Monday, April 20, 2015

NIAW 2015: Saying Goodbye

Infertility has always been to me a spiritual battle. One fought in my body yes, but also in my heart, in my head and in my soul. I have called out to God in anguish and heartache. I have wrestled with him in bitterness and anger. I have begged. I have pleaded. I have cursed and I have fallen to my knees.

For nearly twelve years I tried to get pregnant. For twelve years I was told no. There was a constant why  in my life.  The answer was always no. Then I reached a point where I couldn't take the "no" anymore. Each one was another rip to my heart, a burden to my spirit that I knew I could no longer take. At thirty one years old I signed all the waivers and laid myself on a hospital bed. The nurse became the patient. The dreamer said goodbye to the one dream that never would take hold. I closed my eyes a woman who struggled with infertility and woke up, the anesthesia still clouding my vision, as a woman who would never get pregnant. No amount of medical intervention would make it so. No prayers would be sent asking for the feeling of life within me. No more whispers of hope would escape my soul. It was done. I would carry this blazing letter of infertility like a banner over my head for the rest of my life.

Some people thought I was crazy for taking this step. All I can say to that is that they have never walked in my shoes. We are so quick to judge, us humans. So fast do we impart our own beliefs and opinions on others. One woman I know told me shortly after my surgery that she was sorry I had lost. She was a fellow infertility fighter. One whom I thought would love and support me, having understood what this battle does to you as a woman. I was hurt by this. Deeply. Then I was angry, and finally I realized that all suffer our own way. I'm sure my steps towards permanency frightened her, so she lashed out in fear.

It has been almost three years now since I said goodbye to that hope. Three years to get used to the realization that I, without a doubt, will never carry a child. For the most part this part of my journey has been the most peaceful. There is something to be said of certainty. Of knowing an answer without a doubt in your mind. I found answers in that surgery. I found out that I had endometreosis so advanced that my physician questioned how I had lived day to day for so long in such a state. I learned that in my husbands eyes I am brave and I am strong and that he will do nearly anything to put a smile on my face. I have learned that Jesus comforts those who call to him. I have learned that he holds us when we cry. I have learned that the answer is sometimes no, and we may never know why, but that he knows and that is what matters.

Saying my last goodbye to those hopes and dreams did not end the pain. There are still days when I feel crippled by it. But I also know, looking back, that I am stronger than it. And you are too. Whatever it is that you are feeling today as you walk your own journey, be it infertility or something else, you are stronger than the pain. And Jesus is stronger than it all. He is with you, even when you're angry. He is there, even when you feel alone. He hurts with you. He cries with you. He loves you. And so do I.

Where are you in your journey? I would love to walk it with you. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

NIAW 2015: It's Okay to Grieve

I sit here, looking at the blank screen in front of me. At the curser that flashes impatiently, waiting for me to send it on it's way, a journey across the page. There is a lump in my throat and my stomach is tight, little knots that have wound there way through my belly and move their way up into my chest, pulling it tight. My eyes burn. Tears fill behind the blue and threaten to spill over and wet my cheeks.

It is National Infertility Awareness Week. It is a week of bringing to light a topic that is often whispered about and pushed under the rug. It's a time to offer women and couples a chance to know that they are not alone. It is an opportunity to bring notice to the world the fact that 1 in 8 of us will struggle to have a family. And it is a time of grieving.

I've learned a lot about grief in the last 13 years. What I've learned most is that it doesn't matter how "good" you think you are, grief can jump right up in the most peaceful times and bite you in the ass. (Pardon my French) We had a social worker once ask us if we were "over it". As in, not being able to have children.

The answer is no. No I'm not "over it". No I never will be. Can you ever fully recover from a death? Because that's what infertility is to me. It is a loss deeper than the largest valley in the bottom of the deep blue sea. It is the death of a dream. The death of trust in myself as a woman, and in my body. It is the death of the life I dreamed of as a little girl. Infertility has robbed me, and I'm not over it.

There are days that are better than others. Those days can stretch into weeks and into months. Those months may bind themselves together in times of relative peace. And then I'll be reminded that I'll never be the only mamma.

I lead a blessed life. I have an amazing husband and beautiful children who have made their way to our hearts and our homes through adoption. There are people who get frustrated with me because I still struggle with infertility as part of my life. They don't know why I don't just let it go. They are irritated that I still feel  like I'm missing something, even though I have a house full of children. They have a right to their opinion, and I have a right to grieve.

