Monday, October 5, 2015

Dear mother of the the infertile woman,

Dear mother of the infertile woman,

I write this to the mothers. But it really is for fathers too. It's just that mothers are usually the ones more directly involved. They are the ones privy to the personal details. They are the ones called upon when the tears cannot stop flowing. They are the communicator to their spouse of the most recent information: a failed cycle, a failed adoption, another cycle that signifies pregnancy did not occur.
Your daughter is infertile. Or maybe a daughter-in-law that you love greatly.

Your child ... is childless.

Dear mother of the infertile, your role is so important in the life of this barren woman in your life. She is grieving something monumental, and unless, by chance, you grieved it once too, you truly cannot imagine the depth of this pain accurately.

In addition, her grief is also for you. She longs to see you hold their baby and spoil their baby and hear their baby call you grandma. (Or Nana or Oma or whatever other name you always thought you'd be called.)

And she can't give you that.

No matter how hard she tries.

And you are left wondering, questioning, pleading, begging for a happy ending. Your prayers are rampant but feel unanswered. You want, more than anything to help this wonderful woman in your life in any way that you can. 

I am going to help you do this.

But be forewarned. This will be tough love. I will not mince words. I will shoot you very straight. And it might be hard to hear because you will hear me tell you not to do something that you have been doing.

Or you will hear met tell you to do something that you think is unnecessary. 

But please hear me.

Infertility is not dealt today the way it was dealt with in your day.

And for that, I am very glad. Women of the current generation are grieving this properly. They are being allowed to grieve. They still grieve in different ways, but this is no longer a quiet disease that you push down into the recesses of your soul. In addition, our social media has brought other people's personal lives hard and fast right into her face day in and day out.

She has to watch people announce their pregnancies, detail their pregnancies, and share way too much about the pregnancies as if she had a front row seat.

Each detail of a baby's life is photographed and splashed right in front of her face.

Every day.

She is grieving. Hard.

And you must let her deal with this her way.


How do you do that?

Tell her that you love her. Tell her that you are praying for her. Listen. Say, "That sucks" as many times as it needs to be said. (That stinks will also suffice.) Be present. Do not offer advice. Just offer your ear. And your hugs. And your heart. Respect her feelings even if you don't think you would do it the same way.

But more than that, you must give her an exceptional amount of grace and freedom to grieve this the way she needs to grieve this loss. 

This is especially important if you have another child who has children or is having children. You may feel that your infertile daughter should act a certain way. You may think she needs to be present at baby showers and christenings and baptisms and birthday parties. You may be embarrassed that she is in the bathroom crying while the gender reveal party is going on.

But you don't feel what her heart feels. 

Not even close.

This pain is monumental and all-encompassing and completely suffocating and beyond anything you could even attempt to understand. And you going on and on about your other grandchildren or telling her that she should be happy for her sibling who just found out she was pregnant is not fair and truly, none of your business. Let your daughter work this out with her sibling in whatever way she needs to work it out. 

In other words. This is not about you.

I repeat.

This. 
Is. 
Not. 
About. 
You.

This isa bout your daughter. Or your daughter-in-law and her spouse. This is about the way she is processing it. You may think she should process it differently. You may think you would have or did process it differently. That may be true. But how she is processing this is how she is processing it and it is okay.

Do not ...

  • ask your daughter if she has thought about adopting. She will bring it up when she is ready. 
  • complain about not being a grandma or nag her to get a move on.
  • give unwarranted advice about treatments they are pursuing or decisions they have made.
  • think she should be sharing more.
  • think she should be sharing less.
  • expect her to do things the way you think you would do them.
  • expect her to be able to be happy for her siblings.
  • discuss God's providence.
  • suggest she relax or stop trying so hard.
  • start any story with, "I know someone who ..."

Instead ...

  • Recognize that not being able to have a child is the loss of a dream. 
  • Pray for her.
  • Send her an email or card on a big day (like an attempt with an IUI or IVF.)
  • Understand that she may want to talk about this all the time.
  • Understand that she may not want to talk about this at all. 
  • Spoil her.
  • Put her in touch with other women "in their situation."
  • Invite her to all events but give them a huge option to "opt. out."
  • Read books that will help you understand.
  • Listen.
  • Tell her you love them.
  • Say "I understand" even if you don't.
  • Hug her. (If they are a hugger.)
  • And say "that sucks" when news is bad.
You, dear mother of the infertile have the ability to serve your daughter during this time. How you choose to handle this can define your relationship for years to come. It can bring you together or create a chasm in your relationship that even years later, after her life is filled with children (or not), you can't seem to cross.

How you handle this will define your relationship.

You can do this.

Get your game face on.

Go!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What's Your Idol Published


Another one of my infertility pieces was featured on Bethany Christian Service's website. 

I wrote the piece "What's Your Idol?" right before our forth try with IVF -- the last cycle we would do before throwing in the towel on biological children. 

Bethany advertised this piece by writing:

Wendi Kitsteiner----a frequent writer for Stepping Stones----asks the following question: "Can you identify something you can't live without?" This is a must-read article for refocusing on what is important in life during the New Year.

