The Extra of the Infertility Journey

QuoteImageFamily.png

The friendships. A wholehearted truth. Renewed dreams. My reclaimed life.

Just a few of the extras of my infertility journey, none of the above a consolation prize of my hard story and three lost babies, rather gifts that I have fought for, created, and received.

My friendship with Kaeleigh, of Unpregnant Chicken, is one of those extras. Last week my friend, who I only met through the community of infertility and loss and this big awesome world of blogging and social media, released her first book. I am so excited to support her by being a part of this amazing blog tour and offering a giveaway! To be entered to win your own copy of Extra! simply comment on this post. I will draw a winner on February 15th, 2018. I am so proud of this project and it's offer to families who need a little extra to find their way to their version of the complete family portrait.

Make sure to follow along on this blog tour and check out Christine's post from Friday and Victoria's which is coming tomorrow!

Settling the Panic of Failure

I started the week off with the lingering panic of failure that had crept in last week.

My, oh shit people could actually read this book and hate it and judge it; hate and judge me, feeling from several weeks ago shifted last week.

This fear of judgment morphed into the panic of failure. The panic of, oh shit my numbers aren't high enough to sell a book. The panic of not catching the break I've been fighting for incessantly.

The panic of failing

Does that mean I am a failure? That Ever Upward is a failure?

My failure in Ever Upward is not wrapped up in fame or money. I could care less about both.

It is wrapped up in not enough people finding this message, which could mean the people who need it most never find it.

And, I'm a helper.

I help

I can't not help.

Ever Upward is not only my light to this world to shine onto the darkness of the shamed silence of infertility and recovery. It is also my light of help. It's my soul. It is what I can't help from coming out of me everywhere I go, no matter who I meet.

My constant mantra has been, everything is unfolding just as it is supposed to be because God's timing is perfect and I am enough. I know this statement to be true with every cell of my being. But my anxious, type A, doer part of my brain has to be constantly reminded to let go.

Glimmers of hope

And, then Wednesday a glimmer of hope.

Finally some concrete proof of all of the work, all of the social media, all of the platform building.

The editors at WordPress featured Ever Upward, completely unbeknownst to me, and one of the best surprises ever! As if that wasn't enough, they called my writing, "at once unflinching and moving". I am so thankful for this amazing compliment and this exposure, to think that I am finally on the radar of the editors at WordPress is something I have only hoped for and dreamed of throughout the last year.

Also, on Wednesday I got the email subscriber list up and running which I've been so excited about. Make sure to subscribe to receive the 30 Day Toolkit to Living Ever Upward.

On top of that the Ever Upward Book Launch Party is almost sold out. Also, the Fertility Compassion Survey received more responses than I could have imagined (I'll be posting about these soon, I promise). And, the Kickstarter campaign for the Ever Upward Book Trailer is more than half funded (only 4 days to go). This support means more than words can ever convey and more than anyone will ever be able to truly realize. I am endlessly grateful.

 
 

Do the glimmers take away the fear of judgment?

A little. But, the fact is some will absolutely hate the book. And, many will judge me. However, I will respectfully choose to look to the people who live their lives from a place of love, the people who try to get it and the people who also live their lives wholeheartedly brave.

Do the glimmers erase the panic?

Not completely but they definitely help. Ever Upward may never be a bestseller. But, I will choose to trust that the lives who need the message will find the book in their hands and find their lives changed for the better.

Do the glimmers settle down the doer part of my brain?

I wish they did more but it is also just who I am. So I will continue to tweet, I will keep begging people to read and review and share, I will keep trying, I will keep doing because that's what I do.

Do the glimmers give me more hope?

Absolutely, which means my hope is stronger and the light brighter than ever on giving me more courage.

The courage to fly. The courage to try. The courage to be the magic of ever upward.

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

What Is Fertility Compassion?

