Well, Hello There!

Long time, no see!

I want to take a second to just say THANK YOU.  To all of you that have unconditionally supported – and continue to support – us through all the trials we’ve faced in the last 4-5 years.  It’s certainly been a roller coaster and we could NOT have made it through without the love, prayers, and encouragement that we have received.

I’ve not shared much of what happened on our adoption journey and I guess it was mostly because – for a while – we were just waiting.  While we were waiting, one of my tasks was to create a book that our adoption agent could use to show to prospective birth families.  It was supposed to have pictures of us, stories about us, where we live, grew up, what we like to do for fun, etc.

Folks, let me tell you – that book was HARD.

You know how movies have previews?  And it’s basically the highest/funniest points of the movie shown?  The ones that really sell you on the movie and make you say ” I HAVE to see that!”?  I kinda felt like that’s what we were doing.  I know it sounds a little taboo to say that we were ‘selling’ ourselves, but it felt that way.  I felt like we needed to find the best pictures and the best stories so that we’d really catch someone’s eye.  And the more I worked on the book, the more my emotions started building.

My emotions were already crazy heightened (I’m sure my husband would be happy to vouch for that), but this seemed to tip me right over the edge.  Aside from all of the obvious unfairness about adoption – birthmothers placing their children, adoption agencies making so much dang money, etc. – it did NOT feel fair that someone else got to choose if and when we got to be parents based on whether or not they liked our book.

If you know me, you know that I’ve struggled with deep, dark depression for many years.  I fought that darkness for so long while dealing with treatments and miscarriages, but all of a sudden, the perfect storm converged and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

Being a mother is something that I have longed for as far back as I can remember.  And after getting married, being a parent became a shared dream.  Never would I have thought it would stay a dream.

We fought long and hard to reach our goal.  We gladly gave up a lot of things and cut back on so many more to save everything we could.  We were asked by so many amazing people how they could help, so we reached out to all of you and you stepped up in ways we never could have imagined.  All of your donations got us SO MUCH FURTHER than we ever could have gotten alone.  And we could never fully thank all of you properly.

But as I started looking at our life, I realized that – even though the cost of adoption was high, the price we were paying through health and our marriage was even higher.

J was working two jobs (still is) and I was stretched so thin emotionally, that it started manifesting itself physically.  After talking (A LOT), praying (A LOT), crying (just me but A LOT), and realizing that we’d exhausted our donations and funds towards the adoption, we decided that we were going to just take a step back.

From the day we got married, we were so focused on starting a family that we forgot to recognize that we already WERE one.

So, that’s where we are now.  We’ve put adoption on hold and are spending time learning how to just be who we are instead of stressing over who we could be.

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That Magical Day

From the time some little girls realize that boys don’t actually have cooties, they start dreaming of their wedding day.

It’s a magical day where they get to be the princess and everyone waits hand and foot on them.  Beautiful dress.  Gorgeous shoes.  Amazing Flowers.  And of course, Prince Charming.

They get to pick their favorite colors and flowers and people to create a fantasy moment.  I know, for some, simple is perfect.  And for others, extravagant isn’t enough.

But for me – I was somewhere right in between.

I still remember as a young girl (in fact, I’m certain I have pictures SOMEWHERE but I’ll probably never see them again) being decked out in a wedding gown that was far too big for me and having a mock wedding, with a little boy whose mother was my mother’s best friend.  I’m certain I was just as bossy possessed just as many leadership skills then as I do now.

Somewhere along the way, that dream day became just that – a dream.  I started focusing more on a career and less on finding Mr. Right.  Boy, am I glad that God had other plans for me.

J&D kissing

Our wedding wasn’t quite as big as I thought it was going to be.  If I’m being honest, there’s a few things I’d change about it.  But there is ONE THING I am absolutely, positively sure of.  And that’s my husband.

It hasn’t always felt that way.  We have our moments where I’d really just rather he leave me alone – forever.  He knows EXACTLY what buttons to push and I’d love nothing less than to physically harm him in some way.  (Relax.  I never would.  I don’t think.)  And I’m sure he’s thought the EXACT same about me!

The one thing about my dream day that had always remained the same was that I knew how I wanted it to look.  I had ALWAYS wanted everything to be black and white – with only red roses.  And I wanted an evening wedding with twinkle lights and candles.  It really did turn out BEAUTIFUL!

Wedding Program Wedding Eiffel Tower Wedding Tables Wedding Cake Wedding Rings

 

 

 

 

 

We picked out ALL of our own music.  J even remixed a song for our walk down the aisle as a married couple.  It started as the Wedding March, and then faded into ….. Ready for this?  “Another One Bites The Dust”.  Yup.  We were that couple.  I loved hearing the shocked gasps turn into laughter as people realized that it wasn’t just the music messing up, but rather us expressing our personalities the best way we knew how.

