The Hope after Heartache – Jenn

So I’m finally facing my fear and writing the blog post that I’ve been dreaming of posting.

I am pregnant. Again.

The last 16 weeks have been filled with so many different emotions, I can’t really explain it.  I guess if you’ve suffered a loss before then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  The immediate JOY and EXCITEMENT when you read that word on the test, followed by immediate FEAR and ANXIETY…

We were in Buffalo for Christmas …. If you’ve read my original post/story, that intro might sound familiar. It was almost exactly a year from when we found out we were pregnant the first time.  It made those days leading up to taking a test all that more emotional.  I couldn’t believe I was late again at that same time, and in Buffalo.  I didn’t even tell Frank.  I didn’t want to get his hopes up yet another time (little did I know he knew exactly what was going on, but didn’t say anything probably thinking the same thing).  I only told Maria.  She’s one of the few people who gets it.  She’s the person I told every time.  We would struggle together each time we thought it was “this time”.

At this point in my journey, I had almost lost all hope.  I hadn’t lost faith, but I was starting to lose hope. I only had one tube, so I thought my chances were so low.  I had made an appointment with a fertility clinic, and then cancelled it a week later.  I just wanted to give it a little more time.

I remember being in the shower a few week before, listening to Lauren Daigle’s “Trust in You”.  As soon as the chorus came on, I just felt this huge ball in my throat and I just let out the biggest sob I think I have since I lost my first baby.  I fell to the floor and just cried.
Image result for trust in you lauren daigle

I realized that even when I can’t muster up the hope, He will have it for me… all I need to do is trust Him.  So i did. He’s not going to give me what I want when I want it.  He knows exactly when the right time is.  I swear this has happened to me more times than I can count in my life.  Just when I start to question things, or wonder if He hears me, I get the ultimate sign that He IS there.  

When two days went by and still no period, I couldn’t wait any longer.  I just wanted to do it and move on so I could enjoy the rest of my Christmas vacation with my family.  It was three days before Christmas and I woke up around 8:00 a.m. and left to go get coffee.  I made a stop at Walgreens for a test, and then went to get my coffee. I went through the drive-thru at Tim Hortons and the person in front of me paid for my order! I had always heard of this happening, but never experienced it.  So I paid for the person behind me. As I drove away I thought this might be the start to one of the best days ever, or a reminder of the good in the world if it was going to be a sad day.   Part of me was preparing for the worst, but part of me had this weird feeling it might just be positive.

I was right.  Pregnant.  Clear as day.

I was in shock. Coming home from getting coffee I thought if it was positive I would wrap up the test and give it to Frank on Christmas. Yeah, right! I whipped out of that bathroom so fast and burst into the bedroom just like I did the first time. I showed Frank the test. His response was, “See, I knew it was gonna happen.”  Like he never had a doubt in the world. And I don’t think he ever did.  He’s definitely one in a million I tell you. No matter how many times I would have a negative test, or get my period right on time, he would never make me feel bad or show me he was upset.  I’m sure deep down he was disappointed, but he NEVER showed it.  Sometimes I would just want to say, “GET MAD!”  He would just hug me and say the same three words, “It’s gonna happen.”

I was so excited that I was in Buffalo so that I would get to share this news with my family in person.  I never told my parents we were pregnant the first time, and I regret that they had to find out when I was in the hospital.  I was going to wait until the next day, but I wanted to tell my mom that same day.  So at 11:00 at night I brought the test downstairs and just put it in front of her.  I think she was confused at first and couldn’t really see what it said LOL.  Once she realized, tears welled up in her eyes and we had to wake my Dad up to tell him.  We immediately went into what my mom calls her “Prayer Room”.  A while back, she started asking people for prayers for Maria and I.  She put them in this antique bassinet she has, along with different prayers from St. Anne and the Blessed Mother. We thanked the Lord for this miraculous blessing and prayed for Maria.

 

I’m sure you’re all wondering how I told Maria, and how it might affect our relationship now that I was pregnant and she isn’t.  Well, she was the first to know.  I owed her that.  We had been through this journey for two years together, and herself for a year before that! I can tell you this… she is one of the most selfless people I know.  She was so happy for me, even though I know deep down she wishes it was her too.  I always wondered how we would handle it when one of us got pregnant.  I hate that it couldn’t have happened to both of us. As excited as I was, a part of my heart was also breaking for her and the suffering that she continues to have to face.  

If you’re wondering what you can do for her…

Don’t have pity on her – she’s stronger than you know.

If you are a mom – don’t complain to her about how tired you are, or how your kids are driving you nuts – she would give her left arm to be exhausted and running after little ones.

Don’t offer her advice or tips on how to get pregnant – she’s done them all and unless you can give her a baby, nothing you can say will take away her hurt and longing.

If you pray – pray for her and her husband.  If anyone deserves a child, it’s those two.  They are the most generous, giving, and selfless people you will meet.  I am beyond lucky to call her not only my cousin, but my best friend.  If it weren’t for her, I don’t know how I would have gotten through these past two years.  No one understood more than her. Because of her, I was able to open up more deeply in my faith and surrender my fears and worries to Jesus.  I wish with all that I have that I could snap my fingers and give her the baby she so desires, but I can’t.  But I also know she was born to be a mother, and a mother is what she will be.

As I navigate these next months of pregnancy, everyday gets a little easier.  And by easier I mean, less anxious, less worry and more excitement.  That first feeling of nausea was the best day of my life. Weird, I know. Who wants to feel sick all day long? People that have longed for a baby for years. Every day I would hope to feel it, and I did. As much as it was uncomfortable and annoying, I knew it was a good sign. Every doctor appointment where I can hear that little heartbeat is the strength I need to get me to the next one.  I have put this pregnancy in God’s hands.  It’s all I can do.  I spent the first few weeks in constant fear.  Wondering if it was in the right place, checking constantly to see if I was bleeding, not letting myself enjoy the little miracle growing inside me.  One day my mom sent me a prayer to say.  I try to say it everyday.  It’s just a quick thing I can say and find comfort in.

“Don’t be nervous! For the next 9 months and on just keep repeating 100x a day… Jesus, thank you from the depth of our souls for this miraculous creation you have gifted Frank and me.  We dedicate this child in all it’s wonder entirely to you and promise to draw this child ever close to your Sacred Heart! Jesus, we trust in You. Amen! Now in true faith DO NOT be afraid again…TRUST!” – Mom

As my belly begins to grow, I am embracing every amazing minute of it.  Every day I am just in awe at what is happening inside me.  At our 13 week appointment, we heard the heartbeat and saw this little human moving around inside me.  Kicking, rolling, and “eating”.  I remember just taking a huge breath of relief and I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time.  It truly is a miracle and I am not taking one minute of it for granted.

So as I end this post, I just want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has sent me messages of hope and prayers for this miracle to happen.  I am beyond grateful.  You have no idea what that has meant to me and how it was what I needed at those exact moments.  This blog has been my saving grace.  I will leave it up to Maria where she wants to go with this blog. I hope it continues to give her strength and an outlet to share her feelings. I hope to continue to write, but maybe in a different place.  I want to respect Maria and all the women who have come to this blog for support in their struggle.

For all of you amazing women like Maria who continue to struggle to conceive, know that I am praying for you.  I know it’s so much easier said than done, but don’t give up.  I only had one tube, and I was able to conceive naturally. Explore your options. Lean on your partner. And last, but most important, keep praying.  He hears you.  He has a plan.  As hard as it is… TRUST.

XOXO

Jenn

It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It – Jenn

I first want to start off this post by addressing the hundreds of people who have reached out to Maria and myself after starting this blog.  WOW! We are so incredibly grateful and appreciative of people taking time out of their day to send us messages of encouragement, stories of hope, or just a simple prayer that lets us know they are thinking of us and our struggle.  Its little messages like those that keep us positive and keep us hopeful. It means everything to us. So… THANK YOU!

The inspiration for this post came from a message I received from a high school friend. We don’t talk often except for the occasional “like” or “comment” on Facebook every so often. I see pictures of her three beautiful children and think…wow, she probably has no idea how lucky she is. That’s the thing about Facebook. It’s such a great way to keep in touch and stay connected with people, but it also has a devilish way of pinning people against each other without them even knowing. Ahh Facebook… that’s a whole other blog post 😉

So anyway, I don’t know what it was about this particular message.  Maybe because it wasn’t really in response to anything I posted, but rather just  out of the blue someone letting me know they were thinking about me and my struggle and wishing me the best. I can’t even explain what a simple message like that does for someone going through this – or any struggle for that matter. This person has three children, so some might wonder how would she know or understand anything about infertility.  Well, my friends… she doesn’t have to.

I’ve had a lot of questions from people since starting this blog about what to say and what not to say to someone struggling with infertility.  Even people wondering if they should ever even ask a woman anything in regards to having a baby, in fear that she might be struggling.  I remember someone said something to me once that made me want to shout from the rooftops, “DON’T EVER ASK A WOMAN WHEN SHE IS GOING TO HAVE A BABY!” I was fresh off of losing my baby, so I think emotions/hormones were just running rampant.

We are human.  We are curious.  And we can’t spend our lives walking on egg shells about topics like these.  However, there is a right way and a wrong way to talk about pregnancy, infertility, miscarriage, etc.

I find that sometimes I will get into a conversation where having babies is brought up and I start thinking, “Oh no. Here it comes. Here come the questions. Do they want me to be honest? Or should I just say my usual ‘Eventually’.”   Why can’t we just be honest? We don’t want to make you feel awkward, but this is life.  This is our situation.  You don’t have to be sorry. You don’t even have to understand.

Just have empathy.  Have compassion. Offer prayers if that’s what you believe in.  If you have children, try to imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t have them.  If you couldn’t do the one thing you thought you were put on this earth to do…be a mother.

Some people may not want to talk about it and that’s OK.  Others maybe appreciate your questions and will be happy to talk about the process.  It might be therapeutic for them! Ask first. Don’t assume. I can tell pretty quickly whether or not someone is being genuine or just fishing for gossip, and I am more than happy to talk about my experience with anyone who truly wants to know.

