Monday, June 2, 2014

June Hope Chest- Hope Anticipates and Restores by Stephanie Fulmer

(Copyright © 2011 Marion Niewald),

 It is easy to just clump hope and faith together.  We know that we should have them both.  It’s easy to get the two mixed up, and some people may even mistakenly use them interchangeably.  I think about them this way: hope is kind of like a wish or anticipation for what is to come, while faith involves putting trust in the hands of another that all will work out for the best.   They most definitely go hand-in-hand, but I did not always realize to what extent.

Throughout my life, I hoped for many things.  Kind of like a little “to-do” list of items to check off and move on to the next thing.  When I was younger, my life long list of hopes read a bit like this:
I hope I get an “A” on my report card.
I hope I get into the right college.
I hope I get a scholarship.
I hope I choose the right sorority (and that they choose me back!).
I hope I will fall in love and get married.
I hope I find a job teaching.
I hope we save enough to buy a home.
I hope we have a baby.

I felt so lucky because everything I ever hoped for just fell into place. It seemed if I had little hope and put my mind to it, my goal would be accomplished.   
I made great grades in high school, went on to get a scholarship to the University of South Carolina, where I pledged Delta Gamma.  I met my future husband, Paul, while at Carolina, and after graduation, we got married.  I started my teaching career as a 6th Grade Science teacher in a middle school in North Carolina.  Before our first anniversary, we had saved enough money to purchase our first home. Life was a cinch until we got to that last item…”I hope we have a baby.”
Everything was on track with our young married life.  Paul and I both found good jobs and bought our home.  We just needed a baby to make it perfect.  I figured all we had to do is decide to have a baby, and it would happen. 
 I started doing math in my head, trying to figure out how to time my pregnancy around the school year.   I started making pained lists of possible baby names.  I had girl names and boy names.  All were painstakingly matched up with family names for middle names (because I am from the South, and we give our children maiden names of mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers).  As I showered each day, I wrote the possible baby names over and over on the steamed up shower door. I tried to visualize what the names would look like on an engraved wedding invitation someday.  I started thinking about nursery themes for the child I would most certainly bring into the world.
Months came and went. Many of my friends were having babies or sharing the happy news of their pregnancies.  Many people were even asking me why I wasn’t thinking to have a baby yet.  People were giving me sage advice that involved basal thermometers, leg elevation, and even taking cough syrup every day.   Every month that passed was like mourning the loss of a child that would never be…a lost possibility.  The anxiety and depression that was settling in was truly overwhelming.  
After a year of trying with no success, my doctor finally referred me to an endocrinologist at Wake Forest University’s Baptist Hospital.  Upon entering the endocrinologist’s office, I was hopeful at the sight of the numerous baby pictures covering the walls.  It was obvious this doctor was able to help so many couples who came here before us, so I just knew he would help us realize our dream to become parents.
The doctor walked into the room and seemed surprised that a couple in their mid-twenties was seeking his help.  He told us that his patients were typically in their mid-thirties to late forties, and suggested that we just give it a little more time and let nature take its course.  My hopes were dashed, and I immediately pleaded for him to listen to our story.  He agreed to do some blood work to rule out hormonal reasons behind our inability to conceive.
When the blood work came back the doctor sat down with us and informed us that I had a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). He agreed to order hormonal therapy that would increase our chances of having a baby.  We left his office with several prescriptions and strict dietary guidelines. 
 Our hope was restored.
After three months of treatment, we were expecting!  With cautious optimism, we waited for the ultrasound appointment that would confirm whether or not our pregnancy was viable.  The technician showed us the baby’s heartbeat, all but a pulsating blip on the computer screen.  We were relieved and excited until the technician got a puzzled look on her face and abruptly called for the doctor.  Paul and I looked at each other and wondered what was going on, we felt uneasy and prayed, “Please, God, please let our baby be OK!”
The doctor came in and congratulated us.  “Both babies look like they are off to a good start…” 
Wait. Did he say BOTH babies?  TWINS???!!! We hoped and hoped for a baby…just one…and God was blessing us with two!   We left the office clutching ultrasound pictures of Baby A and Baby B.  We were so thankful and hopeful for what our lives would become. 

On September 14, 1994, Ethan McCoy Fulmer and Savannah Teague Fulmer made their way into the world six and a half weeks early.  They were small but fairly healthy, and were called “feed and grows” during their ten day stint in the NICU at Forsyth Memorial Hospital in Winston-Salem. 
 We brought our two bundles of joy and settled into our busy family routines. In February of 1999, God blessed us with another daughter, Katelyn Sinclair Fulmer, who is now 15. I have always called them “my pair and my spare”.  Once our hopes of having a family were realized, we switched into “faith mode”.
Flash forward. Now our twins are nearing their 20th birthday. In that time, we have faced many challenges along our parenting journey.  
Just before leaving North Carolina, our 5 year old son was diagnosed with autism.  We struggled to find a diagnosis and once a diagnosis was made, we scrambled to find treatment options.  After relocating to Cincinnati, we found Cincinnati Children’s Hospital was close by with specialists and therapies available to us.
 His twin sister was diagnosed with systemic lupus with secondary psoriatic arthritis at the age of 12.  Once again, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital was right there with one of the few pediatric rheumatology clinics in the United States.  We praise God for his placing us in this very place, where the medical services that our twins needed were accessible to us.  Had we stayed in North Carolina, we would have had to drive several hours to receive the same level of services.

Despite the parenting challenges we have faced and continue to face, we have enjoyed every single moment of being parents.  We feel blessed by God every single day, and are hopeful our youngest will remain healthy.   We simply place our trust in the Lord and have faith that He will continue to throw angels in our path to guide us as we continue on this wild parenting ride while we anticipate whatever might be coming next.

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