what it’s like: to go through the adoption process.

I am giddy to share with you my friend Kelly Briscoe’s story about adoption today for so many reasons. One, I know so many people that God has called them to adopt and this helps me understand how to support them better, as well as empathize better about their journey. Secondly, her story encourages me in my faith, and I know it will yours too. Kelly, thank you for sharing and being open about the calling God gave you. Here’s What It’s Like to go through the adoption process. 


I am so truly honored to share with you what it’s like to go through the adoption process. There are so many amazing mamas and mamas to be through adoption and I pray that I can do them all justice.

Adoption.

There’s so much depth in the word adoption.

I knew from a very young age that adoption was going to be part of my story. I’ve felt crushed for it for a long, long time. The Lord has always had it on my heart and now I know why.

When I was dating my husband, Britt, I told him that adoption was something I knew was in my future and he knew it would be something we would do, we just weren’t sure when. He and I both knew the expenses would be more than we could handle when we first got married. We decided about 2 years after being married that we wanted to try to have bio children. Turns out, the reason the Lord had always crushed my heart for adoption was because that was the way He wanted us to grow each little one that would come into our family. I love that so much. He had prepared my heart for adoption in more ways that I can count and that makes me giddy.

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Britt and I decided in April of 2017 to begin the adoption process. We knew going in it would be a few things: expensive, long, trying. We had no idea what it would bring and it still surprises me each day, even after bringing our girl home. I thought I knew, and actually I’m glad with how much I’ve learned.

After a lot of Googling, researching, and calling, we decided a consulting agency (that many had recommended) was the direction we felt lead to take. We felt like that was a huge hurdle to jump.

The homestudy was next. The ball was kind of in our court for this and I feel like it took the longest. The paper work. Do I have all of the right documents (yes, you do)? Are they going to approve us (yes, they will)? Is my house in the best shape of all time (yes, you’ll be just fine). We felt such a huge relief mailing our finally homestudy off. Getting the homestudy approval means you’re officially a waiting family!

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When we got approved – it was such an amazing feeling. We made and completed our profile book that was going to be shown to potential birth families. That was such an emotional process. 16 pages of us. I truly loved putting it together. We included a letter to our potential birth mama and we prayed over each beautiful woman who would hold our book. We wanted her to know what was loved and chosen by the one and only.

So profile book done, paperwork done – it was time to start presenting to potential birth mamas. After talking with our agency, we were anticipating waiting for a good while before hearing “yes, they chose you.” We were sure it would be a while, so we prepared and fundraised (I could talk about this all day because GOD SHOWED UP). We got our first case the day after we went active. Seeing the e-mail come through lead to a rush of emotions!! We praised God because it felt like we would never get there, but here we were, stalking our e-mails, praying like crazy, and soaking it all in. People ask me all the time how I knew when it was time to say yes to a case. I actually don’t know. I just felt this feeling. So we said yes. We got a call at 8:30pm from our consultant on a Wednesday night. “Mama C picked you!!!” And then tears and tears and more tears. Freaking out. Then more tears. Our baby girl, Eleanor Faye was reality.

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Let me tell you one thing to NEVER take for granted in the adoption process. The amazing birth mama, our Mama C. Think about the gift (no really, sit and think) and tell me they’re not completely amazing. This beautiful woman read our book and decided we would be the ones to raise the baby that she would birth. Not only that – she would allow this family to be in the room when this tiny babe came into the world. She would let this family cut the cord from her to her baby. Lord Almighty can only write that story. We’re so crazy in love with our birth mama. God gave us each other. We’re so thankful He did.

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Adoption is truly something else. Something that’s hard to describe but so amazing. There’s only one who could knit such a stunning story and process. One Heavenly Father that would bring two families together. One God that would know this is what our hearts need. Not just a daughter to hold, but a birthmother to love, a community to cherish, and a God to thank and praise each day. It brought us so much further in our faith and I am so in awe of that.

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So here’s what I suggest if you’re thinking about the adoption process:

  • Take the time and really listen to what the Lord is saying.
  • Pray like you’ve never prayed before.
  • Find your people. Trust me when I say that you need people that understand what you’re going through. Even if it’s just one person. Find them. Don’t let them go.
  • If you hear Him say yes, don’t ignore it. Be kinda scared, but listen like it’s your job. Don’t turn Him down. He’ll make it happen – you just need to say yes.
  • Be the light of the Lord in all that you do during the process.