What we don’t want to hear is that IT WILL HAPPEN.  Actually, it might not…

I can name a lot of things people say that frustrate me, but out of all of them, I think that one hurts the most.  Can you tell me WHEN it will happen? I can say for certain that only God knows that.  And I’ve been waiting awhile now, so if you know something I don’t, please let me in! If you’ve ever said that to someone struggling with infertility, we forgive you 🙂 We know that 99% of people around us have nothing but good intentions and really do want the best for us.

So we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  We feel like so many of you are on this journey with us, lifting us up in prayer, sending us good vibes, being an ear to listen to, a shoulder to cry on, and a friend to hug when there are just no words left to say.

Image result for people will never forget how you made them feel maya angelou

XOXO

Jenn

Life is not fair – Maria

Life is not fair.

This statement keeps coming to my mind; life is not fair. We’ve just approached the three-year mark of TTC. I can’t believe it has been three years. It’s funny how quickly time goes by, yet I feel like I’ve been in this “waiting” forever. I still keep looking for an explanation. Why God? Why hasn’t it happened for us yet? Why would God give me this desire if He didn’t plan to fulfill it? Why isn’t the desire subsiding? Why me? Maybe the question is, why not me. What makes me so special to forego struggles? Is it fair that some people lose loved ones too early? Is it fair that so many people struggle with cancer or illness? Is it fair that children die every day from lack of clean water? Is it fair that some people are born into poverty? Is it fair the some moms have tons of kids and I have none?

Life is not fair. I remember my parents using this phrase when I was a child and it always seemed so punitive. Now when I think about it, it just makes sense. It’s not meant to be hurtful, just a fact of life. Bad things happen and there is no rhyme or reason or good explanation. When trying to make sense of suffering or pain I feel like we are always looking for a reason. We live in a world with free will and sin. Therefore, darkness and evil will always exist. It all comes down to how we deal with the situations we are dealt. Do we accept and choose to live a happy life regardless of what happens or do we close off and wallow in self-pity and get mad at the world.

Believe me, acceptance is not an easy thing. I have not reached that point yet. I still have hope and I am hanging on for dear life. I’m not sure what life will throw at us, but one thing I am confidant in is Jesus. The more heartache I feel, the more emptiness that fills my soul, and the more pain I experience, the more I want to be closer to Christ. That may not make sense to a lot of people, but for me it is the only way I can move forward. God is all-powerful and God’s love is unimaginable. The grace and strength I have experienced only comes from God. God continues to help me get through day after day. There are so many moments when I think I can’t take any more, but God is right there in the moment that I need it most. This place of waiting is so dark, but I know I am not alone in my suffering because I can feel God there. Maybe there is a purpose for our struggles or maybe there’s not. Maybe it’s just an unfortunate circumstance that we were dealt, but God is working wonders through it.

i-am-not-alone prayer

Pregnancy. Something that comes so unexpectedly, so easily, so joyfully for most, and yet so hard for others. It’s hard… birth announcements constantly popping up on social media, attending baby showers and wishing it was yours, listening to people complaining about their kids, the constant “seasonal/holiday” kid pictures on Facebook, constantly driving by the abortion clinic and seeing people out there praying for the little lives to be spared, listening to people give unsolicited advice or throw in an “it’ll happen,” when they really don’t know that. I honestly try not to be judgmental in those situations, but sometimes my humanity gets the better of me. It’s important to maintain perspective and remember that life goes on. People will continue to get married and have babies for the rest of time. It’s going to happen and I’m going to have to deal with it. I have to keep the jealousy at bay and find happiness. Children are all gifts from God and recognizing that it is a blessing that God chose to bestow on those individuals. I can’t blame people for being insensitive or not understanding, because that’s just it, they don’t. It’s difficult to read about pregnancy sickness, misbehaving kids, exhausted parents, etc., because what I wouldn’t give to be in that place. I would love to be exhausted from staying up all night soothing my newborn or staying home to care for my sick child or having my house a mess from child play. So many things most people take for granted because it happens so easily and so routinely. I cannot fault them because they just don’t realize. I can only hope to create more awareness.

Almost thirty-six months of failed cycles. Month after month filled with charting, tests, blood work, ultrasounds, appointments, shots, drugs, exams, opinions, advice, suggestions, massages, herbs, teas, changes in diet, and surgeries. I’ve been poked, prodded, injected, and cut open. Now it is time for a break. It has not been an easy decision to “let go.” Control is not easy to give up. I say that I trust in God and that God has me, but I’m not sure that I have been. I’ve left it up to God, but have still been trying to control all that I can on my own. Recently, I have stopped praying for fertility and babies, but instead for a complete surrender. I pray that God’s will, will become my will. I want to desire what God desires for me, whatever that may be. It’s a work in progress, but love and trust are all that I can offer to God. We’ve all heard the phrase, start each day with a grateful heart. I think that’s easier said than done because life gets in the way. I believe first and foremost we need to be conscious of the fact that God is breathing life into us each day. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we will begin to see each day as a miracle in itself. Life is beautiful, but it’s not always fair. Find the good.

 

surrender-is-worship

 

I think this song sums it up quite nicely….

Cry Out to Jesus 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Months Later – Jenn

So this week has been CRAZY.  If you’re a teacher, you can understand why.  If you’re a special education teacher, you can really understand! The first week (and subsequent weeks after), you wonder if you’re ever going to make it through the year! Learning about your new students, figuring out schedules, taking data, starting programs, and did I mention taking DATA?? As crazy as the first few weeks are, by November it’s usually smooth sailing! 😉

The kids came back to school on September 6th.  I’ve been thinking about this date for a few weeks now.  I wish it was only because I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my students, but that wasn’t the case.

I should have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my baby.

September 6th was my due date.  I thought a lot about that date in the beginning of course.  Especially when I would see others who announced their pregnancies and their due dates were the same as mine.  So many feelings of jealousy, envy, bitterness, and pure sadness.  Nothing that I ever really shared, of course.  I would feel those feelings and then immediately feel guilty about it.  Those people deserved those babies and deserved to be happy and share their happiness with the world just as much as anyone.

It’s human nature. It’s part of the process.  It’s grief.

I don’t think you can ever truly get over the loss of a baby no matter what the circumstances are.  Everyone else moves on, but you still have that empty belly and that hole in your heart.  For me, most days are good.  I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones.  I have love all around me.  My husband, my parents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, and my wonderful friends.  Surrounding yourself with love and positivity is truly the key to being happy.  Without it, the negativity, the bitterness, and the jealousy just seep right in.


Which brings me back to the first week of school.  I was a little bit more nervous this year than my last few years.  Mostly because I was switching from older kids to younger kids.  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The unknown is always the scariest!

By day 2, I knew this was going to be a good year.

In all that has happened this past year, I can truly say that my job is one of the many things I am grateful for.  Being a special education teacher definitely has its challenging moments.  You always wonder if you’re doing enough – having high expectations, but making sure your students are happy and loved.  Much like a parent I guess.

My students are my kids right now.  They make me laugh until I cry.  They make me work harder as a teacher, and their unconditional love has been what I’ve needed the most day in and day out.

In my classroom we celebrate the smallest of victories.  I’m learning to carry this over into my own life!  When you take the pressure off, surround yourself with positivity, and celebrate the little things, you’d be amazed at what can happen.

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Jesus is the Answer – Maria

seek his will

I haven’t felt as though I have needed to write lately because I have been in a “good” place. I know this whole journey is a roller coaster filled with emotional ups and downs, but lately I have just been up, thank God. I was communicating this with my aunt and she suggested that this would be a great time to write. She thought it would be helpful to let other women know that there can be times of respite and solace throughout this struggle. I used to think that every day ahead would just be filled with heartache, because I have experienced so much of that and sometimes it’s hard to see further than the pain you’re in. Yes, there have been moments of relief, but never a day I haven’t thought about it.

Well I am here to tell you about the wonders of prayer. I have been filled with the peace of Christ – there is no other explanation. I haven’t just all of a sudden changed my mind about having children. Christ has brought me so close to Him, that I feel comforted. I truly feel as if I am being “carried” through. It’s a beautiful thing to have peace and comfort in times of sorrow and struggle. I recently received a few books from my aunt and uncle, spiritual reading if you will. These books have opened my heart and mind with what can happen when you keep yourself focused on Jesus. I devoured the book, “Rediscover Jesus,” by Matthew Kelly. If you haven’t read this yet, I suggest you pick it up. I realize it has been out for a while already, but I believe that everything has its place in time and now was when I needed to read it. Matthew Kelly talks about keeping your relationship with Christ, “intentional.” It’s such a simple concept, but very difficult to live out at times. Life happens. As someone with an out of control social calendar, I sometimes fail to give God the time and effort that He deserves. I feel as if I am in constant communication with Him and that He knows my heart, but my prayer life is still lacking. Time after time I fall victim to my humanity, doubting, questioning, focusing on self worth, and falling away from God. Amidst pain, it’s so easy to turn inward instead of outward.

I keep discovering in all of my reading how important it is to stay connected with the gospels. After attending mass my whole life, it’s funny to notice how routine these passages have become. The story of Jesus healing the leper, the parable of the mustard seed, the story of the prodigal son – I’ve heard them all on repeat. But am I really grasping these concepts? I am noticing how much these stories apply to life today. It’s like a light has been turned on. These stories need to be put into practice. They are life guidelines. They teach us how to TRUST and to turn to God. Be not afraid! I am with you! You are mine! God wants us to know that he has us. Whatever situation you are going through, He wants you to reach out to Him. He is just waiting for you to accept His invitation.

