Marriage

Most resolutions are very well intended, lose weight, stop smoking, and maybe even fall in love. But no one actually keeps their resolutions, do they?

 

According to Time.com, these are the most commonly broken resolutions:

 

  • Lose Weight and Get Fit
  • Quit Smoking
  • Learn Something New
  • Eat Healthier and Diet
  • Get Out of Debt and Save Money
  • Spend More Time with Family
  • Travel to New Places
  • Be Less Stressed
  • Volunteer
  • Drink Less

 

Coincidentally, they are among the resolutions most often made.

 

There are a few reasons why resolutions fail:

 

  • Lack of time
  • Lack of commitment
  • Lack of resources/knowledge

 

What is it about January 1 of each year that makes us think that more hours will be born into our days, more will-power will sink into our bones, and suddenly we will know how to do what we haven’t been able to do in decades?

 

But there are some resolutions you can actually make that you can actually keep, because I am not going to tell you what to do, but one REAL step you can take to get there.

 

Here are 10 worthwhile resolutions that you may have been avoiding for a very long time, but shouldn’t because they can change your life. And I am going to give you one actual how-to for each of them that you can sink your teeth into:

 

  1. Get healthy–Ok, this one is intentionally vague for a reason: we are all different, so we all need healthy advice that is tailored to our body and lifestyle.

Pro tip–Schedule a physical ASAP. Your doctor may run blood-work and a series of tests to see how you are doing, why you are tired and tell you what you can do about it. See? This is useful.

  1. Help your community­–Most lists include an altruistic component that helps others, but not everyone knows what to do to help.

Pro tip–Tithe. Yep, give up some of your dough to your church. Your church is already helping the community (or should be) and now your money can help an already existing well-oiled machine.

Note: You can also volunteer. But don’t get confused: they are two different things. You may choose to only do one or the other, but one does not substitute the other.
  1. Improve your marriage–January is a busy month for filing for divorce. But even if you aren’t throwing the D word around, you might be longing for something deeper and more intimate. I could write a series on this, and I might but let’s start with one tip, because honestly, marriage is hard, but it doesn’t have to be miserable.

Pro tip–Get marriage counseling. Check with your local directory, your church or your health insurance. There are sliding fees and evening hours for working people. But trust me on this one, it is worth your time and money to get counseling and improve your marriage. Divorce is way more costly.

  1. Achieve weight and health goals–Some of you want to lose weight, others might want to gain it. A lot of us just want to squish it into another area of our body. Changing our bodies is a lengthy process that requires commitment to our health.

Pro tip–See a nutritionist (or health adviser). In other words, put down Cosmo and close your Pinterest app and schedule an appointment to talk to a pro who will help you assess your patterns and advise you on ways you can improve your health over the long run and see real results.

  1. Enjoy life more–Oh boy. We are all looking for the key to happiness, and every year, we are hoping and praying for more happiness in our lives. So why do we keep setting this goal, yet not achieving it?

Pro tip–Let go of what could have been. Living in the past or living with regret will zap happiness in a jiffy. More than likely, you cannot undo what is done (or what has been done to you). So take a look at where you are NOW and come to grips with, and make a plan for your future that makes no considerations for what could have been.

  1. Plan for your financial future–I don’t care where you are in your financial planning, there is always more to learn. Your next step will look very different for the guy next door.

Pro tip–Read Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace or attend a respected financial seminar from a respected leader (not someone interested in you investing your money in their next scheme).

  1. Plan for your long-term health–As we age, we have to take our health very seriously and take extra precautions to be healthy. We often avoid the reality of our age, but avoiding it will not shelter us from reality.

Pro tip–Schedule your prostate exam, mammogram, skin cancer screening, OBGYN appointment, or any recommended exam for your age, sex and family history. Yes, it will probably be uncomfortable, but it’s part of being a grown up.

  1. Drop emotional baggage–Been lugging around some drama, heartache, and bitterness for a hot minute? If so, I bet you are exhausted from it. I have been there and it is draining and can even make you physically ill.

Pro tip–Forgive someone. Forgiveness is a process that allows you to be free from the pain that comes with the wounds someone else inflicted upon you. They may not seem worth the effort, but you are. So start praying for the ability to forgive now. It will take time, but it will change your life for the better.

