Wednesday, March 18

Gift of the Book of Mormon

Post from Taylor...
I was asked the other day to share the Book of Mormon, so I started thinking about who first shared the Book of Mormon with me.  We read from the Book of Mormon and Bible as a family growing up, and I know my teachers at church taught songs, stories, and lessons about the scriptures.  But the tangible evidence I still have is a copy of the Book of Mormon that my grandparents gave me for Christmas with my name engraved on the cover. 

The gift was twofold because it came with a message inside from Grandma and Grandpa Lewis about why the Book of Mormon would matter to me.  

Missing my grandparents, I read the message now amazed at how their predictions came true.

The Book of Mormon is a special book that blesses my life

Reading the Book of Mormon through various stages of life has helped me find answers to critical questions, comfort, and constant hope when I’ve felt lost, stressed, inadequate, or uncertain about the future.  When reading it I better understand the meaning of life and how to find lasting happiness in a challenging world.

The Book of Mormon helps me keep close to the Lord

The Book of Mormon reminds me not just that God exists, but that He knows us, loves us, and can help us with our smallest concerns or largest obstacles.  The Book of Mormon focuses on Jesus Christ, helping me to know that Christ our Savior has the power to lift us daily and ultimately save us.  

The Book of Mormon helps me as a missionary

The Book of Mormon helped me share my faith when I went to the Ukraine as a full-time missionary for two years.  In many ways I’m still a missionary and hope that I can continue to share this book and the joy it brings with family and friends.  If you’d like a copy of the Book of Mormon with some additional thoughts on what it is and why it matters, just let us know. 

Monday, March 16

A Christmas Miracle

(This is part 3, if you're just joining us... For the full story, go back another two posts.)

So, the test was negative, and we were taking a break from medications. Glory glory, hallelujah for no shots. I signed up for a half marathon - at least I could force my body to do something! - and we planned for a relaxing, injection-free holiday season.

I remember in early November starting to think that something was off. I had trained hard to run a (hopefully) fast half marathon, but half-way through I got super sick and very uncomfortable, and ended up having to walk most of the second half. While in Mississippi with my family for Thanksgiving I noticed that I was really tired and feeling sick at night, but didn't think too much of it. When we got home from our trip I seemed to feel sick every night at 4:00pm, and nothing ever sounded good for dinner (which is very unusual for me!). I kept thinking, "Hmm, the last time I felt like this I was pregnant with Sam," but there was no way I was pregnant. 

Every time Sam and I went to the store we walked by the pregnancy tests and I would think just buy a stupid test, but wimped out every time because I KNEW it would be negative. I've never had a positive at-home pregnancy test. Even when I was pregnant with Sam I was too nervous and superstitious to take one. 

Sam and I went to the zoo with a dear friend in mid-December, and she told me she was pregnant. The rest of that afternoon I had the feeling I really needed to just take a test to get it out of my head. A few days later I found myself alone at the grocery store at 9:30pm buying embarrassing treats for my grandpa's birthday, like a yard-length box of specialty cookies and artisan jerky. A pregnancy test seemed to fit perfectly in the mix. I hid it in my coat when I got home, and took the test.


I didn't tell Taylor.

I was in shock but deep down thought, "This is a chemical pregnancy, or a psychosomatic pregnancy." I wanted to be pregnant so badly, I was convinced that my body was just manifesting the symptoms while there was no real baby. 

I contacted my doctor and he ordered a blood test. My blood draw was late on a Friday afternoon, and I didn't get the results until I was (you guessed it) sitting in CHURCH cleaning up from teaching a lesson. I discreetly answered the phone and spoke with the nurse to hear the results.

Positive. Come in for an ultrasound to get a better look. 

I didn't tell Taylor.

Sam and I went in for an ultrasound, and there was the baby. We heard the heartbeat. I was 12 weeks along. I sat there in disbelief. There was no way!

To be clear, the IVF procedure had definitely failed, so I hadn't been given a false negative result. My doctor explained that sometimes coming off of the IVF medications can give your body a little "boost" and increase the likelihood of a natural pregnancy. I looked at him and said, "But I've had doctors tell me for six years that I'll never get pregnant on my own!" He gave me a big hug and said, "This is the best part of my job." One of the nurses brought in a box of knit baby hats, and had Sam pick one for "his baby." I left the doctor's office, still in disbelief, holding a knit hat and ultrasound photo. How in the world?!

I didn't tell Taylor. I wrapped up the ultrasound and hat when I got home and put it under the tree. That night over dinner he asked what we did that day, and luckily Sam didn't say "doctor" or "baby" or "hospital." To be honest, the hardest part of those few weeks was trying to hide the symptoms of pregnancy (exhaustion/nausea) from Taylor so that he wouldn't suspect anything. 

A couple of weeks later on Christmas morning, Taylor opened the last Christmas present. Confused, he pulled out the small knit hat, then opened the ultrasound folder and looked at me in disbelief.

"I'm pregnant."

We both knelt in the middle of our living room and sobbed. Sam joined us for a big family hug. Best Christmas ever. 

