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.

Continue reading

Podcasting

slpodcast

Sarah’s Laughter has a podcast! Yay! In March, I felt so special to get to sit down with Jason & Beth Forbus to record an episode with my dear friend, Melissa. We chatted about our own personal struggle with infertility, how infertility brought us together as friends, and how to remain friends when one becomes a mom, and one is still in the wait. Friends, this was so much fun! I told Melissa, I was either going to get a case of the giggles, or cry. My hormones were still all over the place so it dangerously could go either way. And I actually did both! Thankfully, I’m not a glass case of emotions anymore. We talked SO much, in fact, Jason had to cut half of what was recorded! I really can’t wait to do another one and drag my buddy along with me- she doesn’t have a choice. And actually Jason and Beth don’t either. I have caught the podcast bug! I drank the Kool Aid.

I really love how the episode turned out (thank you editing!) First, I had no idea I talked that slow. Friends, y’all are so patient to listen to me. Second, I’m going to go back and take a tally of how many times I say, “you know” “um” and “so.” Beth explained how she usually does an introduction on each guest at the beginning such as, “she likes long walks on the beach.”  I told her, I don’t like long walks on the beach, I like to sit on the beach. No exercise involved. So, that’s where that came from, just to give some context!

I met Melissa at the Sarah’s Laughter infertility workshop a few years ago and we became fast friends. She is the peanut butter to my jelly, the selfie to my selfie stick. Infertility is a journey we both share, but there are so many other things we talk about and do together that isn’t centered around infertility. I love to go to worship concerts with her. That girl gets that side step together, step and clapping her hands going. I just love it. She really gets a kick out of life. I’m lucky to call her my soul sista, and so thankful that we have remained friends.

To listen to our podcast click here or subscribe to the SL’s podcast on iTunes! The next infertility workshop will be held in Baton Rouge on August 27th, to find out more information on attending click here
Since we recorded our podcast, I have discovered that there is an entire world of podcasts that exists! It is my new favorite thing to do. I wanted to share my two favorites (besides Sarah’s Laughter, of course) that I love, because if I included them all this post would be way too long!

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey I LOVE this podcast. I listen to it when I’m doing dishes, folding laundry, or sometimes out walking. I’ve told a few friends this, but many of the episodes I’ve listened to, the featured guest has struggled with infertility in some way. And I don’t know why, but it still surprises me how many people are impacted by infertility. It isn’t the purpose of the show, but it is a part of so many women’s stories that it is a subject that is often touched on.

The Popcast with Knox & Jamie Friends, this show is hysterical. Jamie B Golden (different Jamie than the above mentioned) I just wish I could shrink her and put her in my pocket. The banter between the two is the best. I don’t have cable so a lot of the time I don’t even know what they are talking about, but I still get a kick out of it. I used to recommend Episode 138 for anyone who starts it, but last week’s episode has trumped it and is now their best yet. So subscribe to their show on iTunes and start with Episode 151.

The Best Yes

Now what?

What do you do with this crazy, amazing, plot twisting story that God gave you? I know the God pleasing answer to this big question on my heart is to share my story.

But am I the right one God?  I often feel so unqualified. Surely there is some other person out there who struggled with infertility that is more articulate, put together, wise, better versed in the Bible than me. And probably washes their hair on a regular basis. I’m sure they could do a much better job than me. Then I think, but I am qaulified. God qualified me by giving me this story uniquely to our family to be used for His glory. And maybe there is a girl, or two, out there who can identify more closely with me than the perfectly pressed, freshly washed haired infertility advocate I envision.

One of my very favorite parts of the Sarah’s Laughter support group meetings was the beginning. Beth started us off with some creative theme that tied into infertility and always pointed us back to scripture. Sort of a mini-Bible study session. I loved this. I loved being in a room listening to people talk about faith and God. Besides church on Sundays, this was the only time I was ever around conversations like this. And I really craved hearing about how God was working in other people’s lives. It helped me be able to see how He was working in mine too. It allowed me to see how much God cared about infertility. When I “graduated” from the meetings, I really missed these wisdom filled conversations. This past March, as sort of an extension of Sarah’s Laughter, they started up a Bible study on Tuesday nights held at the center. I wasn’t sure if I should do it because it was a several weeks, once a night commitment. I knew it would be healthy to have something outside of the house, away from the babies, for just myself. I knew I would be doing something God honoring with my time, an activity that would fill my soul. So I went. And I’m so glad I did. For me, the hardest part is just walking out the door, taking those first few steps.