  1. Be someone you like–Feeling emotional, crabby and moody more than you care to admit? Tired of feeling like a walking butt hole and for having to constantly apologize for your attitude? I hear this a lot from my friends, so I know this is common, but should it be?

Pro tip–Choose one attitude to change. Angry, guilt-ridden, or too judgmental? Choose one attitude to adjust and attack it with this handy acronym: P.R.A.Y.

  • Pray about it,
  • Read about it
  • Ask for accountability
  • Yield to help.

Life is too short to keep feeling this way. It’s time to take charge friend.

  1. Do you–Ok, I am not trying to sound 20 years younger than I am, but people of all ages want to have fun, have an interesting life and find out who they are in the process. And if you are around my age, then you might also want to think of “doing you” a little more, because once your kids are out of the house in 5-10 years (or less!), are you going to have a life? Are you going to even know what you enjoy?

Pro tip–Make a list of things you want to learn, hobbies you used to enjoy, or my favorite: things that scare you. Now post this list on your mirror or in your phone and start doing them. This is your life. Enjoy the heck out of it.

 

There are many worthwhile goals, and I have only mentioned a few, but I encourage you to take charge of what is holding you back, release what is weighing you down and look forward to each hour of each day of this beautiful and messy life.

 

It’s your life, and no one is going to make it lovely for you.

 

So do you.

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.

IMG_5980

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

I was married at the tender age of 21 and by age 25 I had my first son. I went from selfish party girl to Martha’s alter ego in a matter of months. I baked, I breastfed, and I obsessed over my child. He became the center of my universe.

I can still remember our first vacation without him. He was a year old and we went to Chicago for a few days. I felt sick to death when I left him, thought about him throughout the trip, and dared state troopers to pull me over as I urged my ex to –d r i v e  f a s t e r- home. Being away from my child was hell.

I don’t ever remember taking another adult-only vacation after my second son was born. Nor do I remember date nights. If we ordered pizza, relieving me of my cooking duties, I felt like Cinderella at the ball. In fact, I remember winning a radio contest for a New Year’s Eve stay at the Opryland Hotel based purely on an essay I wrote on how pathetically unromantic my life was. Now that’s #winning.

After my divorce, we succumbed to a 50/50 parenting schedule which made a few days in Chicago seem like a walk in the park. I missed my kids so badly, my chest felt like it was being crushed. I cried. A lot.

Eventually I remarried. My new husband doesn’t have children of his own. As we learned to be a blended family, he still desired to date me. And I liked it. We have been together for 9 years, and I still like it.

It took time to release myself from the guilt of having fun without my children. We still took vacations with our children, but we made sure to have at least one trip around our anniversary that was kid-free. We go on dates, and we allow ourselves the right to privacy in our home. And I know many parents who do not have boundaries in their home for where the children can go/sleep and let me tell you moms, your husband might not be as thrilled as he pretends he to be.

My youngest still gets a little feisty about being “left behind.” “You always promise me that you will take us on your honeymoon (that’s what he calls it) but you never do!” “You are so right sweet son, I never will; and I am certain I have never promised you that. We love you, and we take trips as a family, but moms and dads need time to be adults too.” He quickly concedes each time, as I remind him of all the trips we take as a family and how we love him even when we are away from home.

But I see my never-divorced friends, and many of them have NEVER had a kid-free vacation. And I can’t fathom it, until I remember Chicago 2001 and a little mama with big fears that someone might drop or ruin or wound her child while she caught a Cubs game and wandered through Windy City. But he survived and so did I.

My ego survived too. See we would like to think that we are the only ones who can take care of our kiddos. But that’s not true. Grandparents, family friends, and even sitters can love our kids and care for them brilliantly! And what is better for your kids than to know that more people in the world love them besides mommy and daddy?

It’s actually been very eye opening for me, being divorced that is. I realize now how little of a priority I made my first marriage. The kids always came first (probably for both of us). And you can see how that turned out.

Is your marriage the priority it should be? If not, why? If it’s money, then save up for a night at a hotel an hour away. You will be amazed at what the change of scenery will do for your marriage…for your love life! If it’s the special needs of your children, then honey, you need it just as much or more than the next person! Your marriage needs extra TLC. Say YES to the friends and family who offer to help out a night or two, or even just for a few hours so you can grab a meal and talk about something other than the kids.

