Infertility

Well, the title might be a little lofty, but follow me anyway.

I have been dealing with some stuff. And we all deal with some stuff. Yet lately my stuff seems so heavy and prevalent that it’s hard for me to even see the world around me. And I have become a hermit. Girls, sometimes just dealing with life is just way too flipping hard.

It’s easy to do (becoming a hermit, that is). I mean, I don’t really like being around people much at times. Sometimes, I don’t like people much at all. I hate small talk. I despise insincerity, I can be way too intense, and I usually feel like an alien in a room of people who look just like me.

Stuff with the kids, legal junk, business stress, work drama, bad days, weight gain, marriage conflict, financial strain, anxiety, depression, blah-blah-blah. Toss in limited time to relax or exercise, a nacho addiction, and the lurking worry that you might be drinking too often, and then you’re like,

“Hey world, here I am: a doughy, middle aged, stressed out mom, who cusses too much, maybe drinks too much,  who is socially awkward, overly critical, with alarmingly limited conflict resolution skills and a constant feeling of being stretched too thin. Who wants to hug the cactus?”

Why would I leave the house, if I am getting on my own nerves?

So I have bammed myself in, stopped writing, taken to living off of yogurt and a healthy/not-so-healthy fend for yourself mantra, and become a spectator of the world around me.

And now I am peeling back the layers of heartache, and months of good intentions, and trying to reintegrate into a world that sometimes feels like a revolving doors with giant cheese grater panels in place of the glass.

And it’s weird.

But I made myself do it. At least a little. And I lived.

Last week I invited a friend to get pedicures. Then I drove the next day to see a friend who I hadn’t seen in 10 or so years. I went to church two days after that, and then later that day, went to a book club with more than a dozen women, some of them strangers, but none of them my best friend, or my bourbon, or my cozy couch blanket. And today, I had a newer friend over, and made her lunch and held her baby and just talked. And it felt right for the first time in a long time. I was tired, and needed a nap after, but it was still good.

I could use the “peeling off the band-aid” analogy but that’s not accurate. I don’t have a wound. I am a wound. I am a downright mess some days, but I still have love and need love, so I have to leave the house, or open my doors and let others in, at least sometimes.

Have your ever been to the “petting” area of an aquarium and petted little sharks or sting-rays? Once when I was there, a worker said that the sting-rays like to rub up against people to keep their skin smooth. While I don’t have any proof that she knew what she was talking about, I can relate to this image: I have smoother edges when I rub elbows with other humans, and months of funk start to rub off when I finally emerge from the hidden sands in the safe and shallow end of the ocean.

People need people. Even grumpy, prickly, critical, anti-social, stressed out people. I also needed the months of hiding. Heck, it’s kind of been years. But for everything there is a season, and spring is finally coming. Did anyone automatically think of this though, lol?

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Winter is over and it’s feeling kind of good to move around again and plan a little life, to hug old friends, to hear new opinions, make new friends and even hold babies. I won’t lie and say it was all easy or pretend that I never felt a little out of place, but coming out of hiding will do that. The light is bright, but it’s so good for the soul.

If you are in a season of rest, just relish in it. But if your rest is becoming an addiction, a spot too comfortable and dark, maybe stick a pinky toe out from under your Cheeto covered blanket, climb out of your show hole, pop on some chap-stick, throw on some clothes with buttons and go rub some elbows, accept some hugs, or bounce a baby on your knee.

The healing is good out here. I’ll leave the light on for ya’.

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Dear Hubby,

Sorry this is a few days late. This has been a janky week. Now that we got the house in order and tackled that linen closet we have been talking about for two years, I can write you a little anniversary letter:

Every year of life, and of marriage, seems jam packed. But it also seems completely mundane and the same in a way. Not in a bad way, but the busyness of life can make it feel like a blur.

And if we aren’t careful to take note of what we have been through together, we might not realize how really strong we are. Not just because we work really hard at our marriage, but because we vowed to let God be the center of it. A cord of three strands cannot be broken.

So I figured I’d take a moment to reflect on the last year and what we have conquered together.

