Wordless Groans.

Hum…it feels like longer than 4 days since I’ve written. But I’ve gotta say, God has been up to A LOT, even in just the last 48 hours.

He’s so good that way, right?! ūüôā

But let me back up a little.

It’s been just about a month since we received our official diagnosis, and in that time…I’ve been a mess. Just a weeping, snotty mess. In some ways (and it sounds so dramatic to say it this way, but it does describe how it feels) I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime in just a few short weeks. I’ve wrestled with what I always thought would be…the opportunity to carry my own child{ren}…and in turn entered into a somewhat unexpected season of grief and loss.

Perhaps never before in my life have I more fully understood what the Bible talks about in Romans 8:26…”In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

I’m not usually one at a loss for words, but this struggle has had the tendency to render me speechless. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even have the words to express what I’m thinking verbally, much less in prayer.

It’s been interesting to me, that at a time when I need to call out to God the most….I have the least to say. I am weak. I don’t know what I ought to pray for. But the Holy Spirit? God inside me? I have felt His groans. I have sat in the presence of God and just said His name…because it’s all I can muster. And despite my lack of words, I know without a doubt that there has been an exchange. That God has been guiding me and ministering to me. That the Spirit himself has indeed interceded for me.

Praise Him! Praise His Holy Name!

There is no end to His goodness…

Saturday night I had a really rough night. A wake-up-in-the-morning-with-swollen-eyes-because-I-literally-hyperventilated kind of night. I cried my way through church, through a prayer with our newly dear friends who have walked this path before us, and through a call with my mom.¬†And in the midst of it, God directed me to some very clear truths. Truths that addressed some of the exact things I’ve been struggling to sort through & verbalize. He began to open my eyes, help me start making new connections, and prompted me to step outside of myself, outside of the hurt I’ve been feeling, to consider the bigger picture.

It goes back to something I learned a long time ago really.

I’ve been wondering “God, what is your will for US in this circumstance? What would you have US to do?” My focus was on ME…US…OURS. The shift that is happening for me now is from ME/US to HIM. I don’t have to wait for God to send some great “sign” as to what path He would have us take. I need only to look at the heart of God. At where He is already working. At what will magnify Him and bring Him glory through our lives and situation.

It’s not about us.

It’s about Him. It’s about joining Him where He already is.

And once I began to see it in that light, everything is suddenly coming into focus.

God is turning my weeping into joy.

Amazing.

Blessed am I.

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A little cheese to go with my whine?

Oh Lawd…I was in baaaad mood today.

Things at work have taken a….turn for the worse. I haven’t been coping well.

Chris and I had a…discussion…today about embryo adoption which caused me to shut down and him to get all upset…all while we were trying to enjoy a rare afternoon lunch away from work. We’ve been bouncing back from these things pretty quickly though, so luckily we were over it by the time the fortune cookies came out.

Still, not a conversation I enjoyed having.

I also have developed a tight sore neck.

Boo.

BUT, I have a LOT of people praying for and supporting me right now…for work, for life, for this baby business…and it reminds me that I need to do my part and not feed the negativity.

So I’m going to eat a few more marshmallows (don’t judge me!!!), take some alieve, and be in bed before 9:30 with a heating pad on my neck, praise music on my iPad, and a warm washcloth on my face.

Tomorrow will be better. Please Jesus, let tomorrow be better.

And yes, despite my whiny-ness, blessed am I.

“Well, you could always adopt!”

Oh goodness.

Let me just go ahead and put it out there that this is something you should probably NOT say to a couple who has just been told it will be difficult for them to have a biological child without lots of help. {I had someone say it to me within days of finding out our diagnosis and it took *serious* prayer to keep my composure.}

#1 – Adoption is not the “answer” to infertility. Reproductive therapies aren’t the “answer” either. JESUS is the answer. So just do both of us a favor and don’t bring up adoption like you just had a light bulb moment with a new and innovative idea. We’ve considered adoption, and are seriously considering it…but it does not automatically cancel out the pain of infertility.

#2 – No one “just adopts.” By all accounts, it’s an expensive, intrusive, heart-wrenching process. Worth it? I have no doubt. But something to do on a whim or with ease? Not so much.

