Assembling Your Home Study Binder

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The dreaded home study- this is the adoption version of birthing: tons of paperwork, hours of labor, and a lot of waiting. Many prospective adoptive parents fear the home study because of its daunting nature and mountains of paperwork, but it really doesn’t have to be that scary. I was blessed to be a housewife during our home study process which really allowed me time to organize and reorganize our home study binder until I found a system that worked for me. And I believe God called me to help others who may not have the same luxury of time I was blessed with.

With that being said, this is not the only way or even the best way for YOUR home study binder. This was the best way, so far, that I have found for myself. But I understand that many of you work and may not have extra time built in to your schedule to organize and reorganize a home study binder to fit your needs. I know for myself, when life got super busy and I was still searching for a way to best organize my binder, the paperwork stacked up super fast. Before I knew it I had a binder full of loose papers and I had no idea which documents I already copied and which ones I scanned and emailed before sending out all the originals to the agency. The confusion is enough to make you have a breakdown, IF you don’t have the time to or energy to “deal” with the mess of papers.

First things first, if you are on the verge of a breakdown or at the very least a tantrum, THAT’S OK!!! Go ahead and feel it. It’s ok to be pissed that you have to do this in order to have a baby. It’s ok to be angry with God, He can handle it. It’s ok to cry and mourn over this process. I believe the greatest blessing of the home study process is the very stressful nature of it all. I believe the fact that you will be interviewed about your past, questioned about your parenting, and expected to sign forms stating you promise to vaccinate your child (I agreed, but I still felt like the choice had been taken from me), is all a beautifully challenging way to get us adoptive parents to mourn our inability to conceive our own children. A lot of this process seems unfair because most parents don’t have to go through these hoops in order to have children. And as much as I hated all of that in the moment, it forced me to recognize how hurt I was by the unfairness of it all. It forced me to confront the issues of unfairness with the head of it all: God. The agency was doing their best to help me become a parent, these measures were to cover their butt in case I turned out to be crazy, and most importantly to find a suitable and loving family for these babies that they vowed to protect and speak for. As much as it felt like it, the agency was not causing my feelings of unfairness and hurt, no, I had to take this up with the source of all life: God. So if you find yourself in this place, GREAT! You are well on your way to becoming the parent your child needs! Because this mourning process will help open your heart FULLY to the wonderful child God has planned for you and your family. Every piece of paperwork is a labor pain that is so worth it, I promise.  Start working through the emotional crap (I ended up finding a counselor to help), and I will help you organize your home study binder, so you can work through the shit and still have a beautiful binder with everything you need. YAY!

Today, we will simply be putting together the binder. No paperwork just yet, but at the end of today you will have a place to put your paperwork. This binder will be able to store all of your home study paperwork before you are matched with your child and all of your placement documents and progress reports after you matched, so everything for your child will be in one organized place! This is super helpful, especially if you move houses less than a week after you have been matched (Like us).

 

What You Will Need:

  • One 4in Binder (believe me, the bigger the better, even my 4 in binder is about to bust at the seams)
  • One set of 8 Tab Dividers
  • At least eight Velcro expandable binder pockets (I have 8 and wish I had 2 more)
  • One 3 hole punch (not those sissy plastic things you put in your binder, I broke 3 of those before sucking it up and buying a nice hole punch)
  • Easy Access to a Printer
  • Tape

Instructions:

1.Go into the kitchen and rustle up your drink of choice, beer, coffee, wine, whatevs, I don’t judge, but I prefer drinks I wouldn’t be allowed to have if I was pregnant; it makes me feel special or something.

2. Download the following pdf for your title-labels-dividers and print them out. Of course you are always welcome to make your own.

3. Let’s get these title pages out of the way first. The large print “Adoption Paperwork” will go on the front of your binder and the smaller version, needs to be trimmed to fit on the binding.

