Receiving the Revealed Dream

Every message I get, every review posted, every thank you received has been tucked away into the depths of my soul. They are the reminders of how I mother, of how I honor my babies and they are the reminders I desperately need along this journey of breaking the silence of infertility and getting people to hear the healthy messages of Ever Upward.

This past Saturday, the closing day of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), in the exhaustion of working three jobs without an assistant, I was gifted magic.

Despite my weary heart from the hard work of my #MoreThan1in8 project, God knew my NIAW wasn’t finished when He presented me with my first big speaking engagement. With only a few days notice I was asked to tell my story at the Gateway to Parenthood conference put on by the Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine.

After two years of the constant marketing of Ever Upward with what at times feels like no return, there was no way I could say no.

What I did not realize is that I was saying yes to me.

Waking up before the crack of dawn on a Saturday after the busiest week of my career was only saved by my curled hair, cute navy dress, heels, and of course, my Plexus and coffee.

Sitting at the table with Chad and my mom as people began to mill around I was taken aback when a tall woman with dark hair approached my table right away.

“Justine?” she said.

I stood up and reached out my hand, “Yes, I’m Justine Froelker.”

“Hi, I’m Jen Myers from Y98 (aka our keynote speaker for the day). I follow you on Twitter and had to meet you.”

My heart skips a beat as I force myself to take a deep breath but there is no calming down the excitement that she had to meet me?

“Oh, hi! It is so nice to meet you,” I reply. “Thank you so much for using your huge platform to continue to speak about your infertility journey and losses. We need voices like yours.”

She shakes her head, “Thank you, for the work you are doing.”

We go on to bitch as fellow warriors about how brutal this journey is and how difficult her PCOS diagnosis has been.

When she walks away, I sit down and look at Chad and my mom with eyes wide in star struck gratitude, “Well, that was amazing!”

The first few hours we man my table as most people walk right by us without stopping. Which I can’t blame them for, I didn’t have any sign ups, free candy or massages to give away, just bookmarks with my wise words and my beautiful breakaway monarch from the book cover and my smile. Most of the attendees of the conference hadn’t even realized they each had a copy of my book in their gift bag.

Until, they started reading.

“My husband has been reading your book all morning as I’ve been wondering around the tables, he can’t put it down. He just told me how good it is.”

Eventually, they began to trickle in for me to sign their copies.

I was supposed to speak at 11. As I was calming myself with deep breaths and rehearsing in my head, one of my now friends and volunteers asked me, “Would you try it again?”

“No, we wouldn’t,” I replied not sure of what she was really trying to get at.

“Really?”

“Well when the money is gone, it’s gone. And, when you’ve reached a place of acceptance, albeit with forever longing and sadness, it is still acceptance.”

“What if you won the free round giveaway today? Would you try again then?”

I was very much taken aback by this question but I knew my answer right away, “No, we are done.”

Just as we are not signing up for the costs and struggles of the adoption journey, we are finished with the costs and the struggles of the infertility journey.

We did not get what we wanted, hoped for, dream of and paid for but we are done, we know our enoughs and everythings. And, I am okay with that, complicated gray of longing joy and all.

At 11:30 it was finally my turn to speak.

I hadn’t prepared a ton. Frankly, I was too exhausted to prepare my talk after the grueling week of NIAW. For the first time, maybe in this whole journey I trusted.

God put this in my life, He would take care of it.

I took the microphone and I spoke. I taught. I loved.

I was myself.

I delivered one of the best talks of my life, because it was my story and my messages. And, I know both are needed and help myself and others.

And. It. Felt. Great.

He has finally revealed my dream to me in a way I can understand, an answered prayers for sure.

It wasn’t until people came to thank me, that I realized just how much people in our community need these messages.

A husband through tears, “Thank you. You made me feel for the first time in three years. This has been so hard.”

A woman with her friend, “Thank you for being the only person to get up there and say that sometimes this doesn’t work and you can still be okay. Thank you for having the courage to speak anyway, we need to hear those stories too.”

One of the infertility clinic’s patient coordinators, “I’d like to buy your book. I’ve had several patients tell me how great your talk was and that I have to read your book.”

A couple, “Thank you so much for all the resources, we’ve already downloaded some of the things you talked about. We’re going to do the gratitude journals too!”

Another couple, “Thank you for getting it and for still speaking.”

Another woman, “Thank you for honoring and speaking about the struggle.”