We told Taylor's parents via FaceTime while Sam opened their gifts. After breakfast with my family and grandparents later that morning, we told my family. We all cried together - a true Christmas miracle! 

So, Baby Boy Turner, coming June 23, 2015.

These Turner boys love to come in dramatic ways!

Filling in the Blanks of 2014: Salt Lake City

We moved to Utah in late March, we found a house, we saw so many miracles happen in our family that helped us realize we were right where we needed to be. Yay for being Utahns and a new adventure before us.

In June I found a doctor I liked and we got to work establishing care. Due to the high volume of infertility treatment happening in Utah (again, good ole Utah) I was put on a waiting list and was told we couldn't do anything until September. In hindsight, it was a great blessing for us to be able to save up the funds to pay for IVF, but my doctor might as well have asked me to wait another three years.

Well, we waited, and finally -- finally! -- in September we were able to do our second round of InVitro, this time with completely different medications (hooray for double the injections for double the duration!). I was convinced that this was it -- new meds, and with all the cost we had put forth this had to be it, because there was no way we could do it again anytime soon.

The beloved 10-day wait later, while sitting in church, a nurse called to give us the results. We listened to the voicemail on our walk home. Negative. I couldn't believe it. This was supposed to be it! Our savings was gone, we had reached our max with our insurance for the year, there was no possible way to try this again anytime soon. What were we going to do now? We had a family dinner that afternoon with Taylor's siblings that night, and I remember trying so hard to not break down and cry. On top of that, I was so mad at the nurse for telling me in a voicemail. At least have the courtesy to tell me live on the phone.

I basically shut down. I was emotionally done and refused to talk about it. I put on the Happy Mama Show during the day, but after Sam went to bed each night I mostly stared into space and silently threw my own pity party in my head. It seemed as though everyone was pregnant, and while I was genuinely happy for all of them - I'm sure many of you can relate - it didn't take the sting away.

In those weeks following our failed IVF, I think five or six friends and family announced pregnancies. Seeing others pregnant was a constant reminder that so many people are able to get babies so easily (even accidentally) while the rest of us drain our savings and emotions and inject ourselves with huge needles and have to make decisions about embryos with provisions for death and divorce like "Should the situation arise that we get divorced, or should my husband die, please do this with our frozen embryos..." It's such a messy process, and no one gets through it without being emotionally scarred in some way. Our poor husbands who have to deal with all the hormones thrown all over the place due to medications that make you feel completely crazy... they deserve a badge of honor, don't they?

But then there was Sam. He was living proof that I could have a baby, that somehow, this whacked-out body of mine knew how to grow a pretty awesome baby and could do it again. Going into Sam's bedroom at night to tuck his blankets over him was my therapy. It seemed every night I was overwhelmed with the incredible miracle that he was. I felt so lucky to have a baby in the next room, so blessed to have even just one.

I was grateful for the incredible support team I had in my family. My sweet mom just sat and cried with me, which honestly was all that I really needed. Sweet Taylor stayed by my side, even when I was so closed off. He didn't force me to talk about it, and bless him for that. Sam was his regular happy self, which gave me the constant happy and fun distraction I needed. Maybe that's why I had such a hard time emotionally at night - I didn't have Sam around to make me forget my troubles.

I found I couldn't complain to Heavenly Father about all my impatience and frustration; it didn't feel right (I assure you, my mom and Taylor heard plenty from me!). I knew that while this was hard and unfair, I was already a mother. I thought of the many people I loved who were praying and working and longing for that very blessing, some much longer than I had, and thought how could I ask for more, when I had so much already? Gradually I found strength and comfort, and found myself finally resolved to saying sincerely, "Heavenly Father, if we only have one child in this life, that's okay."

Taylor and I decided that the main problem was that Sam is just too tough an act to follow. For some reason, that made it all make sense for me. "Sam was always happy. Sam slept through the night. Sam never screamed..." 

A few weeks later, after we had both gotten ourselves to a better emotional place, we looked at our finances to see what was possible. Looking at our insurance plan and empty bank accounts, it was obvious we couldn't do anything until 2015. Then, when we considered the possibility of an IVF attempt actually being successful, we determined that we would have to wait until at least mid-year 2015 to be sure that we wouldn't be paying for IVF and possible maternal care in the same year, a financial death spiral. I was mad and hurt that money had to take precedence over something as eternally important as having children, but sweet Taylor patiently listened and confirmed to me what I already knew - it just wasn't possible, and it would probably be healthy to step away from everything for a while to catch our breath and enjoy the holidays (and save some money).

I called my doctors, and told them we were going to take a break and start up again in late Spring 2015.

Thursday, March 5

Filling in the Blanks of 2014: Seattle

I'm sorry that it's taken forever for me to get this out. I've really resisted sharing this, not just because it was hard, but because it's so personal. But through all my resistance, I've felt really strongly that I need to share it - probably because verbalizing is therapeutic, but also because I'm sure there are friends out there who need this for one reason or another. I hope this is helpful and hopeful, and I'm sorry if it seems like a massive journal entry.

