Dear Infertility (part 8)

Dear Infertility,

I think about you. Every damn day. Sometimes you’re just a whisper. Other times, you seem to have a megaphone. I’ve been fooled into thinking that you’ll go away and just when I get a reprieve from you, boom. There you are.

I don’t know why I can’t shake you; why the trauma of my surgery haunts. It’s like you’re sewn into my bones. Every fiber consists of you. Until I shuffle off this mortal coil, I suspect it will always be this way.

Like a spider at night, you’ve weaved a web I cannot escape from, even when I try. Why do you insist on holding me captive? Is it the way you came into my life? Or, could it be the way you’ve changed it? 

I’m a parent. You know this. Still, you persist. You love reminding me of yourself. A bit egotistical, don’t you think? Oh, you really enjoy making me wonder what could’ve and should’ve been. It’s your thing, isn’t it?

Dear Infertility,

Stop. I know I’ve begged this of you for far too many years. You won’t listen. It’s because you’re trauma – T.R.A.U.M.A. Despite therapy, prayer, marriage, adoption and many other things, you remain a constant shadow of pain from years ago.

I find myself wondering about you and it makes me feel guilty, although, I haven’t committed a crime. Guilty for pondering the things I do. Guilty for wishing things would’ve been different. I’m convicted of that.

Dear Infertility,

If I kept it all inside, I’d allow you to win. I can’t do that because you’ve already taken so much from me. You altered my childhood. Yes, you did that.

From the hysterectomy to feeling like a vagabond in the midst of other girls to imagining what my biological child would be like, you’ve been the narrator.

But, don’t forget, it’s my voice.

And, I’m still here.

Momma-in-Waiting {at Christmas time}

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  Christmas is all around us, isn’t it?  You overhear your co-workers talk about the sweet surprises for their kiddos.  You are forced to look at picture after picture of your friend’s little one’s first Santa visit.  It’s not that you don’t think the images are cute or that you don’t want to see them.  It’s just that it hurts…really hurts.

Christmas morning in most houses is filled with chaos, giggling children, and mounds of bows and wrapping paper.  Weary parents get up at the crack of dawn to watch their children excitedly rip open that special gift from Santa.  Christmas morning at your home is a little different, though.  You get up whenever you desire and exchange presents with your spouse or anyone else staying the night.  It’s quiet and calm and in that stillness, your heart plunges to a depth a lot of people just don’t understand.  Your mind races with the same questions you’ve cried out for way too long…

Why is this happening?  When will it end?  What is wrong with me?  What if I never become a mother?  What if every Christmas is this quiet?

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  My own house is now filled with chaos at Christmas.  I hear my giggling children and clean up mounds of bows and paper.  I watch as the kids rush to the tree to see what Santa brought.  I wish I could tell you that it’s not that big of a deal and you’re not missing much, but that would be a lie.  You know it and so do I.

It’s a little ironic, isn’t it?  We celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas; yet, you are wailing, wanting, and desperate to celebrate your own miracle; your own gift to the world.  You are waiting to celebrate the birth of your baby.  I don’t really know what to say except I was once where you are and I know that it is miserable.  I knew I could never birth a child but I did not know if I would ever be a parent.  It is so incredibly hard.  It’s one of the worst pains any human can experience on Earth.  I believe that.  I really do.

From Hannah and on, barrenness is noteworthy.  If it wasn’t, then I suspect it would not even be mentioned in Scripture.  People tell you, “God has a plan for you.”  They say, “If it’s God’s will, then it will happen.”  Do you want to know something?  I loathed those words.  I could not stand them.  I despised every single time they were said to me (and they were said more times than I can count).

Only now, after adoption and actually being a Momma-no-longer-in-Waiting, can I say that I “get it”.  I understand that the Lord did have a plan and adoption was His will for my life.  Yet, this knowledge does not erase the pain that I felt nor does it wipe my memory clean of my existence when I was a Momma-in-Waiting.

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  Christmas is hard but so is just about every day when your steps are padded in confusion.  If there is one gift I can give to you this Christmas, it is this – your feelings are valid, your frustration is justifiable and your grief is not lost on those of us who have been there or who are there right now.