#3 – Sure! You could adopt to! …Just like adoption is not the answer to infertility, it’s also not limited to infertile couples. If I can get my courage up, I want this to be my answer the next time a random acquaintance makes this suggestion. Boo yah.

******************************************************

In my recent reading…and pinteresting…I’ve found some quotes that are so poignant to me. As I read them they just resonated deep within me. Adoption is a serious thing…not to be entered into lightly. As God turns our hearts more and more toward adoption, these are the types of thoughts I struggle under the weight of.

–By the time you receive your child, he or she will have already experienced the greatest wound of their life.

redemption

{source}

child

{source}

Whew. That last one. It leaves me speechless.

There is no “just adopt.” For Chris and I to have a family through adoption, a child has to lose his/her original family unit. A mother has to give up her child. God can overcome, but it won’t be without struggle and loss.

Like it or not, the struggle is part of the story.

The body of Christ.

Ever since Chris & I joined our church a couple of years ago, we have been so blessed by the relationships we’ve formed with people of all ages and walks there. I was reminded of that yesterday…here was a Facebook post I wrote about it…

“Thankful once again today for family…both mine & Chris’ and our church family. Over the last several weeks I have been reminded of why we are called to build relationships, to live life together, to fellowship and worship together with other believers. God has used our church family to minister to us, lift us up in prayer (in many cases not even knowing why they were praying!), and to “spur us on” as we seek God’s will for our little family. It is both a blessing and an honor to call each of you brothers & sisters in Christ, and I thank you for reminding me of God’s purpose for placing us within the body of Christ.”

Here are a few examples of God’s goodness…

*Our church has started having open dialogues about adoptions…and there are several families within our church who have adopted, are pursuing adoption, are foster parents with hopes of adopting, or adults who were adopted as children. Everyone we approach to ask about their experiences has been so open and gracious with us…

*Several people have come up to me over the course of the last month or so to tell me that although they don’t know why, they have had us on their hearts and have felt called to pray for us. Often these comments come right after we’ve (or I’ve) had an especially rough day. Praise God for the way He places us on the hearts of prayer warriors!!

*My homegroup girls have been willing to pray for me (even to pray for my *period*…come on y’all, that’s true friendship!) throughout this past year, and although they can’t quite relate to what I’m going through/where I’m coming from, they continually let me know that they love me, care about me, and are here for me.

*God has started confirming His plan for us through other believers in our church. Just yesterday Chris said he thought we should start looking into different adoption agencies, and within a few hours I had a text from my adoption/infertility¬†mentor (I don’t know if she realizes I’m calling her that…haha!) letting us know the names of the agencies they had used “just in case we wanted to start looking at them.” She said she had felt led all afternoon to look at the websites & pass them on to us…it just blows my mind. She shared with me that she spent time looking through the profiles, just praying for us and the families waiting for babies & crying tears of joy knowing what beauty God has in store for all of us.

*Speaking of my mentor, that story in itself is a miracle! We’ve known this couple for about two years now, but never really gotten to know them. Now that we are starting to, we are learning how alike we all are and how parallel our stories are. I can’t even explain / express how much it means to me to be able to talk to a couple who has walked through this same fire we are facing…and to be able to see what God has done to redeem their pain and loss into a beautiful family. I thank God for placing us at FBC at the same time…it was not without purpose!

So, in case I haven’t said it today…blessed am I. ūüôā

oohhhh in vitro…

I’ve had this post in que for a while now…I figured I better write about it before it’s totally off the table and becomes a non-issue.

But, with that being said, I feel more and more that it’s off the table.

When we were in the beginning stages of this process (what was that…oh, like a month or two ago?) and even a little before that, Chris had some trouble any time in vitro came up in our conversations. He said he didn’t know if he could get past the “test tube baby” part…but I encouraged him to be open to it because a) I just wasn’t super educated on what that meant and b) it was really important to me to carry a baby. Even during that initial visit to the fertility specialist he was panicking about the idea of in vitro…mostly because, at that point, we were surrounded by pictures of twins and even triplets!

However, when the doctor said that in vitro was our best choice (and only choice, as far as reproductive therapy is concerned) Chris kind of came around to it, and initially, I did too. He put our odds of it working at about 80%, which is pretty high, and gave us a 35-50% chance of multiples…which is also pretty high. The multiples thing still concerned Chris, but kind of excited me. (I think years of reading “Sweet Valley High” made me develop a secret dream of having twins one day.)

