I'll Show You How

It took me years to get to the point where I stopped saying, and believing, that I'd give it all away, trade it all, change it all, to have them here.

I wouldn't give myself permission to say it. 

As if I said it out loud it meant damning myself into a “truth” that I didn't really want to be a mother, that they didn't matter as much as they do, and that we didn't fight as hard and lose as much as we did to try our best to bring them into the world.

Or that we didn't have enough faith.

The reality, though?

We gained more than we lost.

Ugh, that feels so hard to write, let alone publish for the world to read.

My truth, years after losing them and ending our infertility journey without kids, is that I wouldn't trade it all to have them here.

Shit, that sentence is so scary.

And God knows, and my people closest to me know, how much I wanted them and love them still, wondering every day who they would be as seven-year-olds this year.

There is enough room for both.

It is messy and really uncomfortable.

Still, there is absolutely room for both.

This is the permission of The And - the grief and joy, the wonder and gratitude, the truth and grace.

IMG_20190830_120033_279.jpg

This life I love and have fought so hard for will never discount, replace, or make up for what could have been if our three had walked this earth alongside us.

The truth is that what we gained in and through the loss of them, I truly believe is slowly gaining to tenfold, even if it isn't what I hoped, dreamed, and planned. Because no matter how much we want to read Jeremiah 29:11* from this very human mindset that God's Plans align with what we want, it just isn't what the Lord promised.

God never promised me it would turn out how I wanted.

God never promised me a baby.

God promises never to leave me and always to work all for my good.

Just like God promised the Israelites passage into the promised land. 

However not before they spent 70 years in Babylon. I think it's safe to say that was not what they wanted or planned for themselves.

So let us not forget Jeremiah 29:10 while holding onto the promise of 29:11 that God is always with us and is always working for our good.

When we take verse 11 away from the context of verse 10, we minimize God's power and sovereignty. First, the Israelites had 70 years in a place they didn't want to be, second, many of them would never even make it there, and third, when we use it all to say that God promises we will get what we want - it just isn't based on the history.

Similarly, despite what some in the faith community will teach, preach, and weaponize, the strength of your belief, prayers, and faithfulness are not what will get you what you want, baby included.

God's goodness is.

And well we just don't get to determine or even know what that is exactly. 

I love what Corrie Ten Boom wrote in The Hiding Place:

"His will is our hiding place. Lord Jesus, keep me in your will! Don't let me go mad by poking about outside of it!"

It's a dangerous message that our faith will get us what we want. And the saddest part is that thinking this is doing severe damage to our relationship with God.

Because for the longest time the thing that held me back from the loving grace of Jesus was what felt like the hardest question of my life: What does it mean when God is the one you need to forgive?

For far too long lies like: We didn't get a baby because we didn't pray hard enough. I wasn't even Christian then and still, am not Christian enough. I don't deserve to be a mother. I did something terribly wrong. God is mean, punishing, and unfair. 

These lies kept me angry, in the dark, and worst, not turning towards the loving God that had been there the whole time, just as They promised.

Chad and I didn't not become parents because we weren't faithful enough, pray hard enough, or believe enough.

We didn't not get a baby because God is punishing, because our sins were just too bad, or because we didn't deserve one.

We didn't get a baby because we made the nearly impossible decision to stop treatments before they destroyed everything good about us.

We didn't get a baby because we finally surrendered to God's plan in reclaiming our truth, honoring our three, and glorifying Him. We did the work to finally receive the bigger plan God has for us and let Him love us into building the legacy we are now. 

Always there.

Always for our good. 

The Israelites had seventy years in Babylon before returning to Jerusalem, and we live without our three to leave an aroma of the Kingdom behind us in this world.

Always there.

Always for our good.

What if we had kept going until we got what we deemed was God's will, in the definition we wanted so badly and paid so much for, a baby? 

What if infertility had worked?

Would I have still met this loving Jesus?

Would I have made all the life changes I needed to practice happy and be who I was created to be? 

Would our marriage have survived? 