My definition of fertility is one's ability to make a family. And, when I write make I don't mean produce. My definition of compassion is the ability to find and practice empathy for others. And, when I write empathy I definitely do not mean sympathy (remember sympathy is I feel for you and empathy is I feel with you.)

Therefore, my definition of fertility compassion is having empathy towards family planning.

Fertile or Infertile.

Family planning is complicated.

And, yet it is often minimized, insensitively judged and invalidated.

Everyone has an opinion on family planning and therefore everyone also has many questions. However, many times these questions, even though meant to be innocent, even loving at times, can feel invalidating and hurtful to the recipient.

Questions like:

When are you having kids? Well you have to have kids? Oh, you'll change your mind? Why don't you just adopt? When are you having your second, you don't want them too far apart? When are you having your second, you can't just have one? Three boys?! Don't you want to try for a girl? Oh, so you have the three kids. At least you weren't further along!

What are some of the most difficult or insensitive questions or statements you have received in regards to your family planning? It will take just five minutes, please take my fertility compassion survey!

This survey will help me get an idea of what could help with fertility compassion. Especially considering this was my first comment on the survey:

"Mine has been your response calling cells BABIES...my god you were never prego, you did not even TRY to conceive yet you are on a pity party tour...get over yourself!! i feel for your clients. No one believes your story and no one is buying your book, quit making an ass of yourself! my friend is suffering from colon cancer after having 2 rounds of ovaian cancer yet shes not boo hooing cuz she legitimately cant have kids..." (please excuse the typos as I wanted to honor the integrity of the comment).

I want to thank this kind person for proving my point exactly...and for inspiring a soon to be released blog post ;).**

Silence leads to ignorance

These are innocent, inquisitive (although sometimes just down right nosey), questions; but, I believe, for the most part they come from a place of love. The place of I want to take away your pain because it makes me uncomfortable. The place of let's just fix it. Whatever place these questions come from, I think, they mostly come from a place of ignorance; of just not knowing.

Considering many of us keep our family planning to ourselves, either because we just don't like sharing or because we have been silenced by the shame of infertility, these questions can cut like a knife.

But it is within our shamed silence that this ignorance lives. We will only receive empathy and understanding from others when the ignorance is broken. Breaking more of our silence means more education. And, it is only within this education that we will ever find and receive fertility compassion. Your education can be in the whisper or the shout but at least own it to yourself and your closest loved ones. Own it for yourself, for your well-being and for your family.

Broken ignorance leads us to fertility compassion

I suppose this is one of my biggest dreams for Ever Upward.

I am less than a month from launching my debut book. The fear still lingering but I am not allowing it to hold as much power. As I know how much ever upward has already helped and changed the landscape of fertility conversations, even if just a tiny bit. Because we all need as much compassion as we can give and receive. And, I think fertility compassion may just be a great place to start.

In a month books will begin shipping out. In a month I will celebrate with friends and family at the launch party (take my poll to choose which chapter I read from). In a month readers will hear my voice reading the story of Ever Upward in the audio book. In a month I will have an Amazon page.

In a month I will let go of my ever upward in hopes that it is received with open minds, open hearts and open arms. I will let it go and trust that it can and will help. I will let it go knowing only then can it go ever upward.

My hope is readers will be entertained by the story. My dream is readers will walk away with the permission to own all the parts of their story. My awe is readers walking back into themselves and therefore back into their lives; no matter their story and no matter their recovery to find their ever upward.

Ever upward is finding the light through the dark.

It is letting go of what isn't in order to embrace what can be.

It is more than the silver lining, it is home.

It is redefining.

I choose ever upward.

I am ever upward.

 
Fertility Compassion Ever Upward book
Fertility Compassion Ever Upward book
 

**Added edit to original post.**

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale.

In ever upward light and love, Justine

Start Again, Not Over: Ever Upward Book Cover Reveal

Stop starting over, start again. I've said these words to clients many times over.

I've reminded myself of these words many times over.

