If you have wandered into my blog, please don't wander away! This is the blog of JB and Wendi. Most of the posts are by me (Wendi), however, occasionally, my dear husband will blog hijack. His posts normally related to nutrition, cooking, nature, or farming -- basically anything to do with food or nature.
I started this blog in 2005. We had made two big moves and were dealing with some health issues. I also love to write so this blog seemed like the perfect way to combine the need to share news with a lot of people and my love of words.
So who are we? Well to tell you that (and I update this often to keep up with changes in our life), I should go back to the very beginning.
I was born in 1977. That makes me 32. JB was born in 1976. Ouch! Now 33! JB was a family nickname mostly used by John's dad. However, somewhere, midway through our marriage, I picked it up and now very rarely call him John unless I am talking about him.
We both grew up in the suburbs of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and attended the same Christian school (Fort Lauderdale Christian School -- go Crusaders!) from the time we were in elementary school. When I was a junior in high school and JB was a senior, I finally talked him into falling in love with me. It was about time!
Here is a picture from the first year we were together. This would have been in 1994.
JB graduated from high school and received a full scholarship to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, a two year program. In 1995, I graduated and made my way to Bowling Green, Kentucky on a full basketball scholarship.
In 1997, John graduated from the Art Institute with an associates degree and, tired of long distance dating, decided to move to Kentucky. He got a job as a graphic designer and eventually started his own graphic design business, Kit. Design.
In 1999 I graduated from Western Kentucky University and took a job teaching high school English and coaching basketball and volleyball in a town about 30 minutes south of Bowling Green. After one year of commuting, we decided to move to this town of 8,000. John had started taking some classes at Western Kentucky and was running his graphic design business out of our home. We thought we would save some money in this cheap little rural town for a few years before returning to south Florida.
However, John's few classes suddenly turned into the decision to become a doctor. In 2003 he graduated pre-med from Western. He was accepted at the prestigious Mayo Clinic, and we moved 12 hours north to Rochester, Minnesota.
Since we were in Minnesota when this blog began, I named it LIFE IN THE POLAR NORTH. The flakymn is for the three states we lived in, however, the fact that I only realized it spelled "flaky" after I created the address, probably tells you a bit more about my personality than I would like to share.
As John started medical school, I took a job at a public school about 30 miles from Rochester coaching and teaching yet again. Near the end of 2003, I was diagnosed with an ovulatory disorder, and we were told that in order to have children, we would need to begin intensive infertility treatments (more on that below).
This news led to me quitting teaching so that I could be closer to home with a job that was more flexible to make daily appointments. My search for a job actually led to multiple jobs for various locations. I began working at Mayo Clinic, the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, and for a few freelance organizations doing writing and editing including Rochester Women magazine.
In 2007, John completed his final year of medical school at Mayo Clinic and decided to be a family medicine doctor. He is also in the Air Force -- a reverse GI bill of sorts. They pay for medical school and he commits to be a doctor for them for four years when he graduates and finishes residency. On June 4, 2007, we moved to northern Florida where he will complete his residency at Eglin Air Force Base.
Upon moving to Eglin AFB, we suffered our fourth failed IVF attempt -- losing our 9th, 10th, and 11th little babies. We decided to put infertility treatments on hold and proceed with an adoption from China -- sure to bring us a daughter and not a disappointment. We officially got on the waiting list in China in April 2008, however, we would soon make the difficult decision to remove ourselves from that list.
The reason for the mind change with China began to unfold in late 2007 when we realized our family would grow sooner than we thought. Not only did we add a puppy: Scrubs, but we received a call from the junior bridesmaid from our wedding. Seventeen and pregnant, she wanted us to parent our son. Isaac John joined our family on May 7, 2008. He is the light of our lives.
And then, after ten years of marriage, God showed us He knows best. We found out, when Isaac was just six weeks old, that we were eight weeks pregnant. Elijah Luke entered our arms on January 31, 2009.
Okay, so that should be enough to orient you on who we are if you a just a random visitor. If you are a friend or family member, you probably know all this anyway and wouldn't bother to read it so I am not upset if I bored you.
For those of you who would like to learn a bit more about my infertility journey, here is a piece I wrote for an online friend who was submitting a book on infertility. The book never got published so I wanted to share it here.
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus . . .How many times I have sung this hymn? I must admit that all my life, I would sing this hymn, or something like it, and boom it with all my heart (or boom it quietly with all my heart as not to ruin it for those around me who sing much better than I.)And all my life, I thought I did trust in the Lord. The Lord was great! He had given me two loving parents who raised me in a Christian home. I attended a Christian school and was blessed with athletic abilities that paid for college. I had fantastic friends, good health. Nothing bad had happened to me. Of course I trusted Him. It was easy. He was good.
I would listen as other people told me about their questions regarding their faith. If God was real why did bad things happen? If God was real, why had their parent died? Why had their business failed? Why had they gotten cancer at such a young age? I would pat them on the back and tell them to just “trust the Lord and everything would be okay.” I had no earthly idea what they were talking about.
That all changed in 2003. I was twenty-six years old.
