I have definitely been missing in action, I know. I haven't posted in forever. It's been way too long. But life has just sort of gotten in the way as it does. I've been busy dealing with work, being a mom, and some recent health issues that have turned my old life a bit upside down.
Last June I noticed my left foot began to hurt, it felt stiff and painful to bear weight. I was diagnosed with tibial tendonitis and put in a boot for 4 weeks. The odd part was that I had no injury or real explanation for it. I completed physical therapy and got the boot off, only to get it back on 2 weeks later- this time for 6 weeks. During that time, my right thumb suddenly swelled up like a sausage and became stiff and achy. I could no longer use it to unlock my daughter's seat belt, or even to press the button on my electric toothbrush. I was baffled and asked my orthopedic foot doctor about it. Could they be related? He suggested we run blood work, which revealed sky high inflammation. Other than the inflammation level, my blood work was negative for markers for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and the other autoimmune diseases I was tested for.
With this information, I was sent to a rhuematologist who quickly reviewed my symptoms and felt that I definitely had an autoimmune disease that was causing inflammatory arthritis. We just were not sure what type since I was negative for all the blood tests. My symptoms very quickly began to get worse. My shoulder and knees were now involved and I was in pain daily. Doing the simplest of things was exhausting and painful.
Standing to cook dinner, getting dressed, opening things, going up or down stairs.. it was almost unbearable. The worst part was the exhaustion. I was just so tired, even holding a conversation was exhausting. As soon as we knew that my immune system was attacking my joints, I read everything I could about the various types and treatments, risks, and worst-case-scenarios. I was petrified and truly felt like my life as I knew it was just slipping through my fingers. Even sitting was uncomfortable.
I began to feel incredibly anxious and depressed. It was hard to "keep up appearances" and to continue going to work as a pre-k teacher, taking care of my daughter, and cooking dinners. Grocery shopping was nearly impossible. I had to get a stool to sit on in the kitchen to cook. Every joint in my body just felt like it was stiff and had a deep bone ache.
My social life changed dramatically too because I was too exhausted to host friends for dinners like I so loved doing, and even meeting friends for dinner out was exhausting because of getting ready and socializing for more than an hour just wiped me out. I had to withdraw from so many social events and literally put my social life on hold completely. I only kept in touch with a few extremely close friends that 100% supported me and lifted my spirits during the whole ordeal, understanding if I couldn't hang out and loving me anyway.
I felt so full of guilt for my husband because while I was still going through the motions of each day, taking care of my daughter, packing lunches, teaching my class, cooking dinners, doing laundry... I felt like I was going to crack and I did not want to let my husband down. We are teammates and he needs me. He has an incredibly high stakes and demanding job as an attorney, and he needs me to pull my weight. I didn't want my daughter to see me cracking or to worry about me. I did everything I could to hide my on-the-verge-of-tears face from her. Only once did she catch me crying.
Thankfully, I live only a mile from my parents house and many nights after I finished the day, dinners, lunches, cleaning, laundry- I was just hurting so much that I had to cry. I'd go over to my parents house and just cry into my moms arms. I'd tell her all the things that I needed to vent about, all my worries about losing all function, my future... everything. And she would hug me and listen.My dad comforted me too. He told me about the time he lost nearly all of his eye sight in one eye due to a virus. I remember this happening when I was a teen, but I just remember my dad being so brave and stoic. I never knew he was so scared and fearful. He just did it. He shared with me about how life just throws us these curve balls sometimes and you just have to dig deep and keep on keeping on.
I thought and thought about what he must have gone through. Several surgeries. Fears for his future. He even did an experimental surgery, which was unsuccessful. Yet he found that strength within himself to decide not to be a victim of his circumstances. He found grace in his struggle.
I decided I was going to do everything I could to feel more in control of my situation. I wanted to feel strong again. I began by removing gluten from my diet, as it can exacerbate inflammation. That helped some. I also started exercising daily like my life depended on it. My sanity actually did. I know you must be thinking, exercising?! How??? Well, I did some crazy things. Somethings that I just hope my husband never got on video. But we both got a good laugh. I could only use certain joints and bend certain ways. I could not stand to exercise, but I could lay on the floor, and there are a lot of things you can do on the floor. I used to teach aerobics so I got quite creative and I started to push myself.