For several days we said we would probably try one round of in vitro, then adopt from there if it either didn’t work or we wanted more babies. A loooot of money is involved in that process, and even though the odds are high that it would work, there is always the chance that we would spend all of that and not end up with a baby.

I was able to talk to others who had faced this choice, some of whom had successfully pursued in vitro (and have adorable babies thanks to it!) and others who opted against it. I so appreciate the willingness of other women to talk to me about their own journeys with infertility, and I cannot emphasize enough how personal this type of decision is. Both in vitro and adoption are hard roads to walk, and the list of pros / cons for each is enough to make your head spin. What I’ve found, more and more, is that this is really a decision we’ll have to make according to what God’s will is for our family, just as others have had to seek Him as to what is right for theirs. In my mind there isn’t a clear right/wrong answer….after all, God produces life through in vitro just as He does through normal conception.

My struggles with in vitro came as I began to do a little more research and seek God as to what He would have for our family. I can get past the shots & all of the medication/procedures involved (although, I’m not going to lie, those are more than a little intimidating!)…it’s the extra embryos that I can’t find a peace about.

For some (who are familiar with this process, I guess) it’s a little presumptuous of me to assume that we would have extra embryos. But the truth of the matter is that with my PCOS, the odds are very high that they would be able to harvest a *lot* of eggs. From there, it’s a numbers game. Typically, not all of the eggs mature enough to fertilize. They’ll perform the in vitro with those that do, by using a needle to literally insert the sperm into the egg. That is the moment of conception…life. From there, they carefully monitor the embryos to see which ones grow at the correct pace and mature to a certain point. {Insert lots of medical terms here.}

At that point, final decisions are necessary pertaining to how many embryos are implanted (most doctors, ours included, will only do 1 or 2 embryos at a time) and what will happen to the remaining embryos. The options include: “letting them go,” freezing them for later use, donating them to science, or putting them up for adoption.

So, back to the numbers…the odds are pretty high that after implanting 2 embryos, we would have some left over. And those little embryos are what I just can’t settle. In my heart, I just feel that if I claim that life begins at conception, then I will be held accountable for what I do with any embryos (which are now *life*) that are left over after the initial procedure.

Trying to work it all out, I had the line of thought that we would just need to make the commitment to give all of those embryos the chance at life. But once you go there, you have to acknowledge the possibility that doing that might become impossible at some point. What if a pregnancy were to cause a problem for me and it wouldn’t be safe for me to have another? What if something happened to Chris or I? {A lot of “what ifs,” I know…but I felt like we would need to be prepared because I know we will have to live with whatever happens to us…and those embryos.}

So…yeah. I just can’t settle those embryos.

{Plus, I’ve heard from others, and read, about the stress fertility treatments can place on a marriage…and I don’t know that I want to put that on Chris and I. I have no doubt adoption can do the same, but it feels different to me somehow.}

My thoughts on this subject run pretty deep…but I’m also still sorting out how to verbalize all of them. The best way I know how to put it is like this…for me, the main reason I¬†think about¬†in vitro as a choice is more that it can provide¬†the pregnancy experience and all that surrounds that. Of course I would love a biological child, but I’ve seen God work out adoptive babies fitting into their family & looking like they were born into that family too many times to get hung up on that. It really is more about being pregnant and¬†being “in control” of that experience (ie – knowing exactly what I’m putting into my body, that I’m getting prenatal care, being able to breast feed, etc).

And the thing is, I just don’t know that those reasons are enough when there are babies being born who need good homes.

I feel like I’ve been all over the place. But that’s kind of what happens in my brain when I think about this topic.

So…I think I’m going to post this business and go to bed.

Tomorrow I think I’ll write about all the good God has been up to.

Blessed am I.

Wrong side of the bed…

Goodness gracious I have been down in the dumps today…I feel like a slug.

I didn’t sleep well last night…horrible, weird nightmares kept me tossing and turning…so I definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

*Sigh*

It was an okay day at school. I didn’t have to battle the kids quite so much, and I am *seemingly* (knock on wood) as caught up and prepared as I have been all year…which is really, really good news.

But¬†then this evening I’ve just been…meh.

I’m just worn out.