At this Christmas and every single day after, I want you to know that even though it feels like it, God has not forsaken you.  He never will.  Even though you do not feel His presence, He is there.  He is near you when test after test shows a negative, or when your doctor tells you news that you just don’t want to hear.  God is with you when you are lonely, tired and weeping the most sorrowful, thick tears ever imaginable.

Perhaps, Momma-in-Waiting, this is the best gift I can give you; the hope of the Lord.  

Be strong.  Be fierce.  Be courageous.  Don’t let anyone stifle your feelings or your voice.  Keep talking about infertility.  Keep asking questions and all of those other laborious things you need to do when you are meeting with doctors.  Don’t let others tell you how to navigate this journey for it is your own.

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child who changed the world.  Today, Momma-in-Waiting, I’m thinking of you and I believe that the very baby born so long ago is thinking of you as well.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13

Author’s Note:  I originally wrote this post in 2017.  Typically, I do not repeat posts that I have already published.  However, this is one that I hope will reach those who need some extra encouragement this time of year.  Blessings, Caroline

Barrenness Hit Me Today

Barrenness hit me today. I glanced up towards the beverage coolers of the grocery store and noticed a pregnant woman walking by. Her skin was glowing, belly round and full, and she was beautiful. I  noticed the woman in front of me noticing her as well.

In my head, I thought, “Pregnant women really are beautiful. I bet she is so happy to be carrying her baby. I wish I could have carried mine.” 

Yep. Right there as I’m checking out, answering the cashier about my choice of a paper or plastic, barrenness hit me today.

I don’t think about it all of the time. Honestly, barrenness doesn’t knock on my door like it used to. Most days, it never even crosses my mind…most days.

Today, it did. Perhaps, it is because this week has been filled with teaching others about trauma that can occur in the womb. Maybe, it is due to explaining to teachers, who don’t know my children that well (yet), about their challenges. Or, it could be that both worry and sadness have visited me this week.

As soon as I got home from the store, I packed the groceries into their allotted space in our kitchen and headed back to our safe spot where we put meaningful items that belong to our family. I dug through the paperwork and pictures and found a copy of a letter that I had sent to a former pastor of mine many years ago.

I wrote it on the eve of my husband and I filing our adoption petition for our oldest son in 2008. The image above is just one section of a one-and-a-half page letter to my pastor. I’m not sure why I kept it but am glad that I did.

Life has a funny way of kicking us around a time or two, doesn’t it? Hard experiences like to sneak their way around our hearts a bit. They lay dormant for a while and then, BOOM, there they are. There.They.Are.

I’ve heard that, sometimes, you have to look back at where you were to appreciate where you are. I’m finding myself doing this more often than not; especially on days where barrenness seems to smack me upside the head.

With regard to the letter, I read it again and felt as though I was typing it for the first time; my eyes filled up, my hands trembled a bit, and I exhaled deeply. I needed to visit the elation, promise and revelation, even in barrenness, that I found through the Lord ten years ago. I needed to take a step back and remember all of it.

I am 46-years-old and have known for thirty-five years that I would never have a biological child. You would think by now that I would be “over it”. In many ways, I’m so over it – like bye-bye. Yet, in other times, it seeks me out, dances around me, and teases me like a school-yard bully. It ticks me off, makes me feel insecure, and breaks my heart time and again.

I still look at pregnant women with awe but a sliver of jealousy. I still wonder what it would have felt like to announce our pregnancy to my husband and our parents. I imagine the feeling of my children growing inside of me and the passion I would have carried to give them the best in utero experience possible.

Yes, sometimes, you have to look back at where you were to appreciate where you are. For me, looking back at the empty space of barrenness and then recapturing the feelings of going through the motions of adoption, does my heart good. It does it so good.

Barrenness hit me today. It sucker-punched me at the grocery store when I was least expecting it. I didn’t have my boxing gloves on. There wasn’t a coach in the corner telling me how to handle it. Nope. None of that. It’s not that I have ever had that to begin with, though. Instead, I revisited a moment in time that has carried me through these past several years.

To recall the feelings of hope and love, to dwell for just a moment in the silence of gratitude, and to revel in understanding that comes from the Lord is by far, the best defense when hard experiences try to find a way to slither back into our lives.