I’ll make a confession here friends. It was easier to feel closer to God in the struggle. Walking through infertility, I felt God’s presence. I saw God in my everyday. I found it easy to turn to Him, to seek Him. And I don’t want that to stop because He answered my biggest prayer. I still need Him everyday, probably more now, just in very different ways. I don’t want to only turn to Him when I need something from Him. So I’m trying to figure out how to stay close to God. His presence in my everyday is still there, it is just revealed differently to me after infertility. On the very first night of the Bible study, Sherri- the leader- had unmarked gift bags lined up against the wall. Each gift was different and had a specific quote on a note card. She felt God telling her not to assign the gifts, she wasn’t even sure who was coming, and let us choose the gift ourselves.

My gift had a note card that read

“I hear your prayers. Not one gets past my ears. Wait on me. My timing is perfect.”

It also had this book   IPRAYEDFORYOU

I was the only one in the room who received this. Here was God saying to me this Bible study is exactly where He wants me to be. It was a God shout out like “hey girl, I’m still with you. I still see you and hear you. I’ve got your back. This is right for you.” The study focused on Lysa Terkeurst’s book, The Best Yes. I read this book a while ago and LOVED it. I love anything by this lady and her ministry. Oddly enough, I had to give a neighborhood Bible study on this very book (recommended by me) about a year before a “small no.” It was right when we were beginning the IVF process, and along with life in general, I was spread too thin to be able to do it with a loving attitude. I think God was saving it up for me for THIS Bible study. The timing was right this time around. I was able to receive certain parts in this season of my life, that I wouldn’t have a year before. I really enjoyed each woman that was a part of this small little Tuesday night study. We answered the big questions about what fulfills us. We discussed how to be intentional in our Yes’s. Allowing spaces in our schedules and choosing wisely. The answers to these questions look differently for each of us. Margo said yes to starting a blog, yay!  yall go read it! All For The Love

Now what? Walking in this new season of life, what does serving God look like? What is a Best Yes for me? Things are different, I’m not attending church consistently and we took a break from serving as a greeters, which I miss so much and one day want to return to, two things that filled my tank and connected me to God. Sherri suggested that I ask Him! Duh, why didn’t I think of that? Ask him everyday, Lord how can I serve you today? I’m figuring it out. The biggest answer I have felt placed on my heart is through my babies. And as Sherri said, motherhood is a ministry. Staying home and pouring love into them is right where I need to be for our family, at this moment. I struggle with not being able to contribute financially to our household, and this will change one day when I return to work, but right now this is my best, Best Yes.

Saying yes to opportunities to share our story is another Best Yes. This is where I get a little uncomfortable. Talking about our journey is very emotional. My voice always gets a little shaky and my hands get really sweaty. This is where I battle with feeling unqualified. I also never want to come across as someone seeking attention, saying “look at me, look at me, look at me” My intentions with saying yes to these opportunities is to say “look at God yall” I never want this platform to be seen as self serving. I share because the purpose of our story is to offer hope and encouragement. To show those in the thick of it, like we once were, what can come out of the wait. And as scary as it is for me, if one person who reads about what God has done in our lives, or hears about it, and decides to join a support group, puts together a Baby Steps 5K team, ask friends and family for help, or just reaches out to one person and opens up about their struggle then I have done my job. If I reach someone, it is worth it. We recently sat down with the local paper, The Advocate, and the local news station, WBRZ, to share our story. I applaud anyone who wants to shine a light on infertility, whether it is a story about Go Fund Me and crowd sourcing, or showing a well rounded picture of what infertility looks like. If I can help them achieve this and spread infertility awareness, sign me up! Our story remains the same, so I am only sharing what I have said many times before, but I know every opportunity reaches a different audience. Still to this day when asked what it felt like to have people fully fund our fertility treatment in a matter of weeks, I can’t help but cry. Thinking about that question, even over a year later I am still overwhelmed. I do not think that feeling will ever go away. And I don’t want it to. I always want to feel so unbelievably grateful, all the time. Saying yes to these opportunities can also look like grabbing coffee with someone really struggling with infertility and just listening, or a friend who is having a procedure done and is nervous about it. It is saying yes to writing letters of appeal for friends wanting to adopt, or be chosen as recipients of fertility grants/treatments. It is purchasing tshirts, or picking up something at a garage sale that is raising money for a couple’s fertility treatments. It is simple text to a friend that says, I’m praying for you, I’m thinking about you.

I always want to be a part of Sarah’s Laughter, in whatever capacity they will have me. Serving in this ministry, giving back to a group that helped me tremendously, will forever be a Best Yes. They are stuck with me. I told Beth, use me however you need me. And I really mean it. If it is speaking at a support group, I’m there. If it means stuffing cups, or writing little encouraging notes, to go to infertility patients during National Infertility Week, count me in. If it means taking out the trash to the dumpster, I’m your girl. Helping Sarah’s Laughter is being so intentional with my time and worth any minute I’m away from B&E.

