Smile while you suffer. 

It’s 4:05 am. I went to bed after 11 and Jojo woke up at 1:30. She has just now gone back to sleep. Tom’s on his last overnight shift of the Christmas season so I had to deal with her alone. 

Now I’m up. 

Parenting is streatchingly hard. It is testing like boot camp or climbing a mountain. It reveals the metal you’re made of. 

My grandma joyfully said to us grandkids, “Smile while you suffer!” I always thought she was asking us to put on a mask and pretend suffering wasn’t real. But now I can see that she had reached down into her own suffering and found a way to be grateful. 

The pain of being so tired it hurts doesn’t compare to the pain of waiting for her to come that I did for seven years. So when I am shaking in frustration and at the end of my patience I walk away. And I try to remember the years of waiting because no amount of momentary parental suffering compares with the unending agony and helplessness of the hole in your chest that is infertility. 

“Be anxious for nothing. But in everything, with prayer and supplication, and with thanksgiving, make your request be known to God. And the peace that surpasses understanding will be yours in Christ Jesus who guards your heart and your mind.” (My paraphrase of Phil 4:6)

So when I’m sweating and aching shaking in exhaustion rocking my 30 pound girl for way too long. I remember her song that starts…

“We waited so long for you my love, we waited for so many years. In my heart I carried you all of that time. And now you are finally here.”

And I get grateful. And I find the will to rock her for another minute or two. To smile while I suffer. 

J

It’s a Miracle!! Baby Gosda is on the way!

Last August we started seeking infertility treatment and after months of testing and waiting we finally had our 1st Intrauterine Insemination or IUI the day after Christmas. The Friday before, we celebrated my brother Taylor’s engagement and 12 hours later my sister LeahRae gave birth to my immediate family’s first grandchild Charlotte Rae!   We called this year the “Miracle on 34th Street” Christmas and we got 3 miracles in a row.IMG_2583

Tom and I find ourselves giggling as we soak in the new reality. After seven years of waiting and grief we are pregnant for the first time! We got to see the baby last Thursday and the nurse found our peanut right away! (get ready because the exclamation marks just won’t stop!!) We could actually SEE the little heart beating at 113 bpm. Amazing! We are so grateful for the family and friends gave almost $3,000 between September and January towards the out of pocket fertility expenses. And so many were praying faithfully, what a blessing! God has honored their prayers and investment with a New Life!!

1655865_10152641125508438_789307093_nWe go in for two more ultrasounds this week and next and then transfer out of the fertility clinic to whatever doctor we choose for the duration of the pregnancy. I have been tired but not sick and very much in awe of the Creator God who knows the best for us.

There are many things to be grateful for in our world and I hope you have been given a bit of hope if you are still waiting for your miracle.

j

Love Trust Joy Hope and Peace

I wrote a duet this year. It is a conversation I’ve been having with the Father God.

I was afraid of infertility the first moment I learned of its existence.

I was about four and I ran from overhearing my parents empathetic tones. “They can’t have children, it’s so sad.”
What?!? That’s a thing?!!
My four year old mind imagined would be like and I thought “Oh No God! That would be Too Much!! I can handle anything but not that!”

Through this experience I have learned so much and I am being shaped and formed in character through this pain.

God has taught me that Love and Pain, Trust and Doubt, Joy and Sorrow, Hope and Lament, Peace and Worry are all two sides of the same coin. And you need to feel the negative emotions before you can get to the positive side.

He is the Potter and I am the clay. He is stronger than me and I yield to his good hands.
The Lord is King. And I am not afraid of him but I do need him to rule me.
The Lord disciplines His children because he loves them. And I do feel challenged to be soft

God is teaching me about Hope. Hope as he defines it not as I do.

 

Your Love Goes

Tell me can can you hear my song
The song of joy I’m singing over you

I am in the valley low I am on this lonely road with you

I see your tears I understand
Beloved child I hold you in my hands
Even when my well of grief overflows Your love will overfill me

My love goes deeper than your pain Deeper than your Sorrow
Deeper than your Shame

Even when the well of grief overruns and dims the flame hope
My deep is crying out to deep I finally know what it means to grieve
I will not abandon you for my love overcomes your fear
Even in the depths I’ve found your love and I will sing

Your love goes…

Hills may shake mountains fall I will trust you through it all through it all.
Favored Daughter sing your song. A Song of joy I sing it over you.

