God writes our story.
I am still learning to surrender the pen.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A List of Things I Regret Saying

Trying to have a baby a lot of ignorant comments flew across my lips. Here a just a few, to those who are interested in the perspective.
  • "I'll never complain about morning sickness/stretch marks/ having to pee all the time!"
Such a lie. I did. Luckily, infertility taught me a way to handle it considerately. I talked to my husband; I whined to my best friend (who wasn't experiencing infertility issues); I called my mom... Posting it on social media is just rude. Facebook and Instagram are great, but they shouldn't be our best friends (and you're talking to someone who ADORES social media). Some things are better left to be said to your friend over coffee. Your friend may think you're a whiner, but what are friends for? Please save your acquaintances/co-workers (and possibly those who are struggling) your pregnancy woes. 
  • "Once I have just one baby I'll be happy and won't be selfish and ask for another"
Who is selfish? This girl. I thank a very special friend to me for (luckily) teaching me this even before I became pregnant. When you have a child, you cannot love that child more and you are opened up to this whole new world of love and what love is. You can't imaging loving anyone more... but you know your heart would just grow for another baby, and you want that growth! You want that sweet sibling love for the child you do anything for and you do not want to disappoint.
  • "I will never take a moment I have with my baby for granted"
Another lie. I would looooove to put up this fake front up and say I have NEVER missed a moment with sweet Sullivan, but it so a lie. Sometimes I Instagram while he cries. Sometimes I roll my eyes when he wants to be picked up again. Sometimes I think, "Can't I PEE in peace kid?!". Lying about getting frustrated with mommyhood is right along the lines of how you'll smile through all that heartburn. After infertility you may appreciate the heartburn and the sticky floors a little more but sometimes in the moment all you'll feel is how tired you are. It's impossible to be there every moment, and frankly I believe Sullivan doesn't want me up his butt all day long. However, I make the most out of my time with him for the most part and I am sure to take a little "me time" as well so I can come back to be a better mommy to him. 
  • "Because I fought so hard for my child I will love him more than other mothers love theirs"
Ouch. I really don't think those who are struggling mean any harm by this, but harm it does cause. Infertility is a disease that brings so much insecurity it's tempting to belittle others in an attempt to make us feel better. Usually it doesn't work. My best friend is (most likely) fertile. My sister is fertile. Shoot, my husband is fertile! Do I love Sullivan more than they love their children? I would be an ignorant witch to think so. The journey to parenthood isn't a straight line for anyone, and everyone has their own story. It's not a badge to put on our sleeves when it matches our outfit. Parenthood is something to be cherished and to admire and to encourage. TTC friends, let's find another way to encourage each other instead of putting down our fertile friends. It's not their fault they were born with wonderful genes. (LOL cool it on the comments)

I'm sure there will be more, and maybe over time I will think of a few more and add to this list. 
For now, let's just all agree to take a step outside our crazy hormone worlds and consider how we are making our partner or friend feel... or maybe just how silly we may feel in a year when we have to eat our words.

Infertility definitely takes us on a journey, and I am only trying this blog from my own experience. These comments certainly tasted bitter when I realized just how wrong I was and had to eat my words.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Snapshot of Now

After struggling with infertility for a while, I have been blessed with many friendships in the TTC world. It's a blessing to be able to pray for them, and see their dreams come true as well. Sometimes I feel like a fake or a phony to still be a part of the TTC community. Here I am not actively trying right now (AF still hasn't came for me actually) and posting tons of photos of my sweet boy and I have my "mom problems".
However I try to be encouraging and supportive, because I have been there and I didn't have a community when I went through it. It was such a scary and lonely place. I think that is a big reason why I try to be so outspoken and so accommodating to the TTC friends I have. When I was doing IVF the first time I only knew of two other women who had done it. An older woman I once went to bible study with, and a friend of a friend who I (at the time) had never actually met. I tried to meet the woman from my bible study after we hadn't spoken in two years, but as a mom with two children it was hard for her. We tried to meet for lunch and when it fell through we didn't try again. The other woman had a successful IVF and had boy/girl twins! While we weren't able to meet up at the time, she was very supportive in the late night text messages full of questions and doubts and prayers.
Anyway, now social medias have opened me up to a world of TTC/infertility/IVF that I've never known. I'm appreciate that this women are able to look at my photos of my son and allow me to be a part of their journeys. I know there was a time in my past that I wouldn't have been able to stand who I am now!
I often think of the many different attitudes I've had over the past few years while TTC...

I've hated seeing pregnant women. I couldn't stand seeing them out and about, or doing things I (at the time) thought to be inconsiderate. Working at Starbucks, it killed me to see a pregnant woman get a caffeinated drink. I couldn't stand to see them by smoke, or looking tired or uncomfortable. They didn't deserve the blessing of pregnancy in my eyes.
I can't believe how much hate was in my heart. I can't believe how cold I was. Who made me the god of deciding who was worthy? As a pregnant woman I often drank coffee or Coke. I even had a few alcoholic beverages, took many hot baths, ate red meat (not even cooked well-done), and was (rightfully so!) uncomfortable! My goodness. I can't believe I thought I was going to be the first pregnant woman ever to not complain about being uncomfortable! Granted, I did it appropriately. I didn't need to whine on Facebook or to my TTC friends... but there were times where my husband and my mom got an earful. I couldn't sleep, my hips were constantly in pain, and I was just so anxious to have my baby boy in my arms.

After I found out I was pregnant I (of course) was ecstatic! I was nervous and scared, but I was thrilled. It didn't take long for the "survivor's guilt" to weigh on me though. I constantly asked myself "Why me?" but it was no longer in pity because I was dealing with infertility. I often asked God why I got blessed with round two. Every day I was meeting more and more women battling infertility and IVF. They quickly, by simply living their lives, taught me a hard lesson. I was allowing myself to be a victim. I all-too-often let me struggle become who I was. I was Jen, the infertile woman, who would do anything for a baby. My hobby was researching protocols to have a baby, my marriage was all about having a baby, my job was preparing for a baby... I had nothing to talk about to anyone except my desire, my need, to have a baby. That conversation inevitably led to "Woe is me, I'm trying and nothing is working". So when round two worked and I got to meet all these great women I, pridefully, at first thought I had a lot to give to these women. Instead, I met women I'll never forget. I know women who have done cycle and cycle after cycle. Who not only don't let their identities become all about the struggle, but who still love God and all He is. These women still get up and put a smile on their face and just fight. I sometimes feel so unworthy to know them and call them friends. They are the true warriors.