Starting or being in the adoption process can be intimidating, scary, amazing. If you have questions or just need to chat, please feel free to reach out to me. I would be so honored kellyhallbriscoe (at) gmail.com.

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Born and raised in the great state of Georgia, Kelly grew up loving sun scorching summers and star filled skies. By the grace of God, she married my soul mate and best friend in 2011 and life has been non-stop since. She and her husband recently adopted their long-awaited baby girl, Eleanor Faye in November 2017.  She loves the Lord, donuts, crow’s feet wrinkles, and talking about all things adoption.


PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depressionstart a company, have a micro preemie,  lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illness, fund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience,take a natural route with infertility, and be a vlogger. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

what it’s like: to be a vlogger.

Friends, I am so excited to introduce you to Carissa Barzee who is just about the sweetest thing in the world! Her and her husband Brian are well known vloggers (video bloggers) and I am thrilled she’s telling us what it’s like to be sharing her life in this way today! They also will soon be starting their first IVF this summer, so I ask you to stop and say a little prayer for them today … and also, follow along with crossed fingers and toes for their cycle!

Carissa, thank you for being an open book with so many, and in the process, blessing and encouraging us all! XO! 


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May 23, 2017, Brian and I sat in silence waiting to hear if our baby had a heartbeat at our 8 week ultrasound. Click….click….click…….the silence continued. The sonographer asked me, “Have you had any bleeding, Carissa?” I replied, “I haven’t, nope. I felt some cramping…a little bit…but nothing too bad….” Click…click…..more silence. Brian chimed in, “Zero bleeding.” “There’s a little sac there but no fetus inside…..I’m sorry, dear, I wish I could give you better news,” she said. We were diagnosed with a blighted ovum and had a miscarriage on May 25, 2017, one year ago today. A moment that we were almost certain would be joyful, turned devastating, and we recorded it all for our YouTube channel.

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We started ‘vlogging’ or making YouTube videos to document our infertility just over a year ago. From fertility treatment, to pregnancy test reveals, to our miscarriage – we have shared it all. Our main goals with sharing our story were to help those fighting this battle feel less alone and to find hope. This journey is NOT easy and we suffered in silence, feeling ashamed, and left out for long enough. If we were feeling this way then there must be other people feeling this way, too.

There are some really awesome things about sharing our life on YouTube…and there are some not so awesome things about it. Let’s start with the awesome because that makes me happy. :)

The Awesome:

  1. We have our pregnancy test reveal, one of our all time favorite days, captured so we can re-watch it whenever we want. We can remember the overwhelming joy we both felt when we saw our first and only positive pregnancy test.
  2. Sharing our story is actually helping people! I remember sitting at church and crying because…life is just hard. All I wanted to do was to get into a financial position to help those struggling. Little did I know that I would be helping people in a totally different way then I had planned.
  3. Breaking the silence on some very taboo and uncomfortable topics. Now I know we are not the first people to open up about infertility or miscarriage but we have added our voices so we can get people talking. We are inspiring others to open up about their own trial.
  4. Spreading awareness about just how common, heartbreaking, and lonely this trial is. I never knew just how painful infertility or miscarriage were until they became my reality. No one talked about it. There was only two other couples that we knew of that was also struggling and we all kept it a secret. Navigating this trial was foreign and I felt like something was wrong with me. When we started opening up about our trial – I realized that EVERYTHING I was feeling was normal and it was okay to feel that way.
  5. Social media friends have become real friends. I have an incredible group of TTC sisters on FB, Instagram, and YouTube that love me, check in on me, send me ‘happy mail’, laugh with me, and cry with me. I don’t know what I would do without them.
  6. People are invested in our story and praying for us on a daily basis. We are so grateful that people care about us, love us, and are praying that we get our rainbow baby.