So I’m in bed, computer & recipe books in hand, planning on making a shopping list for groceries tomorrow and then I am going to sleep.

Tomorrow is a new day, and His mercies are new every morning.

Amen to that. ūüôā

The Wreck.

Two little words…that carry so much emotion and frustration with them.

I can’t go into all of the history and details on the wreck because it’s Chris’ story to tell…and in many ways, he has just started telling it more “publicly.” Oh sure, he has told many, many, many {I literally cannot insert to many many’s in this statement} gory and intimate details of the injuries he sustained…but the emotional injuries that have hung around for over a decade are what have had the biggest impact on our relationship and marriage.

I knew earllllllly into our relationship that Chris had been in a pretty horrific accident…one that many said should have, by all rights, claimed his life. I also knew that because of the injuries he sustained, there was a possibility he would not be able to have biological children. As we continued dating, I learned of the waves of guilt and depression that would hit him; of the struggles he has, all of which seem to¬†stem from “the wreck.”

So when he asked me a few weeks ago if I would have married him, knowing what I know now….all I could say was yes…because I really, truly did know what I was signing up for.

Now…does that mean that everything related to the wreck has been easy? No, no, and no. But, I have learned through it more about what it really means to cry out to God, to trust in Him & depend on Him for healing and a hope {all of which, now that I think about it, has come in really handy lately!}, and to be sanctified through the struggles and joys of a marriage.

Things with the wreck really kind of hit a boiling point right as everything was happening with the fertility doctor…the Thompson house was not a fun place to be for a few days there, but all of the sudden it was like God started knocking down the walls in Chris’ heart. He began talking to people about what he has held in for the last 12 years, started seeking the counsel of our pastor & a brother in Christ who has been down this road before, and opened up to me in a new way.

I really believe we have been part of a miracle. God is healing Chris and bringing restoration to his life, which then transfers over to me and our relationship. It is just HUGE.

What I love the most about a good testimony is that, while it touches on the past, the real meat of the story is how Jesus comes in to save the day. My prayer continues to be that yes, while there was a wreck that changed Chris’ life¬†{and ultimately mine as well}, Jesus would shine through as we see purpose and meaning come out of that life changing event.

Which brings us back to this infertility business. There is a male factor coming into play…one that cannot be altered or corrected. While it is not an absolute impossibility that we would be able to conceive naturally, it is *highly* improbable given our test results. When Chris has moments of frustration {one would be feeling like our families, or even that I, would blame him for our situation} we are able to talk through them & recover muuuuch more quickly than we have been able to prior to all of this healing.

God has a purpose and a plan for Chris today, just as He did the day He saved him from that wreck. Our prayer is becoming more and more that Chris would find that purpose, with a parallel prayer being that God would provide Chris with the peace and direction he needs as we look toward how to grow our family.

I’m proud of this husband of mine…he is becoming the man of God I’ve always known he could be.

Blessed am I.

PCO…what?!

Oh oh oh…

I’m reading a book right now called “God is Able” by Priscilla Shirer. I’m probably going to have to read it again, with a pencil & notepad by my side…it is just full of good, solid truth. I need all of that I can get these days.

Research mode continues…talking to people who have experienced infertility and various treatment options, checking into the Family Medical Leave Act and my disability insurance, searching our hearts for what God is saying…

I just feel like I don’t have the time I need to figure everything out. Not that we’re on a deadline or anything…I just don’t have the time I want to research and talk and sort through all of this.

That’s definitely been the case when it comes to my PCOS {polycystic ovary syndrome}. I’ve never actually even talked to a doctor about it very in depth, but the diagnosis has been confirmed by 3 doctors…so I guess it’s for sure what I’ve got.

Before I went off of birth control, I’d always had a verrrrrry regular cycle. I mean just couldn’t get more regular. Painful as all get out, but regular. When I went off, it was like my body was just absolutely out of control. Within the first 4 1/2 months I had something like 10 periods…

It was horrible.

Initially I was diagnosed with a uterine polyp & surgery was recommended…but blessedly I got a second opinion because, as it turned out, I did *not* have a polyp. {I also did *not* go back to that doctor.}

The next doctor was of the mindset that I should just wait it out; give my body a little more time to bounce back from the years on birth control. While I understood the concept, those periods were wearing me out…I felt like my body hated me. :/

I finally convinced him (not even sure how…maybe because I mentioned that we were expecting to have problems conceiving?) to perform an internal sonogram to make sure nothing medically was causing the problem.