To see some of the other pieces I have written on the topic of infertility that have been published, click on the links below:

To My Grieving Friend
What Would I Tell Infertile Me
Talking to a Friend Who is Experiencing Infertility
Breaking Your Good News ... To Your Infertile Friend

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More Media Attention


I don't know who Jaime King is before this article on people.com, but I am instantly a huge fan. I have been saying and saying (and saying some more) how I wished that celebrities would be more forth coming in their infertility battles. Instead of "miraculously" having a baby at 44 years old, why not share the journey you took to get there? 

Well Jaime King did. She discusses miscarriage, infertility, and post-partum depression. She also shares how the instant she became a mother, she did not have the "amazing moment" that some moms did. She even discusses a very difficult pregnancy and labor.

Bravo! We need more women who keep it real and tell it like it is so that NO ONE feels alone!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bobbie Thomas on pregnancy after IVF: Grateful, cautious and a little guilty


I could have written this post myself. So closely echoes everything I have ever felt, thought, or experienced on this incredibly bumpy roller coaster. I'm also sad to admit that I sometimes feel a twinge of "happiness" when I see another IVF'er experience the intense morning sickness that I did. Just to feel that I'm not the only one is nice!

Click here to read this article in its entirety. I'm so thankful for this media figure in sharing her story. It is so important to keep the experience of infertility from becoming silent ever again!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I could have a baby but she could not


By: Tammy
To read this post in its original format, please click here. 
I dedicate this post to all my friends who were having babies and more babies while I couldn't have any. A letter written from your perspective to your infertile friends.
And to those who are still waiting, I encourage you to especially read the bold words ... may they give you a strength you didn't know you had.
Baby
My husband and I met and married pretty quickly.  Our first date was January 3rd and we were married by December 12th.  So I guess it was no surprise when we found out we were pregnant that March following our wedding; we liked to work quick!
We were making plans to attend our wonderful cousin’s wedding in Northern California and decided we should make a little romantic weekend out of it and spend a few days in Wine Country as well.  We were completely surprised when I woke up the day before our trip to a positive + sign on a little white stick. But oh so excited!
I think I was especially excited because it is what I had dreamed of since a little girl!  Meeting and marrying Prince Charming.  Having a cute little baby with him and becoming the dearest of words: “Mommy.”  Our excitement overflowed and so did the planning. I am pretty sure Babies R Us saw me weekly if not more…..  Multiple baby showers in the various states I had lived in were planned.  A nursery was designed and set up.  Name books were underlined, dog eared and highlighted.  It was all I could talk about and think about.  I breathed baby all day.
When I was about 28 weeks pregnant we visited one of those 3D Ultrasound picture studios.  With my bare belly sticking up, and friends and family on Skype, thanks to state-of-the-art technology we were able to see our little boy’s chubby cheeks and tiny fists floating through his watery home in my womb.  Of course I cried.  Such a beautiful experience!
The next morning, as soon as I hit my office chair, I emailed out to all my friends, family and co-workers the ultrasound pictures of our beautiful baby boy.  Immediately emails and texts came rolling back in saying how cute he was and how they couldn’t wait to meet him!  And my cup overflowed.
But what I didn’t know was there was a woman I had made cry.  I didn’t know she had been trying for 4 years to get pregnant.  I didn’t know she had multiple in vitro fertilization attempts that didn’t work.  I didn’t know she had 6 miscarriages that she had grieved through in the past few years.  I didn’t know that my baby pictures I rejoiced over and emailed to her just broke her heart because I could have a baby but she could not.
Days later I was told of her sad news through a friend.  I was asked, per her request, not to mention my pregnancy and baby around her nor to send out any more pictures.  And, even though I saw her almost daily, I was to not mention my pregnancy whatsoever. And I am ashamed to say I got angry. Here I was, in the happiest time of my life, and I needed to be quiet.  I needed to hold my joy.  And I felt cheated.  Cheated out of the joy of my pregnancy.
But what I didn’t realize at the time was she felt the same way: she felt cheated out of the joy of being pregnant.  She felt robbed of the chance to have life growing in her womb and being called mom.  She was heartbroken.  And I had just added to her grief.
Years later, I am now pregnant with baby #3.  I have been blessed to have had no complications or real issues with any of my pregnancies.  And yet I feel overwhelmed most days to have 2 toddlers and a newborn on the way.  I get frustrated when I can’t get into the shower because my daughter won’t let me put her down.  I get frazzled when I can’t make a meal because my son is screaming every time I walk into the kitchen because he wants to do puzzles NOW.  I get emotional because I still never get to sleep through the night.
And yet I know that same woman, whose heart I broke, would ache for these moments.  She would give anything to feel this wanted or needed as a mother.  She would happily embrace all the child issues I take for granted.
I was thinking about Hannah in 1 Samuel chapter 1.  She was loved dearly by her husband and yet mocked by her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, because Hannah did not have a child.  Hannah was taunted and teased.  I can only imagine she felt inadequate in her role as a “wife” to produce but more so her heart was in anguish to hold the gift of a child in her arms.  And she had a woman close to her, her husband’s other wife, constantly emphasize Hannah’s lack of a child to her face.
You see what I’ve come to understand is that infertility is mostly a silent grief.  Just as I had, there are women who have dreamed since they were little girls about having a baby…. and then they have come to the shocking truth their “happily ever after” may never come.  Many people don’t discuss their attempts to get pregnant or their inability to conceive.  Instead they keep trying over and over, month after month, quietly in sorrow for what they might never have.  Hope followed by discouragement.  Faith succumbed to fear.
I will never know what those who deal with infertility face.  Until we reach Eternity, we may never know why someone who wants such a precious gift will never be able to have it. But what I can say to my friend whose heart I broke, and all the other women and couples who have bravely faced infertility for years is this:
You are courageous.  You are full of hope and strong.  Your heart is filled with a compassion and desire I will never experience to the same extent; however, I pray I will learn from your gifts of patience and trust.  I am sorry for not being sensitive to your needs.  I am sorry for the all the times I have whined and complained about my child’s sleep issues or toddler problems instead of recognizing each and every moment as a gift from God.  I am sorry if all my stories of motherhood and baby-life have come across as painful jabs to your heartfelt desires.  I am sorry for not understanding your pain and grieving with you instead of jealously wanting my joys to be more important than your sorrows.  I am sorry for not holding your hand, praying with you, hugging your neck, and telling you you don’t have to be silent in your struggle; you are not alone.  I will promise to learn from your brave heart to hope and trust and keep on believing in God even though you don’t understand His ways.  I promise I won’t take for granted the gift of my children as I learn from you each and every day what a blessing they are.
Friends, especially mommies, I encourage you today….. you may not know if someone is dealing with infertility.  They may keep quiet in their struggle.  But let’s not be like Peninnah who took jabs and taunted what she had over Hannah.  We may not ever intentionally mean to discourage anyone but let us pray for discernment to whether or not our words and actions may hurt our friends who are like Hannah.  Instead let’s offer loving hands of hope, faith and encouragement to our sisters and friends who bravely persevere on.
This friend that I had hurt with my ultrasound photos….  despite my foolish heart and frustrations against her, the day she met my infant son for the first time, she swept him up in her arms, held him close, began to speak and sing soft words of endearment to him.  And I can tell you it was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever seen.  For a woman so filled with pain, to show my son so much affection, made me repent of my hurtful spirit and hope somehow my son brought her joy… if even for that moment.

