I Am Thankful for My Infertility

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DSC_4247.jpgI am. I am thankful for my infertility. I know, it’s weird, especially since I’m not on the “other side” yet. *The other side in the infertile world is the side with children*. All the “I’m thankful for my infertility” things I read and hear about are from women who now have children. They say things like, “I’m thankful for my infertility because it was the path that brought me to the kids I know God had planned for me.” I don’t doubt that is true, actually I know it is true, but I don’t want to put my hope in parenthood. I don’t want to wait to be thankful. I want to be thankful now, I want to put my hope in Jesus, and I want to experience the gifts He has given me in this very moment.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I used to think this verse was a command like how your mom would tell you to brush your teeth every night before bed. It’s a good thing to do, and it’s healthy, but sometimes you forget and you don’t remember until you are laying comfortably in bed, slipping into the caverns of the subconscious. In that moment you jolt awake and think “do I dare get up to brush my teeth and risk losing this comfortable position?” And so, you bypass tooth brushing for one night. I used to think this verse was like that- it’s a good thing to do, but if you miss it a couple times here and there it isn’t going to kill you.

Two summers ago I realized it was not a command. Two summers ago I had an emotional, mental, and physical break down. Two summers ago I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t clean, I couldn’t work, I couldn’t shower, I couldn’t do anything without spiraling into a panic attack. It was during one of those days I read this verse. I had been feeling so guilty about the fact that I literally could not DO anything. I had been getting my value and worth out of what I could DO and now it was all gone, and I was nothing. I wasn’t living up to God’s plans for me, I wasn’t living up to my own expectations, and I felt like I was letting everyone around me down. And then I read this verse. It wasn’t a command. It was reassurance. If I rejoice, pray, and give thanks in all circumstances than I am doing the will of God. I don’t need to perform, I just need to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. I don’t need to shower, I just need to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. I don’t need to eat, I just need to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. I started to do that. It was hard at first, so I managed to get myself outside and look at nature and that’s where I started. And wouldn’t you know, after a week of doing that I had the strength to shower without a panic attack. My mind and heart started to transform. Slowly, very very slowly, I started to have the desire to clean and cook and eat and wash. I would back pedal every couple of days, and remember to start thanking the Lord, praying, and rejoicing.

This is not one of those, “Just pray more” fixes. No, so much more went into my recovery: rest, self-discovery, meds, therapy, celebrate recovery, sponsor meetings, accountability meetings, etc. But it was the thanks, prayer, and rejoicing that filled me just enough to continue my journey. It didn’t fix everything, it just gave me the strength I needed to keep pushing through.

So, as I find myself weary with infertility during this holiday season that is geared so much towards family, I will remember that it is possible to find peace, joy, acceptance, gratitude, and whatever else in all circumstances, specifically infertility.

So here it goes, I Am Thankful for My Infertility Because:

  1. The heartbreak has made me very vulnerable and I find that because I am sharing these vulnerabilities with those close to me, my relationships with them are better than ever. Especially with Dean, we are closer than I have ever imagined, we have gone through so much together in our short six years of marriage and we have held onto each other tight. Most of these vulnerabilities were connected to infertility and the adoption process.

 

  1. This is about to get really personal really fast, but it is the reality of this infertility situation. My husband and I can have sex anytime we want. Yesterday, we had some afternoon delight and it was great. No kids to worry about walking in. Just some good, spontaneous, love making.

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  1. The hormones in meat, the chemicals in beauty products, the BPA in plastics and receipt paper, the chemicals in processed foods, the pesticides used on produce, all have links to infertility and hormone disorders. Because I personally struggle with one of these hormone disorders and infertility I have found the will power to make changes to my lifestyle that are better for my body and our world.
  1. I have made connections with women I otherwise may not have known on an intimate level. Let me tell you, these women are a God send to me. You know who you are. You are the ones I can say “ugggg, so and so is pregnant and after I plastered on a smile for the rest of the evening, I came home, poured myself a glass of wine, sat on my kitchen floor and ugly cried until I ran out of wine, and then I ugly cried about being out of wine, life is so unfair” and you won’t judge me at all. In fact, you will tell me, “girl, I feel you! Yesterday, I got my period and I bought a dozen donuts and ate them in the bathtub while binge watching Netflix.”
  1. Infertility has led me and Dean to pursue adoption sooner than we would have thought, which led to the scary task of asking others for help. We couldn’t raise the funds alone, we couldn’t walk the journey alone, and we couldn’t pray alone. Our family, friends, and church family has come around us in ways I can’t imagine would otherwise happen. I have found strength in the prayers of those surrounding us at church. I have found peace in my mother’s tears as she cried with me. I have found an abundance of love and grace from all the support and fundraising. Right after the fundraising BBQ I broke down and sobbed, I felt so unworthy of the love and support we were receiving. God continued to assure me that it wasn’t OUR worth that encouraged people to give, but it was love. Love does not keep score.
  1. Laughter. Laughter. Infertility has given me so many things to laugh about from the desperate couple in tears at the fertility clinic because their dog ate their semen specimen, to the wildly inappropriate memes about punching pregnant people. The laughter has been wonderful.

