Tuesday, January 31, 2012

24 Hours and Counting

When I started this post, it was 11:00 AM - officially 24 hours until we have the count.
When I sit and try to listen to what my heart is saying, I don’t hear anything. I think that the silence is actually peace and the knowledge that what is done is done.
There is nothing I can do to change the count. If the doctor did his job correctly, it will be zero. After 30 months and zero conceptions, we have every reason to believe that the doctor did his job.
I hope that the quiet is acceptance and that my one response tomorrow will be relief.
23 hours and 42 minutes…

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Final Count(down), Closure Pending

We are coming up on 30 months since R’s surgery and the appointment has finally (!!) been scheduled to receive his post-vasectomy count.


Because no one wants to blindside their husband with a (possible) unplanned pregnancy at age 46.

Or to swing between “please, oh please, oh please” and “no, please no, please no” without knowing if it’s even possible.

Or stare at one negative test and one inconclusive test, not having any idea which you want to believe.

Or to finally feel resolved and then have an inconclusive pregnancy test, leading you to run your household budget only to find out that, with your new car payment, there would literally be no way to afford daycare and still feed your family.

Not that any of this has happened to us this week...


The lab is scheduled for 10:00 AM Wednesday morning and we should have an answer within one hour.

I’m sure I will experience both sadness and relief if his count is zero. The one thing I can always count on is feeling conflicted about our family size. On paper, the decision to not expand our family makes perfect sense. In my heart, I still get warm fuzzies about growing our family (although such thoughts are few and far between these days).

But closure is just around the corner.


*BTW: We decided to believe the negative one until further notice.

Monday, January 23, 2012


My apologies for the silence last week. I have had something on my heart but have not had the opportunity, or the desire, honestly, to talk about it.

I have mentioned before, albeit in passing, that I am involved with BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). We are currently studying the Acts of the Apostles, which centers around the book of Acts while detouring at times to the letters Paul wrote to the new Christian churches. Last week we took such a road over to 1 Thessalonians and, while I loved the reading and questions, the Lord convicted me of something I am struggling to accept.

1 Thessalonians is all about how to live, and how to love, as a follower of Christ. Specifically, how you external actions and reactions should reflect the internal, living love and grace of God.

The amazing thing about God’s Word is that it is alive; He speaks to us through the Bible while the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts with His message for us. It was surprising and hard to have my ex-husband brought to mind every time the following verses/translations were read:

13-15Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part […] Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other's nerves you don't snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.  (MSG)

13-15 […] Live in peace with each other. […] help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. (NLT)

13-15 […] live peacefully with each other. […] Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. (NIV)

It is hard, so very hard, for me to show the love and grace of God to my ex-husband. My words and responses to him tend to be kind and calming, but the noise inside my head when we interact is deafening. The hurt and pain and betrayal bubble right up to the surface, and I feel incapable of letting it go. To release these responses to God means I need to forgive him and I fight the very idea of forgiveness in this situation. Not our social “I forgive you” but real forgiveness, which:

keeps no record of wrongs, ceases to demand punishment or restitution, stops feeling angry or resentful, “grants free pardon and gives up all claim on account of an offense,” given without expectation of restorative justice or response on the part of the offender.

That kind of forgiveness is on the other side of an entire ocean of emotions that I cannot begin to fathom putting behind me. A journey may begin with a single step and elephants may be eaten one bite at a time, but I don’t want to start. The truth is, even as I hate my fears, I love them. They have been with me for so long that they have become comfortable and routine, like changing into my yoga pants as soon as I get home from work. Everyone is supposed to hate their ex, right?

I am afraid that, if I start accepting and living God’s call in verses 13-15, I will either:

1)      Fail.
2)      Become more angry.
3)      Open a Pandora’s Box of emotions that will break me.
4)      That I will actually succeed and have to believe that he is capable of change.

1)      Fail
When I honestly consider our marriage, all I can see is my own failure. I failed to make a positive impact in our relationship while we were married. I failed to communicate my needs and expectations in a way that brought about loving change in our relationship. I failed to release my own desires and actions to God, which ultimately brought about our separation. I failed to make changes on my part to heal or restore our marriage relationship. I consider the fact that I am a divorcee to be the greatest failure of my life to date and do not want to fail again.

2)      Become more angry.
I am angry that I am divorced. I am angry that my needs and expectations went unmet during our marriage. I am angry that I and our family time was not valued more. I am angry that I perceived myself as second-rate or an after thought in his life. I am angry that my requests for change were met with promises that went unfulfilled or with anger.

I am angry that the only public portion of our divorce painted me as the bad guy. I am angry that I was judged so harshly by others. I am angry that friends and family took his side without speaking to me. I am angry that, even those who eventually relented and came back to me, never apologized for their initial rejection.

I am angry that I still have connection to him. I am angry that he continues to manipulate me and break promises.

I am angry that my daughter has a different last name than me. I am angry that he continues to badmouth me and R to her. I am angry that this process has hurt her and will impact her life forever.