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The Not-So Awesome:

  1. MEAN PEOPLE. I cannot believe the awful comments and messages that we receive on a regular basis. There have been days where I have cried and lost sleep over some very hurtful things that were said to us and about us. I have realized that these people are just very sad and are hurting in their own way. The best thing I can do is block them and delete the comments. Ain’t nobody got time for that negativity! ;)
  2. Expectation is high. People are invested and expect you to share everything right away! So…this is awesome and not-so awesome because it adds unnecessary stress. I want to share what is going on in our life but sometimes you need time to process it all. For example: We held off on sharing our miscarriage for a few days because we just needed to deal with it without anyone else. I was accused of trying to get more followers, being fake, setting it all up, and so forth. When in reality – I was an emotional wreck finding out that we were going to lose our pregnancy.
  3. Vlogging takes a lot of time. It takes hours to record, edit, create a thumbnail, and upload a video. Not just two hours…but usually no less than 5 hours for one video.
  4. No treatment or pregnancy = no views. This is sad but so true! After our miscarriage and failed pregnancy test it has been hard to find things to vlog about. Why? Because my hobby is infertility…and who really wants to see me and my dog daily vlog?! Lol. But really…if it’s not infertility/miscarriage/or crying – the views take a hit.
  5. Everyone has an opinion about what you should or shouldn’t do to get pregnant. As well as about our marriage, my mental and emotional health, my looks, my job, and so much more! It seriously never ends. One thing I am grateful to know is that EVERYONE is differently and we all cope and deal with life differently – and that is okay!

Sharing our journey, the ups and the downs, has been sooo hard. Knowing we are helping someone else find hope or joy in the heartbreak of infertility and miscarriage makes it all worth it though. To be totally honest, we had no idea how many people we would reach…but we are sooo grateful and humbled to be a voice for the 1 in 8 (infertility) and 1 in 4 (miscarriage). This summer are sharing our IVF journey and hope you follow along!

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You can find us here: YouTubeFacebookInstagram, and our blog. 

Toodles!
Carissa

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PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depressionstart a company, have a micro preemie,  lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illness, fund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience and take a natural route to infertility. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

what it’s like: to take a natural route with infertility. 

I absolutely treasure today’s What’s It Like story-teller today because she’s become one of my dearest friends, a true prayer-warrior, and an infertility soul sister. Caroline Harries is as real, authentic, and genuine as it gets and I am inspired by her faith and obedience to many difficult callings she’s had, one of them being to trust God to try for children naturally despite the odds. I am grateful we have had the chance to meet in person, pray together, and chat routinely as she’s an incredibly blessing to me and many others. Caroline, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us and encouraging us in it!

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Here’s what it’s like to take a natural route with infertility. 


Have you ever been to the doctor and received devastating news? That is what happened for my husband and I back in 2012. We were one year into our marriage and we were ready to expand our family. Due to prior medical history for both of us, we both got tested right away. And what we found out was devastating. My husband was diagnosed as medically sterile and the majority of my hormone levels came back abnormal. Through an MRI, a tumor was also found on my pituitary gland.

These tests revealed to us that it would be impossible to have children naturally. After being referred to a specialist, who confirmed that to be true, we never went back to the doctor. Instead, we pursued what we felt the Lord calling us to do, which was trust him and wait for him to perform a miracle.

Not only were we facing the impossible, but soon after receiving the devastating news, my husband moved to Georgia for work while I stayed back in Dallas, where we met, got married and still live to this day. I have always been into health and fitness, but while he was gone I spent a lot of time researching how to make our bodies healthier. When he moved back to Dallas 6 months later we pursued an even healthier lifestyle. We dove straight into acupuncture, specific eating plans, essential oils, etc. You name it, we tried it.

Fast forward to August of 2013, 1.5 years into our journey, when I had a dream I was pregnant. Immediately after waking up, I took a pregnancy test which came back negative and soon thereafter started by period. And that was my low point. I was broken and devastated and that is when God spoke to me and told me I had to surrender our journey over to him. Up to this point I was grasping at anything I could in front of me to try to heal us and make us pregnant. Vitamins. Food. Acupuncture. Google.

In that moment, I chose to give it over to God. We stopped tracking, charting, timing and begging. We stopped it all and that day changed the trajectory of our journey. No longer was I hurting. No longer was I living month to month. No longer was I trying to make myself pregnant. Because of this decision to allow him to write our story, our journey has been so full of peace, joy, hope and expectancy. In fact, I have felt pregnant with hope. And it’s a feeling that I know will outweigh any pregnancy in the natural.

So you might be wondering what our journey looks like now? What is it like for a couple who takes a natural route? Well, it’s been 6+ years since that day in 2012 when doctors told us a natural pregnancy would never happen and 5 years since that moment that we decided to surrender our journey over to the Lord. Nothing has changed in the natural realm and our situation recently became much more complicated 2 months ago when my husband received a cancer diagnosis. Although we are facing great impossibilities and have faced much pushback from family members, friends and strangers for the route we are taking, we are still choosing to daily surrender it over to God and follow his prompting to forego trying to make our baby happen.