One of my very good friends from high school was the photographer.  We have some AMAZING pictures from the wedding.

You May Kiss The Bride

I had so many people tell me “Make SURE you video record the ceremony!!  Everything will go so fast that you won’t remember it and you will want to see it someday!!”  So, I checked many different places out.  In the end, I was convinced to let some very long-time family friends record it for us.  We’ve known them forever, what could go wrong?

Imagine my disappointment as we fast-forward (see what I did there?) two and a half years later and not only am I still without a wedding video but FINALLY received a response to my multiple requests stating that they don’t even own the camera anymore and that the video was on the internal memory and never saved to a disc……….  That’s earth-shattering stuff to me.  I’ve been sick to my stomach all day.

You know how when someone loses one of their senses, all of their other senses are heightened?  I kind of feel like that’s what infertility has been for me.

It’s a loss.  A devastating, emotional, heartbreaking, everyday loss.  That reminds me that life is precious.

While longing for what I don’t have and mourning it, it reminds me to look at what I DO have and be grateful for it.

While our friends and families attended the wedding (of which I have no recording),  we are attending the marriage.

He still dances with me in the kitchen while I’m cooking dinner.

He still looks at me sometimes like I’m the prettiest girl he’s ever seen.

He still tells me he loves me at the most random moments of the day.

He still makes me laugh at some of the most inappropriate moments.

So while we may have empty arms, we have full hearts.  And it all started on that magical day.

J&D hugging

From Cloud Nine to Ground Zero {NIAW}

What I’ve learned on this journey is that it is a roller coaster.  An out-of-control, up-and-down, give-you-whiplash kind of roller coaster.

emotional roller coasters

There are moments that hurt and hope occupy the same space in your heart.

When you first hear the diagnosis – infertile – its shocking.  But what’s more shocking than that are the things they DON’T tell you.

Like how every time you see a pregnant woman, you’ll have to look the other way.  Or how you will take the longest way around the department store to not have to pass the baby section.  Or how your heart will splinter a little with every pregnancy announcement and shatter wide open when that announcement comes from your best friend.  Or how, despite the jealousy towards women that don’t deserve to have babies yet do, you will speak out for children that don’t have a voice – even if it means going against your family.

They don’t tell you that you will feel embarrassed.  And ashamed.  And broken.  And lonely.  And like a disappointment.  Or how you will go through every step of the grieving process – every month.

It’s also shocking how – even month after disappointing month – your heart will still skip a beat at a late cycle.  It’s shocking how – even while fear chisels its way through your heart – hope battles it, if only for a moment.

Every month that we fall apart after a BFN – we wipe our tears, dust ourselves off and try again.  Terrified we won’t be successful, but confident we will be less successful if we don’t try.

Infertility has the potential to destroy so many things.  Self-esteem.  Self-image.  Friendships.  Marriages.

But it also has the potential to make those things stronger through the brokenness.

You can either be beaten.  Or beat it.

My husband and I have had some very real, very raw moments that I remember wondering if we’d even make it through.

He never thought we were fighting about infertility, but I knew that it was always the underlying cause.  The elephant in the room.  Just sitting there.  If it were a person, I’d imagine it wringing its hands with an evil smirk and cackling while saying “Peeerrrrfffeeecct.  They’re fighting.  I’ve got them right where I want them.”  Only we decided that wasn’t where we wanted to be.

There are SO many things that are out of our control in this process.

How we respond to it isn’t.

 “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

Some days, I feel like that ratio is pretty darn skewed!  As if dealing with all these emotions isn’t enough, we also get the pleasure of helping every.  single.  person.  that hears our story make their dream of being a Doctor come true!

Advice, comments, stories, anecdotes, cures, old wives’ tales, sexual positions, relaxation methods.  The list goes on and on.

lucky me

I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but it’s SO IMPORTANT for those that hear us tell our story to remember:

  • If you haven’t experienced it personally, you don’t understand
  • When we do open up about it, just listen
  • Don’t give advice unless you’re asked specifically for it
  • The chance of getting pregnant doesn’t go UP with more sex, it actually goes DOWN
  • Our ages DO have a lot to do with it (even though every person in Hollywood can get pregnant at 95)
  • PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE  don’t tell us to relax.

There will be days that we will be walking in the clouds and having a great time and then something triggers us.  Please give us grace as we go from Cloud Nine to Ground Zero.


 

http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/Managing-Infertility-Stress/emotional-aspects.html

http://www.resolve.org/infertility101

http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

Aside

Infertility and Marriage

**Before I really dig in to what this is going to be about, let me tell you a little bit about what we’ve been doing the last couple weeks!  At least one entire week was occupied by filling out an IVF Grant Application.  Yup.  I found a foundation that we not only met ALL of the criteria for, but are actually considered ‘priority’!  There are so many awesome programs out there that have processes set up to help couples overcome the financial burden of IVF and I think it is simply AMAZING.

