. The people that I have come across going through similar things as Jason and myself and the lifelong friends we have made because of it are mind-blowing. We as humans are not strong enough to stand alone. Hmm, maybe that's why it is natural for us to live as families. :) No matter what it is that you are going through, there is someone else out there going through the same thing. If you are willing to help someone in a time of need, I can almost promise you that you will have someone there for you when it's your turn. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone just helped take care of each other? I have experienced this in a way that I never even imagined possible. Since originally being urged by God to share our story, I have had so many people reach out to me and tell me their stories of infertility or loss. The connections and bonds that have been made over such a tragic loss teach me something new every day. This past weekend we participated in an event that was designed to bring awareness to the diagnosis of infertility, something that until now was very hush hush. The God sent people at Sarah's Laughter made the Baby Steps 5K and IVF giveaway possible. A lot of people feel so very alone in their struggle with infertility. Well this weekend over 1,000 people gathered together to prove that we are not alone in this. The support and love was so overwhelming that I just could not stop the flow of tears...seriously, all day. I was a basket case. Just looking around at all of the people that are going through the exact same thing as Jason and I are going through and seeing all of their friends and families was almost too much to handle. Most importantly, yesterday there was an amazing amount love and support being shared between absolute strangers. 

The angel that is Dr. Bobby Webster donated his services that included an IVF cycle to one couple that would be raffled off at the end of the race. For those who may not know IVF stands for In vitro fertilization and for many couples this is what is necessary for them to have a baby. This is process is not a small financial bill and many people cannot afford it. Some people spend their entire life savings on the hope of having their own little one. Jason and I have tried a few different medications and procedures since getting pregnant with Rowan and have been unsuccessful. After our last attempt with IUI, we were told it was time to move on to the next step. We both knew that we could not afford the next step (IVF) and decided that it was time to put our dream of a little one to rest for a while. Every single person at the Baby Steps 5K was so deserving and I was so happy just knowing that one of these families was going to be blessed with this once in a lifetime opportunity.
When Beth Forbus, founder of Sarah's Laughter, read out the winner and MY name came out of her mouth I was in complete disbelief and all I could do is sob. Out of the 27 years that I have been alive, this moment was the most emotional moment I have ever had and we will forever be in debt to everyone who was involved. When we woke up this morning we both could not stop saying "Is this really happening to us?” It feels like a dream and no one will ever understand how much gratitude we feel. We both feel like our hearts could explode at any moment now. I have pretty much cried for 24 hours now and don't see any end in sight :). If someone ever tells you that God is not real or he doesn't care and love us, you just send them to me. I'll be sure to let them know they are so wrong. Jason and I are over the moon excited to being planning the next stage in our life and can't wait to share it with our growing family. We are so blessed to have such a fast growing family of blood relatives, lifelong friends and the new friends we meet every day.


So I know I am not a professional writer and I am all over the place, I just feel like there is so much to be said about how amazing this whole experience has been lately. If you get anything out of this at all I hope it is this: Be there for someone, never underestimate the power of prayer and people, and most importantly, understand that every single life has a purpose no matter how small. Jason and I's first miracle shows us every single day what her purpose was, and it's a big one.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Our baby angel dragonfly

My name is Ashton Fox and I have been married to my husband Jason for about a year and a half now. Jason and I have known each other for roughly 16 years, been together for 4 years and happily married since April 13, 2013. In those 3 years of dating we spent a lot of time talking about our future, as most couples do. One thing that we both without a doubt knew we wanted was a big family. I knew from day one that Jason was going to be a great dad. He is funny, caring, protective, encouraging and has an unconditional love for all of those close to him. This was one of the many things that I love about Jason. As for myself, my whole life I have drawn heart shapes around the image of me being a mother in my head. After we got married we waited 6 months before beginning working on a little clan of Fox's. We couldn't wait to have a baby!