I had started dating my husband John in 1993 when I was sixteen. In 1998 we married. I was twenty-one years old and about to start a career as a teacher and a coach. John was preparing to return to school to become a doctor and had joined the Air Force to pay for school.
In 2003, to our extreme surprise, John was accepted at one of the premier medical schools in the country: Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. We tearfully said good bye to our friends and family and headed north. We also decided that it was a perfect time to start a family of our own. The Air Force was paying for medical school, and we had great health insurance. Everything was falling into place.
It was at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota that everything I knew and thought I believed, began to crumble.
I had always had an irregular cycle but had always attributed it to my excessive exercising. As a Division I college basketball player, I led a very active life. When we got married, I went on the pill, and of course, the non-existent cycles disappeared into a cloud of birth control pills.
When I went off the pill in 2003, I waited patiently for my body to return to normal. I waited one month, three, five, eight. No period. Not even a tiny inkling of a change in my body. There was just nothing. I took pregnancy test after pregnancy test and began to cry when I saw only one line. What was wrong with me? My husband rode the bus with a family practice doctor every day to school and one day he broached the subject. The doctor’s response: “get her to an OBGYN.”
The OBGYN’s response, “I’m giving you a referral to our infertility department.”
Two years later we didn’t have many answers. Why I didn’t ovulate was a mystery. The logical step was to try Clomid which did nothing for me. I still didn’t ovulate. Then we tried IUI (intra-uterine insemination) with injectables like Gonal-F. This was fairly successful, however, my body reacted too well to the medications, and I had an abundance of follicles each cycle. They’d either do the procedure very early when a chance of having any fertilized eggs was highly unlikely, or they would end up cancelling the cycle because the risk of multiples was too high.
I watched as I began to pull away from the Lord. Everything I knew, everything I had learned as a child and young adult was shaken. What was God doing? Where was He? Suddenly the words of the hymnal become painful for me to sing. Trust Him? Well, sort of. I mean, I want to trust Him, but why the heck is He doing things this way? Why doesn't He do them my way? Why did He allow this to happen? He defeated sin.I would constantly look around me and list all the people who didn’t deserve babies. One day it was a woman who had tossed her baby into a river in a plastic bag. (The baby survived and people were lining up to adopt her.) Another day it would be a woman who had an abortion or a teenage mother. Some days I would get mad at the men and women who allow their children to be emotionally or physically or sexually abused. "Wait!" I would scream at the TV or at the Lord. "Here I am and here are all these other ‘infertile’ women I know. Give us those babies! Bless us with their pregnancy! We want those children!" I would look to the Lord and say, "Lord, I'm not sure I do trust You. Do you know what the heck you are doing?"
During this tumultuous period, I was excited to meet two other women from my large church struggling just as I was. Together we started a local infertility support group. At the close of one our quarterly meetings, a newcomer shared her story with embryo adoption, and she said something that permeated to the depths of my soul. "I know what God was thinking,” she said as she sipped her coffee. “If I wouldn't have traveled the road I traveled, I wouldn't have these two boys –- and these are my boys."
As I was driving home, I had the moment I had wanted since this journey started shortly after my 26th birthday. I somehow, finally, trusted the Lord. I somehow, finally had peace. I had been trying so hard to find answers and contentment with my journey, but that night, two and a half years after I had walked in for my first appointment, I could honestly sing that hymn and mean it. I realized for the first that while the Lord didn't cause this disorder I have, he is using it every day. Rom 8:28-31 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to HIS purpose."
Wait a minute! If I wouldn't have gone through this, I wouldn't have met all these fantastic women through my support group. If my friend with the twins hadn't have gone through this, she wouldn't have the boys she had. How would I have had the right words when my best friend had her miscarriage? How would I get to the place that I know this journey will ultimately lead me?
Somehow, now, because of this journey my husband and I have had to take, I have an understanding for people who question their faith. I have a compassion for the hurting heart. This is not to say I won't have days where I struggle with this whole trust thing all over again, but somehow, right now, I realize that the Lord has the greater picture in His view, and this is all working toward my good.
Wendi, trust Me. I've got your best interest in mind. I didn't cause this, but I will use this in your life. When you look back, you will understand, either on earth or in heaven, why things happened the way they did. Trust Me.
I am not saying I won't have doubts in the future, but for today, I am okay.
Our journey is far from over.
As I write this, we have completed two rounds with clomid, five with artificial insemination, and four with invitro fertilization – all with empty arms resulting. They found a sperm binding issue in addition to the ovulation disorder. We have seven embryos waiting for us in Rochester, Minnesota that we will one day hope to bring home.
But our hearts, needed some rest. We stopped pursuing infertility treatments in the summer of 2008 and began moving forward with a China adoption. During that adventure, we received a call from the junior bridesmaid from our wedding. She was seventeen, pregnant, and due to have a son in May of 2008. Isaac John joined us on his due date, May 7, 2008. Six weeks later, we discovered we were eight weeks pregnant. What a roller coaster. Elijah Luke came into this world on January 31, 2009.
All I know right now is what I have learned so far. I know now that the Lord is real, and He has my soul in the palm of my hand. And I trust that.