Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Resole to Know More": National Infertility Awareness Week Part 2

Earlier this week I shared some myths and facts about infertility. But, I wanted to share how infertility continues to affect us personally on a regular basis. If I could sum it up, I would say it can be an 'ongoing soul sucker.' That may sound over dramatic, but there are days that feel just like that. I know our situation is different than others because we've never been told we should give up or that there's no chance of a biological child, so our grief sometimes seems ongoing instead of something we can move on from. Most days Dave and I are filled with so much gratitude of the gift of each other and of our sweet, sweet boy. We are excited about the chance to adopt again and are very happy with our life. But, then there are days and weeks that drag us back down and feel so dark and lonely. 

I think the very hardest thing about infertility is the loneliness it brings. I don't really fit in in mom's groups with toddlers because most women spend a great deal of time talking about pregnancy or conception as regular and common conversation topic that I just can't relate to. Even among my friends that have dealt with infertility, the majority of them have now gotten pregnant, which is so exciting to celebrate, but so hard to feel left out of that part of the parenthood process. 

Along with the loneliness, we sometimes feel broken since our bodies won't do what they're meant to. We also just long to feel normal. Our bodies SHOULD be able to create life, like everyone else's, right? When that doesn't happen despite years of trying, it's very easy to feel left out from the rest of world and very isolated in your inability to conceive. Thankfully, many of these feelings were pretty absent for us during the first year of the buddy's life. But, after having spent a year working with a new RE trying for #2 and now moving forward with adoption again, so many of these feelings have been returning. People tend to think that because we have adopted that now everything is "ok" since we have a child that we love, but that's only partially true. Sure, we are now parents and it's such a huge, huge blessing that we are no longer childless. I even lived in that "new mama glow" for quite a while, and pregnancy didn't seem so important anymore. But, as our efforts for #2 haven't gone so well, we realize that the fact is that our infertility hasn't completely been healed. And it may never be entirely.
You know that empty yet sick feeling you have in your gut when you go through an awful break up? Or lose someone you love? To me, infertility and the wait for your child is a lot like that. There's an overwhelming pressure in your chest that you miss someone SO MUCH, but in our case we don't know exactly who it is that we're missing or if/when we will ever meet them. Sometimes that feeling of grief just sits in your chest and makes it hard to get up and move. On those days I want to just lie in bed and cry, unable to even find the words to explain why I'm feeling so sad. 

Recently our profile was presented to two different expectant birthmothers, neither of which chose us, so these feelings are so fresh in my heart. I KNOW there is beauty and life on the other side of infertility. We've seen it firsthand with our sweet little buddy. He was brought into our lives in such a miraculous way that we can never stop giving thanks for him and how he came into our hearts. But, being grateful for him doesn't take away the sadness of not being able to add another child to our family. We hope and pray that we will again feel the joy and excitement of bringing home another child. We always wanted 3-4 kids though and the physical and emotional toll that the route to each of our kids has taken makes us wonder if we could actually go through all of this again. The infertility journey is not for the faint of heart, and even if you started off weak, as time passes you will be forced to dig your heels in and find every last ounce of strength within you. 

Even though I have maybe shared a bit too much of what's weighing on my heart, I do want to be honest about what it's really like. So often I feel like I need to focus just on the positive side of infertility (our son) when talking with others, but the downsides are still there and still drag us down more often than I'd like to admit. 

Although many people walk the road of infertility, each route is so different, so we all have different burdens to bear along the way. So, during this week of awareness my desire is that more people learn that just because you have one child, that doesn't mean that the pain of infertility is gone. It's still there in the background and on days it rises to the surface, we grieve just like we did before our son came into our lives. We are so anxious to get to the other side again and I like to think that if I am quiet and still enough, I can hear that heaviness in my heart calling out to our future children that we are waiting and ready for them. And that they are so, so worth the wait.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Resolve to Know More"- National Infertility Awareness Week

This week is the Annual Infertility Awareness Week, so I'm going to try to post a few times. The theme this year is "Resolve to Know More" and this is right up my alley. From the day we got our infertility diagnosis we researched every.single.thing we could. Poor Dave took every supplement ever known to help with male fertility issues. I looked up statistics, specialists, differing opinions on treatment plans, etc. We wanted to KNOW MORE about this medical condition we were now diagnosed with and walking through. But, during this week I do feel responsible for helping educate others about infertility, both on the medical and emotional level. Here is some worthwhile information from Resolve, the National Infertility Association.