Before going any further, I have to mention the dark cloud that hung over me. For no reason in particular I have always had a strong feeling that I was not going to be able to have children easily. I can remember being very young and telling my mom this and now looking back it makes even less sense now! When I was in middle school and high school I would have periods a couple times a year. All of my friends thought this sounded excellent, which it was most of the time! I think this was when the thought of infertility began to linger. Now, being the age that I was, I didn't put a whole lot of thought into it- I had no reason to. I continued to go to my regular OB-GYN appointments and the doctor told me the same thing each time "As time goes on these things usually fix themselves and become more regular, just wait". So I did.

Years passed and not much changed. But when I was 23 years old I decided to get a second opinion. My sister had just had my nephew and during her delivery I met her doctor, Dr.Amanda Pearson. So I decided to make an appointment with her and just see what she has to say. When I went for my initial appointment I explained to her my long, boring and drawn out story and she mentioned that a possible cause could be PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). At the time I was a new nurse so I had all those disease processes fresh in my mind and I had an idea of what to look for on the ultrasound. I had just recently rocked the socks off that NCLEX ;). Nevertheless, as soon as I saw the ultrasound I knew Dr. Pearson had guessed right. She confirmed that I did in fact have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and she thoroughly explained all that goes along with it and how to treat it. She started me on birth control as a form of treatment and sent me to a metabolic nurse practitioner. To spare all the boring details about what PCOS involves, the most important part to me was that I was not ovulating, probably never really had, and at that moment my life long hunch that I would have trouble having babies was confirmed.

As a couple we talked about all of the possibilities and how we felt about this obstacle. Jason constantly reminded me that whatever the outcome was, we were going to be okay. We decided to jump headfirst after our dreams of having children. Jason and I were so excited to start trying for a baby regardless of what that might require. We tried the "old fashion" way and had no luck. This was a little upsetting but we didn't really expect to have much success. The next step was beginning to take Clomid to help stimulate ovulation, which was prescribed by my OB-GYN, Dr. Pearson. For those of you who have not heard of the drug Clomid here is a link that explains exactly what it does. We did two rounds of Clomid and had two more months of heartbreak when there was no baby. At this point we were beginning to feel a little beat down. We were trying to be positive and hopeful but that positivity was accompanied by a hint of hopelessness as well.

We had decided that we needed to see a fertility specialist. I knew two separate couples who had their own separate battles with fertility, each with completely different outcomes. The one thing they did have in common was the doctor they used for fertility treatments and had nothing but great things to say about him. So we decided that was the direction we needed to go next. We were excited and anxious to see what he had to say about our situation. Making our appointment with Dr. Bobby Webster was the first time in this whole situation that I began to feel like I was doing exactly what God had planned for us. I was warned that it would take a couple weeks, even months maybe to get an appointment. When I called the office the lady who answered the phone said "This never happens but we had a cancellation next week, can you be here?" Umm, DUH!

After meeting with Dr. Webster we decided to try IUI (Intrauterine-Insemination). On March 31, 2014, I found out that I was PREGNANT! There are not enough words in the dictionary to describe what that sentence meant to me. I was head over heals, over the moon, whole-hearted in love with this tiny little baby.

One of the best parts about seeing a fertility specialist is that you have weekly ultrasounds and see your baby every week for 5 whole weeks. Every time we went for an ultrasound I felt like my heart was going to burst. Everything I had ever dreamed of was coming true right before my eyes. Jason and I spent almost every waking second talking about what we would name her or him, things we were going to teach them, putting the baby room together and even picking out all the clothes we were going to buy. Finally, all of the stress and heartache was worth it.

After finishing the 5 weeks of ultrasounds Jason, myself and the baby "Graduated" from Dr. Webster's office. As much as I was going to miss my weekly play dates with our little peanut and all the wonderful nurses at his office, we were ready for some normalcy. The next Monday, May 12th, Jason had to work and I had my first OB appointment. I was 11 weeks pregnant. I wasn't worried about going alone because we had gone together to all our past appointments. I went for yet another ultrasound before heading upstairs for my appointment. I had written down a long list of questions to ask about pregnancy, child birth and babies in general. Dr. Pearson sat and listened and answered all my new mommy questions before pulling out the picture of my baby from the earlier ultrasound. She said "Ashton I am a little concerned about the pictures". In that moment I instantly felt a huge lump in my throat. I have never in my life felt fear like I did that day. There was fluid on the back of my baby's head that reached all the way down to the tailbone. She proceeded to tell me that she had already called down to Maternal-Fetal Medicine and they were going to see me immediately. To use the phrase "knock the wind out of your sail" is an understatement. I left her office and got in the elevator and felt myself completely collapse on the inside. I was hysterical. I did not call Jason. I knew that calling him and not being able to tell him any details would have him in a complete panic. I wanted to wait and hear what the Maternal-Fetal Medicine doctor had to say first. I stood in the bathroom sobbing and trying to pull myself together. I closed my eyes and prayed saying "Please God, just give me the strength to get through the next 30 minutes". I had to ask him that about every 30 minutes, if not less. I called my mom because I figured if something really bad happens in the next hour I am going to need someone to help me until Jason could get there.