Friday, January 9, 2015

You exist because I yearned


I yearned for you.

I begged. 
I pleaded. 
I cried. 
I prayed. 
I sobbed. 
I grieved.

I met with any doctor who would listen. I gave myself shots. Your Daddy gave me shots. I was probed.  I was tested. I went to more appointments than I could count.

We did ultrasounds and blood draws and procedures and more ultrasounds.

We conferred and conferenced and discussed and researched and educated ourselves.

They said Clomid. We did that three times.
Three times it didn't work.

They said artificial insemination. We did that five times.
Five times it didn't work.

Then they said in vitro fertilization. We tried that four times.
Four times it didn't work.

If they said to try it, we found the money, and we tried it. We borrowed it. We scrimped for it. We gave up anything we could for it.

We did all this for you.

But still you didn't come.

We passed our fifth anniversary. Our seventh. Our ninth.

Still infertile.
Still childless.

I wanted you so badly that some days I felt like my heart could break from the desire -- form how much I yearned to hold someone I hadn't ever met.

I pictured you. 
I dreamed of you. 
I thought of you. 
I longed for you.

And so we kept pressing. Kept trying. Kept pushing. Kept hoping. Kept yearning for YOU.

Invitro? One more time?
Yes. One more.

The very last time we tried IVF, two tiny embryos were dropped into my womb. The ultrasound tech whispered, "Two little shooting stars," as the camera watched you and your sibling glide into my womb.

More waiting.
More dreaming.
More hoping.
More yearning.

And if we were honest, we would have said that we didn't believe we would ever meet you.

Today, you are here and you are 15 months old and you have long brown hair and big blue eyes and a personality that constantly tells us you will not let the world tell you who you are.

Today, you are climbing and putting fistfuls of food into your mouth and smearing spaghetti in your hair and saying new words every chance you can. You are giving huge hugs and saying, "Na!" when you plant a kiss on our cheek. You are starting to run and read books and ...

I love you.
I yearned for you.
I never gave up on you.
And because of that desire and a really cool God

I am your mom.

You exist because I yearned.

And I yearned because I loved you before I knew you.

And now I know you.

And I love you Hannah Joy.

It's a pleasure to meet you.

It's a pleasure to be your Mommy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Often Silenced, and Left Out, Parts of Our Infertility Stories


A great article by Justin Brooks Froelker. To read the article as it originally appeared, please click here. 

