Fertility Journey

Slow Down – Take Inventory

Just a little update on our journey:

We have decided to, again, take a break from the medications/testing. My body does not respond well to medications, and I really need to focus on my health. Our focus is to continue Chiropractic, Nutrition (supplements), and to pursue Acupuncture. I also would like to get back in to a healthy habit of exercise and eating healthy.
Please pray along with us as we seek out an Acupuncturist who specializes in infertility AND someone who we really like. Also, for me to be motivated and encouraged to get my butt in gear with exercise.
I am sure you have noticed me posting a lot of photos of our niece – oh how we love her! When we first heard of her coming arrival, I was nervous. Scared that I would hurt when I saw her, and that I would be bitter towards Bobby & Faith. THANKFULLY, she has been a pure blessing during this journey, and Bobby & Faith allow me to have special time with her. She has caused me to slow down, and enjoy each and every moment. I have a special connection with sweet Melanie. ❤ I never really was able to experience being an Aunt at this stage with Jake’s nephews/nieces because they were older when I came in the picture.
A few of my favorite things with Melanie:
1. Singing to her – ALL THE TIME! She loves “My Girl” by the Temptations, “I love you, a bushel & a peck” with motions, “Head Shoulder’s Knees and Toes”, “Father Abraham” and just recently – “Little Bunny Foo Foo”.
2. Changing her diaper – Any time she’s over and her diaper needs changed… Aunt Shelly is ready to snatch her up. She loves her diaper being changed, and I make sure to raspberry her belly each time!
3. Rocking her to sleep – the one night she was refusing to fall asleep (football was on, and she loves it). I took her back to our guest room where it was quiet and dark and rocked her while singing “Father Abraham” (twice).
4. Watching Jake interact with her – what a joy. She loves her Uncle Jake.
5. Watching her smile – at everything and everyone.
6. Photo shoots – I enjoy finding cute clothing/bows and doing mini photo shoots with her. They’re usually done outside, and she’s a trooper!
7. Quite accurately – everything about her!

 

Sometimes in life we just need to slow down and focus on what’s right in front of us. I am so often caught up in our journey that I forget to notice what’s going on around me. Friendships, relationships, business, my spiritual life, physical health, etc.

I am reminded in one book I am currently read “Grace Not Perfection” by Emily Ley: “Give yourself permission to slow down. In fact, give yourself permission to just stop. Press pause on as much as possible, and take inventory of your life. What are your commitments and responsibilities? What can go? What are you priorities? What can you say no to?… What are you missing? What makes you feel deeply alive? And how can you fill your heart up with that, even if just a tiny bit?” Then she encouraged us to write out a list of things we LOVE.

Here is mine:
I love… being a wife, daughter, sister, and aunt. I love moments with my two best friends – Amanda/Leah, time with Jake – special moments. I love traveling, staying in luxury hotels, swimming (ocean or pool). I love sipping on tea – all year long. Changing Melanie’s diaper and bonding, singing, rocking, and snuggling her. Baby smiles/giggles. Checking out new destinations. Shopping for home goods items/furniture. Decorating the house. I love Fall/Autumn – pumpkins, leaves, cider, hayrides, orange, flannel, and everything else Fall. I love the way Jake cares for me and loves me. (I ran out of space on the page in the book, but I know I could come up with so much more.)

 

“So how do we tactically set ourselves up for joy? It starts with grace, continues with a plan, and ends with grace. When you make a plan, wrap it up in a giant hug of grace, because it may not happen, or it may not happen the way you intended. Let go of the perfect plan, and pursue a good and flexible plan – one that will give you the freedom to go with the flow and find the joy hidden in the in-between moments….” – Emily Ley

Encouragement In Life · Fertility Journey

Attitude Check.

“Many times people who have suffered adverse situations in their lives become bitter and angry. Over time, their lives will be negative and hardened towards others. The tendency for them is to point back to a difficult time and say, ‘That incident ruined my life.’ What they do not realize is that the incident called for an attitude decision – a response. Their wrong attitude choice, not the condition, ruined their lives.” – John C. Maxwell, “Developing the Leader Within You”

We have to ask ourselves: Will we allow our fertility journey to harden our attitudes towards life and others, or will we allow it to shape us into making a right attitude choice? We choose to let it mold and shape us into better individuals – it’s a journey, but we are choosing that path. We want to look back 20 years from now and be able to say, “that challenge changed our lives for the better and molded us into the people we are today.”

