A Blessing Made Manifest

"Is there a park nearby so we can get your last interview?" Ann the director of Don't Talk About the Baby asked. "Yep, super close," I replied.

 
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It was Saturday night and we were both exhausted. We started filming my morning routine at sunrise and were approaching hour 14 of filming. We had spent the last two days filming no less than 12 hours.

 
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We reached the park and stepped into the thick damp air of St. Louis summer. Of course there was a playground at the park. Of course there was a little girl's birthday party. Of course there were butterfly balloons at the party.

Of course.

I write this on August 31st.

It is August 31st again.

Again.

It comes every year.

They would be four this year.

Four years ago this day felt crushing. Four years ago that playground with a birthday party and butterfly balloons would have sent tears down my cheeks. Instead, I stood there while being filmed for a project that I wholeheartedly believe in and am honored to be a part of, taking it all in and giving myself permission to feel it.

 
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The joy. The sadness. The pride. The longing.

The blessing and the manifestation.

It took me about a year to dig my way out of the darkness that was left after our failed infertility journey. A year of working with my therapist, building and wrestling with my faith, truly taking care of myself and re-engaging in my marriage. A year of owning all the parts of my story, speaking them, honoring my truth and my babies by creating this happy, healthy and magnificent version of myself.

Since then, all five of these years, I have spent working my ass off on making sure the infertility journey, hell life, does not leave us all empty shells of who we once were. Helping others to give themselves permission to feel it all, all at the the same time; to feel the clarity and healing of the complicated gray. Writing and speaking the often ignored and rejected words of truth, the words to our freedom to ask for what we want and need and to have the courage to speak our truth always.

To shine the light of thriving out of the darkness to create our own second chances.

"I need you in every interview, this film is focusing a lot on you," Ann directed me last week at the beginning of our three days of filming.

"Oh, I didn't realize," I replied.

I shook my head as if to clear the confusion. The confusion that after four years of rejection after rejection, being called terrible names on HuffPost, a couple negative reviews, being ignored by even some of my closest friends and family, money spent, the hardest and best work of my life for no pay, this was finally happening.

My truth and story, my healthy, albeit controversial, messages are the focus of a feature length documentary on infertility and pregnancy loss. This was everything I had been working for.

There was no time to let it soak in, we had a movie to make, which I quickly learned was not for the weary.

Long hours, bug bites, lots of sweat, more wardrobe changes than you can imagine, pauses for planes and thunder and growling tummies all further complicated by my shock, disbelief, overwhelming gratitude and relief that all of my work was paying off.

For three days straight for 12 to 15 hours a day I was filmed while interviewing my friends, family and clients. We discussed the heartache of infertility and pregnancy loss. We spoke our truths. We rallied the healthy messages of shattering the stigma and talking about our babies.

It is only now a few days later and two mornings of letting myself sleep in that the fog and exhaustion of filming has lifted a bit. I've written some and processed the amazingness this all is, only to realize it is one of our due dates today.

They would be four this year. And, this year I miss them, love them and wonder even more than the first three.

I am also more thankful for them than ever. They've helped make me who I am; a mother to many and a mother of second chances. It is because of them I am changing the world. I honor them with broken silence, hand holds in the power of me too, by embodying the warriorship of fighting for and creating a happy life in this world; a world without them and yet so much of them. 

 
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They would be proud.

They are my biggest blessings.

My life, a blessing through and because of them, is also a manifestation. A manifestation of my work and of my choices to embrace all the parts of my story and to always speak.

God made me the mother I am to do this work, to help others and to change the world.

I have done the work to create this incredible life and to be open enough to receive it. I have believed it was possible and that I am worthy of it. I have had the tenacity of every mother who loves and honors her children always.

It is a blessing made manifest.

And, it is only the beginning.