After the second exam that day by MFM, my mom and I sat in the doctor's consultation room. I was doing my best to be strong but my best was pretty weak. The doctor explained that what this usually means is that the baby has some form of a chromosomal disorder, he mentioned Down Syndrome. There was also a possibility that it could be a heart defect or even nothing at all. The heart defect and nothing at all being slim to none possibilities, but it was still a possibility. At this moment in time, this was the absolute worst day of my life. The plan of action was this: have a Maternit21 test done to determine if it is a chromosomal disorder and if so which one and begin weekly ultrasounds to monitor the progression of the fluid. He told me that the test would take 2 weeks to come back so now I was to just wait. The phone call to Jason when I left the hospital did not go as planned. I gave myself a little pep talk before calling. I was going to be strong for him, not completely loose it. Wrong. I could barely get all the words out. When we both got home that night we laid in bed and just cried.

 The next week was the longest week imaginable. Over the past few years I had heard different peoples stories about a nun named Sister Dulce. She was the healing nun and the stories I had heard about here were absolutely amazing. My cousin, Brittany Boyd, called me the night that all this had happened and suggested that I go see Sister. That next day I called Sister's office and with the help of a sweet friend, Danielle, we made an appointment to see her on Thursday. In all honesty I really just wanted Sister Dulce to pray for us. Thursday came and we went for our appointment with her. In the exact second that I walked through her doors I knew that she was something special. I felt like I was sitting across from God and talking directly to him. Jason and I both felt it, she is definitely one of God's instruments. We explained to her what had happened on Monday and she placed her hands on my belly over the baby and prayed for healing and for God to give any illness to her if that was his will. We continued to pray around the clock. Jason and I prayed together constantly, something we had never done before. I will say one thing for sure, my faith was tested the most that it has ever been tested that week and in the same week my faith was the strongest it had ever been. As scared as I was, for some reason I truly believed deep down in my heart that no matter what everything was going to be okay.

May 19, 2014 took the place as the absolute worst day of my life. Jason and I went back to the hospital for another ultrasound and our baby had passed away. There is no pain like that one. "Why? Why would this happen to us? It makes no sense." At that time we still did not have an answer to what was wrong with our baby. One thing we did know was that we needed to find the courage to trust God in that moment. I had no idea why this would happen to me but for the first time in my life I completely put all of my faith in God and his plan. Don't get me wrong, it didn't make the pain any less. The days passed and we tried to live as normal as possible while we waited for an answer. Finally the results from the Maternit21 test came back. Our sweet and perfect baby GIRL had something called Turner's Syndrome. As the doctor explained, usually only about 1% of babies who have Turner's are born alive. So there it was, we had an answer.

                                We planted a tree in our front yard for our baby angel dragonfly

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my baby girl. She has taught me so much, including probably one of the most important lessons in my life. We all have dreams and our own ideas for how we want our lives to go. Unfortunately, that's all it is. Our ideas and merely suggestions. God's plan is the ultimate plan and we have to trust that he is going to do what s best for us, especially when we can not see the light. There was a preacher at church that said "God's plan is not always convenient, but God's plan is always right". He has no idea how much this simple sentence impacted me.  I can not come up with one good reason that this baby girl was given to us then taken away, but I do know that there is one. God will show it to Jason and I when the time is right. Until then I will continue to thank God for the short time that we were able to have our baby girl and know that she is safe in heaven.