After every floor sweat session I actually felt a sense of pain relief and strength. I felt mentally better because I was showing myself what I could still do. I was proving I was still capable of some things. I listened to the same three songs over and over (Chandilier- Sia, because I was truly, "Just holding on for tonight, don't look down, don't open my eyes." Brave- Sara Bairelles because, "Maybe there's a way out of the cage where you live, maybe one of these days you can let the light in. Show me, how big your brave is." and Chain smokers- Don't Let Me Down, because, "Crashing. Hit a wall. Right now I need a miracle.") I knew I needed leg strength so I did more straight leg lifts than I could count. When it got easy, I added ankle weights. I'd lay on my stomach and lift my legs and arms and pretend to swim to tone my back muscles, legs, and arms. I slowly began lifting weights- only 3 lbs and 10 reps, but worked up to 8 lbs and 40 reps. I can now hold planks, do push ups, both regular and tricep push ups, and my flexibility has improved immensely. When I started, I could only handle about 5-10 minutes of exercises, but am now almost up to an hour. I've also begun several medications to treat my inflammatory arthritis and have had some relief from these.
I am eternally grateful for these medications, and although there are risks, the benefits absolutely outweigh the risks. I know I would not have such a positive result without my mental strength and my physical strength. I am stronger now than I was last June. I've lost 16 pounds since last June and am finally feeling like my life may actually turn out to not be such a tragedy, but more of a story of survival, strength, and accomplishment.
I'm not really sure what my future holds. I'm slowly improving every day. I don't have constant pain and my doctors are watching me carefully. I may not ever be able to go jogging again, but I try to focus on all the things that I can do. If I take breaks and wear my knee braces, I can do most things that I want to do, plus I have most of my function back in my thumb and it's only getting better- so who knows! I expect to deal with flares in the future. I know I will have periods of time when I can do less and other times when I can do more. But ultimately, I know my strength. I know what I'm capable of- even when I felt like I could hardly move.
I feel that my life is worth fighting for. I still believe that God can help me get through anything I'm handed in life. I'm not sure I believe that he chose this for me per se. I just think he helps me get through. He helps me be brave and he reminds me, every single time I look at my daughter, that He is so good. He will hold my hand. And He will never leave nor forsake me. There is grace right in the midst of the struggle, but you have to get your head above the water to see it sometimes. You have to swim on your own right through the pain.
I'm embarrassed by the length of this post. If you've read it all, I thank you and I implore you to take your own battle- whatever yours might be- however big or small... allow yourself to be vulnerable, to be scared by your situation. Don't hide behind the shame that you are not perfect or "just like everybody else." Be brave in your imperfections and put one foot in front of the other. Take care of you, be patient with yourself, and above all- get your head up and just keep swimming.
I've wanted to write this post for a really long time but just had not gotten around to it. See, I just think "forgiveness" is something so many of us (maybe every single one of us) struggle with daily.
When I say "forgiveness," I'm not just referring to forgiving others for doing wrong towards you. I'm also talking about forgiving yourself. People need to forgive themselves for all sorts of things. Many times, they need to forgive themselves for things they are not even accountable for, baggage they carry for others, guilt they hold onto.
People, listen. Life is too short to be at war with yourself or anyone else.
It doesn't matter what you've done. It doesn't matter what you think you may have done. It doesn't even matter what someone did, to you. What matters is how it has changed you. How it made you better. Wiser. Kinder. Stronger. You will never. Never. Be able to control those around you. You can't make them forgive you. But, you CAN... forgive yourself. And you CAN. forgive them. You CAN EVEN be happy again.
I carried the burden of being infertile around for waaaaay too long. I carried around guilt. I felt so sorry for my husband. How could he ever be happy being married to me when I could not carry a child? I was literally crumbling under the weight of the burden I carried... until one day, I just got it. I. Am. Human. I'm not perfect. I was never promised perfection in this life, but I was promised forgiveness.
ALL. Of us. Were promised that. And not that I needed to be forgiven by anyone or anything... But I needed to forgive myself for my broken-ness. I needed to let go of the hate. Hate is heavy. And what's funny, is how I never realized how heavy it all was, until I let it all go...
I hope you can too. I hope you can forgive those that have hurt you and move along- wish them well. Let lessons be learned, but no bridges burned. I hope you can forgive yourself for the things you've done and for the person you are. I hope you can own your life and live it. I hope you won't let the things you carry stop you or weigh you down. Because life. is short. LIve it.
So even though this has been a hard week for me, one thing I have been joyfully celebrating is my newfound perfect vision. 6 days ago I had custom lasik eye surgery at Woolfson Eye Institute in Sandy Springs, GA.