Would our finances had ever recovered?

I know that God is always chasing us down, pursuing us, loving us into the loving arms of Jesus. No matter how long it takes. No matter how messy. No matter how much we push it all away. 

Jesus will always leave the 99 for the one. 

If it weren't for tens of thousands of dollars spent, three lost babies, a body broken from synthetic hormones and a grief so dark I wasn't sure I would ever be able to stop crying, yelling, and get out of bed again, I would not have met this Jesus in the way so many of us finally do.

Sitting beside Him by the well, broken, flawed, messed up, mad, and utterly human. Sitting beside a man, both God and human, asking to be seen, begging for answers, flailing angry punches, demanding fairness, and most of all, being in the presence of an empathic love of 'I see you and get you.'

Jesus looking into my eyes and speaking our truth in total love,

Daughter, I know this is not what you want and it doesn't feel fair. I promise I know your pain. I get it. I was always there, and I will always be here. I am here now. And when you are ready to bury this pain so something new can grow, to receive your own resurrection, I'll show you how.

*This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:10-11 NIV

 

Our Three and a Bag of Frozen Peas

"How do you feel?" I asked as I drove him home from the doctor's office.

"Fine, it's numb right now," he replied.

The ever-stoic Chad with the ever-rumbling Justine; thank God we both choose to do the work to be complementary in our differences.

"That's good," I replied. "Are you sad at all?"

He looked at me with love in his eyes, with what I assume is that part of him that knows I want more from him, for him to feel even just a smidge of what I am feeling and in the way I am feeling it.

As I have learned through the years, he simply feels it all very differently than me.

"I mean, it's done." I continued. "I know it was done before, but this is for sure and permanent, we aren't having kids. Our genes will never live on."

"I suppose we can always reverse it if we want," he joked back. “You remembered to get frozen peas, right?”

***

Chad and I are 6 years out of our failed infertility journey - a journey that included tens of thousands of dollars, even more tears, countless injections, a surrogate, and three lost babies.

In the last six years, we have advocated for the infertility and loss community, published books, created our legacy and our happy, and I finally chose Jesus back.

It has been six years of fighting for, creating, and receiving this incredible life, of doing the work to make it all a gift.

We love our childless-not-by-choice life and we will always have lifelong wonders and grief.

Still, I was so over using condoms as a 39-year-old woman, preventing something that had the smallest hell-freezing-over chance of ever happening. As a woman, I had been the one responsible for birth control for much of my life, even if it was only to help my cycle or clear up my skin.  Still, I had to take the pill or endure the IUD, for years!  Plus, there is nothing like pumping your body full of synthetic hormones to try to have a baby that makes you want to never have synthetic hormones in your body ever again.

Hence, a vasectomy for a couple who can't have kids.

Should be simple, right?

Except, a decision, one as permanent as this, is the kind of thing that triggers that lifelong grief.

Then, on top of that bubbled up pain, we often judge it - it feels dumb and frustrating.

Damn it, I am sad.

It’s complicated.

This complicated gray of acceptance and love of this life with the lifelong sadness is the thing that many people have difficulty understanding when they stand across from me and my pain.

Simple: You’re sad. Fix it and figure out how to have the baby.

I get this a lot still, even 6 years out, especially in the faith community.

“Just adopt.”

“I am praying for a miracle baby for you guys.”

“Just try another round.”

When we stand across from someone and their pain, many of us will have the undeniable urge to take away that pain or fix it with what we think are simple solutions. We do this out of both love and our fear of vulnerability, because, the thought of feeling the sadness with someone is something that is often too scary.

This complicated gray of acceptance and love of this life with lifelong sadness is much easier, albeit not comfortable, to understand when you sit beside me with my pain.

Complicated: loving my childless-not-by-choice life and the forever yearning.

Because the thing is, I don’t want a baby now.

I want my three babies who would be six this year.

I want those babies.

So we made a decision to prevent pregnancy once and for all.

It is freeing and shitty.

It is exciting and sad.