Infertility and IVF are finally beginning to gain some attention in the media; as more and more celebrities own their stories of conceiving their families through IVF and/or surrogacy, The Today Show portraying a couple throughout the entire process of consultation, injections and pregnancy and the incredible story of Ashley and Tysonand their four miracles.
I am encouraged and proud that the veil of silenced shame is beginning to lift. Especially in the stories that tell more than the traditional stories of infertility. Like the story of just keeping trying, as if we all have endless resources, thank you Bobbie Thomas for breaking this silence. And, like the story of the only happy ending being with children, thank you Aisha Tyler for breaking this silence.
We must continue to break this silence. It is only through talking about our stories that we will be able to embrace it all. Through this embracing we will be able to practice our recovery no matter what our version of the happy ending is. This is how we own all the parts of our story. This is ever upward.
So here they are, the parts of our infertility stories that are often silenced and left out. 
  • It only works about 30 percent of the time.
  • It's expensive, very expensive. And most insurance policies do not cover it.
  • It's painful; injections, vaginal ultrasounds with stimulated ovaries and swollen follicles, hot flashes, weight gain.
  • It's a great way to make sex the least romantic and most planned out part of your relationship.
  • A baby isn't the only way to find wholeness and happiness.
  • You can meet some amazing women through the online or in person support groups, message boards and blogs.
  • It ONLY works about 30 percent of the time.
  • It doesn't always end with a baby.
  • Sometimes it ends with two.
  • Or three.
  • Or eight.
  • Or none.
  • There are couples it is never going to work for.
  • It's painful; the Clomid crazy train and it's beyond up and down roller coaster mood swings.
  • It's okay to stop.
  • It's even okay to stop before you get the baby.
  • It's healthy and healing to talk about it; to talk about all sides of it and all the possibilities and outcomes.
  • You may feel the time crunch pressure to start the next round as "your eggs are dying by the second."
  • The message of "just keep trying, it will work" feels invalidating, unrealistic, shaming and denying to many of our realities.
  • It's SUPER expensive.
  • You may have to make emotional and financial life altering decisions immediately after you just lost a dream (embryo, baby) and are actively grieving.
  • You or your partner may discover you have a phobia to needles and are quite the fainter.
  • You may never feel panic quite like the panic you feel when you realize that your last chance didn't work.
  • You will feel that breath stealing, throw up panic and sadness. And yet, it can also come with a sense of bittersweet freedom of at least knowing something and having an answer. Even though it was not the something we so wished and hoped for.
  • You will wait, a lot. In waiting rooms for procedures, for appointments and consults, and therefore find the funniest and weirdest things on YouTube to help pass the time and lighten the suffocating pressure of the process.
  • You will endure the wait of the tortuous and infamous two-week wait, probably several times.
  • You will experience moments of unadulterated belly laughter.
  • You will experience moments of sheer terror.
  • You may have moments of gut wrenching breath stealing loss.
  • And you will have moments of jubilant soul completion joy...
  • It might work.
  • It might not work.
  • It's okay to stop.
  • It's okay to keep going.
  • You will eventually find and conceive your chosen family.
  • Every family looks different, and yet, is complete just the same.
  • Either way you'll need to choose change and recovery, and do the work to be okay.
  • Because it will be okay.
  • Because, it is worth it, baby or not.
  • And, because you can find your own ever upward within the journey and in owning your story. In this journey we will find and grow more love, acceptance and understanding, more fertility compassion, for the many ways a family is made.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Father's Letter


