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

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.