HuffPost Parents: When Your Child Asks Why I Don't Have Kids

I originally wrote this piece for another outlet but received the official rejection for that yesterday. When one door closes you open another. I am beyond thankful to HuffPost Parents for their continued support of Ever Upward

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When Your Child Asks Why I Don't Have Kids

At 3 he asked his mom, “Why don’t Justine and Chad have kids?”

His mom replied with a generic, “Well, they have three dogs instead.”

At 6 he asked in front of us at the dinner table, “Why don’t you have kids?”

Before I could answer, his mom said, “That’s why they love spending so much time with you guys!”

It is a simple question from him, grounded in true loving curiosity. It is a loaded question for me that speaks volumes he is too little to understand yet. It is a question he deserves a truthful answer to, as it has to be confusing to see these people who love him so much not look like all the other families around him.

How do you as parents answer this question in a way that honors your child’s curiosity and respects the feelings and the story of the stunned couple in front of you?

Click here to continue reading over at HuffPost Parents.

Because She is Mom

Please join me, along with founder Sarah Philpott of

All-American Mom

, this coming Mother's Day to #honorallmoms. I am thankful to HuffPost Parents for once again being supportive of my work and my mission.

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Because She is the Mother of All Mothers

She can hear the giggles from down the hall.

She already knows what is coming as it has become a bit of a tradition since she they were old enough to walk.

Her three children will stumble through her bedroom doors full of smiles and unable to contain their giggles. Her oldest will be holding the tray of scrambled eggs, burnt toast and fruit their dad helped them to prepare. Her middle child will be holding the cards they drew at school this week for her. And her youngest will be holding dew covered flowers they picked from her own garden first thing this morning.

“I tried to contain them as long as I could,” her husband says apologetically.

“I wouldn’t trade this early wake up call for anything,” she replies through a yawn she allows only him to see.

Six years ago she only dreamed of this day. In the midst of infertility treatments and having lost two babies before she finally held her first son in her arms, Mother’s Day was a day she dreaded with everything of her heart, soul and being.

Click here to continue reading over at The Huffington Post.

 
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Infertility's Identity Theft

She sits in the chair across from me showing more of her pregnancy. Her face is filling out, her breathing becoming more and more labored and her belly growing each week as her baby gets closer to breathing this earth's fresh air. "How is your anxiety?" I ask her with both love and accountability. "Getting any better since you passed the week of Sarah's loss?" referring to her pregnancy loss and making sure to name her baby girl.

"Maybe a little," she replies as she tries to push the tears down and away from springing to her eyes.

"There is enough room for both. Give yourself permission to feel happy and scared and anxious and sad and joyful all at the same time. Fighting any of it, or denying it, will only make the anxiety worse."

She looks at me with a look of both disbelief and peace.

Click here to read more of my latest over at HuffPost Parents.

I Get It, My Story Makes You Really Uncomfortable

HuffPost Parents ran an original piece yesterday and I wanted to make sure everyone here saw it too. Also, a piece from a friend! Have a great weekend! Justine ~~~

When Your Truth Makes Others Uncomfortable

The first defining part of my life story is one that makes people curious and sometimes left in awe.

I had two back surgeries in high school and was in a body cast for a year of my life.

I survived and overcame.

This makes people feel good and they want to know more; they want to know me.

Skip to 20 years later, and to the most defining part of my life, and it is one that makes people sad and scares the hell out of them.

Infertility treatments did not work for us and we are choosing a childfree not by choice life.

I survived and actively work to overcome and thrive each day.

This makes people sad and uncomfortable.

Click here to keep reading over at HuffPost Parents.

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In Other News

My friend and a huge supporter of Ever Upward, Jessica over at A Hummingbird Paused has been selected as one of the Best Blogs for Resolve's Hope Awards.  I am so excited for her and asked her to write a blurb to share here:

You are not alone. As the theme for this year's Bloggers Unite challenge, it was easy to write about the infertility community and how to find support. There are so many ways to make connections and reach out to the community. But the loneliness? The isolation? That's not something that will just disappear. Because it all starts within your mind. That sense that you're different. Your path to parenthood may be unconventional or non-traditional. You may be forced to make hard choices that few can comprehend. You compare yourself to others and suddenly you start to feel isolated, lonely, and misunderstood. But let me tell you, just because your journey is different doesn't mean that you're alone. You are part of a welcoming and open community, and your story matters.

