Baby Showers Are the Worst

The title of this post seems a bit dramatic, doesn’t it?  After all, why would anyone say that celebrating the soon-to-be delivery of a precious little love is the worst?

Who would say this?

WOMEN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH INFERTILITY

…that’s who.

It is hard to creatively describe what it feels like to what into a baby shower knowing that you will not be able to share the same type of experience.  It may seem a bit silly, but infertility is far from a trivial issue.  It is very complex.

Before the adoption of my children, I dreaded going to baby showers.  Every time an invitation card came in the mail, I puffed out an “ugh”.  Even the act of shopping for gifts was just a big load of emotions and not pleasant.

This is how I survived baby showers:

  1. Slapped on the “so-happy-to-be-here-face” as I nervously entered the host home.
  2. If possible, I always found the pet cat or dog to pay attention to.
  3. Grazed around the snack table for as much time as possible (regardless if I was hungry).
  4. Pretended to understand the lingo of pregnancy terms (laughed on cue when others laughed even if I didn’t understand what they were talking about).
  5. Played along with the games.
  6. Oohed and awed over the gifts.
  7. Ate more food.
  8. Hugged the Mama-to-be and made a dash to my car…
  9. just in time before the tears gushed out.
  10. Gripped the steering wheel all the way home.
  11. Entered my house, went straight back to my bed, clung onto a pillow, sobbed and then felt guilty afterward for feeling that way.

Through the years, I’ve spoken to far too many women who are experiencing struggles with fertility.  Each one has affirmed that, indeed, baby showers are the worst for women who cannot get pregnant or keep a pregnancy to full term.  Each one described similar sad feelings when getting invitations in the mail, anxiety when arriving, and the struggle to play the role of a happy guest.

Here’s the hard part of all of this.  We want to be invited but we aren’t necessarily happy about going.  It’s not that we are unhappy for our friends and loved ones who are expecting.  It’s just that with each shower comes along a bitter reminder of what we cannot have.  I say “we” because even though adoption has made me a mom, I still consider myself a part of the sisterhood of broken hearts and empty wombs.

I want anyone going through the challenge of infertility to know that it is okay to dread baby showers.  It is normal to not want to go or to feel like an “outsider” while there.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  The road you are walking is hard enough the way it is.

If you are expecting and worried about inviting that friend of yours who has miscarried or is experiencing infertility, the most courageous thing you can do is speak with your friend about it.  Perhaps, your conversation can go something like this:

“I know you received my shower invitation and I also know that this is a really hard tine in your life right now.  I’ll understand if you do not want to come, but know that I would love for you to be there.  If you decide not to, also know that I love you and am supportive of you.  Perhaps, we can grab lunch one day and spend some time together.” 

If you friend decides not to come, please do not take it as anything other than it is – a super tough experience for someone who cannot have a baby.  Chances are that your friend will come.  Chances are also high that your friend will grieve afterward.

I hope this sheds some light on the subject for those who care for others going through it. Most of all, I hope this post confirms to persons experiencing infertility that their feelings regarding baby showers are a normal part of the journey.

Infertility is nothing short of a crapshoot.  It is just a big jumbled mess of all sorts of emotions, and even baby showers can’t escape its wrath.

Hang in there, friend.  

It Makes You Human

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I’m super excited to start the process of putting together a support group for people with fertility issues at my church that will begin this summer! This is something that has been on my heart for years. I’ve always felt a calling to do this but have fallen into the thought pattern of “I’m just too busy”. I do not know what the Lord is planning for this but I certainly hope that it will be used to touch the hearts of those struggling as well as educate others about infertility.

I’ve been thinking about the perceptions and stigmas of infertility a lot. One thing that was said to me far too many times is this, “Trust God’s will” and “God has a plan for this!” I knew I would never have biological children, of course, but this did not cause me to wonder what God was doing and why I had to deal with barrenness. I also knew that He must have had a plan for me to go through what I was going through, but I just wondered, at times, what He was doing. These questions were not wrong to have. If anything, they caused me to explore my faith a bit deeper. They certainly made me very human.