Sit beside me, not across..jpg

It is another reminder that this journey will never leave us.

It is The And.

I am a forever grieving mother and a woman who chooses to do the work to see the gifts in everything.

So, I speak this truth because then I honor my three, I glorify Him, and I serve the world.

And, as always, I ask you to simply sit beside me and not across from me.

Right this minute though, feeling the yearning for my three, I gotta grab Chad a fresh bag of frozen peas.

The Night Before Birth

I cannot tell you how many times and in how many different ways I have been asked how I have prepared for the launch of my first book, Ever Upward

What are you doing? What do you have planned? Who have you hired? Are you ready? Is it going well?

Here I am after seeing seven clients today on the eve before my baby enters the world. Here I am feeling a little bit of everything in anticipation. Here I am feeling like I suppose many mothers feel on the night before they give birth to their child. Because in many ways, this process, I can only imagine, has many parallels to pregnancy (except, of course, I will not need an epidural tomorrow).

I have prepared for months. I have changed many things about myself in the care of this baby. I have fought hard through the difficult days. I have felt every emotion, sometimes all at the exact same time. I have planned as much as I can plan. I have sought help and support and I have received lots of love in return.

And, now tomorrow she will be here for all the world to see.

And, I am as ready as I can be.

And, I know I am surrounded by more love than I ever dreamed.

Ever Upward is coming into the world with the support, love and light of not only my friends and family but also that of many I have never met. I am overwhelmed and so thankful for the support from my blogging family, Twitter community and all the fellow warriors who have supported the book thus far. I still cannot believe I am launching with 50 Amazon reviews.

Tomorrow, I will be doing the biggest part of how I have launched this book: seeing clients. Because, frankly that is the job that pays the bills. But, tomorrow evening I will celebrate with a few of my favorite people eating a nice dinner out and toasting that Ever Upward is finally here.

I will also close my eyes, take that breath and feel my three lights; my babies I never got to hold here but who have changed me forever. I will honor those three soul scars while at the very same time trusting my ever upward. And, so in that same breath I will also feel Him and say thank you with a heart full of joy, love, sadness and hope.

Most of all I am going to lean into the glory of this light, which is actually my light. Because this has been some of the most difficult work of my life; and yet, the most important.

It is with this trust that I will lean in, let go and know this is just the beginning.

 
 

~~~

I'd love to see pictures of you and your copy of Ever Upward at your favorite bookstore or in your favorite reading spot. Post to your social media walls and make sure to tag me or Ever Upward (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and use the hashtag: #everupward. I'll be giving away an Ever Upwardjournal each week for the next few weeks!

Please consider sharing and supporting my story on CNN's iReport here. It would be amazing for the other side of infertility to be featured.

Guest Post: For Better or For Worse

In celebration of and to help build momentum for the April 7th bookstore launch of Ever Upward, I will be posting a guest post each week. These guest posts are written by my dear friends and biggest supporters of my work. I am so excited to introduce you all to their stories, their voices and their work in the coming weeks. This week we have my new friend Chelsea over at Starbucks, Peace and the Pursuit of a Baby. I absolutely love this guest piece she has written for me! Infertility can having amazing or awful consequences on our relationships, we must talk about this! Make sure to follow Chelsea's blog for amazing Friday laughs and her incredible light of faith she shines on this world. Please also send her love, light and prayers as her and her husband are enduring another loss right now.

~~~~

Infertility is hard. Who’s with me? The battle is filled with highs and lows, moments you think you’re beating it and then moments your world seems to come crashing down. My journey through infertility has brought us through a PCOS diagnosis, 6 Clomid cycles, several IUI + letrozole cycles, 4 IVF cycles (2 fresh and 2 frozen) and 2 miscarriages. As I look back at this blur of years, I realize that other than my faith, the only consist part of my journey has been that my husband Josh has been with me throughout it all.

