Fertility Journey

Next Steps.

While we wait to hear back from the grant organization (AGC Foundation), we are moving forward in prayer over adoption, fostering, and IVF. They should be making the decisions this week on who they are selecting for the grant. Patiently waiting a response. This grant would go towards a few rounds of medicated fertility treatments (preferably the Pure FSH rounds with ultrasounds). If you remember from previous posts, my body did not handle the Clomid (extremely moody) or Letrozole (intense migraine 24/7).

It is recommended for a few rounds (4-6 cycles) to conceive. Statistically it does not happen the first few times so I factored that when I applied for the grant. Each cycle is approximately $1500.00, so funding through AGC Foundation (or another organization) to be able to do this would be a blessing.

 

If we do not receive the grant, what are our next steps?:

Jake and I have gone to a few meetings/events about adoption and fostering recently. The most recent event at our church was pretty amazing. They had a panel from various Lancaster County organizations, adoptive parents, foster parents, a birth mother, and an adopted child (now an adult). It was so beautiful to hear from all those different perspectives and to give us a better direction on where we are feeling led.

My heart is still set on adoption of a newborn, but we are becoming more and more open and excited for a future adoption of an older child (age 6+). We understand that is where the biggest need is right now.

After reviewing a few of the organizations and options, it has come to our attention that in this moment – fostering is not our path. We both feel this may be a good fit for us later in life, but I don’t know that my heart could handle such loss after attachment.

Jake and I have also been able to narrow the organization down to Adoptions From The Heart (at this time). They have Open Infant Domestic Adoption (newborn from the hospital) with the opportunity to meet the birth parent(s) and great minimum standards for contact after placement.

If you would like to know how to best pray for us in this moment, we are praying and deciding between IVF or newborn Adoption – if we do not receive the grant. However, we also continue to pray for wisdom and connections with a young girl/couple who is choosing to not abort, but are wanting to put their sweet child up for adoption after birth. I feel led to continue mentioning this, as perhaps someone reading this will know of someone in this type of situation.

 

What’s the cost for the Adoption?

After calculating the cost, it seems to come in just under $40,000. While this number may seem daunting, we have a great God who can do amazing things. If this is the path the Lord leads us down, He will provide.

 

What’s the cost for IVF?

I don’t have an exact number for this, but if I remember the numbers correctly it will be between $20,000-$30,000. Although we have tried to avoid lots of medications throughout this process, we may need to go this route.

 

How will you raise the funds?

Great question! Again, God will provide. We’ll most likely get creative with fun/interactive ways for our friends, family, and acquaintances to help us reach the goals along the way, as they feel led. We will probably do this for either of the two options.

If you have any great ideas for fundraisers, or ones that would inspire you to give to a loved one – let us know! We are excited about this part of the journey!

 

Here are a few fundraising ideas I have:

  1. Sell puzzle pieces of an image we choose. Each person that purchases one writes their name on the back. We will frame this, and hang in the nursery.
  2. Jake (and maybe my Dad & Brother) will build an item (bench, picnic table, etc.) to sell to raise funds.
  3. Painting gourd birdhouses, slate pieces, wood, etc. to sell.
  4. Make fudge, homemade hard candy, or other great food items to sell.
  5. Ordering bracelets
  6. T-shirt orders
  7. Crowdfunding (need to do some more research on this)
  8. Hand out jars with a special note to friends/family who want to participate – and have them fill with spare change. Fun family activity.
  9. Yard Sale (people can donate items to be sold)
  10. Flock-A-Friend: look it up! HAHA!
  11. Set-up a photo shoot, and either pay a photographer or find someone to donate their time – families would pay by donations towards our adoption/IVF.

Which one is your favorite?

 

Thank you for all your continued prayers and encouragement. We love you all!

 

Fertility Journey

I pray we never forget our journey.

I have grown to realize that many don’t know/understand the hurt behind their words. Although a simple phrase can be so hurtful, I truly believe they just don’t understand.

Phrases NOT to say to someone struggling with fertility:

“you will be a Mommy/Daddy someday…”
“you’d be great parents…”
“you’ve just gotta keep practicing…”
“have you thought about adoption?…”
“just stop thinking about it, it’ll happen…”
“ugh, kids are such a pain – be glad you don’t have any…”
“have fun with it…”
“want to borrow my child?…”
“oh, my friend struggled with fertility… they did this…”
“just adopt a kid, then you’ll get pregnant…”
“stop being so upset/depressed…”
“you really should be happy with what you’ve been blessed with in life already…”
“enjoy just the two of you…”
“oh, I bet that’s great birth control for you…” (when changing a diaper, hearing a kid throwing a fit, etc. – FYI, none of that turns me away from being a Mommy)

We’ve heard them all, and more. These statements have stung (some pretty deep) over the years. Many of them come from a pure heart and from someone who wants to love, encourage, and give us advice. While we love you, please think through your words before speaking to someone hurting (whether fertility or another situation in their life).

