When Life Gives You Lemons…Pucker Up!featured

Hey, Mocha Divas!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! You all are amazing! The support for Mocha Divas has been awesome. I appreciate you. Keep it coming. Spread the word. Subscribe, share, and comment. In my introductory post, I mentioned that I would share my story of how and when I realized that we can’t control all of the details of life, but we do have a choice on how we respond when life happens. Not that there is only one story (ha!).

We all know that life doesn’t always go as planned. If you’re a planner like me, you get the notice often. For as much as I try to plan things out and predict the variables, there are times when those plans just don’t work out. This is what is typically referred to as the “lemons” of life. So, what do we do when life gives us lemons?

The Lemons

Like many ladies, I dreamed of getting married and having 2.5 children (insert laughter because what is the .5), you know the fairy tale. My plan was to be married at 25. First child at 30 and the second child at 35. Yeah, I know…the 10 year plan. Somewhere in between, I was going to have an amazing career, travel the world with my husband, and so on. I didn’t get married at 25 (thank you, God). I was 33 when I got married. We had some ground to cover if we were going to reach my goal of 2.5 children, right? It’s ok to laugh at me now.

Our initial attempts at conceiving failed. I didn’t understand. This was supposed to be simple, right? We tried and tried and nothing happened. Although a few years before, I had been diagnosed with endometriosis, I was never told that there would be any issues with me trying to conceive a child. My menstrual cycles had always been very painful and very heavy. It took years for the doctors to finally diagnose my symptoms. After the diagnosis, my doctor recommended laparoscopy to treat the endometriosis. I consented to the outpatient surgery. Everything went well. At that time, I wasn’t even in a relationship, so marriage nor children were on the horizon. Fast forward a few years and now marriage was my reality.

Our Wedding Day, 2007

The Squeeze

After trying to get pregnant for a few months with no success, I decided to discuss options with my gynecologist. He recommended that we see a fertility specialist. That recommendation actually stunned me because I never thought that I would have any issues conceiving a child, so the idea that something could be wrong with me was jarring. Visiting the fertility specialist was overwhelming. We had to answer so many questions and we were both put through a battery of tests to determine who had the issue. My husband has a daughter from a previous relationship, so we never believed that there was an issue with him. The tests came back and everything was fine on his end. Now to figure out what’s wrong with me (insert sad face). With my history of endometriosis and the test results, the doctor recommended a second laparoscopy. I agreed because at that point, I wanted to eliminate all barriers. After recovering from surgery, I received the OK to start trying to conceive again. Again, nothing happened. Due to the scarring from the endometriosis, our doctor recommended that we consider IVF. After researching and discussing and praying about it, we decided to move forward. We believed that our prayers had been answered because my health insurance at the time actually had a benefit that covered the majority of the costs associated with fertility treatments.

Imagine being so close to the finish line that you can taste the victory. After several weeks, we were so close to the final stage of IVF. My body had endured so much at this point. I had been poked and prodded and taken more medication than I ever imagined. It was so worth it because we were so close. The moment that we had prayed and believed for was right there. We had just completed the trial transfer. I remember it like yesterday, although it was almost 10 years ago. I was sitting in my office at work and my cell phone rang. At this point, I was so accustomed to phone calls from my doctor’s office. His nurse would call me every night as part of the process. This time it wasn’t the nurse, it was my doctor. My doctor never called, so immediately I had two thoughts – either he had some really good news or he needed to tell me something bad. It didn’t take long for me to find out. The doctor told me that we wouldn’t be able to continue the procedure because there was a more serious medical issue and I needed to be seen by a gynecological oncologist. Something about a large tumor in my uterus and the rest was a blur. All I heard was the word “oncologist.” I lost my Mom to cancer, and I didn’t want to imagine that not even two years later, I was facing the same. No, no, no. My husband was out-of-town for work, but I had to call him. He was scheduled to be away the remainder of the week, but after receiving my call, he cut his trip short and was back in time for my appointment with the oncologist two days later. Yes, two days. My fertility specialist’s office thought the situation was serious enough that I needed to see the oncologist immediately.

Pucker Up

Walking into the Cancer Center brought back so many memories. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go to the same place that my Mom did, but it was painful nevertheless. The doctor met with us and shared that he and his wife were seeing the same fertility specialist who had referred us to him. What are the odds? He was a faith-filled man. Another positive sign. After completing the x-rays and scans, we met with the doctor to discuss the results. He shared news that nobody wants to hear. Surgery would need to be scheduled and there was no way to avoid a hysterectomy. We wouldn’t know whether or not the tumor was malignant until after the surgery. My hopes of conceiving a child were dashed. We all cried. The doctor left us alone to talk. I told my husband that we needed a second opinion. He agreed.

We saw another oncologist and he gave us hope. He told us that he would do everything to avoid a hysterectomy. He stated that we needed to schedule the surgery as soon as possible. I had to sign a waiver giving the doctor permission to perform the hysterectomy if he believed that it was necessary. I went in for what I thought would be a 2 hour surgery. Six hours later, I woke up in the recovery room only to be told that I had a full hysterectomy. As it turned out, the endometriosis had attached itself to my colon, bladder, and intestines . In order to save these vital organs, my doctor had to carefully cut the tissue away. Thankfully, there was no cancer (praise God). There was also no way to avoid a hysterectomy. The endometriosis had taken over. What should have been a 2 day hospital stay, turned into a 6 day stay due to the major surgery.

Photo: Kim Thomas

Lemonade

No, I wasn’t able to conceive a child. We discussed adoption and even talked to a couple of agencies, but ultimately decided against it. I didn’t understand why things didn’t work out. Why me, God? I felt like I had failed my husband. A full hysterectomy at 34? What would I tell people when they inevitably asked, “When are you all going to have a baby?” How would I endure friends’ pregnancy announcements and the subsequent showers? Initially, it was all hard. If I told you any different, I would be lying.

I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that it was God’s grace that sustained me. God’s grace, a loving husband, and very supportive friends and family. When doubt started to creep in, my husband would remind me that my story could have been so different. He reminded me that there was no cancer and I had full use of my colon and bladder. The more I thought about what could have been, the more my heart filled with gratitude. Other than some hot flashes (yes, hot flashes), I was (and still am) a living testimony!

I haven’t shared this story often, but when I do, inevitably someone else has a similar story. There are so many of us who have suffered in silence because we felt like we didn’t measure up because we aren’t able to bear children. Wrong!

I Am More than Enough

When I realized that although I may not have been able to bear children, but I still had purpose to fulfill because I was still alive, I rejoiced. I got busy living. Mocha Divas – The Book Club was birthed shortly thereafter. I also got back to doing the things that I enjoyed doing – traveling, spending time with my family and amazing girlfriends, serving in my community, and whatever else I wanted to do. The following Christmas Eve, my husband surprised me with my Yorkshire Terrier, Collins. I also have a beautiful “bonus daughter.” My blended family is a testament to God’s faithfulness. His reassurance that He perfects everything that concerns me (Psalm 138:8). Society can’t define womanhood or motherhood for me. I had to recognize that I am more than enough.

If you’re wondering about the “why” behind Mocha Divas, wonder no more! I’m choosing to make the most of the moment that I am in despite the “lemons” of life. It’s my hope that you will be inspired and encouraged to do the same. Subscribe and share with others. Comment and let me know what you think of this post or the blog in general. I would love to hear from you. Here’s to living our best life NOW!

Live. Laugh. Love.

Desiree

Photo: April Tolbert, formerly of April Tolbert Photography

“Beautiful Girl, you are already enough.” – Gina Miller

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