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4. Insert your 8 Tab Dividers into the binder. Use the hole punch to punch holes in the 8 Divider Title Sheets and place each title sheet behind its own divider in the following order: “General Info & Notes”, “Application”, “Instruction Sheets”, “Home Study Documents”, “Renewal Documents”, “Home Study Drafts”, “Placement Documents”, and “Progress Reports” img_9772

5. Take a moment to cut out the labels for the divider tabs and insert them into the corresponding divider tab (or just write them on the tabs, it’s up to you!). img_9775

6. Now, cut out the medium sized square labels along the gray lines. Each one of these labels will be taped on an expandable binder pocket. I taped mine behind the pocket flap to keep it looking nice. Actually, to be completely honest I made these labels for this blog post so that your binder would look nice. Mine was just these same titles scribbled on sticky notes. I put it behind the flap so dust wouldn’t get in there and make my sticky note stop sticking. img_9779

7. Some of the locations of these expandable binder pockets are obvious, but some not so much. These expandable binder pockets were the MOST useful items when it came to my home study binder. They easily held packets of paper, loose receipts, business cards, donation checks, etc, without any fear of them falling out of the binder. If I didn’t have time to hole punch some papers, I just slipped them into the “To Do” binder pocket with a sticky not label “to punch” (sometimes I put a picture of a pregnant lady in there with that label on it just for fun. Just kidding…but you know…that feeling is legit.)slapping-pregnant-ladies

At the moment, most of your expandable binder pockets will go behind the “Home Study Documents” tab because you will be using them to organize paperwork that is still be processed and is incomplete, but we will go into more detail with that in a different post. Right now, let’s just focus on getting this binder put together and ready for the eventual paperwork. Place the “To Do”, “To Copy”, “To Send”, and “Original Documents” pockets behind the “Home Study Documents” tab. The “Placement Documents” pocket will go behind the “Placement Documents” divider and the “Progress Reports” pocket will go behind the “Progress Reports” divider. You should have two more pockets: “Donations” and “Receipts & Expenses”. These two pockets I have moved around so many times. It changes based on where we are in the process. When we were accepting donations I had the “Donations” pocket in the very front of the binder. Then every time a check came in I could quickly get it into a safe place until I had time to deposit it and write a thank you note. Now that we have our son and don’t need donations, I keep the pocket in the back of the binder where it stays out of my way. The “Receipt & Expenses” Pocket I like to keep in the back of the binder, simply because I hate looking at it. Really, it can go anywhere as long as you know where it is because this pocket will be your frenemy during every single portion of this process, especially when you go to file your taxes (yup, sorry I brought up taxes, but this will be so helpful I promise!)IMG_9782.JPG

8. (Optional Pockets) I would have liked to have an expandable pocket for my photo book ideas and quotes and a pocket on hand in case I needed an extra for some reason. I don’t know why I never bought 2 more pockets…I guess I felt we were already strapped for money with the adoption, but honestly I could have just gotten them.

9. (Optional) Print out some encouraging quotes or bible verses to place in the front and back covers and the front and back pockets. Or just tape them anywhere you will see them. This helped me a lot. I read these bible verses over and over and over and over again, and slowly I started to believe them and feel the truth in them.

10. Close your binder, take 3 deep breaths, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Your binder might not be full of papers yet, but it is ready and so are you!img_9783

I hope this has been helpful so far. If you have any questions do not hesitate to comment below. I will do my best to answer them in a timely manner. Also, keep an eye out for the next Home Study Binder post: Organizing You Home Study Paperwork. Also, please share this with anyone who you think might benefit. Happy Home Studying!

I Am For You

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Photography by Jessie Patterson

I prayed the entire drive. Dean and I were on our way to meet our social worker, Chelsea* (that’s not her real name, but I changed it to protect identity. I’m not sure what is necessary during this adoption process, so I’ll just be safe). I was so nervous, and Dean was, well, Dean. Dean was calm, confident, and composed. I was worried. I have a tendency to get defensive in these types of situations; situations when someone is making a judgement in regards to my abilities.

Instead of focusing on my positive attributes, I get bogged down by my inabilities. I start to think every question is a trap: that the interviewer is questioning my judgement and wants to prove to me that I am wrong. Basically, I get paranoid that everyone is out to get me. Everyone wants to shame me, hurt me, and be mean to me. Everyone is against me.

