Welcome to My Fertile (Growth) Space!

female-fertility-testsI Am Here For This!

Wow, I am really blogging! I have been saying for YEARS that I would start a blog. Yesterday, August 12th, is a day that I will never forget. Although I have had issues with my reproductive organs since 2011, yesterday was a game-changer. I had been referred to a fertility clinic to ensure I was capable of having children. I really went in with a sense of peace and no worry at ALL. I was only scared of the pain that the nurse instilled in me about how daunting the procedure would be. The procedure went well, but the results took the wind out of me. The doctor told me, “Oh no, you have a problem. A big problem. Your tubes are blocked. Your only option to conceive is IVF…”

**NOTE: My husband thought the above picture was too much. As an fyi, these are pictures from good ole’ Google. No one said the journey would always be pretty, though!** 😉

A Documented Journey

My goal with this blog is to document my journey. Yes, for me and my family, but more so for my CHILDREN. I am believing that I will have children, as God sees fit. With that, I am writing about not only the vision, but I want my children to be able to witness how important they already are to me, their father, but most importantly, their GOD – even now.

I am not here to sugarcoat my journey. I plan to lay it out here. I know that reading others’ stories has helped me in so many ways. My life is not all cherries, and real healing involves exposing the wound. My wound is so fresh right now, but not new. I have had four major surgeries, all on my ovaries. I have one remaining ovary, after a bout with ovarian cancer at the age of 28. One of my surgeries almost compromised my life, and that of my babies…BUT GOD! I have received COUNTLESS prophecies and words of encouragement that I will have children. I have felt peace on some days, others…not at all. I have been in such a place of peace, knowing my remaining ovary was okay, my uterus looks great, and my husband and I have been having a GREAT time trying.

August 12, 2015…the game changed. Although it was a major blow to us, I was so overcome by the palpable love and support of our family and friends. Sometimes all of our journeys can feel lonely and isolating. Yet, there are those days when you know the love you feel is a direct manifestation of the love of our amazing God.

All Things Are Made New!

Wow! Guess what the words are to the song playing on my Pandora… “You make all things new. Not going back. Moving ahead. Here to declare to you my past is over in You. All things are made new, I surrender my life to Christ. Moving. Moving FORWARD.” I had my plan on how things would go. I had a plan for how I would tell my husband we are pregnant, even a preferred month for conception. “And we know that ALL things work together for GOOD for those who LOVE GOD and are called according to HIS PURPOSE! My plan is being made new. Good note to end on for my first blog post, if I do say so myself.

I Choose to Feel the Rain, and Not Wish It Away.

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Sadness
sad·ness ˈsadnəs noun noun: sadness; plural noun: sadnesses the condition or quality of being sad.
“a source of great sadness”
synonyms: unhappiness, sorrow, dejection, depression, misery, despondency, despair, desolation, wretchedness, gloom, gloominess, dolefulness, melancholy, mournfulness, woe, heartache, grief; informal the blues

                   “our sadness cannot be measured”

“My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” (Psalm 119:50)

I am experiencing sadness, and that is okay. I am aware that this is not a “happy” post. I have committed myself to showing all sides of this process. This is one of them. I am overwhelmingly sad. I really am. This past week has been extremely difficult. I feel as if I have lost a dear loved one. The last time I was this sad was when my grandmother passed away. I have not been able to properly function at work. I have left work early each day. I have to concentrate on the required task at hand, and I look forward to it being over, so I can go home. I just want to be alone. Right now, my husband is not even able to comfort me. I don’t want to talk on the phone. I don’t want to hear any jokes or stories. I don’t want to interact with anyone.

I am sharing this because it is so easy to interact with me and think I am okay. I know that I am not. For the sake of my job and other responsibilities, I do not have the option of not being okay. Nothing makes me feel better right now. Sometimes I feel for the sake of other people’s comfort, I am must mask my pain. I cannot just check completely out of life, even though I feel like it. I have responsibilities. It would create more work for me if I just stepped away for a time. If you think about it, there really is no space for the infertile to grieve.