Walter and I plan to have more children, I'm just not sure how that will be. I would like to say I don't worry about it, but I do. I wish I could be happy with the now. I promised myself I would when I was TTC afterall. However, there have just been so many things I have done that I swore I would never do. I've come to realize that that is just life.

There was a time I said I would never do IVF.
There was a time I said I would never complain during my pregnancy.
There was a time I said I would never drink caffeine while pregnant.
There was a time I said I would never let my child sleep in our bed.
There was a time I said I would never ask for another child if I just had one.

Never say never.

I will say though, to those beautiful friends of mine who are still actively TTC, to never say never. I hear you saying you'll never try again, or you'll never get that child you're dreaming about. I was there at one point in time. I was there thinking I would never have a baby shower, or never get to decorate a nursery. I would never get to experience baby's first kick inside my tummy or have a maternity photo shoot.
Don't ever give up. You'll get there.

You'll get to whine to your best friend about how you have to pee every five minutes. You'll get to ask your husband 1,000 times if he still thinks you're pretty with stretch marks. You'll get to tell your friends you plan to have your baby sleeping in his/her own crib from the first night. You'll get to make a liar out of yourself and co-sleep until he's 3. You'll get to buy cloth diapers with good intentions. You'll get to, you'll get to, you'll get to.

There were many times I thought of giving up, (even in my 'shorter to some' journey) but there was always something pushing me to keep going. Of course it was by God's strength that I continued, but it was also this snapshot I had in my mind. I was sitting in this rocking chair my grandma left me, rocking and nursing a sweet swaddled baby to sleep. I would sometimes be singing (in a much prettier voice than I actually have) and stroking baby's chubby cheek. I would try my hardest to smell that sweet baby smell through my vision. I would try to imagine what my child would look like or how their laugh would sound...

It was very much a Johnson & Johnson commercial. But it kept me going.

I've since learned that life with a baby isn't like those commercials. I wasn't able to nurse my son for three weeks and had a hell of a time pumping. I haven't sat in that hard rocking chair once. However, the baby scent, the laugh... What I had envisioned couldn't do it justice.

Keep dreaming mommas. Keep envisioning the very best you can- but know it will be even better.
You'll get there, you'll get there, you'll get there and it will be heaven.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I'm awake and it's 10PM!

Okay, I'll be the first to say it so we can just get it out of the way...
I've been a bad blogger.
I've been a lot of those things I swore I would never be. Things like: a mommy too busy for a coffee date with her friends, to blog about life experiences, or one who doesn't take the time to 'smell the roses'.
Honestly honestly honestly I don't mean to.
I've got a few messages about how "Now I'm a mom and too busy" or how I've "crossed to the other side now" or even that "it must be easy to forget the pain". No, no, and no. Shame on you all. I'm sorry, but I just had to say it.
I don't mean to be busy. I don't mean to not be able to keep up on reading other people's blogs or to call and to check in and to send cards and to keep notes... it's just the days blur together and before I know it it's next week again. Every trash day I'm shocked because I swear we just took the trash out, yet there's a mountain there again already, but wasn't it just yesterday? I swear I want to call you and talk to you friend, but we just talked the day before last... or was that two weeks ago?
Mommyhood has been all I dreamed it would be and more. I could literally stare and hold and cuddle on my boy for hours (and I do) and BAM the day is over and it's yet again another day I feel like I've failed in some aspect of my life. I have the best intentions to be the best mom and best wife and best friend and beat daughter and best church-goer and best dressed person in the world, but I feel like every day I can only pick one of those to excel on. And, at the misfortune of everyone around me, Sully has dibs.

However, I am here. I still love you sweet friends, and blog readers, and mom! lol I promise I'm learning every day at how to get better at spinning plates, and I swear I'm getting better at it! I think.
Thank you for your patience and your graciousness.

Also, know the phone works both ways. If you wish I would call, call me! You're not a bother! My phone is on silent and I answer it when I'm able to, and get back to people as quickly as possible. It's nice to know you're thinking of me too. :)

That being said...
Motherhood is amazing. I'm exhausted and giddy and critical and empowered and content all in one sitting. Like I said, the plates are spinning easier and now that I'm not going to bed when my son goes to bed anymore (I am such an old woman)! I promise to stay up later and blog a little more often.

Thanks for understanding.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

WARNING (updated)

WARNING: This post was written in a mixture of emotions.
I don't know what you've been told before, but the scars of infertility last a lifetime. They don't just 'go away'. So many people aren't so understanding of this because I've crossed to "the other side" and have my sweet baby boy... but the pain is still real.

His sweet face makes so many things better and easier to deal with, but some days I am still just managing. My husband and I are currently in the midst of the in-between. After years TTC, our son was born just three months ago, and we haven't been 'trying' long enough to be qualified as 'secondary infertility'. So am I fertile? No.

To be honest I've really been struggling with a few things when it comes to reproduction lately. Stuff I'm not ready to announce or talk about quite yet. However, pregnancy is over and mommyhood has began... and so so has many of my PCOS symptoms. I've started to get bald spots in my hair, because of the handfulls that fall out every time I wash it. My body is weak and lethargic, and I'm doing my best to again stay away from those foods that make me miserably more-so, but in a world of being a busy mom sometimes pizza delivery is the only answer vs going to bed hungry.