  1. Business-In it’s very own category for its obvious stress involved, we have closed a business, opened a business and grew a home-based business, while pretty gracefully handling people in and out of our home several times a day. Phew. That is no easy way to live! But we did it.
  2. We traveled quite a bit-In the middle of being slammed with our work, we took time to travel. We went on a romantic getaway to Cancun, took the boys to DC for a real educational experience, went an a cruise through the Caribbean with friends, went on a family trip with the Knudsons to Atlanta (where Kaden drank a silo of Coke products), and took the entire family (including Ricky Bobby) across country, climbing Pikes Peak (in a car, lol), visiting the Smokies, and going to our first White Sox game. And it was all because of how hard we (especially YOU) work and how we have been blessed.
  3. We worked out-We might not be on the cover of fitness mags, but we have carved out time to be healthy, even food prepping when we were really on top of things. Working out with you is fun, but it also gets me excited about growing old with you. The more years I have with you, the better.
  4. We briefly considered adoption-Infertility really stinks. And anniversaries are a chafing reminder of many, many losses. But briefly this year, we considered adoption, as we were approached to consider it for a mom with a last minute need. We talked with her, prayed about it, tried to imagine how to make space for a child in one short week, and then the mom decided to keep the baby. While this was a brief interlude of adoption struggles, we handled it, and allowed it to help us focus on what we really want in terms of growing our family.
  5. We parented-Every year, we hustlin’. Jackson got his license and we now spend 13% of our day tracking him on multiple phone apps. Kaden outgrew Jackson and entered the 5th dimension of puberty. We taught them new things, buckled down in new ways, and let go when it was right. We have prayed, argued and wrestled with many a decision, but we did our best to do it as a team.
  6. We prayed-We did like 21 days of a 30 day marriage prayer devotional. Well, like I said, we ain’t perfect. But we haven’t thrown the books away, and regardless of the devotional, we still turn to God for answers and nothing makes me feel more cherished than when you pray for me, for our marriage, for my work, for our children, and even for all of our friends. I love you so much for that, and I always will.
  7. We got help-We went to counseling, a lot, shopping around to find the right fit for us, never using time or money as excuses to skip when both of us would really prefer to sweep stuff under the rug and just grab a bourbon. When people say “marriage is hard” this is what is should mean: putting in the dang work to truly try to understand our spouse’s feelings and needs and tend to them, NOT just saying, “Well this is hard….next.” And thanks for letting me share a little of our struggles with the world so we can help make getting help normal and not a sign of weakness. Your commitment to God and our marriage is the strongest thing about you. Thank you!

You already know I love you but it takes more than love to last. It takes commitment, work and one hell of a sense of humor. Thanks for laughing at the crappy stuff with me, however inappropriately, and thanks for occasionally throwing chocolate and Mexican food at the problems. It’s actually a solid practice endorsed by world renowned therapists (it’s not). But seriously you’re the best.

And in the deep and sentimental words of Tim McGraw (kind of), I like you, I love you, I wants some more of you.

See you at the hizzy later,

I’ll be the one with the goofy grin 🙂

 

 

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Today I shoveled up the body of a dead bird into the tines of a pitchfork and warily carried his body to the woods. And by warily I mean I looked the other direction while walking with his little body until I realized he had fallen off and I had to go back for him. Dead animals are cringe worthy.

 

I never planned to do that.

 

Well of course you didn’t plan that. How could you? –You might say.

 

Oh my dear, my plans were very, very different.

 

We moved into a country home on 17 acres over four years ago. I was entranced by the long tree lined driveway. I was welcomed by a porch the length of the house anchored by a porch swing. I was swayed by tomato plants, real hardwood floors that seemed to tell a story, and a sewing room with a future.

 

No, I don’t sew, or quilt or even needlepoint. This sunlit narrow room was supposed to house a crib, a glider, and a baby named something quaint, feminine and turn of the century.

 

But it doesn’t.

 

And I am a girl who is used to getting her way. I am not saying that I was born with a silver spoon – far from it. I am not saying I deserve more than anyone else – I don’t. I am not even saying that I am lucky – I am not.

 

I am just a girl that always seemed to know what was going to happen next. I could predict the future, or so it seemed. I didn’t have a crystal ball, but I had hellagood hunches, and they were almost always right.

 

Yet here I stand, on that novella hardwood, looking around at my home, my life, and I can see that my hunches can no longer be trusted. My fortune telling days are over.

 

So back to the bird.

 

I found him today. Deep black feathers with a purple hue. An iridescent crown the color of the ocean at night. Curved black beak. And completely lifeless.

 

And normally I would have left him to rest in peace undisturbed.

 

But now it is my job to escort him elsewhere. I am a dog sitter and I can’t have my clients eating yardkill and sending them home with a belly full of feathers or some weird disease. And as I did my “job” I thought, “How did I get here?”

 

Do you ever wonder that? How in the world did I end up here?

 

I was on a road that was broad and clear. And then I took a fork in the road, followed by a detour, complicated by a foggy sense of navigation. And somewhere in the nooks and crannies of the yonder, I took a path that led me here. And there is no way in a million guesses I would have ever guessed this life.

 

But it is mine.

 

I planned for a submissive and easy first child, but instead have a headstrong leader in the making.

 

I planned for a super easy laid back second child and have learned to navigate autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and even angry outbursts in my youngest son.

 

I said till death do us part, and then walked away.

 

I am full of caution, yet married an adventurer, a risk taker the second time around.

 

I planned to have 2 boys and a girl, yet instead I have a dog sitting business with dog poop, a vacuuming obsession, and dead birds.

 

I don’t recognize my life.

 

 

Hello God, are you there? It’s me, Kris. Quick question: Are you being serious?

 

I am certainly not one to put words in God’s mouth, but I can picture him saying simply, “Yep.”

 

So here I am. And as I try to process it all, my mind wanders to that sewing room, that baby room, sans baby. And I refuse to oversimplify infertility. My struggle has been fairly long and arduous. My husband and I have experienced repeated loss. The heartache is real. The scars are physical and emotional.