Despite that the odds are stacked against us, each day that passes, our expectancy grows as we believe for our miracles. Daily we saturate our hearts and minds with the truth of God’s Word, which says that by his stripes we were healed (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus paid for our healing at the cross and it’s his desire for us to be fruitful and multiply. We know and believe that nothing is impossible for him and when we become pregnant, God will get all the glory. It’s been so freeing to rest in his finished work and not have to strive to earn a baby.

We are very aware that our journey looks different than many couples who go through infertility. We don’t know why he gives some couples the green light on adoption or medical assistance and some couples like us, he sends down a more natural route. Each route looks so different and I believe that each route faces challenges of its own. We aren’t so concerned about what path we fall on or what our story looks like, because we know it will be beautiful as we allow him to write it, instead of us trying to write it ourselves. We always want to be obedient to the path the Lord has and we don’t know what tomorrow will hold, but we know with him in control it will be beautiful and more amazing than we ever could have asked or imagined.

No matter what your journey is, what impossible circumstance you are facing or what trial you currently find yourself in, I hope you choose to surrender your journey over to him. I have no doubt that when you do, his grace will be sufficient. His love will be reckless. His joy will be overwhelming. Pursuing him, more than what you desire, will leave you expectant! It will leave you full! It will leave you knowing that whatever route you are in, when God is writing your story, it will bring him the glory and at the end of the day, that is what matters most!


Caroline HarriesCaroline Harries has a heart for those who are waiting on breakthrough from the Lord. Her unwavering faith is evident as she believes for her own miracle of children. She delights in encouraging women through her internationally followed blog and book, In Due Time, as well as her ministry to those desiring to become mothers, Moms in the Making. Caroline loves traveling the world with her husband and stays active by competing in triathlons. She holds a degree in finance and marketing from Baylor University in Texas, where she and her husband live. {Let’s Connect} Facebook •Instagram • Bloglovin • Pinterest • Google + • Twitter


PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depressionstart a company, have a micro preemie,  lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illness, fund raise for fertility treatments,and have a traumatic birthing experience. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!


 

 

may crushes.

3C591E3A-122E-4845-AFC3-D613C0BD5A66Woohooo! Warmer days are here, the sun is shining, and we are SO grateful to be able to get some fresh air. We are finally baby-stepping into life outside of our bubble as things are getting a little easier for us to manage … play parks, story time, play dates. I am grateful for May.

Lets dive into some of my favorite things for this month!

  1. Cambridge Notebooks: It’s not a surprise that I love paper. Notebooks, stationary, tablets … if it’s lined and made from trees, I am swooning. I have notebook hopped for years, but for the last several years, have used my Cambridge Notebooks as my go-to. I use them for notes at church and conferences, for journaling my quiet time, for work. The cover is super thick and stable and you can write on it easily without it flopping around. Great wiring, perfect thick pages that don’t easily bleed. It’s just the best.
  2. Shipt: I’m sure you have heard of Shipt by now, and if not, it will totally change your life! It’s an app where you can order groceries and everyday essentials, (we use it through Target), and have them delivered right to your door. I go online, shop through all of Targets shelves, and then a local shopper claims my order, does all my shopping, and then brings it to my house next-hour. A few things I LOVE about it: 1) I can add notes, so I can order an avocado and then tell my shopper to pick out a ripe one I can use for dinner, or a semi-ripe one I can use in a few days; 2) they text when they get to the store and ask if there’s anything I forgot to add to my cart that they can grab for me (there usually is!), and 3) the price of the food is same as if I were going to Target myself. There is an annual membership but with it comes free shopping + delivery for orders over $35, so its well worth it. This has been a lifesaver when I need to grab something for dinner but the kids are napping, or its pouring and I don’t want to load them up and run them out. You do have the option to tip your shopper so it adds a slight increase than if you did it yourself, but if you’re anything like me, you save money because you aren’t impulse buying ALL THE THINGS. Plus I’m saving gas money to get there … so its well worth it! You can use this referral link of mine and get a free $10 and if you want to give it a try, you can do a free 2 week trials! 
  3. “Have it All” by Jason Mraz: Jason came out with a new song last month and it’s such a fun, poppy, catchy, cheery, summer song. It makes me smile and gets stuck in my head and I find myself singing it often.

