A Year of Discovery

This past full year has been one of discovery for my husband and me.  We’ve struggled with and raged against our infertility and every emotion that comes with it.  We see now, though, that in the deepest and darkest valleys, God was there working, guiding, holding us through the tears and fears.  We’ve learned more about each other and about ourselves than we ever thought possible, and we’re continually learning that we are ever-changing.

We discovered that grief is necessary.  Accepting the infertility as final has been difficult for us.  Knowing we’ll never carry and give birth to our own children has been a source of anger and frustration.  Sadness over dreams rerouted derailed me from living for a long time.  Rage at our Creator for allowing such a devastating ailment to befall us consumed me.  Bitterness and jealousy threatened to destroy relationships with good and solid people.  Until the notion of grief was tossed at us, we never considered the necessity of moving through the process.  Once we had a word for all the emotions coursing through us, we started to deal.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.  We allowed ourselves–and each other–to fully feel the emotions running wild.  Emotions that were not pleasant, or comfortable or welcome.  We allowed ourselves–and each other–to cry, to mourn, to rage, to process.  We are allowing ourselves–and each other–to learn and to grow in grace.

We discovered that there is no time line for healing.  Once we started allowing ourselves to move through the grieving process, we realized that we can’t rush our way through it, or force it to continue to the next step.  Daily we pushed against the mass of emotions and started chipping away the layers of bitterness, anger, guilt, raw pain.  The time line for each emotion was defined by the stage we were in, the people who surrounded us, the situation at the moment.  Moving through each emotion is painful.  We’re still sorting through some.

We discovered that we really do love each other.  When we finally opened up to each other and allowed ourselves to deal with the pain, we realized that in spite of the flaws and the broken dreams, we truly have been designed to trek this life together.  Infertility has changed who we are as individuals, and yet, every day we continue to choose to love each other.  It hasn’t been peaches-and-cream, but it’s been a meat-and-potatoes kind of life; not as sweet and pleasant, but definitely more satisfying.

We discovered that our marriage is stronger than we give it credit for.  In a world of broken marriages and homes, Jason and I stand by our vow to choose love, even when it’s uncomfortable and we want to run.  We made a commitment to this relationship, and perhaps because of our struggles with infertility, we’ve shown grace and mercy to each other where we see others flee.  We’ve been able to show each other raw emotion and intense pain, and when  put to the test, our marriage has come out stronger.  We can face any struggle, any pain, any heartbreak when we plant our feet and hold each others’ hand.

We discovered that relationships can be fickle.  We’ve lost quite a few friendships in the last year.  I think people don’t know what to say or how to deal with infertility, because it’s not “normal.”  Friendships we thought were solid crumbled at our first sign of weakness.  “I’ll pray for you” and “we’ll carry each other’s burdens” turned out to be feel-good catch phrases without any concrete behind them.  The people we needed to be solid for us disappeared in the darkest and loneliest time we’ve faced.  We’re still learning how to let those relationships go, and thrive in the beautiful friendships God has granted us.

We discovered that we have a lot of love to give.  We quit all of our service projects in an attempt to heal, and we learned that our hearts hold more love than we can give to each other.  We don’t want to grow old alone; we actually do want a family (not just a baby) to grow and love and with whom to learn.  We are not complete unless we are sharing the love God implanted in our hearts.  And what better way than to throw ourselves into foster-to-adopt?

We discovered that God will give us the desire of our hearts.  If we seek God with all of us, He will give us the desires of our hearts.  We’re learning that seeking God sometimes is done in anger, in raging at Him, in pouring out deep, gutteral moments of pain.  This is still communication with Him, and He is able to take it and hold us through it.  And once we were no longer blinded by that pain, He began to show us that if we could accept His plan, He would line up an amazing journey for us.

We discovered that families can be built in non-traditional ways.  We started to seriously consider fostering/adoption after reconnecting to an old friend who had also faced infertility and foster/adoption.  It was a time-consuming and difficult decision to come to, and when we finally decided it was the right choice for us, we started to accept our infertility as final.  Acceptance has been almost a harder stage to work in than the denial/pain/depression stages.  We’re still accepting it.  There are moments when I’m overwhelmed with the desire to try the fertility specialist, or the latest conception fad, or when seeing a pregnant woman sparks the twinge of envy.  But I’m learning to cling to God in those moments, and remember the love-choice we’ve made.  We’re hoping to build our family through foster-to-adopt, and we’re learning that families aren’t just blood.

It’s been a doosy of a year, and we’re looking forward to this next chapter in our lives.  We’re choosing to open ourselves to the possible pain and loss that comes with foster care in the hopes that God will bless our lives with adoption.  We don’t know where this path will take us, and we don’t know what is coming.  We’re nervous and excited and for the first time in our journey through infertility, we’re hopeful.  The discovery is just beginning.

Check out our photo shoot!
http://pinterest.com/karocks836/fosteradoption-maternity-photo-shoot/

“We Can’t Have Kids…”

“We can’t have kids.”  I’ve been trying out that statement lately when folks inevitably ask, “When are you guys going to have kids?” or “You guys better get busy, you’ve been married without kids for long enough!”  For so long, I’d laugh it off and say things like “Oh, we’ll see!” or “When God chooses to bless us, we’ll be thrilled” or “We’re working on it!”  Part of dealing with the pain of infertility is accepting it, and if I’m constantly making excuses about our lack of children, how will I ever come to grips with it in my own heart? 