My husband has told me so many times; faith cannot be based on “feelings.” I think I have operated like this for some time. When I’m happy I feel close to God and when I’m sad He feels so far away – especially through these past three years. What I am finally recognizing is that I am the one who is falling away. God is constant and unchanging; how many times have we heard this. It is me who feels hurt, angry and defeated. I have cried out to him in anger more times that I can count, “Where are you?” I envisioned Him sitting there in silence, refusing to give me a miracle. You healed the woman who was hemorrhaging, you healed the blind, you healed the sick, you brought the dead back to life – so many miracles and healings. Why not me? Don’t I have enough faith to save me? Maybe I have been looking at the word, “save” in the wrong context. Maybe my save means transformation. Maybe my save means learning to let go and let God. Either way, I need to be intentional. I need to purposely set aside time for Jesus, diving into scripture, prayer, conversation and more reading. This is the only way that I can positively grow through infertility.

let-god

 

In the homily at mass last week, the priest talked about how God came to set the world on fire. I feel like that is what He has been doing in me. I am learning, I am growing, and I am turning upward. Personally, the only way for me to lead a happy and joy filled life is to take it outside of myself. My sole focus needs to be on the Lord and what He desires for me and my life. This isn’t an easy thing to write and is certainly a work in progress. I am learning to want what Jesus wants. If that means that there is another plan in place for my life, then that is what I need to embrace.

On those days when the pain is too much to bear; seek Jesus. On those days when another pregnancy announcement surfaces; seek Jesus. On those days when you question where God is; seek Jesus. My desire for all the women out there who are struggling is to have hope. Have hope that God can work in your life to bring you the healing that you desire. There are so many ways to be healed emotionally and spiritually. It may not necessarily mean the physical that you are hoping for, but He can change your heart and give you the peace that only He can.

“Lord Jesus, I chose to focus on you and be aware of Your presence with me in everything I do. I want to keep You at the center of my life. Help me to let go of the things I still want to cling to and control. Instead, I ask You to take hold of every burden and carry it for me. Let your tenderness, mercy and love overwhelm me so I can live with reckless devotion to You.”

 

prayer

Finding your happy place -Jenn

 


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“Wheel pose is a heart opening backbend. Heart openers are intended to cure any broken hearts from our past, while allowing ourselves new opportunities for love.  Backbends require a bit of vulnerability, but you will soon be shining your heart and light to the world”- Lisa Mitchel

“Find your happy place.” Sounds so cliche, right? But guess what? We need to! We need to find something, somewhere that lets us take a break from real life… from all of the stresses that seem to replay in our minds like a broken record!

Life is hard no matter what! Everyone struggles, even if from the outside it looks like everything is perfect. Most likely, it’s not.  But life is also SO beautiful. We’re just so darn distracted with the day-to-day to stop and notice it.

Almost a year ago, my good friend and IA (Instructional Assistant) of 2 years told me she wasn’t going to be working as my IA anymore. I didn’t really hear much of what she was saying after that because I was so devastated.  Her title was Instructional Assistant, but she was a teacher in every sense of the word.  Ya know how you can work with someone everyday and you don’t even have to talk to each other, you just give a look and know what the other one was thinking?? That’s how it was with us.  She loved the kids and made such a difference in their lives.

She told me she was going to pursue her dream of opening a yoga/fitness studio.  While I was holding back tears about losing her, I was filled with so much happiness and inspiration in knowing that she was going to be doing what she absolutely loved.  She was going to combine her love of teaching and helping others, with her love of fitness and healthy living. And what a gift she and her partner have given to the community… and to me.

I had told her so many times in the past that I wanted to start going to yoga, but I always found an excuse and never really got into it.  Now, I had NO excuse.  Alyson was going to have her own studio which would make that awkward phase of taking a class where I had no idea what I was doing a little less daunting!

My first yoga class was in September 2015.  I had already been TTC for almost a year. I came in with no expectations.  I had some nerves since I didn’t really work out at all, but mostly just excitement for this new experience.  In the first five minutes of class, I was hooked.  Alyson has a way, without even trying, to make the most inexperienced person feel so completely comfortable and safe that you have no choice but to just throw your inhibitions out the window and take the experience for everything that it is.

comfort zone

Now in no way am I an expert in yoga, nor a medical professional!  I’m simply speaking from my own experience.  I started doing yoga in September and I got pregnant in December.  Obviously, the pregnancy wasn’t in the right place and unfortunately I lost it, but… I GOT PREGNANT. I didn’t even think I was going to be able to. It might have been luck, or good timing, but I really think yoga has changed my body and mind in a way I never thought it would! Not only do I feel better physically, but the mental relief that I get from going to class for just one hour even once or twice a week is amazing.

After I lost the pregnancy, I stopped going to yoga.  I even stopped praying for awhile.  It wasn’t that I was mad at God, I just felt like I didn’t even know what to pray for anymore. Sounds strange, but I felt a disconnect… and that scared me.  I didn’t really want to talk about it and I just couldn’t understand after everything we had gone through, why would He give us a baby only to take it away so fast?

If you’re looking for an answer to that one… you won’t find it here!

The old “Everything happens for a reason” saying wasn’t helping either. I do believe it, but in those moments, that is the LAST thing you want to hear. Thanks to a conversation with my mom, (Who BTW, if you ever need spiritual guidance, she’s your girl!), I got some perspective.  I remember her saying to Maria and I one day, “God does not want to cause us pain. He doesn’t want to see us suffering, but He does want us to bring our suffering and our pain to Him. Cry to Him. Get mad.  Fall to your knees and give all your pain-all of your worries-all of your doubts to Him.”

I decided to go back to yoga.

It was the only place where I could silence my thoughts enough to start praying again.  Call it what you want… meditation… relaxation… rejuvenation…praying.  It’s different for everyone.  For me, when Alyson would say, “…with your palms facing up to receive energy or facing down to feel more grounded,” I would feel at peace.

Before every class, we are invited to set an intention for our practice.  When I first started, I would always make the intention about me…something I needed or wanted.  As I’m learning and growing through all of this, I’ve started to dedicate my practice to someone else.  Someone else who I know might be struggling or needing that extra prayer or intention in their life. Let me tell you, it makes you work harder!  I’ve learned this not only through yoga, but just in general.  My mom is always telling me to “Offer it up.” I never truly understood it until I asked her flat out… what do you actually mean by that?  She said it’s called redemptive suffering. You join your pain and suffering along with Jesus on the cross and offer it as a prayer for your intention.  That way you are using your pain as a sacrifice for the good of others and it’s not wasted. I mean even if you’re not religious, it’s just something to think about. 😉

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On the wall of Wheelhouse-Mind Body Studio is the word “perspective.” It’s upside down so that when you’re in a pose facing downward, you can find that word on the wall and be reminded.  I look at that every time and smile.  It reminds me why I’m there, who I’m there for, and makes me appreciate life at that very moment.

Take some time to go to your happy place and find some perspective 😉

XOXO

Jenn

 

 

This too shall pass. -Jenn


Jan. 20, 2016 – 
This date will forever be etched in my mind as one of trauma, loss, sadness and grief… but also love, faithfulness, healing and hope.

Let’s rewind a bit to Oct. 25, 2014. The day I got to marry my soulmate (corny I know), but he is truly that. I never thought someone like him existed. Someone who accepts me for who I am (moodiness and all), and loves me unconditionally. I say this only because without him, I’m not sure how I would have made it through the last six months.

Our wedding was everything we dreamed it would be.  A day full of love.  A day to spend with the people closest to us celebrating the awesome gift of marriage (and it was a darn good party if I do say so myself!). I think Frank already knew that I didn’t want to wait to start a family. By the time we got married, he was just as excited as I was.CJKvisuals_BW-135

I remember telling close family members and friends, “I have a feeling I’m going to have a hard time getting pregnant.” Everyone assured me I would be fine.  I guess you just have a gut feeling about these things. Months went by with no success, but I wasn’t too concerned yet. Everyone says it’s pretty common to take up to a year. Meanwhile, Sally, Kate, and Sue are sneezing and getting pregnant 😉 I tried to be patient.

After about 7 months, I went to my doctor. I should have lied and said we had already been trying for a year, but I was honest and she told me to come back after a year of trying… How Rude 😉

So Frank, being the positive one, just told me to relax and not worry too much. Every woman trying to conceive knows that’s virtually impossible.

A year passed, and still no BFP (for those not on the up and up when it comes to fertility lingo, that means BIG FAT POSITIVE). I went back to the doctor. My next step was to have a hysterosalpingogram done (HSG). We decided to wait until after the holidays to make the appointment.

We were spending Christmas in Virginia and then traveling up to Buffalo to spend some time with my side of the family for New Year’s. The day after we arrived in Buffalo I was supposed to get my period.

I was late.  I’m never late.

One day, two days, three days… and the mind games ensue.

“This could be it!” “Should I test?” “No, just wait, it’s going to come.”  “How am I going to announce?” “Ok, I’m gonna test!”

… Negative.  Period 4 days late.  Offfff course.

So I tried not to let it ruin my New Year’s. Maria and I were texting back and forth all week, as we usually do whenever the other one is late. Your friends and family try to understand, but they just can’t. And I don’t hold it against them AT ALL. I never understood until I went through it myself.

Jan. 10

About a week after coming back from Buffalo I remember telling Maria and my sister how weird it was that I was having PMS symptoms even after my period was over. I don’t know what made me do it, but I went in the bathroom and took a test. This wasn’t my first rodeo, so I just did it to ease my mind, knowing full well it was going to be negative because, DUH, I got my period. A few seconds after taking it I look over before I hop in the shower and do a double take.

PREGNANT!

Ummm, what? I think I stood there just staring at it for a minute. I always had these grand ideas about how I would tell Frank, but in that moment I just busted open the bathroom door and held up the test in my hand.

I had no words. Completely speechless. He probably thought I was insane.

We looked at it together. We laughed, we cried, and then laughed as we cried. And then decided to do what any sane couple would do when they find out they’re pregnant on a Sunday: go to Urgent Care to get a blood test because this is obviously wrong.

The next day I got a call. Yup! You’re pregnant alright! Probably around 5 weeks. I would later take multiple tests just to keep reassuring myself (I spent a lot of money on pregnancy tests!).

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The nurse told me to make an appointment in another week for an ultrasound. I remember hanging up the phone and my mind went back to Christmas and how I definitely had my period. I know I’ve heard of other women having this and still going on to have a healthy pregnancy, but something in me just felt weird.

That uneasy feeling never went away. I remember going on pinterest and making a “baby” board and then immediately deleting it. I didn’t want to jinx it.

Then the dreaded moment any pregnant woman fears… blood. Not a lot, but still… blood. I called my doctor and made them see me even though I wasn’t six weeks yet. I went in and the doctor did an internal exam and told me to come back in a week.