4. Skip Hop Grab and Go Stroller Organizer: We love our stroller organizer and especially now with walks happening regularly, it’s crucial to have a place to throw a drink, my phone, a wallet, my keys … I love how easy this one goes on and how practical it is, with two zippered areas too. Yes please.

5. Proverbs 31 Emailed Daily Devotionals: I share snippets of these daily devotions from Proverbs 31 often on Instagram, but I am so thankful for them. Every morning I wake up to a short but meaty daily devotional geared towards women with scripture and Biblical truths in my inbox. You can read it in bed before you get up, or in the bathroom, or in the pick up line at school. It blesses me regularly. You can subscribe to them too in the link above!

And now, here’s the kiddos top three favorite things this month!

  1. Little Tikes Crazy Coupes: Logan got this one for his birthday and Kirsten got this one and they have been a HUGE hit. They are perfect for this season, as there is a floor board that clips in place and a handle for parents and we can easily push them along while they get some fresh air. We love them! (They are sold out nearly everywhere right now … Amazon prime for the win!)IMG_9937
  2. Dog by Matthew Van Fleet: We LOVE this author because his books are SO interactive. There are tons of things to touch, feel, move, and open on each page and right now, the kids love this one because one of the dogs has a sticky tongue. We so adore our book time and this one is routinely dragged over to me.
  3. Turtle Bath Toys: I don’t know why these toys are as popular as they are with Kirsten and Logan, but they love them in and out of the bath. Seriously, when one of them is crying, we wind one up and slide it over and they instantly stop crying as they watch the turtle flip and flop around. In the tub, they love trying to catch them as they swim around. Bonus for parents, one winding lasts a while. :)
  4. Nuby Popsicles Molds for toddlers: We fill ours with breastmilk, but you could easily do smoothies, purees, fresh fruit, juices … the skies the limit! The hands are SUPER toddler friendly and our kids LOVE them for teething and warm days!IMG_9943img_9940.jpg

What are some of your favorite things this month? Share below or email me, I’d love to hear!

Have a great day!

XO!

Chelsea



Affiliate links included 

what it’s like to have a traumatic birthing experience.

My friend Natalie, ahhh, where do I even begin? This girl is my inspiration. She is immensely talented and lives out Jesus in her every breath. She is raw, real, and I feel completely in awe of her strength. If you have followed her on Instagram, or her blog, you know what I mean. I am absolutely delighted to introduce you to her today in my What’s It Like series. Natalie shares with us what it’s like to have a traumatic birthing experience and walks us through her grieving process. After you fall in love with her writing, run to Amazon and grab her book, it’s incredible.

Additionally, before we even get started today, Natalie just shared a few days ago that she recently suffered a miscarriage over the weekend and I am asking you to take a short second to say a prayer for her and her family as they grieve the loss of this little one. 

Here’s Natalie’s story.


I don’t talk about my birth story.

Sure, I wrote an entire book about loss and included an extremely vulnerable and detailed account of our birth experience, but if I’m sitting across from you at a dinner party and you’re talking about your birth experience, I won’t share mine. And if I do, I remove any emotion from it, numbing myself out of self-preservation and protection, and share it in about two short sentences:

Oh, yeah, my birth. It was a bit traumatic and ended in an urgent cesarean. So…how old is your child and what’s she like to do?

I learned quickly after the birth of our second and only biological son that talking about our birth experience wasn’t safe for my heart. At least not with just anyone, or even some of my closest friends. I save these conversations to be shared with my counselor.

Almost two years ago, our second son joined us when our first son was just four and a half months old. No, this isn’t a story about a micro-preemie, it’s simply our story and one filled with both sorrow and joy, loss and gain, two sons—one by adoption and one from my body.

The guilt that comes from loving one of my son’s birth story and feeling immense loss towards the other’s is colossal. But it is what it is, and no matter how many times I replay the experience in my head, I cannot seem to change its outcome.

BIRTH ANTICIPATION

Before I was a mom, I was a doula and birth photographer. I love birth and I loved serving women and families during these intimate and powerful experiences. I assisted births in homes, hospitals, and birthing centers.

I knew a home birth was risky for me—due to blood clotting disorders I have—but I also knew with the right team, it wasn’t impossible or stupid to try. I had witnessed and served countless home births. Each time a baby emerged from his or her mama’s body, landed on her bare chest, relief and joy overwhelmed the room as a wave of calm washed over each of us. I couldn’t help but tear up, wondering if I would get to experience the gift birthing a child at home.