Hubby found a website that listed all of the programs that offer assistance.  There were quite a few, but the one that we applied to is called the Pay It Forward Fertility Foundation.  The deadline for applications was today (3/18/2014) and once they start reviewing them, it will be 6-8 weeks before we know anything.  The grant amounts vary and they will give partial or full grants.  They give the funds directly to the clinic and when they disclose the amount that the recipient has been granted, they also tell what those funds can be used for – monitoring, lab work, medications, procedures, etc.  We got ours sent off and now, we wait!!  We are still doing our online fundraiser – among other little ways – to earn money because IF we are selected, there will still be portions of it that we will be responsible for.  So if you happen to think about it, send a little prayer!!!**

Joyce Meyer

The last few months have been … challenging.  There are so many things that infertility brings.  This silent, secret journey can absolutely tear your life apart.  Body, emotions, mental health, friendships.  And marriage.

When you’re not quite paying attention, it can creep into just about every nook and cranny of your life.  A commercial on TV for diapers.  A movie about a guy who doesn’t even know how many kids he has because he gave a “donation”.  YET ANOTHER pregnancy announcement on Facebook (Nope.  No bitterness from me!).  A brand new baby crying in church.  Timing intimacy so that it coincides perfectly with the “fertile window”.

There’s the heartache.  The stress.  The disappointment.  The embarrassment.  Miscarriage, bad test results, failed treatments, unspoken blame.  It’s this weighted load that you don’t even realize you’re carrying.

difficult roads

We all sang it as kids.  “J & D sitting in a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!  First comes LOVE!  Then comes MARRIAGE!”  But then comes the part that NONE of us were expecting – NO BABY CARRIAGE!!  Not only does no one prepare you for THIS, but they trick you into believing that having a baby is what MAKES a marriage real.  As if two people can’t love each other enough to have a real marriage unless they create another person.

In our early 20’s we’re asked with a playful poke “Sooo, when are you getting married?!”  And then, as soon as the vows are said it’s “Sooo, when are you having babies?”  I wish that someone would have set me aside and said – “Listen, not all women that try to get pregnant get pregnant right away.  Many women have issues for many years and some will spend thousands of dollars, shed millions of tears, endure repeated heartbreak and sadly never actually get pregnant.”

I totally get that people want to be as positive as possible, but it would have been nice to not be blindsided by all the emotions.  No matter how well I think I’ve compartmentalized everything or am dealing with it “in my own way”, there’s still someone who thinks that I’m obsessed or hyper focused or whatever other word that has a negative connotation can be used to describe a woman who has a strong passion to be a mom.

Men and women deal with this journey SO differently.  Especially men that are as laid back and innately positively optimistic as my husband.  He’s just so go-with-the-flow-everything-will-work-out-fine that sometimes it just makes me want to SCREAM!!  And even have on occasion.  (Hey, I never claimed to be perfect.)  It’s not that I want him to cry with me every single time I’m upset.  Or to tinge green when he sees a pregnant couple walking hand-in-hand.  But maybe a tear here or there wouldn’t hurt so much.

strong marriage

We got to the point where we were arguing over such little things.  Little things became big things, and before we knew it we’d gone a couple of days without talking.  By the time we got over it, we couldn’t even remember why we’d been fighting to begin with.  Yet, we always seemed to come back to one thing.  And we couldn’t quite figure out how to fix it.  I’d mentioned counseling in the past and gotten a quick and heated “NO”.  I used to be SO against it, but I knew that we needed SOMETHING to help us.  So – I took a deep breath and scheduled an appointment with a counselor that specialized in infertility.

At first, getting J to agree to go was pretty much like pulling teeth.  We got in probably our worst fight to date just a couple of days before we were scheduled to go in.  We slept in separate bedrooms and in the few failed attempts we made to resolve it ourselves, he told me he was absolutely, positively, definitely NOT coming.  I kept trying to explain why I felt like we needed it and how going to counseling didn’t mean that we were broken or crazy, but rather that we refused to become any more of a statistic than we already were.  There may have even been an ultimatum thrown in there.  (Desperate times call for desperate measures, people.)

I went to the appointment expecting to be there alone.  Butterflies in my stomach (all the way up to my throat) and scared to death.  Thankfully, he showed up but when we walked in, we couldn’t even look at each other.  After an hour of talking, it felt like we walked out two completely different people.

Hearing the things I’d said and felt in someone else’s voice not only helped J, but helped me also.  Now he knew I wasn’t crazy for feeling that way, but more importantly, **I** also knew that I wasn’t so crazy for feeling that way.  Or at least only marginally crazy!