I know this isn’t true. I know it’s a lie, but it’s a lie I believed my entire life. It’s a lie that shaped the way I interact with people, and I am just now learning how to live differently. I am just now realizing that not everyone is out to get me. I am beginning to trust people again and that’s a scary thing. But I am also learning that God is for me, not against me.

So on that ride down to our agency I just kept saying “Ok God, You got this.”

This was our very first home study interview. The home study is typically comprised of four meetings with a social worker. Our first meeting with our social worker, Chelsea was at the adoption agency with both me and Dean present. The second and third meetings are individual interviews at the adoption agency and the fourth is an interview with me and Dean at our home followed with a home inspection. After all the interviews are complete, Chelsea will write up our home study and go over it with us, then she will send it in for approval by a judge. Once we are home study approved we can be matched with a child at any time.

The interview seemed to go well, it’s hard to tell because Chelsea never really gave us an indication about what she thought of our answers. There doesn’t seem to be a “right” and “wrong”, and then randomly there is. It’s hard to explain. I felt like when I was “right” I wasn’t actually “right” because more and more questions were asked for clarification, but when I was “wrong” I was really “wrong” and I needed to fix it before the next interview. Everything about that unsettles me and I can see now that God has been preparing me for this very situation.

I have spent the past two years in Celebrate Recovery trying to understand and clarify why I do what I do. This helps me to pinpoint my motives and reevaluate whether or not it is something I should be doing. It helps me to accept my opinion as enough of a reason to do something or not do something. For example, the other day Dean and I went to dinner with some friends. I have been trying to watch my weight so I ordered a dinner that fit in my calorie count for the day. One of our friends ordered a burger and fries and he placed half of his fries on a plate to share with the table. I am a sucker for fries and these fries looked amazing. So, I did some thinking. I had some calories saved for a second beer, but I could split a beer with Dean and then have 5 French fries. But why did I want these fries? What was my motivation? Honestly, I just wanted to enjoy a couple fries with friends and feel normal. And I could do that within the calorie boundaries I set for myself. Yes, that was what I wanted to do. But, as I reached for my first fry Dean started to say something, “Are you sure you…” He quickly broke of realizing his mistake. I’m not sure if it was the death stare I shot him or if he has lived with a dieting wife long enough to know it is in his best interest to keep quiet about my food choices, but either way he stopped midsentence and said “never mind.” At that point the old me would have become uncomfortable and unsure about my decision. I would have felt judged and wrong. I would have questioned whether I was making the right choice and then I would have felt the need to defend my decision and convince Dean that the choice I was making was the right choice. But this time I didn’t feel the need for that. I didn’t even feel judged by my husband. It was so cool, I simply said, “you do you, umma do me.” And that was it. It wasn’t angry, it wasn’t defensive. It was just a fact, “I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, and right now it is the right decision for me.” I didn’t need anyone else to agree or understand because I knew what I was doing and why and that alone was enough for me. My opinion about the situation was enough for me and I felt confident in my choice.

But the home study…now I am in a situation with someone who IS judging me. I mean, I hope she is judging me, because she is my child’s voice right now. Her job is to protect my unborn child and make sure that my child has parents that can care and love him/her. The reality is, I want her to judge me, because I want what’s best for my child (which is me, right?). But it doesn’t fix the discomfort I feel. It doesn’t keep me from wanting to be right and understood and heard. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to defend every decision I make so I can convince her to think I am “right”. But God has prepared me. My voice does matter, my opinion does matter, even if she can’t see it. I can be wrong and be ok because I am getting clear on my motivation. My motivation is to love and raise this child with the child’s best interests in mind. Knowing my motivation makes it easier to accept that others aren’t always going to agree with me, it makes it easier to accept when I make mistakes, and to admit when I’m wrong. Because my motivation is no longer “to be right”, my motivation is to provide a caring, loving, and nurturing life for my child. This changes my approach on everything. It gets me to ask questions instead of pretending to know all the answers. It gets me to respond naturally instead of trying to tell her what I think she wants to hear. It allows me to say, “Oh, I didn’t see how that approach could be harmful” without feeling like a failure.