No one is the keeper of our past, present and future like the Lord is. No one can turn devastation or despair into goodness like the Lord can. True peace and understanding comes from the Lord. It always has and it always will.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:7

A Letter to the Nurses Who Had a Hand in Saving My Life {and every single nurse out there}

It’s no surprise that doctors tend to get a lot of affirmation for their life-saving precision when it comes to surgery.  The doctor who performed my surgery reluctantly received plenty of attention for saving my life.  My case and the way he performed my hysterectomy have been studied both abroad and at home.  He chose to take on the surgery (first of its kind) knowing the risks at hand.  Even his wife knew of the concerns.  She called her friends and they gathered to hold a prayer vigil while he was performing the surgery.

I still have him as my doctor and see him often.  I can call him anytime I need something – day or night.  He and his wife came to our adoption celebrations.  We’ve exchanged Christmas cards and shared food together.  Our families have stayed friends through the years and he knows that I hold no bitterness towards him or the Lord.  Even still, he gets a bit weepy when we talk about my surgery.  It absolutely impacted his life.

The reality is that it was not just his expertise and his hands that saved my life.  There were many nurses who walked through that terrible sadness of my illness; yet, they did not receive the same type of attention and they did not get to watch me grow up and eventually become a mother.

To the nurses who worked the pediatric floor at the formerly called St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Missouri and who had a hand in saving my life in 1983, thank you.

Thank you for carrying my family through a horrible ordeal.  Thank you for holding my mother up while she nearly collapsed from the news and for offering my dad extra blankets at night because he just couldn’t leave.  Thank you for wiping away tears, caressing my hands and speaking words of encouragement into my ears.

Thank you for holding my body down while the needles were sliding in and out of my veins.  I knew it needed to happen and you did, too.  Thank you for checking in on me all of the time and showing the utmost professionalism with the full measure of tenderness.  Thank you for sneaking a friend onto the floor (even though it was against hospital policy).

Thank you for seeking my parents out to offer assurance that I was receiving the best care and for being goofy, smiling a lot and cheering my recovery.  Thank you for putting up with my smarty-pants antics when you couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my IV machine but I could (and I told you how to fix it).  Thank you for holding each other accountable.

I’ve often thought about the nurses on the pediatric floor who tended to my needs.  Without them, I know my experience in the hospital could have gone a lot different.  Even though it was a traumatic time, the love received absolutely made an incredible impact on my healing.

Nurses deal with anger, confusion, grief, sickness, bodily fluids, weeping parents and screaming patients on any given day.  They are comforters, counselors, scientists, and mentors.  They are teachers, advice givers, and hand-holders.

They intentionally walk into the trenches of sickness and trauma, sometimes even at their own risk.  They put up with bureaucracy, policies, and politics and do so with their patients on their minds.  Nurses do not get enough credit for the life-affirming and hope-dealing job that they do.

hosp1

To the nurses who had a hand in saving my life in 1983 and to all of the nurses out there, thank you.

Momma-in-Waiting {at Christmas time}

pexels-photo-76931Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  Christmas is all around us, isn’t it?  You overhear your co-workers talk about the sweet surprises for their kiddos.  You are forced to look at picture after picture of your friend’s little one’s first Santa visit.  It’s not that you don’t think the images are cute or that you don’t want to see them.  It’s just that it hurts…really hurts.

Christmas morning in most houses is filled with chaos, giggling children, and mounds of bows and wrapping paper.  Weary parents get up at the crack of dawn to watch their children excitedly rip open that special gift from Santa.  Christmas morning at your home is a little different, though.  You get up whenever you desire and exchange presents with your spouse or anyone else staying the night.  It’s quiet and calm and in that stillness, your heart plunges to a depth a lot of people just don’t understand.  Your mind races with the same questions you’ve cried out for way too long…

Why is this happening?  When will it end?  What is wrong with me?  What if I never become a mother?  What if every Christmas is this quiet?

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  My own house is now filled with chaos at Christmas.  I hear my giggling children and clean up mounds of bows and paper.  I watch as the kids rush to the tree to see what Santa brought.  I wish I could tell you that it’s not that big of a deal and you’re not missing much, but that would be a lie.  You know it and so do I.

It’s a little ironic, isn’t it?  We celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas; yet, you are wailing, wanting, and desperate to celebrate your own miracle; your own gift to the world.  You are waiting to celebrate the birth of your baby.  I don’t really know what to say except I was once where you are and I know that it is miserable.  I knew I could never birth a child but I did not know if I would ever be a parent.  It is so incredibly hard.  It’s one of the worst pains any human can experience on Earth.  I believe that.  I really do.