I didn’t marry my husband for what he could give me.  My husband didn’t marry me for what I could give him.  And he loves me in spite of what I can’t.

broken vessel

A Little Background & My Not-So-Scarlett Letter

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted babies.  Not *a* baby… BABIES.  As a little girl, being the oldest child, I was a leader.  I’m sure my siblings would tell you I was bossy, but what do they know?  They were younger than me!  Even as a teenager, my friends and I would talk about the babies we would have someday…  I just never imagined that those babies would stay in my dreams and never fill my arms.

My husband and I were married on November 4th, 2011 in Southern California.  After growing up living there for 28 years, it seemed only right and my soon-to-be hubby was very agreeable!  The weather in Kentucky is undependable at any time of year, let alone late Fall, early Winter…  PLUS, it NEVER rains in Southern California!!

113 (2)

I guess Mother Nature just never got that memo!! (Photo Taken the morning of the wedding by the nerve-wracked Bride!!)

It was a simple, backyard wedding.  It was in the backyard of the house I spent most of my years as a child, so that was nice!  Family was there from Kentucky & California, as well as friends from both places!!  After that, we headed off to Atlantis where we had an AMAZING time!!!!!!  In December, we had a gorgeous reception where more family was able to make it!

After we got home, we settled into our new life.  It was beautiful, but in no way perfect!  Everyone that is, or ever has been, married knows that marriage has it’s ups and downs!  They didn’t put the words “For Better or Worse, For Richer or Poorer, In Sickness and in Health” in there for no reason!  We just never actually think that it’s going to be worse, or we’re going to be poorer… and we CERTAINLY always expect health!  In January 2012, yes only 2 short months after we’d gotten hitched, my mother got very sick and was hospitalized. Over the next couple months, there were whirlwind, emotional trips to California. Seeing my mom on life support is not something fun to witness.  She was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and had some very aggressive treatment for just about the rest of the year.  She fought bravely and thankfully, she was declared in remission on Christmas Eve (what a priceless gift, huh?!).  She’s also just very recently received another clean bill of health via a clear PET Scan!  Amidst other challenges my hubby and I were facing, which I’ll detail in a minute, my Mother-In-Law was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in January of 2013. She is quite the fighter… chemo made her VERY, VERY ill and she had to discontinue that course of treatment, but the radiation seems to be picking right up where it left off and not making her NEARLY as sick!  THANK GOD!

I had been diagnosed with Arthritis quite a few years before all this, and before getting married, in speaking with my rheumatologist and telling him that we were going to start trying to get pregnant – which wasn’t recommended with the meds I was on – he told me that any pregnancy I had would be considered “high risk” and referred me to an OB-GYN that specialized in those kind of pregnancies.  In April of 2012, I was diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome).  I was put on some medication for it and by August, we were pregnant!

I used to think that women that said they “knew” they were pregnant right away were trying to sell something that I just did NOT buy.  I was wrong.  I knew almost right away.  Same as I did on the day that we lost it.  It’s amazing to me how women’s bodies just… know.  I told my husband in a phone conversation that I was miscarrying, the pain I was having was excrutiating and so terribly unlike anything I’d felt before from a period.  He consoled me and told me I wasn’t, I was just having a rough period because the medicine finally working.  The “special” OB-GYN told me the same thing.  I wanted to scream “LISTEN TO ME!!! I’M NOT ASKING YOU WHAT’S HAPPENING, I’M TELLING YOU!!!!”  He told me to “give it a few more days and if you’re still bleeding, call us back.”  Quack.  Few days later, I was still bleeding.  So, I made the dreaded phone call and they had me come in right away for an ultrasound.  I walked in and gave the obligatory specimen and then was led to the room where they have a jumbo sized HD TV mounted on the wall that shows the deepest, darkest regions of a woman’s insides.  As I waited on the table – feet in stirrups, waiting to be shown what I already knew – the Ultrasound Tech comes in waving a little white test (which I wouldn’t have been waving) and says “Congratulations!!  You’re Pregnant!!  Let’s see what we’ve got going on in there!” Dumbfounded look from me, didn’t you read the chart as to why I’m HERE??  As the ultrasound progressed, her face dropped and dropped and she said “I think I need to go get the dr. Go ahead and get dressed.”  YA THINK?  Worst part?  My Dr didn’t even come in!  He sent his PA!  **insert mad face here**  She used all the right clinical terms – “spontaneous abortion” – that make a woman feel like it’s all her fault, and I left as an absolute mess.

Anyway, that was a rough situation.  But I’ll tell you, after 1 year of trying and seeing “that word” at the bottom of the papers – “INFERTILE” – everything changed in an instant.  I felt like I’d been branded with a Scarlett Letter.  The pain was deeper.  The ache was stronger.  The desire intensified.  It’s funny how the moment you think you can’t have something anymore, the more you want it, isn’t it?