 

But I move forward. I still kind of want a baby. I still think it is possible. And if it happens, God will get ALL of the glory.

 

But I move forward. And I make plans for my future that don’t often include a baby, and I picture the future of my boys and I plan to love my husband with all my heart.

 

And I move forward. I show up to help my husband at his business. I help my boys with projects. I scout out clumps of dog fur in crevices forgotten. I exercise, cook, pay bills, apply make up, take my son to counseling, and plan vacations.

 

And I move forward. I relish in the time I have to devote to my children. I soak up the sun and enjoy the breeze, and notice all the little new flowers and host a herd of four legged friends.

 

And I never look back.

 

My oldest son occupies that sewing room now. It sports new flooring, and a fresh new roman shade, and it almost always covered in skinny jeans, Vans, and food crumbs.

 

I write, and walk dogs, and hire and schedule the staff, drink protein shakes and text my friends, all while moving forward.

 

I am living the life.

 

This is the life God wants for me. And I want it too. Because I want Him. And in all things, and all situations, we can honor Him with obedience, even joy.

 

And if I can be obedient in these small, inconsequential, even gritty tasks, how gloriously can I represent Him in the great and honorable, even noble tasks?

 

I am a firm believer that we are always in training for something. Maybe something bigger, maybe something more important. Or maybe we are to just follow God with a lamp to our feet to light the path in front of us, unaware of where that path might lead us (Psalm 119:105). We fall down, we shake off the dust, we march one foot in front of the other. And we keep moving forward.

 

I don’t know how you got where you are. You might not know either. But I am not sure how much it will matter in the long run. Because nothing is achieved in straining to see the view behind us.

 

So ask yourself, “Am I moving forward?” You don’t have to shy away from your story, but let’s walk and talk at the same time. Embrace your story, forgive your plans that God did not set forth, and move forward.

 

I had a dream, and a plan and even a Pinterest board for my baby room ideas. But God had a plan that I never saw coming. But I can still love that plan, my life and even the inglorious minutia of my days. It is a choice, and I choose it, and I choose it in every tiny forward step I take.

 

Are you with me? I don’t know where I am going, but it is ahead of me. The road will wind and will take me to low and scary places at times, but He is with me, and He is waiting, my eyes are on Him, and I am moving forward.

 

 

 

 

 

Hi there sweet girl,

 

I have named you hundreds of times over 30 years. It started when I was 11 and I would try out names for you in the back of my diary. I can’t remember them all but I can recall Meg and Emmie were tops for me in middle school. I am now 41 and I still have a list on my iPhone. I still read the credit of every single movie and show I watch and look out for names that will perfectly capture who I imagine you would be.

 

I already have two boys. They are crazy and cool and you would rock their world. They would probably treat you like an alien for a few months, but I suspect Kaden would shower you with love and Jackson would protect you with all his heart and soul. They would make you laugh and teach you about Star Wars, basketball and video games. They would take you for walks down to the creek, through the bamboo and up to the barn. They would read to you and steal your Halloween candy. It would be perfect.

 

When I found out that my second child was a boy, I cried for a minute. I had decided to only have two children, so I began to mourn the idea of having a daughter. Eventually I had an epiphany. I realized that in my 20s I wasn’t ready for you; I wouldn’t do you justice. I was hardly a tomboy, but I was kind of a sailor: dirty jokes, potty humor and bad decisions (no offense to sailors). If you had learned how to be a woman from me, you would be a lot of fun. You would make everyone laugh. You would love bad words. You could make men blush. And that’s pretty cool for a while. But cool isn’t enough.

 

If we had met in my 30s, you might be a little different depending on which “me” you met: the broken me or the “risen” me that was born after years of abusing myself and recreated after meeting God, learning to trust Him more than myself, and finding wholeness in Him. I gave up a lot of myself to find myself and my joy. You will see what I mean when you meet Him. He is worth changing everything for. It’s beyond description really.

 

The forty-something me is the best me I have ever known. I am nicer to the world, and I am so much kinder to myself. I have decided to stop trying to change certain parts of me. I apologize for the right reasons. I believe in my own mind. I love the strength of my body; I don’t use it to please others who don’t deserve its gift or the tiniest morsel of me. I find joy in the little stuff.

 

I have met the man I want to be your dad. He is so amazing, I didn’t even know if I wanted to share him with you. I enjoy being the center of his love, below God, but above cheeseburgers, which is a pretty sweet spot if you know him. He loves the boys so much, I am afraid the love he would have for you would break him but I know it would change him in all the right ways. It would multiply our love for each other. He would spoil you and cherish you and show you a reflection of God’s love that is generous beyond measure.

 

I am ready to meet you now. I think we would be a smashing team. We could split cheesecakes like my mom and I used to, we could cook together and go on the biggest adventures. I could help you be brave when you wanted to hide or stand in the shadows. I would take you to all the libraries in the world and you could imagine that you are the hero of every story. I would tell you that you are beautiful, and smart, and witty and compassionate and courageous. And I would mean it. And you would believe me because I would bathe you in the Truth and it would keep you safe in the strongest of storms.