Don’t wait until your marriage is stressed to the max to take an adult time out. Every relationship is better with a little space from time to time. Even your kids need a little break from you to remember how awesome you are!

If you are one of those moms who never puts herself or her marriage ahead of her children, take it from me: NOW IS THE TIME!  You will wonder what took you so long!

Bon voyage sweet friend! Enjoy being just a woman for a spell!

Everyone who knows me, like really knows me, knows there was a time I couldn’t sit in the same room with my ex. I hung up on him no fewer than 1836 time during our PDRP (post-divorce recovery period). I broke at least two of my phones and at least three hairbrushes from just needing to “hurt” something after a very angry conversation with my ex.

Divorces are nasty, and mine was as nasty as they come. A bitter, broken marriage turned into an outright war during and after the divorce with my children being the most wounded in battle. We fought for the kids, around the kids and about the kids. The kids will need adult counseling. And we should pay for it. It’s our fault.

But much time has passed. I learned boundaries. I found God. I learned forgiveness. And I quit living under a storm cloud of parenting guilt. I quit operating as a wounded, bitter failure and began to find peace and confidence I didn’t know could exist.

I am going to keep this post short today, because I am not going to give you a list of how to’s or practical action steps in order to find peace and joy in your life again. I am not going to give you a step-by-step plan to teach you how to get along with your ex. I am just going to ask you one question: Do you want to get better?

You might be eager to say, “Yes! I want to find peace. I want to get along better with my ex. But it’s not my fault. He/she just brings drama to every situation.” And if you said this, I don’t doubt that you would mean it. But unless you actually want to heal, and are committed to having peace and joy in your life, it will never happen. And many of you (like me at the time) are comforted by the pain of the struggle with your ex, perhaps even addicted to it, carrying it around like a security blanket, then getting indignant when someone suggests you “let it go.”

So I will leave you with his today: Are you ready to get better?

If you are ready, start with this prayer, “Lord help me to open to healing. Amen.”

The road ahead will still be brutal on some days. You might even throw a few hissy fits and break a few innocent hairbrushes, but when you start praying for your own willingness to heal, you will be surprised at the results.

You might even find yourself and your new husband sitting with your ex and your kids in church on Sundays.

I never could have imagined that this day would come, but it has, and it’s all through the power of God working in each of us, and a point that came years ago where I decided, I was ready.

Are you?

I never planned on having a step-family. But I do. And boy do I love it. But it isn’t always easy.

In fact, I knew that it would not be easy long before I ever married the first time at the age of 21, because growing up I had been a stepchild. My step-dad adopted me, and he is a great dad, but it still made for the same dynamics of a blended family. No matter the legal status of your family, when families form later in the game, there is much to learn and overcome!

I met my bachelor child-free husband in 2006. I had been divorced for a year; my boys were 3 and 6 years old. In 2010, we married, officially creating a blended family. My oldest read 1 Corinthians and our youngest prayed for us at our ceremony. It seemed quite unique among our friends, but these days, about a third of all marriages create a blended family.

Blended families are increasingly common, but they are not typical. There are unique scenarios and different struggles. Children have to learn new rules and to accept love and authority from a new person. Stepparents have to learn when to stand up and when to stand down and how to…Read the Rest of the Article

Check out more articles by Kris Wolfe on Clarksville Online

A few days ago I shared Tips for Parents Going Through a Divorce (part 1) which covered several tips that are based on my personal and professional experience with divorcing parents.  The next 9 are equally as important and I urge you to read them, and even share them with others who are enduring a similar struggle.

 