I told her I’d been spotting. I told her I’d had a full period. I told her I was having cramping on my right side. She told me that was all pretty common.

I don’t think that’s ALL pretty common, but I’ve gotten over that. I wish I would have asked for an ultrasound. Actually, I should have demanded an ultrasound. I’ve learned throughout all of this to never doubt your gut instincts. Nine times out of 10, they’re right.

Jan. 20

I was woken up at around 5 a.m. with sharp pain in my stomach. I got up and went to the guest room bathroom as to not wake up Frank. By the time I got there I was sweating, starting to get chills, and the pain had gotten so bad that I dropped to the floor in the bathroom. I couldn’t even comprehend what could be happening because the pain was so bad.

I crawled my way back to our bedroom and told Frank something was wrong. I tried sitting on the bed and just fell to the ground. I remember crying and yelling, “Something isn’t right. Something is wrong with the baby.”

I’m sure Frank’s mind was racing. He was trying to stay calm and figure out what to do. He asked if I wanted to go to the hospital, but I couldn’t get up.

In the week leading up to that day I had been experiencing pain on just my right side. I of course became a medical expert on all things that pain could be while pregnant. One thing that kept popping up was “ectopic pregnancy.” I always dismissed it.  Who does that even happen to? That’s so rare! I’ve never heard of anyone having that happen to them.

Again… follow your gut.

Ectopic pregnancy popped into my head as I’m laying on the floor screaming out in pain. After reading what happens when an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, I knew I only had a small window of time before I started bleeding internally (if that’s what it really was). I knew that whatever was happening was definitely NOT good and I needed to get to a hospital.

So Frank called an ambulance.

When I got to the hospital I remember the Emergency Room doctor pushing on my stomach and me whaling out in pain. They probably knew what was going on, but took me for an ultrasound to confirm.

As I was wheeled into the ultrasound room, my mind was racing.

I knew I was probably going to lose my baby but maybe there’s a chance they can save him/her.

As the ultrasound tech began looking at the screen, my heart sank. All I could hear was him talking to another tech asking, “What’s all that?”, ”I think it’s right there.”, “Is that blood?”

The doctor walked in and looked at the screen. The tech simply stated, “She’s got an ectopic in the right tube.”

Like I wasn’t even there.

I just remember the tears slowing starting to stream down my face.

I told them not to give me pain medicine in case there was a chance that the baby was OK, but the look on their faces said it all.

So I took the meds. The doctor eventually came in and told me the inevitable. He said I had an ectopic pregnancy in my right Fallopian tube that had ruptured. I was bleeding heavily internally and would need to have a blood transfusion (come to find out I needed 2). Blood had pooled all the way into my upper abdomen. They would have to do emergency surgery to remove it as well as my right tube.

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The doctor asked Frank to come outside with him explaining the severity of the situation. Frank came back in with tears in his eyes, but trying to be strong for me.

I’ve never been so scared in my life. I’ve never had a broken bone, never had to be under anesthesia, never had to have any kind of surgery in my life.  I remember telling Frank I don’t want to die.

“Please don’t let me die,” I said to him.

And then I prayed. I prayed for my unborn baby who we would never be able to meet. I prayed for my husband who was about to grieve his child while trying to be strong for his wife. I prayed for God to wrap his arms around both of us then and in the coming days, weeks, and months.

The surgery was successful and I had an amazing doctor. My regular doctor couldn’t be reached, so I was forced to have the on call OB/GYN perform the surgery. If nothing else, that was a blessing. She was so calming before and after the surgery.  I felt like she was my friend.

I was completely devastated about losing my tube. It took us so long to even get pregnant and now I have to try with only one tube? How is that even going to happen? She assured me that my chances weren’t as bleak as one would think.

I went into surgery almost eight weeks pregnant with a baby in my belly and came out with no baby and no right tube.

That was so hard to come to terms with.

I was grateful to be alive, but heartbroken that I would never meet my baby. I would never find out if it was a boy or girl. I would never get to experience all the pregnancy milestones that I was looking so forward to. I would never feel the kicks or hiccups that I used to hear women talk about with such excitement.

In the coming days of utter sadness, confusion, and grief – I  made a choice. I decided I had to choose hope instead of despair. I made a choice to have faith instead of doubt. I made a choice to give it all to God. I knew if I let myself, I could have gone down a very dark road. I could have not gotten out of bed or just cried until I had no tears left to cry (don’t get me wrong there are days when I replay all that happened and I just break down).

I thought about all the mommies who have gone through so much worse. Friends who have lost babies even farther along than me. Friends who have given birth to their baby only to have to say goodbye days or weeks later. Friends who had a healthy child one minute and a week later the unthinkable happens. I’ve gained so much strength from these women whether they know it or not.

Life is so dang unpredictable! I’ve learned that plans are great, but living a life of love and finding joy in your everyday is the greatest plan of all. Be grateful everyday. Chances are someone, somewhere has it worse off than you. Don’t be afraid to tell the people closest to you that you love them and you appreciate them. Life is short so don’t take one minute of it for granted.

I pray everyday that God will bless us with another baby, but until then I’m choosing to find happiness in all that I have been insanely blessed with.

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“Dreams” – Maria

My childhood was probably much like most of the women reading this – playing house, holding pretend weddings, always carrying around my “baby” dolls, becoming a mother’s helper, babysitting for many years and always dreaming about what my future family would look like. So I guess you could say my dream of motherhood began at a very young age. It was all I had ever envisioned for my life. Whenever someone would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer never changed, a mom. I figured I would get through college, hopefully find the right guy, get married, have lots of kids and be a stay at home mom.  Well, I got through college and found my prince charming and married him. Now, here we are almost three years later, struggling through infertility. I never even considered this would be a possibility in my life. There were always those moments I worried about not being able to conceive, but I guess I always prayed that it wouldn’t come to fruition. It happened so easily for everyone else in my family, so why would I have a problem?

It’s crazy when things don’t end up like you had planned! Most of my life I have tried to plan out. Soon enough though, I learned that this was all out of my control and in the hands of God. That was that hard for me to accept. How could I not have control over this situation? I figured the more doctors I saw, the more meds I took, the more techniques I tried out – we would get to the bottom of this and fix it. I can’t count the number of tears, daily prayers, days of heartache, days of anger, feelings of unfairness, feelings of abandonment, feelings of inadequacy. I also put a lot of blame on myself for all of the medical issues I am having and the inability to get pregnant, but never once did my husband put the blame on me.

Throughout this time of jealousy and envy of other people’s lives and families, I sometimes failed to see what was right in front of me… a solid marriage. Through the grace of God, we have not allowed this cross to tear us apart, but rather bring us closer together. All along I have had an understanding and supportive spouse. A partner who is able to love me even more through my darkest days. A best friend, with thoughtful gestures and gentle reminders of God’s love for me.

Now here I am 31 years old and finally understanding God’s work in all of this. It was funny, a few weeks ago I was cleaning and listening to a Justin Beiber song and had a revelation. The song is called purpose. Yes, that’s it! This cross has given us purpose! We are being called to be more faithful, to let go of all our selfishness, to learn patience, to give up control and to fully trust in God. As a couple, we are called to be a witness of God’s love and to bring others closer to Him. Through our despair and sorrow, God is working small miracles. My eyes are now open to what He has been accomplishing. He is asking us to take up our cross and to follow Him – to unite our suffering. I now know that God wanted us to be closer with Him. He wanted us to turn to Him and to desire a relationship with Him. Maybe all along God’s focus was on our dependence on Him. His desires came across so strongly to me… patience, trust in me, it will happen, but first we will need to transform you. I am actually thankful for this cross and all that we have been through together. It has strengthened our marriage and made us more grateful for all that we do have. I truly feel the love of Christ outpouring from my heart and I believe God is preparing us for something greater.

Bring the rain. 

I listen to Christian music every day. It’s an easy way for me to praise God and meanwhile feel a sense of comfort and peace through music. I’ve heard the song a ton of times, but today the lyrics to, “Bring the rain,” by MercyMe, really struck me. I want to focus on these words.

I can count a million times People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It’s never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise you, Jesus bring the rain

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what’s a little rain

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty


Each one of us, is or has been faced with a difficult situation. There’s no denying pain and suffering in this life, but it is incredible to me what God can do through this pain. I’ve always admired the saints, those holy men and women who actually desired suffering. One might ask, were they sane? Why would someone ask or want to suffer? I’m finally getting it. They were in love with the Lord, completely and utterly in love with our Heavenly Father. All they longed for was closeness with Him, in whatever way they could gain it. St. Francis and St. Clare, my spiritual role models come to mind first. They both embraced their suffering to increase their dependency on God. They yearned for more of God, to be a mirror image of Christ on the cross.

 

Taken from a scene at the end of Clare’s life; “She held the burnished bronze so that the morning light reflected from its surface onto the crucifix that hung above the cot where she lay. She looked into the mirror’s center and saw the crucifix. She looked at the crucifix and saw her own reflection. Christ was in the mirror. She was in the crucifix. Crucifix and mirror were both in her. She was herself the mirror. (Murray Bodo, Clare: A Light in the Garden, p. 109) Clare’s life imitated both the suffering and the glory of the San Damiano cross, the union of the human and divine represented in the mystery of the suffering and glorious figure of Christ.”

 

I’m confident we all have times in our lives when we can somewhat associate with how Christ felt up on the cross; alone, forsaken, abandoned, wondering where our Father is. Reflecting upon the face of Christ on the cross, I can see my many “brothers and sisters.” I can see a “brother” who has been battling cancer and questions why this is happening to him, I can see a “sister” struggling through infertility who cries out to God in pain, I can see another “brother” suffering with addiction doubting his ability to recover, I can see another “sister” with no food to eat or water to drink wondering how she has nothing and others have so much, I can see a “brother” who is neglected unsure of why no one cares about him, I can see a “sister” who has been faced with death too early in  life; the circumstances are endless. There is sadness everywhere. In these times of darkness are we able to identify with the crucified Christ? Christ didn’t ask to suffer, to die in the most inhumane way. He didn’t want to suffer, just like we don’t.