Often, we see individuals going through this journey [or other journeys] who have chosen the path of negativity towards life, friends/family/people, and God. I know the struggle, thoughts, hurt, pain, and confusion – BUT how are you letting that affect your life? When it’s raining are you complaining, or are you thankful for the fruit and vegetables that are being nourished? Are you approaching situations as “I can do this” or “There is no way I am able to complete this task”? When you hear another pregnancy announcement are you bitter or thankful for their blessing? [It is okay to still hurt, but bitterness only destroys you more.] It is amazing how much your thoughts affect your day, week, month, and life.

I challenge you – regardless of what you’re going through in life right now – to go through each day starting on a positive note – like listed below. It will help you build your mindset and attitude. This is not something that comes naturally. Instead, it is a DAILY CHOICE.

When you wake up in the morning:
1. Read self-improvement/ Bible
2. Pray/meditate
3. Write out affirmations

Throughout the day:
1. Encourage others
2. Pray/meditate
3. Connect with someone who encourages you

At end of day:
1. Pray/meditate
2. Self-improvement/Bible
3. Affirmations [again]

John C. Maxwell had a conversation with his Dad:
“Dad, you’re seventy years old. You’ve always had a great attitude. Are you still reading that stuff?”
“Son, I have to keep working on my thought life. I am responsible to have a great attitude and to maintain it. My attitude does not run on automatic.”

Perhaps today is a day for an attitude decision – response. Are you ready to change your mind, heart, and attitude. Jake and I are committing to making positive attitude decisions. Will you commit to that, too? — This does not determine your road to be easy, but it sure does secure it to be mentally and emotionally improved.

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Encouragement In Life · Fertility Journey

There Is Beauty In the Weeds

Weeds grow rapidly, spread all over, pop up where unexpected, and choke out other plants – much like the struggles in our lives, right?

The struggles build on top of each other and grow quickly. You’re reminded often by the things around you, and hurt often.

The pain spreads into other areas of your life. You often let it affect your work, home, spiritual, and physical life. You take your hurt, anger, and frustration out on the important people in your life (spouse, parents, siblings, children, etc.) – even when you try not to. It spreads like weeds – fast, wide, and sporatic. You don’t always know when it’s going to affect you – where you’ll be, who you’ll be with, and what’s going on around you.

BUT through it all, there is beauty – if you allow it.

Beauty in the pain and suffering. Beauty in who you become when you come out on the other end. Beauty in the relationships built through it – the ones who love you, support you, and pray for you. I am thankful for our fertility struggle. “Wait, what did she just say?!” Yup, I just said that. I am thankful. I still struggle, I still have pain, and I still hope and dream of becoming pregnant, soon! BUT I am thankful the Lord is using our experience to help others through theres. I am thankful I have a better appreciation and understanding for others who go through infertility as well. I still have REALLY rough days, and events, words, etc. that trigger my emotions, but I am THANKFUL!

1 Thessalonians 5:18: Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT)

Philippians 4:6: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (NLT)

Psalm 106:1Praise the LordOh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! (ESV)


Psalm 28:7: The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (NLT)

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Check out those “weeds” above – they aren’t actually considered weeds, but they sure are invasive. Each year we pull as many as we can find, but somehow they come back in full force the next Spring. They reproduce and spread like crazy. All through our yard and garden (much like dandelions). This year, I chose to let them be with my tulips. They are beautiful – if only for a moment. I cherished them this Spring, and will appreciate them each year for the reminder they bring to me.

Fertility Journey

I Choose To REJOICE.

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I choose to REJOICE.

rejoice.
verb (used without object), rejoiced, rejoicing.
1. to be glad; take delight (often followed by in):

to rejoice in another’s happiness.
I am choosing to rejoice through the sadness, through the pain, and through the disappointments along this journey- it’s not always easy, but I am choosing it. I find my joy in the Lord, and his blessings in my life. He is graceful and merciful – in everything.

Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
rejoice.
verb (used with object), rejoiced, rejoicing.
2. to make joyful; gladden:

a song to rejoice the heart.
We are rejoicing in the pregnancy of my brother and sister-in-law. We rejoice with them in their little miracle, and we are both excited to meet our sweet little niece/nephew in a few months. Many have asked: “How are you planning their baby shower?!”  The simple answer: because I care about them, am excited for them, and it makes me feel like I am part of the process – on my own terms. I enjoy planning events like this, and I’m thrilled to decorate it. Just because Jake and I are struggling, does not mean we ruin the lives of those around us.
We are thankful for those who weep alongside of Jake and myself – the prayers, tears, hugs, texts, letters, emails, etc.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15

 

This past week I had the opportunity to go fishing for trout with my Dad and brother. It was such a blessing to spend time with just the two of them – made me feel like a little girl again. Fishing has given me the chance to pull away from the daily grind, and to sit outside in the beautiful weather. We had success, but even without it – I would have had a wonderful time. There is beauty in forcing yourself to get out of your house and relax – to forget, even if only for a moment, that you aren’t constantly working through the emotional pain of infertility. Briefly, I felt young again – with no worries. For this, I am blessed. Perhaps, for now, I found something to help me through the more difficult days.

Fertility Journey

Infertility. Have you thought about adoption?

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To answer this quickly: ABSOLUTELY!

We understand your hearts behind asking this question – you want to help us figure out another way to follow our dreams.

Give me a moment to go a little deeper with this answer. Jake and I had decided when we were engaged that we would love to adopt some day – regardless of if we have biological children or not. This has always been on our hearts. However, we have not given up on our hope to have biological children as well. There is something so special and amazing to have a sweet little baby growing inside of you. Knowing that you and the love of your life created another life together. How amazing is that?! Literally brings tears to my eyes when I think about that. An outward and growing expression of our love – makes my heart skip a beat. I understand pregnancy is not always the most fun, but I cannot wait until I can feel the precious little flutters, kicks, and rolls. There is nothing to replace that, not even close.

For our first adoption (in the future), Jake and I would love to adopt a newborn. I think it would be very important and valuable to us as parents to experience the newborn stage. We have spoken to many couples that have adopted, and this was their thoughts as well – across the board – especially if our hearts were leaning in that direction. It was also brought up to us to adopt children in order by age – something we had never thought about before.

COST: Many believe we could save more money by adopting rather than going the route of IVF (praying we do not need to). However, adoption costs upwards of $30,000 and IVF is about $20-30,000 (depending). So for us, we would rather initially invest in IVF. Is this selfish, I really don’t think so.

Someday, we will adopt. It is our heartbeat. To give a home, a family, and LOVE to children who are not currently receiving that. This moment, we feel the Lord is continuing to lead us in the direction of pregnancy. This may change, but in the meantime – we ask for your continued love, support, prayers, and understanding.

“Never give up on your dream of being a Mom (Dad)”

 

Fertility Journey

Should we go… to the Doctor?

I have spoken to a lot of women, and I can vouch for Jake and myself. It was a struggle to make the decision to go to the fertility Doctor the first time. I felt as though I was giving up hope… it was putting an end to the “natural pregnancy” excitement. “Why couldn’t it just happen naturally for us?” “Why is there something WRONG with me, or him?” There was a sincere fear of finding out “who” was the reason for the infertility – and I think those are completely natural thoughts. “It is such a HUGE expense.” – in reality, it may not be.

Jake and I had to work through those thoughts – and it took a while. We made the decision together that even if we found out whose body was not allowing pregnancy, that we would NOT blame each other or ourselves. Trust me, this is hard to follow (especially when blaming yourself) – but it’s so worth it. We knew there were a few options – male factor, female factor, or unexplained. One thing for sure – we were going to get some “answers”.

I am thankful he is an encourager, and loves me through all of the emotions, thoughts, and fear. We needed peace of mind to know what was going on with our bodies.

Pursue your dreams of being parents:

If this is something you are struggling with, I encourage you to pursue answers – regardless of how long that process takes. For some, it may be simple – for others it may be more complex – and for a few it may be “unexplained”.

