A Princess, a Victim, a Hero, an Author and a Rising

The bubble gum pink iridescent ribbons stick out of the overhead bin as if there is a tiny Disney princess taking a nap up there. I stare at the delicate ribbons, the prized possession of a little girl from what was probably her first visit to the happiest place on earth.

I take a deep breath, a breath filled with the complicated gray of sadness and gratitude, as a tear makes its way down my face.

5 years ago, 3 years ago, hell just seven weeks ago those ribbons would have brought me to a different kind of cry.

This day, though, they are tears of trust, freedom, and appreciation of how life is, not how I try to will it to be.

Chad and I are on our flight home from Orlando as I write this. We just spent the last three days at Disney World and Universal surrounded by damsels, princes, and heroes. A vacation we purchased at the Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Angel Ball last year. And, a trip that also happened to fall during National Infertility Week because it’s timing with my best friend’s wedding in Florida was too good not to schedule together.

The Justine I was, post failed fertility treatments would have never been able to make this trip, she was too destroyed by bitter and anger, comparison and shame to go to the happiest place on earth filled with thousands of reminders of the life she would never have. It has not been until very recently that I have realized how much work I still had to do to truly thrive after infertility.

Instead, I was present this trip and allowed myself to experience things in a way I haven’t before. I didn’t overly judge any parents out of a broken and incomplete heart ravaged by our missing three or hold on to ignorant comments made by people who aren’t touched by the devastation of infertility. Being at Disney without children, trust me, were there comments.

I noticed the shift in my reaction after a comment at the end of our very first day at Disney. We sat our tired bodies on the hard comfort of the tram bench across from a couple and their devastated four year daughter who was hysterically shouting, “But I don’t want to leave yet!”

They tried to reason with her, assuring her they had a great dinner surprise for her for her birthday, undoubtedly dinner with a princess or Mickey himself. But, she would not take this peace offering and only shouted and cried louder, “But I don’t want to leave yet!”

This is when her dad noticed my “My 1st visit” button and said, “Enjoy this magical time, you know, before you come back here with kids.”

Chad and I simply smiled and I joked back, “You guys are such jerks making her leave the park for a birthday surprise.”

No need for my advocate heart to educate him that not everyone will get to bring their children to Disney, hell, some of us don’t get to have them at all, he is already down for the count as the biggest asshole parent ever, at least in the eyes of his devastated four year old.

Instead, I took a breath and said to myself, Jesus help me.

 
 

I feel.

The uneventfulness, infertility-wise, of our trip culminated on our last day at Universal. Our morning started as we walked past a “book shop” called Embryo Books Booksellers and Publishers. I looked at Chad, “Wonder if they would have given me a publishing contract?”

I snapped this picture feeling the tiniest of tugs in my heart as I allowed it to pass choosing instead sad and joy in the exact same moment because as uncomfortable as the complicated gray is, I am finding my wholehearted home in it.

I release.

We spent the day moving quickly through just about every ride line as we people watched and I stared in awe of the creativity that is Universal often exclaiming, “I mean the attention to detail, the creativity, it is so amazing!”

Line after line the Universal employee would ask, “How many?”

“Two.”

Only two.

Nope, you can’t see my three.

Only I can feel them.

And, no less than ten times at Universal that day we were told to go to three.

“Line three.”

“Row three.”

“Three.”

Finally after the third time, Chad and I looked at one another, knowing this never was a coincidence, as if God was reminding us,

He’s got them, we will see them again and they will always be a part of you.

We are more than two.

I receive.

The bitter, the anger and the pain-filled grief almost completely gone, which I’ll admit kind of scares me. Well, the shame and scarcity part of me, the part of me that can feel so invisible a lot of the time, saying, then they never mattered.

What I know now is that this is actually the exact opposite, they matter more than ever, just in a much different way than I’ve ever allowed them to and than society may ever, especially if I stopped doing this work.

I advocate for healthier messages in the infertility journey, even though at times it feels as if I am the only one saying them and that no one will ever listen.

I advocate for women like me who end this journey without children holding their hands, because I know I am not the only one, I get messages every single day from my fellow warriors.

I advocate for myself because this life, my story, is hard and beautiful...and incredible.

This is life, a complicated gray of struggle and triumph, a really freaking beautiful triumph if we do the work.

