Busy doing ‘nothing’

I was part of an event recently where I had the honour of leading a team to facilitate parts of the evening. They had to handle a high volume of people and were responsible for the welcoming, seating and looking after of almost 900 people over two weekends. 

They were amazing! Their welcoming of people, attention to detail, ability to think and react on the fly, manage different challenges, venues and people was beautiful to see. They displayed such excellence in how they loved and served each person who walked through the doors that as their team leader I just had to show my appreciation. My secondary love language is gifts so naturally I was stoked at the opportunity to say thank you with a gift. Then as I gave them out something interesting happened. The first time it happened I thought maybe the person who was receiving was a little uncomfortable with gifts, but then it happened again and again until about three quarters of my team had displayed the same reaction. Here’s what they said (I’m paraphrasing but it was all along these lines) “A gift? For me? But I haven’t done anything.”

I found this fascinating and it got me thinking. Now it wasn’t an incredible gift they received (much as I  would have liked to spend more money on it) so I don’t think the gift was wildly disproportionate to the act of service they’d given, making me think it wasn’t an embarrased reaction. Neither are these amazing people afflicted with false humility and there wasn’t this sense in their response either. 

As I thought more about their words”I haven’t done anything ” the more puzzled I  became because they all had. They’d given up their time, come to team meetings, and been an integral part of making the night run smoothly.So maybe on reflection the sentiment they were expressing was more along these lines “in comparison to all the other amazing gifts on display tonight, my service appears less” or “I don’t feel like I’ve done anything special” or “I was happy to do this, it was no trouble to me.”
I felt challenged and a little God nudge as he whispered ‘you do this all the time.’ Every time I compare my serving or gifting to someone else’s it can become smaller and less valuable  in my eyes, when to my Heavenly Father it’s the precious gift or opportunity to serve that He’s given to me and is a delight to Him whenever I use it and take the opportunity. When I grade acts of service as important and less important I loose sight of the kingdom mentality that teaches me that Jesus came to serve as an example for us to follow and no job is to small or too great for him, whether washing dirty feet or washing away the sins of the world. If I confuse being in ministry, position or a team with graduating from small and simple acts of service and kindness to those around me then I’ve missed the point. 

Now I’m not saying my incredible team were responding in these ways, this is just what I felt challenged on today. I was reminded all over again that what we sometimes feel is us “not doing anything” can actually be right where the Holy Spirit does his best work in us and through us. When we feel small and insignificant like children offering our service and feeling like it hasn’t made much of a difference, perhaps this is exactly where His strength, beauty, compassion and love is best displayed through us. 

So maybe today you’re feeling like you’ve not much to offer, or what you have to offer isn’t as important as what you see others giving around you. Be encouraged that to Jesus it’s the most precious service if it’s our best and offered with a heart of love to serve Him and those He loves. Today you’re not “doing nothing” you very well might be doing the most important thing Jesus has set up  for you to do today and just not know it.

Endings & New Beginnings 

Tomorrow is the first of July, which means that it’s the day I begin my gluten free lifestyle journey and it’s an end to eating gluten ever, like forever (unless Jesus miraculously heals me which I’m totally up for).

It struck me this week as I was thinking about my upcoming changes that how you end something is important, as is how you step into the new. I remembered my beautiful gran who used to say “if you leave under a cloud you’ll take it with you” in her glorious Yorkshire accent and it’s always stuck with me because it’s really true. How we transition through seasons, moments and phases in life is important, it matters how we leave things because it largely determines how we start the next new thing.

When I worked in a child protection unit I used to do do a lot of work with my precious girls about ‘leaving well, starting new’ as they transitioned from care homes into foster care and other situations. Invariably the ones who left as well as they could had better transitions and starts in their new situations and conversely the ones who left with conflict and unresolved issues took those same problems into their new placement.

Now I know going gluten free is nowhere near as serious as that but for me it is a big life change and for many different reasons I find myself in a time of transition and I’m reminded again that it matters how I choose to end and how I choose start. If I see this new lifestyle as negative then I’m going to set myself up for a lifetime of wishing I could eat cake and bread and resenting all that I can’t have. But if I choose to see all that I’m going to gain such as healthier habits, better energy, supporting my immune system and improved health then I’m actually quite excited about tomorrow and the possibilities that it brings.