My love/your love goes deeper…

Your Love love love
Only you can write my story
Only you receive the glory.

Chorus.
Your love goes.

Okay New Year, I’m gonna kick your butt!

Okay New Year, I’m gonna kick your butt!

Another year, another year older. Time to commit, make vows, oaths, and lamentations. January has got so much to carry. New hopes, dreams, schemes, fears. And all of the carried remainder from last year. New city, new soil. New information about what was, and new hope for what will. Today I am saying, Bring it on January-

This year my aim is to write one blog a month. And to finish 5 songs. (I’ve started at least 50).  The goal that seems the most out of my control and wild, and to use my dad’s coinage: squirreliest, is to make significant steps forward in our family building journey.  Yet I am the most tenacious about doing so this year.

That’s it, if I put health goals out there I will intimidate myself before I start.

We are actively seeking both medical and adoption information right now and am learning a lot about adoption.

I found this adoption consulting group and they seem wonderful. 

If anyone has adopted domestically in the past few years any help/advice would be amazing!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Joelle-

What I’ve learned from infertility.

I learned what grief is.
And I learned that as deep as my pain and grief is, God’s Love for me is deeper still. And that you can only trust to the extent that you know you are loved.
And I learned how to be comfortable with others in their pain as I became ok with my own. I learned what the Father must have been feeling when he created me. And why everything in society and life comes back to Family. And all that has taught me to hope.

Six years and we are still in the middle of our story. You know what? I think it’s going to be a great one.

Her Dream Come True

Every year my crazy big family gets together for a weekend and then we go to a water park or something. This year was Noah’s ark and it was hot and wet and fun. A big group of cousins were standing in line for our first slide and they are all loud and cracking jokes and full of excited energy just to be together even though it was the fourth day! I was at the back of the group and there was this little girl who slowly got closer and closer to the group. She even passed me to see what all the fun loud people were doing. She had a curious unaware pure spirit that if you judge too fast seems intrusive and a little in your space. I could tell she was a character so I asked her what other rides she had been on so far. She paused and looked confused for a moment and then told me she didn’t know. She turned and walked away so I thought our interaction was over. But a few minutes later she came right up to me and said that her dad didn’t know either. 🙂 I started chatting with her and I felt like Anne Shirley finding a kindred spirit. As the line crept up to the slide stair by stair our conversation lapsed.

“I was adopted.” she stated matter-of-factly. “My mom couldn’t have a baby in her tummy so I was her dream come true.”

I smiled and said that I’m sure she was her mom’s dream come true. I couldn’t believe that she had found me. Such a sweet, bold, innocent child.

“Are you a mom?”

“No, not yet.” I said.

“Well, do you know how to take care of kids?” she asked.

“Yeah, I was a nanny, and I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to take care of kids.” I smilingly assured her.

“Because not everyone knows how to take care of kids.” she replied soberly.

How did she find me?! To just announce the simple things she did, I felt like God had given me this moment with this little girl. She had completely made my day. My heart had been coming alive to adoption in the last few weeks and here is this little girl telling me how she was her mom’s dream come true. It was so sweet and unexpected. The whole rest of the day I was silently hoping and praying that I would run into them again and get to tell the parents that their daughter made my day. At the end of the day I got to do just that. We were heading back to our family’s pavilion and who is coming around the corner, but the little girl and her whole family. She walked right up to me and put her little hand in mine like old friends and asked me if the path we were on lead to the wave pool. God had answered my prayer. As I explained how their daughter had made my day, I told them all she had said and that we are thinking of adopting ourselves. They told me that they adopted all three of their children through the foster system.