So I will write, I will speak and I will keep helping and creating because the shining of my own complicated gray triumph can push, walk alongside and guide you into your own.

My story is not tragic.

My story is not one to be pitied, and it does not lack hope because it didn’t turn out how I, and you and society, hoped, dreamed and planned.

I am not a victim.

My story is not one to be admired either.

I am not a hero.

My story is a rising a rising out of the ashes and into the awakened and colorful life of the complicated gray.

I am the author.

A couple hours into the flight and those bubble gum pink iridescent ribbons still flutter in the stale cabin air of the plane, no one has rescued the princess and they don’t need to.

 
 

She has already rescued herself.

~~~

For the last five weeks 24 other incredible fellow warriors have shared their stories as part of my Ever Upward Blog Tour for the launch of my second book, The Mother of Second Chances, and National Infertility Awareness Week. Yesterday my friend Julie shared her incredible story.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for their bravery and their support. The relationships I have made only because of the infertility journey are relationships I will be forever thankful for. Please make sure to read and share all of their posts here.

I'm Stuck in a Life I Didn't Plan by Kristy Taxson

I absolutely LOVE today's piece by my new friend Kristy over at TTC a Taxon Baby. This is why I keep doing this work, because broken silence heals.

I'm Stuck in a Life I Didn't Plan

I love living by the ocean!  There's just something about breathing in the salty air, with your toes in the sand and looking out at the waves rolling in that will bring a sense of peace and calming over your whole body. I find myself sitting in the sand and staring out at the ocean a lot more lately, needing that calming feeling I'm so desperately trying to hold on to. During my latest TWW (two week wait), a little over a month ago, I found myself here again just thinking about everything and focusing on staying calm.  I sat there trying to read my book but found my mind wandering. Thinking about my life and how it didn't go according to my plan. I always knew I wanted to have kids one day, but I kept changing my mind on exactly how many. Never in a million years did it ever cross my mind that I wouldn't be able to have any.  You see, unfortunately, infertility treatments never worked on me.

Click here to keep reading.

6 Motherly Lessons Learned From the Losses of Infertility: Ever Upward Blog Tour 2017

It is with a heart full of awe and gratitude that I am kicking off my blog tour in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week and the launch of my latest book The Mother of Second Chances: The Struggle Bus of Rewriting My Story of Infertility and Loss, based off my blog. The Mother of Second Chances releases April 17th and is available for pre-orders now! For this blog tour I have 24 incredible voices joining me. Over the next five weeks each blogger will post on their blog or social media outlet their post on their assigned day to help us raise awareness of the lifelong journey of infertility. Read my fellow warriors stories of loss, courage, hope, healing and honor. Let us come together to educate the world on infertility and rising Ever Upward, and therefore build compassion for our continued healing.

We would love for you to participate by sharing these posts far and wide. We’d especially love to see your own broken silence by sharing your own infertility story using the hastags: #NIAW, #infertility and #EverUpward. And, please feel free to tag me.

Together we will #shatterthestigma.

~~~

To kick us off, I start with my 6 Motherly Lessons Learned From the Losses of Infertility. Tomorrow my friend Jenna shares her story.

 
 
