empathy sucks.

The other day I cut myself while shaving my legs. Granted it was that tough spot around the ankle and I was using a disposable razor, but still, I felt like I was 14 years old again. As I watched the blood trail dribble down my foot, I thought about how long it had been since I nicked myself like that. When did I grow up? These last few years have launched me further and further into adulthood. And each of the issues that surround me lately feels so “adultish”. When did people start getting sick? Having their first, second, third child? Struggle in their marriage? Deal with depression and anxiety? Worry about foreclosure and not being able to pay the bills? Die, by chance or by choice? How did I miss the transition from worrying about what to wear to the mall and what shape to fold a note in, to dealing with my 100th doctor’s appointment and what the best payment method would be for IVF. I feel like my life has been a blink these past few years.

Earlier, I stumbled across an email I received over two and a half years ago. I was searching for something in my inbox and found a message my sister sent me back in 2010:

… I know that God is going to strengthen your patience in this time… I KNOW  little Courtney Jr. (hehe) is going to come at the right time and place. I’m sure it’s frustrating and confusing – but God is faithful to the end. So faithful. Psalm 34:10 “…those who SEEK the Lord lack no good thing.”  Keep seeking him, Chels. He hears your heart.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:8-11 ESV)

So what God is doing in your life right now, this season of waiting and praying, it’s all for his purpose, it will not return to him without doing his will.  So many times I have walked through a hard, confusing, season of waiting – but the joy of it all is that when someone else is going through the same thing, I can relate, listen, talk to, and be there for.  He is building your character right now.  You are such a light, and I cannot wait for this joy to be brought into your life!

After reading it I paused, reflecting on the date. I cringed at my own nativity of my own timeline of when our prayers would be answered. I reflected on the words of encouragement, so grateful for the consistency in them over the years. The kind thoughts, the verses, the reminder to keep chugging. But this is tough. I am getting impatient. I am losing momentum.

I’m having a tough month. But this time, it’s not entirely my own issues that are weighing me down. My heart is weighed down by the sadness and circumstances going on in my friends and families lives. I struggle to be a good friend. I feel like there is so much going on around me right now, so many problems, struggles, requests, so much sadness … and I can’t help everyone. I feel pulled in 70 different directions, not being able to support anyone well. I am dabbling with little bits of prayers for everyone – trying to prioritize who needs a meal, which friend needs a card, who needs a call or coffee date. Who needs silence and who needs a partner. I feel completely drained, like I have nothing to offer anyone anymore. I was hoping these last few days away on a work trip was going to give me the ability to “recoup” and catch up on things, but instead, I was exhausted from the conference, tired from the travels, physically still dealing with all the hormonal changes going on. I didn’t return calls. I didn’t reply to emails or texts. I didn’t blog. I just feel like I am letting so many people down right now.

One of my Strengthfinder Top 5 strengths is Empathy and while its defined in that assessment as a “strength” I have found it to be one of my biggest weaknesses and one I need to figure out how to reign in. I am empathizing to the point of taking it all on my shoulders and struggling to carry it all. I had a mentor tell me this last week that I need to ask myself “Do I own it or do they?” I am still working on deciphering that without feeling like I am failing those around me.

And then I am struggling with feeling like I am being shut out by some. Not intentionally I don’t think. I truly think because so many people are going through so much, the natural instinct isn’t to reach out to others. So I am left feeling like I am trying to help, trying to connect, trying to carry and share a burden, while others are pulling away, trying themselves to stay afloat. As a result, I feel like I have done something wrong. I am not a good enough friend. I have offended them in some way. I just feel like an utter failure. I don’t have enough of me to go around. And then I think about starting this next stage in our TTC journey – in fact, taking my first “IVF prep” pill tonight – and how I am doing a really lousy job of taking care of ME right now. And that’s not right either.

In a nutshell, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I am sad for situations others are going through. I am trying to help them, but also need to start focusing on myself more too. I need support but don’t know where some of my biggest allies went. I just hope life gets easier …. Wishful thinking, right?


Apparently this “taking a break” month has accidently including taking a break from blogging … whoops! Clearly my intentions are not to leave you without a post for over 2 weeks … yikes. I have to say, these last 4 weeks have gone by FAST. The idea of having a “break” was a big relief. I felt like after a long summer, it was nice to have permission to regroup, take some time off of medications and counting days, and just be.

Easier said than done!