I'm struggling to find my place. A quote I have always loved is "Do not let your struggle become your identity". I've prided myself on not doing so...

or so I thought.
Lately I've realized a lot of my life (social media, the words I use, the conversations I tend to have) all lead me back to infertility. Despite the quote, I am not positive this is a bad thing, yet it is something I would like to work on changing a bit. Infertility sometimes is all about categorizing. I really feel like it's our need to control SOMETHING because we are living in a hell we cannot control. So we put people into boxes. Is this person "IVF" or "IUI"? Trying "long enough" or "new"? "Infertile" or "Secondary"? "His problem" or "Hers"? Up until recently I felt like I knew where I fell.

Now because I carry my sweet boy in my arms I feel like I oftentimes try to mask the problems I'm dealing with. I mask how often I feel sick, and how often I feel down, because I've reached "the other side".

Truth is, infertility lasts a lifetime and I'm still hurting.

I'm still hurting when I feel the pain and symptoms of PCOS. It still kills me that I have to check my face daily for facial hair, have weight cling to me, have to deal with skin tags, headaches, stomach aches, and more. It's embarrassing.

I'm still hurting when I can't sleep at night wondering about if I'll ever give Sullivan a sibling. When I was struggling in my infertility, a friend of mine opened up to me about her secondary infertility. At first I thought she was selfish and greedy (I'm sorry!), but I soon realized the hurt that it still brings. Just because you have a baby doesn't mean you don't feel broken anymore. It doesn't mean miscarriages no longer crush your spirits, or that you don't struggle with depression. I'm so thankful she taught me to be understanding about secondary infertility early on. I'm terrified about where we may have to go on that road in the future. It often consumes my thoughts. I understand I have many friends who may be reading this and thinking I am selfish and greedy, and that's okay. That's a road everyone has to walk through during infertility, and maybe I can be 'that friend' to help you through those thoughts. I used to struggle with the thoughts of not being able to give my husband a child, and now I just struggle knowing I may not give my son a sibling. I was an only child, and I promise I won't give up easily on getting him a sibling. Only children should be illegal. Just kidding... kind of.

This past week has been very hard on me because of the feelings of infertility that still stick.

As hard as I try...
It still hurts when I hear about a woman falling pregnant so easily, I wish I could do that so badly.
It still hurts when jokes are made, and complaints are made about pregnancy. I would take it all in a heartbeat. I really think it's all about the attitude, and my attitude is so willing to put my head in a toilet bowl again to give Sullivan a sibling.

Maybe most of this is normal for a pregnant woman, and my pregnancy was the abnormal one after all the infertility bull... but I'm just being honest by saying it still hurts.

It's nothing against my fertile, pregnant mommas, I need you to know that. It's just that once infertility comes into your life it almost changes your chemical makeup. Things said hurt when they hadn't before, actions sting when they were commonplace before, and every movement becomes a little more planned out to spare the feelings of others.

I have forever changed, and I'm just learning on what that means for all three of us for right now.
What does it mean for me as a mommy, as a wife, as a friend, as a sister-in-law... ?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

True Life: "I'm Desperate to Have a Baby"

*containing spoilers!*

Just today MTV's 'True Life' released an episode called, "I'm Desperate to Have a Baby".
Many people in my 'TTC Community' loved it and I read their praises on it before finally snuggling up with Walter on the couch and watching it.
There were parts that had me tearing up and remembering our struggle and there were parts that tugged on my heart and brought me to a place I had forgotten pieces of. As much as I want to say I'll NEVER forget the road I had to take to get Sullivan I know I can't say that this is 100% true. We forget. Sometimes, we even choose to forget a piece of our journey.

Seeing the familiar needles and tests, and hearing the dreaded phone calls stung. It will always and forever be the path that we took to get our child, and it will forever be a part of our history as a family (it may also be a part of our future, who knows!).

Throughout the episode we follow two women and their husbands. One going through her first round of IVF (we'll call her Lady A because I forget the names and am too lazy to look them up), and the other giving her sixth try at IVF/FET (Lady B). If you've ever seen the show before, you know the format is to bounce back and forth between the stories and show the different perspectives. Lady A responded beautifully, with 16 eggs retrieved, 8 of them fertilizing, and the embryos appearing BEAUTIFUL (as the nurses said over and over). Throughout the show she struggled with worry and so much more, as IVF often forces us to become balls of emotion and chaos. Then, the show would cut to Lady B, slowly (and so SO gracefully) preparing for her SIXTH TRY! Lady B and her husband were so desperate for a child, and in just a few moments you were begging for the best for them. Their hearts were beautiful, and so much of their journey hit home.

I believe if this show showed anything, it can show the difference adversity can make in our lives. Both of these women were sweet and kind women in all appearances, but you could definitely see the difference between them. As Lady A teared up and worried, Lady B would smile through the bruises that covered her stomach. Lady B's stomach was a heart-wrenching (and too familiar) site, but her smile radiating was more captivating. It's only an assumption, but I just have a feeling this woman has spent so much time on her knees in prayer. She carried herself with a maturity that only comes after being sent through the ringer. She rose, tattered and torn, and just kept fighting for her dream.

Lady A was beautiful, and you can tell she had such a strong and beautiful desire to be a mother. Her and her husband stumbled through the IVF process awkwardly (as we all do the first time through!) and it was like watching a sweet child learning to walk. This by no means is trying to belittle her, it's actually just so very sweet to watch the purity she had. The results of her first IVF was 8 'beautiful' embryos. She transferred two, and carried an adorable baby boy to term before being induced. She has 6 embryos still frozen, and has hopes of having two more children from them. I was thrilled to see their excitement unfold and grow. It was beautiful to see the faces of the new parents.

But- it was Lady B who had my heart and my attention. Watching her was like watching a skillful dancer. She was determined, and yet beautifully broken and hopeful. When she explained her journey, her words almost sounded like they were coming from an eerie place, yet she held her head high and forced a smile on her face. When the call came, and she learned she yet again, would not carry a child she broke and my heart broke with her. She dropped and cried out and talked to her husband about her anger. This is when the tears came, reminding me of our own first call of bad news. The nest shot was 3 months later, and she talked about how they're just "coming out of the hole" again. That line hit me deep. I know that hole all too well and I know the self-doubt, and the anger, and the emptiness that is in that hole with you. However, she wasn't still in bed. She was making salads for a friend who was coming over to discuss the possibility of her friend being a surrogate for them. The episode ended was Lady B explaining how she was 'guarded' about the situation but you could also feel the excitement of things to come. This woman had learned to be a fighter, and that's what she was doing. She was fighting for a sweet baby to call her own, and she didn't care about sympathy. She took the shots like a champ and didn't have that tone in her voice that asked for pity that I believe many TTCers have. She was radiating strength.