In Justine’s book Ever Upward, she says “Marriages and partnerships, just like relationships, will either evolve and flourish or wither and die in times of trauma and hardships.” How true is that? All relationships in your life will be challenged when you are struggling with infertility, but the one that can take the greatest beating is your marriage. Josh and I will be married for 10 years this July and as we march through this war, I am constantly reminded that we made a promise that we would be together “for better or for worse”. Truth is, infertility feels like a big unanticipated dose of “for worse”. Miscarriages, brutal surgeries, insane amounts of medicine, impressively intense mood swings – all of these things add up and wham, hit your marriage with challenges, making communication critical.

But here’s the thing I have continued to learn as we fight – this relationship is the most important one to protect and that because we have each other, we are not alone. Can I encourage you today to remember that your marriage deserves even more attention than your infertility? I have been guilty of focusing so much on treatments and how I feel, that my communication skills become lack luster. But when Josh and I are in a good groove, communicating openly, making time for one another, listening and attempting to love each other with one another’s Love Language, the battle, as hard as it is, seems a whole lot easier.

Having a baby isn’t going to make a marriage magically all better. In fact, from what I have heard, it makes it even harder. Becoming parents isn’t going to make you click more, connect deeper, fit into your group of friends better. You have to start with a solid foundation before you add to it. This is a challenge because your spouse can be the easiest person to take all your emotions out on. After a long day of feeling brutally run down from hormones, I want to shut down, hold up, snap and demand that Josh matches my mood. Nights like this are rarely a highlight of the week because communication is messy and I fall into the rut of someone held captive by her swinging emotions. Even worse, sometimes I use my medicine as an excuse to be impatient or demanding or cranky. Not okay.

If you are struggling to figure out how to reconnect with your spouse, I want to commend you for knowing that something is off. As soon as we are aware that there is something we want to work on, it becomes easier to work towards a solution. Communication is the best way to ensure a relationship is successful – and communication doesn’t mean a whole lot of yelling and “I always …. you never..”’s

Justine shares in her book some great ways to reignite the spark by having monthly date nights, an idea I love! It’s so great to focus on each other and date again. Perhaps you are a little stalled for conversation - grab some starter questions easily found on the internet. Open yourself up to being open and honest about how you are handling this road. It’s a vulnerable place, there may be tears, there may be questions, but it’s so worth it.

Don’t forget to laugh together and respect one another’s emotions. If you are like us and you have a marriage founded on your faith in Christ, Casting Crowns + Focused on the Family recently offered a great series, 28 Days to a Thriving Marriage, which is an emailed devotional that can challenge and inspire you and your spouse to move closer together.

When you are in a funk, remind yourself that you married your spouse because you wanted to spend forever with them, not because you wanted to procreate with them. Infertility is a battle, adoption can be tough, and choosing to live a childfree life is hard. But your spouse? They are likely feeling the same things as you, even if they don’t share it as often. Reignite that spark and let your love flag fly.

 
 

I love to connect with new readers and friends! Stop by my blog at trialsbringjoy.com or let’s connect on Instagram at @chels819. Can’t wait to “meet” you!

The Dichotomy of Life

It was a weekend of life's brilliant dichotomy for me; the complicated grey.

 
 

The bad with the good.

The dark with the light.

The thorn with the beauty.

I'm not sure sure any woman enjoys their yearly exam at the OB/GYN but Friday was my day.

The bad, the dark, the thorn

I spent an hour waiting in the waiting room with only parenting and pregnancy magazines to read with no cell service. And, a few uncomfortable pregnant women as my company (who I feel empathy for in their discomfort, jealousy toward their blessing in becoming a mother, all combined with a tiny piece of pissed offness).

The good, the light, the beauty

Once back in the exam room I can't help but laugh as I try to fit my ass in the paper drape left on the exam table for me (which I have never quite figured out how to use). And, despite being the healthiest I've ever been my curves still rip it almost completely in half.

Then the actual exam, no explanation needed, it is just the bad, the dark and the thorn.

Then the good, the light, the beauty as my doctor actually spends time with me. She truly believes in my story and is excited about the book and the blog, Ever Upward. I feel like an actual person with her and not just the woman who can't have kids.