You guys... NO. Seriously. It is THE. GREATEST. THING. EVER. I have had glasses since the fourth grade. At first I only needed them to see the board at school, but by 25 I could not drive without them. My eyes are crazy eyes too. One is super near sighted and the other is far sighted. So my depth perception, menu reading, and eyebrow plucking skills suffered greatly for many years y'all.
I thought about doing this alllllllllllllllllll the time, but I was so nervous. I mean, it is your EYES for goodness sake. You don't just go into eye surgery with bells on if you know what I mean. But after planning for it and sticking 4k in the flex spending account this year. I knew it was now or never.
My eye doctor told me that the only person she would trust to do my crazy eyes was Doctor Woolfson at the Woolfson Eye Institute. Apparently he was a pioneer in lasik eye surgery and is recognized world-wide for his developments in lasik. He has performed over 90,ooo lasik procedures. So, I went right to him. Only the best for these crazy eyes.
They were able to fit me in within 2 weeks for my consult appointment, which took 2 hours because they got my exact prescription, did a full eye exam with dilation, and scheduled surgery with me for a week later. I could not believe how fast it all moved.
I arrived on surgery day (Friday) with my mama. The hubbs stayed home with our daughter. I had to take one last selfie with my mama in the old glasses. We spent about exactly 3 hours there. First they re-checked my prescription, then they went over after-care instructions, performed surgery, re-checked my eyes afterwards, and sent me home.
I was so nervous that I was literally trembling. But it's not so bad. I'm going to walk you through it- in case you are interested.
A group of 6 patients gathers in the pre-op holding room and we are given surgical hats, booties, and a forehead sticker that represents which laser will be used for my eyes. We are briefed by a nurse on how to care for our eyes after surgery and then Dr. Woolfson comes in and answers any questions we might have. We did not take anything to calm or sedate us, so we were all feeling a bit on edge, but numbing drops are put into our eyes as we wait.
We are called in one by one. Each person takes 5-10 minutes.
Once I was called in, I was feeling incredibly anxious. Thankfully, the doctor is funny and reassuring. Rock music is playing in the background and I am pleasantly surprised and somewhat relieved by this. He quickly puts me at ease and talks me through everything step-by-step.
First, I lay back on a dentist-type chair and my mom is invited in to watch my surgery. One eye lid is pried open with a speculum of sorts (this is honestly the worst part and it is not even that bad, just uncomfortable). Next, a big machine is lowered down over one eye and I am told to look at the red light and not move. Another voice calls out which eye (left eye) and my exact prescription. Then they said something like,"ready aim fire," and a machiney-type noise blares loudly. The red light then turns into these colored sparkles- much like the tail-end of a fading firework in the sky, and then everything goes gray to total blackout... and then the red light is back. This time more clear than before and the loud noise has stopped.
Now the doctor is using what looks like a mini spatula, and he is stroking it across my eye to straighten out my lens and avoid wrinkling. It is a very odd sensation because your eye is numb, but you see it happening. It feels like someone cleaning my glasses as I am wearing them. Then, the same steps are repeated on my second eye.
Next, I sit up and the nurse helps me put on my snazzy protective sunglasses. She points out the clock across the room on the wall and I can see it!!! Clearly!!!! We take a selfie with the doctor and my mom and then I'm off to a post-surgery waiting room for less than 5 minutes.
Next, I am called in by an eye doctor who checks my vision and the "flaps" created by the surgery as well as looks for wrinkling. He approves of them and I am sent home.
As we drive home, I feel a bit sensitive to the light, but I can already see well. I have a sensation that I might have a hair or small grain of sand in my eyes. I have the urge to just gently close my eyes on the car ride home. Thankfully this sensation lasts only about 4 hours- and for almost all of that time, I am sleeping.
Once we are home, I eat lunch and take the half pill sleeping medication the doctor prescribed and I take a nice long 4 hour nap. I then wake up and take my first dose of eye drops (2 in each eye 4 times daily). And I relax the rest of the day. I eat dinner later and at night I take the other half of the sleeping medication and I sleep soundly through the whole night.
I have been instructed to wear my taped on "bug eyes" at night, and my protective sunglasses during the day for 4 days. I can shower after 48 hours with my back to the water, no make up (excuse all my no-makeup pics) or face cream for 7 days. I am considered totally healed by 7 days.