I find in my life, the more we suffer, the more we rely on God. The more we suffer, the more Christ like we are. We abandon every part of ourselves to God, trusting that He will carry us. I think this is a touchy subject to write on because I am in no way implying that God gives us pain or wills bad things for us. I am only stating that He can work miracles amidst our pain. I cannot speak on everyone’s behalf, but only from examples in my life or in circumstances I have witnessed. I may not have received everything I have desired or prayed for, but have been able to offer it up for the glory of God. Love requires sacrifice, a hard pill to swallow. I know 100%, without a doubt, that my faith would not be where it is today had I not suffered. I have always known that God has been a part of my life, not necessarily nearby, but somewhere out there in the distance for when I needed Him. Today, it’s a whole different story; one that requires constant discipline and practice, not always easy, but amazingly beautiful. God is my #1; He’s the one I begin my day with, the one I seek moment to moment, the one I long for, and the one who has my whole heart. It’s not a conditional love, but one that is pure and true. I find thanksgiving in my suffering, as it has lead me closer to Him. My eyes have been opened, my heart purified, and my life made anew. His love for me has never been more apparent; for I am His beloved child, His most precious creation, the one He adores…as are you. No matter what we may face, He is always in it with us, waiting for us to call upon Him, waiting for us to reach up for a warm embrace. He never wants us to carry our burdens alone. All you need to do is ask and He will fill you with His peace. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13), so I pray, Jesus bring the rain.

 

“In her second letter to Agnes of Prague, Clare advises:

     Gaze upon Him, Consider.               Him, Contemplate Him               As you desire to imitate Him. If you suffer with Him, you will reign with Him. If you weep with Him, you shall rejoice with Him; If you die with Him on the cross of tribulation,You shall possess heavenly mansions in the splendor of the saints And, in the Book of Life your name shall be called glorious among men.” (Early Documents, p. 42)

 

Just Adopt 

Well, the time has finally come. I’ve thought about writing about this topic for a long while now, but it just never seemed to be the right time. Over the past 4 years I’ve experienced many different emotions surrounding this subject. There have been moments of clarity, moments of uneasiness, moments of apprehension, and moments of comfort, but never moments of 100% confidence. It wasn’t until recently that this idea of adoption has settled pleasantly over us. We have always said that adoption is a call; it’s not a want or a feeling, but a call. It’s something the Lord places on your heart and asks you to consider. All along we have been open, but not necessarily drawn to the idea. It was hard for me to wrap my brain around bringing someone else’s child into my home as my own. It was very difficult to know that this child would not have our genetics, our blood, and our family lineage; it still is. That may sound terrible, but I ask you to pause for a minute and envision the same thing for your family. Look at your child and imagine them without yours or your husband’s features, knowing that throughout the course of their life you will need to expect the unexpected. I know you could probably say that about a child you birthed as well, but you see where I’m going with this. Would I take any child into my home? Absolutely, no questions asked! It’s just sort of a sadness and loss that I can’t explain. So for a long time, these were my feelings on adoption, I couldn’t get past my previously conceived notions.

Thank God for family and friends. I have talked this through and through with many people looking for some sort of wisdom and guidance. I’ve expressed my feelings and have had so much consolation and understanding. Now let me state this, adoption does not cure infertility. As we decide to pursue this route, I don’t think that our hearts will be totally cured from the grief and loss we feel, but will be opened up to a new grace and peace that God will give us. I’m not sure that the longing we feel for a biological child will ever subside, but I am confident we will be fulfilled in new ways we could never have imagined. A friend once told me, “It’s not your child, it’s God child. That baby was created and you were chosen to be the mom. It’s our job to care for these precious gifts here on earth. God entrusts them to us and we lead them back to God throughout the course I’m their life.” Another friend who is adopted herself, said her mom told her as soon as she was placed in her arms, she was hers and nothing else mattered. It kind of put things into a new perspective. That awareness has also developed in the time I have spent with all of the children that are in my life. When I hold or play with a cousin or friend’s child, my heart just explodes with love. I look upon them with tenderness and adoration and I genuinely miss them when we are apart. My heart is just taken. I can’t fathom how I would feel with my own child placed in my arms; the child that was destined to be with me. Although it is painful at times to be around little ones, it has opened up my eyes to new circumstance. How much more love could I feel for my own child when such strong love already exists for others.

So much excitement, but also fear. It’s something that seems to work its way into every situation. So many questions and worries about how it will all play out. God doesn’t intend for us to plan our own future. He has a purpose and we must trust that everything has its time. He wants us to let Him be in control, and how difficult that is. How will we have the money? What if no one ever chooses us? What if people can’t tell who we really are or what our intentions are based on a profile? What if people use us for money? What if we invest and lose all our money with no child in the end? What if this takes years and years? 

I think it’s funny when you are infertile most people like to suggest the adoption scenario. Maybe because it’s easy and they don’t know what to say? I would like to reply with, do you have an extra $20,000 I can have?! It’s so much easier said than done. I remember being that innocent and naïve when we were in marriage prep. There’s a whole section dedicated to children and intimacy. I remember us sitting in the pew at church suggesting that if we couldn’t have kids we could, “just adopt.” So simple, such an easy fix. I had no idea what went into that statement. Nor did I ever think we would actually be here in this place. There is so much that goes into the process alone. Unless you know people that have gone through it and can guide you, it’s very overwhelming. There are attorney fees, placement fees, home study fees, birth mother fees, medical fees, the list goes on. Who is the right person to talk to? Who can you trust? We are by no means going without in our life, but we certainly don’t have tons of extra cash laying around. It’s very frustrating and easy to get down on ourselves, feel inadequate. 

So first of all I ask you for your prayers. We continue to pray for the will of God to reveal itself in our lives. We never want our will to get in the way of God’s. We don’t want our desire for a child to overshadow anything that God is doing. We pray that if this is God’s call than it will all unfold as He intends. Please pray for us as we take new steps in this process, that we may have courage, that our trust may be strong when faced with obstacles, our worry fleeting, and our hearts open. When the time comes we will be sharing our story even more publicly in the hopes of finding our child. It isn’t easy to be in the spotlight, to put ourselves out there to be judged, to be criticized, to be misunderstood. Lord help us to remain strong and faithful. God you are good. 



“Stop looking at your limited resources and start looking at the one who can multiply them. Stop looking at your life and thinking about how insignificant it looks. Yield it to God-fully, totally, completely-and allow Him to multiply it.” – Heidi Baker

Give Me Faith

It’s interesting to me that at times we feel distant from God and then other times we feel so confident that He is speaking directly to us; I had one of those events today. On my drive to work, I prayed per usual, but today the words just seemed to pour out of my mouth. I’ve been feeling so out of sorts this past week and really felt like I needed God’s help. It’s like all of my emotions unleashed in one ten minute prayer and I couldn’t come up for air. Questions, petitions, praises, all came forth like a bull bursting through an open gate. There was so much I had to get off my chest and although I didn’t received much consolation or clarity,  I figured I started the day off right, with God. It wasn’t until about an hour into work that I received a response.

A few months ago I received some audio CDs from one of my residents. On them contained messages from a Dr. so and so from a Christian worship ministry. She suggested I take a listen and then share with any others whom I see fit. Honestly I forgot about them and they’ve been sitting on my table for probably four months. Today I decided to pop them in and listen as I worked. To my amazement and surprise, the exact message he was speaking on spoke to words from my prayer this morning. I’m talking exact language that I don’t normally use! One particular phrase jumped out at me, “fervent prayer;” I’ll come back to this.

Secondly, the image of a garden has been sitting with me. If any of you have seen “The Shack,” you’ll know what I’m referencing. The writers use the image of a garden to portray the makeup of a soul, flowers and plants growing and blossoming where the soil is rich and weeds taking root in the dark spaces where light is absent. I’ve seen the movie twice and with all the wonderful messages, this one in particular has stuck. I can’t get this analogy out of my head, it’s so simple yet so profound. I prayed about my “weeds” this morning and why this keeps coming to me. I prayed to God asking if He wanted me to write about it to give me some inspiration or confirmation. I opened my journal and the last line of my entry dated June 5 reads, “Like weeds that attach and grow heartily, if we allow the darkness in to take root, it’ll be hard to detach it.” Now I realize I wrote this so I should recall it, but I have no clue where I got it from. I’m quite sure it’s from one of the five books I’m in the middle of, but I can’t find it anywhere. I haven’t written in two months and when I begin to write again the same thought reappeared. It must be worth exploring, right?

So let’s go with this image. I’m sure lots of you out there are gardeners, more experienced than I am, I’m sure! My first experience with planting a garden was just this past spring. I quickly had to learn what goes into it; cultivating the soil, purchasing fresh, nourishing soil, spacing out the plants, keeping them watered, making sure they have light, weeding, maybe talking to them if you’re a little nuts. 🙂 It’s not a one and done process, but something that requires constant time and energy.  Plants cannot grow unless they are fed, watered, and exposed to the light. So why is it that weeds can grow in any environment? No matter what you spray on them or how many times you pull them up, they constantly return. They are unwanted, but they keep coming back. What better way to exemplify sin in our lives; it is unwanted, but it always takes root. This is frustrating to me, in fact maddening. I want to pull it up once and be done with it. Why must I continue to fall victim to the same sins day in and day out. I feel like I am constantly fighting a losing battle and I can’t quite figure out the secret weapon for victory. Each day begins anew and I think to myself, okay, today is a day to start over. Low and behold, five minutes into my day I am angry with someone on the road, freely judging people, growing impatient with something at work, or letting disappointment overcome me. I can’t escape it and I never will because I am human and we are prone to sin. So what is the answer? What steps can I take to make a change? Yes, fervent prayer! What does this mean to me? It means passionate, enthusiastic, unceasing prayer; constant connection with God. It means making every part of my day a prayer. It means consulting God before I think, speak, or listen. It means turning my heart to Him in every occurrence. There is no way in this life that I can ever fully overcome my sin. The only way to work towards a path to sainthood is to pray and ask for the miracle of God’s love and mercy.