I know many journeys can build us and grow us or make us crumble, but I know my struggle with infertility has molded me to be someone else. It was a painful road that brought so many mixed feelings, but I feel blessed to have gone through it.

Just like a mother soon forgets the pain of childbirth once she holds her newborn, I think I've forgotten some of the hurt and the pain of trying to conceive. I can easily say 'he's worth it', but I wish I could give every mom TTC right now just a few seconds of the joy motherhood brings. If I could bottle it up and give it as a gift, even just a few seconds I believe would change the entire air around TTC. No longer would the shots sting, or the BFNs crush our entire souls. This joy and contentment would feel more like it was within reach, and the 'complete' feeling would be worth the wait. Once you've become a mom, it no longer matters how many BFNs came before, or how long you waited. You are just so blissfully content.

I hope I wear my scars like Lady B does.
No sympathy or pity needed, just a fighting spirit that made you stop in your tracks just to watch her take her next move. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rants from the "Other Side": The Highs and Lows of TTC in Social Media

As I've said before I've stumbled across this amazing TTC group of ladies on Instagram, and man, has it been a wonderful community to be a part of overall. There have been some amazing high points, but as we all know there is hardly sweet without the bitter.

Once you've gotten your BFP after TTC many TTCers will say you've crossed over to the "other side". It's always struck me as off, but it hasn't really bothered me until lately...

Here are a few high and low points about TTC forums:

To post or not to post:
Congratulations! You've been encouraged and encouraging for quite some time in the TTC world, and now you have finally gotten your BFP! Isn't that what we all have dreamed about?! Now what? Do you get to post that positive pee stick? Ultrasounds? How often to too often for "bump spam"? How are you sensitive on social media when just a month ago you were possibly whining about all the Facebook notifications of yet another couple expecting a baby? In my opinion, it's all about perspective. Tired? Hungry? Aching back? Can it. Not all of your thoughts need to be publicized, and there is nothing your TTC sisters can do (or, for the most part, will want to do) for your stretch marks, and by posting your negativity you're probably just causing hurt feelings. As the maker of one my favorite blogs, Rachel, said, "Get a journal". Talk to your husband, family, or your closest friends to get the sympathy you need.
Now, if you're interested in celebrating your little miracle by posting pictures of your sweet baby bump (stretch marks and all!) or those special newborn cuddles, I say post away! You deserve this. Soak every minute in. Go crazy! If people don't like it, let them unfollow you. Nothing needs to be done. Nothing should be said by either party. If things are even attempted to be explained, in my experience, things become complicated. I post 10-15 videos of sweet Sullivan daily. If you don't want to see them, don't follow me. However, I would sure hope we were just acquaintances if you chose to unfollow. Twice now I've developed (what I thought to be) good relationships, only to be shocked be one day they have awoken and decided they are "done" with me and my postings. That's not friendship people. And maybe my downfall is wanting to have real friendship with people who aren't looking for it, but I'm not interested in surface bull crap. I'm honest and an open book, and if you ask me a question I'm most likely not going to hold back. Which leads me to my next topic...

Oftentimes I think we IF/TTCers say things we assume the other wants to hear. Again, not real friendship. It also keeps us stuck in one spot, where we should be allowing growth. The TTC process grew and stretched me in ways I never could have imagined, but it was because I refused to allow myself to sit and wallow for too long. Throughout this journey, I've learned what a big impact negativity/positivity can have on me. It can change my entire attitude about things and in turn, make or break my day. Oftentimes my outlook on the day also has a great impact on Walter's day and now, Sullivan's day, because my mood can be short, rude, and whiny, or encouraging and God-seeking. Everyone will have their moments, especially in times of struggle, but you can only help those who help themselves. If it becomes a common theme in your posts to complain or whine, you will soon be one follower less. A discouraged post will be met with encouagement, and soon it will be time to pick yourself up and move on. Dust yourself off. Because if you don't, roads like this will eat you alive. You've got to be willing to give yourself a pep talk, take the love and prayers of others, and rely on God (not in that order) to get yourself through. No one wants Negative Nancy and when it comes to dealing with one, tough love is still love and often needed to chase the self-pity away.

IF Momma or fertile Mom:
It shouldn't matter. I have friends who are all on different points of fertility were put in a spectrum. None of them deserve a baby any less NOR will love their baby any more once a baby is in their arms. It's rude and unfair to say things like that. Did I work my ass off for my kid? Yes. Did I endure injections, heartbreak, and hard work to get my baby? Yep. Do I deserve or love him any less than that surprise pregnancy? No. I adore my little man, but a mother's love is just that. It is unconditional, selfless, and beautiful no matter how it came to be and it shouldn't make one lick of a difference. "But what about the mothers who place their babies for adoption?!" you may ask. Some of the most selfless love I have ever seen is the love of a mother who puts the well-being of her child before herself. If a mother loves her child and is giving an effort, that's all there is to it. I couldn't imagine how much it would hurt my best friend (who is not infertile) if I told her I loved my child more before I struggled through infertility. Did my struggle possibly make those 2AM feedings a little easier? Yes, but just as well as any struggle could teach us to look on the bright side in times of trial. To me, saying it's easier to see an IF momma with a baby bump or baby is almost like saying that person has "earned" the right to be a mom, and that is so untrue. God blesses those in His timing with our best interests in mind. That goes for the woman on her 5th IVF cycle or the teen who became pregnant on a one night stand. It's okay if you disagree with me, it's taken me a long time to get to this place and I am content. And please, be more respectful than claiming it's "because I have my baby" now. Ask my closest friends and family and know that this heart-change came before the second pink line.