The balance of dichotomy

The dichotomy continued with my kid filled weekend.

The bad, the dark, the thorn is having to be around a child that is very difficult for me. All wrapped up with the good, the light, the beauty in people who believe in my story, my progress and my message. All to come home to three of my chosen children spending the night with us for the first time for what is sure to be the first of many fun slumber parties; they are the good, the light, the beauty. Quickly followed last night by a pregnancy announcement that feels unfair; the bad, the dark, the thorn.

What I am figuring out is that this ever upward recovery I fight to live every day will always be filled with the dichotomy of life.

The good comes with the bad. The light comes through the dark. And many times, beauty comes with a thorn.

We don't get one with out the other.

And thank God, because it provides us with immense perspective, gratitude and our truth.

There will be days where shaking off the bad, the dark, the thorn just really isn't that easy. I will admit I worked hard to shake it off all weekend. But, what I really needed was to allow myself to move through it all.

Because, sometimes, we just have to sit with it, moving through it and allow it to pass. Trusting that if we do this work the good, the light, the beauty will quickly follow.

After all, this is exactly the truth and the light of ever upward.

Sometimes I need the reminder too, to which life and God* will always provide.

The moments of the bad, the dark and the thorn make the moments of the good, the light and the beauty even more amazing.

And so, I will breathe it all in, embracing and trusting it because I know it is my authentic truth and because it is the only way through to my ever upward.

To read more about my journey 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

*Or whatever you believe in, for me it is God and Jesus as my savior.

** I’ve recently joined the the Infertility Survival Kit’s blogroll and blogging feed.  The Infertility Survival Kit is an iPhone app and mobile friendly resource site to help busy patients reach valuable resources on-the-go.  I just added Ever Upward to their blogroll.  This is not your average boring blogroll list with links… it is like a blog Rolodex and includes any information you need to get in touch with me, my blog and all my social media networks along with many other amazing bloggers in the community.   When you are looking to catch up and stay connected to blogs in the infertility community… hop on over to the Infertility Survival Kit’s blogroll feed.  You can find me and many other bloggers over there supporting the community, one post at a time!

Download the App Here OR GO TO Mobile Friendly Directory from any device to access our mobile resource directory and blogroll feed.

***This post also linked with Amateur Nester's Link-Up.

The Dates Seared into Us

I am a numbers person. No, not the add, subtract, divide and multiply numbers kind of person (just ask my accountant husband).

The kind of numbers person who remembers dates, phone numbers and birthdays pretty well and for a very long time. I have clients' phone numbers committed to memory, for no reason, as I no longer work with them and my cell phone remembers them for me. I also usually, and very easily, remember birth dates of friends, family and all the chosen children in my life.

I also have many dates throughout the year that are forever seared into my very being.

I have always known the power of the dates that will haunt us forever as I often remind my clients of this. It is not uncommon that we begin to struggle some; anxiety is higher, depression is heavier or we just start to feel off and, then we stop to think of the date, or the time of year, and are reminded of that loss, trauma or tragedy that happened way back when.

I too have these kinds of dates seared into my heart and into my soul. My soul scars that never go away and in some ways haunt me all throughout the year.

August 25th, 1994 ~ My first back surgery.

June 19th, 1997 ~ My second back surgery.

December 28th, 2011 ~ The first phone call that stopped our lives, Michelle, our surrogate, was not pregnant.

April 16th, 2012 ~ The soul crushing and clarity providing phone call that our second, and last, embryo transfer did not take; Michelle was never going to be pregnant with our child.

June 26th, 2012 ~ The day we made another impossible decision to let go of our Maddie. The day of my true rock bottom.

 
 

August 31st, 2012 ~ What would have been the first birthday of our two embryos transferred in the first round of IVF.

 
 

December 21st, 2012 ~ What would have been the first birthday of our last embryo transferred in the second, and last, round of IVF.