You may be wondering why I am writing about this and the connection to infertility. My barrenness has produced many weeds in my heart and I am constantly fighting to remove them. At times things are going so well and my “plants” are abundant, but then there are always those small weeds trying to fight their way back in. I want to name these weeds – envy, jealousy, anger, hurt, desolation, sadness, despair, hopelessness, anxiety, worry, heartbreak, emptiness, anguish, misery, suffering, sorrow, heartache, and fear. It’s truly a cycle and process of gardening: preparing, cultivating, planting, and intermittent removal. I honestly try to remain grateful every day for all that God has blessed me with, but like I said, I am human and I am weak. I think when you focus on the positive things in your life, stay connected to God, and lean on family and friends it’s easy for those flowers to bloom; easier said than done right? How quickly and randomly we are faced with surprises, difficult situations or circumstances. I am beginning to take notice of the situations when these weeds are poking and I think the key is awareness. When we are aware, we can name it, pray about it, and ask for God to help us work though it. Little by little those weeds are going to have a tougher time breaking through the surface because of the firm foundation. I can’t completely rid myself of negative feelings and emotions, but I can work to overcome them. God can give me the grace to see and experience things through His eyes and to love with His heart. He can take away my anger, give me courage, and help me to be fully confidant in His love when faced with a difficult situation. Eventually, a new announcement won’t sting so much, holding a baby won’t hurt so much, and being around families won’t be so difficult. God will help my heart to strengthen, evolve, and to only have room for love. His eyes can help me to see in a whole different way. When the pain moves aside, the focus only remains on God, His plan for my life, and the pathway to heaven.

On a side note, please keep us in your prayers as we discern the call to adoption. It is something that God has been opening our hearts up to in recent months. We attended an informational session at Catholic Charities and applied to be part of the program. This beautiful organization’s primary focus and attention is on foster care, something we don’t feel equipped for at this point in our lives. There is a chance we may not be accepted at this point since we are only looking into private adoption. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many local organizations to go through and Adoption STAR is financially out of reach for us. So please pray that those spaces of fear and worry inside of us are replaced with peace and trust. We are confidant that God is holding the reigns and unfolding His beautiful plan before us. God’s blessings upon all of you.

“The Gospel is relevant because what people lack more than anything else is power. They lack the power to change, to break enslaving habits, to live better, to save their own souls. And what the simple, undiluted Gospel has in abundance is power. The power to transform. The power to change lives and break habits, the power that enables people to live better, fruitful lives that transcend their own needs.” – Heidi Baker

“I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power so that your faith may not rest on human wisdom but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:3-5

“I may be weak, but your spirit’s strong in me, and my flesh my fail, but my God you never will.”

Baby Grace

Tomorrow I FINALLY get to help throw my cousin and lifelong best friend her baby shower. I can’t express the joy in my heart. After 2 years of TTC, the impossible was finally made possible. If you ask me, major celebrations are in order! I’m not sure if there is a finer example of resurrection after death.

Jenn and I began this blog a little over a year ago to be a support for one another, as well as, for other couples in the same boat. We wanted to be a source of refuge and hope for those feeling alone and hopeless. It was also a way for us to express our emotions, grieve, and share our stories about a topic that rarely gets discussed. I thank God every day that we have had each other to lean on because I’m not sure I could have gotten through some dark days without her. Unfortunately we have both had to experience much heartache, but were lucky enough to have each other. I’ll forever be grateful for the laughter, tears, (memes) and even anger that we shared. In our trials, we grew together, as well as individually.

You may think that our relationship has changed since Jenn’s announcement, but quite the opposite. I have found no place in my heart for unhappiness, anger, or resentment. One may wonder how it is possible to escape these feelings and feel joy instead while facing the same struggle. My friends, I am here to tell you that anything is possible with the grace of God. He never ceases to amaze me in the ways that He works. It also goes without saying that Jennifer is amazing. Everything about her is beautiful, but especially her heart. Imagine having to express such wonderful news with such pain inside. As long as I live I’ll remember the day she burst into tears after talking about her pregnancy in person with me. She felt so bad that it was happening for her and not for me and kept reiterating how unfair life is. I couldn’t get it over it; that kind of love, so genuine, so selfless. It meant more to me than I could ever express. Of course I would never want another human being to feel that way, especially on my behalf, but that’s the kind of person she is. Even all throughout her pregnancy thus far she has been sensitive and delicate, always concerned about my emotions and how I’m feeling. I’ve never wanted anything but the best for her and as far as I’m concerned, God answered our prayers. So tonight I am extremely thankful. I will go to bed with a warm heart and wake up excited to shower my beautiful cousin with all of the love that she deserves. I know she is already an incredible mother; I’ve witnessed it in countless ways. We’re only a couple years apart, but I’ve looked up to her my whole life. She’s a natural and I can’t wait to witness the bond between her and her sweet baby.

So tonight, please join me in a prayer of thanksgiving. Thanks be to God for Jennifer, Frank, and their little miracle who will soon enter this world. Baby Grace, what a perfect name, you are already so loved. God, you are so good.

Suffering – Maria 

Suffering – it’s everywhere. People suffer in all kinds of ways, some physically, some emotionally, and some spiritually. Although it may not be all the time, everyone goes through their own suffering with varying degrees. If you’re not one of those people, then praise God! I know I have lots of days when I feel like I just have nothing to offer, no gas in the tank; times when it’s even hard to find words for a simple prayer. This post isn’t specifically dedicated to my own issue of infertility, but I felt compelled to write it anyway because there is so much suffering around us.

Lately, I feel engulfed by the pain of others. I look around and I see so much heartbreak, so many people going through difficult times and I can’t help but think to myself, why? It can be so hard to fathom why bad things happen, especially to good people. In fact, there’s a whole book dedicated to that topic. I’m an educated person and I’ve heard much discussion on the topic, but it still doesn’t make it easy. I think that when we find ourselves in a situation of suffering, grief, or loss we tend to blame God. There’s no way for our human brains to fully comprehend why bad things happen. We don’t understand why an all-powerful, all-loving, and all-merciful God can’t make things right for us. We pray and we pray and we pray, but He doesn’t seem to answer, at least in the ways we’re imagining. We expect Him to wave a magic wand and fix our problems. I’m sorry to say, but it doesn’t work like that. We were given free will, a choice, and it’s what we do with that choice. Do we seek God and ask for His mercy and grace? Do we trust that the Lord will get us through? Do we crawl into a hole and self loathe? Do we get angry and blame the world? Do we try to fix the problems on our own? Or do we look to the instruments and people God is placing before us to help? Like I said there is no magic, so we must be open to where God is working. That includes listening and taking the steps on our own when He nudges. He can’t force us to go where we don’t want to. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never “heard” a clear cut answer from God. I long for it, but I’ve never heard His actual voice. Most times when I am discerning, it takes patience and prayer. Little by little God reveals and most times it’s through scripture, books, or conversation with others. A message will come across right when it needs to, but I need to seek it. He doesn’t just drop an answer in our lap, so we must be in constant conversation with Him. He leads and we choose to follow or to face things that may be difficult for us. I promise though, He won’t leave you alone no matter what you’re up against.

“On the mountains, I will bow my life to the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain, I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone.”

Close your eyes for a minute and just imagine that God answered every one of your prayers. What would that look like? What would the world look like if everything was perfect? Would you continue turning to Him if you had everything you ever wanted? Would you continue praying? In order for every single person’s prayers to be answered He would be changing hearts, minds, wills, the progression of life that’s unfolding and we wouldn’t be free to choose. Our world would be filled with rainbows, hearts, and butterflies, but it wouldn’t be because we made it that way as a human race. It would be a forced happiness. Like I said before, faith isn’t based on feelings. It’s a choice to turn to God and pursue a relationship with Him. It’s work and it ain’t easy!

I hope you’re not expecting some big reveal at the end of this post, or some wonderful answer, because I don’t have one. Suffering sucks. Plain and simple, it sucks, and we all go through it. I don’t know why someone’s child gets cancer, or why people suffer with mental illness, or why a couple loses their baby, or why a young person dies too early, or why people live their whole life with an illness, or why we kill each other, or why there’s racism, or why there’s injustice, or why accidents  happen. I just can’t explain it. Are these things a product of our environment or based on choices we make? Maybe, maybe not. We don’t chose sickness and I’m no scientist, but I could see how certain illnesses and diseases are due to chemicals, food, & pollution in the world. Why it affects certain people and not others, I don’t know. Accidents; some are caused by choices we make, and others just a product of unknown factors. Who am I, but someone just trying to make sense of what has none.

It may sound silly, but some days my heart breaks for our Lord. I know He can handle it, He’s more than equipped, but imagine having the literal weight of the world on your heart. From just a week of bad things happening, I feel so down. My heart goes out to all those that feel lost or alone or are fighting a losing battle. Imagine God feeling everything at once all the time. Yes, I know He probably doesn’t have the same feelings as we understand them, but sadness nonetheless. All He wants for us is to know that we are loved and that He is always there. He is constantly reaching out, hoping we will turn our hearts toward Him. He’s waiting for the opportunity to connect on a deeper level. My prayer is that when we all experience heartbreak that we turn toward Him instead of turning away from Him. You never know what can happen when you ask for His help and He sends you people to help get you through. I have experienced it firsthand.

The sad reality is that we are all going to experience heartache at one point or another. We all watch people suffer tragedy or lose someone they love.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop it. So what can we do in the face of crisis or struggle? We need to continue to lift each other up, spread joy, and empathize with one another. There’s that saying, “always be kind to one another because someone may be facing a battle you know nothing about.” Kindness is a real weapon. You never know the impact you can have on someone with a kind gesture, an act of selflessness, a thoughtful note, a warm smile, or a tender embrace. These are little things we can do to make the world a little brighter. God’s love can and will penetrate the darkness, we just have to give Him the opportunity to work through us. We are his vessels, His way into the world.

For all of those out there wondering if you can make it another day, I am praying for you. My own heartache seems minimal in perspective to watching you and your struggle. It may be cliché, but you are not alone. I hope you experience your miracle, but if not, please be confidant that God does not intend or will your suffering. We live in a broken world, but little by little we will do our best to fix it with His help. Please don’t be afraid to ask for support or to seek advice from a professional, that’s what they’re there for! They are also instruments of God! We are humans created for relationships and we aren’t supposed to face this world alone. For those waiting or longing, please hold onto hope. You never know what God can accomplish through your suffering. There just might be something better in store for you if you’re open to it.