Steps:

  1. Call your insurance – see what they cover for fertility, how long you need to have been trying to conceive for, and ask if they require a referral (many do). Ours covered all the diagnostic parts of the process, some even cover IVF if you need to go that route in the future.
  2. Set up a time to meet with a local fertility Doctor – do a little research to find the right one for you. We are blessed to have found a truly caring Doctor – who understands our desire to be as natural as possible. Find one that fits your needs/desires.
  3. GO – sometimes this is the hardest step. Just go, don’t let the fears hold you back from pursuing your dreams.
  4. Find some individuals to support you emotionally through this process outside of just your spouse. Having a few core friends/family members to love you, encourage you, and pray for you is so valuable.

Remember, you are not alone.

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Fertility Journey

The results are in… and we still wait.

January 26th – I felt nauseous all day and it was hard to breath at times while I waited for their call. I finally got so impatient at 1:47pm that I called them. I could not keep myself distracted for more than 3 minutes – that result was all I could think about. The lady I spoke with said they were making their calls and should be calling me shortly… so I waited some more.
 
2:30 I called a client… and while it was ringing, Dr. Sobel must have called. He left a voicemail, and I prepared myself to listen while I was sitting in the parking lot of Michaels. I could feel the blood pumping through my body. Excited, scared, hopeful, doubtful, a little bit of everything… a very somber Dr. Sobel – “Hi Michele, this is Dr. Sobel. Michele, I don’t have good news for you today. I’m sorry. The bloodwork for the test today was negative, I’m so sorry….” My heart stopped and sunk – way down to my toes. That hope briefly disappeared, and as I’m typing this at 10:39pm on that same day – I am weeping again.
 
How was I going to pull myself together, go on an appointment, and then tell Jake later this evening? How? How could I even possibly drive home right now… how could I get through the evening. Even though I didn’t know how I would do it, I am thankful that client appointment was scheduled ahead of time, otherwise I may have just curled up in a ball and tirelessly cried all evening. Instead, I was able to pull my mind away from it for a few hours, which in turn ended up being what I needed. I wanted to call and cancel, but I am thankful I didn’t.
 
I truly felt your prayers on the drive home, a blanket of comfort began to surround me as I pulled on to Route 30. I could hear text after text coming in that you were each praying for the results. I value those prayers, texts, messages, and calls. You got me through today, and for that I thank you.
 
When I told Jake, he held me. Closely. Just what I needed. I made dinner and we snuggled up to watch some TV while eating. And then… we decided to catch up on some of “This Is Us” – big mistake. The episode they found out they were having triplets, bought their home, and flash-forward images of the babies and bath time. My heart, my heart. Jake knew immediately. He comforted me and held me.
 
Jakob, I know you’re struggling too. You are so strong for me, but your desire to be a Father is so apparent in every aspect of your life. I am full of joy when I see you with children, and I cannot wait for you to experience life through the eyes of fatherhood. Please pray for him as he, too, stumbles through the valleys of this journey – there are peaks ahead, but we really need you in the deepest, darkest moments. We know we’re not alone, but many days it feels as though we are. It’s hard, it’s raw, but the Lord is carrying us through this. We ask that you help carry us too. Laugh with us, cry with us, and rejoice with us.
 
PRAISE #1: I needed to call that client in that moment – so I was distracted. If I would have waiting 30 seconds more, I would have had to call the client AFTER I received the news. I was also able to play the voicemail for Jake.
 
PRAISE #2: Thankful for Dr. Sobel and his heart and compassion. You hear it in his words, and you see it in his actions.
 
PRAISE #3: We went out for a DATE NIGHT on Saturday night! When we entered the theater, we ran in to a very dear friend! Thankful for her hugs and prayers in that moment. I don’t see her often, but we were able to sit next to her in the theater (praying for you too, dear friend!)
 
What’s next?: We are taking a month off from the medication and testing – it was a lot on my body, and I had to make the decision within a day or two after finding out I was not pregnant. That’s a lot to handle. We’re working on the grant applications, and will be moving forward with another round next month – unless we have a MIRACLE in the meantime!