Oh TTC community, I just don't think a lot of us understand what the word "support" really means. How are we able to love and encourage and cheer on our friends month after month of BFN but abandon them once that BFP comes? Were you really wishing and praying for the best all along? Or does misery really just love the company? If you are my friend, if you want to support me, that shouldn't change based on the season of life I am in. Find it in your heart to swallow the selfishness and love your TTC throughout the entire jounrey. To build a relationship with a friend and then abandon them once baby or BFP comes in is acting like a selfish coward. Does it hurt? Yes it probably does, but isn't that the risk we take being a part of a TTC community? Those in front of us and those behind us deserve our love, our encouraging words, and our TRUE support.
I'm going to admit to you right here, I think so many of the TTC girls I follow are amazing, inspiring women. It took me so long to be able to see other bumps and babies, and I can't imagine the growing pains that seeing all the photos on Instagram can bring! But know we all get to the point where we can be happy for others and sad for ourselves. There was once a time Walter and I would leave a restaurant in there was a pregnant woman sitting near us, it was that bad, but soon (again, before I was pregnant myself!) I was forced to stop running from the hurt and to just tackle it head-on. It's unavoidable. So my suggestion is that if you want to be part of a TTC community it's in your best interest to push past and get it over with and take advantage of the wonderful support/advice/love a community like this can bring.

I may be on the "other side" now, but I really think we should do away with saying this. I am blessed to have my little miracle in my arms, but infertility is still playing a large role in my life. It it still a struggle that takes it's toll on me daily. There not always has to be another side, because really, I just want to be on YOUR side my friend. I know it's easier said than done, but let's put out the window on who is 'ahead' and let's just love each other and meet each other where we are now. That's friendship. That's love.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Barren to Homemaker

Recently I posted about my sincere burden for infertility awareness and my desire to keep blogging, teaching, and encouraging.
However, recently some slightly shady things/people have come around and my mommy instincts have flared up. To be honest I thought of quitting blogging for a minute, but that just kind of crushed my heart. I then considered leaving info/pictures of Sully of of the blog, but I do enjoy talking about mt kiddo as well... what mom doesn't? So finally I decided on making a separate blog for my Sullivan posts.
Please know that this seperation is to protect my son, and not an attempt to be selfish with him or cut you out of the loop. :) Please request an invite by leaving your e-mail if you're interested in reading about him as well.
The new blog is called "Barren to Homemaker" from Psalms 113:9, which gave me so much hope before and during my pregnancy.
This blog will continue to be all about infertility awareness and I hope you'll all continue learning and growing with me through it all.

Much love to you all!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Life in Instagram Photos (for my "IG Girls")

Walter often hears stories from that that start with "today one of my IG girls..." and he has become very familiar with many of the names as well.
(For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about... IG is short for Instagram. It's a social media site where you are able to post photos that you take of your daily life and meet people with common interests by labeling a photo. A photo of Sullivan might have some hashtags like #ivf #miraclebabyboy #successafterinfertility etc.)

I have met so many wonderful women through this site, and I have 'met' some people who I may never speak with face-to-face but who have become true friends. These girls are all over the country, but I share some of the most personal moments of my day with them. We've sent gifts to each other, talked on the phone, and invested into one another. Some of them call themselves "Sully's aunties" and it is such a joy to know that I have great girlfriends praying for us all over and sending us good thoughts. Some of these women are moms as well and I love to see photos of their kids. Some are in the midst of struggling with infertility and I do my best to offer advice, a listening ear, or something in their mailbox to brighten their day.

February 23rd, 2012 I posted my first Instagram photo. It was a snapshot of Walter being silly in his parents' kitchen and I loved playing with all the filters...

...and I really had no idea where this outlet would take me. I only had a few friends, and I wasn't even sure if I would stick with it because really, who wanted to see a bunch of silly pictures?

I forced my best friend and husband to get it as well, and we started taking a photo every day. It started being a silly challenge of how 'artsy' we all could be.

Then Walter and I began our first round of IVF and it became an awesome way to document my 'not-so-glamorous life' at the time. I really didn't know ANYONE who had gone through IVF except one woman I once was in a Bible study with who wouldn't return my calls, and IG was a way to vent out my confusion, worry, and fear day by day.

Our first IVF failed. So...
We got Lucy.

We started getting serious about raising money for adoption. We had our 4th annual Yard Sale for Adoption, and started the Adoption Jar Project to collect 'unwanted' change for our adoption fund.

Before the summer was over I got to be a nanny to some awesome kids (for the third summer in a row), dye my hair a fun color (teal, for PCOS awareness!), go on a vacation to a bed & breakfast with my husband, and welcome a niece.

Then we got ready for IVF #2, and I started tagging my photos #ivflife.

I found a few women on Instagram who were also doing IVF, and they were my age! Call me ridiculous, but I had no idea. My eyes were opened to a whole new world I had never known before! No longer was I the only woman in her 20's doing IVF because I was sooooo 'broken'! I was slowly learning that infertility is a lot more common than I thought! I felt comforted, safe, and no longer alone and like I had the worst case. 

I stopped pitying myself. I realized how lucky I really was. 

I tried to keep myself preoccupied during my second two week wait, and Instagram was there. I was uploading old pictures and playing with them to get that "Instagram look" and ordering them on Printstagram for my Smashbooks (like a scrapbook)! I was in love with this photo app. Yes, a little late on the bandwagon, but I was soon becoming seriously addicted.

FINALLY the dreaded two weeks was over, and after my third blood draw I finally got to announce that we were pregnant! I used Instagram as my first source to get the word out on August 26th, 2012.

My sweet little baby grew and grew and I just kept on Instagramin'! I started using more hashtags and getting more and more fellow IVF friends and other TTC friends. It was nice to be able to talk to them and encourage them. I often wished I would have had a little more of that, and it made me feel wonderful to be a friend to these ladies.