: Infertility is a women's problem.
Fact: This is untrue. It surprises most people to learn that infertility is a female problem in 35% of the cases, a male problem in 35% of the cases, a combined problem of the couple in 20% of cases, and unexplained in 10% of cases. It is essential that both the man and the woman be evaluated during an infertility work-up.

: Everyone seems to get pregnant at the drop of a hat.
Fact: More than five million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. When you seek support, you will find that you are not alone. Join RESOLVE, a support group, or talk with others who are struggling to build a family, so that you won't feel isolated.

: It's all in your head! Why don't you relax or take a vacation. Then you'll get pregnant!
Fact: Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system. While relaxing may help you with your overall quality of life, the stress and deep emotions you feel are the result of infertility, not the cause of it. Improved medical techniques have made it easier to diagnose infertility problems.

: Don't worry so much -- it just takes time. You'll get pregnant if you're just patient.
Fact: Infertility is a medical problem that may be treated. At least 50% of those who complete an infertility evaluation will respond to treatment with a successful pregnancy. Some infertility problems respond with higher or lower success rates. Those who do not seek help have a "spontaneous cure rate" of about 5% after a year of infertility.

: If you adopt a baby you'll get pregnant!
Fact: This is one of the most painful myths for couples to hear. First it suggests that adoption is only a means to an end, not an happy and successful end in itself. Second, it is simply not true. Studies reveal that the rate for achieving pregnancy after adopting is the same as for those who do not adopt.

: Why don't you just forget it and adopt? After all, there are so many babies out there who need homes!
Fact: For many, adoption is a happy resolution to infertility. However, most people explore medical treatment for infertility prior to considering adoption. In addition, traditional adoption options have changed, and adoption can be more costly and time-consuming than expected. It is, however, still possible to adopt the healthy baby of your dreams. There are also many older children and children with special needs available for adoption.

: Maybe you two are doing something wrong!
Fact: Infertility is a medical condition, not a sexual disorder.

: My partner might leave me because of our infertility.
Fact: The majority of couples do survive the infertility crisis, learning in the process new ways of relating to each other, which deepens their relationship in years to follow.

: Perhaps this is God's way of telling you that you two aren't meant to be parents!
Fact: It is particularly difficult to hear this when you are struggling with infertility. You know what loving parents you would be, and it is painful to have to explain to others that you have a medical problem.

: Infertility is nature's way of controlling population.
Fact: Zero population growth is a goal pursued in a time of world overpopulation, but it still allows for couples to replace themselves with two children. Individuals or couples can certainly elect the option to be childfree or to raise a single child. Infertility, for those who desire children, denies them the opportunity to choose.

: I shouldn't take a month off from infertility treatment for any reason... I just know that this next month will be THE one!
Fact: It is important periodically to reassess your treatment and your parenting goal. Continuity in treatment is important, but sometimes a break can provide needed rest and renewal for the next steps.

: I'll be labeled a 'trouble maker' if I ask too many questions.
Fact: The physician/patient team is important. You need to be informed about what treatments are available. What is right for one couple may not be right for another, either physically, financially, or emotionally. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your doctor. A second opinion can be helpful. If needed, discuss this option with your physician.

: I know I'll never be able to stop treatment until I have a pregnancy.
Fact: Pregnancy is not the only pathway to parenthood. You may begin to think more about parenthood than about pregnancy. You may long for your life to get back to normal. You may consider childfree living or begin to think of other ways to build a family.