 

~~~

Post links will be published once blogs are posted.

 
 

Silence in Infertility: The Race Gap

Because infertility knows no bounds of ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. Because the silence is destroying us.

Because it is important to circle back.

Because we desperately need to have these conversations.

Honestly, it is best explained here...

 
 

The Ever Upward Blog Tour starts March 27th right here!

 
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Making Good on My Promise

I promised a post to close out National Infertility Awareness Week today, especially since I ended up speaking at the 1st Gateway to Parenthood here in St. Louis. But, I'm exhausted. This week was more than I could have ever imagined.

More work and more magic.

I am still in complete awe of the shattered silence we came together to speak to the world this week.

And so, I hope you'll count this as my post for the day. I promise to write all about the conference today throughout this coming week. There were some incredible moments, rest assured I have plenty of words to share with you about it.

For tonight, I'm off to church and bed very early to only sleep in tomorrow...because I can and I deserve it. :)

Please know I felt your love and prayers wrap around me today as I spoke my truth, honored my babies and shared my ever upward with our fellow warriors.

In ever upward light and love, Justine

 
 

Yes, But

Did surrogacy work for you? How may rounds did you do?

Have you thought of adoption?

The questions I get from my own community, albeit delivered with compassion (most of the time), that still poke the shame monster.

One of my greatest inner critic gremlins this shame monster tortures me with is:

You will never belong.

When the gremlins of scarcity, shame, perfectionism, comparison and fear weasel their way into my head, this is the story I make up.

I've done the work, I am a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (based on the work of Brené Brown) for goodness sake. But having Brené's wholehearted courage work quite literally in my bones does not mean I get to escape the darkness of shame, it's not a magical super power.

But damn, the thoughts of I am not enough, I will never belong are enough to take anyone to their knees.

For me, the arena where I live my true calling on this earth can be one of the biggest triggers for these thoughts.

I am an infertility advocate. I am a thriver of infertility. And still, this arena can be one hell of a battle that, if I am not practicing my own work, will leave me face down and bloody in the dirt.

My gremlins like to torture me with you don't belong thoughts like

You are not a mother.

You've never even been pregnant.

You gave up.

You don't have the happy ending, people will never listen to you.

You say too much, people aren't ready for that vulnerability.

They will always ignore you.

They will never acknowledge you.

They don't like your messages.

They don't like you.

A lot of this is my own history and things I have learned to overcome, however some of it is also fueled by the unhealthy messages that can be in the infertility community.

The messages I am determined to change.

Yes, I also support our community to #startasking for the mainstream messages we need - however I have many caveats to them.

Better insurance coverage. Yes! However, I do  not think it needs to be endless insurance coverage. Every family must determine what their enoughs and everything is. I simply cannot support endless years of trying and unlimited rounds of treatment. We must start talking about active acceptance of what cannot be changed in this journey and sharing a healthier definition of hope. I also strongly believe that mental health care must be included, if not required, in infertility treatments (this shouldn't really come as a surprise).

Media coverage. Yes! But I am tired of the 'never give up' message from celebrities who have way more resources than I do. And, I am tired that the only story that seems to get decent coverage is the one that ends with pregnancy and/or adorable babies. There are many versions of the happy ending in the infertility journey and they all deserve to be seen and heard. Our community needs to see and hear them especially.

Asking for support. Yes! But we must remember this has to start with us. Our friends and family, and especially society, will never be able to give us what we want and need to survive, let alone thrive, through and after this journey unless we are sharing our truth.

My biggest #startasking is to my own community to speak. No pressure to write the book or the blog or to even go public on social media. But you must speak your story to your loved ones. This journey is just too hard to survive it with your partner and your doctor as your only support.

Do the work of asking yourself what is holding you back from telling your truth.

Past hurt? Shame? Fear of being judged? Guilt? Fear?

All of the above?

I have spent the last few years shouting my story from the pages of my book and this public blog. I share the dark and I share the light. I share me. In this sharing I heal and honor myself, but most especially, I honor and mother my babies.

I've also spent the last couple of years helping my clients to own their stories, speak their truths and give themselves permission to feel it all through this journey.

It is some of the best, most rewarding and effective work I have done in 15 years of being a therapist.

As if I needed more convincing that speaking our truth is the single most important thing to help us through this journey, my #MoreThan1in8 project only gave me further proof. Hundreds of people broke their silence in the last few weeks. Thousands of people have viewed the videos with our stories and our faces. And, the messages keep pouring in from people who participated and from people who stumbled upon the project. Their biggest message, simple and yet more powerful than anything, is loving gratitude.

 
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Sharing your truth will help. It is what will get us through this alive and well, thriving no matter what we get in the end.

Speak.

Speak to your trusted friends and family. Speak to your partner more.

Please, just speak.

~~~

I honestly struggled so much with writing this piece, just as I did last year for the You Are Not Alone piece. I struggled so much I wrote two pieces and ended up sending the other one to HuffPost. As the advocate, this week  has been full of magic, a ton of work, little sleep and more love and gratitude than I was ever prepared for. However, as the survivor it is also a week that can be difficult as the woman who IVF did not work for. Thank you to my community and my loved ones for the support throughout it. And, please, keep it coming as I have a dream opportunity tomorrow. Last minute, as in I just found out on Wednesday, I was asked to speak to 400 infertility patients. Here we go... I promise to share more about it tomorrow!