These words have also been at the core of the creation of the book cover of Ever Upward.

At the heart of it all, they are the true spirit and essence of ever upward.

But, this week they have seemed to be significantly powerful. Especially in giving a few of my clients the permission to move forward.

Starting Again Instead

Every time we start over we also attempt to erase us or at least parts of us. I know many of us are struggling to forgive ourselves of our past mistakes or struggles or regrets. Or we wish we had been or done differently in the past. But when we look to erase these parts of our story or completely start over, we don't honor who we are today.

I would not be this happier, healthier, healing person without my past.

I would not be this happier, healthier, healing person without my mistakes.

I would not be this happier, healthier, healing person without the previous unhappy, unhealthy, suffering person I was before.

Therefore, I would not be this happier, healthier, healing person if I had started over.

My work in my ever upward recovery has been in the spirit of starting again.

Putting one foot in front of the other and choosing the best next step.

Not the right step or the perfect step or the reset start over step.

The best start again step.

Ever Upward Book Cover

And true to my life, this was also the case for the cover of my first book. My cover designer, Kristen Ashley designed an initial concept. It was stunning. We fell in love with that first cover. The story behind it was amazingly parallel to my ever upward journey.

It was perfect.

Until, it wasn't.

We couldn't get the rights to the image.

We started again with the amazing help and teamwork of several people who care a lot about me and believe in Ever Upward.

We started again, not over.

Within this starting again, we've developed the best version possible of the cover.

Not right.

Not even perfect.

But, the best version.

Much like my continually healing self.