Due to these same blood clotting disorders and endometriosis, it understandably took over two years to conceive and successfully carry a baby in my womb. The anticipation and simultaneous hands-open posture I carried through my pregnancy regarding our birth outcome were monumental to me.

Nervous about birth? Not at all. I was thrilled to experience laboring and delivering a human being. I hoped for a home birth but knew we may transfer. Pregnancy and birth were the main forces behind my desire to have a biological child. As we approached the end of our nine months together, I knew this boy might be our only biological child, so his birth was something I cherished before it began.

THE BIRTH

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When in labor, I felt strong. Mighty. Beautiful in the pained-gory type of way. My contractions began as double-peak contractions, kicking me right in the uterus, not letting me rest much at all or warm up to the intensity. They were just bam bam bam.

After more than a full day—and night—of consistent, long contractions, we were sure I was approaching transition and the team was ready for the arrival of our sweet boy. We joked about my midwife having a fourth 50+ hour labor, which she said she already had her three for the year.

Three days after labor began, I found myself in the hospital, laying under the bright lights and wearing a bright blue cap. The last thing I was clinging to in regards to my birth was the magical meeting moment. I released every other expectation and hope regarding my birth and was proud of how hard I fought. I was proud of myself, my strength, my birth team, and our womb-boy.

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But then…what felt like the last sliver of hope I was holding onto regarding our birth experience, and what I was sure there was no way I would lose grasp of it, was ripped out of my hands too.

My body failed me yet again, metabolizing not one, but two different numbing drugs used for cesareans. My lights went out as they placed the plastic mask over my mouth and kicked my husband out of the room, shouting, “Get her under, baby’s heartbeat is dropping!”

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POST-EXTRACTION

Not only did I wake up in the fog general-anesthesia gives you, but also to nurses pushing on my freshly stitched womb of seven layers, performing protocol: ensuring my blood doesn’t clot. Every fifteen minutes. For hours.

The physical and emotional trauma of my birth was not something I was a drop prepared for. I learned from our miscarriage that people say dumb things in the face of loss. I learned during our adoption journey people are ignorant and sometimes don’t care to learn what not to say.

THE CONVERSATIONS — WHY I STOPPED SHARING

I didn’t want anyone to know about our birth story, not yet.

I laid in my hospital bed letting the tears silently soak the pillows as I prepared myself for people’s responses. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of a cesarean, no, I had accepted the cesarean and was absolutely proud of how hard I fought.

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It was the immense loss I felt regarding all of the hopes and expectations I had regarding birth. I felt I held them loosely, and at the last minute, I only wanted to be awake to meet my son with that overwhelming sigh of relief and joy.

Fragile both physically and emotionally, I prepared my response to everyone’s impending questions about our birth: “Oh, it was pretty traumatic and I’m not really talking about it with anyone.”

Even when I did my best to politely shut down the conversation, I was still met with jagged responses:

“Well, at least he is alive and healthy!”

Yes, he is alive and he is healthy. He was not hurt during our labor and extraction, and for that I am immensely grateful. But can I not just sit in my sorrow, give my sadness space, while simultaneously breathe gratitude about my son’s existence?

I did not forget the fact he is alive—I have one in heaven, and have not forgotten that. You don’t need to remind me to be grateful my son is alive.

“Oh, well if you had a cesarean, it doesn’t make you less of a mom.”

Thank you for letting me know! Did you know that the son in my arms right now, I didn’t even birth? I know, I know, crazy. Birth of any kind is not what makes me a mother, being a mother makes me a mother. I don’t feel like less of a mom because I had a cesarean.

It’s just your body’s way of saying you cannot vaginally birth a baby.

Again, you don’t even know what I am grieving the loss of. When you share this sentiment in the thick of my tragedy, it absolutely discredits and removes my sense of validation regarding my sadness. My body didn’t work right, it didn’t turn my son’s head and then it didn’t accept the correct drugs, but I already know that. You reminding me this doesn’t make it better.

You can always have another baby and try birth again!

You don’t actually know this. I don’t actually know this. I don’t even know if I want to attempt a VBAC after that experience, and end up with the same experience of pain. Plus, even if I did somehow conceive and deliver and have a beautiful home birth, that does not mean the trauma and loss of my other son’s birth disappears.