Part of me transitioning well has been to have my ‘Gluten Bucket List.’ I’ve been slowly having my last scones, cronuts, dumplings, pop tarts, crunchies, biscuits etc for about a month. That list could have gone on forever, it’s been a glorious glutenfull month! I’ve really enjoyed having my last hurrah with some of my favorite meals and cakes that will be different once I go gluten free. And as I’m doing this for health reasons to help heal and support my thyroid I can’t cheat so I’ve had as much fun as possible chomping all my favorite foods. I’ve chosen to focus on the positive and all that I’m going to gain rather than dwelling on all that I’m loosing, yes it’s sad that I’ll never eat a cronut again but if that means my thyroid is healthier then it becomes totally worth it.

So maybe you find yourself in a season of transition like me, I encourage you to think carefully about how you are approaching the ending and the new beginning. Root out negativity, celebrate what you can in the ending, seek out the good and the positive aspects of your transition and head into it with excitement. I saw these words today and I think it sums it up beautifully.

Happy endings & new beginnings

When adversity comes

image

Here’s the dictionary definition of adversity, it’s pretty broad isn’t it so I’m guessing we can all say that right now we are facing some kind of adversity in some area of our life.

My family is full of little sayings which are ‘walkerisms’, phrases that make little sense to anyone outside of my family but are loaded with history, meaning & comedy to us. “Can I see your fillings?” is one, as is “My life is as a limpet on a rock” both of which deserve their own blog post but today I was reminded of one that is particularly relevant right now.

Like any good liturgy it’s a call and response saying that goes like this:

“What do we do in the face of adversity?” (Pause for effect then respond with as much dramatic flair as possible)

“We LAUGH in the face of adversity!!!” (Insert cackling laugh for good measure)

I have no idea what the back story is for this ‘walkerism’ but it is ingrained into my thinking and I like that firstly because it’s living family history that is with me even on the other side of the world from the rest of my family but also because it’s biblical. In the middle of test and trial we can have joy, Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Even when it all seems to be going wrong and adversity is facing us down there is a promise to us that joy will strengthen us right in the middle of it all.

I was also reminded again today by Jesus to look for where His hand is and also where it isn’t. Sometimes situations that we face are the result of our own poor decisions, sometimes they are external circumstances out of our control and sometimes they have the markers of the enemy all over them. John 10:10 tells us that the thief only comes to kill and steal and destroy so when situations in my life and my world have these handprints on them I can easily see what their purpose is. I often find looking back that the enemy of my soul tends to overstep the mark. By this I mean opposition comes and usually begins subtly but then he over plays his hand and makes his scheme obvious. This has happened to me and my family where situation after situation has stacked up and then it becomes really obvious we are under attack which then leads to a greater level of prayer which brings breakthrough because our God is victorious always, through all things. Maybe this is where you find yourself today where yet another thing seems to be going wrong, let it remind you that our battle isn’t with flesh and blood, and let it drive you to prayer and let it fill you with joy which is our strength through it all.

Maybe you’re in a time of adversity like so many of us. My prayer today is that His joy will be your strength and that we learn to laugh in the face of adversity.

Hello Again

Facebook kindly informed me that my surgery was a year ago and then WordPress gently nudged me that my last post was 8 months ago. It’s obviously been a long time since I last wrote mainly because of busyness in life, work and just wanting to take a break from writing, however I usually find the urge to write returns a little while after decisions have been made and new paths are beginning to be journeyed down.