My eyes are a bit light sensitive for the first 5 days, but nothing outrageous. I am now cleared to return to all normal activities like swimming, sweating, makeup, rubbing my eyes.. all the normal stuff.
So, this is 35. I made it you guys. I'm official. Not officially "old" but just simply. Official. You know when you talk about someone that did something outrageous and people say, "how old were they?!" And you say, "Not that young,they were like 35!" You know, because by 35, you should not being doing certain things. You are finally at an age of legitimacy. An age that deserves some respect. You've been in your career for about 10 years now. You know, you are legit.
I don't think of turning 35 as a bad thing. Actually, I think aging is beautiful. It's a gift really. A gift that so many of us never receive. Sure there are some more lines on my face and my muffin top is a bit fluffier than I like it. But, you guys... I'm one of the lucky ones.
I've lost two friends this year. One was 31 and the other 36. Both to cancer. Their passing has left an endless wake of of sadness, loss, and heartbreak. More than ever before, I'm reminded that every moment I'm here, every day I live, and every birthday I get to celebrate is a gift. It's a treasure.
This year, I want to be present. I don't want to waste energy on the trivial things in life that don't matter. I want to be healthy, not skinny. I want to laugh more and spend more time with the people that mean the world to me. I want to soak up my precious family and every single moment that I have with them. I want to show others grace and forgive a thousand plus one times.
It's time to live. The time is now. It's more important with every passing day. Living. Truly living. Is an urgent need. Find your happiness. Get out there and find it. You heard me. Don't give it away to anyone else to "handle" for you. There is not a soul out there that can take ownership over your happiness except you. Take charge of your life. Find it. Embrace it.
35 is my lucky year you guys. I fully expect big things. But more than that, I just feel lucky. To be here and do this.
1. Hair game #onpoint. Change your hair. Change your life. That's what they say right??! Well they seriously should. But mamas,STOP before you chop- Be sure to tell your stylists that you do not want the "mom-bob". No. No. No.Noooooo. It needs to be choppy and you need to be able to rock this cut messy. As in, get out of the bed, Flat iron the two front pieces. Put on some mascara. And go. Get. Em. Mascara makes every haircut look better- let's be real. You people who still don't wear mascara.... Ya'll are missing out.
Chopping my hair in 2017 is just the first thing on my list this year. I know I'm getting started a little bit late y'all, but January was the month of nasty viruses and at the time, my only resolution was to get well. Now that I'm better, it's game time and I need a tune up.
2. Flirty lash game #smoking. Yep. They are real. All mine y'all, no fox hair Kim K. extension mess here. This is a new little product I discovered called Babe Lash Serum. Click on the name to check it out. I promise promise promise you... It. Works. And way less expensive than all the other products on the market right now. Just glide it along the lash line before bed each night and in 3 weeks your lashes be poppin' #likemary.
3. Date night outfit #crushedit. So this year I have resolved to have more date nights and to take showers and try to look hot-ish once in a while. Yes you can wear a damn brown belt with black jeans y'all. Hush and just own it.
It does wonders for the self esteem when you pull it all together sometimes. Notice that all of these pics are taken on the same day in the same outfit. That is because when I get it together for date night, it needs to be well documented. 99% of the time, I'm in mom jeans, tennis shoes and a flannel button down. I work at a pre-school and I'm a mom of a 3 year old. Don't judge me just because I'm not walking around like this most days. But, I admit it feels great to get it together- and making the hubbs take these pics was hysterically funny. Let's just say his ideas for poses were less than helpful.
4. Accessory game #nailedit. I'm loving these cheapie necklaces on jane.com. Each of these were less than $8. Everyday they feature new shops, but they almost always have fun necklaces being featured. Go get you some. They just add so much YASSSS to a blah outfit and as moms, we have a lot of blah, black and gray in our closets. Don't lie.
5. And last but certainly not least it's time to get my fit on. See, what had happened was that I fell- well I got kicked off the fit train back in December when Christmas hit, then January with the plague and all... Anyhoo, it's time to get back on the fit train because that train is about to leave the damn station if you know what I mean.. Before pics have been taken. And a 6-week workout video has been selected.
Notice that I said 6-week. I'm Moderation Mama remember?! I will not be doing P90Freaks or Insanity nuttiness. Because y'all, this mama #aintgottimeforthat. However the video series I picked is by Beach Body and called Slim In 6. It is a verrrrrry old 6-week program with nineties elevator music and dorky jokes. But I freaking love Debbie Siebers. In my head, she is like one of my old friends. I did this work out video in college you guys- so when Debbie and I get together in my tv room. It's just fun.