For the last 3 weeks, I have felt more out of sync physically than I had when I was on meds. I hadn’t realized how much adrenaline, drive and energy my body was using to get me through each cycle. So when I didn’t need to have that – I crashed! When I stopped the TTC mentality, the exhaustion kicked in. My hormones went crazy without something supplementing and maintaining them. My body didn’t know how to react without the stresses and “busy-ness” of a cycle. I felt fried. It’s like that week after college finals where you just want to sleep and not have any sort of conversation that requires energy. I had so much invested into every day that stopping it cold turkey left me quite a bit more exhausted and confused that I thought.  But, 4 weeks later, I finally am starting to feel like myself again. My energy is picking back up. My brain feels less foggy. I have shaken off the TTC residue. My hormones are still out of whack – dealing with breakouts and mood swings like a 16 year old is fun – but I am somewhat used to the highs and lows of hormone inconsistencies. Regardless, the excitement that is building up for Josh and I as we get ready for this winter is indefinable.

So where does that leave us today? Well, as many of you know, we had our first IVF class last Thursday. It was incredibly helpful to sit in a room, in front of a doctor, who is walking several couples through the step by step process of IVF. I am a reader – so getting the books, pamphlets, forms and “recipe book of prescriptions” (as the doctor called it), helped me understand it better. The lecture was great for Josh to absorb the information audibly. We walked away feeling just as excited as we had when we walked in, if not more.

IVF cycles are broken down into the following stages:

  1. Consultation and Classes
  2. Testing
  3. Suppression
  4. Stimulation
  5. Egg Retrieval
  6. Embryo Transfer
  7. Pregnancy Test

We currently are halfway through the 1st step, having done the consultation and the first class. We have to go to a Shot Teaching class soon, as well as have our 1-1 nursing consult to obtain specific details for Josh and I. We also are jumping into the second step, as they are done simultaneously. The testing phase is different for each couple depending on what they have done previously. Luckily for us, a lot of the testing has already been completed as we have worked through this journey. The testing phase is minimal for me as I simply will need to go through a trial transfer in October (more to come on that then) and Josh has to go through some blood work and a few assessments that will let us know which type of sperm penetration the lab will use. Then, early October, I will start meds that will allow me to begin the Suppression stage.

It doesn’t feel like a lot. Truthfully, even looking down at 40+ pages in front of me, it all makes sense. I am grateful for the clarity and understanding that I have been able to obtain and retain from all the learning I have been doing. I think that has been an answer to prayer. : )

Sitting in the IVF class on Thursday night made my heart incredibly sad. I looked around the room at others in our same situation, some far worse off, dealing with complications far more difficult than ours. Women who spoke of their multiple miscarriages when asking about increased risk with IVF, wives that have to get donor sperm because their husbands have an issue, women whose bodies are misshapen and reject the embryo, where age/weight/health risks add additional stress to this journey. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of them felt alone in their journey; how many of them had people praying for them throughout it; how many of them had a third party involved in the voyage – Christ carrying their burden. I heard couples snapping at one another, the tension and reality of where they were leading to a breaking point. Women asking questions I would never think to ask because their story has been far more complications.

Psalm 38:6, 8 NLT says “I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief.  I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart.I know each of those women have cried out in pain. Have felt the burning in their heart as it fills with confusion, pain, hurt. But what makes my heart ache is that many of the women don’t know verse 9,  “You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh.” What is it like to not have a relationship with God, to not know that He is there to lean on through this? To not know, in full confidence, that He does hear our every sigh? To not know that He is deeply nestled in the longing of our heart? God has stirred my soul with love and empathy for my fellow TTC friends and I ask you all, to join me in praying for them – for those who don’t know they have a Father to lean on – and for those who are weak to pray at all.

Now, I promise to not be so bad about blogging! And I promise that not everything will be about IVF and TTC. Now, I am off for a date night with Josh – trying a new restaurant downtown and then off to see Jason Mraz in concert! Those who know me well, know trying new restaurants and Jason Mraz are both in my top five favorite things, so it will be a good night.

Have a great week!


The sweet aroma of doing nothing is quite nice. I am not counting cycle days, not on any medications, not running to Minneapolis for tests. This month ….. there is silence. It’s lovely. So what that means is …

Josh and I are officially moving forward with IVF.

(Still can’t believe I am actually typing that – feels a bit surreal.)

Because of this, and our timeline, we get to have the entire month of September “off”.  We are excited and hopeful as this next season approaches us. When the nurse called me to go over the plan, I felt nothing but excitement and adrenaline. It of course is far more complicated than I can put into a blog, at least right now. The future holds a lot of “stuff” as we work our way through the stages of prep. Classes on the process, sessions on how to give shots, prescriptions to be ordered, money to put down, blood to be drawn…but at the end, God willing, we will be able to celebrate a new life.

