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

1jes58

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. 

 

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

 

 

7 Billion Ones {photography/storytelling project}

In the latter part of 2015, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting photographer Randy Bacon, and his sweet wife, Shannon.  They invited me to be a part of their amazing movement/project/mission called “7 Billion Ones”.  Their goal is to excite others in believing that “Your Story Matters”, and to instill inspiration through images and words.

I am not a person who takes a ton of selfies, and I certainly don’t like to have my picture taken, but the purpose and validation through this cause was well worth stepping in front of the lens.  My purpose for being in it was this:  to share my story so that others in similar circumstances can be inspired to never give up.

Even if I only have an audience of one, but that one person is moved to encouragement by my story, then it is well worth it.  We never know how sharing ourselves with others can directly impact lives.

You can check out my story by clicking the link below.  Spend some time exploring all of the stories on the 7 Billion Ones website.  I promise you will find a great deal of inspiration from the multitude of others who have stood in front of the camera and told their stories.

7 Billion Ones Story

And, dear friends, keep telling your own stories.  Our lives, full of characters, drama, sadness, and joy, are what makes this big ‘ole world go round.  You never know how your story will affect others; even if it is only an audience of one.

Blessings,

Caroline

Momma-in-Waiting {Part 5}

Dear Momma-in-Waiting,

It is that time of year again, isn’t it?  Images of happy children during the holidays are flooding your social media threads, but you are still waiting, aren’t you?  You are trying, with every ounce of your soul, to make the world seem simple, but you are in the most complicated battle of your life.  Appointments, tests, needles, counseling, hope, disappointment, prayer, tears, anger, confusion, frustration, and countless moments of utter heartbreak all seem to color the path to which you walk.  For some of you, there are no needles, no appointments, no tests, and no tangible sense of hope.  Barrenness has settled in and made you its home.

You are a Momma-in-Waiting, and the world seems to be passing you by.

You hear others speak about their babies.  You view their first pictures with Santa, and watch videos of them singing Christmas songs.  They are all growing, aren’t they?  They are learning new words, discovering the excitement of first steps, and giving their Momma’s an array of challenges on a daily basis.  Yet, there you sit.  Listening, smiling, even laughing at some moments, and looking upon their babies with a longing that is only matched by your own determination to get through this season of your life.

You wonder, “When will it be my turn?  When will I hear first words, see first steps, and be challenged day in and day out?  When will I get to experience a Christmas flooded with the laughter of children?  When will I no longer be a Momma-in-Waiting?

You are dwelling in that seemingly lonely place.  This time of year is especially hard, isn’t it?  The holidays, New Year’s Resolutions, fresh starts, and images of children splattered across almost every single piece of media only seems to remind you of what you long for…

a child…

your child…

your blessed answer to prayer.

Dear Momma-in-Waiting,

When your friends are trying to avoid pregnancy, you are screaming for it.  When your friends are complaining about pregnancy, you turn your ears away.  Your heart sinks in a bit, and you just want to silence their words.

It took me many long years to meander my way through the thickness of barrenness.  It seemed an even longer journey to until my number was called and I knew that I would be a mother, forever….when adoption called my name.

It’s not easy.  You know that all too well.  It is not understood.  Nothing seems to be anymore.  Infertility is truly one of the unexplored territories in the human existence.  The ones who travel through it understand, but the ones who do not, really have no clue.

Even after adoption and the gift of three children, I still find myself thinking back to my surgery.  Sometimes, I still wonder what my birth children would have been like, or look like.  I wonder if they would have had resembled my grandmother, or had the dimple of my husband’s chin.

If there are a few words of comfort that I can offer (and I’m a woman of many words, so this will be hard for me) it is, do not stop praying.  Do not stop seeking the ends (whatever they are) to meet your goal.

If, at the end of all the medical trials, you are told your only hope for motherhood is to adopt, it is okay to grieve this.  It is okay to cry fountains of tears over barrenness.  I know I have.