DON’T WORRY, I DON’T HATE YOU

If you said these to me, I don’t hate you. I knew in those moments how uncomfortable entering someone else’s invisible loss is. Before I experienced such birth trauma, I didn’t fully understand what it meant or how it was worth grieving, even as a doula.

I have learned a lot about birth trauma and birth loss—even when the baby lives—since our birth experience. I have had the privilege of sharing on podcasts and helping others find healing from their own traumas.

The biggest lessons I have learned is to give ourselves permission to grieve loss other than death and to be okay with not being okay. In order to find healing, which takes time, we must sit in the pain and the difficult and the devastation.

I still don’t talk much about our birth experience and the trauma stemming from that story. But if an opportunity to listen to someone else’s birth trauma presents itself, I do it with care and validation. I now know how to listen well.

WHAT IT’S LIKE

To have experienced a traumatic birth is, well, a bummer. It’s one of those things I have found peace in not being 100% okay with its entirety; in those spaces of grieving the losses of what I had hoped for, I find grace to just be. I find Jesus sitting with me in the sadness, and I find Him inching closer offering comfort.

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Read my full birth story in This Undeserved Life: Uncovering The Gifts of Grief and Fullness of Life OR on my blog here.


View More: http://kerstengreenphotography.pass.us/nataliebrenner
Natalie Brenner is a wife, mom to virtual twins as well as two daughters through foster care, and photographer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of #1 new release, This Undeserved Life. She likes her wine red, ice cream served by the pint, and conversations vulnerable. Like you, Natalie is a fierce believer in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. She’s addicted to honesty. You can love Jesus or not, go to church or not: she’d love to have coffee with you. Natalie is a bookworm, a speaker, and a lover of fall. Connect with her at NatalieBrennerWrites.com and join her grace-filled email community. 

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You can connect with Natalie on Instagram @nataliekbrenner, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. 


PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depressionstart a company, have a micro preemie,  lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illness, and fund raise for fertility treatments. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

what its like: to fund raise for fertility treatments.

Today’s What It’s Like feature shares the real life look at what it takes for many people to attempt to start their family. I was introduced to Shannon a handful of weeks ago and have been so inspired by her strength and persistence in helping others find the funds to try for their family. I urge you to read her story and heart below, and also check out Nine 16 Designs as a wonderful way to give back to the infertility community.

(Pssst, we are even running a giveaway over on Instagram today – Friday, so hop on over and enter to win a gift certificate to Nine 16 Designs!)

Without further ado, here’s what it’s like to fund raise for fertility treatments!


$20,494.75

$13,065.27

$14,534.23

$23,398.53

Those are not the prices for a new car, or a down payment on a house, or even a super fancy vacation.

Those are the costs of infertility.

That is what some people have to pay just to try to have a baby.

Right now, there are only 15 states in the U.S. that require by law, for insurance companies to cover the cost of fertility treatments.  That means that for those that aren’t lucky enough to live in one of those states, all that cash will  most likely be coming out of pocket. I don’t know about you, but I sure as heck don’t have $20k in my piggy bank. Couples and individuals who are faced with the diagnosis of infertility are doing whatever is humanly possible to pay for their treatments, their medications, the procedures, doctors fees, and every little thing in between.

How?! Well, credit card companies love the infertile, that’s for sure. Mortgage companies too, because sure, let’s just take a second mortgage out on our house to pay for this. Have anything that’s super meaningful to you, but worth a lot of money? Might as well sell it, because you have to pay for your medications.

These are the lengths that some couples go through to have a family. The worst and absolute punch to the throat about all of this…you aren’t even guaranteed a child in the end of it all. Then what? You’re out of money, exhausted, and are literally back at square one. You just have like $30,000 in debt to pay off somehow.

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My husband and I personally know the financial struggle of fertility treatments, as we were diagnosed with infertility in the Spring of 2017. We are one of the lucky ones to have coverage for most of our treatments, medications and procedures. However, we still get bills for what isn’t covered, and let me tell you, regardless of the amount, it still puts stress on us.

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When I started Nine 16 Designs, all I wanted to do was have something to distract me from the stress of IVF, but I soon fell in love with what I was doing, and as we grew, I realized I wanted to do something that could not only make an impact, but also help out as many people as possible. I had gotten to know so many couples or individuals going through fertility treatments, mostly through social media. I had heard so many of their stories, and unfortunately even more of their struggles.

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It was then that I decided to launch Project 1:8.