Bereavement time for the loss of a child who cannot be conceived does not even exist. Most insurance does not cover the costs of fertility treatments, and companies do not have allocated time off from work for fertility procedures. There is no built-in support for us. A large part of the process for many women and men who experience infertility is coping with a unique type of loss, and the gain of a specialized set of stressors. It is a death that is not visible, such as the loss of a parent, grandparent, or partner. It is the loss of the ability to conceive children. It is a tremendous loss, and it is important for us to properly grieve.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

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I realized this week that I am grieving. I am grieving over my lost dreams, and the stress that infertility has caused me. Believe me, as I began writing this post, I did not want to “waste” this post complaining, as there are people who have “more severe issues.”. Then I realized it mirrored a larger problem. Those who are infertile often must suffer in silence, isolation, and with lack of understanding (by us and by others) of the emotional and physical rollercoaster we did not sign up to ride. Your feelings of sadness, anger, isolation should not be overlooked, submerged, or minimized. They should not be ignored because you do not know how to handle them, or would rather the sadness come on another day when you have “time to deal with the pain.” I realize that even the old adage – “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day!” – is so off base. The rain is here, and we cannot simply try to ignore it, or wish it away. We can decide to find an umbrella, or bear the elements. We may think we have the power to wish things away, but we do not – like it or not. It is more important that we learn to understand, and even appreciate, our encounters with the rainy days and seasons of our lives. If we keep wishing the rain come another day or time, we are missing the mandate of rain. The rain has the purpose of assisting with growth and replenishment. Too much sun can actually lead to drought. Take hold of your rainy days. It, too, has purpose in your journey.

It rains on us all at some point. If you are sad, it is important to become aware of and acknowledge it. When my grandmother passed away, I know that I did not properly grieve. I thought going on with life was easier. It felt easier, sometimes – until the sadness was so overwhelming that it paralyzed me. I became emotionally numb, and stayed that way for far too long. When we experience tremendous loss, we MUST grieve, either voluntarily or involuntarily. When we do not voluntarily grieve, the process may include negative self-medicating (i.e., overeating, substance misuse, isolation, physical illness). When we take hold of the process of grief, we allow ourselves to fully experience our emotions that exist. It cannot rain always, but we also cannot prevent the rain. Allow yourself to feel the rain.

For those of you also battling – assess where you really are right now, in terms of grief. Reviewing the stages of grief was helpful for me: http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/. I realize that I am not in any one stage. I feel as if I am experiencing them all at once. You, like me, may not even know what you need right now. If this is the case, know that you are allowed to feel whatever is present for you. YET, recall your lesson for this step in your journey! I know that my lesson is to really learn to trust in the Lord! I cannot do this without spending time with Him. God know us, for real for real. He knows that I, sadly, will not simply commune with Him. I have to be DRAWN to Him. I am drawn to Him when I am not getting what I need from others. I am like a broken record – when I am happy with my life, my family, my friends, events – God and I are associates. Oh baby, but when things are not on the up, I pull out (dust off) my favorite gospel music, pull out (dust off) my Bible, and my heart is towards Him. He is my everything! It is beyond time for me to grow up. He simply wants to be close to us, all of the time – sun or rain. He wants for us to choose Him. His heart towards us is GOOD!

It may also be time to reach out for help. Here are two resources that may be helpful. You will find information on the issues commonly associated with infertility, and peer/professional support tools:

http://aamft.org/imis15/aamft/Content/Consumer_Updates/Infertility.aspx

http://www.resolve.org/

In vivo prayer: “God, thank You for loving us. Thank You for being a present comfort in times that seem to be so dark. Forgive for not always trusting and seeking for everything in You. Thank You, in advance, for Your promise. Thank You for the fulfilment of Your promise, which is sure to come!”