For those of you who are new to my journey here’s a super abridged and quick synopsis. in 2011 me and Mr Gray decided it would be a great time to start a family, two years later as we were about to leave the UK we started getting tests to find out why we weren’t pregnant yet. This confirmed all was well with Mr Gray but that I had a thyroid problem. 2013 we moved to Australia to help our friends re-purpose a church and in that year found out I had Hashimotos (auto-immune thyroid condition) & PCOS. We saw a ‘specialist’ who threw clomid at me (a common fertility drug) and then after 6 months said we had no hope and needed to start IVF. At the start of our journey we decided what we would and wouldn’t do to be parents and IVF is on our ‘won’t do’ list for many reasons. We headed back to the UK to get a visa to stay longer in Australia and heard about The Creighton Model System. 2014 saw us in Australia begin this next leg of our journey with learning a fairly complicated tracking system, lots of tests and many many pills to try and balance my very out of balance hormonal system. During this process I also found out I had endemetriosis although thankfully I didn’t have many of the horrific symptoms. I had surgery to remove this mid 2015 and expected to have success after this.  We stuck with this system for two years, tweaking medication and having more tests before effectively running out of interventions to try towards the end of 2015.

The end of 2015 I was fed up, tired of tracking my body morning noon and night, tired of taking a cocktail of pills and feeling not much better for it and very tired of not having a baby after so long trying. During this time anyone and everyone so it seemed fell pregnant with their first and then second children. I learnt to rejoice in new life given even if not to me and to be kind to myself when I needed it instead of demanding emotional perfection. Prov 13.12 let us know that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” and as I finished 2015 this would be a very accurate portrayal of where I was on my journey through infertility. In many other areas of life I was happy, fulfilled and pressing on, but in this aspect of my journey I had reached the point where I had just had enough. I decided that I couldn’t continue indefinitely without knowing that breakthrough was coming. We had only had one specific word given to us regarding our situation which had been given with a time frame, the time frame of “this time next year” merrily came and went along with the last scrap of hope that I had managed to muster together. I knew that for myself entering 2016 I needed to know from God if A) I was ever going to have my own physical children, or if B) we should begin looking at adoption and fostering (both of which present considerable challenges not having Australian citizenship yet) or if C) the dream of children was never going to happen in any form or mystery option D) some other heavenly option which my small mind couldn’t comprehend. I was desperate to know, I needed to know, I knew I couldn’t continue down any road without having an assurance so me and Mr Gray started our first 40 day Daniel fast together. We also asked my parents to pray and our closest friends in Australia to pray as well. We came out of that time with a faint sense that maybe God was answering and then after attending the Planetshaker’s conference in Melbourne this year I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that our children are in heaven waiting for the right time to be released to us. The word we had received had been correct, just wrong on timing and hope was restored to my heart.

At the end of 2015 we had decided to take a break from all my medication and tracking systems, it’s really tricky after year and years of doing something every day for your hope not to be pinned on the correct numbers on blood tests, the right scores in charting, the right words from a doctor and as I entered 40 days of fasting I knew that for me I needed to place all my hope and trust in God. I’m not saying medication is wrong or not trusting in God but for me it had become my crutch and what my hope was in. I have stayed medication free and will continue to do unless I feel very strongly God leading me to take something. For me all my eggs (quite literally) have to be all in one basket, all my hope has to be in God and it’s the most free and stress-less part of our journey that I’ve experienced so far. If God can make Sarah who was way past childbearing years conceive with all the bio mechanics and hormones and systems that need to be correct for this to happen, then He can sort me out when His timing is perfect.

As I continue to rest in the knowledge that God has this planned out perfectly I’ve begun a journey of investigation and learning about my auto-immune condition and what steps I can and should take towards taking serious care of my body. Up to this point it has been a bit haphazard to say the least but i will very soon be embarking on some major lifestyle changes including going gluten free, possibly sugar and dairy free as well, making sure the toxins that I allow into my body are eliminated as far as is in my power and using essential oils to support my body as I attempt to repair years of self inflicted damage. Exercise should be somewhere in here as well but knowing myself as I do I’m going to be sensible for once and try to tackling big changes only two at a time!

‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick’ which is certainly true in my experience however I love the second half  of this verse which says ‘but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.’ I used to think that this could only be true for me when I am holding a child of my own in my arms, but when I received my assurance of God’s faithfulness and his mercies which are new every morning it was like a seed of hope being replanted in my heart. It’s taken a long time for weeds of bitterness, regret, impatience, sadness, longing, frustration, upset, hopelessness, doubt, grief, fear, jealousy, despair and so many more emotions that are attached to this journey to be pulled up from my heart, but in the painful process the soil of my heart has been prepared for hope to grow and flourish and for desire to take root and be a tree of life. I’m not saying that I never struggle with new baby announcements, mother’s day, the baby section in Target or the million and one triggers that exist in the world to remind an infertile person that they are less than, but I find that my newly planted seed is springing up quickly offering me shade daily from expectations and a place to rest when the journey is tiring.