Dear Melanie,

I knew what the news would do to you.
How could I not? It had been quite the frenzy recently. With only a month to prepare, your mom had come. There was excited shopping to do and a baby shower from our church family to attend. Just a joyous time. Everything was ready for the big day. Mia was coming home! Everything in the house was ready for the daughter you would soon adopt. The baby blanket was draped expectantly over the rocking chair. Mia's name was pinned to the wall in letters lovingly chosen along with the butterflies that symbolized your heart taking flight in the promise of a coming child.
So much history came to bear during that time. I was there for all of it. Marriage seven years earlier along with the hope of an immediate pregnancy. Do you remember talking about five future kids? I know you pictured it and prayed for it. I know it's all you really wanted to do outside of being a wife.
I know it was hard for you to wait to see doctors when pregnancy didn't come. Three years you patiently waited. And even then there were no answers for you. None. The tests explained nothing. Your exploratory surgery was inconclusive. Finally, you sought out the best of the best in fertility medicine.
I know you remember sitting in that quiet, meditative office with the green walls and the upbeat staff. I know you remember the plan the smartest doctor you ever met laid out to treat the infertility. I know you had hope. Lots of it. I know you remember how each time the doctor met with you he'd say, "Now, let's get you pregnant." And you'd hope.
That's how it was. Each month there was so much hope. Let's try this. Let's try that. Maybe this is it. Maybe that's it. And it never, ever was. Each month there was more pain, more tears. Each month another disappointment. I was there for all of it.
I saw the mixed feelings you experienced at a Facebook birth announcement or the news of an unwanted pregnancy. I saw how some of it was envy you fought and some of it was sharp pangs of longing. It felt like a desperately dehydrated desert traveler who looks on as another person is showered with water—water that is always just out of reach. Then there were the well-intentioned comments that felt like daggers, "When you decide to start a family . . ." or "Someday when you have kids . . ."
I also knew how the tears, the pain, and the deep disappointment withered hope in those years. Yet it grew Hope. Do you remember that? Do you remember how right there in the ashes of burnt dreams grew beautiful, gleaming Hope? So counterintuitive to what you'd been expecting. So freeing. So beautiful. Those moments of pain became defining moments for your Hope in Jesus. You rejected a worldview that said, "Life is unfair. This random infertility is only an unfortunate circumstance to fix." You embraced a divine view that said, "This is an intentional, designed pain in my life that is here to do one thing: send me into the arms of Jesus." And I got a front-row seat to watching you step closer and closer to Jesus, painful month after painful month. I saw your conviction grow and heard you say, "What I really need is Jesus. He is all I need." Right there in the ashes of burnt dreams grew the greatest gift of all—Hope in Jesus.
That's why I knew what the news would do to you. You were ready. The phone call came. "She decided to keep the baby." You were numb at first, and really sad later, but never defeated. Never devastated and never in despair. You didn't have hope just for a baby. You did, however, have Hope. You trusted that despite all appearances there was a master plan that kept your best interests in mind. Yes, I think we both know that on the day this hope died, Hope lived.
As time passed, for the first time in your life you could talk about being a childless woman and that it was okay. It really was. You were even trying to figure out when and how you could share this conviction with your mom, who had been on this journey with you. Remember the conversations about not only accepting a childless life but actually celebrating it as a gift? Remember that? Yes, hope had died, but Hope had grown strong.
I know you now see how divine and necessary it all was. You wouldn't be the woman you are now if none of this had happened. You wouldn't be so confident in adversity. You wouldn't be so peaceful when the going is tough. You wouldn't be so focused on the finish line of heaven's gates unless it had happened just this way. You can see how the identity of motherhood was chiseled, hammered, and pried away from your soul. You can see that as that identity was carved away, your true identity took a firmer shape in your soul and came into greater focus in you. It became your anchor, your lifeline in life's greatest waves. 
"I am a blood-bought child of God," you'd say as if it was the only thing that mattered in the world. And it was. You came to see those circumstances as tailor-made to drive you to your gospel-centered mantra: "If Jesus would care to forgive me and resurrect me, then he certainly would care to bless my family life—perhaps with no children." And, yes, it is true that you came to believe that too would be a blessing.
And that's when I knew you were finally ready to get a different bit of news. You were ready to be the kind of mom that my Holy Spirit had shaped you to be—a woman who is my child first and now happens to be a mother.
Melanie, you and I both know that it wasn't a coincidence that another pastor asked your husband about your story. I was in that. I personally saw to it that just days later that pastor would come across a young lady who needed to place her baby for adoption. And, remarkably, it was just three days later when Elliana's birth grandma called and said, "Melanie, we want you and Jonathan to be the parents." A few hours later you were holding Elliana with all the love, tenacity, and strength only one of my children can have. I know you remember and treasure deeply that first moment of motherhood. You always will.
Just as you held her in that moment, I have always and will always hold you. Don't see pain, failure, or disappointment in any other light. Its intent is always to drive you to my gospel. And there, my dear daughter, you will always find all the love, comfort, identity, joy, and strength you'll ever need.
With Love,
Your Father
Author Jonathan Bourman; his wife, Melanie; and their daughter Elliana live in Aiken, South Carolina. Jonathan is pastor at a new mission congregation in Aiken.
To read this article as it originally appeared, click here. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Battling infertility, Bobbie Thomas shares big news after months of IVF



I am a huge fan of infertility stories in the media -- but even more so when they are this real and when the person delivering the news acknowledges all the people who aren't sharing in the good news. One of the most real infertility stories I have ever seen. Click here to read. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Announcements

This week I received three different pieces of amazing news. Three women that I have stood along side from the very beginning of their infertility journey received news that was finally not "no."

One friend, who had found out she was infertile long before she met her husband, found out that she was in fact pregnant this week after a final try with IVF. She and I met in Minnesota through the infertility Support Group I helped start. 

Another friend, a childhood friend that I have watched face years of disappointment and negative attempts, is expecting a child after many failed attempts with IVF. 

And a third, a woman walked through infertility with me in Minnesota, was left with no choice but to have a hysterectomy a year ago. And this week she received news that the adorable little toddler they have been fostering for many months, will in fact be eligible for them to adopt. 

Celebrations.

And yet, while some celebrate, others remain waiting. Others received not so good news. I have a friend waiting to start IVF again after many fails. Another childhood friend was told that the little boy she had been fostering will, in fact, not be staying with her. And a third friend is still waiting for a birth mother to pick them. 

I don't need to call out their names. They know who they are.

A picture of me before heading in for one of my four failed attempts with IVF in Minnesota.

I recently stumbled upon a letter from one infertile woman to another. It was written for Mother's Day, but I wanted to share a few excerpts from it now in hopes that if you find yourself on the other side of the positive news today, you feel encouraged. 

To my Friends who find themselves childless on yet another Mother’s Day:

Take a deep breath. I understand and I promise you’ll survive. Well, there was one year I thought I might not make it, but I pulled myself out of the pit and I lived to see another day. If I can do it, you can too!

