Baby Steps 2016

I can’t let the year come to an end without posting about the annual Baby Steps!

Each year, the event is a little different and special in its own way, at the same time doing the best job of consistently focusing on the heart of Sarah’s Laughter- bringing infertility awareness and support to the area and never failing in giveaways to help couples in need grow their families. This year, the event was a 1 mile fun run on November 12th, 2016 held at Lamar Dixon. It reminded me a lot of the first year’s race because we walked in a circle around a lake (big pond? A body of water, however you classify it) At a point rounding the circle, you got a glimpse of ALL the people there in support of infertility and friends, you are left speechless at that very sight.

It feels like a big family reunion on Christmas Day. Lots of hugging and picture taking. Quick little catch ups from person to person. And never enough time! Can I tell you how much I love being a part of this group? Can everyday be a Baby Steps day?

This year Bennett & Eliza joined us! Talk about full circle moment. Looking back on our journey, the first Baby Steps represented the thick of the battle, freshly out of the infertility closet and wanting and needing that IVF giveaway badly. Showing up to the race in full force with the largest team, Team Stickle backing us. At last year’s Baby Steps, we were excitedly and gratefully expecting Bennett and Eliza. It was a day that reminded us how good God really is, how asking people to help carry us through this struggle the year before resulted in our biggest blessings, our prayers answered. And this year, we showed up holding our two miracles who we wanted to represent hope and participated in the first ever Miracle March to start off the walk. I still can’t believe how quickly life has changed, where it is hard to remember what life was like without Bennett & Eliza. What I do remember, and what I will never forget is how long and forever that road felt.

I also got to hop up on the stage and grab the microphone for a second to encourage every couple struggling with infertility. To thank loved ones present, letting them know their support really does make a difference. To tell each couple, that on that day they won. They kicked infertility in the teeth. To offer them the perspective that they were leaving Baby Steps a winner, whether they had a giveaway in hand or not. I hope each couple left the race with resorted faith and the perseverance to keep believing God for their baby. Friends, I don’t think three years ago, at the first Baby Steps, I could have ever imagined getting up in front of that huge crowd and sharing my story. Me, who at one point could barely say “We want a baby so bad. But we’re struggling” God is funny, right? Whether I am the most qualified or not, I have such a heart and love for those walking through infertility and any opportunity I am given to share God’s glory, I’m in!

Here are a few pics! Most of them are Melissa’s because she is an awesome documenter and she said I could share. Friends, can I ask all of you to keep Melissa and her husband, Brad, in your prayers? I know so many of you care about her because I get asked for updates on her journey often. They have an upcoming frozen transfer in January. After a very successful IVF cycle/retrieval there is a mountain of hope right now that this is IT for them! And y’all, I’m throwing it out there because God can do exceedingly, abundantly, above- we are praying for twins!

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Just Keep Swimming

This past weekend, life came full circle. I felt so honored to play a part at the Sarah’s Laughter Infertility workshop this year as a speaker. Sitting in that room with those couples, I was immediately brought back to when I first found the workshop years ago. After having an emotional breakdown heading to a baby shower, I realized I really wasn’t as okay as I had been trying to tell myself. Shortly after said break down, I heard about the upcoming workshop announced at a church service which is how I landed at that workshop a few years ago and how I would later join Sarah’s Laughter. On Saturday, I laughed and I cried throughout the time I spent with this group. Nothing will ever take away the pain and emotions of infertility. I was so proud to be there, so proud of Sarah’s Laughter, so proud to see graduates and current members there volunteering.  And I really think we all felt it, the hurting for a baby, the deep desire to become parents, the vulnerability of it all.