If you are in this journey of infertility with me right now then my heart goes out to you, know that I am praying for your heart and mind  that you will find hope even in the most unexpected places. You are not alone, you are loved and thought of often.

 

 

Headspace changes

When I think back about when I first started this blog it feels like a lifetime ago and I feel in such a different place than I did with my first posts. My head was always so full of appointment and procedures,  doubts, worries, daily battles for my thought life.

Recently I’ve not been blogging not because nothing’s happening but because honestly my head hasn’t been full of infertility journey thoughts. There’s been a definite shift even though we are still on our journey it no longer consumes large portions of my days or weeks. It’s not the first thing I think of when I wake, it’s not a daily concern even though there are weekly procedures, daily medications, monthly appointments and ongoing tracking somehow it has shifted into my peripheral vision. So I’ve honestly not needed to download my thoughts onto here because I’ve not been thinking about it. I really never thought I would get to a place like that when I started this blog and it seemed so insurmountable that I could ever have a focus other than our journey. It has been all consuming but not anymore.

As I reflect on this change and the difference that it makes day to day I can only say that it’s a good thing, a very freeing state of mind and a blessing. I still get disappointed each month when our dreams are not fulfilled but there isn’t the heaviness that there once was. I think some of it has come as I’ve been sharing some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way. I have the great honour of preaching occasionally in my home church and when I felt Jesus has asked me to I’ve shared some of our journey and how Jesus has helped us as we’ve walked through it. The lessons that I’ve learnt along this journey are so precious to me and even though I would never have chosen to walk this path I wouldn’t in a million years give up the lessons I’ve learnt over the four and a half years.

I was sat in a room tonight of youth and young adults and was so aware of the graciousness of God. I remembered so clearly being in meetings like the one I was in tonight as a 15yr old and being impacted by God. It hit home to me tonight that at 15 I had no idea that this journey was ahead of me but Jesus did and he knows what’s ahead in my future and He has never let me down and won’t be starting now. His faithfulness has carried me this far and will continue to carry me.

I’ll finish tonight with these words of a song which sum it all up beautifully. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in tonight Christ can be your cornerstone as He has been and continues to be for me.

Christ alone cornerstone, weak made strong in the saviours love, through the storm He is Lord of all.

Post surgery update

image

When you are an active person physically and mentally a weeks bed rest becomes a challenge to say the least, so here’s a little update from my new office, with my new office buddy Tess the cat.

My surgery day was Tuesday which was filled with blessing after blessing. When you look for the graciousness of God you can find it anywhere! Me and neil had arrived in the city at the Mater hospital for 10.30am to get booked in for surgery, we’d packed an overnight  bag ‘just in case’ good job we did! I was last on the afternoon surgery list so the morning consisted of talking to the anesthetist and answering the same questions over and over again! By 12.30pm they sent neil away as I had to get changed into my theatre outfit and then go to a waiting room. All my nice books I’d planned to read were taken off me & the plan was for me to watch daytime trash telly for the next 4 hours! No thanks! So I insisted on keeping my bible with me which they couldn’t say no to and had a great two hours reading through most of acts before having a big sleep (they had warmed blankets so sleep was inevitable!)

By the time it was half four I’d not eaten or drunk anything for nine and a half hours so I was super tired and thirsty and they came to tell me the person before me in surgery had taken longer than they were thinking but I was ok to go down to theatre now. Before they did that they gave me some drugs to dilate me for one of the procedures they were going to do but didn’t quite tell me in advance that I was going to experience early labour pains as if I was 3cms dilated. Thank goodness for prayer, warm blankets and the psalms, all you mums who’ve given birth I take my hat off to you!