 

I don’t know if we will ever meet, but you would be so loved. Even though we haven’t met, I know you will change the world. I might not have been ready for a daughter for a very long time but I am there now. I will teach you how to be really fun and respect yourself all at the same time. I will help you chase your own dreams. You will have the best brothers, the gentlest father and a wonderful family. You will know God and He will shine brightly on you. You will be you. And you will be surrounded by unconditional love.

 

Even though you don’t have a name yet, do not fear, I have one or two in mind. If God introduces us, we will figure out the details. I will learn to live on less sleep. You will be instantly okay with a mom with thinning eyebrows because you won’t know any better 😉 Life won’t be perfect, but it’ll be worth it and I will help you navigate it, and try to step back when you don’t want my help, when you need to find yourself and reconnect with God.

 

If we never meet, it’s okay too. Just the thought of you has made me a better woman, and for that I thank you.

 

With all my love,

 

Mom

I could list a thousand things I am thankful for. I can also recall several times even recently, that I haven’t felt very thankful. It’s not that I lack a spirit of gratitude. There are just times when I crave something more, something deeper, something more connected.

The times when I feel a longing for what I desire, also allow me to reflect on the goodness of what I have. Desiring more does not mean we lack gratitude. Desiring more is part of our make up. It propels us towards goals, into prayer, and hopefully into personal and spiritual growth.

In my reflection of what I lack and still desire, I have also become aware of a few things that do not, on the surface, seem like things that I should be thankful for because they have brought me grief, heartache and even anguish.  But that does not subtract from a simple truth: I have been blessed through pain and even deep loss.

Here are 5 things that I should not be thankful for, but truly am:

  1. My youngest son’s diagnosis of autism – KG has long been diagnosed with ADHD, depression and anxiety. It seems odd that I would be thankful for him to have yet another diagnosis. However, this diagnosis has allowed him to receive more help at school, especially in the social and behavioral areas where he has struggled so much.
  2. My oldest son’s trouble adjusting to high school – JC struggled when he started middle school too. In fact, it took him 2 years to adjust to just 3 years of middle school, but he did it. And by the end of middle school, we began to truly enjoy our son again (shout AMEN if you’ve been there!) But here we are again, low grades, poor decisions and low motivation. But I have faith in him and this process. And I have no doubt that he will find his way, in his own time.
  3. Struggles in my marriage – I do not enjoy any marital stress or discontentment, but our struggles have pushed us into talking, listening and compromising in unprecedented ways. It has also led us to serve other couples in blended families by hosting a small group (church) experience just for them. Through leading this group, we have learned something so refreshing: We are normal. And we will get through this.
  4. Problems in our business – Owning a business is really really hard. And after 7 years, sometimes we feel stuck and drained. This year was especially difficult for us. We got some bad press and it hurt us financially and emotionally. However, we have learned a lot from this process (and our mistakes) and in some ways it is getting us unstuck. We are making changes and plans that we had gotten too comfortable to make long ago.
  5. Good old infertility – The gift that keeps on giving. Two months ago, we experienced our seventh miscarriage. I never thought I was strong enough to endure this much loss, but it turns out that I can (with God’s help) get through unimaginable pain.  My husband has loved me relentlessly through this, and I never doubt his commitment to me. Also, I can’t imagine how in the world I could manage a baby right now with all of the time and attention my teenage sons need. Not to mention, God has opened up a steady stream of writing opportunities that I am blessed to have the time to pursue.

Sometimes, looking at the bright side just doesn’t work. Just like you, I cry, yell, curse and hide. Sometimes life is just too hard.

But then I crawl out of bed, throw away the Kit Kat wrappers and literally say aloud to myself, “Get it together. You – are – a – woman – of – God!” I put on a Christian podcast or crank up “Oceans” by Hillsong and sing my ass off. I put one foot in front of the other, remind myself of my blessings, go to the gym and cry three times during one workout (letting strangers hug me and pray for me), then do my job of being a wife/mom/writer/business owner, then pray to God that I can do it again tomorrow.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and you won’t start now
[“Oceans” – Hillsong]

Why bother being thankful? Because if we don’t we will drown in an ocean of self-pity, pain, what if’s, and longing. I can’t do this life alone. I must have my community of believers, prayer ninjas, and encouragers. But ultimately, I absolutely must have my God. For He carries me through the darkest times and so often saves me from myself.

I hope you aren’t drowning, trying to do this life alone. If you are, please stop. Reach out to someone – maybe a lot of someones, and ask for help, prayer and encouragement.

And if you don’t know God, or if you just haven’t talked to Him in a long while, He is here. He is listening. And even when you are struggling, He is not failing you, and He never will.

Even in my disappointment, loss and longing, He has yet to fail me once.

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A recent sunset from my front yard, a colorful reminder of God’s constant presence.

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I just shared with you how things are going for me 10 years after my divorce. I shared hope with you because hope is something that you never actually lose, but once you abandon it, it haunts you and terrorizes you, reminding you that you never should’ve left it behind.

I don’t want that for anyone.