It was so sweet the way she trusted me and put her hand right into mine. And it was a small miracle that they walked by us in a park of hundreds of people. I felt like I was given a small yet overwhelming gift. A true moment with someone who said the thing I needed to hear. I don’t have an exact plan in place for what we will do next on our journey to become parents but I have always wanted to adopt. Before I knew I would face infertility. So at this point I’m just listening and learning and reading as much as I can about it. It can take a long time, so I want to get started with a real plan soon. I just know that sweet hand in mine opened something in my heart that I had closed off for a while.

It’s Not Too Late…

I got my hopes up.. again. I swear I tried not to but when it was four days past the usual start of my cycle, I woke up early and couldn’t sleep. I tried not to count the months and imagine the joyous announcing and relief. It was 4 am and I waited until my husband left for work around 6:30 and went to the nearest 24/7 walgreens that would be open on a sunday. I milled around the cosmetics trying not to head straight for the aisle I wanted to go.. picked up some bobby pins and panty liners I figured I could use them either way… and got the walgreens brand pregnancy test. I found myself gushing to the cashier way too much. And she wished me luck no matter what outcome I was hoping for. It was negative and I told myself that I’d wait a few more days and use the second one. I didn’t want to even tell my husband that I had bought one because he would tell me not to get my hopes up. And when he called asking why I had spent $20 at walgreens, he did. He understood and said that I didn’t have to keep it from him. But I just didn’t want to make it a big deal. Later that afternoon, right as we were heading out the door I got my period. I was numb and stuffed any feelings away as much as possible to make it through a family reunion. But today it all came crashing down and the aching hole in my chest found new flames. I have been learning guitar and all the songs I write are sad. I feel like I must be one of those people who you scroll down and try not to read on Facebook. I don’t mean to make others uncomfortable by talking about it all the time but I am sad. And I can only compartmentalize my feelings so much and so often. Therapy tomorrow. I hope it helps. Thanks for reading. It really does make me feel less alone to see people are taking the time.  If you like, take a listen below.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to process through not being able to have kids. This was recorded on my iPhone and it’s not perfect but here it is.

It’s Not Too Late

http://soundcloud.com/curiousjoelle/not-too-late-rough-draft

I want you to know…

I know I have been writing a lot about not being able to have kids lately. And I want to let you know there is more inside of me but this is in the forefront of my mind most days. I want to tell you that until the doctor said in January that he doesn’t know what’s wrong or how to fix it, I was holding out. Call it denial or misguided hope but this has just now become real for me. I want you to know that I’m grieving. I’m numb and depressed and in pain. I’m alone in my grief as we all are when it comes. It’s hard to not obsess when you feel you have the right. I want you to know that I’m angry. This was the one thing that I hoped I would never have to face. I remember the moment I was introduced to the idea that this could happen. I was four or five and I overheard my parents talking about how sad it was that some couple couldn’t have children. I was shocked. “That’s a thing?” I thought. “That can happen?!” I stopped and pleaded to God- “I can handle anything God but PLEASE don’t make me face that! Please!” You see, as long as I can remember, I just wanted to sing and be a mom. My mom says I used to sing to my baby dolls and pretend to nurse them like I’m sure I saw her drape a blanket many times. I’m the oldest of five kids. And babies run in my family. I have 27 first cousins- just on my dad’s side. And that’s before you start counting their spouses and their kids. And of all of them my grandma says I was the one who was always holding and loving on the babies. This is my greatest fear come true. So I’m afraid. Afraid that this is robbing me of the joy and hope I had for this stage in my life. Afraid that by needing space from being a childcare giver or baby shower attendee, I’m losing the carefree loving nature that is in me. This is changing me. And I’m afraid of what I’m losing. I just hope this season doesn’t last too long.

20120501-182309.jpg

Don’t Ignore…INFERTILITY

Don’t ignore that this is a very common story.

One in eight couples of reproductive age are affected by infertility. If that was you, wouldn’t you want to explore every possible option available to build your family? For many the cost and for some, the law inhibits their basic ability to become parents. As technology evolves so must we, in our understanding of what a family with infertility faces. The decisions you never thought you’d make. The questions you never thought you’d have to ask yourself. Like what is more important? Biology or parenting?

Don’t ignore the cost.