Those who support us – Please know that we wish we could make this all go away, too. When you implicitly or explicitly direct us to cheer up or minimize our experience, it does not honor the gravity of our reality. We must be “strong” and put on a “happy face” in many areas of our lives. Please allow us a safe space to simply be – whatever that may be at the moment. Sometimes a listening ear is so much more helpful that hearing advice that we are all too familiar with encountering.

 

Grief

 

To my BabyLoves: Life will not always be easy. There will be days when you cannot see your way, or even the direction for your next step.  I am feeling that way now. In those moments, do what I am learning to do – find your rest in God. It sounds so simple, and it really is – just REST in Him! I know it can sometimes be hard to do, but He is there, and able to comfort in a way no one else can. It is designed that way – for nothing else to fulfill you but Him. I love you so much, and I hope that my current struggle helps to guide you in your own journey. Kisses.

The Lesson for this Step of the Journey

New Semester, New Lesson

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As some of you all may know, I am a college professor. My life revolves around semesters…fall, winter, summer. It is also critical that each semester is seamlessly planned – syllabi, mid-term, finals, assignments, tests, learning outcomes, and the list goes on and on. As the instructor, I am responsible for creating and maintaining the “flow” of the semester. I think all teachers can attest to having some semesters that feel heavenly, and others that you simply can’t wait to see end. For me, the more trying semesters are those in which I fail to thoroughly plan, or the students are just not “getting the material.” But when it is an especially good semester, it just all clicks! The lectures are engaging, the lessons make sense, and you can just feel the change in the air!

In August, I became the Director of Doctoral Programs in my department. It has truly expanded my vantage point. I am now so much more sensitive to not only planning for the “flow” of my courses, but now the experiences of every doctoral student in my department. It really did not click until this moment, but it is my life raft right now. Prior to me finding out my infertility news, I was in talks with the administration of my university about my expanded role. I, honestly, was reluctant, because I knew that David and I were trying for a child. I knew better than to add too much “newness” at one single time. Yet, the position has truly become my professional baby! I want my students to thrive, for them to best represent the program’s “name”. I am instilling into them what I have received professionally, and I really want to be a good role model for them. In the past year, I felt as if I had lost my passion for academia. I was on the verge of simply walking away. When I got the infertility news, I needed to hold on to anything that seemed stable – teaching was that for me. I am so glad for the new semester. With the incoming cohort, just as any new group, they want to know everything NOW. Many don’t even know where the water fountain is, but they want to “sure up their understanding of the dissertation process.” I keep reminding them that it is okay to not know everything now. Isn’t it funny how we can so “see” this for everyone and every situation but our own?! Writing this reminds me that we are all students undergoing our “semester of lessons.”

What is the intended learning outcome for the step you are on? What progress are you making towards that intended outcome? How will you impact others once you “get it?”

After the first week of classes, I had a full travel schedule that took two weeks to complete. Hence, no new blog posts! I was going to write during my travels, but every time I brought it up, someone I was with would remind me to stay in the moment. Most of the travel was for work, BUT my two sisters, Ade and Georgia, and I had figured out a way to go see Janet Jackson during her first show of her new tour in Vancouver. In the past, we have had several talks of needing to implement a Sisters’ Trip, so here was our chance! We had an absolute BALL! I wish I could share every moment, but just think of it as one of the rare moments you have when everyone around you KNOWS the moment is good, and you all “know” to enjoy every second. That was this trip. It seemed orchestrated – just for us. One of the orchestrated moments happened because of Ade’s awesome planning skills. She had thrown out the idea of having a Sisters’ Photoshoot around Seattle, where she lives. We all LIVE for a good photo, chile, so we were game! We had no prior conversation about attire or colors, but all ended up in shades of yellow. Thinking back to the shoot brings tears to my eyes. During the shoot, we spot three yellow chairs. There are three of us. Our grandmother, Alice’s favorite color is yellow. I had to just stop, because I felt her spirit. I wanted us to just relish in the beauty of this day, the moment, the love.