  1. Not everything has to be a court battle–Mediate. Negotiate. Breathe. Stop trying to win for the sake of winning all the time. Choose your battles but never quit advocating for the safety and health of your children. Ask yourself if you will be glad to have chosen this battle in 2, 5 or 10 years. And more importantly, will your kids be better humans for it?
  2. The kids don’t care about the stuff that you do–You’re mad because you bought school supplies the last 3 years? Guess what? That’s not your kid’s problem. You feel that you put way more work and time into your kids that your ex does? You probably do, but telling your kids that will make them feel like a burden to BOTH of you. Deal with your money and other trivial issues completely apart from your children.
  3. Stop saying, “that’s what child support pays for!”–to your ex or your kids. Child support does not mean that you don’t pay for anything ever again. You still have responsibilities at your house and many responsibilities outside of food, water and electricity. Your kid still needs lined paper for her homework and may even want stuff like a yearbook or a new baseball glove. Stop acting like a maniacal penny pincher and take care of of your kid and quit keeping score.
  4. Stop leaning on your child for emotional support–Do not turn them into your therapist, buddy or a substitute for your spouse. They cannot emotionally handle all of their own junk let alone yours. Children who are “parentified” (put in a position of emotional authority or given too much responsibility for their age) can become anxious, perfectionistic, fearful and overwhelmed. It’s tempting to tell an emotionally mature 12-year-old how hard it is to be alone day after day, but don’t, just don’t.
  5. Stop drilling them–Inspector Gadget has nothing on you. Go gadget 20 questions. Go gadget 3rd degree. “What’s daddy doing this week? Who has mommy had over? How much did daddy spend on his new car?” Do you want your kids to lie to you? Probably not. But if they tell you what your ex is doing, they are probably feeling some (or considerable) guilt for betraying the other parent. Your kids may volunteer information, and that is okay, but make sure your follow up questions are for their benefit, not yours.
  6. Don’t ask your children to lie or keep secrets­–Don’t even do something that they will feel compelled to keep secret for you. I never asked my children to cover for me or lie for me, but unbeknown to me my (then) 5 year old chose not to tell his dad things that he thought would upset him. Managing the strain of the impossible emotional balance between his parents was way more than any kid should have to attempt to handle. Make sure they know that there are no secrets that they need to keep for you. Try to anticipate their emotions so they don’t have to anticipate yours.
  7. Don’t ever blame your children–Don’t blame them for your divorce, your bad luck, your money problems or your new girlfriend rolling out on you. Don’t even imply it. When your teenager and your new guy don’t get along, don’t blame your kid for having normal feelings or for normal teenage responses to situations. This does not mean you have to let the kids act like little terrorists. But keep in mind, they are fighting their own battles and own demons too. They are responsible for their choices and you are responsible for yours.
  8. Don’t carry your ex into your next marriage–Deal with your residual anger, guilt, pain, grief, insecurity, abandonment, and (especially) issues of abuse. These issues will not go away, no matter how many shots you take, how many midlife crisis toys you buy, or how much you throw yourself into work. You will be shocked  at how much your (ex) marriage has become part of who you are and how you respond to life. And even though it may seems second-skin to you, the next woman you fall in love with will probably see right through the crap you don’t even see yourself. So deal with it if you ever want to be good for anyone, including yourself.
  9. Don’t ruin marriage for your children–It’s cliche to say, but we all want better for our children, right? So why do we make marriage seem like the dumbest idea on the planet? We married their mom or dad, we were in love at one time, we made love and then made babies. Then one day, all hell broke loose, and now the once beloved is the arch nemesis. How confusing for our children! Should they trust anyone? Can they believe in love? Can they trust their own hearts? And the worst of all, are they doomed to failed marriages too? Think about what messages you are sending to your kids about love, marriage and their chances at happiness.

You might have left your ex so your kids can have a better future. So give them a fighting change for it.

I can promise you this, you will make mistakes as a mom or dad going through divorce. It’s a brutally hard time. But when you realize that you have hurt your children, apologize and move on. God will forgive you and so will your children. And there’s no point beating yourself up. It’s hard to be a good and victorious parent when you are drowning in guilt or self-pity. And remember, you don’t have to struggle alone, and don’t let shame or grief convince you that you do.

For more insight into dealing with your own emotions during divorce or separation, check out Surviving the Loneliness of Separation and Divorce.

And be blessed. You deserve it.

I feel a deja vu coming on.

I think I have called myself a recovering perfection before, years ago, and yet here I am…still recovering.

Perfectionism is no joke. Perfectionists are so busy being perfect that they can’t see how imperfect their way of thinking is, or how difficult they make things for those around them. Perfectionists are not just hard on themselves but on everyone they “care” about. In fact, that’s how we show we care…by improving our husbands, our kids, our friends, and sometimes-even strangers.