Because, it is only in owning all the parts of our story; mistakes, struggles and all and practicing our recovery that we become the always growing, the always healing, the ever upward best version of ourselves.

~~~~

So without any further ado...

 
froelker-everupward-cvr-lg.jpg
 

Here is the cover of my first book (yes, there are plans for others, three more actually...for now ;) ).

I hope you love it as much as I do.

I hope you find hope, healing and power within it. I hope you see the struggle and the recovery within it. I hope you sense the brokenness and healing within it. I hope you breathe in the light and love from it.

And, of course don't forget the chance to win a giveaway of a free signed copy of Ever Upward (expected late fall/early winter) and the chance of artwork by the amazing Jen of Daring Happiness!

Blog giveaways

FB giveaways

  • 400th like on Ever Upward's FB – free signed copy of the book

*To read more about my story make sure to pick up a copy of the soon to be published Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.*

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

Book Cover Reveal Sneak Peek

After much work, effort and help from many people the book cover of Ever Upward is ready! I am so amazed at how it came out. And I hope you all love it as much as I do. I will post the full cover tomorrow some time. Make sure you like the Ever Upward Facebook page and follow here at the blog so you don't miss any updates or giveaways!

My dear friend and fellow vulnerability warrior Jen at Daring Happiness has lovingly heard my cry for help in building the platform. She is an amazing artist and will be doing a few pieces of art for me to use as giveaways to some of my supporters.

So here are your guidelines ;)

Blog giveaways

FB giveaways

  • 1st share on Ever Upward's FB of book cover reveal - free signed copy of the book
  • 20th share on FB of the reveal - free signed copy of the book and artwork
  • 400th like on FB - free signed copy of the book

And, here is your first sneak peek:

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

Hopefully the First of Many

My first television interview on the book and blog. So thankful that Great Day St. Louis on KMOV was willing to help me break the silence.

 
 

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

This post included in Amateur Nester's Link Up.

Understanding More of My Why While Practicing the How

It has been a whirlwind of a few weeks for me with the birth of my namesake and newest chosen child Abigail, the signing of my book contract for Ever Upward and my first podcast interview for infertility advocacy with Julie at Fertility Revolution. It has been a few weeks full of fear, exhaustion, love, excitement, pure enough moments and a sense that my ever upward is truly settling into my core, my spirit, my everything.

Building the platform for the book and doing my first interviews for infertility advocacy and for marketing Ever Upward has forced me to zero in on my message (more to come on this in a future post). It has also helped me to continue to wholeheartedly own all the parts of my story with brazen courage. It has also lit a fire inside of me that has brought me some considerable clarity.

Telling my story has brought me this clarity and the words to understand more of my why. This sense that even the painful, unlucky and just plain crazy parts of my story are okay; they are my path. They are simply my puzzle pieces of life.

These crazy twists of my life:

  • not one, but two, back surgeries both with a body cast.
  • IVF and gestational surrogacy not working for us and losing our three babies.
  • and the unexpected expansion of our surrogate's family, and therefore, my chosen children family.

are really enough to make anyone bitter, angry and forever scarred.

However, on this side of surviving infertility and recovering thereafter, I have come to embrace that I may never get the good enough reason why these things have happened to me. And I don't have to have this understanding to be okay or to even be fulfilled and happy.

And, as I have worked within my faith recently, I am also realizing that perhaps this is simply meant to be my story while also having the faith that it is not the end of it. Because I know with my whole heart that I have never done anything to deserve this amount of hurt and pain in my life. And even though I've always deemed myself as just unlucky, on this side of recovery I can truly say that this has nothing to do with luck at all.

 
 

Because as this light becomes more and more clear within me, what I am finding is that this is simply the reason I am here. This is my star soon to shine. I have loved which means I also have to choose.

I have to choose what I do with my story.

I have to choose what I do with my soul scars.

I have to choose to make it ever upward.

So, it is with more and more clarity and understanding of my why that I am still figuring out the how. Because, really, it is the how that everyone wants to know.

How did you survive two back surgeries? How did you survive living in a body cast? How did you survive losing three babies?

How have you not only survived but thrived?

In all honesty, I am not sure.

I have survived by fighting.

I have survived by practicing recovery.

I have survived because I didn't give myself any other choice.

I have survived because I have let go of needing the complete understanding of my whole why.

I am surviving because I am here; writing, struggling and owning it all every single day.

I am surviving, recovering and thriving because that is the light, the love, the soul of ever upward.

The Almost Finished, Yet Unpublished, Ever Upward

EVER UPWARD: Owning My Childfree Life in Our Child Obsessed World

by Justine Brooks Froelker, LPC

“Why don’t you just adopt?”

The ever present, innocent, and well meaning question everyone asks when they learn of my motherhood status and how I got here. Yet, to those of us 1 in 8 couples who undergo infertility treatments, this question does not feel at all innocent or well meaning. It not only feels invalidating to the battle we’ve just been through, but it minimizes the difficulty and pain involved in the adoption process.

Ever Upward is a surprising story of triumph over terrible luck. As a professional therapist and survivor, really thriver, of the infertility journey, this is the story of how I have redefined my childless life into a full and happy childfree life. Ever Upward fills the current gap on the infertility bookshelf. It is also the voice for those who have been silenced by the battle of infertility. Ever Upward is my story. The story of how I learned to be okay, whole and happy, even when life just didn’t turn out how I had hoped. Ever Upward is also a story that resonates with that of many; a story of pain, triumph and acceptance. Finally, Ever Upward opens the conversation to the other side of infertility, the side asking for understanding and acceptance of the path that sadly doesn’t include children.

Ever Upward is Justine’s story, and yet it is every woman’s story; mother or not, because behind the wall of silence, shame, the smile, and the ‘I can do everything’ attitude lies millions of women suffering in silence with the pain of infertility. And yet our connection to our stories is the only way back to the truth of who we are, to own ourselves again.

Today's post is inspired by the Wordpress Daily Prompt: Write the blurb for the book jacket of the book you’d write, if only you had the time and inclination.

* Ever Upward: Owning My Childfree Life in Our Child Obsessed World will be published with Morgan James Publishing in the Fall of 2014.*