I do still feel God has placed this blog on my heart. I am just very unsure of where to take it, or what it should look like. I guess I would like a crystal ball to see the end result. When really my job is just to take the next step, and write the next post. I’ll see how it naturally unfolds, which may end up being a slow phasing out. I do feel encouraged to continue to share when I read a comment from someone that I do not know. The other night I was on my way to grab dinner with friends when a number I did not have saved in my contacts called me. I am a big call screener, so it is a call I would normally let go to voicemail. But I picked it up, and on the other end was a girl I went to high school with that I had not spoken to in years. I assumed she was calling to sell me Plexus or something (I’m an awful person. And I’m really sorry for thinking that friend) so as I was bracing myself for the sale, she told me how she has followed my story and through me connected to the Sarah’s Laughter online community. Yall, I was speechless. I just listened to her talk about her journey. I was amazed at her strength and perspective on their struggle. I really don’t think I could have even said anything any better than what she was already saying. It actually encouraged me! I am so thankful that she took the time to track my number down, and call to say hey because of you, I connected with people who supported me. It came on a day that I really had been questioning if I’m doing the right thing being so vocal about infertility, if I should stop blogging because what more do I have to say. Her phone call motivated me, I felt like it was more of a pep talk she gave me! And because of that phone conversation, and comments from people that I do not know, I’m going to continue to give this blog my Best Yes.

I want to leave you with something that, Shelley Giglio, recently shared during a conversation on Jamie Ivey’s podcast, The Happy Hour. If you are like me and wrestle with feeling unqualified, I hope what she touches on speaks to you as much as it did to me.

God uses people who feel so disqualified in life to do the most amazing things…People who were unexpected, that totally were discounted because of a thousand reason, like they are definitely not the right person. And then God says it is them. Some of that is His ability to do whatever He wants, through whoever He wants. And some of it is that He picks sometimes the least likely, I think, because it allows for Him to be big in the story, not the person… He’s like the story is going to be about me and not about you, and your ability. Its going to be about me, and my ability. Then you realize, oh, everybody is qualified. ” – Shelley Giglio

 

 

 

Trust

Proverbs3.5

Here I sit on my couch marking the first day of a two week wait. A two week wait not after the IVF cycle we were geared up for, but an IUI performed this morning. I wish I could put our story in a cute, neat little box tied with the most perfect color coordinating ribbon friends, but I can’t. I wish I could wrap it up nicely for you and tell you everything worked out as planned, but I can’t. These past few days have been tough. This is also the hardest part about being so open with our story, the sticky parts, the falling short, the admission of failure, is not easy.

“Trust God, not Google”- something I told my support group last year. Not realizing then, how much I would be repeating it to myself over this past month preparing for IVF.  God has been whispering everywhere I turn to trust Him. Last year’s round of treatments, I found myself researching everything. Through Dr. Google, or course. I clung to every single follicle I had each cycle and their measurements, every estrogen level, every progesterone level, you name it I knew my numbers! I would enter these numbers into Google and for hours compare my results to the results of other women posting on message boards going through fertility treatment like me. This did nothing but induce anxiety. I also had in my perfect plans we would do so many cycles, all back-to-back by a certain time before Will headed off to a work trip in Japan. When going into what would be our last IUI cycle before his big trip, I had a collapsed corpus luteum. If this was producing too much estrogen, the cycle would be canceled. Yeah, that can’t happen. God, remember about the back-to-back plan? And it didn’t because it wasn’t producing too much estrogen and we were able to move forward with the IUI. This collapsed corpus luteum threw me off my game. I could plan all of these cycles and have a perfect timeline, but I actually have absolutely no control over any of it like I think I do. My body proved that to me. God is the one who does. This is when I decided, “I’m trusting God, not Google.” I stopped Googling every single symptom. I wrote down my test results, but stopped looking them up on the internet. A huge weight of responsibility, and pressure, that I didn’t even realize I was carrying was lifted off of my shoulders. I wasn’t the one who had to be in charge. Throughout my walk with infertility I have been faced with trusting God. Not just a little bit, trusting Him with everything. You are not alone if this is tough for you. This is tough for me. It does not come naturally, or easy for me. I like to plan…everything! I like to be in control of… everything! This is an area that I still need to work on. That I will probably never be perfect in. I said it on that night at our meeting a year ago because I am the one who needed to hear it the most. I needed those words, and still need them, to help me. And when trust was discussed at my last support group, it built upon what had already been stirring in my soul. It hugged my heart and God said, “this talk on trust tonight was for you.”

Continue reading

Majestic

exodus1414

The worship part of service is when I first experienced the presence of God.