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  1. The music. “What do you mean music?” Have you not noticed how many songs could be sung by infertile couples?

There are the “Let’s dream of our future family songs”: “Helping the kids out of their coats, but wait the babies haven’t been born.” (Mushaboom by Fiest)

There are the hopeful, “I’ll wait for the child promised to me songs”: “I will wait, I will wait for you…” (I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons)

And the “Ok Lord, I surrender and I will wait like You want me to songs”: “Oh my soul, wait on the Lord…” (To Those Who Wait by Bethany Dillon)

And the “God, I am so done waiting and I don’t want to do it anymore songs”: “You got to hoooooold oooon, yea you gotta hoooooold ooooon! Yea, you gotta wait! Well, I don’t wanna wait! I don’t want to wait” (Hold On by The Alabama Shakes)

And the “I’ve wasted so much time waiting instead of living” songs: “Give me these moments back, give them back to me, give me that little kiss, give me your hand…” (This Woman’s Work Covered by Greg Laswell)

And the “Woah is me, this sucks, let’s cry about how longs I’ve been waiting songs”: “In our hearts we still pray for sons and daughters, all those evenings out in the garden, red red wine, these quiet hours turn into years” (Sons and Daughters by Allman Brown)

And then the “I just got my period…there is no baby” songs: “And I was like, baby, baby, baby, Ohhh! Like, baby, baby, baby, nooo!” (Baby by Justin Bieber) I couldn’t resist, the Biebs just gets me.

And don’t forget the “ok, let’s try this again!” songs: “I believe in a thing called love, just listen to the rhythm of my heart, there’s a chance we can make it now, we’ll be rockin’ til the sun goes down, I believe in a thing called love.” (I Believe in a Thing Called Love by the Darkness or Covered by the Branches*)

See? There are lots of songs! There are lots of awesome songs that raise up emotions and remind me that I am alive, that I feel. There are songs that connect me to other people who feel too. These feelings create music, these feelings encourage me to sing passionately and dance around. I am thankful for that.

  1. My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has revealed himself to me in so many ways during this journey. It was in my heartbreak and fear that I turned to Him. It was in Him that I found the strength to keep going. It was with His promise that I find my hope. I know it didn’t have to be infertility to get me to this place, but I do know I could never have gotten to this place without recognizing that I have no control and my need for a savior. Both of those things require a lot of loss and heartbreak, so if it wasn’t infertility, I know I would still be sitting here writing that I am thankful for the other heartbreaking situation that encouraged me to grab my savior’s hand and hold fast through it all.
  1. Tears and crying. There is healing in tears. Crying connects me with Jesus, He gets it, He felt it. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” There is something truly cleansing about a good cry. When I let myself cry I always feel way better afterwards. And I am always assured that God hears me, He keeps a record of my tears and one day there will be no more sorrow. My tears always remind me that it will not be like this forever and that is definitely something to be thankful for.

“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

10. Last but not least, I am thankful because of this blog. I would have never started writing if it wasn’t for my infertility. People don’t like to talk about infertility and there wasn’t too much out there when I first started going through it. I never believed I could write something myself, but infertility taught me a lot and I just had to share it with other women like me. Through this blog I have found a love and honestly, a talent for writing. It’s crazy that I can even admit that I think I have talent in writing, I used to think that would make me cocky. It doesn’t, it makes me understand that I have something to give, and I believe God gave me a gift in writing. A gift I would have never discovered without infertility.

Happy Thanksgiving!! If you are an infertile Myrtle like me, take some time to be thankful for your infertility. It’s hard to do, but it’s definitely worth it, I promise! Send me what you are thankful for! I’m probably missing a lot of things I could be thankful for.

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Fair Isn’t Fair

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children_sharing_lrEver since I was little everything was about fairness. My entire life revolved around being fair. My brothers and I learned to be fair while playing. We learned to be fair when splitting the last piece of cake – one person cuts, the other person chooses. We learned that when you cheat at a game you aren’t being fair to the other player.