This time last year, I was barely hanging on. I tried to save face in front of friends and especially family, but inside I was crumbling and really struggling to keep it together.

It's been a blessing for me to review things and see that things really do work out. Sometimes it takes months or years to get to a place where you can say that, but there is a Divine plan and All-Knowing Being in charge. A Master Choreographer, really. He never makes mistakes, and everything we go through brings with it opportunities to feel His Divine love.

I've tried to not be too detailed. If any of you want more information on IVF and the finer details of what we did, feel free to email me. It helped me so much to have people to talk me through things when we were doing IVF, even the second and third times. Please, feel free to call/email. I'd love to hear from you.

So, here's part one.
Find a comfortable chair and a Diet Coke, because that's what I would do.

. . . . . . .

Sam and me the day before IVF day.
It was going to be the best weekend of all time.

On a Wednesday evening in February 2014, Taylor and I were driving to a Sting/Paul Simon concert at the KeyArena in Seattle. I had bought the tickets for Taylor as his Christmas present. My darling friend Becca and her son were staying with us for the week and had graciously offered to watch Sam that night.

It had been a hard few months. We were gearing up for an IVF transfer in a couple of days (a year almost to the day after my initial We Want Another Baby appointment in 2013), and it had been a rough road just getting to that point. Upon reviewing my medical records, it became apparent that Sam really was a miracle. My care team essentially said, "This shouldn't have worked, so we don't know how to make it work again." Great.

Throughout 2013 as we hashed out a treatment plan we faced lots of delays, a couple of unrelated health issues, and on top of that Taylor was feeling really unsettled about things at work. Things were hard, and we prayed and fasted a lot for help and change, not seeing an easy way out. We kept having to reschedule for health or calendar reasons, and with fertility treatment months might as well be years.

My journal entry from those months are pretty depressing. I was really good at pointing out the blessings in others' lives, and failed miserably at seeing my own blessings. It's almost comical to read that journal now, but boy - isn't that how things go when you're having a hard time? Everyone else's life seems to be so easy!

Anyway, back to February. While driving to the concert Taylor turned to me and said, "So, I got a job offer today from _____." I couldn't believe it. We were doing IVF two days later. This was going to be the best weekend ever! A baby and new job in the same weekend! We were giddy. Taylor, I think for the first time in our marriage, suggested getting a treat. Woohoo!

Taylor had two days to respond, which put us giving our answer on the day we were doing IVF. Luckily Taylor was able to talk them into giving us the weekend so that we could discuss and decide. The hardest part was not being able to tell Becca that entire weekend, and having to wait to make our decision.

As excited as we were about the job offer, that meant our insurance coverage was coming to an end, which increased the pressure for the IVF transfer to be successful. Taylor had asked for details on the insurance plan at the new company, and there was zero infertility coverage (good ol' Utah!). We went into the transfer hopeful. In the days following the procedure I was pretty sick and miserable, which made me thrilled thinking "This is it!"

The day Taylor gave his two weeks' notice at work, my doctor called with the results. I was out for a walk with Sam, and my sweet doctor started on the phone, "I'm so sorry, Tally..." I stood there looking down at sweet Sam, feeling so grateful that I even had one child. I told my doctor how lucky I was to already be a mom and expressed my confidence in being able to have success again. She told me how sorry she was and complimented me on being so positive, which opened the floodgates. By the time we hung up, I was the creepy woman bawling, speaking unintelligibly and pushing a stroller around the block.

We tried to pull some strings to fit in another attempt with our insurance before we left Seattle, but the timing was too tight. Flying back to Seattle and trying Cobra coverage also didn't seem financially feasible. It looked like it would be several months before we could get things rolling again.

The end of February to the end of March was the hardest time for me - getting over the failed transfer,  coming off medications, leaving the life and friends we loved so much in Seattle, being nervous to begin a new life in Salt Lake City, and knowing that we would have to start all over again with a new infertility clinic. I do not suggest big life changes when that level of emotion is happening. On top of that, empty your savings, buy a house and a car, and redo all the electrical work in your house. Then, see if there's anything left for IVF. Not the best idea.

And yet, at the same time, we were so grateful. Grateful for a new job after nearly 7 years of what Taylor termed "wandering in the wilderness." We were grateful that we had been able to have those four years with such a great company that made the impossible literally possible - having Sam.

Sam will forever be our Seattle miracle, and that city will forever mean so much to me because it was there that I was given the gift of motherhood after years of toil and heartbreak. I think more than anything that place came to mean so much to me because Taylor and I went through so many hard things up there. I spent many hours wandering those beaches and parks, driving the coast, mulling things over in my head and pleading for help from God. I am so grateful to God for letting us live in such a remarkable place. The scenery of the Northwest really did get us through those hard times, and how blessed we were to be able to have those beautiful reminders of God, his constant love and reality all around us, that buoyed us up and kept us optimistic.

Off we went to Salt Lake City.