: I've lost interest in my job, hobbies, and my friends because of infertility. No one understands! My life will never be the same!
Fact: Infertility is a life crisis -- it has a rippling effect on all areas of your life. It is normal to feel a sense of failure that can affect your self-esteem and self-image. You will move through this crisis. It is a process, and it may mean letting go of initial dreams. Throughout this process, stay informed about the wide range of options and connect with others facing similar experiences.

For me, the key to all these facts is to remember to show some grace and compassion to those walking this difficult road. I hope that it allows you to take a moment to be sensitive to those going through the trial of infertility. There's nothing you can do to take away their pain, but I assure you that it definitely helps to have others offer to help carry the burden by offering love, support and even dinner on their darkest days. Even if you know someone who has resolved their infertility, whether through pregnancy, adoption or choosing to life child-free, I guarantee that there are areas of their heart that are still sensitive and sad about all they went through. So, I encourage you to take a moment this week to acknowledge their pain and send them some love. It's a road I wish no one would have to take, but so many people do. And we can use all the support and encouragement you have to offer.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A WAY Overdue Update

I feel like a million things have happened since I've updated this space! I've been meaning to write for months and would have an idea from time to time about how to share creatively, but that never got fully fleshed out. So, instead of a well-thought out and creative way of sharing what's new with us, I will just write it straightforwardly and blandly. :)

The buddy with his baby cousin
1. I know I have shared that Dave became the Interim Music Director at our church last summer after the previous Music Director left. In December they asked him to stay permanently!! Yay! But, of course since it's for the church and not for a business he wasn't able to get full-time pay or benefits until April 1st. But, now it's April 6th so that means we have health insurance!! Like, seriously good, co-pay insurance. We opened a 31 year old bottle of wine we had been saving for such an exciting occasion. Wahoo!! :-) (You may think celebrating health insurance is strange, but that would mean you've always been blessed with good health insurance, which we have not for 6 years now.)

Reading to his baby (so sweet)
So Dave now officially has a full-time long-term job for the first time in his life! We are SO excited! It's also pretty much his dream job, so we are feeling so, so grateful and blessed. Just a year ago it seemed like poor Dave would be piecing together jobs involving music and ministry forever, so we are so humbled for how God has provided in this way for him and for our family.

2. This means I don't have to keep teaching at the Preschool. Double yay! I actually LOVE my students and like the teaching and relationship part of the job, but for reasons I don't particularly want to get into (I did say this post would be bland, right?), it's just not a good long-term fit. So, by the end of May I will no longer be a classroom teacher. It's very strange since ever since I went to Preschool myself my life has revolved around the school year calendar, so this will be quite a change in the fall! I will continue to teach Spanish at a local Preschool twice a week (total of 2 hours), and will have an administrative role in our church's Children's Ministry (Sunday mornings and from home during the week), but other than that my role will be wife and mom. I honestly can't believe it. I'm so grateful and in awe.

Personally, I think this is the cutest face ever! ;-)
3. We decided to adopt again! (See? BIG changes!) We have been pursuing fertility stuff for over a year now and by December we had gotten fed up. We knew with 100% confidence that we wanted to adopt again, so once we knew that we would officially have health insurance starting in April we decided to get the paperwork rolling. Thankfully this time the paperwork hasn't been quite so time consuming as the first time. This time around we are not open to a Caucasian baby since we want a child that will be similar in race to the buddy so that he and his future sibling will be able to relate to being transracial adoptees together.

22 Months! So grown up!
4. We bought a new camera! It's our first DSLR and I LOVE it! I just keep it on automatic mode for now, but it takes WAY better photos than our old point-and-shoot, which is great as the buddy is so active now he has been just a blur in our photos for quite some time. :-) I hope to share more photos now since I have actually taken some good ones recently!

Even though I haven't been blogging I have been keeping up-to-date on so many other blogs and I know that so many others are going through hard times, so just know that I think about and pray for you all so often! I feel very humbled that we have been so blessed in this stage. So, I'm here for those of you that are currently going through trials of various kinds. I'm sending you lots of hugs!