But I have a distinct memory of when life became unfair. I remember being upset when my mom said me and my oldest brother could have a handful of M&M’s. We both reached our hands into the bag. I tried to grab as many M&M’s as possible, but those little suckers kept sliding out between my fingers. When I finally retrieved my hand I realized that my hand couldn’t hold as much as my older brother’s hand. I felt let down by my own body. It wasn’t fair, he had 4 more M&M’s than I had!

Where did this obsession with fairness come from? Well, now that I think about it, it seems to have originated with the fall of Adam and Eve. Didn’t Eve eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because she wanted to understand what God understood? It wasn’t fair that she couldn’t eat from that tree, so to make things fair, she ate from the tree and then gave her husband some to eat as well.

I used to think “oh Eve, you beautiful, stupid woman. I would never make that choice. If I was Eve I would have stayed away.” But the truth is, I am Eve, and I always eat that darn fruit. Every. Single. Time. Ugggghhhhh.

It makes me mad when people say, “God never said life would be fair.”

It’s true, He didn’t say that. But He also didn’t exactly explain why it can’t be fair either. He didn’t tell Eve why she couldn’t eat from that tree, just that she couldn’t.med4 And God has not told me why I keep trying to get pregnant and can’t and yet other couples are getting pregnant without even trying or even wanting to. That’s not fair.

God never said life would be fair.

Shut up, you.

But the truth I have come to realize is that fair isn’t always best. Fair isn’t always fair. Let’s go back to my brother’s handful of M&M’s. My brother was bigger than me in height and weight. The truth of the matter is, those 4 extra M&M’s that I wanted weren’t good for my body.

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Sure those 4 M&M’s wouldn’t kill me or make me super sick, but my little hand couldn’t hold very many M&M’s to begin with, and we weren’t exactly used to high doses of sugar (my older brother and I thought dried apricots were candy), those extra M&M’s could very well put me into a sugar high and then a sugar crash.

Although it wouldn’t be the end of the world, it definitely wouldn’t be what was best for my body. But as a small child I couldn’t hear that. I couldn’t understand that Johnny’s body could handle those extra M&M’s and my body could not. I accused my mom of loving Johnny more because he could have the extra M&M’s. In reality, my mom wasn’t giving him extra M&M’s, that was just the amount that his hand could hold. Did Johnny do anything wrong? No, and yet I resented him for his large hands. Did my mom do anything wrong? No, she didn’t even touch the M&M’s. I couldn’t understand that if my mom gave me 4 extra M&M’s, then by being “fair” she would actually be harming me, which would not be fair. By not being “fair” my mom was actually being fair and showing me that she did love me. It just wasn’t a love I wanted to see right then, I just wanted more candy. I was so blinded by what I wanted, that I wasn’t able to see what was best for me.

What I think is fair, might not actually be fair.

We recently found out another couple is pregnant. My initial reaction was “that is so not fair, what the hell, God! Do you even hear me? Do you even care how long we have been waiting? Do you love them more? Are they better than us?”giphy

Don’t worry, I didn’t stay there long. I know God hears me, I know He cares, I know He loves me just as much as He loves them, I know neither of us is better than the other. I can’t compare my life to theirs to see what is fair. That’s not how it works. I won’t pretend to understand how it works, I just know how it doesn’t work, which I guess is a start. But let me tell you something beautiful about the “unfairness” of this whole baby situation:

Last month I started a War Room in my house. If you haven’t seen that movie and don’t know what it is, go see it! It’s wonderful. But I’ll tell you anyway, a War Room is a place of prayer in your house. It is a place where I intentionally go to fight the evil that roams this world. It is a place where I meet God and ask Him to send me angel armies and His Holy Spirit. It is a place where I fight with truth and love. So last month I started a War Room. I started praying for my husband, my marriage, my friends’ marriages, my unforgiveness, and Scout (our future child). It was while I was praying for Scout that I started to pray for expectant mothers, specifically expectant mothers who were not thrilled to be expecting. God brought me to a verse to pray for these women, and I would say a general prayer for them every day. Then on October 15, 2015, God sent me a name. I prayed specifically (and continue to pray) for this woman almost every day.

Don’t you see, ________ that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of your womb his generous legacy?  Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth.  Oh, how blessed are you _______, with your quiver full of children!” (Based on Psalm 127)

I didn’t believe she was the birth mother of my future child, I just believed she was an expectant mother in need of a lot of prayer.

I was right. It is not my place to share the details, all I can say is that the other day I heard her name (yes, the name I had praying for before I even knew her) and her story. I heard her heartbreak and her fear. I heard her attempts to rid herself of the situation she found herself in, and her inability to go through with it every single time.