I wish I could go to classes at the gym but now that I'm working and the hubbs travels so much and often isn't home until after 7, it's just so hard to get there. Hubbs goes to the gym at 5:30am, so I don't get to go then, and after school my daughter naps. Once she wakes up, we barely have time to hit the playground and cook dinner. So for my current situation, a workout video after my daughter goes to bed is my best option if I want consistency.
I plan to hold myself accountable by posting pics every 2 weeks. OMG. Whaaaaat? I know right. But I'm doing it. Anybody want to join me? Nope, I'm not selling Beach Body Products and I'm fairly confident in saying that I will never "sell" anything. It's just not my thang. But if you want more info on Beach Body Videos so that you can #werk for the next 6 weeks with me before swim suit season creeps up on you- talk to my girl Anneka Hitch- she is a coach and can help a sister out.
So what am I eating? Now hold on y'all, one thing at a dang time. I plan to #werk on my fitness and continue to eat moderately with the exception of alcohol and desserts. Not like I drink that much, but it is just empty calories- so reserving that for Friday and Saturdays only (2 drink max). And no desserts. I know. I know. But, fruit doesn't count and it is ohhhh. So sweet.
So what are you doing this year to feel good about yourself? We all need a tune up. Come on now, we need details! 2017, we have arrived.
Ok, so it's been a while. I pretty much fell off the face of the earth back in December y'all. With the blur of Christmas festivities and getting the loooooongest lasting sinus infection ever followed immediately by nothing less than Hand Foot and Mouth virus. No. I'm so serious. Yes, I wish I were kidding. No. It's not the Hoof and Mouth thing that cows get. It's a nasty virus that hangs out in pre-schools AKA where I work.
Let's just say I felt like death. Lymph nodes were the size of eggs, my throat was covered in sores and my doctor was at a total loss. She tested me for strep, mono, and even ran blood tests to rule out lymphoma. Everything was negative, yet I just kept getting worse. Finally she referred me to an ENT, who did an endoscopy and in one second knew I had HFM. So after weeks of antibiotics which solved nothing, I switched to steroids which slowly but surely cleared everything up.
In the meantime, I just sort of disappeared. I know I had an excuse to fall off the face. But, it got me thinking... Ya know, you don't need to have Hand Foot Mouth virus to have a legit excuse to occasionally go MIA. What I mean, is that I think we feel so guilty all the time about not doing enough- not volunteering enough, not hosting enough dinner parties, not making it to church, not saying yes to every play date invitation, not organizing educational activities for every spare moment our child has, and not helping out every single person we know that has just had surgery, lost a loved one, or had a baby.
I am a giver by nature and I'm just in the habit of bringing our dinner leftovers several times a week to our widowed neighbor, volunteering to help with every class party, teach Sunday school, throw baby and bridal showers, drop off gifts and food for anyone and everyone in need... I could go on and on. But, the truth is, I really do enjoy doing all those things. It's just that I need to get it through my head that it is ok to take a break from all of it once in a while when I need to do so. You CAN say no sometimes and you do not have to feel guilty about it.
Here's the thing, those moms you see out there that seem like they are doing it all and making it look so easy. They are making sacrifices to do and be who and what they are. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and how we choose to spend it is up to us. The moms with the perfect hair and makeup are spending some extra time on that. The ones with the super fit bods are spending some extra time on that. The ones sending in homemade cookies and valentines from tiny prints with their kids face on it have chosen to spend the extra time doing that. Don't judge them because we all have the right to choose how we spend our time and there is no shame in that game.
The ones that seem to do it all, are NOT really doing it all. They are sacrificing something. Whether it's time with their families, sleep, their health, looks, or their relationships... they are absolutely sacrificing somewhere because you cannot be a master of all trades at all times. It. Does. Not. Work. That. Way. People.
So here is my advice to you, take breaks when you need to. Do NOT make that casserole for the coworker that just had a baby, say NO to volunteering at that neighborhood function, baking for that bake sale, and skip that workout class here and there when you need to. Do not apologize, and do NOT waste your time explaining yourself to yourself and others. If people want to judge, let them. You are the only one that gets to live your life.
Give when you can, but say no when you need to, because seriously though. You. Are. Enough. Amen. The end.