***All photos by Ann Zamudio, Director of Don't Talk About the Baby

Don't Talk About the Baby: The Missed Goal

 We only have 4 more days in the final funding campaign for the documentary Don't Talk About the Baby. In support of the campaign Chad and I wrote companion posts and here is mine (you can read his

here

). Please share far and wide and contribute to the film if you can. Thank you!

The Missed Goal

 
 

I sit on the hard bench in the warm sun watching two of our chosen children run the field in the 5 year old soccer game. Lane is running down the field with his arms pumping with a might I’ve never seen before. His little brother Evan trails behind the whole team seeming a bit lost as he is technically a year too young to be playing. Both of them smile the whole game shining pure joy everywhere.

I snap a few pictures with my nice camera to be able to send to my friend Sam later that day. I enjoy watching the boys play for an hour but am also slightly distracted. We attend many of their events; games, concerts and plays. It is an honor and joy to be such an active part of their lives, it is something I am beyond thankful to their parents, our friends, for letting us be.

But there are always the whispers in my heart.

They would have turned four years old later this summer and early fall.

Click here to continue reading.

Chad's Voice: The Missed Homerun

Chad wrote his first blog post in honor of the documentary Don't Talk About the Baby. Please read and share far and wide! The male perspective is so important in the infertility and loss world! ~~~

The Missed Homerun

... Mountains of articles and posts exist about the impact of infertility and loss but surprisingly very few share the male perspective. I think a huge reason for. this is men’s ability to be completely lost in a single topic or event. Some may call this presence and being engaged but I also think it’s our ability to compartmentalize. The way I am wired allows me to compartmentalize my thoughts, feelings and experiences much more than Justine...

Claire here to read more.

You Know Someone Struggling with Infertility and Loss: 14 Basics You Need to Know

 
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Today I guest posted over at Don't Talk About the Baby! Please share about this important film and if you can please donate to the Seed & Spark campaign!

~~~

1. You know someone struggling.

The numbers are staggering. 1 in 8 will struggle to conceive. 1 in 4 pregnancies will end in a loss. 1 in 160 deliveries will in with a child born still.

Let these numbers sink in.

You know someone affected by this journey, whether or not they speak about it publicly. They are your friends, your family and the person sitting next to you at church or at work.

2. Know your sex ed.

 When a man’s sperm meets a woman’s egg it forms a zygote, this is a fertilized egg. If all goes well the cell will divide and become a blastocyst around 5 days. If the blastocyst implants into the uterine wall it becomes an embryo. Around 8 weeks we have a fetus.

For some of us, sperm meets egg in a petri dish with a lot of help from doctors and is then transferred to the woman’s uterus in hopes of a healthy baby in 40ish weeks.

We are not picking eye color or height, we are simply working with our medical team to bring the healthiest baby possible into this world.

3. There are many reasons one has an infertility diagnosis.

To read more over at Don't Talk About the Baby click here.

Breaking the Silence: Don't Talk About the Baby

I am overwhelmed with gratitude and beyond honored to be included in the documentary film Don't Talk About the Baby. Friday night we launched the all or nothing campaign to finish this important film in honor of our babies and to open conversation. Please help us by donating what you can and especially by sharing far and wide.

Help us to break the silence.

Help us to honor our babies.

Help us to shine the light.

Help us to rise ever upward.

 
 

The Bright Shining Light of Community

It has been a busy couple of days as Ever Upward has been featured a few times in the blogosphere. I am honored. I am grateful. I am excited!

And of course, I had to share!

Sarah at infertilityhonesty shared a satirical piece about the HuffPost debacle last week; read the Satirical Fairy Tale here.

Don't Talk About the Baby ran my guest piece, The Knowing Heart of Loss. Please support this film's Kickstarter campaign here.

Pamela Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority and Finally Heard, featured Ever Upward in her post today, called First We Get Really Uncomfortable...

Finally, I wrote a guest piece for Eva's World called Why Counseling Needs to Be Part of Our TTC Journey.

As always, thank you so much for the shares, the likes, the comments and simply your support and love!

Justine