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In that moment, I asked my sisters to stop and pray for David and I to be able bear a child. We did. The photographer captured it. It is going in my babies’ room one day!

In vivo prayer moment – “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, that my children will know how much their aunties already love them. Thank you for allowing us to have the support of family, and that there is no shame in believing what NO ONE can yet see!”

I am now clear on the lesson for this step in my journey – to remain present in this moment, truly trust in Him, and bear witness to His Power.

To my BabyLoves: As I am writing this, your daddy is in my office giving me a recap of his day. I love the moments when he and I get to catch up, and just be. We are now on the same page. We want to get our home, so you can have a nice place to live, and then start the process of fertility treatments. I think about you everyday. Today, I kept seeing and hearing of women who are expecting. I got so excited. Yes for them, but also for me! I know that one day I will be able to expect your arrival! Loving you always, Mommy!

Rest Stop Coming Up Soon!

First Things First – Thank You for the Warm Welcome!

Wow, I feel like I am writing the “second” hit, as follow-up to my first post. I can now empathize with musicians who are now deemed “one hit wonders”! This second post better be GOOD! Ha! I was taken aback by the warm reception of my blog and first post. I was amazed by the phone calls, texts, Facebook messages and posts. Yes, the support and encouragement was wonderful and needed. My sincerest thanks. Also, hearing of the connection infertility has with others’ experiences was daunting, yet awe-inspiring. It reminded me that no matter our issue, others are enduring their own battle – and the pragmatics of the battle may differ, but we can all relate to struggle. Not only can we relate to struggle, we need each other. We are not meant to battle on our own. There is power in hearing of someone else’s experience, finding connection to battle our perception of isolated pain, and feeling a bit more hope to journey on!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        faith                  

Rest Stops on the Journey

Immediately after receiving the news of my infertility, I longed for a particular Bible story about infertility. I could not remember the details, I just remember hearing a minister share the story, and how this woman’s infertility was almost invisible in the story, but the news that she would bear children was a testament to many. I racked my brain ALL the next morning looking for this story in the Bible. Google is usually on point. Type (even with incorrect spelling) what you want, and BAM! Not this time…I found other awesome stories, but I felt as if there was something my soul needed from this story.

I felt that I HAD to start my blog immediately. I had multiple tabs open – one for the blog, one for my “how to write a blog” information, and one for trying to locate this STORY. I really just felt a whirlwind of emotions (like a tornado, girl!) 😉 A part of me was numb, I also felt inspired to share my experience, but I just felt a deep longing and sadness. Even though I was trying to process my emotions, I knew that the day must go on.

Almost a week before August 12th, the date my known battle of infertility began, a good friend informed me that she would be in South Florida. It has been a busy time for us both, but we made sure to plan our hang out time. We were scheduled to meet August 13th. I had another great friend in town, and we were also scheduled to meet August 13th. (No, I did not double book – I would meet one for lunch and the other for happy hour. As mentioned, I am serious about my food!) Once I found out my news, I really wanted to cancel. Nothing sounded better than to turn off all the lights in my place, wrap up in a blanket on the couch, and just cry. But honestly, I thought it would be too emotionally draining to request to cancel, explain why, and then have to endure the soothing rituals friends go through when they know you are hurting. I was seconds away from canceling, but I went…it felt easier. I literally jumped in the car after publishing my first blog post. I gave my friends a heads up the night before our scheduled meetings, as to avoid the awkward questions of me and David trying for a baby. David and I had already discussed how NOT looking forward we were to these first conversations post-“the news”.

As I drove to meet my friend, I boohoo cried. I just needed to let it all out. My thought was, “Cry this out now, and put on your happy, smiley face in the parking lot.” As soon as I allowed myself to sit with this plan, I became so scared. I am used to having control (or at least thinking I have control) over my emotions. Not even just my emotions, but who sees certain emotions and who I allow in to my emotional space and process. I became scared, because I realized that this is bigger than me, and I simply do not have control. I finally just prayed, “Lord, help me get through this first conversation about what I am going through right now. I need you.” It was not audible (I would have jumped out the car and ran…being honest), but I did feel as if God’s reply was, “Yes, you do need me, and you are not in control. You cannot control this. You also need others. All I am asking of you is to find your rest and peace in me and those I have connected you to.”