I haven't written in a while because I've been physically and emotionally "busy." Obviously I've started my new job and I'm truly loving it. At first I was overwhelmed, but now my heart is all in. I can say that I. love. it. That part has kept me quite busy. In a good way.
However, we've also been quite busy working on a surrogacy. Now calm down. Unfortunately, I don't have any impending pregnancy news to share with you. However, that doesn't mean that I don't have any good news to share.
It's been a really long journey. We began all of this back in 2011 and did not have our daughter until 2014. We know that patience is a virtue here. However, after two failed ivf cycles, we were once again advised to go the surrogacy route (technically the gestational carrier route because it's 100% our ingredients).
We spoke with adoption agencies as well as surrogacy agencies and settled on going the surrogacy route. We had no idea what to expect as far as a "match" might go, but we hoped and prayed for the best. We signed with the agency in February and were not matched until June. We had an initial phone conference with her as well as got to meet her and her husband in person shortly thereafter.
We were completely stunned by the instant connection that we had and the incredible kindness and character shown by our match. She was absolutely, 100%, one of a kind. The kind of person you meet once and would trust with your life. No, I'm serious. Just a good, good, genuine person through and through.
The process from there is quite long and lots of red tape. Hoops too. Lots of hoops. There is an initial consult with my specialist and a medical evaluation, lots of blood tests, a four-part psych eval screening, a sixty-page legal contract, and lots of medications. After months of red tape, we finally reached transfer day early this month.
We were all so excited! It felt like a dream come true and I just wanted to kiss and hug our GC, but she had to settle for a small gift that I left on the table in my kitchen as I literally ran out the door to meet her for the transfer. And get this, she brought me a little gift! That is the kind of person she is.
I prepared her after the transfer for possible bad news. I reminded her that we have been through this many times, and we are used to the unsuccessful outcomes. Although it is much more likely that it would be successful with a GC (Gestational carrier), there are no guarantees. Well, no guarantees ever in life anyways right?
Then we waited. We waited and we prayed. And a few days before the blood test, we took a home pregnancy test. The whole drive over there my heart pounded. I knew it could be the best news of my life or just another let down.
Unfortunately, it was negative. But perhaps it was still early... We tested again 48 hours before the blood test and once more it was negative. At that point I knew it had not been successful. It hurt and when I heard my doctors voice on the other end of the phone (the nurse calls if it's positive, doctor calls if it's negative), I winced.
I cried a bit. Mostly because we have just worked so hard to get here and so many people have come together to help us. An angel on this earth was acting as our GC and still somehow it just didn't work. I know I should blindly trust in God's plan, but sometimes, I just want to throw back that damn curtain and be like, "Just tell me the plan!!! I need to know the plan!!!"
I get mad sometimes because it feels so unfair. The first few days as it was sinking in I wallowed in my despair. I worried about my GC because I know she was disappointed. I was sad for my husband because he is just so tired of this never-ending journey- as am I. I felt bad that we had borrowed so much money. And that we'd literally chased our dreams to the end of the earth... I made an appointment with my talk therapist. If you don't have one by now, you need to invest in a good one y'all.
We both agreed that it was time for me to be done leading my infertility support group for women. Nobody needs a bitter woman to be their "support" group leader and since I said the word "bullshit" at least 20 times during my session, I think we were both convinced I was in a very "negative" spot. The members of my support group would likely leave feeling worse than they did when they arrived! So... I almost quit. And then I made the call to our fertility specialist to schedule our follow up consult
The secretary answered and knew me by name (she deals with literally thousands of patients mind you). And she said, "Sarah, I just want to tell you that I've learned two things in this business. 1) Infertility only happens to the very kindest people in the world. And 2) God has the ultimate plan." She told me she'd love to go to dinner with me some time because she'd been so inspired by my kindness and my optimism throughout my journey. She even said that I actually inspired her!
I could not believe she'd even taken notice as to who I was, not to mention was inspired by me. I could not believe that I had the great blessing of crossing paths with someone as kind as she, and as incredible as my GC. I'm amazed by my fertility specialist because he came in on his day off to fit me in before our transfer (which he did not have to do- he is one of the best fertility specialists in the nation). And our psychologist (one of only 4 in Georgia that is approved to clear GCs), fit us in after having a flood in her office-she made it work to still meet with us and she told me that, "people will pull strings for us because we are special to everyone we encounter." People literally bent over backwards for us and showed us the most incredible love and kindness. Not to mention my husband, who prayed with me, held me and supported me through every single step.