Let Us Be Seen

  I've spent hours cultivating, cropping, downloading and searching for the photos shared in my #MoreThan1in8 project. I've seen your smiling faces over and over throughout these last few weeks. I've read your brave words along with those beautiful pictures as something took root inside of me.

A family.

A family I never wanted. A family no one ever wants. A family we wouldn't ever be without again.

Most of us will never meet in person. Many of us will struggle with one another's happy endings to the infertility journey. Some of us may even leave the family.

Still, we will be family. Family who have survived the awful depths of infertility. Family, who I hope, will now choose to thrive through and after the journey, especially by sharing our stories and asking to be seen.

Because we deserve to.

Because we must.

~~~

Part 3 of my #MoreThan1in8 campaign for National Infertility Awareness Week is here!

Let us be seen.

 
 

The Surprises of Our Rally

 
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For the last three weeks my inbox, social media platforms and the Ever Upward Facebook page have received the brave words and the beautiful pictures of almost 300 families breaking the silence of infertility. With every notification my heart skips a beat.

With every word I read my body washes over with goosebumps.

With every smiling face I know that together we are changing the world.

I've tried hashtags before, I've run campaigns before and I have asked for help and participation before but none ever to huge success, at least in our social media's realm of viral success. So, I honestly had absolutely no expectations for this project.

Hopes?

Of course, I hoped we could go viral.

Have we succeeded?

Perhaps not in our internet crazed, fast paced, instant gratification and millions of shares and views definition of viral. But let's be honest, this project didn't include a puppy video or adorable babies giggling or toddlers saying hilarious things.

But did we succeed in the power of banding together to rise ever upward and seek our own freedom through and after infertility?

Hell yes!

What I was not prepared for, well besides the amount of work and wishing I could afford that assistant, were several surprises along the way.

 
 

The pang of my own longing. Lots of pictures of families with kids, babies, bellies and successful treatments ignited my forever longing right alongside my happiness. To continue to have the support and participation of people whose infertility treatments (or adoptions) have worked out for has been amazing. Plus, I've done the work and know my rise is the muck of my longing joy.

The gratitude of all participation. People still in the trenches, adoption stories, IVF success stories, no IVF treatents, donor stories, surrogacy, childfree not by choice, etc. I got submissions from every version of the infertility journey. And again, I am reminded that no matter how different our journey is, the feelings, the lifelong costs and the joy found through it are very much the same.

The worry of rap sheets and unhealthy messages. So many numbers were shared. So many tries and years and heartbreaks. One of my strong messages is that we must be more than our numbers (hence #MoreThan1in8) and that sometimes it is the healthiest thing to accept what sucks and choose to redefine. The therapist/advocate in me winced at times reading everyone's infertility rap sheets and so many 'never give up' messages.

The power of thriving. The rap sheets were almost always followed by what I was seeking in the project: How are you thriving through and after infertility? People shared their souls, their tools, their love, their fight and so much more. They shared how they are more themselves through this brutal and amazing journey.

The fear of not belonging. The "successful" families almost always prefaced their submission with an almost apology. Since they got the kids, they felt like they weren't sure they still belonged to the project. Which if you read my work, you know I think this journey lasts a lifetime no matter what your happy ending from it.

The surprise of who did and who did not participate. For their own health and happiness some of my closest blogging friends did not participate, or even share, the project. While I am disappointed by this, I completely get and support them doing what they need to do to be okay. But this is a reminder for those of us in the infertility community, we must support one another from a place of compassion and empathy no matter how different our stories may be or how different they end up. On the other side, many people came out of the infertility closet for the first time because of this project, people I never expected. And that, well, is one of the biggest reasons I work so hard on the healthy messages of the Ever Upward advocacy to begin with.

The awe of community. I never could have had this much participation without the help of my fellow warriors. I am in complete awe of this community, of the support we are capable of providing to one another and of the power we can have when we speak our truth and support one another through it, in it and thereafter.

Finally, the sadness of what I lost to get here. In my own therapy session last week my ass got totally therapized when my therapist Shellie said, "But how do you feel? I need you to pause and feel what this work means to you, feel how you got here. You are such an advocate and a doer but you need to take a breath and pause."

Of course, my eyes filled with tears. Tears of gratitude and joy and tears of longing and sadness.

The power of the determined and passionate advocate I am will never be great enough to overpower my grief and the longing and wonder I have for my three babies.

There still are, and probably forever will be, thoughts like,

Why not me?

and

It's not fair.

I will forever give myself permission for the anger, bitterness and sadness that lead me to ask those questions. I will also forever take the next breath and allow a tiny shift to make room for the joy, trust and gratitude.

God chose me to be their mother. He gave me my three. I suppose you could say He also took them away. But they were never mine to begin with, just as I belong to Him, they were always His. I only hoped to borrow them for a while, to parent with them by my side instead of from afar.

But, I trust He has my story.

He also gave me the choice to find my place in it.

I choose to redefine and help people through the infertility journey and thereafter. I choose to make sure the healthier messages become our truth.

As this work is my triumph over tragedy, in this work I honor my babies.

I choose motherhood. I choose breaking the silence.

I am a mother rising ever upward.