I know people mean well, and I know they’re not trying to be mean.  But it’s hurtful.  The worst response was just last week, when the gal who cleans my office asked when we were going to have kids, and I answered, “We can’t have children.” Her response was, “Oh.  Is it you, or him?”  I was dumbfounded.  It’s me, I wanted to scream, it’s my fault we can’t have children, I can’t give to my husband the one thing he wants in life, it’s my fault we won’t carry on the family name, it’s my fault I can’t give my parents grandchildren…  instead, I just shrugged. 

Does it matter whose fault it is?  Aren’t we a team, my husband and I?  Aren’t we in this together?  If it were my husband who was unable to procreate, would I leave him or feel superior or seek out alternate ways to be pregnant?  We’re dealing with this together, we’re working through the pain and grief and fears together.  It sucks for both of us. We both know that I’m the one with damaged parts, but he never makes me feel less than, or at fault, or like i’m short-changing him. 

This same woman asked if we’ve ever considered adopting, said there are plenty of young girls in “situations” that would give up their babies to a couple.  I simply stared at her.  Of course we’ve considered adopting; we’ve also considered fostering.  We don’t feel settled with either option at present; I guess we’re waiting on clarification.  I was angry with her at first, I didn’t want to discuss my personal life with her.  But I have to keep in mind that people just don’t know, and they don’t understand all the feelings that go along with infertility. They can’t comprehend that this is a process through which we have to work.  They don’t realize that bringing a child into our world of angst and anger with God and frustration and fear is not the ideal situation for us or the child. 

So we keep waiting. And I keep trying to wrap my head and my heart around those 4 little words. We can’t have kids. 

The Daniel Fast

My sister has been doing the Daniel Fast as a weight-loss technique since Lent.  It’s a 3-week fast where you eat all natural foods, no artificial anything, and no animal by-products (meat, dairy, eggs, etc). She’s lost quite a bit of weight since Lent, and looks fantastic.  The only drawback for her is that she shocked her body with the new eating habits and her hair started thinning.  She honestly is losing her hair.  So, she posts on Facebook yesterday that she’s going to start the fast again and asked if anyone would like to join her. I committed.  *sigh*

I’m horribly nervous that I’ll lose my hair as well. She claims it was just a fluke case and it shouldn’t happen to me, but who’s to say for certain?  I’d rather be fat and have a full head of hair than skinny and bald!  But, as I was researching the Daniel Fast (really, looking for an excuse to NOT participate!), it dawned on me that this Fast is not so much about weight loss, although that’s a bonus.  It’s more about depriving yourself of pleasures, addictions, habits in order to draw closer to God.  And, Lord  knows, I need a reconnection to Him.

I’ve been struggling with my faith for a while, it’s come to an apex in the past several weeks.  I’ve stepped down from my position as Manna Project Director, gave up teaching the kids on Sunday nights at church, I no longer pray or read the Word.  Do I believe there’s a God?  Yes, absolutely, no question.  Do I believe He is the master and creator of everything under the sun?  Yep.  Am I mad at Him?  I am.  Do I think He’s playing fair?  Nope.

My husband and I have been trying to start a family since we said “I do” almost 3 years ago.  We’ve been unsuccessful.  Creating a baby, being pregnant, raising my own child has been my desire, an all-consuming desire truth be told, for 3 years.  And nothing’s working.  I have PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which makes the chances of conceiving slim to none.  We’ve decided that we don’t want to see a fertility specialist, we don’t want to start the process, because where do you stop?  Would it be enough to try Clomid?  Would we then want to move into hormone injections?  and then In-Vitro?  When would we say enough is enough, none of it is working, we’re not meant to bear our own children?  I’m not willing to commit time and emotions and finances and our marriage to a “what if” possibility.  I feel like less of a woman, like I can’t give to my husband the one thing he wants, like I’ll never be complete without a child.

And, in the process of trying to wrap my head around the reality of being childless, I’ve gotten mad at God.  Prior to Christmas, I felt Him telling me to stop it, to let it go, to not be consumed with conception, but rather to be consumed with Him.  I did ok at that for a minute. Then the bitterness, the anger took root.  And I started questioning Him, and the anger grew bigger.  So the angrier I became, the more I pushed God away, the less I wanted to study Jesus, the more withdrawn I’ve become.  I don’t want to have friends who are consumed with Jesus, because I feel guilty for not feeling the same. I don’t want to go to my church and be surrounded by my church family, b/c they hit me with “it’ll be ok, God has a plan for you, I once knew so-and-so who had the same struggle and she was blessed with a baby so just bide your time.” I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to keep dredging up the feelings of hurt and disappointment, I don’t want to acknowledge my “heart” problem.

That is, until I held my brand new nephew this past weekend, and looked into his beautiful eyes and onto his sweet smile and saw my brother all through his expressions. The hurt and anger and disappointment and bitterness coupled with jealousy that threatened to overtake me.  I love that little boy, but all I could think about was this was to be me first.  My brother and his beautiful wife and step-dtr are living the life that is supposed to be mine. Selfish, yes.  But very real feelings. I realized right there that I needed to tackle the real issue, and that’s the one in my heart. I have a friend who always says “at the root of every problem is a God-issue.”  And she’s dead on.  I can’t fix this on my own, I can’t live my life avoiding babies or being jealous of the moms who are blessed.  I will jeopardize imperative relationships unless I get a handle on this, and quick.

I am angry with God, and I have pulled away from Him intentionally.  So now, starting Sunday, facilitated by the Daniel Fast, I intend to seek Him out, confront my own God-issues, and hopefully come out on the other side with less anger and more Jesus in me.  And the same amount of hair.

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