I know, you’re getting older. I am too. It seems like the biological clock has started ticking twice as fast as it used to. You have finally realized that when/if you have kids, you’ll be the “older parent.” The one that people mistake for the grandma! Well sister, I hope I’m standing right there next to you! I hope we both get to attend our child’s wedding, even if we are both retired!

On Mother’s Day I feel like a little girl jumping up and down and waving my arms—“God I’m over here. Pick me! I want to be chosen too! I know I won’t be a perfect parent, but I’ll give it my best shot.” Do you feel left behind, like you’re the one who will get picked last—or not at all?

Remember our identity is not “Infertile,” it is, “Beloved Daughter of the King.” Our identity is not found in what we can or cannot accomplish, it is found in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Plumb "I want you here"

My husband recently stumbled a song entitled "I want you here" by Plumb -- a group he has loved for quite some time. The intro to this song, and the subsequent lyrics, are quite powerful. She is specifically talking to mothers who lose their babies -- but the loss is not something limited to a mother's. A great video to watch and share with those dealing with loss.

I encourage you to watch her explanation of the song in the first video but then skip ahead to the second video to listen to the song (It's a much better recording in the second video). There is a familiar intro to the song with a cover of Peter Gabriel's song, but then her song begins.






"I Want You Here"


An ache
So deep
That I
Can hardly breathe
This pain
Can't be imagined
Will it ever heal?
Ooh... ooh...

Your hand
So small
Held a strand of my hair
So strong
All I could do
Was keep believing
Was that enough?

Is anyone there?

I wanna scream
Is this a dream?
How could this happen,
Happen to me?
This isn't fair
This nightmare
This kind of torture
I just can't bear
I want you here
I want you here
Ooh... ooh...

I waited so long
For you to come
Then you were here
And now you're gone
I was not prepared
For you to leave me
Oh this is misery

Are you still there?

I wanna scream
Is this a dream?
How could this happen,
Happen to me?
This isn't fair
This nightmare
This kind of torture
I just can't bear
I want you here
I want you here

God help me,
God help me,
God help me
Breathe

I wanna scream
Is this a dream?
How could this happen,
Happen to me?
This isn't fair
This nightmare
This kind of torture
I just can't bear
I want you here
I want you here
Ooh... ooh...

An ache
So deep
That I
Can hardly breathe

Friday, August 15, 2014

Joy Cometh in the Morning


I'm sorry you are still waiting.
I wish your dreams didn't take so long to come true.
Why is it fast for them
But so slow for you?

It feels like forever.
I know.
I remember what forever feels like.

Long.

But then suddenly, forever was over.
The wait was over.
And time began passing at a regular speed.

While it may not feel that way to you
I promise you
That you will not wait forever.

Peace will come.

Hang on.
Lean on me.
Pray.
Trust.
Hope.
Believe.

And when you can't do those things
Know that I am doing them for you.
My heart has stood where your heart is now.
It has felt
Exactly what your heart feels.

Joy cometh in the morning.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Sovereign Over Us

Because of Isaac has just fully funded our third couple: Ryan & Briana. And while the money is done, the waiting is not. They are now ... waiting. Waiting for a birthmother to pick them. Their wait could be days. It could be months. It could be longer.

I wanted to share a song with you that Briana shared with me. To any of you out there waiting -- for a job, for a marriage, for a child, for reconciliation .... I hope this song ministers to you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Piece Published Online


Bethany Christian Services recently published one of my pieces on their Blog and is going to feature that piece in the August edition of their infertility newsletter. I'm very excited about this. One, of course, because I love to write and it has always been something I've done and enjoyed. But two because, it continues to spread the word about infertility, supporting those we love, and not pushing down grief.

You can read the article by clicking here. 

I'm also excited about an upcoming speaking engagement. I will be speaking to a church at my friend Angelica's church in Japan next month. I am also looking at a speaking engagement in the fall at a local church's MOPs group. For anyone is interested, here is a link to my Bio & Public Speaking page which details the type of things I speak on. I am trying to take on these engagements on a very limited basis but with the same mission: to keep infertility an important and discussed topic, to encourage people traveling the road of grief, and to remind people of the beauty of adoption.

Also, please remember that we are still selling shirts for our Because of Isaac organization. We have sold 17 shirts but need to sell 75 to reach our goal. Please spread the message of this awesome fundraiser. If we can sell 75 shirts, we will make $1,000 for our current couple.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reader Question on the "Do you have kids" question

I love reading your blog and I have a question I'd like you to answer:  We meet a lot of new people, and during introductions eventually the question of "Do you have kids?" comes up.  What is the right thing to say when your question is answered with a "No." Is there even a right thing to say?  I know there are all kinds of wrong things but how do I fill that awkward silence with something positive or at least something kind?  And what do I say when I find out about secondary infertility?  Most of the time I don't say anything because I really don't want to say anything hurtful. But I'm at a complete loss for what would bring hope/encouragement to the woman/couple. Thanks so much for opening my eyes about infertility and being an encouragement to those women who are going through this and even those who aren't.  Keep up the good work!

