When You Are Called to Wait

I would like to start this post with a disclaimer: This is not a post I could have written while we were waiting. Even though I knew the waiting would be worthwhile, even though in my heart I knew I would one day be a mother, it would have been too painful. Only now that I have a baby swiftly kicking away in my belly do I feel like I can write about what it was like to wait, and how it prepared me for this very moment.

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  1. Even the most needle phobic person with the world’s smallest veins can get used to being poked and prodded repeatedly, to the point where a little blood draw every now and then feels like nothing at all.
  2. You get so much good advice from people who were just recently pregnant. By now, I’ve had friends who have been pregnant twice in the time we’ve been waiting to get pregnant with one. Though seeing what appeared to be so easy to them was hard on me, I now have so many people I can turn to for advice, and I feel so much better prepared for what’s to come.
  3. You become so close to your husband. It’s what’s going through a trial together does to you. We prayed together, fasted together, bought pregnancy tests together, went to doctor’s appointments together. He held me as I cried and comforted me as I struggled to not give up. The joy that we’ve been able to feel is so much greater than any of those experiences combined, and we continue to go through it all together.
  4. Every milestone feels like a victory. After seeing those two little lines on a pregnancy stick, I started looking for symptoms. Even when those pregnancy symptoms were unpleasant, they still made me feel like things were on the right track. I felt so proud the first time I couldn’t stand someone’s cologne, texted my mom the first time I felt nauseous, and gazed adoringly at my belly the first time I was unable to fit into a pair of jeans. Not every symptom feels miraculous, but I would endure it all over again for our little baby.
  5. You become really good at waiting. Pregnancy can feel so long, but luckily, we have some experience in waiting. One of the lessons I learned is that you become someone else when you are called to wait. I like to think I became a little more patient, a little more considerate, a little more positive, and little more hopeful. I like to think I developed a mother heart through waiting. Though I am so excited to meet our baby, I have had to wait before. Not only do I know I can do it, but this wait is so much sweeter.

Infertility is exhausting and painful and crushing. It’s relentless, as your trial continues month after month after month, sometimes longer. It’s the refiner’s fire, the waves that bury you under the sea, the cold dark cave you can’t find your way out of. It’s hard on you, it’s hard on your husband, it’s hard on anyone who has to see you endure and is powerless to help you in your suffering. It’s a cycle of hope, anticipation, heartbreak, then hope, anticipation, heartbreak. Repeat.

It’s not something I would wish on anyone, but my experience is also not something I would wish away. Every milestone, every symptom, and especially every little movement from my baby feels like an answered prayer. I used to think that once I got pregnant, I would forget all of these feelings of anguish and despair I had felt. I haven’t forgotten them, and I hope I never do. I want to be the mother I promised God I would be as I sat on the edge of my tub and cried after another failed month. I never want to forget how much I wanted this, or everything I learned while I was called to wait.

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First Trimester GBOMB

Me: Writes a blog post about being cheerful and then falls off the face of the blog earth for months
My tens of followers: Omg, did trying to be cheerful actually kill her?

Fear not, dear readers, not only am I alive and well, I am also pregnant! I thought I would dip my toe back into the waters of blogging with a GBOMB (Good, Bad, On my Brain) on my first trimester, which just ended on Saturday. Don’t worry, it’s not all pregnancy related, though that does occupy about 98% of my brain space right now.

Good

  • Seeing a positive pregnancy test for the first time after seeing so many negative ones was so surreal. It made all of the tears, tests, and doctor’s appointments worth it.
  • Telling Tyson I was pregnant and seeing his face light up. I’d imagined that moment for so long, and the reality was so much better. I can’t wait to see him be a dad.
  • Telling our family and friends we were pregnant. This baby was prayed and fasted for by so many people, and we have felt so much support from them as we’ve been able to start sharing our happy news.
  • Celebrated FIVE years of marriage in San Francisco. Five years felt like such a big milestone when we were first married. I thought we would be so settled and have a few kids by now. Though the reality is pretty different from what I imagined, it’s also so much better. I knew Tyson was special when I married him, but seeing who he has become over the last half a decade: Wow, no words.

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  • Feeling like I could trust and even like my body again. Without even really realizing it, I had allowed myself to get so angry at my body for not being able to perform this most basic of functions. Seeing my body be pregnant and act like a normal pregnant body was a relief. On Easter Sunday, I put on a dress I used to hate on me and saw a baby bump. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen my body in the mirror and been happy with what I saw.