Have you ever had the thought that you cannot grow your family because it is too expensive? One cycle of In vitro Fertilization averages to be $12,400 and if your insurance doesn’t cover it you may have to pay upfront. Adoption is more expensive both domestically and internationally. There are state programs for families to receive health insurance based on their income level and the fact that they are having a baby. What if you are diagnosed with infertility and want a baby but cannot afford to undergo the treatments to get there? Money should never determine who can become parents. Yes you want to give children the best home but coming from a large family on a shoestring budget myself, I know that money doesn’t determine family. Yet my husband and I find ourselves weighing our options based on the costs, when our dream is simply to become parents.

Don’t ignore the irony…

…that the right to life or person-hood legislation may inhibit the ability to build a family for millions of couples who can’t conceive on their own. If you are hoping to become a parent by adopting an embryo the statistics for success are grim at best.

“According to the CDC, for embryo adoption the national average pregnancy rate is 43 percent and the national average live-birth rate is 35 percent. These statistics are from a database of all U.S. assisted reproductive technology clinics… Not all embryos survive the freeze/thaw process, and thawing of your selected embryos may not lead to a transfer. However, this may still offer the greatest hope of achieving pregnancy”* (see reference below)

Would the personhood legislation make it murder when an embryo doesn’t survive the thawing process? We cannot ignore the link between giving embryos personhood and  the ability for millions of Americans to create families. Nor can we ignore that these laws intended to protect life, could limit the legal viability of using In vitro Fertilization or other methods, to build a family. Limiting the very people who would love and honor that new life with a profound sense of gratitude that can only come after experiencing the profound loss that IS infertility.

Don’t ignore the pain.

“Besides the medical part of infertility treatments, women and men are dealing with the emotional stress of infertility. To put this into perspective, infertility treatment can be as stressful as a cancer diagnosis. Unique emotional challenges such as understanding the medical diagnosis, the relationship with your spouse and your family and friends and, finally, financial stress all combine together to make dealing with this issue more stressful.”**(see reference below)

Don’t ignore support.

Over the past five years I have found that no level of support makes you feel all the way better about your infertility. Grief is a lonely thing no matter the cause. But there are ways to connect and seek support. Writing about it on this blog has helped me organize my thoughts and connect with others facing the similar things; it is also a way to share with my family and friends. You can also contact Resolve.org and find or create a support group in your area.

Want to learn more? Infertility 101:   http://www.resolve.org/infertility101

Want to understand? An amazing video that I believe says it best for many of us: http://www.tearsandhope.com/

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week! Learn how to get involved and get support here:   http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

To learn more about embryo adoption: http://www.embryoadoption.org/files/2010_embryo_donation_adoption_101.pdf

* referenced from: http://www.embryodonation.org/index.php?content=adoption

** referenced from: http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/insurance_coverage/infertility-in-the-workplace.html

A Poem, A Prayer

I have a list of what I think I need

And another of what I want

You invite me into your house and cover me with Grace

You ask me to give it all and put it in your hands

And while I wait you break down walls I thought would never fall

Between who I am and your Love

Between what I see and your Truth

Between what I know and your Grace

Between my disappointment and your Hope

I’m tired of this homeless wandering and

I’m ready to come homeland take my place in your Family

And when the road leads through a dark forest of anger and pain

You never shy away

You walk with me all the way

And when I start to see the sun again

I realize that it was your Love

That lifted me out of the depths.

And now I know your love is deeper than my lowest despair

And I had to understand such sorrow to be baffled by this Peace.

I’m so grateful for your tangible Grace

Trust takes experience and a leap of Faith

You can only Trust as much as you know you are Loved

So I put all my hope and dreams firmly in your hands.

You are a Good Father who understands.

And as I look a little closer

I know this now more than ever

Your love carries my pain

And I came from your hands.

So let gratitude pave the way

I’ll sing a song of thanks

Because even now I know you will take care of me

Like you always have.

Thank you God for showing me how deeply you love me

For settling the questions of my worth

For never giving up on me

For the Peace I feel

For the Grace on me

For the Future you’ve planned

And hold in your hand

Help me to Live in the five minutes I have

And keep speaking my name

Make my home in you and yours in me