So there I was in the anesthetic room, waiting to go into surgery, feeling cold, in pain and alone when I could literally feel the prayers of people surrounding me. The only way I can describe it was like arcs of light covering the bed I was on, Holy Spirit assured me he was with me and stilled my heart, I felt instantly warm and at peace. All worry, panic and confronting thoughts left me and it was beautiful. (I’d had no anesthetic or pain meds of any kind upto this point just incase your thinking it might have been my anesthetic.) Then the three anesthetists came in hooked me up and my doctor came in to let me know that he and the surgery team had agreed to stay to complete my surgery (it was past 5pm at this point) as they knew I’d been waiting all day & they didn’t  want to send me home. What a blessing! These people who I’ve never met (awake anyway) gave up their time so I didn’t have to come back another day.

I remember nothing of surgery, was in recovery for an hour and a half and was back on the ward for 8.30pm. Poor neil had been waiting around the whole day not knowing what was going on for most of it and stayed with me whilst I slept for a while on the ward, what I do remember is him just sitting next to me and reading the psalms to me. He is truly amazing and I will be forever grateful that Jesus brought us together. I was in no pain overnight and was named the best patient on the ward in the morning as I slept through most of my observations, sometimes being able to sleep through whatever comes in handy!

Wednesday morning I was allowed home and told to have complete bed rest for the first few days and to not expect too much of myself for the first two weeks. My surgery went well, they checked my tubes again which were all clear, they found a small amount of endometriosis on my ovary and womb and removed it and completed the ovarian drilling. All this means that my system has had a jump start and should be working better than ever after recovery. Endemetriosis however small can give off chemical signals making pregnancy impossible so we are now in the best position we have ever been in to fulfill our hearts desire of becoming parents.

I’m learning so much already from having to rest, it’s amazing when you are still and quiet how much Jesus speaks or maybe how much more I can hear and I’m excited for the next chapter in our story whatever it may bring.

I have the utmost respect for mums who’ve had cesearians, how you manage surgery recovery and looking after a new bub is beyond me! I’m learning to listen to my body, after spending years ignoring it in my 20’s and whilst I was teaching this is a new discipline for me and I’m beginning to understand just how important it is. I’m learning you can’t rush recovery and however long it takes is how long it takes. I’m learning that rest is much more important than I ever gave it credit for and that it needs to become an integral part of my life, that the body of Christ is such a beautiful thing and how to receive as well as give.

So in the spirit of listening to my body and doing what it says after being awake for 45mins it’s now time for sleep! Thank you if you prayed, never underestimate the power of your prayers, be encouraged they are powerful and affect much, more than we will ever know this side of heaven. I feel blessed to have been in a situation where I got to glimpse the tangible power of them, it’s made me hungry for more. 

Slippers and surgery

image

Slippers I think are highly underrated! There’s nothing quite like a furry set to settle you down on a long haul flight, after a busy day at work, or whilst you wait for surgery.

Well here I am in admissions with a lonnnggg wait ahead for my day surgery. Even the fact that I’m here today is a blessing. My referral was a category 3 which means it could have taken up to 1yr for me to get to this point. But God is so faithful and here we are just two months after being referred!

Today is exploratory surgery to see if I have endometriosis and a couple of other fun procedures, one with the happy name of ovarian drilling! We are now at the stage in our journey to being parents that they are trying to rule out possible reasons why I might not have conceived yet. So it’s not major surgery and sat here with people from all walks of life I’m so aware how incredibly blessed we are.

Of course my hearts desire is that I’d be able to conceive, carry and mother a child, but at the end of the day I have so much to be grateful for. I could be having surgery for cancer or some other life threatening condition, but I’m not and I’m so grateful for God’s faithfulness throughout this whole journey. His presence and his peace is everything and it’s right here with me as I wait to go into surgery. I’m so thankful for that.

So no matter what you are facing today in your journey whether that’s walking through infertility or some other challenge be assured that there is peace, His abiding presence, joy, gratitude, perspective and strength for you today. Aren’t you glad about that!