 

“I will rise again. I believe I had to break so love could make me whole. I will rise again stronger in the end. I believe in a brand new day, a love that saves, I will rise again.” – Jason Gray


https://youtu.be/iGJGsQUrltQ

https://youtu.be/p4rRCjrAyCs

 

Present – Maria

here and now

Did you ever have a thought that just struck you? Something so easy, so simple, but just makes so much sense. I had one of those yesterday while I was driving. I seem to do my best thinking while I’m driving or taking a shower, probably because it’s usually the only time I have completely to myself; prayer time, complete quiet, deep thought, and silent reflection. My inspiration; the sun. It’s funny how much my mood immediately changes with the presence of the sun. The grey from the past few days has disappeared, puddles evaporated, the saturated grass has started to dry, and everything is illuminated. Happiness! It’s like I have a whole new perspective.  The barren trees look picturesque, the grass looks greener, colors look more radiant, and water sparkles, all because of light. I started to make a correlation between the sun and the Son. Jesus is the light and through His light there is joy, love, and happiness. As the sun’s rays warm me and feel good for my soul, so too do I feel that way when I choose Christ, when I live in the warmth of His presence. It’s not just ONE choice, but a daily one, moment by moment, breath by breath. It’s almost a consciousness. I’ve said it before, God is constant, never changing, always present. It is I who feel the grey and the darkness when I fall from prayer and feel distant. When I choose to live in His light it changes the whole dynamic of my life. It changes the way I see things and how I feel. In every area of my life, His love causes the dark to become light again.

I’d like to make a distinction between my “old” self and my “new” self. I’m not talking physical change, but a spiritual one. I’m different today than I was yesterday, not unlike lots of years ago. I’m not quite sure the path that God has been calling me on has ever changed (even though I have tried to get off it many times), but the scenery is ever changing. Most of my journey has been filled with sunshine and smooth pavement, although there have been countless days of darkness and bumpy terrain. I have found though, that it is I who controls the setting. Do I chose to drive along the bumpy, gloomy road, hoping for some light at the end or steer clear of the shadows to stay in the fullness of the sunlight.  Likewise, I can choose to reside in the place of emptiness, jealousy, despair, and pity or I can allow myself to let Jesus in to take control.

So what does this have to do with infertility? Everything. Over the past six months I have decided to make that conscious choice; to let Jesus use my situation for His glory. I have surrendered, prayed for transformation, and have found peace. I haven’t moved on in any way or forgotten about my dreams. I haven’t stopped desiring biological children, but I have let go. The pain, the hurt, the anxiety, the fear, it doesn’t disappear completely, but the light comes in and outshines it all.  There is freedom and there is clarity. I can’t explain the feeling of grace that God has given me. I never ever thought I would be able to overcome the sadness I felt. There used to be days when I heard a new pregnancy announcement and it would destroy me. I’d find myself uncontrollably sobbing and wondering if I was being punished. I could not see beyond my own pain and I was angry and insanely jealous. My head would spin and the questions multiplied; “But I’ve been married longer,” “But I’m older,” “But I would be a good mom,” “But my time’s running out.” Every bit of frustration, anger, and sadness I had, all led to me trying to have more control. I thought, well I haven’t tried this yet or maybe if I take more of this, or maybe if I eat better, or maybe if I exercise more, etc.  All I had to do was let God in to find the freedom that I was searching for. I literally have peace that has transformed me. I haven’t thought about my cycle, haven’t taken any medications, I haven’t seen any doctors and it is all okay. How else can you explain that, other than God? Change has happened and I feel fulfilled. I have learned to find gratitude and beauty with everything else in life. When you are truly confidant that it is all in God’s hands and He is ALWAYS working for your good, then what can bring you down? Nothing can separate you from the immense love of the Father. It’s the purest, realest, love you’ll ever know. He is waiting for you, with arms open wide.

father.jpg

I’ve found this to be true in any situation in our lives. We simply cannot handle things on our own. It just doesn’t work. Our human nature makes us weak. You may not be experiencing infertility, but still have struggles of your own. No matter the situation, illness, grief, loneliness, depression, addiction or whatever you’re facing, open your heart up to God. Ask Him for His healing power and He will give it to you. He desires to be close to you and fulfill the needs of your heart. If you keep your eyes fixed on Him, wonderful things can happen.

I attended a Catholic women’s conference last month which proved to be so fruitful for me. It was so nice to have a day set aside for prayer and fellowship. All according to God’s plan, the day turned out to be just what I needed, even down to the speakers delivering messages that felt written for me. However, I did find myself lost in thought at times, worrying about the future and what was in store for me. Here are these holy women on stage who are doing so much and sharing these incredible stories and here I sit with nothing to offer. That thought sat with me as I exited the parking lot with my mom. Once in the car I expressed my feelings of inadequacy to her. I wondered if children weren’t in the picture for us, then why wasn’t I doing something else, something big, changing lives. She provided me with some wise words that have stayed with me. She suggested that maybe all God wants of me now is to live in the present and to be His love and His light right where I’m at, whether that be at home, work, or socially. It seems so simple, but I’m a person who is always looking to tomorrow and always planning. This would certainly be a challenge for me. In the following weeks I had faithful affirmations of those words and I felt confident that it was God. So that is what I have been doing and my, how it’s been life changing.

Now don’t get me wrong, my life isn’t rainbows and butterflies all the time. There is still pain present and it usually sneaks up out of nowhere. Just this past Sunday, gloom settled over me in church. We sat behind a family who would be baptizing their child after mass. He was adorable all dressed in white with a matching hat and shoes. I couldn’t help but wonder if we would ever be there, get the chance to baptize one of our own. If we had children, what would they look like? Would they resemble one of us completely or a little bit of both? Would they have Jeff’s olive skin and dark brown hair or be fairer with my blue eyes? Would they be smart? Would they be funny? Would they be tall or short? I let my mind wander for a bit and then had to pull myself back to the present; to the man beside me holding my hand, the husband I could have never deserved. A lump formed in my throat as I pictured him as I saw the dad in front of us, loving on and feeding his child. He would be such a good daddy. Will I ever be able to give him that chance?  It was hard to stay focused on the mass with my desires ever so strong. Questions that will go unanswered for now. In those moments of weakness though, I have learned to stop, recollect myself, and whisper the name of Jesus. He is the only one who can pull me out of the darkness of my fear and worry. The same goes for a new announcement or being in the presence of a pregnant friend. I’ll allow myself a minute or two to feel a little hurt or pity, but then I pull myself back to the present, to enjoy all that life has to offer. All we can do is live in the now, for we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or if there will even be a tomorrow. My prayer is that God will accomplish a lot through me, I just need to give Him the chance and take myself out of the way. Let your will be mine, Lord.

Mother’s day is coming up and I know this will be a very difficult day for many, myself included. For all of you out there feeling hopeless and alone, know that you are stronger than you think. There are many ways to be a mother. Be confidant to stand up for that blessing during mass because I am sure you are already fulfilling the role of a “mother” to many, in ways that you may see and ways in which you are unaware. Don’t give up hope and trust in the Lord, for He wants to give you the desires of your heart.

Praying for you all. God Bless.

present.jpg

News

The secret’s out. Well it never really was a secret, but now our story is public. It’s never been something I have been afraid to talk about, but now we have opened ourselves up to the unknown: vulnerability, judgment, criticism; possibly only identified as “the infertile couple.” 

It’s funny, I have told my story countless times with no problem. Put a camera and bright light on me, I found it difficult to put an educated sentence together. We couldn’t help but to feel discouraged after we filmed. Did we say the right thing? Will our message come across the way we intended? Why did we feel so embarrassed? I guess that’s why I felt inspired for another blog post. I think I can express myself better when I have time to think and formulate my thoughts.

When Katie first approached me about sharing our story, my initial reaction was, yes, what a great way to glorify God while talking about something that never gets talked about. God gave us the courage to be open about it, so why not use it? My husband was a bit more hesitant.  He didn’t want to be in the spotlight or for people to think that we wanted attention. We know many people are struggling through worse things and of course there’s always the additional worry about expressing your faith and beliefs without coming across as judgmental of others.  Our intentions have always been pure. People form their families in all sorts of ways that is up to each individual person. We share our story from a Catholic perspective and what works for us.

We walked Katie through our journey over these past three years and she asked many questions, one being, how do we respond to people’s questions about when kids are coming. Is that an appropriate question to ask? How would we respond to such a question? The truth is, we can’t offer the correct answer. What works for one person may not for others. We all handle our situations differently. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it because you never know what someone is dealing with. Obviously, I am not a shy person so I have no problem responding honestly and bluntly, but many have a hard time discussing personal details. Plain and simple, it’s a difficult territory to navigate. There is no one answer fits all.

Before the interview I spoke with a friend of mine who is dealing with the same situation. I wanted to express more than one perspective so we discussed pregnancy announcements. I conveyed that I preferred when a friend shared her pregnancy news with me privately (hopefully via text or phone call) before a large group announcement so I would have time to process and deal with the news as I could. Oppositely, she indicated that she doesn’t like to be singled out. She doesn’t want friends to have pity on her or treat her differently and if she needs to cry in front of the group, it should be understood and okay. There shouldn’t be such a stigma related to infertility. I have to admit I was surprised because we both felt so differently! I posted the same question in an infertility Facebook group that I’m a part of to gather more responses. Everyone was in all different places. The replies opened my eyes quite a bit; we’re all over the map. So, the only advice I can offer is, just be tender, respectful, and sincere.

 Here are some responses from real women experiencing infertility:

“It’s okay when talking to someone who is struggling with infertility not to have an answer for them. Trust me they have done their research. Everyone feels so obligated to suggest. Everyone has an opinion. You get judged whether you do something or don’t do something.”

I want to tell the world: Fertility is not small talk! Your comments and questions (while potentially in jest) are constant reminders that my womb is still empty.”

“There are times of the month where you’re really hopeful and even enjoy looking up ways to announce your desired pregnancy. But then your cycle starts again with no pregnancy and the emotions, sadness, and hopelessness gets worse every month. You want to tell everyone you see (because you’re always thinking about it), but you also don’t want to tell anyone how you’re feeling.”