Being part of any community requires conversation and interaction. It's truly amazing how supportive the infertility and loss community is. And Resolve is a big part of that. They are a huge supporter of the blogging community, as well as providing invaluable resources and a voice on Capitol Hill. I'm so grateful for all they have accomplished and for what they continue to work towards.
Your voice in this community matters. And I would greatly appreciate your vote. But please check out the other bloggers who were nominated as well. Each one of them deserves this nomination for adding their voice to this challenge and for their vulnerability in sharing their stories. We are all in this together, and your participation in this vote is greatly appreciated!

 

Surviving Infertility: Why 'At Peace' May Never Describe It

My latest and original, HuffPost Parents piece has brought out a lot of the judgers, haters and miseducated. Unfortunately, I guess I am not all that surprised, but I do feel more disheartened. We have a lot of work to do.

Little do they know, their hate and ignorance only feeds my light. They sure are loud on this piece but ever upward is louder.

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Why 'At Peace' Will Never Describe Survivors of Infertility

Surviving through infertility changes us forever.

Choosing to thrive thereafter simply means we figure out how to live the rest of our lives with our forever scarred soul, and yet do the work of healing every day.

A couple of weeks ago I participated in a faith testimony at my church. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We each walked out on stage, in front of thousands, holding a piece of cardboard; one side stating our struggle and then flipping to the other side of how our faith has changed us.

Continue reading here.

Changing the Invisible Longing to Empowered Ever Upward

My latest original piece for HuffPost Parents:

Making the Invisible Longing Visible

A week after National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), when I reared my brave heart and our story ran on CNN, I sat in my own therapist's office with tears running down my face and my voice adamant.

Invisible.

Sad.

Angry.

Disappointed.

Fired up.

Just human.

Or at least that is what Shellie, my therapist, reminded that I am.

I have survived my infertility journey and I work every day to thrive thereafter as a forever healing childfull parent.

I advocate every day to break the silence and change the messages as I help others through their journeys both as an author and as a therapist.

Click here to read more.

She Rears Her Brave Heart

I just wrote this piece for HuffPost Parents. National Infertility Week has been more of a struggle for me (and my clients) than I expected. So of course, I wrote it out. Actually, I am shouting it out!

An Infertility Advocate Rears Her Brave Heart

We are halfway through National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).

And honestly, it is kicking my butt.

Kicking my butt both as a survivor, and especially thriver, of the infertility journey but also as an advocate. This is living in the tension and the complicated gray of life, I teach this every day to my clients and life reminds me of it myself often.

As an advocate, I always shine the light on infertility and educate whoever will listen. Ishout at the top of my lungs when it comes to spreading the healthier messages of infertility like: we must be more than this heartbreaking journey, the detriments of the 'never give up' message and that there are many versions of the happy ending.

This advocacy requires incessant sharing on as many platforms as possible this week. Because just maybe my story will reach the person who needs it most in that moment and they will know they are not alone. Because maybe my story will reach the person who needs to tell someone their story and ask for help. And because maybe my story will reach the person who needs to give themselves permission to embrace the complicated gray; to feel lost and confused while at the same time trusting that they do actually know what is best for them on this journey.

But, as the survivor and thriver of infertility, I am also a childfull mother who infertility treatments did not work for. I am the childfull mother who will be forever changed and have to work on always healing the scarred losses of her three never to be babies.

Click here to continue reading over at HuffPost.

The Sword of Silence

An original piece for HuffPost Parents was published yesterday. I was thankful to wake up this morning to see that they had shared it on their Facebook wall which is the only way it gets a lot of exposure. For me, it may be one of the most important pieces and messages of Ever Upward so I wanted to make sure to share it here too. I hope you enjoy and please as always share!

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The silence that surrounds infertility, pregnancy and infant loss is a double-edged sword.

One side is sharpened by our society and culture; the side that keeps us silent due to mis-education, misunderstanding, blame and sympathy.

The other side is sharpened by our own grief and shame; the side that keeps us silent due to our broken hearts and our mistaken sense of being utterly alone in it.

I've been told I talk too much. My story has not only been shut down but even completely denied by even some of my closest loved ones. My infertility losses and my childfull motherhood are hardly ever publicly acknowledged. My bright shining light of Ever Upward scares many.

And yet, I still speak. And, I will shout until all of us speak more.

(Click here to continue reading...)

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