Primary Infertility
The quick answer: Avoid the question. It can be a little tricky, but it is really the best way. Usually, if someone has kids, they will provide this information to you. Or, if they don't, you can probably figure out another way to get it (i.e., ask someone they know or check their Facebook etc.) While it can be a difficult question to avoid, even for a veteran IF'er (infertility-woman) like me, make yourself NOT ask it. Think of other things you can talk about and ask about as best you can.

Exception: If the person asks you the question first, then it is sort of "expected" that you ask it back. It is my opinion that if they ask you, you can ask it back. It's only fair and they have to know that that is how it is going to go.

One blog reader shared that she always found the question, "Tell me about your family," made her a lot more comfortable. It is more open-ended and offers different interpretations. I loved her suggestion and definitely wanted to make note of it here.

[A sidenote: If you have lived overseas, you will quickly notice that people don't ask the very personal questions like Americans do nearly as readily. They don't often ask about jobs or kids or things like that. I've tried to take a lesson from them and find other things we can talk about.]

If the question does come out and you are met by awkward silence or by a "no" that appears to be painful, my advice is to take the fault for it. Say something like it, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked that. I have a few friends dealing with infertility and they have all lectured me to avoid that question." 

Secondary Infertility
As for secondary infertility, this is not as clean cut, and it is why secondary infertility can be even more painful than primary infertility. If a mother is out with her child and attending mothers' functions, mom questions are sort of "fair game." I still, however, try to avoid the, "Are you going to have another?" question. Just don't ask it. You'll want to ask it, but chances are, you can find out the information from someone else, or, if you get to be very good friends, it will ultimately come up. 

If it comes up and it is painful, tell her that you have been reading a blog that is educating you. Instead of trying to fix it, say something like, "That really stinks. I'm going to be praying for you." You may also have the opportunity to ask for her input as to how you can make it better. "I know we hang out with a lot of women popping out babies like crazy. Is there any way I can help pad those announcements for you?" I also would always provide that woman a knowing glance or say something like, "I know this is hard," when yet another friend announced their pregnancy. Sending a message on Facebook when there has been another announcement, anything to let her know you are praying and thinking of her and acknowledging her pain is helpful.

Have a comment or question about this topic? I'd love to hear from you -- whichever side of infertility you may be on.

Faces of Infertility: Tammy's Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!

My name is Tammy, and I would like to share a little of my journey through infertility.

I grew up in a happy, bustling family – the oldest of nine children. Infertility was something I had heard of, but certainly not something I ever gave much thought to! And why would I? Perfect strangers would ask me probing questions about my parents’ birth control measures (seriously, people?) and it just never crossed my mind that having children was something that people struggled with.  

Until, that is, my husband and I were struggling with infertility. I viewed our infertility as a closely-guarded secret. Something, which if I didn’t talk about it, maybe people wouldn’t notice. But, people did notice and soon I was getting questions opposite those that I was used to fielding as a young daughter. There was a point in our lives where we were 1 of 8 young couples in our church. We were the 1 who had no children; the other 7 all had children. What are the odds that we would be a living picture of the statistic for infertility? The irony did not escape me.  

For many, the hardest years are actually the first few years. However, my husband was busy in school, I was busy with homemaking and a part time job, and life was pretty good for us. I was patient and not too concerned. As the years rolled by, I became increasingly sad and the burden of infertility weighed heavily. Unfortunately, I didn’t reach out to many. I didn’t think anyone would understand or be compassionate. I wasn’t willing to put myself out there, so I built a solid wall around my heart. The problem with such a wall is that it kept everyone out, not just the ones who may have hurt with insensitive comments.  

Finally, we sought medical help. Through a Godly doctor and his help (including surgery for me and several months of treatment) we were able to conceive our daughter. This was almost seven years after we had decided to start having children! What a blessing she has been to our lives! Waiting was hard but she was certainly worth the wait. She is now five years old.  

When our daughter was just 12 months, we rejoiced to find that we were expecting yet again (with no medical intervention). Our baby, a precious gift from the Lord, and much loved, was born to heaven early in my pregnancy. The graciousness of the Lord to walk through the valley with me is ever so precious to my heart. I miss my wee one so much. There are times that our family feels so incomplete this side of heaven!  

Now, over four years after my loss, I have personally experienced infertility for approximately eleven years. I’ve learned much, grown much, and profited much through it all. A little cautiously at first, I started taking down that wall around my heart. Brick by brick, I cast it aside. I’ve been tempted at times to start building it again and even higher than before but then I realize that comments from unsuspecting people should not have the power to hurt me, when in fact they were not meant to hurt in the first place. I seek to live life joyfully. There are times in my life that infertility is not a joyful burden but I know someone Who can carry this burden for me as He carries me down this road – the Lord is ever present and able to help me as I struggle to live joyfully. 

You can read more about my life by clicking here. 

 (Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Faces of Infertility: "Lana's" Story

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!