June 17th, 2013 ~ The birth of Tipton, our chosen family's wonderful surprise, our bittersweet reminder that is outweighed by the the love we have for another of our chosen children.

 
 

I wish I could have been better prepared by the infertility blogs, message boards and even doctors that these dates never leave us.

Especially, the birthdays of our never meant to be babies, at least never meant to be in our arms on this physical earth.

They are forever, for better or worse, seared in my head, on my heart and within my soul.

Today, I am able to say for the better.

And, through the work of my recovery I am beginning to have more of the magical, full of love, moments seared into every piece of me.

Last night, on June 22nd, 2014, I publicly declared the private decision I was finally able to make for myself on May 6th, 2014.

 
 

I was baptized.

Just a few days shy of my rock bottom when we lost Maddie 2 years ago, after surviving IVF and losing 3 babies, I walked into the waters of baptism last night a renewed, a redefined and a continually healing woman.

I walked into those waters with a scarred but never closed heart and soul and, with my three babies watching from above.

On May 6th, my prayer that Jesus would show His love to me in a way I could finally understand, embrace and accept was answered. As I have written before, there is nothing like being a mental health therapist for over 14 years who has also struggled with infertility to make one doubt God and faith. But, what I realized on May 6th, is that I can still doubt and question. I can even still hold feelings of anger and feel like my life hasn't been fair.

And yet, I can still believe.

Doubt, questions, anger and all.

Wonder.

I can believe in His love for me. I can trust His plan for me. I can live my life knowing the ending of my story will be His way, whether or not I get to know it on this side of eternity. I can honor that He will take this life and let it shine.

My heart is full. My soul is continuing to heal. My ever upward wonder grows.

Seared dates, soul scars and all.

And, that this wonder, my wonder, is exactly what makes it faith.

*To read more about my seared dates make sure to pick up a copy of the soon to be published Ever Upward: Owning My Childfree Life in Our Child Obsessed.*

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

Scarred But Never Closed

Singing my heart out, holding back tears, as this seems to be what I do lately in church as I am wrestling so much with myself, with trusting and my faith journey, I had one of my first true writer moments. Smack in the middle of the song, I grabbed my bulletin and pen and wrote the title of this post and a line from the song down. The song: Let Our Faith Be Not Alone by Robbie Seay.

The lyrics: "May our hearts be not of stone, give us souls that never close".

 
 

As a therapist I hear terrible things every day from my clients. And, it is not unusual for the thought to cross my mind that someone has every right to stay sick, to stay angry, to have hearts of stone and closed souls after what they have been through.

After infertility and the lifelong losses of three babies, I have also felt as if I have three very good enough reasons to allow my heart to become stone and my soul to close.

But I am learning, this is not meant to be the end of my story. Nor do I want it to be the end of my story; just as I help my clients every single day to make sure that their losses, traumas and tragedies are not their endings either. Because, I also get to hear amazing stories of hope and recovery every single day.

But this recovery requires the choice to choose hope and to do the work.

I will always have the soul scars of infertility and losing my babies. And if I am not careful these scars could very easily harden my heart and close my soul to the amazingness that is this life. As they are forever scars much like the four inch back surgery scar I have. Except, my soul scars are invisible to the outside world, and many times are completely misunderstood, invalidated, minimized and sometimes even ignored.

Either scar, back or soul, if ignored by me only worsens; the scar tissue building up, increasing the pain and decreasing my quality of life. For my back it is only through my physical therapy, exercise and self care that this old injury and scar tissue can be as healed as possible. Nothing I do will ever make that scar go away but I sure as hell can make sure I do what is in my power to make it as better as possible. And, almost 20 years later, I wouldn't want that scar to go away anyways as it is a constant reminder of how much strength I truly hold.

As for my soul scars, I must do much of the same work. If I do not do the work of recovery from the trauma of infertility, the lifelong losses and costs of IVF and the ongoing work of accepting a childfree life, I will only allow the scar tissue to grow. And if I am not careful my heart and soul will scar over leaving room for only bitterness, anger and sadness.