When I met my husband Byron, I had left hope in the dust. I had just found out that my sexy boyfriend had a sexy girlfriend that wasn’t me. I had lost my job. Life was pretty terrible. And I had pretty much resigned myself to a bleak existence for a while.

I dated a few guys who were never ever marriage material and some that I suspect still aren’t. I had dated a few guys who thought they were in love with me, but they scared me because deep down, I knew I just wasn’t ready for love.

As the story usually goes, I met Byron when I least expected it and when I truly wasn’t looking. I had no desire to impress him nor did I see him as a dating option. Naturally he would be the man who would steal my heart for good.

In reflecting over the last 5 years (almost 9 if you count our dating years), here is some wisdom I have garnered over the last few years of my marriage to the greatest man I know:

  • Marriage is, in general, a great deal of work-Our marriage is good, in part, because we both feel lucky. Meaning that we both feel like we married up. But no amount of luck will keep any of us from having to actually put effort into our marriage. And effort isn’t flowers on a birthday, or a pot roast on father’s day. Effort is a daily, continual effort that flows from a desire to love on the person you choose to spend your life with.
  • Love is a verb-Love can be a noun, but love as a noun won’t sail the love boat. Love has to be a verb, an action that tells, shows and echoes not just an emotion, but a deep, never-ending, robust commitment to your partner.
  • Love isn’t enough-We can love each other so intensely that honey drips from our mouths, but that isn’t going to cut it. Women need to be cherished, adored and sought after. Men needed to be liked, appreciated, respected and admired. Love without these needed ingredients, will feel impotent and incomplete.
  • Respect isn’t a 1-hit wonder-You can’t just tell a man you respect him and call it a day. Respect is proven over years of letting him finish his sentences, retell old stories, honoring his decisions, standing down when you are convinced he is wrong, and praising him when you have every “right” (in your mind) to criticize him. Respect is the marathon of marathons. It’s an Iron Man competition when you don’t even know how to doggie paddle. No amount of love when ever make up for a deficit of respect.
  • Relationships have boundaries, not rules-It’s true you can’t control others, nor can you get very far with ultimatums, but each of us has the right to establish healthy boundaries that tell others what we as humans (and children of God) are willing to to accept and tolerate. The hard part for many of us, is sticking to our own boundaries. Don’t expect others to honor them when you move the lines to enable others to step on you. Setting boundaries early is best, just like declaring your house rules in Monopoly; it takes a consensus to change them later.
  • Life is hard-Well there’s a big fat DUH. But seriously, even if you have met your Prince Charming, or if you are living happy and single, life is just hard. Sometimes it’s just too much: conflicting needs, arguing teens, failing grades, health problems, chronic infertility and pregnancy loss, PLUS all the other stuff I don’t care to blog about. But no matter how hard it gets, we never stop working at strengthening our commitment and our covenant. If we expect life to be easy for our marriages to flourish, no one would ever stay married!

I met with a friend recently, and she was saying how hard marriage is and she’s been married a very long time. She was surprised when I told her that I don’t think that it’s supposed to be easy. I think marriage is a training ground for eternity and a multi-decade exercise in self-sacrifice. Ephesian 5:21 tell us to, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” You don’t even have to like your spouse that day to honor them; you just have to have reverence for Christ.

Marriages that last do so because two people are working for the benefit of the marriage, not themselves. They are following Christ, even when they don’t feel like following each other into the next room.

Byron and I have a good marriage, but not because we have a perfect marriage. We disagree, argue and have times of great stress. Our marriage is lasting because we admit when we are struggling, we keep seeking God as the center of our marriage, and we don’t let the bad overwhelm the good, even when it’s damn tempting.

The biggest lesson that I have learned is that when you find a caring and decent human who loves you and gives a rip about how you feel, do everything possible to appreciate them and thank God for this gift.

God has blessed me beyond measure.

And I plan to live like it.

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I posted this just over a year ago to share my infertility story with you in hopes you would feel less alone. In honor of Infertility Awareness Week 2015, here is my story and an update…


 

Three and a half years ago we embarked upon a journey to create life. Sounds super simple right? Man joins with woman, a month or two go by, and voila, child is conceived. Nursery colors are chosen and names are debated until your beautiful bundle is born, and then you can start complaining about not sleeping. It’s the American dream.

I’m not going to get into the in’s and out’s of our journey from a medical standpoint. Nor will I seek to offer anyone dealing with infertility an answer to a terribly painful struggle. I will just share with you a few peeks into our experience, so that simply put, you will know you are not alone, and so will I.

Having had 2 children who are now 10 and 13 (during my first marriage), I know the side effects of pregnancy quite well. What I did not expect were the vast side effects of not being pregnant when we really wanted to be.