Although, I didn’t exactly remember all of that during the first meeting. I got tripped up at one point and wanted to be right, it got a little messy. I’m not going to go into it because it’s not important (for the record: I was right). The important part is for me to recognize that I got tripped up because once again my motivation switched to being right. Suddenly her questions sounded accusatory and assuming and I started to get flustered and upset. She wasn’t understanding what I was trying to say and I felt like I needed to explain and get her to understand and agree with me. But I caught myself and I was able to re-center. I was able to look inward at my heart and my motivation, the whole point of this adoption is not “to be right”. The whole point is to love and nurture a child; to become a parent. My heart is in the right place, I know I will love and nurture this child, I know I will be a good parent. I know I will mess up and need to ask for forgiveness. I know I am not perfect. But I know that God called me to become a parent through adoption. I know He’s got this, and if He is for me, who can be against me?

Side Note: Chelsea is not against me in the least. She is doing a great job getting me to think about my responsibilities as a parent.

Dean has already completed his individual interview and mine is in a week. I am prepping for this interview by listening so this song on repeat.

Want to help me prep? Send me your favorite “I am for you” songs and as we move forward with this process please continue to keep us in your prayers. Thanks you guys!!

A Newbie’s Guide to YouTube Yoga

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A lot of people have reached out to me with questions about how I started yoga and how they can start.

If you have questions please continue to reach out to me, I love it! I love talking about yoga and encouraging others in their journey. However, I found that as more people asked me, I kept typing up a very similar initial response that included lists and reviews of my favorite YouTube yogis. I would spend upwards of 30 minutes each time composing this first response, which is fine, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but what I really wanted to talk about was what drew that person to yoga, how their bodies are adapting to the practice, the spiritual journey behind it, and to give encouragement. I wanted to connect with their journey, but after spending 30 minutes typing up my initial response I was all typed out. So, I have decided to post A Newbies Guide to YouTube Yoga which will share a small portion of my story, with a big portion about my favorite YouTube yogis. My wish is that those of you that are interested will continue to reach out to me and share your stories with me, and we can focus on the journey rather than the list of my suggestions.

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Yoga has become super popular in the US over the past 20 years (maybe more), and yoga classes are readily available to anyone who has the time and money to attend a studio. But yoga shouldn’t be just for those who can afford it. Yoga isn’t just a way to work out, it’s a way of living. It teaches you more than just poses, it teaches you the art of stillness and silence in the midst of a busy world. I practice yoga to still my mind and calm my spirit, to connect with God in a way that doesn’t allow my mind to dominate conversation like it tends to do during prayer time. I practice yoga to discover more about my physical body and spiritual body. I practice yoga to supplement what I learn in Celebrate Recovery (http://www.celebraterecovery.com/site-map).

What’s that? You want to try yoga, but you don’t have the time or money to attend a class? Luckily, we live in a world of technology, and there are thousands of yogis out there who want to share their love of yoga with anyone who has access to youtube. No money needed. All you need is a mat, towel, or blanket, internet access, and 20-90 minutes (it’s up to you!).

Since I have started practicing yoga, I have only attended one class. It was nice to get feedback from a certified teacher, but it’s not always necessary or available.

The first time I ever did yoga was 4 years ago when my husband, Dean, and I decided to try P90X together. I thought yoga would be a relaxing, stretching, type of thing…boy was I wrong. During our first week of P90X, Dean and I participated in our first YogaX practice. P90X yoga isn’t exactly yoga. Sure the poses are there, the movements are there, but it is missing some huge pieces: the discovery of self, the release of ego, and the marriage between spiritual body and physical body. However, at the time, I had no idea these pieces could be present in yoga, so I didn’t miss anything. The YogaX practice was difficult but I loved discovering my strength, balance, and flexibility all at the same time. I fell in love. However, I could not keep up the P90X workouts for more than a month, I returned to running every day, and as a result I forgot all about yoga for 2 years.