Our trauma, tragedies and losses (infertility related or not) make us who we are. I have learned that I am a better everything because I wanted and loved those babies so much. I am also a better everything because I lost them. Sure, the losses left my heart and soul shattered at first, but now with daily work in recovery I have a scarred but healing heart and soul.

Scarred but better and complete, and most definitely open.

This openness is not possible without the daily practice of recovery, authentic living and courage. My choices in recovery, in daily practice, and my faith are what is required for me to not allow the scar tissue to close everything. And I did not survive infertility and lose my three dreams to only be left scarred, closed and hardened like stone.

I am still wholeheartedly figuring this whole thing out, awkwardly stumbling through this life in recovery. And, sometimes I am not a very pretty picture while doing it. What I think I am finally coming to terms with and learning is that I can trust that the end of my story isn't supposed to be a heart of stone or a scarred, closed soul. That I can trust my faith, doubts and all, because within this journey I will always have Him*. And it is with His acceptance, love and help that I will continue to fight for, find and redefine my ever upward.

*For me, my faith is in God and Jesus as my savior. This is something I am newly figuring out, with a lot of doubt and struggle and questions. But it is something that is helping me, especially in my recovery. My only hope is that we can all find something to have faith in.

*This post submitted to the Tuesday Infertility Link Up on Amateur Nester.

The Almost Enough Moments

I've been having a slight existential crisis lately; between finishing up the book, Ever Upward and coming up on a year of submitting to agents and publishers (over 220 of them) and the success (although the desire for more) of this blog and my continued journey in finding my faith again and today being the two year anniversary of the bittersweet day of the last negative pregnancy test, ending IVF and learning to accept a childfree life; I am finding myself feeling all sides of everything, over-feeling and over-thinking, doubting and just plain struggling.

How can I balance this desire for the blog to blow up and the book to get published, both for validation of my story and for the wider outreach to help others but also because I think it just has to with knowing my story has already touched and helped so many? How do I let go and trust that what is meant to happen will happen, as it has never been in my hands to begin with?

How do we sit with the be all, end all questions, what is this all supposed to mean? Why did this happen?

Aren't we all wondering the why?

Why does the 35 year old mother of two young children get late stage colorectal cancer?

Why did he cheat?

Why did she have to die?

Why did he have to fall?

Why did they leave?

Why didn't I die?

Why are they lying?

Why did this have to happen???

Why?

But, I'm not sure we will ever get to know the why.

And, what I think I am learning is that some of our answers can maybe be found in our almost enough moments.

 
 

You know those moments where you look up (to who or whatever you believe in, for me it is God) and say okay, I get it. I would not have this if that had all worked out. Or I would not have this if I had not lost that. But really, that just doesn't feel like it's quite enough? So we question it; I get it, I'm thankful, but it's still not enough for all that pain, all that suffering, the never to be's; I sure hope you have more, better, in the works.

I am also learning we all have to figure out how to open ourselves up to these almost enough moments, really embracing their capacity for awe.

Can I have the presence and gratitude to embrace that piece of almost enough? And, have the faith that I might get to see the pieces all fit together one day? Better yet, can I have the presence and gratitude, and patience, enough to have the faith that I just may not get to see them all fit together and that the almost enough is, well, enough?

Because without a doubt, I have some pretty amazing almost enough moments...

Being McKinley's godparents.

Being asked to be in the delivery room to help bring baby Smith into this world.

Having every moment with our chosen family.

Attending all the piano recitals, church concerts and ball games of all our chosen children.

My friends through Emerging Women, The Daring Way™ certification and this blog.

Our Christmas morning tradition of going to see what Santa brought our chosen children.

The healing journey of writing my book.

A better marriage.

Building our family home, Mason house, for all our friends and family to grow and enjoy with us.

The continuing journey of my blog.

Becoming a better therapist.

Our dogs.

 
 

My improved relationships.

The happier, healthier me.

Fighting for me, fighting for my recovery and rediscovering my light.

