we rock.

My hands are wrist high with soapy water. Exhausted, I start to wash the final load of bottles for the day. The house is quiet as we clean up the last few parts of our day before heading up to bed. I shift my weight and stretch my back. It’s been a busy day of activity and I am tired.

Your cry cuts through the sound of running water.

“Logan?” I ask your dad as he pauses by the video monitor.

You don’t wake often so we stop and watch you for a few seconds, wondering why you’ve woken, as your cries get louder. We both turn to go upstairs, but I move faster and trot up the stairs, creeping quietly into your dark nursery where your cries have pierced the silence.

Mommmmmmma!!!! You scream out, arms raised and I gently scoop you up, wrapping you in my arms the way a toddler would a teddy bear.

You exhale a gigantic sigh and your body goes limp against my chest. Your cries stop and you nuzzle into my neck as you breathe heavily, your arms wrapping against mine.

Shhhhshhhhshhhhh. I whisper quietly into your hair, stroking your back and feeling the weight of your body pressing into mine. I make my way to the rocker and sink into the plush seat, still holding onto you tightly and feel your tiny dimpled hands reach up into my hair, now in a mangled pony and your little fingers begin to twirl my flyaway’s.

We begin to rock.

You whimper a gentle moan of comfort and I instantly know how safe you feel here. I am your momma. Your safe place. Your calming force. I feel you get heavier and I savor this moment.

You, my sweet boy, don’t need momma like this often. You are a good sleeper and resist the temptation to pause during the day to cuddle. But here you lie in my arms and I breathe you in. It was bath night and you smell of lavender and baby shampoo. You are warm, just like your daddy, always running hot. Your fingers continue to play with my hair as I kiss your sweet little head. I marvel at how perfectly you seem to fit into my shoulder. It’s almost as if there’s a puzzle there and you are my missing piece.

A few feet away I hear your sister stirring in her crib, her hands fumbling to find the nearest pacifier and she goes quiet again as she drifts back to sleep.

I feel your chest moving up and down, breathing in my presence and slowly your fingers stop twirling and your arm drops limply on my arm. You are asleep and while I know I should move you back to your crib and go finish the dishes, I stay a little longer.

I want to memorize this moment. I want to memorize how you feel in my arms, how delicate you smell. As I press my lips into your hair, I want to always remember how big, yet tiny you feel in my arms. I squeeze my eyes closed, trying to remember what it felt like to be holding 4 pound 11 ounce you in my arms 49 weeks ago. It’s a blurry memory and I panic as I fear this moment becoming a distant moment too.

Oh sweet boy, you are my joy. Your smile reaches every part of your face and you continue to amaze me every day. I continue to run my hand over your back and wonder how long you’ll let me snuggle you. I’ve seen how fast this year has gone and I don’t want to take a moment for granted. These are the times we prayed for years to experience and now they are here and I feel like they are going too fast.

You flip your head and press your other cheek against my skin and begin to blow the tiniest spit bubbles and I smile at the noise. You are just like your momma, I’ve been told I blow spit bubbles too.

Thank you Jesus. I pray silently, feeling as if I am in a holy moment. After years of wondering if I would ever be a mom, this moment is sacred. I squeeze my eyes tightly as I remember the shots, the appointments, the phone calls containing bad news, the negative pregnancy tests, the positive pregnancy tests, the bleeding, the aching, the sorrow. I remember wanting to give up, but the thought of never having this was too big a risk. We pressed on and nearly a decade later, here we rock. Oh sweet boy, you and your twin sister are my miracles.

I hear your dad downstairs quietly banging around, unloading the dishwasher, and I know he is smiling, knowing I am getting these precious snuggles, snuggles we both savor and fight over, knowing how prized they are.

We continue to rock and I stroke your fingers, marveling at how big they have become over the months.

Who will you become? Your adventurous spirit has me nearly certain you will keep me on my toes all the time. Your curiosity will spark inevitable trouble and I know you will do big things in your life. I hope you always make time for me. I pray you never tire of talking to me, sharing your day with me, letting me hug you tightly and continue to smile at my silly dance moves. I pray the woman you fall in love with someday loves Jesus and our family, and I pray that I never have to worry about whether you know how loved, special, unique, and cared for you are.

A tear slips down my cheek and blends into your tiny blonde hairs. You are so little. You are so big. You are my miracle.

We rock on.

These are the moments worth more than gold. This is as good as it gets on this side of heaven.

So we stay here longer and rock.

And rock.

And rock.

This is my dream come true.

View More: http://mollyshieldsphotography.pass.us/loganandkirsten

photo by molly shields photography

 

what its like: to be childless not by choice.

I am honored to share the words of my friend Justine Froelker today on my What’s It Like series. Justine embodies encouragement and grace, and offers an open look at what it’s like when the dream of having a family doesn’t play out the way we envision. I am thankful for her leadership in the infertility community and her passion to live out her mission. Justine, thank you for being you!