Fast forward 2 years to May 2013. I was starved for a workout but I didn’t feel like driving all the way to the gym or running. I decided to check out what workouts were OnDemand. It was then that yoga and I were reunited with the help of John Vitarelli.

It was during these video practices by John Vitarelli that I first experienced a true “surrender to the breath”. I experienced a peace and calm that I never experienced with YogaX. I continued to use OnDemand for my yoga practice for an entire year (upon renewing our cable subscription, Comcast realized we were getting OnDemand without actually paying for it). Without OnDemand John Vitarelli was no longer at my fingertips. And so, I ventured out into the world of youtube yoga.

I started my search with John Vitarelli, but because he is a well-known yogi and sells DVDs, he didn’t have any full practice videos out there. But with a lot of looking, a lot of testing, and a lot of yoga, I found my favorite Youtube yogis that fit my practice. Keep in mind, that there are tons of certified instructors out there for all different styles of yoga, these just happen to be the ones I connect with.

I’m not sure why I never ventured out into the real world with yoga, I have only attended one class in my whole life. Maybe it’s the money, maybe I’m insecure, maybe I don’t feel like driving…I honestly don’t know. Maybe I will look at that someday, but for now all you need to know is that all of my yoga training has been through videos.

Without further to do, here is my Newbies Guide to YouTube Yoga

  1. Learn the Basics

Yoga with Adrienne 

https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

Adrienne Mishler is a down to earth, semi-goofy, and fully lovable instructor. Her videos are the place to start if you have never done yoga before and a great place to return to the basics. This doesn’t mean her videos won’t challenge you if you are familiar with yoga; these videos stick to the basics, but boy oh boy do you feel the burn at every level!

Adrienne offers a variety of modifications, has easy to follow instructions, and approaches her practice with a light-hearted manner that is accepting of flaws and imperfection. Her practices typically range from 15-30 minutes and she has several 5-10 minute “How to” videos for specific poses.

One of my favorite things about Adrienne is that she includes practices for real life issues:

Lastly, Adrienne has a 30 Days of Yoga experience that offers an easy way to start practicing and it’s all free! 

  1. Get Comfortable with Your Body and the Breath

Dagmar Spremberg 

Dagmar is a 500 E-RYT teacher, I have no idea what that means but it sounds important. Don’t let that intimidate you though, Dagmar has a soothing voice and a wonderful way of connecting her viewers to the breath. Within minutes of practicing with a Dagmar video, I feel the tension leave my body (there is just something about the way she says the word “Breathe”).

There aren’t many free Dagmar videos out there, I’m guessing she is pretty well known, and it is pretty clear why. Dagmar’s videos are geared toward an intermediate practice, however, with that being said, this specific practice was the first youtube practice I ever tried, and although I struggled through it, I enjoyed it immensely. It is also a favorite of my mom’s (she has been practicing less than year, and although she has a natural ability to pick up yoga, she isn’t completely familiar with the terminology, but was able to follow along with Dagmar’s descriptions). After I became familiar with the terminology I was able to follow along with Dagmar’s practices without needing to look at the screen at all, which really helped me maintain alignment during movements.

Dagmar’s practices typically range from 40-50 minutes and she also has very good “How to” videos that break down the proper alignment for specific poses:

Dagmar includes headstands and arm balances in her practices, which can be difficult for a beginner. But don’t let that keep you from experiencing the beauty and peace of her practice, she usually gives a modification and if she doesn’t, just replace any poses you aren’t ready for with a child’s pose. It took me 1.5 years to finally get my headstand, and that headstand did not include an ability to raise my legs up all the way.