~~~

Thank you for reading, and especially, for participating in #MoreThan1in8. Make sure to follow the blog and the Ever Upward Facebook page for the surprises I have coming out next week using your amazing stories and beautiful faces throughout the week for National Infertility Awareness Week.

A Tale of Surviving and Thriving - What's Yours?

Silent Sorority

was the first book I ordered when searching for infertility books on Amazon five years ago. It was one of the only books I could find with a healthier message. It also inspired me to write

Ever Upward 

to join Pamela in shouting our missions of difficult conversations and healthier messages into this world. Little did I know the fellow warrior I would come to find and know in Pamela. I am excited and honored Pamela agreed to share her

#MoreThan1in8

submission with you all. We have a little less than two weeks before National Infertility Awareness week and I need more courage, more voices and more support. You can read more about the project

here

, I hope I squash any qualms you may have about going public there.

If we want more understanding and compassion from our world, we must tell our stories and ask for what we want and need. Help me to end the silence that surrounds infertility and loss by participating in this project.

Because together, we are #MoreThan1in8.

~~~

A Tale of Surviving and Thriving - What's Yours?

We live in an era where scientific and medical breakthroughs in the fertility world are a double edge sword. While we instinctively cheer for fertility successes, society -- and the medical community in particular -- lack a framework to help process the losses when success is elusive.

Nothing in our otherwise modern life fully prepares us for an infertility diagnosis. For those in the confounding 'unexplained infertility' category it can be particularly difficult to pick up the pieces and imagine surviving, let alone thriving. Those of us who have lived it know all too well there are no clear instructions on what it takes to embark on a life path that doesn’t involve parenting following fertility treatment losses. As I look back on that difficult period of life, there were many emotional and practical considerations that led us to acknowledge that it was time for us to find a way to move on.

In 2007, I began the long, slow process of healing and surviving by creating a safe place for me and other women embarking on a new life after confronting infertility. My first blog was appropriately titled Coming2Terms. An added benefit to opening up about the personal challenges that infertility inflicted has been exploring a universe of ideas and connecting with a remarkable set of women and men who are also busy healing, surviving and reinventing themselves.

My blog -- and later books and advocacy work -- have brought forth new understanding about the complex effects of infertility and catalyzed an important cultural discussion. Together with women like Justine and others around the globe, we continue to foster support and further education about the infertility experience. The stigmatization and pain is further complicated, we've learned, by an avoidable trauma:  abandonment by fertility clinics more interested in securing a new customer than in providing compassionate care to those grieving when science and Mother Nature don't result in a pregnancy or live birth. The lack of palliative care is particularly harsh for those reeling with complex emotions.  Sadly patient abandonment is prevalent in the fertility industry. In the past decade a chorus of voices has emerged calling for change.

In sharing what we’ve learned we not only offer camaraderie and celebrate new beginnings we ensure the next generation will be well informed and benefit from lessons learned.

To those just embarking on the path, I can assure you that after my grieving ended a lightness, an effervescence returned not only to my marriage, but to my friendships and relationships. I’ve tapped into a well of strength and resilience I didn’t know existed.  The love, acceptance and compassion have nurtured hope and happiness in a different form.

Pamela
Pamela

In thriving we have helped to showcase families after infertility in a new light.

We continue today, my husband and me, to push forward, to shape and define a life outside the more conventional path of parenting. We challenge each other to uncover new possibilities, to seek new adventures and discoveries that will enrich our understanding of the world and our place in it. That’s exactly what we would have encouraged our children to do.