Here’s what its like to be childless not by choice.


I am a 38-year-old woman who can’t have kids. Almost everywhere I go I am almost always the only one.

If I am not careful, I easily believe I don’t belong.

When I am doing the work of owning my truth and speaking my story I know, I always belong.

Fitting in…now that is another story.

Among the moms, I am a bit lost and forgotten. Sure, as a mental health therapist with over 18 years of experience I have a lot of knowledge and experience on the research of parenting, I can provide with you a ton of resources to help you if you want. Yet, my opinion is often seen as invalid because you just don’t get it or I am not even considered in the conversation at all. Which, I’ll admit, can also ignite the other therapist part of me that wants to grab mothers by their shoulders begging them to be themselves.

“You are more than a mother! Who are you? What do you love?”

I digress.

Among childfree people, I can feel not understood. I love the freedom, the travel, the talk about the world, work, and things other than sleep and soccer schedules. Yet, the childfree community doesn’t understand that I actually do love kids, deeply wanted them, and yearn for my three every single day, and will for the rest of my life.

Among people like me, well, there are only a handful so far in my life. I mean, most of the stories end with kids, right? Not many of us, especially those of us in the infertility and loss journey, stop before we get the babies. I know my story scares the crap out of so many people, and yet, it is the very thing that will open you up to become curious about who I am and what I have done to change my life after it didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to.

For those who don’t know me, here’s the quick recap:

We tried IVF due to my history of back surgeries and body casts in high school.

We lost three babies.

The money was gone.

Our hearts were broken.

We stopped treatments before we got the babies.

We are not choosing adoption.

We are accepting a childless not by choice, or as I like to call it, a childfull life.

I am a forever grieving mother who chooses to do the work to see the gifts in everything.

I am happy and sad…you can watch my TEDx talk on that.

I know I always belong, because I am a daughter of the One True King. Still, I will choose to continue to do the work of staying out of comparison, knowing my worth, and sitting beside others, especially others who are different than me and who I feel like I don’t belong with.

How often do we judge other moms? Or those who stopped treatment? Or who aren’t adopting? Or are? Or those who chose not to have kids? How often do we compare our infertility and loss stories within our own infertility community?

Struggle is struggle. Hard is just hard.

Loss is loss. 

When we compare our stories, we are only more alone in them.

And, remember, I am already alone as a 38-year-old woman who wanted kids and can’t have them.

What if instead we looked at each other in our different, and yet so much the same, struggles of life, and said, “This sucks, can I sit with you?”

Because then we aren’t so damn alone in it all.

And, we can love others as He loved us.

We ended our journey about five years ago, and in four years of infertility advocacy it has been a lot of struggle; the hustle to build a platform, the jumping up and down not to be forgotten, and the shame that can attack me with messages like,

Your story is too scary.

No one cares.

You’re invisible.

You didn’t deserve to be a mom.

You don’t matter.

Pick your poison; I know you have some version of these stories too, no matter what your What It’s Like To story is. Because this is how shame works. As a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (trained by Brené  Brown) I teach, challenge, model, and speak shame every day. We all have shame, and if you don’t think you do, let’s talk. What I am learning is that when I not only give myself permission to feel both the longing and the joy that comes with being a forever grieving mother who is the happiest she’s ever been because she does the work to be, is that not only must I rewrite my stories of shame, but I must also let them go.

Every day I work to honor my three when I do the work to not stay stuck in life crushing grief I make them a gift…because they are.

It is only because of them that I found my way to Christ, that I did the true work to be happy and healthy, and that I have found the work that I love and that serves the world.

They were never really mine to begin with; they were always His.

It is only because of them that I have been able to shine this light. My light.

One of the moments I saw this the most clearly was after a talk I gave on how vulnerability can empower your business and personal life, when an exhausted mother came up to me after and said, “You know, you are the mother of all mothers. You are giving us the permission and the tools to take care of ourselves finally, thank you.”

I am Justine Froelker.

I am a mother to my three who never took a breath of this earth’s fresh air, and apparently a mother to mothers.

I am a mother.

And, more than you realize, we are more alike than different.

Want to sit beside me?


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Full of grit and grace, Justine Froelker uses her fiery passion, the occasional curse word, and her witty humor to share her vulnerability and truth to light up the world. Justine is an advocate for speaking about shame and learning to thrive when life doesn’t turn out how you hoped, dreamed, or even planned that it would. Justine is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator with over 18 years of experience (based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown). She is the author of her best-selling books, Ever Upward and The Mother of Second ChancesJustine currently lives in Saint Louis with her husband, Chad, and their three dogs. She enjoys her childfull life by spending time with friends and family, practicing creative self-care, laughing (many times at herself) and building butterfly gardens on her acre of land, which has made her an accidental butterfly farmer.

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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, and lose a parent. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!