  1. Find a Practice You Enjoy

Shareen Woodford        

https://www.youtube.com/user/ShareenYoga

Shareen Woodford has a variety of intermediate videos that include vinyasa flow, hatha flow, and ashtanga practices. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it, just try them all out and find what you like. Shareen’s practices are often filmed outside without a personal mic, so they can be hard to hear sometimes, and I find myself constantly checking the screen to make sure I am following along correctly. However, I find myself constantly coming back to her practices because of the way she flows through them. I feel like I’m doing a dance and as a retired Irish Dancer, I love anything that resembles a dance. Her flows can move a little fast, so if you are a beginner you might want to hold off on these videos until you get used to the terminology and the movements.

One of my favorite things about Shareen is her constant reminder to respect your body and your limits.

  1. Learn Your Limits and How to Challenge Yourself in a Healthy Way

Efit30 Yoga Vine with Donna

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFYbLvz0iXSzQjxr5UD9CxQ

If you are looking for a challenge this is where you want to go. Donna incorporates difficult arm balances and exciting transitions into her vinyasa flow practice. Donna’s instructions are clear and easy to follow if you know the terminology and the basics. Her practices range anywhere from 30-90 minutes. She also has a killer accent!

It took me two years of trying her videos before I could make it through a practice without needing to take a resting child’s pose every 10 minutes or even stopping the video halfway through and taking shavasana right then and there. Don’t get down on yourself if you can’t do it, do what you can and allow yourself room to grow. It takes time to learn when your body has reached it a limit. Honor your body and remember that your limits change daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. If you respect and honor your body you will protect yourself from injury while growing physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

  1. Learn New Poses and Have Fun!

Lesley Fightmaster https://www.youtube.com/user/lesleyfightmaster

Lesley Fightmaster is also a RYT-E 500 yoga instructor. She probably has the largest number of full length yoga practice videos on youtube. Lesley caters to intermediate and advanced students. Don’t be fooled by her “beginner” titled videos, they require knowledge of poses and terminology that a beginner may not possess quite yet. Lesley’s flow moves quite fast, and I find myself constantly looking at the screen because I don’t understand her instruction. But that is not to say that Lesley’s practices aren’t worth the effort, they so are!

Lesley is committed to providing free yoga practices for everyone! And she certainly does a fabulous job providing! Lesley offers creative and dynamic vinyasa flow practices for intermediate to advanced students. She has full practices specific to warming up the body for headstand, handstand, crow, firefly, you name it! Lesley incorporates a variety of arm balances and challenging transitions that keep me coming back for more. I thoroughly enjoy the journey of trying to learn something new, falling flat on my face (literally), and after months of practice, achieving an expression of the pose that feels beautiful to me.

I also love that Lesley does not edit out her mistakes. Every now and then she wobbles, drops a pose, or forgets a movement, because she is human. I love that she accepts her humanness and just keeps going, it encourages me to accept my humanness and enjoy the journey!

  1. Look it Up and Get Inspired

Kino MacGregor                    https://www.youtube.com/user/KinoYoga/featured

Rachel Brathen- Yogagirl https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCExTOE3jupt24BrWnisURYw

I originally had this as two seperate steps but I couldn’t choose which yogi to put with each step. Both Kino and Rachel offer heaps of inspiration, encouragement, and how to’s. Both these beautiful woman are very well known and have books, videos, products, you name it. But what I love about both of them is the transparency they offer on their Instagram and facebook accounts as well as their youtube accounts.

Typically, when I need inspiration I check out Rachel’s 1-2 minute practice clips to get my creative juices flowing.

When I want to learn proper alignment and technique I check out Kino’s How to clips:

But it was Rachel’s Handstand 101 that got me into my first handstand 

And it was Kino’s Demo Video that inspired me to continue practicing arm balances with my feeble Irish dancer arms.

Yoga is a beautiful journey to consider. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you and that’s ok. I have found so much peace, stillness, and love of self through my journey, and most importantly I have heard God and felt his presence in my life during my practice (But I’ll have to write about that another time).

Wow, that was super lengthy, but I hope this helps! And please, please, please tell me how it goes! If you know me personally or if you don’t, it doesn’t matter, feel free to contact me, I want to help! Also feel free to follow me on Instagram @lizzyeast

Namaste!