This week I'll be posting because it is my duty and my obligation, but most importantly because it is my right to bring awareness to this issue that so many face and suffer in silence. It's not pretty. It's gritty and it's raw. But it's real life. I hope you'll stick around with me. I have an amazing give away happening that starts on Wednesday and I'd love to share it with you.

And I would love to share hope. And joy. And peace. I want you to feel welcome here. I want to hear your story. I want to share your burden and your joys. I want to see your hope.

But most importantly, I want you to know that if you are an infertility fighter or survivor, that you're not alone. You are never alone. And it's okay to feel all of the feels. Every single one. Don't let anyone tell you different.

I'm sending you {hugs} this week as I enter into that part of my life that will always be with me. Infertility is a part of me, but it does not define me. And it doesn't have to define you either.

How are you doing this NIAW? Share your stories below and join the community. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Missing Pieces

The texts come erratically, but they come. Usually every couple of weeks or so, and they always start with the same question: how’s the fam? I used to get a sense of dread when the tell-tale chirp on my phone followed by her number arrived. I was afraid of what it meant to me, my family. It was a reminder that this little piece of life isn’t what I had planned it to be. It was a reminder that I wasn’t the first mamma.

All four of my kids are adopted. Four children, three different first moms. But only one that I’ve ever actually talked to. Just one that I have built a relationship with. The oldest three we adopted from foster care, long after the birth parents had been out of the picture. But the babe, my little beasty, we adopted at birth.

 I had met her, this woman who delivered my son. I had spent time with her and I was there in the delivery room to cut the cord. I called my husband into the room to meet his son. I did midnight feedings and worried over fevers. I watched his first steps and I kiss is scrapes (and he’s 110% boy, so there’s a lot of those). But when her number came up on my phone I still felt threatened. It’s silly, really. But it’s true.

There’s a fine balance in this relationship between birth mother and adoptive family and sometimes I don’t quite know where black turns to grey turns to white. But I do know that the boundary lines are often covered in fears and insecurities and I’m still learning to let that go. It should be easy for me, knowing that she’s already given so much.

There were holes in my heart before. One the shape of a little girl with a Hebrew nick-name. Another the shape of a little boy who loves super heroes. Still another the shape of a little girl with an artist’s skill. I had though all the holes had been filled, each missing puzzle piece fit nicely into its place. I didn’t know until I held that baby that there was still a missing piece, which he filled perfectly. I can only imagine what that missing piece in her heart feels like. The one that was patched thinly with a band-aid of text messages and pictures, but the scar is still there.  I can’t imagine the arms that feel empty after they once held that little life. I can’t fathom the sacrifice that she has made, the one that led to so much joy in my family.

And I know that one day they will likely meet again, my boy and his birth mom. Probably sooner than later. And I worry for what that will mean to my other kids. The ones who we have no contact with biological moms and dads. My Bot-Bot wants nothing to do with her birth mom. Which I understand. Lil’ Girl is ambivalent and X-man wants to meet his siblings. Yet there is no guarantee that they will interact with that part of their history.

 But my little beasty will be impacted by this relationship. It will stretch me and pull me to see him in that role. So I pray for grace. For myself and for my family. I hope that when the time comes, he is secure in himself and secure in his family to know that no matter where he is, he is loved greatly.  


And I pray for this tenuous relationship of birth mom and adoptive mom. For brokenness to made whole and fear to be removed. For text messages and pictures. For that day when we meet again and I introduce her to our son. 

Linking up today with Lisha Epperson and Give Me Grace.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Tomorrow

It' that time again! And aside from being so stinking excited to be going the the FIRST EVER Five Minute Friday Retreat (insert happy dance here), it's also Five Minute Friday party time! So come on over to Kate's and join the fun.

Prompt: Tomorrow

Go.


He pulls the little plane behind him, all primary colors and a knotted string. His belly leads and his blond hair shines in the fading sunlight.

She pushes her hair behind her ears and the little blue sharks on her nails swim by as she flits her fingers, focusing on the math homework that is due soon.

He pulls on the black hat with the orange F blazing on the front. It covers his head and his ears and could likely fit that of another boy, but it is his and he loves it.