I am not sure when my perfectionism started. When I was first told that I was a perfectionist I didn’t believe it. I thought, “I never do anything perfectly.” The counselor said my response was classic.

I can actually remember the height of my perfectionism. It was Christmas 2000: Jackson’s first Christmas. I made wreaths for everyone because I wanted thoughtful gifts that saved money. I made my own wrapping paper, because I was stone-cold crazy and Martha Stewart hadn’t been arrested yet. I made ornaments, baked goods, and cards. I probably mailed over 100 cards that year, writing a personal message in each. I don’t remember Jackson’s expression when he opened his gifts. I do remember nearly drowning. I don’t mean figuratively either. I poured so much lavender in the bath that night; I fell asleep in the tub.

But that was not the end of my struggle. It continued for many years, keeping me from spending time with my kids to the degree I desired because there was always more work to be done. Some of these pressures were external; many of them were internal. Years later, I am still unraveling myself.

Here are some things I am doing to change my ways, but you will have to take a look at yourself and pray through some steps you can take:

  • I am planning less stuff to do. My days are more open and more flexible and every moment doesn’t have to be accounted for.
  • I am letting my house be messy, dusty and even letting the small piles sit for weeks at a time WHILE GUESTS COME OVER. This is HUGE. I used to power clean before letting the bug man in, and lit no fewer than 15 candles for a board game gathering. I wanted my home to be perfect. I am now forcing myself to refuse to let it be a reflection of my character or worth.
  • I am making more frozen pizzas and letting my kids fend for themselves. They are learning to cook a little, and I am spending more time hanging out with them and less time yelling at them about the kitchen. I am not letting my family fall victim to scurvy or anything. But I am often choosing time with them over photo-worthy meals. My kids are 12 and 14 and every moment with them is worth a little heartburn 😉
  • I am letting others own their messes. I still ask that the kids clean their rooms (once a week), but I am letting more stuff “slide” and am not obsessing over their crap. I have learned to CLOSE THE DOOR. Their rooms are not a reflection of my parenting.
  • I am sitting still more. I sat around in my underwear for a while today staring into space. It was grand! And the best part of my week was a two-hour nap with my hubby on Sunday. I have had more time to think, my feet aren’t constantly throbbing and I occasionally watch an episode of Downton Abbey (I am way behind so don’t spoil anything for me!)

I think God has said, “Be still and know that I am God,” at least a million times over the last year. I am learning to take this literally. I don’t plan on turning into a slithering slovenly slug whose skin grafts to the furniture, but I am enjoying the downtime and rest that I have denied myself for so many years.

This week my kids told me that they would rather live in a mess and have time to hang out as a family than to have a clean home and no fun. But perfectionism tells us that good could be great, and great should be better. Perfectionism robs our peace of mind and replaces it with irrational insatiable striving for approval that is ever rising and never within our reach. Perfectionism erodes our relationships and the confidence of those around us who can never live up to our lofty ideals, causing panic and unrest.

I use to think “balance” meant balancing everything perfectly: beautiful home, profitable career, attractive image, public approval, etc.

Now I know that balance means finding a harmony between responsibilities and enjoying relationships, between making a home and making memories.

No one will say at your funeral, “Her stainless steel was always spotless.” But wouldn’t it be nice if they said, “She always made time for me when I needed her.”

That my friends, is balance.

stick figure blog

No matter how strong you get, you can’t keep bad things from happening.

No matter how pretty you get, you can’t keep him from leaving you.

No matter how educated you get, you cannot avoid failure.

No matter how fast you can run, you can’t outrun your past.

No matter how rich you get, you cannot avoid the feeling of emptiness.

No matter how organized you get, you cannot always keep life from spinning out of control.

No matter how sexy you get, you cannot keep him from cheating.

No matter how successful you get, you cannot avoid disappointment.

No matter how involved you get with your children, you cannot guarantee their happiness or success.

No matter how savvy you get, someone can always pull the wool over your eyes.

No matter how low you get, God will never leave you or forsake you.

There is only so much we can control in our lives. The rest is just an illusion of control. We do not know what tomorrow will bring us, or even what could happen in five minutes. But if we lean on the Lord and stay in a relationship with Him, we will never be alone, defined by our past, or our worth determined by our performance.

No matter what, when we believe, we are children of God.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 12.32.33 PM

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