Tuesday, April 24, 2012

...perspective from sharlie...

this is the first installment of the guest bloggers for the week, with many more to come!  enjoy!

sharlie and i met via the blogging world, but became fast friends. when we met in real life, i felt as if we'd known each other forever. you know, it has just been a while. she has a son the same age as boog, and they played in the back yard as we ate cafe rio and cup cakes. she has been a welcomed presence in my life. one thing i've always marveled at is her ability to take her trials into perspective. i was so excited when i read her post, because that is exactly what she hits on. perspective. i hope you all enjoy her post. so much to learn from her! so without further blabbing from me, enjoy sharlie's post.

Joy.  That’s the best way to describe what I’m feeling. Pure joy.

I’ve been asked to be a guest blogger during National Infertility Awareness Week.  And I know what you must be thinking—that you usually don’t hear the words “infertility” and “joy” anywhere close together.  But there is a reason I can put those two words in the same paragraph (and maybe even in the same sentence), and that reason is perspective.  I am fortunate to be able to have hindsight—to have come out of a very long, exhausting and difficult trial and take a look back at my journey. I want to share with you the perspective I have gained, and show you how it has brought me lasting joy. My tale is one that may sound familiar to many of you, so I will try to condense it a bit.

I, like a lot of people out there, had a plan for my life.  I wanted to get married, have lots of children, be a good mother/wife, have a career and live happily ever after. I was lucky to find a wonderful man and fell in love quickly.  We were married not long after and the world was full of possibilities.  There was never any doubt that we wanted children, and we couldn’t wait for the day when we would have “mini-me’s”.  My husband and I also wanted to continue our education, find great careers, own a house we could turn into a home, and continue to grow in love with each other.  And I’m happy to report we did all of that fairly quickly… well everything except for creating the little ones that I so desperately wanted to dress, cuddle and love.  This wasn’t due to lack of trying, of course.  In the beginning we were so excited and it was fun…really fun!  I bought pregnancy tests in bulk but always got the same result—negative.  The doctor kept telling me I was young and not to worry.  Then we decided to take it up a notch and started fertility drugs.  There were still a lot of unexplained reasons that we weren’t getting pregnant and even more tests to find what the problem was.  We pressed forward.  About the only thing that did happen to me was an increase in moodiness, nausea and weight gain (at least the side-effects they warned me about occurred- otherwise we would have paid all that money for absolutely nothing). We moved up the infertility chain and met with new doctors in a specialized clinic where we went from drugs to procedures.  After that the procedures kept getting more elaborate and much more expensive.  There was a scary situation and a failed IVF cycle that put a halt on our quest.  We decided to take a step back to review everything we had been trying and discussed what we wanted to do going forward.  I have to admit that normally I’m a pretty private person.  Most of my family and friends had no idea that we were going through this.  When they asked if we were going to have kids I would say yes and give some excuse about wanting to build my career first, or that their kids were birth control for me—or something lame like that.  I didn’t want them to see me as a charity case or feel awkward around me when they were pregnant or with their kids.  I also think I secretly felt like a failure and that there must be something seriously wrong with me—almost like for some reason I wasn’t worthy enough to have children.  But I was (and hopefully still am) a pretty good person.  My husband totally rocks too.  We tried to live our lives righteously and work towards building a life that would encourage a child to join us.

Eventually we turned to adoption.  For me it just felt right.  My husband took a little longer to get on board but eventually he did, and we went full force ahead. By this point we were 7 years into our marriage and people were starting to question us, give unsolicited opinions and take pity. But we held our heads high and went through the intricate, not so fun, adoption process. We spent a long time trying to prove, through a lot of paperwork, that we really would be good parents.  And then we got an email.  A sweet birthmother had a few questions for us.  We answered those questions and asked a few in return.  We formed an open relationship with this birthmother and grew to love her.  After a marathon labor (27 hours) our son was born, and two days later she placed him into our arms and said that she knew we were supposed to be his parents.  And this is where the joy enters in.

He was our joy.

We embraced that joy.

Over two years later I still feel joy

Looking at my son then, and now, I have no doubt that he was supposed to be ours.  It took over 7 years of going through the ringer, but we got him. And there is not a day that goes by that I don’t look at him and revel in the happiness he brings to my life.  I still sneak into his bedroom every night to steal a quick kiss and inhale his sweet baby scent. He may not have my eyes, but he definitely has my heart.