If you are struggling with infertility and people keep telling you “Trust God’s will” or “If it is God’s will, then it will happen”, please understand that most people do not know how to respond to someone who is dealing with fertility struggles. Not knowing how to respond also makes them very human.

The more we share our experiences, the better off everyone is. Find a trusting friend, immerse yourself with others through a support group, keep a journal, start a blog, or just start talking with others about what you are dealing with.

Whatever you choose to do, please remember that questioning God’s will in this time of your life does not make you less faithful, it just makes you human. 

 

Four “AHA” Moments That Changed My Adoption Path {Adoption.com article}

I was recently tasked with the job of writing an article for Adoption.com regarding “AHA” moments that changed my adoption path.  For the article, I chose to focus on four moments that changed my perspective of the path to adoption.  These moments are ones that have stuck with me long after the Judge’s gavel fell and adoption was declared.

To read the article, click on this link:  Four “AHA” Moments

I would love to hear about your “AHA” moments!

Blessings,

Caroline

Let Your Heart Speak

It was a particularly rough day at our home. One of my kids struggled ALL DAY with making poor choices, being rude, etc. After a long night, my child said, “I bet you wish you didn’t even adopt me. I bet you wish I was just dead.” I took a breath, thought for a minute, looked at this precious little soul, and then said, “No. If something happened to you, I would miss you every single day for the rest of my life.”

My child collapsed into my arms, crying, and said, “That is the kindest thing I’ve ever heard.” We spent some time crying together and reassuring each other that we are okay, we love each other, and that I (and daddy) are so thankful to have been given the gift of adoption.

A few things come to mind regarding this experience. If you plan on building your family through adoption, please understand that your child(ren) might say things like this. This particular child of mine has been with us since infancy; still, yet, we find ourselves always having to show reassurance through our actions and words. It can be typical for a child who has been adopted to consider his or her “status” in the family. Don’t fear it. Just understand that it can happen.

It can be really hard to fall into the habit of parenting that is too regimented and scripted. I’ve been to lots of training regarding behavioral issues/special needs and I have taught them as well. However, when in the moment, it is hard to remember what is the right and most appropriate response to take.

It is recommended (at times) to hold your ground and be direct with your expectation, but in the moment I described above, I decided to let my heart speak.  My child’s words seemed to be about something more than being angry for some trivial issue. Instead of giving a consequence for the behaviors that preceded the statement, I chose to reveal a truth to my child, and I could tell that my words were unexpected, yet perfect for the moment.

Looking at my child in that desperate state and hearing my child’s words that tended to originate from a place of not feeling secure and good, I was able to see more clearly the power of grace. When I’ve said to God, “You’ve just forgotten about me. You don’t even care. I wonder if I was even worth being created”, I know that He has responded with, “You are loved. You are special. You are unique. You have worth. You mean something.” If I desire this response from God and all the grace that comes from Him, then how in the world would I not want to dish it out to my children or give them the response they need?

There is something pretty powerful when we choose to parent from the place of grace. It can be so hard, though. When the kids are acting up, embarrassing us, or saying mean things, the natural instinct is to defend oneself or give a directive. I’m learning that being an imperfect parent is okay. Not having the right or more disciplined response is okay. I’m trying to allow my heart to speak more, instead of letting my frustration be the author of my words. At the end of the day, when the years have come and gone, I know there will be a lot of regrets and thoughts of “I should have been better”, but I also know that my children will have no doubt that I deeply love them.

If you are building your family through adoption, my advice for you is this:  You will feel judged by others. You will be asked far too many personal questions about your child and your parenting style. You will not feel capable of handling strong emotions from your child. You might question what the heck you are doing and if you are just messing your kids up. You could face lots of obstacles and deal with issues and needs that you did not face as a child. Yet, despite all of this, if you stick to resilience and stand firm in the belief that YOU are exactly the parent that your child was meant to have and needs (however messy it is), then you will be okay.

Let your heart speak.

Of all the regrets we may have as parents, this is not one of them.

Maybe, I’m just a lousy Christian…

So, yeah.  I know I haven’t been writing about adoption or infertility lately, and I’m sorry for that.  This is a strange time to be a blogger as it is hard to focus on your “subject” when there is so much going on in our country and everyone seems to be talking politics.  Just like pretty much everyone I know, I’ve been a bit consumed by all of the stuff floating around on social media and the internet.