Guess what….as soon as my friend sat down she said, “The Holy Spirit woke me up at 6am. I was moved to read about stories of infertility in the Bible. He led me to this…” She pulled out her iPad, and it was the EXACT story I had searched for all morning. The story was of John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth. Only one sentence mentions her barrenness, but she was of old age when it was revealed that she would have a son. Sometimes our afflictions and issues people are not able to see – literally or figuratively, but we must endure them. Elizabeth must have endured so much being a woman who was deemed infertile. Yet, the promise was given, and was fulfilled. Her son prepared the way for Jesus! The miracle of Jesus was preceded by a miracle. (snaps to that!) You can read the story here: http://www.womeninthebible.net/Elizabeth_bible_text.htm.

***There are over 200 women mentioned in the Bible who battled infertility. We who are in this battle are not the first, and we will not be the last. It is critical that we connect with resources that can assist us. This book was recommended to me by my best friend, who also battled infertility, but is now the proud mama of TWO children. The book has helped MANY women, and I want you to read it. You can find it on Amazon for the low. I, personally, know over 10 women who read this book after battling with infertility who are now mothers. No, this is not a magic book, but it helps to connect you with the PROMISES and PLAN of GOD. Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/Supernatural-Childbirth-Jackie-Mize/dp/1577949986Supernatural Childbirth

The Holy Spirit leading my friend to the exact passage that my soul searched for was a reminder from God that He has this! I cannot even control how He will provide peace and direction. He will REVEAL it…in a place of rest…a rest stop…

For the next two hours, my friend and I had a BALL! It wasn’t the, “Okay, let’s act as if we are having a ball, but ignore the huge gorilla sitting on the bread basket.” Our conversation was just what we both needed – honest, transparent, and a rest stop. I left feeling replenished, supported, supportive, and so much lighter. I also left with a reminder that God is so present and concerned with each of us. It is amazing how God not only knows of our personal journey, but has prepared “rest stops” along the way. A pit stop allows one to “fill up” and get replenishment for the next leg of the journey. I love a good road trip. Not only because I get to see and experience cool things on the way, and end up at my destination, but for the STOPS along the way! As many know, I LIVE for a good snack. I also love the road. No matter the route, I have my “go tos” for my snacks! It can be my stop at Woody’s if I am traveling between Dallas and Houston, I must have my Tastee’s in Kenner, Louisiana for my Atlanta to Dallas trip, Earl’s for Tallahassee to Miami, and the list goes on and on. As I write this, I am smiling, because God wants us to be aware that He has not only a planned destination for us, but replenishing rest stops along our way. These rest stops may include a “coincidental” lunch date arranged to occur the day after you receive shocking news. I had no idea how much I would need this time with a good friend, but God did. I am so glad that I allowed myself to connect with my friend, compared to keeping myself isolated with a bag of Doritos and television. In this time with my girl, I found some needed rest!

I admonish you to allow yourself to embrace that you do not have control, and do you really want to be in control? Control leads to responsibility. If I try to control conceiving a baby, I will fail. I cannot conceive a baby. Really, no one can. Life is given. I am not the Life-Giver. Releasing control allows for peace. I am thankful for the peace that I have accepted. Although we will all have points in our journey that feel so low, we can rest assured knowing that there is a REST STOP coming up soon!

To My BabyLoves: Mommy loves you so much, already! I am leaning on God more, for His strength. Sometimes, I really think I can handle things on my own…but I cannot, nor should I try. He is so willing, able, and waiting on us to learn to trust Him. Hopefully, these words will be helpful for you at this moment as you read this. “Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart! Lean not onto your own understanding. In ALL of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6.)