3)      Open a Pandora’s Box of emotions that will break me.
I am good at holding these feelings of failure and anger in check. I have managed to compartmentalize my divorce, putting it away where I do not have to deal with it on a daily basis. This is how I managed to survive my hurt during our marriage, the divorce process, my life as a single mother, my move and remarriage, and the months when Little K is in Florida. I am afraid that, if I deal with these feelings, I will become a broken, sobbing mess who is unable to cope with the demands of parenting, marriage, or work. I am afraid that these emotions will consume me and send me into depression. I am afraid that I will not be able to handle these emotions in a healthy, Christian way and instead become more broken and more angry. I am afraid that the upcoming summer break will be more painful if these emotions are not resolved before school lets out. I am afraid that dealing with these emotions will cause me to act out toward my ex-husband. I am afraid that dealing with these emotions will cause me to say unkind things about him within Little K’s hearing.

4)      I will actually succeed and have to believe that he is capable of change.
I spent the middle three years of my marriage believing that things would change. My disappointment led to betrayal, which led to anger, which led to my actions, which led to our divorce, which led to my feelings of failure, which led to more anger… If change could not take place while we were married, I find it impossible that change will happen now that we are divorced. I spent years being disappointed and don’t want to face that again.

I prayed again and again for change during our marriage only to find things stayed the same. My disappointment over the lack of change led me to act out in destructive ways. I have finally found my way back into an active and growing relationship with God and am afraid that more disappointment will drive me away again.

The fear in all of this is that, by forgiving my ex-husband, I am accepting blame in some way or releasing him from his actions during our marriage. In reality, I have already stated my wrongs and accepted the consequences of my actions during our marriage. I am also not the one to hold him accountable for his actions during our marriage; his brokenness and restoration is not my responsibility but God’s. My allowing of these fears to continue in me does not empower me in any way; instead, they allow him to have power over me and for the Enemy to continually undermine God’s promises of grace and new life.

When I consider the journey of forgiveness that God is calling me to, one piece of good news is found in verses 23-24:

 23-24May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole - spirit, soul, and body - and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he'll do it! (MSG)

23-24 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (NIV)

23-24 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful. (NLT)

For He who calls me is faithful. He will empower me to do it because He is the one who is asking.

And He will use this process to sanctify me: to set apart for special use or purpose, to make holy, pure and free from sin, to make productive, to convey spiritual blessing.

The Lord God is asking me to release my feelings of failure and my anger, and to trust Him with managing my emotions. He is also calling me to release my ex-husband from my expectations for change or apology.

It is hard. So hard… The idea exhausts me and brings tears to my eyes. But I am not asked to do this for my ex; he has his own battles and brokenness to overcome. The One who loves me, who sees the grander picture, who has my best at heart and who aches to have me draw closer to wholeness and to Him, has asked me to release my fears to Him and trust Him with the result.

Lord, give me the strength and desire to take the first step. Amen.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Testing One, Two, Three

I have a confession to make: I took a pregnancy test this morning.

It was negative.

I have been fine for weeks. In fact, I have been fine since December 14th, retrieval day. I admit that I tried this past cycle, but my heart wasn’t in it like the two cycles before. My period came around December 28th and was different than usual, but I expect that coming off a donation.

Then I noticed that I wasn’t sleeping well; I was waking up constantly and not able to fall back asleep for hours. I noticed that it looked like my abdomen was thickening, even though I have been making healthy eating choices. My sense of smell perked up last week. Then I spent yesterday absolutely exhausted, sleeping in front of the fireplace on the hardwood floor of my living room.

But the test stayed pure white.

I was a little disappointed, but not upset or sad like I would have been six months ago. I have slowly come to the place of understanding that R’s count really is zero, even though we do not have the labs to back that up. It has been thirty months since his surgery: if there was anything available, we would have been pregnant by now.

And that is okay.

My life is much different than it was when I first began talking about another child.

Back then, Little K was newly three. She is now six. I feel like the window for peer-sibling bonding has closed.

Back then, we were in a town home and knew we would eventually move into something bigger. We are now in a home that is the perfect size for our family of four. Another child would cause housing concerns.

Back then, I had my little red car and planned to upgrade to something bigger within five years. I now have a new vehicle and, while larger than the little red car, a family of five would be a tight squeeze.

Back then, we were tight financially and I was a SAHM. I am now working and we have more debt than before. I have no idea how to swing childcare on this budget.

Back then, I was 27 and R was 43; I felt young and hopeful. I am now 30, going on 31, and R is 46, going on 47 in less than three months. We are aging (at least R is) and a toddler at age 50 is not something I want for him.

So, I am adapting. Instead of thinking “Another child would be nice” with regularity, I am thinking “Another child would have been nice” in passing. Instead of watching for pregnancy symptoms, I am looking at metabolic changes after 30. Instead of looking at supplemental income for maternity leave, I am looking at LTC insurance.

It is time to start embracing my real future instead of my imagined future.

Will I ever get to a place where a pregnancy would be a burden instead of a blessing? No.

Will I get to a place where a pregnancy is the last place my mind goes when symptoms arise? I know I can.