He told me that he honestly didn’t expect to find anything…but even as they were doing the procedure I noticed that the tech became very quiet and I wondered if my ovaries were supposed to look like they were made up of tons of smaller circles. {Turns out, the answer to that is a big NO.} When he called, he admitted to being confused by the results. Although my ovaries showed signs of being “polycystic,” a lot of the other symptoms typically presented by PCOS were not applicable to me.

He had me take at-home ovulation tests for a month to see if I was ovulating or not. That was not a happy process for me {silver lining moment – at least I don’t have to do those anymore!!} because seeing a negative sign every single day has a way of playing games with your mind.

During that first month, I never had cause to believe (through either the tests or my basal temperature charting) that I had ovulated, so I called the doctor back. That time I didn’t even get to talk to him…the nurse said I could either keep taking the tests or they would go ahead and refer me to a fertility specialist.

I opted to do both…and I’m glad I did. The tests eventually showed that I had probably ovulated the second month, which was encouraging…but it took me all the way from middle of July until beginning of September to get into the specialist.

When I did, we truly thought we were going in pinpoint what was going on with my crazy body. I knew that eventually there would probably be testing involved for Chris, but neither of us had any idea what was coming or how quickly it would progress. {I guess it was a little naive of us…he was a *fertility* specialist after all…}

The day of that first appointment, we talked in depth with the doctor, and I had bloodwork and an additional sonogram done. The whole time, I kept feeling like the doctor was not understanding our main purpose for being there, or acknowledging that my irregular cycle was a point of frustration and anxiety for me. He was wrapping up our appointment when I finally blurted out, “But why am I bleeding so much?!”

Almost offhandedly, he responded, “Oh, because you have PCOS. That’s not really a problem for me though.”

Turns out, both sonograms confirmed a diagnosis for PCOS. The confusion for the last doctor came in that usually PCOS patients have fewer periods, not more. The laid back approach of the fertility doctor came from the fact that having PCOS can actually help me when it comes to reproductive therapy, because my ovaries produce an abundance of eggs…and hold on to them.

In fact, he kept saying things like “These are the best ovaries I’ve seen all day!” and “Your ovaries are rockstars!”

 So. Weird.

The 3rd confirmation came when I went to have the test done to make sure there weren’t any problems with my tubes. That’s another story in itself (a weird, wacky, super uncomfortable story…for another time!) but the doctor who performed the procedure was comfortable confirming the diagnosis.

So where that leaves me…I’m not really sure.¬†I know that the typical treatment is to go back on birth control, but I really want to explore other options. I know it is highly improbable that we will conceive on our own, but I don’t want to do anything that would hinder that possibility further. I’ve heard that pregnancy can reverse PCOS, but some of what I’ve read doesn’t agree with that. I’ll also probably never know how or why this came on…but as far as women & infertility problems go, this is one of the most common and most easily treated.

{Long term effects can include weight gain/trouble losing weight & excessive hair growth…so at least now I can blame the mustache I battle on PCOS. That’s a good thing I guess. *wink*}

My last period was a solid week long and really painful…and here I am, only 4 days later, and another one has started.

It’s honestly quite defeating. Not my best day ever.

I went ahead and called the doctor…surely there is some other type of medicine they can put me on that can level this thing out.¬† Praying that I hear back from him tomorrow…and it would be awesome if he would just call me in a prescription so that I don’t have to pay for an office visit that would be *super.*

So yeah. I know what is going on and how it is affecting me at this moment in my life, but what it means for the future is not so clear.

But allllllll that said, I know that there are far, far worse medical conditions to be dealing with, so I’ll get over my pity party soon enough.

Truly truly, Blessed am I.

Love without measure.

I spent this past weekend at my parents house.¬†Before I left¬†today we talked about where things stand, how I’m feeling, what direction all of this could be heading in…

And then, tonight, my parents drove 2 hours to see me…for the sole purpose of grieving with Chris & I and acknowledging the loss of what we had all hoped for.

It was incredibly powerful…and meant more to¬†us than Chris & I will probably ever know how to express.