As the emails trickle in as these hundreds of people finish my book, I am allowing myself to receive this amazing gift while also keeping the grief, shame and scarcity at bay.

Because, I am oh so grateful.

Grateful I was chosen to be their mother. Grateful for this life He has written for me.

Grateful I am defining my ever upward within it.

~~~

A few snippets from the talk:

 
 

Stepping Out From Behind the Computer Screen

There is nothing quite like getting the message from a reader thanking me for my work and my story. When that story includes how they were finally able to break their silence and tell their story to friends and family because of my words, it honestly helps me to solidify my purpose even more. I shine my light so bright because I know even the slightest flicker of yours will help you heal, survive and eventually thrive.

Today we have my friend Sondra's story as part of my #MoreThan1in8 project! She writes about going from not sharing her story and writing a blog completely anonymously to now sharing it with the world and therefore being able to helping others even more. We have become friends through the last couple of years and I only hope and pray we get to meet in person one day. Thank you so much Sondra for contributing to #MoreThan1in8 and sharing your family with us! Make sure to go check her out at her blog A Calm Persistence.

~~~

Why was I suffering in silence? Why was I so afraid? Why did I hold so much shame over something that is completely beyond my control? Why did I feel like I had to do this alone?

I can answer all of those questions - I wasn’t ready to share my story and part of me truly believed I was alone in this. It took a long time, a lot of processing, and one terribly brave first step to realize I was one of many.

Last April, I decided to take a courageous step during National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) and share my battle. It started with a simple (or not so simple) Facebook post.

Just months prior, I had boycotted Facebook completely, it was just too triggering. I’m sure most of you reading this can understand that.  Then, there I was during NIAW back on Facebook after another canceled cycle, hitting publish on one of the most personal posts I had ever written on social media. I’ll never forget the way my heart pounded out of my chest waiting for ‘likes’ or replies to reassure me that I had made the right decision.

 
sondrafb.jpg
 

I had been blogging anonymously for over a year, completely anonymous.  Everything about my journey was a secret. My blog readers didn’t have a name or a face to put with my story, nor did anyone in my life know how immensely I was struggling.

I silently found support online hiding behind the screen, but at the time that was enough. I never in a million years thought I would ever share my story publicly. It was my secret life, the struggle only my husband and I understood, and keeping it my own felt secure.

Only, it wasn’t really secure at all. I was falling apart, piece-by-piece, miscarriage by miscarriage.

How do you tell people that you’ve had four miscarriages? That the 4th one was under a Reproductive Endocrinologist’s care and even he couldn’t help you?  How do you tell people that you are completely breaking? That even getting out of bed is a struggle because you miss your babies so much? How do you explain the grief that comes along with losing one child? And, how do you explain the grief that comes with losing 4 in a row?

I didn’t know how to tell others. I was the 1% that had three or more miscarriages. How could anyone in my life even understand recurrent pregnancy loss?

I was 1 in 100.  

Why did I even decide to open up about my struggle?

I guess I got to a point where I had wondered how much longer I would be in the trenches. I got to that breaking point and I was tired of lying, so incredibly exhausted both physically and mentally.  I didn’t want to live this ‘secret life’ anymore.

I always said that if someone would just tell me when I’d have a baby in my arms, I could hang on… I could even be strong and happy while waiting.  I knew I could wait for 2 years, 5 years, or even 10, just as long as I just knew the ‘when’. But that’s part of the struggle with infertility, you don’t know ‘when’ and you really don’t know ‘if’ it will ever happen.  Last April, I had decided if I did have to wait another 3, 5, 10 years or even if I’d never be a mother to a living child, I couldn’t keep living this double life.

 
Sondra
Sondra
 

My ‘when’ ended up being only a year later. I sit here holding my rainbow baby girl in my arms now.  She was born on St. Patrick’s Day only a few short weeks ago.

When I shared that brave post last year, I had no idea that only a few months later I would become pregnant for the 5th time and that time, against all odds, would give me my daughter.

And so, a year ago, during NIAW, I shared our journey on Facebook. I didn’t post details, but I did share. I now know that post had so much importance in my own life. It lead to me openly sharing my blog, taking away the anonymity, and being available to  support others.

I took that first step and when the comments and likes started flooding my Facebook feed and I got notification after notification, I started to realize I wasn’t alone. And there is so much value in knowing you’re not alone.

No matter what step you choose, even if you never decide to share your story the way I have, it’s important to know you’re not alone.

I am one in eight.