it’s all a dream….

IMG_3359(photo credit: Christin Armstrong)

It’s easy to take this belly for granted or to complain about the daily nuances of a baby belly… It’s easy to get so used to it that you begin to believe that it is deserved.  That it’s just “normal”, a “regular” thing. It’s easy to feel far removed from a past that was still very much a part of who you are. Although, the evidence of this pregnancy has become my norm and is the very beginnings of being defined as a mother, I make sure to keep at the forefront of my mind how spectacular a blessing it is.

The saddest part of this experience is that I don’t feel as if my heart has completely softened or slowed yet… I don’t feel as if I’ve caught my breathe or truly grasped the reality or heaviness of this pregnancy – which is insane. And, truly heartbreaking for me.

But, infertility will do that to you. It has a way of changing your heart and the very essence of who you are, how you relate to others, and deal with life. Some lessons of this journey are definitely beneficial, others I can definitely do without. Like, the numbness that results from constant disappointments. The roller coaster rides. The ups and downs of medications. The never ending poking, examining, and prodding. The adoption paperwork, meetings, and packets. The anxiety, fear, and difficulty in trusting what actually is or your gut feelings. Never knowing what’s coming next. The heartbreak of every failed attempt to just breathe. The empty desire to live each day without the worry or stress or chaos… because you know that that’s just not a part of infertility-trying to conceive-trying to adopt journey.

While an upside of being on this journey lends itself to the possibility of growth; in the moment, that reality doesn’t seem to matter in the moment. But, if you keep moving forward you realize that it’s the growth that has kept you going.  You don’t immediately see how you’re torn down while simultaneously built up, reinforced, and strengthened. You are stripped of everything you “knew”or “wanted” and given (without permission.. rude) completely new perspectives and desires. And, that’s frustrating. On many days I was angered and frustrated at how these past four years of infertility have negatively impacted my life. Bitter towards the seemingly most insignificant and most glaring ways it has impacted my marriage and my relationship with my husband. The wasted money, the wasted hours at doctor’s appointments, pointless injections and medications. The guilt of the twinge of jealously and sadness felt when you’re out and about and it seems that every other woman on the planet is expecting; it forces you to reckon with your inabilities and circumstances. And, dealing with it is hard. Balancing the thin line between the unmistakable joy you have for friends and family who are expanding their families and the unmistakable pain you feel when the next cycle begins or you’re in purgatory wanting to just give up but still wanting to soothe that ache in your heart. Or, issues with an adoption agency slow progress or things just aren’t going the way you feel they should. It all seems purposefulness.

The disappointment, guilt, fear, sadness, and pain colors and consumes so much of your life…. It’s easy to lose hope, to accept that it’s “never” going to happen, and to begin to believe that “expansion projects” just weren’t for you. Easy to succumb to this inner defeat that you truly don’t want to give in to but seems to be swallowing you whole.

So, you let it go. You move forward and begin to revamp your life plan. You begin to hope for new things and believe that there’s more than one way to live this life with purpose and experience fulfillment in ways that didn’t include a house full of children, noise, and sleepless nights.

And, then…..IMG_3310-Edit(photo credit: Christin Armstrong)

…. you realize that every single moment you thought was wasted is redeemed…. the humiliation, let downs, and devastations of every experience are being traded for crowns of beauty and you see with your own eyes that God really does make everything beautiful in his own time. That all things truly work tougher for good, that our Father in Heaven truly is the giver of really good and incredibly perfect gifts.

…. you learn by experience (which they say is the best teacher!) that God’s plan for your life truly is much greater than anything you could ever consider. You’re able to look back and see the struggles you’ve gone though and it pales in comparison to what is coming.

…. you are grateful for every experience meant to hurt you and break you because they drove you to the cross and positioned you to be vulnerable and open to the people put in your life to support and love you.

…. you learn that God can restore. That He gives you the desires of your heart. That your soul truly can trust in the Lord and rest in his goodness.

…. most of all, you recognize that these experiences, these years were not wasted, the circumstances not created to break you, but rather to point to someone much greater than ourselves.

This dream…. these girls…. didn’t happen because we finally “stopped trying” or because I “did things God’s way”….. This happened in spite of us  with the purpose of glorifying God alone. Our story happened the way that it did because God planned it that way. The worst of it shows God’s goodness and faithfulness, the best his grace and love for us.

Infertility isn’t the easiest life experience to walk through. Treatments and adoption aren’t either. While neither brought us children, I know how difficult they both can be. The most comforting part of walking any road is that you aren’t the first nor will you be the last to walk that same path. You aren’t alone. Finding, building, and engaging with women who have and are experiencing what you have is a blessing. Being able to walk along side other women who know that struggle is the most encouraging and comforting opportunity.

Share your story in your own way, in your own time. Other women and couples need to hear your voice…. even if it’s a whisper.

 

These little girls truly are a dream come true and I’m so thankful for all of you who have come along side of us, who have stood with us, prayed with us, cried with us, and who are finally rejoicing with us. This is a big deal. I am absolutely looking forward to celebrating our children (whoa.) with our closest friends and family this weekend. It’s going to be so special.

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three year wait

lola It literally blows my mind that I have been blogging about through our “Mayes expansion project” for three years now. THREE ENTIRE YEARS.

I remember so much about “the news” and what came soon after, but had forgotten so much as well.