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  • Seeing our baby for the first time has been the highlight of my pregnancy so far. I was so worried that something would be wrong or that I wouldn’t be able to feel anything, but as soon as I saw our baby, everything changed. I’m a little bit of a control freak, but seeing that little baby move of its own free will was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I was so proud of our little baby’s movement, like I was already raising an athlete or something. Watch for us in an upcoming Olympics.

Bad

  • Being nauseous all the time and hating food I used to love. Bacon, I hope we can still be friends when this is all over.
  • Extreme exhaustion and not being able to do what I used to do. I would nap every day when I got home from work and then feel so guilty that I wasn’t getting anything done around the house.
  • I was unprepared for the amount of personal questions I would get about my pregnancy. I don’t consider myself a super private person, but I also don’t feel comfortable being asked if my baby was planned. Like yes, but for a year ago? I feel like pregnancy is such a personal thing (your body’s changing into something you don’t quite recognize sometimes, your life is about to change forever because you will now be responsible for another person, etc.), but because it’s something everyone can see, they feel like they’re allowed to comment on this major life change?
  • The unknown that comes along with pregnancy. Pregnancy is a control freak’s worst nightmare. Like we can tell you what you’re having, but only when you’re halfway through your pregnancy, and we can tell you when you’re due, but it could really be any time before or after that date. I know modern medicine is amazing and everything, but planners gotta plan.
  • Even though we had a blast in San Francisco, I underestimated how difficult it would be to travel during the first trimester. We had to search high and low for places to eat because nothing would sound good (except for  you, hot dogs from a pier street vendor <3) and I would get tired really easily, so we’d have to go back to our hotel to rest for a few hours. I also caught a cold on our last day of the trip, so that day (plus the week after we got back while I was still recovering) were rough.
  • We got season passes to Lagoon on Black Friday, a few months before I got pregnant. I can still go on about three rides, but I spend a lot of time on the sidelines with my Kindle.

On my Brain

  • This article about how many books I will read before I die really made me think. It takes a lot for me to not finish a book I’ve started, but somehow putting a limit on how many books made me realize that I need to prioritize. There are so many good books out there I want to read, so I probably shouldn’t waste my time reading something I hate. Some recent books I read I would not have finished if I’d started them post article:
    – The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
    – Crosstalk by Connie Willis
    – A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  • Names. I’ve had a Baby Name list on my phone for an embarrassing amount of time, but some of the names have either gotten really popular, I don’t like them anymore, or Tyson doesn’t like them. I’ve been using this baby name popularity graph to guide my highly scientific research. My name was apparently most popular during the 1950s, which makes sense since I’m the only Brenda I know who’s not retired with grandchildren yet.
  • Fluffy clouds. They were my go-to item to think about when I was feeling really nauseous. Apparently they’re the only object I can think of that does not have an unpleasant smell.

Diaper by Laser Bread, via Flickr:

2017 word

I felt a little too prepared for Christmas this year- most of my shopping was done a few weeks before, and we wrapped a few presents a night to keep wrapping fatigue away. It got to the point where all of our presents were stacked by the wall adjacent to our tree, and I thought, “What am I forgetting? We can’t possibly be done already.”

I forgot about New Year’s.

We’re typically only in California for Christmas, but since we were able to visit for both holidays, I completely forgot about the new year. This means I had no New Year’s resolutions, no plans, not even a word.

On January 1st while I was sitting at church, we read a scripture in Mosiah, and the thought just came to me that this is what I needed to focus on this year:

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My word and my focus for the year is: cheerful. I want to be cheerful even if my car is buried under two feet of snow, even if I got toothpaste on my shirt so I have to wear a scarf all day, even if it’s -15 when I wake up in the morning. (These are all inspired by true events that have already tested my cheerfulness this past week.) I want to be cheerful even when things aren’t going my way, maybe especially when things aren’t going my way. I’m looking forward to it, cheerfully, of course. 🙂

2016 Bibliography

Maybe my 2016 word should have been “Read” because that’s pretty much all I did this year. I really wanted to spend the last year focusing on creating something (specifically a manuscript) I could be proud of, but this year had other plans in mind.