I could go on and on, because I am able to wholeheartedly say, the list of my almost enough moments truly is endless.

My soul will always have the scars of my three lost babies, of three lost dreams, of three never to be's. But, I can choose if this is my whole story and I can also choose to move forward, having the faith that everything is exactly as it is supposed to be, no matter the why.

But, can I trust and have the patience that these almost enough moments will lead me to more understanding and that my suffering, better yet, my story, will end exactly as it is meant to? Learning to have the patience and faith that I just might never get that final moment of what I think would be completion, understanding and the good enough reason for my sufferings.

So I must figure out how to be okay with that. I must learn to be whole without those enough moments. Trusting that the sole purpose I think I have found is really only my plan, and I'm not sure I really get that say.

But I also have to keep that in check with this part of me that yearns for my losses to mean something bigger; to change the world and help others. It is this part that asks, why else would I have been given this path in life? Why else would I have suffered the way I have and lost what I have? What would the point be of that? Am I that undeserving? Or is this my punishment for something? Surely, it has to mean something; two back surgeries, a year in a body cast, two rounds of failed IVF with a surrogate, three lost babies and fighting for recovery can't just be it, can it?

And, there it is again... Why did this have to happen to me?

I am not sure these questions come from the best part of me. However, I also know I wouldn't be honoring myself if I didn't allow this doubt a space to question; and maybe that is the point exactly.

There is only so much we are capable of, and probably allowed to, understand in this life. Maybe, it will always be this constant balance between finding my purpose through my story of struggle, making sure it means something more, at least to me, and trusting that it will still mean just as much without the soul completing clarity I so desire.

Because, all those almost enough moments...well, maybe it's up to me to embrace them as my ever upward, which really makes them the more than enough moments.

But, it has only been through my sufferings and my fight for recovery that I have been able to really see, let alone embrace, these moments as being more than enough.

 
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This is ever upward.

My recovery.

My story.

My purpose.

My path.

My light.

And even, my soul scars.

Allowing every single almost enough moment to really be more than enough...this is my ever upward.

Faith in Something

 
 

"Hold it all together Everybody needs you strong But life hits you out of nowhere And barely leaves you holding on

...You're not alone, stop holding on and just be heldYour worlds not falling apart, its falling into place..."

These are the lyrics to the song a friend posted on Facebook the week I really needed it, Just Be Held by Casting Crowns. Sure, it is a Christian band and song, but I dare you to listen to some of the lyrics and see if they can apply to your life, even if Christianity isn't your path.

Mostly, because in the really hard times, I think, we have to believe in something; having faith in something, I think, is a requirement of surviving this life, let alone thriving through recovery.

As, I work with my clients, I don't really care what you have faith in; God, Mother Nature, Karma, Life, Family, Relationships, Coffee or that Pencil sitting on your desk. Life is too hard to not have faith in something outside of ourselves. To believe in something or someone bigger than you, to know we are always understood and never alone.

I have spent most of my adult life struggling with religion while maintaining a decent amount of my own faith. Because frankly, there is nothing like being a mental health therapist who has struggled with infertility to make one doubt faith, a higher power, and especially, organized religion at times.

However, within this doubt I never stopped searching. It has been through my recovery and what has felt like the never ending search that I feel like I have finally found my home in faith and in religion.

I will not use Ever Upward to preach. I will not even use Ever Upward to let you into my faith life, as this is something that I'd like to cultivate and figure out myself and with my family for now.

However, I cannot not write about faith when I share about my recovery. I guess, I just wish for all of us fighting the fight of recovery to seek something in the faith department. Seek something outside of yourself. Seek something bigger than you.

Because within that search you may just finally find yourself again. You may just find your own ever upward.

**I'm fully aware this post could evoke some strong reactions, however I am not looking to engage in a theological debate here. Rather, I'd like to spark the search for something bigger in all of our recoveries. So, rather than preach, what is it you have faith in? Let's educate one another and therefore find compassion in our recoveries.**