Throughout my life I have always connected to music. There are home videos of me singing around the house and many recorded songs & dances with friends and cousins- thank you God that YouTube did not exist in those days! If you knew me back in my Hanson days, you can attest to my passion and obsession for music. If you knew me in high school and college, I’m sure you were given a mixed cd or two, compliments of me. When my cousin Margo got her license, we would drive around with no where to go, belting our lungs out to my aunt’s Celine Dion album. The best part of a road trip is the music right? There was also a brief stint of guitar lessons for a couple of years after college, unfortunately I did not inherit my Papa’s guitar skills. I work at a place where it is my job to sing (with a smile!) all day long. My point being, when I walked into my church for the very first time, it only made sense that I would connect to God through music. Worship music is an entirely new world for me. It is something I did not grow up knowing. I liked that the music was loud, that the stage was full of anointed singers & musicians, and that people were uninhibited, some more than others, in their worship- all of it accepted. I knew I wanted more of this. It might not resonate with everyone, but that’s the beauty of having so many different churches out there and available, this one was a good fit for us.

It was during the worship part of a service at my church that I first heard God’s whisper on my heart. My pastor was encouraging the congregation to tell people what God has done for you. I wondered to myself what I would tell people? I didn’t have a huge event in my life, or some amazing testimony like the ones I had heard since attending my church. And God answered, “everything.” This was way before He led me to my support group, or before anything that has happened over the past year. He whispered this word to me so I would know in advance. So that I would recognize his favor over these past years and call them the God moments that they are. Everything before infertility, everything during, and everything that will happen after infertility. He answered me so I can answer you. So I can sit here and type each post giving Him the credit. He wanted me to tell you, everything.

Our second failed IUI hit me the hardest. Will was working out of town. He was working out of town for the second and for the third, but the second was tough.  I felt like, okay God this is not how it is supposed to work. One little failed IUI out of the way and then the second one was supposed to work. This isn’t the plan. It hit me the hardest because it meant that the road was going to be longer, bumpier, than I thought or wanted. I felt alone. The kind of alone where you just want to be alone. The only person I really wanted was my husband. I cried out in my empty, quiet, childless house, “I’m so alone!” I pulled my phone out escaping into the black hole of social media and watched a YouTube video that popped up of Kari Jobe’s, “Let The Heavens Open,” and fell in love. Melissa and Beth had mentioned her to me before, but I didn’t know who she was. The song was from her album, Majestic. I immediately downloaded the entire album. And then listened to the song, “I Am Not Alone.” This was exactly what I needed to hear. God answered my cry through the form of a song that I could understand, that touched my heavy heart. I am not alone, he is present and fighting for me. I decided to get up off of the couch and get dressed to meet up with my support group buddies for dinner instead of isolating myself at home. If I had not gone to that dinner, I would not have sat across from my precious and fast talking friend, Heather, getting to know her a little better. I listened to Majestic the entire drive to dinner and the drive home. I even told Heather about it, and was glad to know she only had knowledge of one Kari Jobe song, at least I wasn’t the only one in the dark. I continued to listen to Majestic on repeat. This album speaks straight to my heart and has kept me connected to God during some of the darkest days of infertility. Days when I don’t even know what to say to God, I sing the words to these songs to him instead. Months and months later Heather, Melissa, and I attended a Kari Jobe concert together. And in my music fan obsessed fashion, I made sure to be one of the first in line to get in, snagged us third row seats, all while dragging Heather along with me.

concert

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

Update. Two Years In The Making

*I carried this post, written October 1st, 2014, over from our older blog to begin this very new blog. Learn more about us here! *  

I have been absent from our blog for a while. Tonight as I walked the dog around the neighborhood, I felt such a strong tug on my heart to come here and share my most personal feelings. To talk about why I stopped going to baby showers a year ago. To talk about how, even though over the course of the past two years there has been a lot of good and COUNTLESS blessings, my heart has been aching.  Maybe it is the recent email I sent out to loved ones and the incredible amount of support I received in response that has made me feel brave? Maybe it is the most recent baby shower, the first one in a year, that has triggered certain emotions and I am left feeling so tender? Maybe it is the date that marked another year and look back at where the journey has taken us? I don’t really have a perfect answer. Except here I am, infertile.

Part of me wants to write it all down so I don’t forget it. Not that I will ever forget, but the little details. The God moments. I want to make sure I hold onto those forever. I’m not sure I’ll write in chronological order. I can’t promise that things won’t get sad. In fact, I promise that they will. If medical terms like sperm, ultrasound, ovulation, and period offend you, stop reading. I get it, the word sperm can clear a room. But this is my everyday language. This is the pain that I identify myself with.

Tonight I want to talk about how I came to be a part of something that has saved my life, my support group.  I honestly can’t begin to imagine where I would be without them. It wouldn’t be pretty friends. My support group has become such a huge part of my life that I think it is exactly where I should start. I am a part of this group because God put me there. Continue reading