With my emotional reserves depleted, I did what I do best- I hid in a book. Instead of spending 2016 creating, I spent it consuming literature. Some of it was great, some not so great, and some was borderline embarrassing (I wish I knew how to quit you, celebrity memoirs). Regardless, it was just what I needed.

Some of my fondest memories of this year happened at Lagoon, while Tyson was in line for a roller coaster and I sat on a bench and read my book, finding healing I knew I desperately needed. To me, there’s nothing as therapeutic as getting lost in a book, so I guess I spent  most of my time in therapy this year.

I hope to one day be able to stay current with my Instagram reviews of the books I’m reading, but for now, here are my ratings for all the books I read during 2016:

1 Star – You Can Skip These
The Heart Aroused – David Whyte

2 Stars – Meh
At First Sight – Nicholas Sparks
Austenland – Shannon Hale
That Summer – Sarah Dessen

3 Stars – Good to Pass the Time, but Wouldn’t Recommend
Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple
We Could Be Beautiful – Swan Huntley
Summerlost – Ally Condie
The After Party – Anton DiSclafani
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty
Bookends – Jane Green
Great – Sara Benincasa
Liars, Inc. – Paula Stokes
We Are All Made of Molecules – Susin Nielsen
The Rose Society – Marie Lu
Furiously Happy – Jenny Lawson
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
21 Principles – Richard G. Scott
Glass Sword – Victoria Aveyard
The Truth About Forever – Sarah Dessen
Lock and Key – Sarah Dessen
Wildflower – Drew Barrymore
Before I Go – Colleen Oakley

4 Stars – Really Liked These, and they Kept my Attention
Anne of Avonlea – L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Windy Poplars – L.M. Montgomery
Anne of Ingleside – L.M. Montgomery
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B – Theresa Toten
Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes
Quiet – Susan Cain
Maybe in Another Life – Taylor Jenkins Reid
What Happened to Goodbye – Sarah Dessen
The Crown – Kiera Cass
Mosquitoland – David Arnold
Assassination Vacation – Sarah Vowell
Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone
All of Us and Everything – Bridget Asher
The Nest – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Atlantia – Ally Condie
The Continuous Atonement – Brad Wilcox
Face to Face – S. Michael Wilcox
Love Live – Rob Lowe
Sisterland – Curtis Sittenfeld
Girls in White Dresses – Jennifer Close
Eligible – Curtis Sittenfeld
Beautiful Chaos – Kami Garcia
After You – Jojo Moyes
The Moon and More – Sarah Dessen
Please Ignore Vera Dietz – A.S. King
The Holy Temple – Boyd K. Packer
Carry On – Rainbow Rowell
The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
Cinder – Marissa Meyer
Saint Anything – Sarah Dessen
The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls 

5 Stars – Page Turners that Made me Weep when They Ended, which I Have Since Recommended to Every Person I’ve Met Since 
Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
Anne of the Island – L.M. Montgomery
Anne’s House of Dreams – L.M. Montgomery
The Start of Me and You – Emery Lord
The Great American Whatever – Tim Federle
My Heart and Other Black Holes – Jasmine Warga
The Siren – Kiera Cass
Temple Worship – Andrew C. Skinner
Tell Me Three Things – Julie Buxbaum
Landline – Rainbow Rowell
Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell
Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
Infinite in Between – Carolyn Mackler
Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
The Last Anniversary – Liane Moriarty
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
Off the Page – Jodi Picoult

I’m so flattered whenever someone asks me for book recommendations or tips on how to become a more active reader. I want to share some of what I’ve learned on here because I truly believe that everyone can be a reader. I hope 2017 can be the year everyone finds the perfect book, and maybe it can be the year I write mine.

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Here’s to another year of reading!

A November Post in December

I’m probably breaking some cardinal rule of blogging by posting about gratitude after Thanksgiving, but here we go.

In recent years I’ve noticed that social media is really just a highlight reel that showcases everyone’s best moments, but come December, everyone’s like, “This year has been the worst. I can’t wait for it to be over.” This leaves me, an outsider looking in who only sees pictures of vacations, expensive purchases, and cute kids, feeling a little confused. This year has been a little different, though. Pretty much everyone I follow has been very candid about how rough this year has been. I think that as a nation we’re having a Britney Spears 2007 moment. All of a sudden she doesn’t seem so crazy, right? It’s okay, though, she made it, and we will too.