How to deal with pain

We all deal with pain, it comes to us all, some more often than others but the way we deal with it has a big impact on how we deal with our next experience I believe. Infertility especially ongoing infertility brings monthly pain and loss and over the past four and half years I’ve dealt with it all kinds of ways. I’ve ignored it, bottled it up, denied it, been frustrated by it, blamed it, wallowed in it, indulged in it, taken it out on others and countless other ways that aren’t healthy.

Pain comes each month from the aching grief for the child I’ve never had, from the negative result when hope has ridden high, from the dreams in my heart which stay hidden, from seeing the reality for others realized whilst mine remain as yet unfulfilled, from not being able to give my amazing husband the opportunity to be the outstanding father that he would be. This month I’ve had my opportunity to deal with this particular type of pain for the 53rd time, that’s 53 cycles of hope, disappointment and pain.

So how can we deal with pain? I could genuinely write a book on how not to deal with it, 53 times allows you to make some fairly spectacular mistakes on it, but as my mum and dad raised me to look at my glass as overflowing we’ll focus on the positive. So here’s six ways to deal with pain.

1. Take it to Jesus. First things first there’s no pain that I can experience that Jesus can’t help me with. He experienced ultimate pain and conquered it when he rose again so He should be the first place that I run to with a broken heart. In the past Jesus has been where I’ve crawled to last, but this morning He was my first as hope was deferred and just a moment with Him makes the pain lessen and perspective reign.

2. Be kind to others in your world. It’s so easy when you’re in pain to become insular, to prioritize your pain above those you love most and become locked in your own grief. It’s counter intuitive to reach out to others when your in pain, yet this simple act of supporting someone else kills selfishness and self indulgence. Asking and caring about how this morning’s disappointment is affecting my husband makes sure  that I don’t believe the lie that my pain is more important than anyone else’s, it’s not.

3. Acknowledge it. If you’re in pain it’s no good pretending you’re not because you are. So own it, feel it but don’t stay there. Crying because I’m sad that I’m not a mum is ok and right, denying those feelings isn’t healthy neither is wallowing in them.

4. Listen to uplifting things. Music is such a massive part of my life we almost always have music on and it would be so easy to stick a sad song Playlist on spotify and cry my way through the day, but often what’s needed is not to indulge but to uplift so this morning we put on a Playlist of ‘Totally stress free’ songs. Is that how we feel? No, but it helps to have words of encouragement being proclaimed in our house rather than words which reinforce our pain and sadness.

5. Count your blessings. When you experience pain of any kind it’s so easy to partner with the accuser against a loving and gracious father. It’s easy to fall into why? When? How, and to build a case against God. It gets you nowhere. It achieves nothing and the fruit of it is division,resentment and distrust. Counting your blessings of which there are many forces you to focus on the goodness of God, just how blessed you really are and changes a bad attitude into gratitude.

6. Eat patè. Do something that you enjoy just because you can. If I’d had a positive test this morning then soft cheese, patè and caffeine would be off the menu. As it is I’m able to eat all of the above because it’s not my time yet so today I’ll be having as many cups of tea as I like and eating copious amounts of patè on toast, because I can and it’s good to look for mercies in every situation even though I wish I didn’t have to.

So those are my six ways to deal with pain, it’s not an exhaustive list but these six little strategies have meant that instead of today revolving around pain it becomes just a part of this morning and not the whole story.

I’d love to hear how you deal with your pain, of any kind, so share and share alike in the comments if you want and I pray that if you’re in pain of any kind today you start by taking it to the Saviour who bore our pain so we wouldn’t have to.

Leading With An Imperfect Life – Propel Women

Leading With An Imperfect Life – Propel Women.

This article right here beautifully articulates why I decided to be open and honest about my journey with infertility. I had seen so much what I would call ‘triumphant ‘ leadership where troubles are never spoken of, where struggle is skimmed over and where trial is only spoken of after victory.

I understand the reasoning behind all of this and I’m not saying one is right and other other is wrong. I just made a decision with Jesus that I wanted to be real and raw with the people that I lead and my friends and family. I was tired of hiding the biggest challenge of my life and cutting myself off from the support and prayers of the body of Christ and it just didn’t sit well with me.