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MY Rage Against the Minivan is not YOUR Problem

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I’ve gone through much of my infertile years with the mindset that everyone is being rude and unfeeling when it comes to the baby topic. Everyone has an opinion on my infertility from “you are causing your own infertility by constantly referring to yourself as infertile” to “just be happy you don’t have a dead beat husband with a house full of kids like her.” Sure, these comments are less than helpful and some are just downright mean, but in reality, I did not say them, I do not believe them, and it is not my job to “fix” the person who said it. Slap Meme

But not all comments are unfeeling and harsh, and yet somehow I manage to feel the same amount of hurt from a “you are causing your own infertility” comment and an “it’ll happen, just be patient” comment. Why is that?

My tendency is to want to set the record straight with these people. “The definition of infertile is….and this helps doctors help me….this helps others struggling with the same thing identify with me….” (See, I wanted to go into major detail and explain myself even now.) I want to argue, I want to rage, I want to be heard, I want you to feel the grief and pain I feel every day. But, I can’t. There are some things I cannot do and one of those things is force people to understand. There are some people that will listen to my hurts, cry with me, and not try to fix me – these are the kindred spirits that understand. I go to those people when I need to be heard. I have tried many times to be heard by all that offend me, but I have found it just ends with me being more hurt by them, resentful at them, and angry at my own circumstances and the inability for someone else to “get it”.

So now what? People will not stop making these comments and I am convinced that when I do finally become a mother I will then hear comments like “I told you it would happen!” or “did you finally stop calling yourself infertile?” As if it was their miraculous comment that made a difference in my infertility. Wow, I am realizing how angry and hateful this post is sounding. If you are angry at me, I understand, I sound like a brat…

…but this is the reality of my situation, please keep reading because I am about to go all “truth telling” on my own ass. Maybe you will find some joy in my reality slap to myself.

The other day I was at lunch with two very dear friends. One of my friends is pregnant (let’s call her Sally), with what I am convinced, will be the most handsome baby in the whole wide world. I cannot explain the amount of joy and pain I felt when she told me THE GOOD NEWS. (I am emphasizing that because it is indeed good news, regardless of my jealousy).  If I tried to explain exactly how I felt I am convinced you would think you were hearing the thoughts of a crazy person. Let’s keep it simple for now and just say I was beyond over-joyed, jealous that it was so easy for Sally and her husband to get what they desired, sad that I may never experience the excitement of a pregnancy, fearful that Sally would be scared to talk about her pregnancy in front of me, and fearful that Sally would talk about her pregnancy in front of me. Yea, that’s the simple version…

Oh right, so the other day I was at lunch with Sally and another friend and of course the topic of pregnancy and babies comes up. I was fine at first, but after several minutes I started to feel anger and resentment and I instantly became a victim in the situation:

How can they keep talking about this while I am here? Are they so unfeeling that they cannot sense my pain and irritation? Do they not understand how hard this is for me to endure? I am constantly being berated with reminders that I may never know what those pleasures, fears, and agonies of pregnancy are.

My thoughts then switched to the ever-dreaded and self-condemning “You shoulds” and “you shouldn’ts.”

You shouldn’t feel this way. You shouldn’t be mad at them, it’s not their fault that you aren’t pregnant. You should join in the conversation with joy and love, because you shouldn’t be jealous. Jealousy is bad and you shouldn’t feel that way. You should allow Sally to vent her fears, frustrations, and victories with her pregnancy so far. You should feel compassion for the morning sickness.

I am now realizing how verbally abusive I can be to myself and how assuming I can be of other people’s motives. The reality of the situation was that I felt isolated, jealous, angry, etc. So, in that moment I decided to let myself feel those emotions, but not without some follow-up questions from the Holy Spirit.

This conversation makes me feel isolated because I can’t comment or be a part of it. I don’t feel I have a right to give my opinion because I haven’t experienced it. I feel like an outsider and I am not welcomed in this conversation. Your feelings are valid. But do you need to talk to be a part of a conversation? Well, no, I guess not. I guess I am a part of the conversation because Sally invited me into it by talking to me. She is letting me into her experience, she doesn’t have to do that, I AM welcomed and I DO have a place, even if I don’t know anything. 