If I was pregnant or raising a child right now I would not have been able to hear her name. I would not have even been praying that prayer. I would not have cried in spirit with her. I have never actually met this woman, and yet I know my prayers aren’t in vain. God is using my “unfair” situation for good. He is restoring my heart and my soul, He is filling me with love for the very women that I am jealous of. He is revealing to me that life is not a competition, babies are not rewards, but they are gifts. Life and babies and M&M’s are gifts. Life isn’t fair, or maybe it is and I just don’t understand what fair really is in the grand scheme of things.

Either way, I’ve still got M&M’s, I might as well sit my little toosh down and enjoy what I got. Hey, maybe my brother might even give me one of his, he’s never had a big sweet tooth anyway.

In the Valley of Home Study Approval

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IMG_5376I thought receiving our home study approval would be the equivalent to finally seeing a positive sign on a pregnancy test. And just the other day when someone asked me what being home study approved meant, I likened it to just that…for a pregnancy that could last two weeks to five years. Before I started the adoption process, this comparison seemed natural:

To me, a positive pregnancy test was what would allow me to get excited about bringing a baby into our family. Without that positive, we just didn’t know for sure if it would ever happen (except for God telling me, but I tend to doubt Him when I can’t see something already at work. He has yet to let me down, but sinful me still doubts). The same goes for our home study approval, without it, there is no chance of becoming a parent through adoption. So, these two events must be pretty similar…right?

But now, as Dean and I find ourselves on the other side of the home study, these two things don’t seem to match up at all. A positive pregnancy test signifies the BEGINNING of growth, the START of parenthood, exhaustion, weight gain, nausea, heartburn, cravings, tears, fear, prayers, discomfort, swelling, bloating, kicks, movement, ultra sounds, heartbeats, fingers, toes, a tiny nose…life.

I couldn’t wait to have that positive result so I could start planning a nursery, thinking of names, buying little booties with deer or foxes on them just because they were adorable and I wanted my child to have them. That positive pregnancy test (depending on when it was taken) would be roughly two to four weeks into the 9 month count down of when to expect baby’s arrival. That positive test would let me know that my future child was already with us, although just an embryo, our child was already growing, and would soon have its very own heartbeat. That positive pregnancy test meant I was already a mother.

I naively thought that the approval of our home study would allow similar feelings to flow. But our home study approval is not like that at all. It was received AFTER nine months of exhausting paperwork; after nine months of nausea, heartburn, emotional discomfort; after nine months of weight gain and food cravings due to stress eating; after nine months of prayer from so many people; after nine months of fundraising because without the funds we could not become parents; after nine months of persecution via articles written by unhappy adoptees and unhappy birth parents; after nine months of constant, loving, support from friends and family; after nine months of helpful articles written by happy adoptees and content birth parents; after nine months that included classes, tests, clearances, background checks, fingerprints, doctor’s visits, letters, photobooks, autobiographies, interviews, inspections, emergency evacuation plans, picnics, tears, prayers, tears, prayers, tears, tears, tears, and prayers.

And after nine months of all of that, I’m still not a mom, not yet anyway. I have no idea when I will become a mom. I have no idea when I will hold little Scout in my arms and vow to love him/her for eternity. I have no idea if Scout has been conceived, if Scout has fingernails, or if Scout is facing the possibility of death. I don’t know if Scout is waiting in Cradle Care (foster care provided by our agency during the 30 day revocation period) anxiously trying to understand this new world he/she is in without his/her only source of comfort known to date: birth mom. Is my child crying and being soothed by someone who loves him/her but knows these precious moments won’t pay the bills? Does my child sense his/her mother’s sadness and loss? Is my child receiving the right nutrition? I have no way of knowing any of these things, and I have absolutely no control. I am not nurturing Scout during this time. I am just waiting.

How long must I wait, Lord? How much longer? I have had to wait an eternity already, I can’t bear it anymore.


 

The other day I was in a Holy yoga class and as we stood in mountain pose the instructor invited us to imagine ourselves standing on top of a mountain and gazing out over the world.IMG_5381

We then were told to swan dive into our standing forward fold.

As we bent our heads low to the floor and hung there for several breaths the instructor prompted us to think about those times we felt low and in the valleys of life. I am in a valley right now and that sudden realization brought forth weeping. Yes, weeping. Weeping…in public. Weeping unlike any weeping I have experienced before: silent tears streaming up my face.(I was upside down remember?) Snot was running into my eyes. As our instructor reminded us of God’s faithfulness we all came to flat back and then with our hands held high we came back to mountain pose.IMG_5382 And there, for the first time ever, I stood crying in a public place with snot and tears clinging to my hairline.