Soon I was finding other mommas who were pregnant thanks to IVF, and we would refer each other to friends. Our #ttc community grew and grew and soon I had a whole group of friends who were anxiously awaiting to see if my sweet baby would be a boy or a girl. I was getting updates on IG almost every other minute asking how the gender reveal planning was going, and when I would let the IG world know. I so deeply wished a few of my 'social media friends' could attend, because they had been with me through my entire first trimester cheering me on and checking up on me. 

I got to donate the rest of my IVF meds to girls I met on IG, and even started to text and FaceTime a few of them. We posted many cute prompts to get to know each other as well. We understood things that most other people in our lives didn't understand. It was nice to be able to ask questions, have encouragement, and just have others who understood the ttc lingo! Haha!

Then, a day in December just out of the blue I received a package from one of my IG friends- a beautiful Vera Bradley wallet. I was in shock by her sweet generosity, and I was soon out the door searching for a gift I could send her in exchange. After talking with my husband, that shopping trip grew. He allowed me to pick five girls who had really encouraged me to send surprise gifts to! I sent them each a small charm that symbolized infertility, our journeys, and our friendship. 

My "IG community" soon became the first thing I thought of when I woke up. I wanted to update "my girls" and see how their days were going and what I could do for them. We just 'got' each other, and it felt great.

I wrote notes to these girls, prayed daily for these girls, and really had deep friendships with these women. We were fighting the same battle, and we had bonded together in a way I have never known before. How was it possible to be such good friends with someone you had never met?

Soon, since we were checking in with each other every day, we knew when each other needed some lifting up. On a particularly bad day I found a box on my doorstep. I opened it and the tears immediately started falling. It is still- to this day- one of my favorite gifts I have ever received. A friend had made my son a personalized quilt and it was BEAUTIFUL and exactly my style. It matched his nursery perfectly. I couldn't believe it. I was so touched.

It started off as a joke (with lots of truth in it!) when I told a few girls they should come out to my baby shower a few weeks later. My heart really did ache with wishing they all could be there! But, I knew we lived all over the country, and I knew it would be crazy CRAZY for someone to drive a long trip to meet someone they had never really 'met' wouldn't it?! :)

Throughout the next couple of weeks the joking became serious, and a few girls were actually very interested in making the trip! I was shocked and feeling so so so loved. Finances and schedules got the best of us and we soon found out that it just wasn't going to be possible...

...except for one.
One, very very special friend drove (with her husband!) from Ohio to attend my baby shower. After months of IG stalking, texting, FaceTiming and more I was finally going to meet one of my closest friends face-to-face! I couldn't believe how amazing this girl was! We spent three wonderful days hanging out! We went on double dates, we hung out, and attended my baby shower together. My love for her and for our friendship grew even stronger with every minute. Funny this is, our husbands really hit it off as well!

But that's not all. SO many packages and letters and gifts came through the mail for Sully and I. I knew it was CRAZY to expect anyone to be able to attend, but I was so amazingly blessed by this outpouring of love from these women. You can call it hormones, but I swear I was in (happy!) tears almost every day when I got the mail from these deeply cherished friends. One even 'attended' my shower via FaceTime (don't you just love this love story for technology?!)!

As Sullivan's due date grew closer so did the due dates of a few other of my IG girls. We had been together throughout most of our pregnancies and it was finally time! We all took bets on who would go first, since our due dates were all within a month of each other. After months of bouncing ideas and symptoms and stories with each other, it was go time and we would finally get to 'meet' each other's littles!

I made this collage and with each birth we celebrated with the new momma (and prayed that we would be next)! Our stories were all different, but we had become more than friends to each other. We were each other's supporters, prayer warriors, and confidants in this new journey of our lives!

And now our children 'grow up with each other' on this beautiful social media called Instagram...

We are able to check in with each other, ask questions, and keep updated on these sweet babies. I can say I truly love these other babies I've never met and pray for them often. Maybe our babies will never meet, but hopefully we'll be able to gather them together someday. Until then they'll continue to be almost like classmates on IG. Sometimes they even play dress up with each other...

What started being just a few, soon grew to be HUNDREDS of women who have been battling #ttc, #ivf, #iui, #infertility, #pcos, and more. Not only did I love giving to them, they gave to me. They gave me a community that understood the fight I went through and will continue to be going through for a sibling for Sullivan. They helped me realize that it doesn't just go away with those two pink lines. The symptoms of infertility are still there. The hurt is still there.They give me comfort and a reason to not forget where I have been. These women will help me never to forget to take my little man for granted.

Sully also loves to encourage his 'aunties' as well. :)

Infertility is not a game. This community is not a game to me. And though I am not the judge of all things infertility, I am the judge of who is involved in my life. I have recently deleted over 200 followers to protect Sully and to protect myself from the constant negativity and bickering. It had gotten out of control, and I couldn't tell who was who or what was what anymore. The constant negativity may just be a pit stop on your journey. I have stopped there quite a few times. I also have made stops at the 'bitter', 'hopeless', and 'condescending' stations. However, thank the Lord so many great friends gave me great inspiration to keep fighting on. You have to make yourself open to that if you ever want to survive this road. If you're unwilling, there's nothing anyone else can do and there is nothing anyone can say. 

Basically this is a (very) long-winded blog that (has been a WONDERFUL trip down memory lane for me and...) reminds me to remember what this wonderful 'world' has given me. I have been so incredibly blessed by all the amazing friendships that have grown from just a silly app for your phone.

Thank you guys so so much, you know who you are.

Brooke, Stephanie, Lindsey, Brittany C, Claudia, Martha, Trish, Amanda R, Katie, Desirae, Porshe, Courtney, Betsy, Megan B, Heather, Samantha, Lauren, Meg B, Tiff, Desha, Jillian, Liana, Michelle, Abigail, Kaeli, Kyle, Brittany C, Bridget, Chelsea, Amber, Rachel, Laura, Kristen, Tiffany, Cely... (these are just the few that my husband knows by name!!) and so many more.

I don't know what I'd do, or where I'd be, without you guys. Thanks for being a blessing. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Just a beginning.