~~~

Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos is the author of the award-winning memoir Silent Sorority. Her latest ebook is Finally Heard: A Silent Sorority Finds Its Voice.

In July 2015 her blog earned at Top Health Blognod from Time, Inc.'s Health Magazine. For more of her writing visit: Silent Sorority.com

The Goosebumps of Knowing Awe

The email comes through with the subject line of #MoreThan1in8 and my heart skips a beat. The social media notification comes through with the brave words and beautiful faces of someone breaking the silence and I'm overcome with goosebumps in knowing awe.

The knowing awe of the power of telling our stories.

The knowing awe of the freedom of owning stories.

The knowing awe of the world changing.

In one week I have had 29 people share their stories of thriving through and thereafter infertility along with their bright shining faces. In the next two weeks I hope and pray that number jumps to no less than 100.

Because I want more from us and for us. It is my #startasking I suppose.

Even if you are not comfortable, now or ever, to share your infertility story publicly on social media, I would be appreciative if you would at least share the project. More than that I would be honored if you would share your story and show your face with me privately via email. I am not publicly posting the stories. I am however going to use our faces, the images of thriving through and after infertility, for a project during National Infertility Awareness Week. But your photo may not necessarily be identifiable, as it will be very, very small. Too public for you even still? Then please share your story with me and a photo of the hobby, the pets, the books that are helping you thrive through and after your infertility journey. Or if you think I'm crazy and this will never work, I'll just take those thoughts, prayers and lots of magic that this project can provide some of us the outlet to tell our stories.

But still, I beg you, break your silence in a way that honors your truth and changes your life and the world.

We cannot want more from our loved ones and our society unless we tell our stories. We must ask for what we want and need, and we must educate if we are going to get the understanding and compassion we all so desperately need through and after this journey. No need for the public blog or social media posts or publishing the book, but please, speak  your story to someone who loves you, to someone you trust.

I think, speaking our truth and owning our stories, is one of the only ways we will get out of this alive and well.

 
 

To participate in #MoreThan1in8 please send however much of your story and a photo that you are comfortable with, and thank you in advance!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/everupwardblog

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jlbf4

Twitter: @JustineFroelker

Email: everupwardbook@gmail.com

We Are More Than 1 in 8

I've been attacked for my infertility journey. I've been misunderstood.

I've been judged.

I've been pitied.

I've been ignored.

I've also been loved, listened to and supported through it and still thereafter. 

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 24th-30th and I want to make sure we all feel seen and heard this year.

No matter where you are in the infertility journey. No matter what your ending was from it. No matter how your family has been defined. Kids. No kids. Adoption. Surrogacy. Donor. Successful treatments. Unsuccessful treatments. Any level of treatments. Any diagnosis. Any length of time. Longing grandparents or aunts and uncles. Parents of loss. Longing parents.

Whatever your story is, was and may be through the infertility journey; our voices are stronger together, we are fellow warriors.

What people say or think about infertility, or their lack of understanding or acknowledgement, does not define us or our happiness.

We define it.

Our journey to wholeness is our ever upward.

 
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There are still millions of people hiding their infertility battle in shamed silence.  Change starts with us.  Let's show the world what more than 1 in 8 really looks like.

Together we can open the doors to a much needed, and much bigger and healthier conversation that brings us healing, growth, love and happiness - in forms that are uniquely you.

Let's see your ever upward, even if it's still in progress, and stand together.

For ourselves. For our families. And for those who are fighting alone.

Over the next few weeks I would love to hear from  you, and especially see you!

 
We are #MoreThan1in8. I am thriving after infertility by shining my light through the darkness of the journey for others. I am thriving through self-care and love because my work, my life, honors my babies.

We are #MoreThan1in8. I am thriving after infertility by shining my light through the darkness of the journey for others. I am thriving through self-care and love because my work, my life, honors my babies.

 

Let's make the world hear our shattered silence and see our faces; the voices and the faces of the battle of infertility and it's survivors.

Send me a picture of you (and your spouse or family) via email or by posting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Make sure to tag me and/or Ever Upward and use #MoreThan1in8. I'd love to hear how you are surviving and thriving through and after infertility. What makes you more than 1 in 8?