October will bring for us a mild stage of preparation, 2 different prescriptions, both I have already been on at some point. November is when the fun begins, mid month, when the ovary suppression meds start. Early December is when the process is at its most intense as the stimulation process takes place. We are looking at an egg retrieval surgery mid December, followed by an embryo transfer 3-5 days later. All in all, we will have an answer by the end of the year.

As I pray on all of this, these verses from Philippians 3 keep jumping into my mind: “…but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” For me right now, the verse has two takeaways – the first, I believe is God’s gentle reminder to let go of the failed cycles behind us and look forward to what lies ahead of us. I feel encouragement to continue to press on with no regrets to reach the end of this race. While I know this verse speaks more about the eternal race, I am grateful that God has used this verse to give me that adrenaline boost I need.

The second takeaway is that of the spiritual context of eternity. When I think about how much “pressing on” we have been doing with TTC, it makes me stop and question how much “pressing on” we as believers do in our daily lives. Am I as committed to pressing on to what God has called me to do as I am with having a child? It’s a convicting thought. One of the things I love about this is, though, is how it starts: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I love this gentle reminder to Forget the past. Let go of it. Move forward.

In all of the books on infertility that I read, there always are a few chapters dedicated specifically to the question  of “Am I being punished?” I think that many women TTC struggle with this, searching for a reason of “why” when the doctors are telling us there is no reason we shouldn’t be getting pregnant. We cycle through everything we have every done, was it this? Was it that?  Even throughout the Bible we see women anguishing and wondering if God was using barrenness as a punishment. I think that question is extremely common. While I am not going to drag this into a big theological debate, I do want to say this, especially to those TTC and having the “Am I being punished?” questions – Take God at His word. If you have confessed to Him, asked for forgiveness, then take the forgiveness He has offered you. I mean it. Don’t think that God’s grace comes with a spiritual formula that may or may not include a clause for that sin. Abortions. Or drug use. Or emotional or physical affairs outside of marriage. A wild past. Carelessness in relationships. Lies that have been spoken. Images that have been looked at. Whatever it is – take Him at His word. His grace extends to you. Don’t let your past imprison you and cause you to carry burdens on your heart. This journey is difficult enough! If you are questioning whether infertility is a punishment, I plead with you to take some quiet time and accept the forgiveness and let it go.

In a devotional this week, this verse was shared from a song (by Morgan Cryar) and I love it:

The heaviest thing you’ll carry
Is a load of guilt and shame.
You were never meant to bear them
So let them go in Jesus’ name.
Our God is slow to anger
Quick to forgive our sin
So let Him put them under the blood.
Don’t bring them up again.

Closing out that topic, I read a great paragraph from Hannah’s Hope that I wanted to share: “While I cannot find a theological basis to say that God is punishing you through infertility, I cannot discount the possibility that, as He did in my own life, He may desire to use your time of testing to reveal heart issues that still need to be addressed before Him. God often uses trials to get our attention when we need to draw closer to Him…Do not become so caught up in an ongoing quest to discover “hidden sin” that this pursuit becomes an end in itself.” Hang in there ladies – receive that forgiveness and enjoy your fellowship with God. It’s certainly a journey of my own I have had to walk through. Forgiving yourself and putting down guilt and shame – not easy stuff! But possible. And more freeing that you can imagine.

Alright, it’s all a lot – it really is. When I think about how intense the end of the year will be, I feel like a sports player going into the last quarter of a big game. (Ok, let’s be honest, I don’t do sports, so I am not really sure what that feels like. A better example would be feeling like a book-worm getting amped up for the last Harry Potter book to be released at midnight.)

I am BLESSED that work has agreed to allow me a personal leave of absence for this entire process beginning mid-November. The freedom of not having to worry about coordinating doctor’s appointments, side effects, hormone surges, shots, mood swings, etc around a busy work life is one of the biggest blessings. My gratitude goes out to my company and my co-workers who will be doing all they can to make sure that this process is smooth for me.

At this point, I am switching my mind towards self-care and mental, emotion, spiritual, and physical prep. (Which will all be highlights of upcoming blog posts). We appreciate all the continued prayers, support, encouragement, and hopeful stories you are all sharing with us! We hope they continue throughout this next stages as we will need them more than ever.

Lastly – if you want to follow my blog and receive email updates when new postings are made, look to the bottom right hand side of the screen (if you are reading on a desktop.) Click “+Follow” and sign up to be on the email list. (I don’t think you can do this on the iPhone). Or, if you have a story to share yourself or are requesting prayers, I would love to hear from you! Since not everyone has Facebook or my email, please feel free to send me a message trialsbringjoy@gmail.com. I would love to talk to you!

Hope you all have a blessed, safe, and FUN Labor Day weekend!