Okay, okay... so lately my blog has been mainly of bump (and now Sully) updates. I'm sorry! I'm obsessed (and while that will never change!) I'm hoping to find more blog time in my day to continue blogging about things like infertility awareness, PCOS lifestyles, and (hopefully soon) our adoption process.

Yep, you read that right. If you're not a long-time reader, or a close friend, or have me on Instagram, or... okay, you probably know we have a heart to adopt.

After my ectopic pregnancy I was devastated. I couldn't believe how much difference a day could make. I didn't want such deep heartbreak to be my only experience with pregnancy. I wanted to experience a life growing in my tummy. I needed to experience labor and so much more. So I fought hard with IVF cycles and other fertility treatments. You know the story.

Then Sullivan grew in my stomach, and I was able to give birth (I could go on and on about giving birth, but that's a different post). So now what?

I want to adopt. I want to become family with a child who has longed for parents that way I long for children. I want to give hope where there might have been none.

My aunt adopted her first child when I was just 12. It is a special moment deep in my heart. I remember the excitement of watching videos of my soon-to-be cousin, and the pure joy waiting at the airport to meet her. This sweet little girl is now 14, and is one of my all-time favorite people. I can't bare to think of what could have been or where she could be.

So many people have such wrong assumptions about adoption. I may even have a few. We are far from even the beginning of our journey, but I know we have the hearts and the calling to do so, and that's a pretty great start for now. I have no idea where we are going to find the money, or where we will adopt from, or the timeline... but I do know it is God who builds my family and He will do it perfectly in His timing.

I promise to try and find more time to blog and to keep blogging about more interesting (to you) topics than just the head circumference of my child ;) but for now I have to put that sweet head to bed.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It still hurts

A lot of people have been asking me the same question lately. I guess it's only normal. It seems like when a woman has a baby, it's not long before that baby is no longer new enough and people begin to ask about when will #2 come along. For us however, people ask when another round of IVF will begin.
Truth is, I doubt it will ever begin. 
Don't take this wrong, I definitely believe IVF was a miracle-giver and I would love to have more children. However, so many other feelings bubble to the surface.
I've wanted to make a post like this for awhile now, but didn't due to the fear of sounded spoiled. Please know that my intentions here are only to speak out my feelings (and quite possibly the feelings of many IVF mommas), and to journal about where I am in my life right now. Is it my blog afterall, right?
So here it is: I don't think I can bear the pain to do IVF again. Yes, our second cycle did give us our Sullivan. He is our miracle and nothing will, nothing could, ever change that. But where do we go from here in building our family? That I do not know. 
IVF was a painful roller coaster. In many ways our faith made the cycle easier. It took a lot to realize that we were not in control, but once we really got our minds around that it was a freeing feeling. There was nothing we can do, so hey, let's just go for the ride! However, our beliefs also made a lot of the process harder. For us, we couldn't just shrug off the loss of 12 embryos (in both cycles). Still can't. Especially after meeting Sullivan I can't stop thinking about those beautiful babies (yes BABIES!) that could have been. Would they have the same eyes he has? What about a similar crooked smile? Were they all mini-Walters or was there maybe one that was a mini me? My heart breaks in longing to hold them and raise them all up to be the men and women they were called to be. What was their calling? It surely wasn't just to be here for the few short days. Or was it? Those single digit cells taught me more than many people ever have or could.
People who have struggled (or who are struggling) with infertility amaze me. I can't help but feel drawn to them and their stories, especially if they've sought God through their trials and/or have kept a positive attitude. Infertility can make or break you. I seriously adore those who refuse to let it break them. 
This doesn't mean that you can't be hurt, or shattered, or even devastated. It means that while you are hurt, shattered, and devastated that you remember to thank God and keep it in perspective. 
Walter and I conceived our first child after two rounds of IVF. We don't have any frozen embryos for later, and none of the embryos we were able to make made it to a "good" range of being a blastocyst. Everything about our cycles were pretty much "below average" and not expected to be fruitful. BUT I type this with a newborn on my lap. We are still one of the lucky- no, blessed- ones despite it all. We were given 'grim' results, but a miracle was made and God got the glory. 
In my fascination of those who have fought the infertile fight, I have made many new friends through social media. I have met some people I will cherish forever; their personalities and their dispositions are an encouragement on even the darkest of days. I've ever met people, heck I'll just come out and say it, who have taught me who I don't want to be. 
I'm not trying to be a hypocrite here, I am positive that if I were to look back and read some of my earliest posts that I would make myself sick. This journey is one that grows and stretches you, and it definitely has for me. Everyone has to take the path in the way God leads them, and everyone has their own timeline. When I see a Negative Nancy I do my best to help lead them along that path. I try to speak encouragement to them, and I try to remind them of different perspectives... and I hope and pray to see a little change.
If the fit throwing continues I have no choice but to remove them, because like the title says, it still hurts.
It still hurts me so badly when people complain about getting 'only' 20 eggs or 'only' having 2 embryos to freeze. A friend of mine blogged that it's like a slap in the fast and that is partly true. When I think of a slap in the face I think of the person intentionally trying to hurt another, in a public display of insult. This hurtful complaining is more like an accidental hit-n-run with your heart. The whined doesn't mean to put tire tread on your chest, they're probably not thinking of your feelings at all because they are so consumed by their own, until WHAM! You're struck. They say something that hits a nerve with you and it leaves you gasping for air. 
You make think of me as spoiled to be hurt by something like this, because I have a baby. That's fine if you want to think that. (WHAM!) Please realize that my love for Sullivan will never outweigh my love for my other 13 children that could have, should have, been (and my grief for them will never ever outweigh my love for him!). You would never say that to a mother who has just buried her ten year old, would you? "You've got two more at home, c'mon time to get over it!" So heartless. Even if it doesn't mean the same to you, realize it does to me. I never got to meet 13 of my children, and looking into Sullivan's sweet face I am only left with a dream of our family all reuniting in heaven. 
So infertile warriors, please keep a close guard on your words. Encourage each other, and continue to learn and grow just how to do that. Continue to put yourself in another's shoes and pray for those who have a different path than you. It's not always necessary to find someone "worse off", but find someone who is struggling in an different area to keep things in perspective. I'll never forget the lessons I learned while I was trying to conceive and gearing up for IVF and going to classes to be a foster patent and a counselor for abortion-minded moms.
This whole journey has taught me so much, and it still is (!), and I am blessed to know so many amazing women because of it. Thanks for allowing me to be encouraged and to encourage, even though (as many of you have put it) I've crossed over the the "other side".
I won't forget where I've come from. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bump Update: 39 Weeks (and he's HERE!!!)