 

I am in a valley. Please don’t misunderstand me, the valley I am in right now is very beautiful. It is pleasant and comfortable, but I have always been the type of person who likes to go as high as I can go and then look out at the world.

I like to feel like I’m part of the sky rather than part of the horizon. I like to watch the birds fly overhead without any trees to block my view. I like to experience the enormity of the world stretching out further than I can see. And right now I am in a valley. I am comfortable here but I am itching to start climbing. The reality of my situation has hit me.

The unknown waiting period is rising above me like a mountain to vast to climb. How will I scale these heights? How, Lord? It is too great, too big; it will take too long. It is beyond my power; I won’t survive.

I’ve got you. Hold on and trust me.

Can we stop to rest sometimes and maybe let out a good cry?

Of course! But we will also be stopping to marvel at the beauty of our journey, to laugh together, to chat over an evening cup of coffee by the camp fire, and to gaze at the stars. You will find peace and joy in my presence if you keep your hand in mine and your eyes fixed on me. I will show you the way to go. I will lay you down by quiet waters and restore your soul. I will be everything you need. Trust me, my radiant one.

Oh, and Elizabeth…Scout is my child too, just as you are; I am tightly grasping to the hands of my children. I connect you to Scout; I link mother to child. With this in mind, pray. My dear daughter, pray for your child. You don’t need an umbilical cord to nurture your little Scout, I Am your connection to your child and your prayers are the nourishment you provide.

Our Adoption Photo Book

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Finally…it is complete! If you’ve been following my blog, or if you are friends with me, you know that this has been a huge stress in my life. You may even recall that I wrote a blog about it several months ago. Actually, six months ago to be exact. I have been working on this photo book for over six months! (Here is the link to the blog I wrote about Letting Go and Starting Over)

Six months may seem like a long time. I mean really, don’t you just have to put a couple of photos into a template on snapfish or shutterfly? I wish it were that easy, but alas, it wasn’t, not for me anyway.

I’m pretty sure I searched every single photo book website out there for a template that resembled me and Dean. Nothing seemed to fit. I started five different books on four different sites, but none of them looked like us. Finally, I scrapped the idea of there being a template out there that I could work with and decided to start from scratch.

I started with a blank canvas and worked hard for a month only to hate it just as much as the others. I was getting stuck in my own head trying to appeal to the masses. Trying to be picked instead of trying to show who we are. Once I again I scrapped everything and started over.

This time I stopped thinking about “them” and starting thinking about us. I really wanted to capture who we are as a couple and as individuals. I wanted the expectant parent(s) to see that Dean is adventurous, sporty, compassionate, loving, and a great provider. I wanted them to see that I am crafty, silly, loving, nurturing, and I love to dance. I wanted them to know that, in our lives, Jesus comes first. I didn’t want to pretend to be less religious for fear of scaring anyone off. The expectant parent has a right to know who we really are, and I want someone to choose us to parent their child because they want us, not who we want them to think we are. (In case you’re wondering, I did include the fact that farts make me laugh. Was it tasteless? Maybe, but hey if I was choosing someone else to parent my kid I would definitely want them to think farts are funny. I would also want them to incorporate Harry Potter into my child’s daily life…)

So, after months and months of searching for photos, rewriting text, asking for help, letting go, and starting over, it is finally complete. I have dropped the photo book off at the agency and as soon as our home study is approved we will be ready to be matched.

Before I post it, I want to say thank you to Jessie Patterson Photography for the beautiful photos she took of us. She captured our silly side as well as our loving side and for that I am truly thankful. Jessie is a joy to work with so if you are looking for a photographer check out her site!  http://jessiepattersonphotography.com/

I also want to thank all of our friends and family who sent pictures, wrote us beautiful quotes that captured who we are, and edited the book through it’s many additions. You all are amazing and even if your pictures and quotes didn’t make it into the book, I have treasured them in my heart (and in a keepsake box because sometimes I just need a reminder that I am loved).

Alright, well here it is!

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IMG_4791 IMG_4792I know ALL of you are super excited to read the lengthy descriptions about me and Dean (*wink wink*). But in case you really do want to read the fine print, here are the actual files. You can click on the photos and zoom in and out if you so desire.

If you choose only two pages to read, I recommend the Quirks and Quotes Pages.
Full Cover 2Dear Expectant Parent Page Revised
About UsAbout DeanAbout LizDeans Family RevisedLizs FamilyOur HomeOur Community RevisedMore Quirks and QuotesQuirks andOur PromiseThanks for all the prayers as we prepare to wait for a couple of weeks to 2 years (maybe even 5) for the child that God has planned for us.