The reality of this new phase of life seems to hit in waves. For Chris, it’s not so much a new phase as an old one…not completely resolved by any means, but not so fresh of a wound. For me, it was hearing the doctors words…and the following days of searching & allowing what that would mean for our future to settle into my bones.

For my parents, the tide came crashing in today, as they realized that the loss of the ability to have a biological child is just as real as losing a baby through other means, such as a miscarriage; and that while they raised me to be strong, I would need people in my life with whom I could be weak, with whom I could share this burden.

And so they came to me. They held me, and cried with me, and told us that they were sorry for this loss.

It affirmed me in a way that I didn’t even realize I needed to be affirmed.

Even with all of this pain¬†& struggle…we all, Chris’ family included, still feel so strongly in God’s will and perfect plan. He has already been at work giving us peace in the ultimate outcome…and now I pray that He would give us peace in the process.

Peace in the loss.

So to my Daddy & Momma…thank you for sharing in this burden with me. You teach me what it means to love & be loved…and tonight I experienced a new and beautiful portion of that love.

I am so thankful that God gave me to you & I love you both.

Blessed am I.

….And to the babies who will join our family one day….this will all be yours. Love without measure. We are all looking more and more forward to sharing it with you.

1 out of every 6

or 1 out of 8. I’ve seen it both ways.

That’s the number of couples who struggle with infertility.

It’s amazing how something that can feel so isolating is actually pretty common, according to those standards.

In the few short weeks since Chris and I were “diagnosed” (how am I supposed to say that anyway? Is diagnose even the right word?) it’s been pretty amazing to me how many people we interact with who have walked down this road before. I either know, or know of, couples who have tried a variety of reproductive therapies (in vitro included), who have used donor sperm, who have adopted, who are trying to adopt, or who have reached a peace about the possibility of never having children.

Friends, coworkers, acquaintances…it seems like people just seem to be coming out of the woodwork. {And not even just for me; my mom has been able to talk with women / family members on both ends of the spectrum as well.}

I have been incredibly encouraged by all of their stories. No, they don’t all end with a baby (or not yet anyway, none of their stories are over!) but what they’ve shared with me has a) validated that what I’m feeling / going through is normal and b) given me stories of God’s faithfulness and provision through infertility that I can draw from. One couple in particular invited us into their home, fed us, and let us stay way past their kiddos bedtimes so that they could minister to us & provide wisdom that can only come from a couple who has walked through the fire and come out on the other side.

That meant so much to me.

Earlier tonight I caught up with my best friend from high school. She’s a social worker who worked for a while at an adoption agency (plus she has a knack for speaking bluntly) so I was interested in hearing her perspective. In addition to a lot of helpful info & encouragement to continue trusting in God and making my marriage a priority during this season of life, she offered me some advice that I thought to be very wise, which was to guard myself…against whom I tell about what we are going through, and/or how much I tell them at this time.

Her point was that everyone has an opinion…and while there is nothing wrong with me seeking out the opinions of people I know & love, or of people who have experienced infertility…opening up this discussion to “the masses” could definitely muddy the water when it comes to reaching a decision about how to move forward.

And I think she couldn’t be more right.

What I’m quickly learning is that until you have experienced a taste of infertility…you just don’t really understand. And that’s okay. I certainly didn’t! But what’s not okay is to spout your opinion like it’s the gospel. I’ve already been told by one particularly daft person that “maybe you just aren’t meant to have kids of your own” and that I should “just adopt.” {More on that another day perhaps…today I want to focus on the *good* in others; on the love that we’ve been shown.}

With the exception of the aforementioned person, I feel as though we have done a pretty good job of guarding ourselves up to this point. Although most of my family & closest friends don’t have many personal experiences with infertility, they love Chris & I (and more importantly, God!) and have surrounded us with just this wonderful support group of compassion and prayer. Then there are the other “1 in 6’ers,” those who are opening up their lives and stories to us so graciously. They are an unexpected blessing in the midst of this struggle, and every piece of advice or wisdom is deeply meaningful to me.

There is more that could be said, on what is helpful to hear versus what…isn’t. On setting boundaries for people’s opinions in my life. On not putting our business out there for everyone to dissect. But none of that is for today really.

Today is to say that it’s so very nice to not be alone.

Blessed am I.