Our hearts have been created to love children. We know the challenges of parenthood (and I know we’ll understand them fully when we are parents), but that does NOT deter us from wanting sweet children. Any chance I get, I will change both of my nieces’ diapers. If one is fussy/crying I’ll snatch them up and attempt to calm them. I thoroughly enjoy walking through the door or in to a room and being greeted by their sweet smiles and pure joy. God has designed my heart as a Mommy, and Jake’s heart as a Daddy.

What are some phrases you can use instead?:

“We love you.”
“Our hearts and our prayers are with you both.”
“How are you doing?”
“How can I help carry your burdens?”
“Want to meet up for coffee or a game night?”
“Been thinking about you…”
“I don’t understand all that you’re going through, but if you ever want to talk I am here…”

Guess what? We’re still humans who thrive on human interaction. We have bad days and sometimes need time alone, but most we still enjoy normal activities. You can simply let us know you love us and are praying for us – as we are ready we will share more. When we do share, listen. Your suggestions may be great ones, but we usually aren’t ready to hear them (and most likely have heard them before and/or tried them already).

 

Do you know what can hurt the most?

When someone who has been through their own fertility journey (recently or years ago) truly forgets the pain, fear, frustrations, hurt, emotional roller coasters each month and so forth. They say just as hurtful of statements, and try to downplay parenthood to make you feel better. “We didn’t realize kids would be this difficult…” “I wish we would have spent more time as just the two of us before kids…” I pray that Jake and I never forget our journey. That we never forget our joys, sorrows, and pain through these many years – and that we always love and encourage others who also struggle.

May we use this pain to show others love.

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Events & Family · Fertility Journey

Celebrating Another’s Child

May 6th, 2017 I had the opportunity to bless my brother and sister-in-law with a beautiful baby shower. Honoring them as parents, and anticipating the arrival of our sweet little niece or nephew!

Was this process always easy? – No, but we have grown through it and developed an even stronger understanding of the Lord’s love for us and our TRUST and FAITH in Him.

Are we excited for them to be parents? – Absolutely!

Are they supportive towards our fertility journey? – You bet! They love us, hug us, ask how we’re doing, and PRAY for us.

Exactly one month later my beautiful and precious NIECE was born. (She is now over 7 months old!)

 

Please enjoy the decor photos of this very special day. They don’t know the gender, and don’t want to. SO I went with a deer theme – gold decor – and live plants.

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BABY word frames.
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Advice For Mama
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Self Addressed Thank You’s
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Baby Food Challenge
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Wishes For Baby and Pool Game
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Photobooth/Gift Opening (the backdrop was the same from their wedding photobooth – how cool!?
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Centerpieces
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Gluten Free Cupcakes and Marshmallows dipped in chocolate
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“Happy Labor Day” cake made by my Aunt
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

Walmart Run-in!

I don’t think my heart could be any fuller in moments like these:

I made a “Walmart run” today (Wednesday, Dec. 14th, 2016) – I felt the need to go there to buy gifts for my youth girls (Jake and I are youth leaders at Calvary Church). I was planning to go to Target, but I am so glad I was drawn here today.

When I got close to the checkout lines I was on the phone with one of my beautiful cousins (if she wouldn’t have called, I would have already checked out) when along came one of our best friend couples and their five sweet children! I cannot even begin to explain how much this family means to us! They are prayer warriors, encouragers, friends, supporters and genuine listeners. The excitement these children get when they see “Shake & Jelly” is so incredibly good for my soul. Today was a huge blessing to get hugs, hi’s, and kisses! Sweet little Lily reached out for me to hold her. Yup, I was quickly melted in to a puddle – a puddle of joy and love. Asher shared how excited he was to get a balloon pump for Christmas, Noah & Malachi sweetly smiled and chatted, and little Gracee slept in the car seat all snug. My heart grew a million times bigger in that moment.

The children in our lives – through family, friends, and patients – really have no idea how much the hugs, smiles, and excitement with seeing us really help in our healing process through this journey. If only they could truly know how much we love them!

We both would love the love of a child of our own, but for now – we’ll take glimpses of love from other little ones.

This journey is difficult, but God has placed very dear friends in our lives – and we are thankful!

* I attached a photo of one of my favorite ornaments. This was before the two little girls came along! *