It is okay to get angry, question why you are battling this stupid war taking place in your body, and wonder if the very Lord you have staked your eternity in has forgotten about the life you are living on Earth.

Dear Momma-in-Waiting,

One day when things seem to make more sense, you will look back on this time in your life, look up to the heavens, and say, “I get it now.”  You will be able to share your Christmas pictures, wait until the kiddos are asleep to put out gifts, and plan for months how you are going to surprise them during the holidays.

One day, you will wake up on Christmas morning to the sweet excitement of…

a child…

your child…

your blessed answer to prayer.

 

5 Things I Want You to Know About Adopting After Infertility {Adoption.com article}

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.com regarding five things that are important to know about adoption after the struggle of infertility.  It is valuable to recognize that infertility is truly a life-long process, and there are moments (even after parenthood enters your life) that will catch you off guard.

Adoption of children and the blessing of parenting absolutely fills the void of childlessness, but the impact of infertility on one’s life may never fully go away.  

“Adoption is full of immense joy, but it also has poignant moments when one’s heart is pulled into pieces, and reminders of infertility and barrenness will intertwine with this.”

To read the article, click here:  5 Things I Want You to Know About Adopting After Infertility

Blessings,

Caroline

Do Not Fear {in the midst of barrenness}

During a sermon at church a few months ago, my pastor told the audience that he had met someone during the week who is really close to “giving up on God”.  When he asked her why, she said, “infertility.”  She then went on to say that she questions why God would allow infertility in her life.

When he said the word “Infertility”, I felt a chill of sorts run through me.  I stiffened up a bit, and wondered if any eyes were looking at me.  The more I listened to him, the more I was reminded that not only is infertility an emotional and physical battle, it is also a spiritual battle.

What is it about that word that makes me still feel so uncomfortable?  I suspect that it feels like a label of sorts.  My efforts in earlier life to understand what all barrenness encompasses was dreadfully challenging.  People who have been diagnosed as infertile understand that it is more than just a diagnosis.  It is an uninvited guest in their lives.  It is consuming, and holds power.  It sweeps the rug from under their feet.  It becomes their new normal.  And, it is painful; woefully painful.

I recall feeling that God must surely have thought I would make a horrible mother.  I also remember questioning, with sorrowful confusion, about why I was left out of the incredible gift of pregnancy and birthing a child.  I used to think, “I only have one life here on Earth, and I am missing out on one of the most beautiful endeavors that a woman experiences.  Why would God allow this?”

Growing up in the midst of barrenness taught me so many lessons about life.  It also tried to form a wedge (and succeeded for a while) between me and the loving Father that I had come to store my faith in as a child.  I truly feel infertility is one of the most misunderstood, all-consuming, complex, and spiritually challenging experiences that one faces in life.

As I sit here on the other side of life without kids, I now know that barrenness is just a technical part of who I am.  It is just a blip on the radar of what my life really is.

Medically speaking, I am barren, but spiritually speaking, I am now far from it.

The adoption of my children and the path that led me to them drew me closer to the Lord, not away from Him.  It took many years to get me here, though.

If you know someone who is experiencing infertility, pray for them.

  • Pray for clarity in their situation.  
  • Pray for fortitude as they face so many unknowns.
  • Pray for them to see, feel, and hear God in the midst of their distress.
  • Pray for their sweet spirits; may they not be dampened by their despair. 
  • Pray for a miracle – I still believe in them.

If you are experiencing infertility, my hope and prayer is that one day it will all make sense, and that you will look upon it like a distant memory of your life.  I do not know if adoption is the right choice you should make, but I do know that is it your choice and your right to decide if and when you are going to jump into adoption.

Adoption of my children definitely fulfilled my life-long quest for an answer and happy ending to barrenness.  I no longer grieve.  Instead, I find delight in the story that was written for me, and for the incredible, emotional journey that carried me to my children, and to a deeper understanding of our Savior.

Friends, I wish the same for you.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

-Isaiah 41:10