She turns on the flat iron and stretches and pulls her hair, the strands colored and faded and colored again, accenting the eyeliner that she's perfecting.

Today they do these things. Today they are little and middle and big. Tomorrow they will be different. The days are long but the years are short in this life of mommyhood. And shorter still when you don't come into their lives until they are older.

Tomorrow they will be graduated. Tomorrow the little belly will be that of their son or daughter and I will take a place on the rocking chair again to sing the lullaby and hold the baby that is my own baby's. Tomorrow this fading sun will shine on a new world and I will look back and see all the yesterdays buried in the tomorrows of my past.

So tonight I will hold them a little tighter. I will love them a little fiercer. I will kiss them a little more. Because tomorrow they will be grown.

Stop.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Letters From the Laundryheap-World Changers

It's a tough job being a world changer. I'd love to read your stories of how your world is moving! Feel free to add a link to your own Letters From the Laundryheap below.


I sat on the big leather chair yesterday to fold socks. I loath folding socks. I would rather do nearly anything than fold socks. Which is why there is a basket in the laundry room that is typically overflowing with socks and underwear. And seriously, where do all the matches go? If they all go into the washer two-by-two, like their own little cotton version of Noah's Arc, where the heck do they end up? It's the single life there in the basket and let me tell you, things get wild in the laundry room. Or not.

 The only redeeming quality of the art of sock folding is that I get to sit in said big comfy leather chair and watch TV. A rarity in my life and I know a rarity for most of you mammas out there. And I get to watch in relative peace-no kid wants to come near for fear that they will be wrangled into sock folding or putting clothes away. Sometimes sock folding may go on for much longer than necessary.

And it seems such a menial task. So blah and ordinary. There are so many other things I would rather be doing than these tasks of house running and keeping kids in order (if there is such a thing). It all seems so meaningless sometimes. Like mopping the floor when everyone goes to bed only to get up to snow and the ever present puddles of melting snow and dirt that congregate by the door and then make their way across the floor in size 4 prints.

But then I saw this print by (in)Courage and I was reminded that it's not meaningless, or ordinary for that matter. For my family to know that I love them, that is a work greater than any. It is a world changer. I may not be touring the world at book conferences or siting cross-legged around the fire in a remote village (yet), but I am changing the world. Because I'm loving my family through the mundane tasks of daily living.


All you mammas out there-you've got a big job. And it's a meaningful,
world changing, kingdom work. Even when it doesn't feel like it. I know where you've been, up all night with the babe who wont stop puking. Searching for the lost mitten, shoe and homework. Making meals that the whole family will eat, even the toddler who refuses anything but peanut butter and goldfish. Pulling your hair in a ponytail at 4:55 so it looks like you've done something with yourself when your hubby gets home. Feeling like you've left one rat race for another, and in the process have lost a piece of yourself.

But sweet sister, you didn't lose anything-you've gained the power to change the world, one size 4 footprint at a time. This split-level house with the faded carpet may not be in the African bush, but it's a mission filed none the less. And these little villagers have a lot of needs. By meeting them, they know that I love them. By loving them, they know that they can change the world.

Will they be life-saving doctors or the next president? Maybe. But even if they're not, hopefully they'll have the tools, and the heart to change the world of those around them. Even if that world changing happens one sock at a time.

How about you? I'd love to hear about your world changing moments. Link up below and share the love! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Relief

It's been a long time, and I am oh so rusty. But I'm jumping in anyway, to share the fun with the girls over at Kate's place for Five Minute Friday.

Prompt: Relief

Go.

They caught my eye as I pulled from onto the highway, my blinker dancing to the tune on my radio and echoing the beats in my heart. Too fast. The primal feelings kicked in, like a rabbit hounded by the fox and running towards her hole, towards safety. They are so far away, the snow covered peaks and that's right where I wanted to be. The deepest places in me called for it. To be away.

Away from the city. Away from the cars and the people and the mean girl club. Away from the broken hearts and the bruised feelings. Wrapped instead in the comfort of my breath frozen in the air and the snow crunching beneath my feet.

I ache for relief.

This world of hectic schedules and putting yourself out there to be disappointed time after time. They say that comparison is the thief of joy, and lord it its. But it is so hard not to compare when you read the words and the announcements and the notices and you seem to still fall short. Shortcomings that stack upon themselves and the lacking within your body or your skill.