The workshop’s theme this year was “Just Keep Swimming.” I really feel like this year’s workshop takes the cake. Elisha Kearns who writes the blog, Waiting For Baby Bird was the keynote speaker. My friends currently in the group were super excited to meet and hear from someone that they find such encouragement from. There were breakout sessions throughout the day on loss, and for people interested in starting their own infertility support group. My friend, Kim, a family and marriage counselor, led a breakout session on keeping your marriage strong through infertility. I was so proud of her for getting up there (even after losing her house in the recent flooding) and offering such genuine advice and encouragement to couples. James Henderson led a session for just the men. I think this is such a needed thing! Yesterday, I caught up on the Sarah’s Laughter podcast and listened to the episode that he and his wife, Portia, recorded. Friends, it was good. I know he was the perfect person to lead the session specifically for men at the workshop, especially after listening to their podcast. I actually might just listen to the podcast again! Sarah’s Laughter Podcast, Portia & James The most unique part of this year’s workshop (to me) were the round table discussions (think speed dating) several tables set up around the room, each table represented a different topic (gestational carriers, adoption, perseverance in prayer, two different reproductive endocrinologists had a table, etc) Guests of the workshop could make their way around to the tables for a short little session. They received some very valuable information from such an expansive group of great resources. I can only imagine how much this helped people facing infertility. I think out of anything though, I was the most excited to see faces that I did not recognize. Their face might have been like my face a few years ago at the workshop. Not really in the deep end of infertility, but knowing they do not want to be alone. I really hope and pray each person, especially those sweet new faces, who attended left feeling understood.

I spoke about navigating through the sea of infertility.I wanted to share my talk with readers of this blog. Some of what I spoke about I have already written about in this blog. There are a few personal details/stories that I am not going to include (what happens at the workshop stays at the workshop right?) but I hope someone reading this finds the encouragement and that extra little push to just keep swimming.

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Baby Steps 5k, 2015

What a year it has been!

From last November’s first ever Baby Steps 5K to this November’s Baby Steps 5K, our life has completely been changed. Friends, I should not be allowed to drive in the car alone by myself these days because the tears just sneak their way in. Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. You would not believe the number of people who came out in the rain to support infertility this year! The venue changed to accommodate a larger crowd. The donations given made it possible for multiple drawings, giving even more couples in need the chance to win and help build their families. This year exceeded last year and was yet another Ephesians 3:20 event!

On Tuesday this past week when I got word the race hit 2,000 registrants, I just could not stop thinking how insane it is. How much bigger this is than just our story, how much bigger this is than the little idea than it started out as. When I pulled up to Beth’s house to help put together race packets like I did last year, just the number of cars parked outside from volunteers increased from last year. Sarah’s Laughter in the past year itself has seen changes. It has a center of it’s very own and meetings are no longer at Beth’s house. The meetings are much larger, reaching and touching the lives of so many more than ever before.  A selfish part of me will always love and miss the small, tight knit group that met at her house. And the warm snuggly couch that I always sat next to Melissa on. But even Beth’s couches are new. And many of the group members have experienced miracles, like us, starting new chapters of their lives, “graduating” from meetings. And these are all very good and God driven changes.

This week talking with my PAIL group, we offered up our prayer requests for the race. Most of the time our discussions are heavily revolved around baby gear, nursery decor, pregnancy symptoms, and upcoming appointments. But when we get down to the good stuff, and share what God has put on our hearts, I am reminded just how special this group of women is to me. Just how much these girls want this for everyone facing infertility. Where we all were a year ago, where we are all now, and just how thankful for everything (including the not so lovely parts) we are!

I wanted to share with you my prayer request that I sent to them. This is what I have prayed for all week and what I will continue to pray for after race day. My prayer is that not only are the lives of the winners changed, but the 5K changes the lives of all the couples facing infertility. That the support they are given on race day by their loved ones continues after the race, like it did for Will and me. That the race gives those facing infertility the courage to be brave and share their story. I pray that the internet is taken over by infertility blogs! That every person facing infertility leaves the race feeling like a winner.

If it were not for the 5K, I would not have reached out to family and friends asking for help. The inspiration our friends felt to create the Go Fund Me that financed our fertility treatment this year would not have happened. I would not have stood next to my friend Katie, who recently became a mama, lucky enough to start the race in front of a crowd of people both of us on the other side of it. I would not be in my third trimester of pregnancy with twins. I know that our story is not the only incredible product of the race. I encourage each of you to share how the race changed your life, and how God is in the center of it. Even if you cry or your voice gets shaky, even if it makes your heart race a little faster or your palms a little sweaty. Share with others what He has done, or is doing in your life. Share your pain. Allow others to help carry your burden, because look at what could happen.

To read my post from last year’s race click here

 

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Baby Steps

small-steps

I took a deep breath. And changed my mind. I couldn’t do it.

I returned to my computer screen the very next night. Took a another deep breath, squeezed my eyes closed, and clicked, “Send.” Just like that, it was out there. “It,” being our deeply personal and current story of infertility emailed out to a little less than thirty people. One small baby step.  Continue reading