At that moment I decided, no way am I quitting my support group. I have something to give too and that feels good. I don't want to be bitter. That's a choice I GET to make. I want to recognize the good and the amazing. When the secretary said that "God has the ultimate plan" it just spoke to me. It's not like I'd never thought of that or didn't know it. It's just that I needed to be reminded of it. I needed to look at my miraculous little daughter and just know. Just know that He does have the ultimate plan.
So as far as the future goes. We are not 100% certain. We might be done as far as this journey goes. But, one never knows I guess. One thing I am sure of though, is that there are so many good, goooooood people out there. There are people out there that will literally blow your mind with their kindness. So I choose to focus on that. On the good. On the upside. I choose to trust because there is simply not room in my heart for both faith and fear. And I get to pick. I choose faith this time and I choose it with all my heart.
We all know mommin' ain't easy, so it's nice to get little tips here and there. Here are a few things that have worked super well for us. Totally worth a try...
Lace up shoes are super cute, but this mama does not have time to deal with it when we are in a rush to get out the door. These little silicon stretchy things are amazing and you can buy them in rainbow or solid white. Life. Changing. Check them out here.
Want a home-cooked meal, but literally have no time to make that happen? Try one of these Crockpot Seasoning packets. All you, literally everything you need to know is on the back. Grab one and pick up the rest of the ingredients listed on the back. No need to make your own ingredient grocery list. Plus, it's low in calories and super tasty! Try all the flavors.
Make a big batch of quinoa and eat it all week. It's a major time saver and is a great addition to almost any meal. I love it on a salad, in my spaghetti sauce, on my Mexican casseroles, and as a side dish for chicken or fish. It's great for packing in lunches or adding to dinners. My whole family loves it. You can make it is less than 20 minutes. Check out my step by step post for making it, here.
Try bagged salad with a protein on top. It's such an easy dinner because everything you need is inside the bag, and it is absolutely delish! Add as many or as few goodies to the salad as you'd like. You can add baked salmon or even pick up a pre-roasted chicken if you're short on time, and of course quinoa is always a great protein to add.
I know I've been missing in action for a while now, but I've been working summer camp at the local preschool and getting my classroom ready for my upcoming class of pre-k kiddies starting in September. The good news is that I FINALLY got a new computer and it is incredible you guys- seriously magical.
I'm writing today because I'm thinking of all the kids and teachers going back to school. I'm thinking about how I never slept the night before the first day because I was excited and nervous. I wanted to make a great impression on my 125 new middle schoolers as well as my bosses, coworkers, and the parents. I would spend late nights crossing my t's and dotting my i's to make sure everything ran smoothly- especially on that first day.
I'm not sure why I was always so nervous about the first day, but it's funny because the very minute my classes would take their seats and I'd finish riffling through my attendance folder and stumbling through the pronunciation of each new name, I'd look up... right at them. Sitting there in those desks. And in that very moment, my nerves went away. They went away because I'd see the fear and anxiety in my students eyes. They were in their "coolest" outfit surrounded by shiny new school supplies, and looked like they might... puke. They had fought with lockers, some for the first time, and they likely wanted to burst out into tears right there. And here I was. The math teacher! Likely their most dreaded class and I knew it.
And in that moment every single year, I would want to just go down the row and hug them all one by one. I knew I had a million things to go over with them, but my rehearsed speech went right out the window and I'd begin my first of many pep-talk soap box speeches. I'd tell them it's going to be ok and we are going to survive this day- and this year. We don't have to be afraid. We can do this thing together. No matter how bad that first day of middle school had gone thus far for them, I wanted my classroom to be a bright spot. I wanted it to be a place of warmth and solace in this crazy new middle school world. I knew the truth was that my students would never care what I knew until they knew that I cared.
I guess the point of this entry is really just to say that every one of us is afraid sometimes of that "big thing." Whatever that thing is in your life that keeps you up at night. Sometimes perspective helps you realize you're really not all alone and everyone else is busy facing their own fears. Sometimes you think yours is so. much. bigger. SO. much. scarier. But, it's really all so relative. The first day of middle school can be just as scary for that little eleven-year-old as whatever big scary fear you are about to face (and conquer).
Sometimes we are forced to face these scary things, but other times we choose to. Either way, I think it helps to know that we're not alone. So get out there and face your fears people, do it like a boss and then pat yourself on the back for it, even if it goes poorly. Celebrate your efforts and those fears you faced. Those steps you took without knowing exactly where you might end up. Pat others on their backs too because nobody's got this life thing all figured out. And let's be honest, we all need a hug now and then.
