Real Cooking

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CHERYL JOST
‘Things don’t always go as planned.” That’s a valuable life lesson that I had to seemingly learn the hard way. But now, aided by the perspective that only comes with experience, I appreciate that all of life’s predicaments aren’t easily rectified for out of these trials comes knowledge. Dare I even say wisdom?



It was about a year after my husband and I married that we decided the time was ripe to start a family. We were of the age-26 and 25, respectively-well established and ready to move on to the joys of parenting.



Little did we know that what we thought would be a normal passage in most couple’s lives would take us on a journey through doctor’s examining rooms, lawyers’ offices and ultimately the surgical suites of Columbia Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.



It took many tests, lots of drugs, one miscarriage, a failed adoption attempt and six surgical procedures for us to become parents.



Finally, in June 1989, after six months of bed rest at home and five weeks of hospitalization, our twins were born.



They were tiny, born two months premature, but strong and healthy. After a three-week stay in the Special Care Nursery, Meghan and Alex were allowed to come home.



Nothing had gone as planned. I hadn’t easily conceived, the pregnancy was perilous, and in the end I had two three-pound babies with tubes down their throats and IVs stuck in their heads.



Funny, though. All the anguish seems worth it now.



The kids know all how their lives began in a petri dish in a lab at Wesley’s InVitro Fertilization Unit. They have met the doctors, nurses and scientists from the Center for Reproductive Medicine that helped Mom and Dad become Mom and Dad and they know that they made history by being the first “test tube” twins conceived in Kansas.



Now it seems normal to us-to all of us-that heroic medical intervention coupled with a lot of prayer resulted in the birth of Meg and Alex.



So it’s fitting that my kids are aware that I counsel other women in what, for most, is their darkest hour. Infertility is heartbreaking and frightening and a monthly process of disappointment and frustration. But there is almost always a light at the end of the tunnel.



I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of the “wisdom” I have gathered over the past 20 years concerning infertility. If I may, I’ll write this as if I’m addressing someone who has come to me for advice.



Hopefully, it will help.



First, it’s no ones “fault.” If you or your spouse are still stuck on who’s “fault” it is-who’s the defective one-then maybe you aren’t ready to become parents.



If your husband or wife had an improperly working gall bladder, you would do everything possible to be supportive and rectify the problem. Well, parts are parts. If something isn’t working, try and fix it with no blame attached.



If you can’t bring yourself to do that, you lack maturity or your relationship is far too shallow. Please, grow up before you try to take on the responsibilities of parenthood.



Did I warn you that I say what I think?



In seeking professional help, don’t mess around too long with doctors who don’t know what they’re doing or with whom you feel uncomfortable. This is a tense enough time in your life; you need to feel secure in your medical care.



If you have experienced infertility for six months to a year, I would advise being checked by a reproductive endocrinologist.



And don’t wait around too long, thinking that everything will take care of itself. Sometimes waiting just makes things worse.



Expect a lot of tests. Invasive tests. Tests of a most personal nature. It’s OK to be apprehensive, but get over it. These doctors and nurses have seen everything before and yours is nothing special.



And they’ve heard everything, too. I know it can be embarrassing sharing intimate details of your sex life with relative strangers. But these medical detectives need your cooperation to help solve the mystery of why you aren’t conceiving.



Believe me, all modesty is lost in childbearing. Infertility treatment just gives you a head start.



Drugs or surgery might be suggested. As in all medical treatment, be active in your care. Weigh the pros and cons, conduct research, ask questions and then proceed with what’s best for you.



Don’t think time is running out. Most women can still conceive into their forties, so if you are 20-something, just think of all the years of opportunity that lie ahead.



I had my kids when I was almost 35. My age made no difference to their health and I know I’m a better parent for having to wait.



This is a personal decision, but I found that a lot of the burden of infertility was lifted when I began to share with others that we were having difficulty conceiving. People quit asking us, “When are you going to have a baby?” and substituted words of gentle support.



And never underestimate the power of prayer. I figure that the more people who know, the more prayers head to heaven. My doctor statistics show that show if prayer is involved as a part of infertility treatment, the rate of conception rises.



Adoption is another viable option. We almost adopted a baby but the birth-mother decided to keep the child. It turned out that the medical intervention came sooner for us than another child for adoption.



But here again, do a lot of research, ask a lot of questions, and search your soul. You aren’t bringing a puppy home; you are making a covenant with a child.



I have no qualms about cross-cultural adoptions, but be sure you are capable of ensuring a loving home where different cultural heritages can be celebrated and not just tolerated.



If you are contemplating adopting a child with special needs, God bless you. But here again, for the sake of the child, really think long and hard before making what could be a lifelong commitment to care.



While we waited for our children to come, we didn’t just sit and fret. We went to adoption seminars and studied the latest in infertility treatments. Keith and I took the time to strengthen our relationship and we participated in the families of friends and relatives.



We educated ourselves in preparing for the children we knew we would be nurturing someday either through birth, adoption, foster care or a weekly Sunday school class.



It took 10 years. What a blessing.



* * *



One in four couples experience some form of infertility. I hope this column can help in some way. Now, here’s a recipe that has nothing to do with making babies. It’s just good!





Rice and Sour Cream Casserole



3 cups sour cream (you may use low fat)



2 cans chopped green chilies, drained



3 cups cooked rice (measure exactly)



Salt and pepper



3/4 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded or sliced



1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded



Mix sour cream and chilies. Layer rice, salt, pepper, sour cream mix and Jack cheese-making two layers-in buttered casserole. Top with cheddar and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly, about 45 minutes.

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