So last year I decided to tell my story as it is happening, warts and all. Good days and bad days, ups and downs because that’s how real life is and yet in the middle of it all Jesus remains so faithful, true and unchanging, I’m so grateful for that. Opening yourself up and being honest about your struggles is not without its consequences, people can read motive, emotion and mood into situations which aren’t always there, and that’s ok, it’s part of the rough with the smooth, but I would always rather be true and vulnerable than to put a mask on, portray that all is well and deny the struggle that I walk through.

Do you have to be perfect to be in leadership? No. Do trials come to us all? Yes. Is there a time for dealing with things privately and then sharing victory? Yes, but I’m so glad that I have the opportunity in the middle of the biggest fight of my life so far to walk it out as humbly as I can showing that it may not all be ok yet, but if Jesus is with you then you’re already winning.

The church that I grew up in has a great slogan ‘no perfect people allowed’ and I rather like it!

Cyclones, specialists and the unexpected

There are many strange and wonderful journeys that me and my husband have made, not least of which traveling five hours up to Scotland in a blizzard in our faithful first car a little Vauxhall Astra to see family, however this week may have topped it. We had a specialist appointment in Toowoomba about a two hour drive across the city and inland from us, the only trouble was that coming down from the north of Queensland was a category 5 tropical cyclone. Not ideal travelling conditions with heavy water on the road, localized flooding, roads being closed, damaging winds etc etc. And all the advice was to stay at home, don’t travel, stay off the roads and general catastrophic warnings. We had concerned friends emailing,  facebooking and texting us to stay at home, but when you’ve gotten up so early, psyched yourself up for the appointment and organised your week around it cancelling didn’t really seem like an option.

What did seem like and option was a cheeky Macdonalds breakfast half way through the journey as we contemplated sitting in front of another specialist, having to repeat again our journey of the last four years, recite my list of medications, treatments, blood tests, procedures and wait to hear the latest advice. Whenever this process has to happen with a new medical professional it can be quite confronting to verbalize the journey, it’s not something we often talk about or dwell on because let’s be honest four years of a journey can get quite disheartening when at every juncture hope is injected and then sometimes comes to nothing.

Then when your new medical professional looks at your charting and has a swift intake of breath, puts his head in his hands and starts muttering to himself, let’s just say it didn’t exactly encourage us. Obviously we know that my body needs a lot of help and intervention to do what it naturally should and that four years is a long time to be working towards a goal, but when you see the fresh reaction of an outsider looking at your situation it was quite confronting. After the initial rocky start we got into the options going forward and this consultant is a man of detail (music to my ears) and handled my questioning why, how, what for,  side effects, long term implications and a load more questions really well. So going forward I’ll be having exploratory surgery to check for endometriosis and to rule out a couple of other possibilities as to why it’s not happened for us yet. This guy is the best in his field so I trust him (so important if you’re on this journey) and whilst surgery is not really something I’m looking forward to, if it can rule out some possibilities then it’s worth it. Of course our desire and hope is that we fall pregnant before having to have surgery (best case scenario) but if it comes to it then I’ll just have to deal with it.

Our appointment ended with two unexpected procedures, he firstly said when was the date of your last pap smear (I mumbled something about more than two years) and he asked would I like one today. I’m not sure any woman ever in the history of the world has said  “yes i would like my pap smear” but as it needed to be done I decided to woman up and have it there and then. With the second procedure you know it’s not going to be fun when they start taking instruments out of a draw and tell you not to look and that it might pinch a bit. I’m not sure about pinching, I’d say more like feeling like my insides were being pulled out. They seemed surprised when I said neil (my husband) would be in the room with me saying ‘do you need him to hold your hand?’ Too right I did and a very good hand holder he was. The recovery has been longer than I anticipated and worse than they said but it’s all part of the journey and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt after four years is that getting to your destination often looks nothing like you think it will, involves steps you don’t know you have strength for until you’re there and requires parts that you don’t like but are necessary to the journey. Friday was one of those not enjoyable but necessary parts and we are believing that it will all be worth it one day when I am carrying a child. Here’s to the journey, here’s to hope and here’s to weathering the uncomfortable bits to get to the destination.