I have not been as candid about this year has been because I try to be a glass half full kind of person online. I’ve been thinking of the Light the World campaign, and about how I can add more light to the world instead of more darkness. As I started thinking of all the good that has come out of this year, I realized that pretty much all of my blessings have been an indirect result of something hard we’ve gone through. It’s like God is trying to teach me something. Without further ado, a short list of the ways 2016 has not been a dumpster fire, as the Internet has lovingly dubbed it:

  • The most dramatic thing that happened to me this year, my car accident, ended up being kind of a blessing in disguise. Even though I loved Coco, upgrading to a car with all wheel drive that doesn’t hydroplane when it hits a puddle has been a game changer. I’m excited to see how Mindy does in the snow, and I’m super grateful that I never have to wonder if she’s going to start in the morning.
  • Tyson lost his job in October, and we were left feeling upset, shocked, and anxious. However, we realized that we’re way better connected now than when we were first looking for jobs in Logan four years ago. Within a week, Tyson had interviews lined up, and a week and a half after he’d lost his job, he had started a new one. He’s now working at the same company I work for, and we’re able to have lunch together every day.
  • Besides my weekly migraines, I’ve been pretty healthy this year *knocks on wood, burns sage, throws salt over left shoulder, etc. just in case.* I’ve started eating vegetables a few times a week, and now I don’t get sick if someone coughs a few streets away.
  • My job has been a huge blessing this year. I started a five year journal at the beginning of last year, and it’s been really rewarding to see how things have changed for me at my job.
  • In an effort to simplify our lives by simplifying our schedules, we stopped taking Institute classes twice a week and decided to just take one for this semester. The class is especially for married students, and is held at the church building in front of our house. I thought I would feel distant from God in some way, but I’ve actually felt less stressed and more at peace than I have in the last few years. After receiving a few promptings to read the Book of Mormon, I begrudgingly took to 1 Nephi 1, thinking I wouldn’t be able to get anything out of it because I’ve already read the beginning of the Book of Mormon so many times. I was almost instantly bombarded with revelation. Getting back to the basics has been huge for us this year.
  • When we first moved to Utah, we thought we’d be the odd ones out that would be missing out on everything that was happening with our families in California. Since then, both my brother and sister have moved to Utah with their families. It’s been a huge blessing to have family nearby, and to be able to visit our family that isn’t so close during the summer.
  • This year has been a really good book year. I joined two book clubs, and ended up reading some books I really loved that I might not have read otherwise. I also started a book review instagram, which had been a dream of mine for a while: @readingrightalong.
  • The friends trip we took in March carried me through most of the summer. Texts and facetiming carried me through the fall. Long and short distance friends have enriched our lives in so many ways this year.
  • This might seem silly, but getting Lagoon passes turned out to be a highlight of the summer. Tyson and I have very different taste when it comes to fun, but we were both able to agree that Lagoon is where fun is. For Tyson, it means riding roller coasters and taking pictures. For me, it means finding a shaded bench to spend some quality time with my Kindle and occasionally riding some floor rides. Either way, we were able to spend time together and both have fun at the same time.
  • Tyson had his first interview with the airline he wants to work for. It went well, and we are so excited to see what comes from it. His schooling has at times felt like a long and dark tunnel, but we are finally starting to see a pinpoint of light, so we’re walking towards it. I’m really glad that Tyson is able to study something he loves, and that he will be able to make a career out of it in the near future.
  • Something to look forward to: We’re driving to California for Christmas! We’ve been flying the last two years, so I’m actually really excited to spend 30+ hours in the car with Tyson, my Kindle, and maybe some podcasts and audio books. Any recommendations?
  • Of course no gratitude list of mine would be complete without me talking about Tyson. I’m reminded of something Elder Holland said about his wife. He said, “To me she was larger than life.” That’s how I feel about Tyson. Even though we’ve been married for almost five years, I’m still constantly amazed at his goodness, his patience, and his tender heart. He takes such good care of me, and has made the last year more than just bearable.

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I could probably keep going all day, but there are books to read and laundry to do, so I’ll stop here. In the words of Anne Shirley, “I’m so glad I live in a world where the are Octobers.” Just kidding, though she did say that. She also said this, “Open your doors to life… and life will come in.” This is me opening my doors.