And I will be okay.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Are you there, Readers?

I'm late to the party but I would love to learn more about you!

How do you relax or take care yourself after a hard day? For me, it's a long bath with LUSH, a book, and a lemon-mint martini...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Different Kind of Loss

The comments on Mel’s Cold Peace post have struck a chord with me. “Wait!” you may be thinking, “dspence hasn’t experienced pregnancy loss!” And you would be right. But the comments have me thinking about loss and our children.

Specifically, the children we have from previous relationships.

When I married Little K’s father, I had dreams for our life together. It would be both true and a massive understatement to say that things did not work out like I planned.

By the time everything blew apart (and oh, how it blew apart…), all I wanted was to be away from him. But I will never be away from him, at least, not fully.

Because we have a child together, our lives will forever be connected.

Do I wish I had never married him?

Do I wish I had never had children with him?

These are questions that are impossible to answer. Little K is the most wonderful thing in my world. She is smart, precocious, sweet, strong-willed, musical, loving, and outgoing in a way that I have never been. Don’t get me wrong, she is also blunt, argumentative, non-compliant, and frustrating. But that’s because she is a child and still learning.

But she is perfect and she is mine. I wouldn’t trade her –this specific child- for anything. I do believe I have the daughter I was meant to have and that she has the mother who was meant for her.

I look at my life now and know that I would not have it if not for Little K. It was her father’s actions during the first year of Little K’s life that finally caused me to take steps to leave him. It was Little K’s need for a defender and protector that made me shake off my tolerance. It was Little K’s very existence that caused R to propose. It was Little K’s need for a stable and loving home that taught me how to be a Godly wife. By being Little K’s mother, I have become strong, patient, and kind.

Being her mother –this specific child’s mother- has made me a better person.

There are times I do mourn. I mourn my naivety. I mourn my actions during my first marriage. I mourn the fact that I am a divorcee. I mourn the fact that this situation has hurt Little K. I mourn the fact that I am now in the position of not having more children.

But I can’t just say “I wish I had never married him” or “I wish I had never had a child with him” because then I wouldn’t have her.

And I am so thankful that she –this specific child- is mine.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fresh Start

First, I want to send another hello and thank you to everyone who has been here from Crème! Your warm responses and comments have meant the world to me. I am so thankful to be welcomed into this community!


I am great in a crisis. When it all hits the fan, I stay calm and reasonable; I am Miss Silver Lining and Everything Will Be Okay. So, when my car died Sunday afternoon, I immediately began problem solving.

When jumping it didn’t work, I went online for three things: a mechanic, a towing company, and a new-used car. Monday morning we learned that $600 would get the car running again, an additional $1000 would properly fix it, and a warning that both the timing belt and transmission were slipping. With 10 years in the rearview on my little red car, the decision was clear: get it running so we can make it to the dealership.

My car held so many memories, good and bad. My mother purchased it one month before my first wedding. My sister and I took our first of many road trips in that car, earning it the nickname The Road Momma. It is the car my ex-husband purchased for us from my mother six months before we separated, that I packed when I left him, that he broke into during mediation, and that I drove to NC when I remarried.

Little K came home on Friday from spending Christmas with her father. On New Year’s Eve morning, after belated stockings and presents, Little K asked to speak to me in private. Once we were in my room, she sat me down and began to lecture me on the importance of keeping promises and how much Daddy loved Mommy.

I allowed her to talk herself out, praying the whole time for wisdom and understanding. When she was done, I told her that she was right: people should keep their promises. I told her that grown-ups have to make hard decisions sometimes and one of those decisions is whether or not to get, or stay, married. And that one grown-up cannot force another grown-up to do something they don’t want to do: that a grown-up has to make that decision on their own.

She thought about those statements for a moment, asked if she could have some chocolate milk, and we went about our day.

I wish I knew how to make this easier for Little K. She and her father have daily contact. She and R have a highly interactive relationship. I let her talk about the divorce whenever she brings it up, emphasizing that grown-ups can decide not to love other grown-ups but parents never stop loving their children. Is there more I can be doing? I don’t know…

R asked me Monday morning if there had been any indication that the car was failing. I began to respond that it was fine on Saturday and just dead on Sunday, when I stopped myself. The car hadn’t been fine. Two months ago, it started idling funny. A month ago, it developed two oil leaks. Two weeks ago, the driver’s side window motor gave up. Sunday it wouldn’t start. Monday, we found out that the transmission and timing belt were both severely compromised. A few little things were going wrong, but it took a big event – not starting, period – to find out just how damaged the vehicle was.

It was a relief to make it to the dealership and leave with a new-used car. It is the color and body style I fell for two years ago and have been planning to purchase in another two years. Is it exactly what I wanted? Yes. Did it come together the way we planned? No. Was it still the right decision for our family? Yes.

Was that a metaphor? Huh. How did that happen?

So, Sunday brought us a new year and Monday brought us a new vehicle. Tuesday brought relief to be back in the old routine. Please, dear 2012, no more sickness and no more surprises.

Here’s to a year of new beginnings and continued healing!