When I hear all this talk about babies and pregnancy I get so jealous. It’s not fair that they tried for a couple months and Dean and I have been trying for years. Is their pregnancy keeping you from becoming pregnant? Well…no, it’s not. But why do they get what they want and I don’t? God promised you you would be a mom someday, do you not trust His word? Oh crap…its back to that isn’t it. Back to me not trusting what God has told me. Touché, Holy Spirit, touché.

But why do they have to keep talking about babies in front of me? Can’t they see how hard it is for me? Can’t you see how hard it is for expectant mothers? Can’t you see how much fear can occur? Can’t you see how the faintest scent can send an expectant mother running for the bathroom? Can’t you see how much expectant mothers need to hear pregnancy stories from as many woman as possible, just as you need to hear infertility stories from as many woman as possible? Can’t you see that expectant mothers aren’t intending to cause you pain? Can’t you see that pregnant woman often feel tired, scared, and sick? I mean, they are growing a human being for goodness sakes! Can’t you see it’s not all about you?

Oh…yes…I do see that, but it’s still hard. Yes, it is hard, but you seem to be blaming Sally for the pain you feel simply because has not felt that pain.

And SLAP!!!

It’s not a bad slap, it’s what I needed at the time, and it’s not without God’s grace. I am still awkwardly stumbling through these types of conversations, slowly finding my feet and my balance, slowly learning to relish the joy and accept the pain, and question my anger and motives. I am trying to accept where I am at, because I have made a lot of progress in the past 5 years, and I don’t want to lose sight of that. But with that being said…

Anyone I come in contact with who is pregnant or has kids, please, please don’t stop talking to me. Please, please know that I am joyful and that this face:

Is simply me fighting my own hurts that really don’t involve you…they are between me and God. If I get upset, it doesn’t mean you weren’t a good enough friend to sense my pain, you couldn’t have known and it’s not your responsibility to tip toe around my feelings. It is my responsibility to work through my feelings and hurts. Please, please be patient with me as I stumble through my thoughts and words. Thank you in advance!

 

9 Ways to Make The Two-Week Wait A Little More Bearable

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When you are trying to conceive, the two weeks between ovulation and the expected arrival of your period can be excruciating to live through. This is one of those experiences where time does not make it easier to handle. In fact, the more time that passes, the crazier you feel.

I have been quite unfortunate to be diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrom (PCOS). If you are soul cyster (get it?) like me, you know that one of the symptoms is an irregular period. This means that I never know when I ovulate or if I actually did ovulate that month. This past month my two week wait turned into a four week wait.

Why didn’t I test after two weeks? After 5 years of two week waits and many negative pregnancy tests I know how I personally react to these situations. If I take a test and it’s negative but I still have not been assaulted by my Aunt Flo, I will continue to hope that I am pregnant: “Maybe my HCG hormone levels aren’t high enough to detect yet.” The tests have essentially become a giant money pit for me. So I wait until there is no possible way my Aunt Flo would be coming to visit.

At 12 days late I believed such a thing. There was no way I could get my period. I tested. Received a negative. Next day I got my period. I was crushed. Not only was I not pregnant, but I got my period. Meaning my two week wait time is extended to the length of my latest period, almost 4 weeks. (Biologically my luteal phase is always 12 days, but that means I have to know the day I ovulate to actually calculate my period arrival, which is next to impossible for someone with PCOS without an ultrasound. Women with PCOS will often get false positives on ovulation test sticks that test the Luteinizing Hormone levels in urine. And some months I don’t actually ovulate, so it would be impossible to detect something that will never happen.)

With all that being said, a friend sent me a wonderful article about the two week wait that is ACTUALLY helpful. I can’t tell you how many two week wait articles I have read that gave the worst advice imaginable (keep an eye out for my “Top 10 Worst 2WW Tips”). Without further ramblings, here it is:

9 Ways To Make The Two-Week Wait A Little More Bearable