I’ve felt like a volcano on the verge of erupting…like I just need to spill it out.  I’ve wanted to say so much on social media, but I’ve tried very hard to keep my thoughts to myself (and my husband).  I’ve read some pretty vicious things as well, was unfriended by a family member for not sharing the same views, and have been quite shocked at what others seem to say so freely and without a thought as to how their words might hurt.

I’ve made the mistake of reading through comments on lots of posts, and WOWZA, there are some nasty ones out there!  Comments like: condemn all Muslims to hell, all Muslims should die, if you didn’t vote for Trump then you are not a real Christian, etc…you get the point.  Sadly, I’m seeing far too many of these type of comments coming from people who call themselves Christians.

I have had this thought: “What would happen if instead of taking the time to write that comment, the person stopped and prayed for their “enemies”?”  I have deep concerns about what is going on with our current political climate and decisions, and I feel a bit helpless, but prayer is one of the most powerful ways to intercede and be proactive in a situation. Perhaps, this is a way to “fight the fight” without actually fighting and without letting our tongues get us into trouble.

I’ve been called a “bleeding heart” more than once in my life.  This reference is meant to be a bit of a slam and meant to suggest that one is weak and foolish, but I do not think of myself as either of these things.  However, I will admit to having a bit of a bleeding heart and to always root for the underdog.

In the times of great strife, I have been comforted by compassionate people who saw past my “junk” or problem and just loved on me.  I remember these people well.  I also remember the ones who chose to say non-loving words or ask ridiculous questions at a time when I didn’t need to hear it.  I’ve learned that I would much rather have a bleeding heart than a jaded one for I do not see it as a weakness.  Instead, I see it as a gift and that is why I’m having a super hard time wrapping my mind around how many Christians are coming to the defense of President Trump.

I have not seen one instance of him modeling the characteristics of Jesus.  Not one time. Instead, I feel that rooting for him is kind of like cheering on that popular high school football player even though he is a jerk off of the field.  Please, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want him to fail, I’m just ambivalent about how I feel regarding his success.

I’ve wondered why I don’t view Trump like some Christians do.  Maybe, I don’t get it. Maybe, I need to re-evaluate my spiritual relationship and faith.  Maybe, I am “liberal”….I know I’ve been called that a few times, recently.  Maybe, I’m not as patriotic as others.  Maybe, I’m just too much of a “flower child for God”.  I don’t know…maybe, I’m just a lousy Christian.

It is very hard to navigate this world, isn’t it?  It is a challenge to be “in this world but not of it”; especially when we are faced with what appears to be a lot of chaos.  We are asked to be salt and light, yet, my heart is anguished over the thought of how difficult it is to be this when we surround ourselves with others who look, believe and think just like us.  How can we seek the lost when we are caught up in our selfish desire to be comfortable?

The more I see what is happening with our world and the way people are deciding who is worthy of compassion, the more I find myself in love with Jesus; the more I just want to stick close to him; the more I know I need him.

I have had this image in my mind of Jesus hanging on the Cross and looking out among the crowd of people gathered to watch him die.  It brings tears to my eyes.  He gave his life for all of us – every single person regardless of race, gender, and beliefs – and here we are, debating about who we should show mercy to.

I know we are flawed and yet, I also know that Jesus is not because his mercy is not selective.  While on the Earth, he showed it to so many in need and to those whom others rejected.  Even as he was in agony and being mocked, he said these words:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

I am sure that I will post things and delete them because I know that it is better to be silent than unkind.  I’ll probably still be a bit snarky because humor is one of my defense mechanisms (a coping skill I developed over the years).  I know I might make me some people uncomfortable or angry or whatever, but I will always try to LOVE like Jesus; regardless if someone is “worthy” of it.

Jesus literally was a bleeding heart – both while walking on this Earth and while hanging on the cross.  Of all the confusion going on, this is something I will never be confused about.

Friends, even if we don’t agree about politics, can we at least agree to love like Jesus?

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This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.  (1 John 3:16-18)

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31)

And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:33)

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18-19)