When you see this picture, what comes to mind? Happy couple? Cute dog? Probably not infertility. But in fact this picture was taken circa 2011, right in the midst of our struggle to conceive. We had been married for three years and the questions were starting to come like rapid fire from every direction. "When are you guys going to have kids?" "You guys want kids, right?" "What are you waiting for?" I had a well-practiced answer for each of these questions, but every time it was like a knife. A knife I saw coming a mile away.
Nobody knew that we were trying and had been trying for more than a year at that point. I was already scheduled for a laparoscopy to confirm, diagnose, and remove suspected endometriosis. It felt like infertility was starting to take over our lives. It began to affect every aspect of our lives and honestly, the hardest part was keeping the "secret" and hiding our pain from friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and family.
Fast forward to June, 2013 when my sister (and hero) was 3 months pregnant with our child... Only then did we finally realize that it was time to face the music. We had to open up about our struggle because there was no explaining away the fact that my sister was pregnant with our baby. I dreaded it and agonized over it. It was the most vulnerable I've ever felt in my life, especially because it was my "fault." I was the problem. My body simply could not carry a child. I felt...somehow inferior. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Like less of a woman. I dreaded telling my husband's parents because I actually thought they would feel sorry for their son for ending up with such a defective woman. I cried so many tears y'all, I could have cried Justin Timberlake his river.
I focused on the good, which was the fact that our child was in fact on her way and healthy- FINALLY. But still, I considered deleting my Facebook and Instagram account, changing my name (kidding). I would have preferred anything to "going public." But then it kind of hit me. 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility and why not be a voice? Why not be a face? Why not let one more couple know they are not alone-like we felt for years? Why did I care so much what others thought of me? The bottom line was that if I could help even one person. One couple. To navigate through the mess of infertility, I could honestly say, it would be worth it.
At this time, one of my most favorite quotes was this one.
So, I let go and I let it fly. At first, I was so timid. I gave very little information and I prepared for backlash and strong opinions from uniformed naysayers that have never walked a mile. But, I was ready for that and I decided that I would just do my best to not surround myself with people like that. This is my life and I'm the one who has to live with it.
Much to my surprise, people were loving, accepting, kind, and supportive of our journey. They embraced us with open arms and while sometimes they asked funny questions or were curious about specifics, it never bothered us. We were just so thrilled to be accepted. It was honestly like a ton of bricks had been taken off my back. I wished I hadn't waited so long to finally open up.
Of course, not everyone was 100% supportive of our choices. I did have a few people question our choice and suggest that we should have adopted. That it was perhaps a more "moral" way of handling our "situation." But, I tried not to let those judgments eat away at me. I reminded myself that until you walk a mile, you just do not get it. I knew I had to give them a break, but that didn't mean I needed to spend my time with people like that,
Suffice it to say, that I never thought I would have a blog and I never ever thought I would be blogging about my infertility. But life is funny sometimes and I would not have it any other way.
I have shared my story several times on my blog, but I thought it was important to do it again in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week. It's time for couples to #startasking. When 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility, why do most companies not offer insurance coverage for treatment? Why does the media still shy away from covering topics dealing with infertility? And why haven't legislators worked to update laws on surrogacy (did you know that in many states, the woman carrying the child is defined as the "mother" by law- so, families working with a surrogate have to have their child declared to be their own before a judge)? It's time to make some changes out there and I'm glad I can be a voice in the silent struggle. Join me and let's #startasking.
As for me, the birth of my daughter via gestational carrier was simply the greatest gift I have ever experienced. There are. no. words. None.
Our longing to expand our family continues and we recently attempted two more rounds of ivf with me- just to try some new protocols. Unfortunately, neither were successful. IVF and infertility are not pretty and not fun to talk about (warning, images are graphic-taken during a second round of ivf) , but they are real and real people experience this every day.
The bottom line is that we have to start somewhere. I didn't want to be a "face" of infertility, But here I am. It's raw and it's real. I'm not ashamed of my journey and I will continue speaking out and speaking up for those whom have not yet found their voice.
As always, if you are struggling to conceive please consider joining me on the first Sunday of each month at 5pm for a peer support group at Kingswood United Methodist Church in Dunwoody, GA or join our private Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1707417859495046/ or website at https://www.facebook.com/infertilityatlanta/