I grew up in a small town in the mountains. I was the "go to" babysitter for a couple of doctors' families. As a teenager, I taught Sunday school, worked in my church nursery, & constantly found little ones to love on as often as I could. I wanted nothing more than to get married & have children - God created me to love on children!

I met my husband in our church singles group & we married 5 months later. After 2 years of marriage, we agreed that he would quit work & go back to school to pursue his MA knowing this meant the necessity of putting off starting a family any time soon. We agreed to leave it in God's hands as soon as he had that MA completed. 

Well...now I've just turned 29 & he is 30 when that wonderful day came! My heart was overflowing with joy! We had one night to celebrate & officially start trying to have a baby when he took off on his dream trip for a month to climb Mt. McKinley with friends. I don't know how, but I just knew that fateful night was "the night" I conceived. When my husband came home from that trip, I was grin from ear to ear & had been singing praises to God so loudly I was certain my husband had heard me all the way up Mt. McKinley!

Seven months later (about 5 weeks early) our first son was born. The joy I felt is still indescribable - my dream of a lifetime had come true! God's blessings poured out abundantly in this precious boy!

When our first-born was about 2 years old, we quit being worried about birth control but weren't really "trying" to conceive. In the meantime, of noteworthy interest, my husband had taken up serious cycling. He rode 50+ miles every day during the week & at least one 100-miles ride on the weekend...a devoted cyclist! After 2 years of not really trying but not preventing getting pregnant, we became very focused on the issue. I did temperature charts for about 6 months with no success. We were very puzzled as to how one shot in the dark & we had our first pregnancy could lead to this dilema.

When I had my yearly OB/GYN appointment, I discussed this with my doctor. She looked at my temperature chart & cycle history then suggested a post-coital exam. My husbands sperm count was very low & the mobility of those their was not strong. (Quite possibly all the cycling caused this.) There was also evidence that I may not be ovulating every cycle. She suggested an infertility specialist.

The infertility specialist agreed with my OB/GYN's diagnosis. Our first option was to have both my husband and me on clomid for the next cycle then do IUI. We did IUI for about 6 months with no success. My husband's sperm count was not adequate for establishing a pregnancy. Now what? This was 1996 & I am 39 years old. Our options were IVF or we could consider donor sperm. The other option was adoption. We considered private adoption but in the end we were concerned that we'd go through the process & have a birth mother change her mind. (This had happened to 2 different friends.)

We discussed donor sperm & decided to investigate this option. Donor sperm seemed to be our best option for our own baby. We did donor donor sperm IUI for about 6 months while I was also on clomid. The seventh time, I'm on the table while they are preparing for the IUI and bared my soul to God in prayer. "OK, God - this is my last IUI. I'm turning this decision 100% over to you. If we are to only have one son, I'm more than ok with it. He's an amazing boy & we are very grateful for the gift of him! This is all up to you...I'm done with this."

I fully expected the same result of the last several years of attempting to get pregnant. I went home, kept my temperature chart as I had always done fully expecting my temperature to drop in a few days. Amazingly, my temperature didn't drop! Thank you, God!!! The doctor confirmed, we were indeed pregnant. My hormonal level was very high - could it be all 3 eggs seen on the ultra sound had taken? The doctor warned us that was indeed a possibility.

We were stunned & were preparing ourselves, albeit with a bit of fear & excitement, at the thought of triplets. An ultrasound a few weeks later revealed we had one baby. We were very grateful for the miracle of this one baby! Yes, grateful! While we may never be certain what happened to the other 2 eggs, one baby is more than we expected at this point and we were thrilled.

At the age of 41, our second son was born four weeks early - our miracle baby...truly a gift from God! He is now 16 years old. We have not yet told either son that we chose the route of donor sperm. Our sons are almost 12 years apart and they both know we traveled the road of infertility. Why haven't we told them the whole story? It boils down to this...1) Kids can say cruel things & we wanted to wait until we felt both were mature enough to handle the discussion (certain family members are aware of the circumstance should anything every happen to us before we tell them). 2) The night before my last IUI with donor sperm, my husband & I made love. I've always wondered which sperm was successful? My husband has resisted DNA testing all these years ("What difference does it make? He's our son!"). My husband's mother says our 2nd son has many traits similar to my husband & he resembles him as well.

While I understand my husband's reluctance to know for certain, I have a strong desire to know the answer. This is an ongoing piece of the puzzle. The years of infertility were certainly trying. But, to be truthful, I couldn't allow myself to wallow in to the grief of failed efforts as long as I had hope. I had to leave my courage & faith in God's hands & know that He was in control. This was partially due to protecting my husband from feeling like he was a failure & the other part was I was unwilling to acknowledge this loss. I had faced tremendous loss of loved ones in my life (both parents & a sister who died when she was 12) - this was not a road I was willing to go down until I absolutely had to.

You can call it denial but I choose to call it God's hand of protection & assurance. We are grateful & we are blessed beyond measure! There are times, however, I tell our challenging stubborn, bullheaded, brilliant #2 son that his days on earth might be limited if his attitude doesn't change! He may resemble his father but his attitude comes from me! Definitely our child! I pray our story is encouraging to your readers.

(Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)