This week, we’re having Field Day at school… Three years ago this time, I was recovering from my endoscopy and laparoscopy.

I’d just learned that I had so much scar tissue from my Stage 2 endometriosis covering one of my ovaries that it looked like a cast and enough covering my fallopian tubes to prevent them from doing their job.  There was nothing happening down there at all! I had scar tissue below my “hostile environment” of a uterus right above my pelvis. Yes, a hostile environment… that’s how the doctor (lovingly & kindly) described my situation. lol. And, gave us a 2-4% chance of getting pregnant on our own during any given month…. while most couples have a 20-25% chance. (Isn’t it crazy that there are so many people on this earth, so many of our friends pregnant with seemingly low odds??!) Most of those details I’d forgotten aside from where my scar tissue was. I also didn’t forget that the scar tissue would grow back and if we were to try again after some time, I’d have to have surgery again. Y a y.

I’d completely forgotten that Thomas was interested in adoption long before I was. I was selfishly focused on children that would be “mine”…. who would look like me…. who would sound like me. How funny is it that God opens your eyes and heart to the very things you balked at? Humbling, right?

I had no idea what I was in for when I titled this space Unashamed Growth…. I had no idea the insanely phenomenal women I would meet, the amazing opportunities that would come from such an idea that I wasn’t even sure about in the first place.
I had no idea how we would be shaped and reshaped over the course of the next few years.

But, I’m grateful.
I would have missed so much. I would have missed God in so many places, wouldn’t have seen Him ALIVE in so many people. I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for my inability to have my own children.

lola2I’m reading Nehemiah along a billion other women over at She Reads Truth…. and, last week we saw how we each have a work to do, a specific and very important job that is meant to benefit the body of Christ. No matter how seemingly small and insignificant; trusting & obeying God with your efforts, your motives, your passions, your everything will impact the community and will be for your good & God’s glory. We also saw how great a motivator and team player Nehemiah was. He was a leader that heard his people and responded. How many of us truly take time to hear our girlfriends and address their needs or ease their burdens when they need us to?

Small tokens of gratitude, words of encouragement, smiles, watching a friend’s kids while they have a nap or run to the grocery store without four or six other hands pulling at them or items off a shelf HELPS the body. It strengthens us. Those moments of love in action matter. We never know how the enormity of a word or action that feels or seems small to us, can change the trajectory of another person’s day – both good and bad.

This journey is painful, but humbling at the same time.
We’re hoping that this portion of our story will be over soon and that we’ll be growing and experiencing God in our roles as forever parents one day.

But, until then…. we’re content with where we are, learning more and more everyday that the grace of God is more than enough. That HE, alone, is what our hearts yearn for the most.

Thank you for standing in the yuck and pain with us. Your presence and words have mattered a great deal!

*** photo cred: Trent Williams of Memorable Reflections ***
He asked me to model Lola (my hair, yes. she has a name & an insta! – @lo.lah) for a natural hair project, Hair Like Mine, he’s working on for his magazine. I was pretty freaking excited to do this for him & can’t wait to see the finished product!!!

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pride monster

These last 20 days post life with Drew have been interesting. I keep having these little epiphanies and realizations about the cycles of grief I’m going through. Lots of sorting through feelings of anger, gratefulness, hurt, and sadness.

Today, I realized that some of my silence on the issue has a lot to do with pride. Other parts have to do with my desire to respect her birth family and living above the fray. Other parts I’m sure have yet to be dealt with because they haven’t quite surfaced yet.

Have you ever had a war of the wills with someone… maybe yourself? Not wanting to give up any ground in fear of “losing”? Or, being plain stubborn because of all the things that could happen, that person “winning” “won’t” be one of them?

Control and pride. 

I’ve been pulled into that world…. where fear, control, and pride reigned instead of love, peace, and selflessness. And, the freedom that comes with good. The freedom that comes with the truth. The freedom that comes with knowing that change is difficult and accepting that you can’t make another person want to stand in the light that God provides. Freedom of standing in the light that loving others provides.

I’ve have to remind myself that no matter what or how many lies are told about us, no matter who hears or believes the lies, no matter what happens, I know who I am. I know who we are. I know the honest to God truth of what has been told and done to us.
As each day passes, I feel warmth and light more and more. I crave it. I miss it. I’ve had to work really hard to find it some days because I distract myself with so much. I’ve had to force myself to make real efforts to slow, to stop, to engage. To stand in the light.

In this world of adoption, kiddos are reunited with their birth families on a regular basis. Family change their minds constantly. A right they have. A right that I will never protest or balk at. So, I’ll never be angry with the baby’s family for changing their minds.

But, I am floored. I am more than appalled. I am hurt.
I am sad at the how and the results of that.

But, I am moving forward. I am forgiving and gracious; that part of me will never change.
I’m full of peace and joy. I have “things” that can never be taken from me.
It’s been a tough, tough, tough April and May. It has, I’m not going to lie.

But, I’m literally alright. 

 

The words you guys have shared with me over the past couple of weeks, has been life giving. You have poured so much into me that has encouraged me, brought tears to my eyes, made me laugh. Let me know that I’m not alone.

To see and hear what is truly thought of you, the good that is seen in you from the eyes of others is the most humbling and so very beautiful. It’s inspiring. Appreciated. Encouraging.

Thank you one thousand times!!!!!!!
I love you!

Post jam: Gravity ~ John Mayer

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