Here are a few:

  • Crying when my period starts–Boo-hooing on the toilet or in the shower alone, so no one, not even my husband could see how sad I was.
  • Wasting money on pregnancy tests and fertility treatments–Of course it’s not a waste when it works out but I must’ve peed on a 100 sticks (and all too often, my hand) of various kinds to predict my fertility and test for pregnancy. Then sometimes I hid the sticks in the closet so my husband wouldn’t see how many times I checked, thus making my towel closet smell like urine.
  • Feeling guilty as heck–I read that the person who feels to blame for the infertility shoulders the brunt of the pain associated with it.  They feel the same level of stress that comes with chronic illness like cancer or heart disease.  But heck, I even feel guilty for typing that because how dare I compare my pain to something as serious as a life-threatening disease?
  • Feeling pissed–I have been angry with my friends for getting pregnant and even angry with my husband for not feeling as sad as I do (see above reason.) My husband has cried too, but he can’t get pregnant ever. I can, or at least that’s the idea, so I have felt like I needed to fix it.
  • Feeling super pissed at my body–I’m 39 and people say I look a lot younger, yet my haggard ovaries or my dusty womb have betrayed me. Infertility has a special way of making me feel like the bride of Yoda, complete with Easy Spirit support shoes and elastic pants.
  • Feeling bitter about babies in general–I went through a phase where I would see a pic of a baby girl and think, “she looks like a boy.”  I would think, “that baby’s bald, that baby’s fat, that baby looks like Elvis.” I was mad, and secretly judging little babies felt a tiny bit good for a second. Yes that is a spiritual low, and I am not proud of it, but dang it felt good to just let myself be grumpy for a minute.
  • Hating Facebook–Selfies of pregnant women every week of their pregnancy (hi, I’m 8 ½ minutes pregnant), new moms complaining that their  baby won’t sleep, sometimes 6 posts in a ROW about pregnancy from 6 different people. Oh my! Sometimes, it’s just too much!
  • Feeling excluded–Friends with young children tend to stick together, I get it. But some of my friendships have changed since my friends have had kids. It might be normal but it still sucks. Sometimes I am even left out of baby showers that I would expect to have been invited to.
  • Stress, anxiety and even depression–I have experienced it all. And guess what? The rest of my normal problems did not put themselves on hold while I mourned my miscarriages or felt monthly disappointments.
  • Losing faith–There were months when my faith was so low and I felt betrayed by God. I would call Him out too, “God, we had a deal. How could you?”

If there is an upside to infertility, I want to share it with you. It might not change a thing for you, but I will share in hopes that it might.

  • I’m more solidified with my husband–At first I feared I would lose him because I couldn’t give him a child. Now I feel more blessed than ever because he has stuck with me and loved me with every breath.

The best thing he has ever uttered to me in this process has been, “I married you. I want YOU; not what you can give me.”

  • A renewed attention to myself and my health–Aside from the binge Oreo eating that occurs when I am really down, I have learned to be kind to my body, not because it might host an embryo at some point, but because it is a gift, and I plan to use it for a lot longer.
  • Gaining Faith –Yeah, I know I said I lost some faith, but that was only temporary. This arduous process has brought me closer to God than anything else has. If this is what God had to do to draw me closer to Him, then I am thankful for it.

I am not Miss Happy Sunshine all the time, in fact, I am dealing with a fair amount of anxiety at this time. Writing is hard sometimes too, because I have to sound wise, while eating 20 Oreos at once and scrolling through pics of babies and thinking rotten thoughts about baby comb overs.

I am also not going to tell you that if you pray hard enough that God will bless you with a child. I don’t even know what God’s plan is for my family. But I’m still here, and I am still getting out of bed, and I am still pecking away at this keyboard to tell you that you are not alone. It sucks, damn it sucks, but I am not alone either. I have God, I have my sweet husband, I have my big boys and my cute dogs, and GOD has a plan. I can wait on it.

Life is still pretty good, but I won’t pretend it’s perfect. I couldn’t get through this alone. Email me if you need to vent, pray or slam a pack of Oreos in 3 minutes flat. I am here for you.


Update: I got pregnant the very month I posted this last year and quickly miscarried. I was pregnant two more times within 4 month, losing both pregnancies and my right tube…but not my faith. My faith is stronger than ever. And whatever God’s plan is for us, I am going to rock it obediently.

P.S. I am not longer obsessed with Oreos. I have moved onto Nutella and peanut butter. 🙂

 

For more on infertility check out, The Pregnancy Post that Really Chaps My Behind

IMG_2233I married my husband when I was 35 and he was 32. My boys were 9 and 7. My honey has never had any natural children, and we have been “infertile” for 5 years.

We started trying to get pregnant about 6 months after we wed, and get pregnant we did. By our first Mother’s Day together, we had experienced our first miscarriage.

Just months later I was pregnant again. I was 36 but felt good about this pregnancy. I miscarried again.

I miscarried four more times over the next four years, three of those times in 2014, the last time resulting in the loss of my right tube.

I desperately wanted a child with Byron. He tried to play it cool because he never wanted to put too much stress on me. With each loss, I had new emotions and the remaking of old ones: angry with God, sad, achingly heartbroken, fearful, confused, hopeful, elated, resigned, and eventually even somewhat at ease (at least much of the time).

Somewhere in my mind, there was something fateful about turning 40 though. It was an unspoken drop-dead date as if this is it, it’s now or never, it’s time to start planning for grandkids…and loafers…and polyester…and soft foods.