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Project 1:8 was started with the goal of spreading awareness about the struggle of infertility. Every few weeks, we pick a couple or individual and share their story across social media. After two weeks, we donate a portion of our profits to the couple to help them offset the medical costs that come with this heartbreaking diagnosis. We also accept direct donations, which go right to the current couple.

Why 1:8? One in Eight people are diagnosed with infertility. Which means, most likely you know quite a few people who have been handed this card. I have spent a lot of time reaching out to so many different people, asking them to help us spread the word, share their story with us, and if possible, post pics of our stuff on their profiles. We have done several collaborations with well known Instagram accounts (the larger the following, the more people the word gets out to!) We host giveaways, guest write on blogs, and just do anything that will get the word out about our business, and what it is we are working so hard to do.  We’ve reached out to the local news, newspapers, businesses, radio stations and more. None of them have responded, but I have faith that we will get through to them eventually. (I’m EXTREMELY persistent)!

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We have only been doing these campaigns for a few months, but we’ve been able to raise around $3,000 for our applicants! We are always taking submissions, and we won’t ever turn you away! It is our hope to work with everybody who has applied. Although we may not be a super popular business, or have the ability to donate thousands to people who so desperately need it, we know that every little bit counts when you are trying to pay for your treatment and medications.

As we grow, it is our hope that we will reach so many more people; we don’t want anybody to ever feel alone in this process.


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Shannon and her husband Matt own and run Nine 16 Designs. They make a point to come up with designs and styles that women and couples in the TTC (trying to conceive) community can relate to, and we want to do as much as we can to help out, and spread awareness. She lives in Oxford, Michigan, loves the Detroit Lions, country music, brewery hopping and her husband! Check out her shop here and follow her on Instagram at @nine16designs.


PS – Don’t miss a thing with this series! Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to catch each of the upcoming stories! I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 

PPS – If you’re ever looking for a devotional on living life while in a waiting season, check out the devotional I co-authored called In the Wait’!

PPPS – Check out the other contributions from this series, including What It’s Like: to experience multiple IVF cyclesraise a child with special needsuse an egg donorbe a DIY-er and home style blogger , be a NICU nurse,  Live fully in singleness while still hoping for marriagesuffer with endometriosis. experience depressionstart a company, have a micro preemie,  lose a parent, be childless not by choice, have a spouse with a chronic illness, and live overseas. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

when mother’s day hurts.

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Last Year Laurel Box invited me to join some of the most amazing women in the world in writing a series on motherhood, called Motherhood: Rewritten. In the series, they featured every topic from child loss, mom loss, infertility, miscarriage, step moms, adoptive moms, foster moms, and birth moms. It was absolutely STUNNING and I had the best intentions to share both the project and my piece here, except I was in the hospital with two preemie babies and blogging was the last thing on my mind!

And I love how God works because I know this year delay isn’t without intention. Someone is going to be incredibly blessed by these stories this year.

The creators of Motherhood: Rewritten shares this about the project:

“The idea for Motherhood: Rewritten came during a family reunion last year. Between our mothers and grandmother, we were raised by amazing women. But when we sat together and looked in the eyes of our matriarchs, we realized something. Not one of us has a simple Mother’s Day story. Our stories are filled with loss, and foster children, and infertility, and mothering pre-made kiddos. From our 85-year-old grandmother to our own generation, our stories aren’t simple.

So in 2017 decided to create a yearly project to celebrate women living second stories. To create a tribute to all of us rewriting our stories. To  carve out a place for all of us who don’t let Hallmark define Mother’s Day. To encourage the brave and powerful women who continue on, even when it feels like our stories are the only ones marked by difference. To support any woman who feels excluded on Mother’s Day. Whether you have lost a child, lost a mother, mother children from outside your own womb, or mother hope for a child, your story is important.” -Laurel Box

You can click here to assess all the chapters for the stories. Amazing women like Angie Smith, Sara Haggarty and Jenna Kutcher make up these voices and I am just honored to be asked to be a part of this community and add to my words into such a powerful group of women.

If you are walking into Mother’s Day today with the burden of infertility on your shoulders, I pray my article from last year blesses you and reminds you that you’re not alone. I also pray it encourages you in some way. You aren’t forgotten and today I honor the mother you wish you were. You can click here to read my contribution. 

To every woman out there who feels broken or less than, you are not. You are worthy, you are loved, you are special, and I hope the sweet of this holiday one day outweighs the bitter.

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