And relief seems so far away, and like it could be solved with a simple cuppa'. Sweet and strong and rolling like those hills. The ones that call my soul. The ones that make me catch my breath.

Stop.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Here's Your Sign

I'm a sign watcher. I don't mean like a stop sign, though I do watch for those. No flashing blue and red for this girl. I mean the God-wink signs. The ones that let you know that he's listening. He's paying attention, and he's wondering if you are too. I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in listening.

There are times when I'm not a good listener. When my heart tugs tell me where I should be going and what I should be doing and I still doubt. Like when we brought Bot Bot home and the job just wasn't working. Rotating twelves and every weekend isn't conducive to building a family bond with an eight year old. So I prayed for guidance. I knew I should leave but was afraid. As I drove to work each morning there was a radio show I liked to listen too. I had never been one for radio preachers, but this one made me laugh and he took the chill out of the cold November mornings. After a time struggling with my job and trying to build this family I finally told my Hubby that I wish God would just give me a sign. That wouldn't it be awesome if he gave me a big sign that I should stay home. Like maybe if the morning show I listened to would be on Mother's Day the next day. In November. Never going to happen. But wouldn't that be a clear sign? Right.

Guess what?

The next TWO mornings, on my way to work in the middle of November, the radio played a split episode of the radio preacher's Mother's Day sermon. Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?

Anywho. I watch for signs.

So I started a new business. I haven't talked about it here because I just haven't. I feel like it's a separate part of my life than my writing. But I'm going to mention it now. Because I just saw a sign that blew my mind, y'all. Blew. My. Mind. So stick with me for a minute, would ya?

Alright. So I've dabbled in Network Marketing. I've tried things but wasn't in a good place in my life to do them. I wasn't committed. I didn't have the drive. But I'm in a different place now. And there are other things I want for my life.

I'm a nurse and I take a lot of time teaching my students to work holistically with their patients and their patients' families/support system. I teach them that the problem isn't just what they're admitted for-that we work to address all aspects of their life and their care. I think the same is true for my family and my life. I hate that all our food and skin care is chock full of chemicals. I know that when we put that in us/on us, we reap what we sew. So I've started working with Arbonne. The love you from the inside out. The products are all botanically based and scientifically backed. Instead of following the U.S. guidelines, with a list smaller than my grocery list of things that can't be added to products, they follow the Swiss guidelines, in which the list tops 500. I've been using some of the nutrition products, which are all dairy and gluten free and vegan, and I love the way that they feel.

So yes, I joined and am making changes in my life and the lives of my family. And I am working to make this a sustainable business, as I know it can be. One of the first things they ask you when you jump on board is your "Why". Why are you doing this?

In the past it was about the get back. What I could get out of it. But this time it's not about me. It's about what I can do with it. I want to spend more time with my kids. I need more time with my kids. I want to go on missions trips and I want to meet the boy we sponsor through Compassion. I want to give back. And deep down, one of the causes that has captured my heart of late is Save the Storks. I've written about it before. I love their approach to loving women. And I want to help. I want to fund one of these vans.

So I've tucked it away and thought about how I can help. A portion of my commission to start with. Then work my way up to one of the vans. Slowly I'll help and chip away donations as I can. It will happen and it will help.

Then I saw it. Then there was a God wink that dang near blew my ever loving mind. See part of the compensation plan with Arbonne has a car tied to it. A white Mercedes. Any type/model of Mercedes you want, as long as it's white.  I really couldn't care less about the car. Sure, it would be nice. But really. Whatever. I'm not flashy. And then I was stalking the Save the Storks webpage trying to figure out what I would  need to do to buy one of those love-gushing vans, and I found it. $100,000. That's the cost. That's what it would take to purchase one. That's a God-Sized dream. So I started running through the compensation plan and figuring out where I would need to be to do it. To make it happen and donate enough to fund another Stork bus.

And then the mind blowing moment happened.

Wait for it.

Are you ready?

What do you see?

A van. A Stork Bus. The techi equipment to provide free ultrasounds in a plush environment.

But do you really SEE it? Do you see the wink? Because I can. Through the goose bumps on my arms and the tears in my eyes. What color is the van? It's white. What brand is it? It's a Mercedes. It's a flipping WHITE MERCEDES.

I pick that one. That's the one I want. Who wants to help me get there?