From Hannah and on, barrenness is noteworthy.  If it wasn’t, then I suspect it would not even be mentioned in Scripture.  People tell you, “God has a plan for you.”  They say, “If it’s God’s will, then it will happen.”  Do you want to know something?  I loathed those words.  I could not stand them.  I despised every single time they were said to me (and they were said more times than I can count).

Only now, after adoption and actually being a Momma-no-longer-in-Waiting, can I say that I “get it”.  I understand that the Lord did have a plan and adoption was His will for my life.  Yet, this knowledge does not erase the pain that I felt nor does it wipe my memory clean of my existence when I was a Momma-in-Waiting.

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  Christmas is hard but so is just about every day when your steps are padded in confusion.  If there is one gift I can give to you this Christmas, it is this – your feelings are valid, your frustration is justifiable and your grief is not lost on those of us who have been there or who are there right now.

At this Christmas and every single day after, I want you to know that even though it feels like it, God has not forsaken you.  He never will.  Even though you do not feel His presence, He is there.  He is near you when test after test shows a negative, or when your doctor tells you news that you just don’t want to hear.  God is with you when you are lonely, tired and weeping the most sorrowful, thick tears ever imaginable.

Perhaps, Momma-in-Waiting, this is the best gift I can give you; the hope of the Lord.  

Be strong.  Be fierce.  Be courageous.  Don’t let anyone stifle your feelings or your voice.  Keep talking about infertility.  Keep asking questions and all of those other laborious things you need to do when you are meeting with doctors.  Don’t let others tell you how to navigate this journey for it is your own.

Pssst..hey, Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you.  At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child who changed the world.  Today, Momma-in-Waiting, I’m thinking of you and I believe that the very baby born so long ago is thinking of you as well.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13

Momma-in-Waiting on Thanksgiving

Pssst…Hey, Momma-in-Waiting. Yes, you.  You’ve cooked up the most delicious dish for today.  You get compliments on it and are asked for the recipe but if truth be told, you barely remember cooking it.  Instead, your mind was focused on what this Thanksgiving Day brings to you – a whole lot of anxiety and sadness. You’re a Momma-in-Waiting on Thanksgiving.

You meet and greet family members that you haven’t seen in a while.  They are all excited for you to meet the new little one just born into the family.  You act thrilled (and you are) but deep down, you are also absolutely devastated.  You think, “When will it be my turn?”

As the day progresses, you take a moment or two to step outside and catch your breath.  It is tricky, you know; tricky to navigate the relationships that you have, to express joy and gladness over the new little one that is in your family, and to answer the best you can when folks start asking about starting your own family.

A part of you just wants to scream – I mean, SCREAM!  If only they knew how much you wish you could actually give them an answer or how often you research infertility, treatments, doctors, adoption, and anything else tangled up in your experience.  If only they knew.

Here you are on Thanksgiving.  You are told to be thankful.  You are expected to be thankful.  You feel guilty if you are not.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  While others are gleefully living their lives (or at least, it seems like it), you are stuck waiting for your life to move on.  You want to move on past this whole infertility/no baby/no pregnancy garbage.  You want to forget this whole chapter of your story was ever written, but you can’t.  Most of all, though, you just want to know that you will be a mother one day.

On this Thanksgiving Day where so many around you remind you of what they are thankful for, take time for yourself.  You don’t have to be thankful for what you are going through but it is important to notice it.  How can you not?  Even if you don’t want to remember this season of your life, your body, mind, and spirit will remember every single pain-staking decision you have had to make and every single tear you have shed.

Thanksgiving is hard, isn’t it?  If you are a believer, you know that we are to be thankful in all circumstances.  Ugh, right?  How can you be thankful for infertility?  The honest answer from this previous Momma-in-Waiting is that it is extremely difficult and maybe you won’t ever be able to be thankful for it, and that’s okay.  One day, you will recognize that you survived it.  That’s big.  That’s enough.

Pssst…Hey, Momma-in-Waiting on Thanksgiving. Yes, you.  Today might be a little rough.  You’ve got this.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Tomorrow is a new day and that is something we can all be thankful for.