My boys are starting high school and middle school this year, and I am starting to fear an empty nest while also dreaming of sipping mimosas in bed with my hubby at noon and flying to Martha’s Vineyard without reservations (we never had a kid-free newlywed stage!). I daydream of talking on the phone with my boys after they are grown, and enjoying their own lives, them telling me about their jobs and their girlfriends and their golden retrievers. I dream of growing out my grays and walking through city streets in Europe, cruising with my adult children and picking baby names…for my grandkids…or some stranger’s kid (because strangers love that).

Yet when I see your ultrasound pics, and your baby bump pics, and your baby shower pics, and your baby’s 7 month pics, and your baby-eating-cake pics, I get that ache that says, it ain’t over yet, slow down granny, you might need to rest up for the possibility of procreation. And each month, I get a little hopeful, and I like to imagine when our baby would be born and what the weather or holiday will be when I bring him or her home and what it would feel like to have a naked baby lay on my chest again.

I know you might be wondering what we are doing about it, and I can honestly and peacefully tell you: nothing (anymore). We eat, rest, exercise, work, play, make love, repeat. This might not make a baby but we enjoy the trying. My husband claims it is his favorite part.

So here I am at 40 with many signs of youth still lingering, yet gray hair peaking through, favoring comfortable shoes and Netflix over a night on the town, wondering if I will be a mom to a baby ever again, or if I should focus on preventing diabetes and osteoporosis, and increasing “regularity”. But every time I think I might be pregnant (thanks to the fact that pregnancy and PMS feel a little too similar), I feel a streak of panic. Yet when I know I am not I feel a little more resigned, not devastated, just aware that my nest might be empty before I know it. So I focus on the mimosas and sunsets on the beach with my sexy husband until I feel hopeful again in 3 weeks.

It feels a little like a roller coaster ride, but not the fun and crazy ones where they just strap in your upper body and let your legs fly through the air while you try not to puke up your soft pretzel. It’s more of a ride on the teacup, round and round you go, knowing you’ll be back in the same spot with the same view in a matter of seconds.

And then I remember that I am not the only one in this situation. My husband is in it with me, yet separately. He has his own emotions and hopes that he probably doesn’t share 1/100 of the time because he is trying to be kind to his wife. And sometimes, out of nowhere I am reminded of the kind of dad he is, and the kind of dad he could be. I hear him laugh his dad’s laugh (which is a very nice laugh) and see him handle things a little more tenderly than I would expect, I picture him with a baby or a toddler, sharing warmth and affection, and it renews my hope and my eagerness.

A fertility struggle is not a one-stop journey. And it is not remotely linear or level. It is grueling, frustrating, devastating, invigorating, frightening, desperate, hopeful, loving and cruel. It is a cross-country journey across the US. I have been at the bottom of Grand Canyon and at the top of Mount McKinley. I have sipped champagne by the ocean and eaten sand in the desert. Most days I am content with my view from my porch, and other days I crave a new adventure with the man who chose me with a little one who looks a little like me and a lot like him.

Being supple to God’s plan is a new challenge every day. Some days it is harder than others. Byron and I have come a long way in our faith. Often I hear people say, “It’s not knowing that God can, it’s believing that God will.” I always sort of laugh at that, because sometimes you just don’t get what you want, when you want, or ever at all. So I say,

“It’s not knowing that God can, or even believing that God will, but knowing that He wants the best for you, even when He doesn’t.”

Amen?

AMEN.


For more insight into infertility, check out Infertility: The 1 Thing You Must Know

It’s April Fool’s Day, so you probably think this post is about people joking about being pregnant (when they are not), but it’s not. I don’t care what people do on April Fool’s Day. It’s a silly day, and there are insensitive people doing thoughtless stuff year ‘round.

I see a lot of posts on Facebook or personal blogs about other things that are frustrating to me as someone who struggles with infertility. And as someone who has been struggling for 5 years, with a handful (or 2) of loss, I have been sad, mad and even bitter during this time. I am in a “better place” now (thankfully), but that hasn’t always been the case.

But even at my worst, there is one sentiment I cannot get behind: When ladies get mad at young and/or single moms who have an unplanned pregnancy because they have it so “easy” while they are struggling with infertility. I have had other women say to me (as if it helps), “It’s just so irritating that other women get pregnant without even trying while women like you are struggling.”

It doesn’t feel fair to some. While many hopeful mothers are emotionally and perhaps financially spent trying to get pregnant, some young whippersnapper ends up pregnant without ever trying.

So are we to be jealous of young, single, maybe even jobless moms that don’t have a support system and who are probably scared to death? Do we really have the right to get mad at her? Why? Because she has it so “good” and “won’t appreciate her baby”? Who are we to judge that? Who are we to decide what kind of mom she will be?