“It feels isolating. People will “console” you and say things like “it will happen”, “when you stop stressing over it, it will happen”, “get drunk some night. That’s how it happened for me” <— that always feels gloaty and like they aren’t taking my situation seriously. Many people do not understand if they have never been in the situation. I am pregnant right now, but I still have moments of jealousy and uncertainty over those who get pregnant easily and can announce right away. I am 18.5 weeks and still haven’t announced on Facebook out of fear of something happening (4th pregnancy but hopefully our first baby that survives). My husband and I are both asked about if we are having children, if this is our first, etc. We answer honestly. Some people think we didn’t want children, yet, so we could travel, etc. and settle into married life. Some people slough off our sadness when we say we were trying ever since we got married… August 2014. Many people would say “oh, you have only been trying for 2 years” which seems very dismissive of our struggles (and 3 previous losses), even though they are trying to be comforting.”

“I also see a fairly distinct separation between those experiencing frequent loss/infertility, and those that have children/no fertility concerns. I hear a lot of “have many children, they make your life whole” which can be hard to hear when you want many children, but you can’t (ever or temporarily) and then you wonder what they mean when they say life is only whole when you have children. Idk if this makes sense or not to others, though. It is probably coming from a sense of jealousy (not good).”

“Simple questions like ‘how long have you been married?” really get to you because a lot of the time what they’re really asking, and making you remember, is ‘when are you going to have kids?’ or ‘why haven’t you yet?’”

 

“This maybe just me but…Don’t be afraid to share your exciting pregnancy news with me! It stings a little but I promise I will share in your joy: every new life is worth celebrating!! If you keep it from me it’s likely to hurt more. I’m not fragile, I’m a warrior.”

“I felt really bad when one of my close friends didn’t tell me personally and I found out on facebook! For not close friends I don’t care though.”

“When I say I’m tired or don’t feel good- please don’t ask me if I’m pregnant. I probably have a cold.”

“Having a baby is always on my mind….I just wish it was the first thing on everyone else’s mind when they talk to me. I’m pretty sure it’s the last thing on most people’s mind when they talk to me… they say some pretty insensitive things…if there’s an issue or a problem or anything going on in life….it all follows back in some way to the fact I can’t have a child. Sometimes all you need is a hug:) I hate it when someone says you can always adopt or do foster care. Usually there are reasons some of us cannot adopt or Foster, and it’s never what people think it is. Some have tried it and it turned out to be an extremely bad experience and others don’t want to even think about it because there are so many horror stories. It just hurts more to hear it. Most of the world is pretty ignorant of adoption procedures and personal situations that don’t make someone the ideal candidate in the eyes of home study social worker.”

“One of the most insulting things for me is when your doctor asks if you’ve considered adoption. I could take that so many ways–does that mean he has no hope for you? Does that mean he wants to think he gets credit for that too if you do adopt? Is he just being nosy and wondering why you haven’t yet?”


I post these comments not as anger or insult to common inquiries. Human nature exists. Curiosity exists. We can’t fault people for not knowing or not having experience. However, I believe that the more it gets talked about, the more awareness there will be and the less isolated and ashamed women and couples will feel. 

In closing, we would just like to thank everyone for all of their kind words, love, and support. Our lives would be totally different without all of you in it. Your encouragement and prayers keep us going – even if they’re not answered in the ways we imagined. Lots of people have commented on our courage and strength, but it’s all God. On our own we have nothing; just humans filled with worry, fear, and despair. Thankfully and by the grace of God I’m in a different place than I was a year ago. I started trusting and leaning completely on God instead of myself and my life has changed. God is working in the most amazing way and all the credit goes to Him. My prayer is that I can be Christ’s light to others, so if any part of that is happening I consider it a good day. 

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Maria

Another pregnancy dream. Finally, after all this time we were pregnant! I couldn’t believe it, but the tests proved it (I took three of them). So much joy and so incredibly real. I told friends and family with such emotion and excitement. Woke to find my hope dismantled, feeling sad and alone. Why must my mind play these tricks on me?

With groggy eyes and a sad heart I scrolled through Facebook looking for some distraction; post after post of new babies and children. I guess I’m at that age now. It’s everywhere and it’s getting more difficult to go on social media. I’d probably be the same way if I was in that situation, sharing pictures and anecdotes of my beloved children. But with this pain in my heart, I find it all hard to keep looking at. I’m surrounded, feeling like everyone around me is pregnant or snuggling new babies. Don’t get me wrong, I am truly happy for them, it’s just so hard. I guess everyone probably goes through this at some point in their lives; wanting to be in a relationship, wanting to be engaged, wanting to get married, wanting a job change, wanting to be in better shape, wanting a house, wanting a pet, etc. We see what everyone else has, what we think comes so easily, and our hearts are left longing for those things.

On my drive today I couldn’t help but to notice all the grey around me and how it matched exactly how I’m feeling inside. Getting lost in thought and prayer I imagined, this is probably what it looked like the day Jesus died. I recalled the scriptures and meditated on His passion. I realize I am not in line to be crucified, but I can’t help but feeling the same way that I imagine He did. “He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39. I don’t want this cup, Lord. I want what my heart wants. I want what I’ve longed for, for over twenty years. I don’t feel strong enough to embrace and carry this cross anymore. I’m feeling left alone and abandoned. “From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”* which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27: 45-46. It’s so easy to blame and condemn. Why can’t you fix this, God? Why do I feel like the last person left? I don’t know if there is a reason or not and I guess I never will. I cry out when I’m in pain, but I know in the deepest part of my soul that my God is GOOD. My God is kind, my God is loving, and my God will never leave me – I am not alone. I need to hold onto this. I am human, therefore I am weak. When pain and fear surround me, I need to just rest in His presence and let Him take over. One of my favorite books, “Reckless Devotion,” by Heidi and Rolland Baker, provides so much insight to me. In yesterday’s reading they said, “Today, step into His rest. Don’t strive. Don’t struggle. Don’t try to be someone or something you’re not. Just be still and allow Father to be Father.” I need to be content with God’s love and all that I already have. It’s not easy, but it’s REAL love and trust.

So I guess, emotionally, my day did not start out great, but regardless, I know I must remain faithful. My wonderful husband lovingly reminded me this morning, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” I don’t know when and where that will happen, but I will trust. Maybe there is a plan and maybe there’s not, but I am confident that God is at work. I of course would like an answer, sooner rather than later, but that’s not the way it works.

No matter how much I feel left, with this missing part of my life, I know I will only be truly satisfied with God and striving for eternity in heaven. No one has a perfect life. No one. No matter how many blessings we have, how much stuff we accumulate, or how we accomplished we are, we will always be searching and longing. All things on earth are based upon changing feelings, but God is constant, never changing.

I can’t help but continue to hope and pray that one day this empty image will be filled with a different picture – a miracle.

ultra

“Empty & Beautiful” – Maria 

Another Christmas, childless, with what feels like no hope or end in sight. The time goes by so quickly. Why is it especially hard around this time of year? Maybe it’s all the Christmas cards with family photos. Maybe it’s sitting around a beautiful tree, imagining what it could be like on Christmas morning and envisioning little ones scattered about. Maybe it’s watching other people’s children open gifts and feeling a twinge of jealousy. Maybe it’s knowing we still can’t give our parents grandkids to fawn over. Maybe it’s the family parties and seeing everyone else’s families together. Maybe it’s Christmas shopping in the mall and spotting Santa with a long line of children. Maybe it’s the many pictures of  the elf on the shelf (or maybe that’s a blessing!) Whatever the reason may be, we understand. We are right there with you.

 

“I’m so confused. I know I heard you loud and clear. So, I followed through. Somehow I ended up here. I don’t wanna think. I may never understand. That my broken heart is a part of your plan. When I try to pray. All I’ve got is hurt and these four words…Thy will be done.”


I’m not sure what words of encouragement I can give you because I know it won’t suffice. We created this blog to be a source of strength for all the couples out there who are struggling. To give you a place to come to for understanding and empathy. The truth is, it’s just as hard for us. Jenn and I struggle as much as all of you do. It is helpful for us to put it into words and to be a voice for the voiceless, but it still is not easy. We are faced with the same challenges day in and day out. Faced with the same worry, disappointment, destroyed hope, fear, and anxiety. And it certainly doesn’t get better as time goes on.

 

“I know you’re good. But this don’t feel good right now. And I know you think of things I could never think about. It’s hard to count it all joy. Distracted by the noise. Just trying to make sense of all your promises. Sometimes I gotta stop remember that you’re God and I am not.”


I know it’s a blanket statement to say, “Be grateful for what you have,” because it’s an easy thing to say, but not an easy thing to live. We become accustomed to all the blessings we have and then tend to focus on what we don’t have. If I just had a baby, then I would be happy. If I just had more money, then I would be happy. If I could just be in a relationship, then I would be happy… and so on and so forth. But ultimately, our happiness only lies in God. As St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, oh Lord.” As humans we are always searching and are never satisfied. We will never be fully satisfied in this life, but we can always be confidant in the love of our Father. Yes, the pain will always be there, however, we have a choice on how to deal with it. We can accept and move on or we can wallow. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my Christmas in self-pity. There are so many things to be grateful for.

 

“I know you see me. I know you hear me, Lord. Your plans are for me. Goodness you have in store. I know you hear me. I know you see me, Lord. Your plans are for me. Good news you have in store.”


 

This Christmas I am choosing to offer it up. Offer up my suffering for the grace of others – for those who need it most. For the child suffering with cancer. For those with no home to go to. For those with no families or no one to love them. For those who are alone and lonely. For those who are sick and dying. For those with addictions. For those with heartache. Is my pain gone? Absolutely not. Does my longing stop? Nope. It’s a battle and I am fighting daily. It’s a conscious choice – to be aware. I am no expert and it’s a daily work in progress, but I have found the more we take our suffering outside of ourselves, the easier it is to get through it.

 

“Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is, Thy will be done. I know you see me. I know you hear me, Lord.”


     Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, & Happy         Kwanzaa to you and your family from us. 

You are not alone…. ❤