How far along? 39 weeks! (and he's HERE!!!) Sullivan was born Tuesday, April 23rd at 39 weeks exactly!

Size of baby: 8lbs 2oz, 22in

Milestones: Sullivan was born on 04/23/13 at 3:08pm

Total weight gain: I checked into the hospital at 10:30PM on 04/22 and weighed 238! I gained +8lbs from conception to delivery!

Maternity clothes: I wore them to the hospital, and I'm still wearing them! :/ They're just so comfy, and they're great for my still-healing body.

Unglamorous body changes: Well, no new stretch marks... but now we've got the postpartum flab! ;) Ow ow!

Sleep: Honestly?! More than last week! I'm sleeping about 6+hrs a night, but mostly because Walter has been AMAZING at the night shift! He's off work and has no problem getting up with lil man half of the time.

Best moment this week: Seeing my son for the first time!

Miss anything? I would give up ANYTHING for this baby and not miss it. (Still)

Movement: He's my wiggle worm! Super strong, and I'm already fighting with him because he's constantly pulling his head up! You've gotta watch this one! ;)

Food cravings: I cannot wait to have a margarita!

Anything making you queasy/sick? Nope 

Gender: It's a BOY! Sullivan James Wallheimer 

Labor Signs: It's so nice to not have to watch for these anymore! He's here!

Symptoms: healing from the episiotomy and getting used to leaking everywhere lol

Belly button in or out? It's definitely no longer flat! :)

Wedding rings on or off? Off... but now that I think of it I can't wait to get those suckers back on!

Happy or moody most of the time: Elated. Giddy. Blessed.

Weekly wisdom: All this time, I've been waiting to be Sullivan's mom. God knew exactly who Sully would be and was preparing me for him and preparing him for me. From the moment I first saw him, I knew he was the one I was waiting for.

What stereotype I embody: I'm tearful. I cried when we got to bring him home. I cried when he was a week old. I cried when he lost his circumcision ring. I cried when he lost his umbilical cord. I cried when I looked at him and he was especially adorable... lol

What I bought this week: Grammy and Nana have saved the day by dropping off newborn outfits a little at a time! Mommy didn't buy many because she thought he wouldn't be fitting into them. :/ Whoops! lol

What I checked off my to-do list: Sullivan's home and we're still living life like normal for the most part. I've cleaned up the house a bit. We've went to dinner a few times. We've visited family, and we've had family visit. We've done his newborn photos. I'm still blogging and Walter is still playing PS3! :)

Looking forward to: The last few moments/days/weeks of pregnancy and meeting my little man!!! Could I really say anything else? :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bump Update: 38 Weeks


How far along? 38 weeks! (and he's still baking!)

Size of baby: Let's just leave it as BIG from this point out, LOL. He's definitely over 20 inches and 7lbs now... and we've been told if I go the full 40 weeks he'll be close to 10lbs!

Milestones: Sullivan will now be gaining about 1/2lb every week until birth! 

Total weight gain: Just up another pound! :) +8 total from conception!

Maternity clothes: Wearing 'real' clothes (anything but yoga pants and a way too small T-shirt/tank top) is hard. Leaving the house has been a new kind of interesting just trying to COVER everything!

Unglamorous body changes: Nothing new

Sleep: Still about 4hrs a night, and I'm still handling it (shockingly) well! Trying to get sleep when I can, and when I can't it's just time to go on with the day anyway! ;)

Best moment this week: Walter asking every morning, "Is TODAY the day Momma?" :) It makes me such a happy woman to see my husband so excited!

Miss anything? I would give up ANYTHING for this baby and not miss it. 

Movement: He's dropped so low, I swear I can feel him (still) inching his way down! (OUCH)

Food cravings: Fresh fruit. Deviled Eggs. I even ate a BBQ sandwich and thought it was delicious (and I seriously am disgusted by BBQ usually!)

Anything making you queasy/sick? indigestion is a little better this week, but I'm beginning to run low on Tums nonetheless... lol

Gender: It's a BOY! Sullivan James Wallheimer 

Labor Signs: Everything I read says I'm in "pre-labor" or "labor warm-up"! Cramps, baby dropping, BURSTS of energy to nest (finally!), etc

Symptoms: achy body, indigestion, cramping

Belly button in or out? Not 'in'. Not 'out. Flat.

Wedding rings on or off? Off

Happy or moody most of the time: Moody. Simple enough. 0 to 60 in one second. Sorry! :)

Weekly wisdom: God's timing was good enough to make Sullivan, it's good enough to bring him to my arms. :) Lord, I'm doing my best not to be anxious!

What stereotype I embody: "Can you believe we are going to have a baby?! Like, SOON. Like, SOON SOON!!!" to just about everyone I know. I know you've all seen my tummy grow for 9 months, but I guess I've missed it and am just realizing it LOL

What I bought this week: In a burst of energy-nesting I cleaned up the house and realized our re-purposed nightstand/storage shelf in Sullivan's room wasn't doing the trick, so I got a new one from Target using the last of our baby shower gifts cards! It's going to work much better. I also got my breast pump ordered and on the way! (Thank you to my MIL and insurance!)

What I checked off my to-do list: I thought the nesting bug was nonstop, but I've been lucky with it. I've FINALLY caught it and it definitely comes in bursts. I've done a couple of projects, but only with an hour or two at a time, which Walter and I think is best anyway :)

Looking forward to: The last few moments/days/weeks of pregnancy and meeting my little man!!! Could I really say anything else? :)