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Vision

Keep Calm

These past few weeks have been somewhat of a blur for me.  I went on a min-vacation with some friends, our school year has ended, and our summer schedule has begun.  In many ways, I’ve felt a little “blah” about most things.

Recognizing these feelings has caused me to do some introspection about my life. I’ve thought about ending this blog, disengaging from social media, and giving up on personal goals.  I’ve wondered where God is, and why in the world do I feel like He has not been listening to me, or perhaps, why I have not been listening to Him.  Oh, my.  We are vulnerable, aren’t we?

At a staff chapel this past week (yes, we have chapel at my job!), the Pastor spoke about having a vision for our lives, and  immediately, this caused my heart to stir.  He reminded us of the importance of hanging on to our visions, praying over them, giving them to God, and realizing that the Enemy wants to destroy our vision.  He also talked about spiritual warfare when it comes to our feelings of giving up what we feel God has laid on our hearts to complete in life.

Every time the Enemy is mentioned, I immediately go back to what I felt growing up knowing I would not have biological children, wondering about motherhood, and tasting the bitterness of confusion and despair.  It seems like a lifetime ago, but in reality, these feelings and thoughts were an ever-present part of most of my life.  I never believed I would ever tell anyone my inner thoughts about life, especially barrenness.  I’m not one to over-spiritualize everything, but man, I’m so glad that I happened to be in the office the day this Pastor came to share and encourage us.  It was one of those moments when you feel like the message was meant just for you.

I needed the reminder that we are engaged in a war.  This war is not a physical one.  It is a spiritual one.  There is an ever-present need for continual prayer for our children, our spouses (if married), our communities, our nations, our neighbors who are considered the outcasts of society,and for ourselves.

Over the past few weeks, I have not felt the need to write, and in some ways, lost the desire.  I’ve wondered if I’m done speaking my history of barrenness to the world, and if it is time to close this chapter of my life.  However, the reality is that in the end it does not matter the size of an audience, nor the popularity, likes, followers, and shares that  we have.  What matters is that we wrap our lives with authenticity, humility, and the tenacity to focus with the full measure of what it is to be a believer.  I’ve also been reminded that my children deserve for me to be faithful and fully present.

The Enemy tried with great effort to make me feel as though the Lord had forgotten about me, and that He was no longer listening to my prayers.  However, my heart continually submerges into the ocean of Grace, and I know that I am not a forsaken or jilted child.

And, neither are you.

Friends, if you have lost sight of your personal dreams, feel as if the Lord has forsaken you, have hit a wall with your creative pursuits, or if you are wallowing in despair, hang on to the Weaver of dreams.

Don’t give up.

Don’t lose heart.

Your story does matter.  Don’t stop telling it.  Don’t believe for one second that your life is not a testimony.  Share your dreams, your wonderful creativity, your eye for fantastic images, and your brilliance with words.  Don’t lose sight of your vision.

What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst.
    I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon.
I’ll wait to see what God says,
    how he’ll answer my complaint.

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.”

Habakkuk 2:1-2

 

 

 

When Infertility Makes You Feel Inadequate as a Woman {Adoption.com article}

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.com regarding infertility and the feelings of inadequacy.  This topic is so near and dear to my heart.  I know too many (including myself) who have struggled, or are struggling with insecurities about themselves based on the confusing and conflicting feelings that infertility and barrenness can bring to one’s life.

Dear friend, if you are struggling with the feelings of inadequacy, please know that you are not alone, and you are far from inadequate.

Click on the link to read the article:  https://adoption.com/when-infertility-makes-you-feel-inadequate-as-a-woman

 

 

How Adoption Fulfilled the Restless Spirit in Me

Hello, friends!  I was recently asked to write an article for Adoption.Com regarding what adoption has fulfilled in me.  I thought long and hard about it, and came up with several things that has fulfilled my heart, and has satisfied my soul since becoming a parent.

Considering it all, I decided to write about how adoption settled and fulfilled the sense of restlessness in my spirit.  The article is linked below.

“With the final pounding of the Judge’s gavel, my restless spirit seemed to take its final breath. It poured out in the tears that streamed down my face while the Judge announced that this child was mine.”

http://adoption.com/how-adoption-fulfilled-the-restless-spirit-in-me

What has adoption fulfilled in you?