I have a young mother. I wasn’t planned for, but I was chosen none-the-less. She chose to keep me, raise me and love me. Sometimes she did it alone. She joined the Air Force, took care of me, taught me independence, and taught me the value of education. She was and is a good mom. She might not have done things the way others might have done it, but she did the best she could and it was more than enough. I am proud of my mom 🙂

There aren’t a set number of pregnancies in the world each year, and we are not competing for the resource of useful eggs or embryos. Let’s not judge these young or single moms with “surprise” pregnancies and hold jealousy in our hearts for them. Let’s not secretly hope that they fail, or that they give up their children to someone “more deserving.” Rather lets love them, pray for them, and let God have his way with all of our lives. What we consider “not fair” is someone else’s life, and it’s not easy just because it came “easy.”

Let’s stop competing and start having empathy and LOVE for one another. Because I can promise when that serendipitous mom is up with heartburn, a colicky baby or a sick toddler, she is not thinking, “Oh snap, I showed that infertile mom what’s up!” She’s likely overwhelmed, worried about finances and scared to fail.

In other words, she is just like us.


For more honest insight on infertility, check out I’m Afraid I Might be Pregnant at 40

This is a typical evening at our home. Byron is showing our 14-year-old how to do algebra.

This is a typical evening at our home. Byron is showing our 14-year-old how to do algebra.

Bear with me. For a minute you might think I am bragging about my husband, and you might actually try to gag yourself with a spoon, but I have a point worth waiting for. Several people have said to me that they think Byron and I have the perfect relationship. I used to take that as a compliment but not anymore.

I have a great husband and I know it. If I attempt to forget it, there are folks everywhere waiting to remind me. He is just a good man, and no one can deny it.

He gets lots of good guy points. He married a single mom with two young boys. He’s never been married, doesn’t have kids from a previous marriage, he’s self-employed, he’s a cutie, and he takes me on tropical getaways. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that we have problems too. We appreciate each other. We both feel lucky and blessed, but life has a way of being really hard sometimes. We disagree on parenting sometimes. We have “family” issues. We run a business (if you don’t get this, then you don’t own a business). We are infertile and have experienced a lot of loss and are coming to terms that we might not procreate as a couple. Money is a stressor. We have too many dogs, too many house repairs, too much laundry, and not enough time. Sometimes we fight.

Recently we hit a low in our marriage. We have been constantly upset with each other. He has been waking up sad, and I have been waking up mad. We went about our days, took care of our responsibilities, ate together, prayed together, parented together, but we have been resenting each other.

I have been in school for 3 years. My combined three-year income would make an awesome down payment on an overpriced handbag. I help him with the business. He helps the boys with homework. We both aim to please each other, but sometimes we each feel like a big fat steaming pile of not enough.

After a really hurtful fight (a loud argument with even louder feelings) we got even colder with each other. I was filled with darkness and rage. He was going through the motions looking like he had a virus. I kept praying each night to wake up feeling happy yet I woke up angrier each day, waiting on him to appreciate me a certain way, and to love me in my language.

Then I hit the lowest of the lows, still I kept praying for a morning that felt like joy. I laid in bed and read a book for school. The book wasn’t special in any way, but suddenly without premeditation or thought, I turned to Byron and said something to the effect of, “I am sorry for any words I have said to you over the last 8 years that may have been rude, critical or discouraging.” He looked astonished and asked, “Where did that come from?” The answer was, I didn’t know.

The next morning, I woke up…joyful…and grateful, and at peace again.

I was excited about taking the boys to school at the crack of dawn and facing my day. I took about fifteen minutes and read a few verses in the Bible and then let my head tilt back and began conversing with God. He said a couple of things:

“I didn’t put you through three years of school for nothing.”

(He knew I was wondering about that).

And then he said,

“You need to know the difference between letting your husband lead and looking to him for approval and affirmation; that’s what I am for.”

Ah. I had it all wrong. I had made my husband my “god” and when he couldn’t meet all my needs I punished him for it. And maybe he has done the same to me. My husband is the very best man I know, but he is a man, not a god and I cannot expect more than what God designed him for.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. (Eph. 5:25-28)

I like these verses. They allow me to be lovely, cared for and “blameless.” Here is the next verse:

He who loves his wife loves himself.

I think we were putting so much pressure on each other to perform a certain way but we were really doubting ourselves. We weren’t loving ourselves; so loving each other became harder each day.

Here’s the missing piece:

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:18-20)

Instead of living with a heart of true gratitude, I was saying the right things (please, thank you, good job, and you are awesome) but my heart was puny and dark, wishing for more and criticizing him for what I longed for that he was never intended to give me in the first place…godly affirmation and joy. Instead of genuinely thanking God for everything, I was secretly blaming and resenting my husband for everything.

Since I told him that I was sorry, we have laughed again and enjoyed each others’ company. We have shown mutual respect and genuine love. I have expected less, breathed more, and stopped trying to control him with my secret thoughts.

We still aren’t perfect and we never ever will be. We were never intended to be and that’s the problem. We were designed to serve each other, love each other, comfort each other, support each other and so much more, but we were not intended to lord over the other to meet our needs that can only be met by God.

Yes, my husband is human. And I am more than okay with that. I am grateful.

Byron did push ups because Jackson got all the steps of his algebra work completed correctly. Yeah, I love him :-)

Byron did push ups because Jackson got all the steps of his algebra work completed correctly. Yeah, I love him 🙂