I can’t pretend that we never asked “why” we had to go through infertility and eventually adoption to get our son.  I actually found myself asking  “why” a lot! 

“Why does it seem that all my friends can get pregnant by just looking at their husbands?”  (I do know that it takes more than this, but you get my point—right?)

“Why can these young girls leave the hospital with a newborn and not have to have a home inspection to prove their house is childproofed or take CPR classes or have letters of reference?”

“Why is this our lot in life- what did we do wrong to deserve this?"

Etc, etc…

This is where perspective comes into play.  I’ve looked back on all that we have endured and come up with some answers as to “why” this is our situation in life:

1        (1) We were able to adopt our son.  Someone once told us that our child was out there and that he would find us.  I truly believe our son found us.  He was meant to be ours. His birthmother told me once that we were helping her start over.  She was able to heal and move forward because she knew the joy she would be giving us.

2      (2)  My husband and I had time to get acquainted.  We shared seven years of hanging out, vacationing, struggling, talking, going on dates, decorating, moving, cooking, shopping, laughing and so many more experiences together—just the two of us.  We took a family relations classes as part of our adoption certification. There we talked about how we would parent, discipline our children and so many other aspects of our future lives. We made decisions ahead of time on how we would do each of these instead of just being thrown into it.  We allowed this experience to bring us closer together instead of tearing us apart.  I love my husband more and more every day and that brings me joy.

3        (3)  Our family and friends rallied around us.  The offered support and showed an outpouring of love.  They have been our cheerleaders and now are enjoying every moment of our son’s life. There is joy to be had when feeling the love of those closest to you.

         (4)  After we adopted our son we joined FSA (Families Supporting Adoption) and have gotten to know a lot of great people with similar stories.  I found that for being a pretty private person, it was so much easier to open up to someone who had gone through a lot of the same issues I had.  All of a sudden it I had an instant support system that knew what it felt like to deal with infertility and adoption. These women and families have become an integral part of my life and at this point I can’t imagine life without them.  We have had so many joyous moments together at playgroups, firesides and other events.  I marvel to think that without this experience I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with them.

5       (5)  I have personally been able to give advice, support and a listening ear to others who are suffering through infertility and adoption.  Being able to share some perspective has helped me to really evaluate everything that I have gone through.  And I can’t tell you the joy I’ve been able to feel when a dear friend finally gets pregnant or adopts a child that they have been trying so long to get.  I feel a small victory for them and am reminded that there is a divine design for each of us and that none of us are left to do it alone.

I won’t sugar coat the fact that living with infertility has been a hard and trying process. I will say that I can look back now and see how it has helped me grow into the person I was destined to become. I am not willing to let infertility define me or make me bitter. Instead, I really do feel joy.  I have a husband that loves me, a beautiful son to cuddle with, a family who supports me, friends new and old I love and adore, and to me that makes the hard parts worth it.  We are currently hoping to adopt a second child.  Of course we are going through emotional ups and downs but we know that eventually our baby will find us.  We are waiting patiently (although some days, I will I admit, I pray for patience to come right now!), but we also know the anticipation makes the reward that much sweeter.  And we can’t wait to see what the future holds.

My sweet friend Kenna, who asked me to write this post, is a great lady (as you all know).  She thought I might have some insight and advice to offer to others who are living through infertility.  I’m not sure how qualified I am to offer any of this, but I will say this: hold on. You can do it.  Keep the end goal in sight.  Keep trying and never give up.  One day you will experience joy.  One day you will be in a position to look back and see how you have grown.  You will see how maybe you aren’t currently in the situation you planned for yourself, but where you may end up could be pretty awesome too.  You will learn that you are stronger than you ever thought possible.  You will take relationships with friends and family to a new level as you lean on them for support. And just know you are never alone.  There is a plan—nothing is ever left to chance.  And when you have conquered your Goliath (whenever that may be), take a moment to look back and revel in the joy.  Let it heal you.  Let it give you new purpose.  Let it stay with you as you move forward in your life towards all the new experiences that are waiting for you.


lovely sharlie with her boys.

Feel free to visit our adoption blog:

And also view my Etsy.com store where you will find customizable adoption art:

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this post. You said exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to be reminded that there is joy and to focus on that when all the negative builds up.

Thank you.

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