Throughout the week of April 24-30th I will have a surprise that tells all of our stories using our pictures.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/everupwardblog

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jlbf4

Twitter: @JustineFroelker

Email: everupwardbook@gmail.com

More Difficult Than I Thought

National Infertility Awareness Week 2015 is coming to a close. I've felt sad, frustrated, angry, invisible and hopeful.

I have advocated, screamed, cried and sighed a breath of relief.

I have truly felt it all.

Thankfully, I do feel the tide turning ever so slightly.

And, I will not stop until it has.

The messages portrayed in mainstream media, by celebrities and even our fertility clinics must change. But, we as a community, together, must also stop reinforcing and perpetuating these same messages.

We must be more than our numbers.

We must stop comparing our journeys.

We must be more than our quest to become parents.

We must never give up on ourselves.

We must practice hope balanced with active acceptance.

We must accept that there are many versions of the happy ending.

And, we must be in this together.

This week I wrote a piece for Resolve's Bloggers Unite project, you can read the post here. To be honest I struggled immensely with writing this piece, it was a labor that I had to eventually walk away from not knowing that it was really my brave heart beginning to rear for my HuffPost piece.

My piece for HuffPost Parents is my soul's song, it is my mission, it is my ever upward baby. I simply needed to write it after feeling so invisible myself this week, you can read the post here.

And finally, CNN ran our story and featured Ever Upward, you can read the piece here. There are no words for how grateful I am for this piece, how well Kelly wrote it and the feedback we are receiving on it. I only wish it reaches far and wide so others may find their permissions.

Please share, we have so much work to do in infertility education and compassion.

We also have so much work to do ourselves, and together my fellow warriors it can change.

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.

You Are Not Alone, Please Speak Your Way Out of the Darkness

To feel alone when surrounded by many is quite possibly the worst kind of lonely. There are millions of us who struggle to make our families. The statistics are enough to take our breath away:

  • 1 in 8 couples will struggle to conceive.
  • 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in loss.
  • 1 in 160 babies will be born still.

We are never alone in this journey, the numbers simply prove otherwise.

And, yet most of us fight all by ourselves, with our voices silenced and shame stealing our light.

This can be the darkness of infertility.

I entered into the infertility world never trying to get pregnant myself due to medical issues of my own. I entered into the infertility world as a mental health therapist who was already pretty open about my own struggles in life. And it is with these two differences, that I entered the infertility world as someone kind of on the outside or at least that is what it felt like a lot of the time.

After the infertility part of my journey I am a woman proven wrong. I am the furthest from alone in this journey as I am surrounded by my fellow warriors. Technically my infertility journey has ended without the desired result of children (I know those words are scary to read), and yet my journey is far from over. As us survivors know, this journey truly lasts a lifetime.

It is only through really using my voice and sharing my story that my chosen family has grown full of my fellow warriors. Through my work in Ever Upward (the book and the blog) I have met some of the most amazing people. People that, even though I may never meet in person, I can truly call my friends, and even family.

It has been this family who sees me, knows me and loves me even though my story scares them because it didn't turn out how we all hope ours will. It has been this family who has been one of the most helpful pieces of my forever healing journey.  It has been this family that supports my voice, my mission and my ever upward.

It is this family, along with my loved ones and His grace, that make up the monarch that graces the cover of Ever Upward.

A journey never alone. A journey not broken but coming together whole. A journey rising ever upward.

 
 

Speaking is our way out of the darkness.

Your voice does not have to be publishing the book or the huge public blog, it just has to be your voice, especially to your loved ones and to some of the people in your daily life. This is how you will thrive and not just survive the heart breaking and soul crushing journey that infertility can be.

Infertility can make us doubt the very core of who we are. It can make us doubt and question our faith, our bodies and our relationships.

This is the darkness of infertility, the darkest of dark.

It literally has the potential to destroy us.

But only if we allow it. And, I promise if you walk into this work you may actually find your light in this incredibly, damn near impossible, journey. I also promise it is worth it, no matter how you define your happy ending.

But I beg, please don't stand in the dark all alone and silent.

The more we speak the more we heal.

The more we speak the more our light shines again.

And, the more we speak the more compassion and understanding we will receive.

When we speak we are never alone.

When we speak we have one another.

When we speak we walk alongside one another leading each other out of the darkness always rising ever upward.

~~~

For more information on what infertility exactly is click here.

Learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week here.