what it’s like: to beat infertility.

Today’s last and final What It’s Like post is written by me. And it was a doozy. It’s hard to articulate what it’s like to stand on this side of infertility, but here’s my best attempt. It’s beautiful and joyous and messy and hard and confusing and wonderful and transforming and glorious and challenging.

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Beating infertility has meant being overwhelmed with gratitude. Jesus answered our prayers in His perfect timing. It’s humbling, really, because I am no more deserving than someone else still waiting. It makes me stop routinely, as in hourly, and thank the Lord because they are here. Kirsten and Logan are here. They are ours. They are tangible answers to prayers. We somehow got through the storm and while there was damage done, we survived. We get to rebuild.

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Beating infertility means I parent different. Not better, but different. Late nights rocking a crying teething child provide me opportunities to thank Jesus that I have a child to soothe. I try to savor the little moments more. I don’t take these times for granted because I know not everyone has them, no matter how hard they try. I appreciate these miracles in a deeper way. The feeling of them in my arms is intensified because I remember too well what it was like not to have them in my arms.

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Beating infertility has increased my heart of compassion for the infertility community. I now shop in the newborn section and I remember all the times I passed it with tears in my eyes, wondering when it would be my turn. I cringe when I hear a Happy Mother’s Day commercial, knowing while I now get to celebrate it, too many don’t and ache to.  I scan the rows at church during a baby dedication, looking for the couple whose hands are tightly folded together, with tears in their eyes, and I pray for them. I dislike events centered around children. I constantly wonder who is pained by it.

Beating infertility has taught me I can be happy and sad at the same time. I can celebrate the birth of my children and still remember the due date of our three miscarriage children. There are moments I see Logan scrunch his nose and wondering if one of his siblings would have done that too, or if Kirsten would have had a sister with little curls in her hair too. Joy and sorrow aren’t mutually exclusive emotions and I’ve learned to give myself permission to feel both.

Beating infertility reminds me God is faithful and has His own timing that I will never understand. I don’t know why it took us nearly a decade to get here, but the process has made me trust His goodness despite our circumstances.

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Beating infertility has laced my relationships with feelings of guilt. I have “graduated” while others are still waiting and heartbroken. I struggle to find the balance of answering how our family is doing without spewing out too much joy in their faces. I have children. You don’t. I want to talk about them. I know how much this hurts you. I am so sorry. I’m still navigating this. What is a good balance and why don’t I remember the “right” things to say?

Beating infertility also means dealing with shame. There’s shame when I am tired and frustrated and need a time out from my kids. There’s shame I feel anything but gratitude when this is what we prayed for. There’s shame to ask others for help, because this is what we wanted. There’s shame in admitting motherhood isn’t as easy as I thought.

Beating infertility gives us a heart to pray regularly for those who need our prayers. We wouldn’t be here unless it was for the community of people who gathered around us and prayed for these moments. Someone came up to me today and asked if my husband was Josh. When I said yes, her eyes filled with tears and she said “I don’t know you, but I have been praying for you for years.”

THIS.

It’s taught me to pray for people that don’t know I am praying for them. I get to be a part of their team without them even knowing it. I get to be a part of their story and watch God work.

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Beating infertility has complicated my identity. For years I was that infertile girl. Now I am a mother. I am now responsible for two little lives. I have had to learn in a 180 degree manner how to be completely unselfish. I have had to give up things I love for two little ones I love more. I am the best version of myself and the worst version of myself. I at times miss the things I used to have time for, yet wouldn’t change my life for anything. I am still trying to figure out how to be Chelsea when all my roles and duties have shifted.

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Beating infertility causes me to wrestle.  I wrestle with emotions that come with someone’s pregnancy announcement, even though I have had one myself. I still have to suppress the cringe when someone says they got pregnant without even trying. My heart aches at baby showers, wondering who in the room is hurting, struggling with infertility or secondary infertility. I don’t know if I will ever “get over” the tenderness. I still am uncomfortable.

Beating infertility has made me cherish the hard times. A 3 a.m cry is music to my ears. We have babies in the nursery. A difficult c-section recovery, complete with the need for a second surgery, was embraced, because it meant I had children. A baby with a cold is a gift. I am the one who gets to comfort her and sit in the steamy shower with her. It takes me way too long to get out of the house (and entails so much sweat), but I get to walk around Target with my children. They are here.

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Beating infertility has taught me to my need to trust God as a parent. I have to admit, our infertility journey causes me to resort quickly to feelings of anxiety and fear when it comes to worrying about the future. The emotions of grief and loss threaten to steal my joy and I am afraid I am going to end up back there. Because of this, I have had to put into action the commands of Philippians 4:8 and spend my time focusing on “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, excellent or praiseworthy…”.

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Infertility tried to break me. I can truthfully say there were so many days I didn’t think I would be here, yet here we are. I am finally a mom on this side of heaven. Thank you Jesus for Kirsten and Logan!

“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19


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Hi! I’m Chelsea, creator of this blog, Trials Bring Joy, and co-author of In the Wait’. I’m a Midwestern girl who loves connecting with others about infertility, motherhood, and living authentically. I’ve been married to Josh for double-digits years and recently welcomed twins, Kirsten and Logan, to our family after nearly a decade of waiting and loss. I love a good cup of coffee, a cozy bookshop and mindless reality TV. I co-authored a devotional called  My heart finds joy in untangling the trials in life and allowing God to help me find beauty every day. You can connect with me on Facebook and Instagram @chels819. I absolutely LOVE connecting with each of you! 


PS – 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 illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgerydonate and adopt an embryo,  be on a reality show, go through the fostering process, throw a themed dinner party , have PCOS, have had a cancer diagnosis,be a high school teacher,love someone who’s experiencing infertility, be a step-parent, be the husband in a couple experiencing infertility , experience secondary infertility,experience postpartum anxiety,experience a traumatic loss,be a single mom,have a child born with cancer, be pregnant with a rainbow baby, and experience a failed adoption

what it’s like: to experience a failed adoption.

I’ve cried so many tears while reading all of the amazing stories that people have shared over the course of this What It’s Like series. However, today’s post written by Alex choked me up in a different way because laced in her pain breathes so much Jesus. Her words blessed me because of how genuine and vulnerable they are. I know they will you too.

Alex, thank you so much for sharing your story and relationship with Jesus with us. 


And that was it, she took her last breath. At 4:54 PM on May 11, 2013, I held her cooling body in my warm arms. Heartbreak filled the room, and the silence was deafening. It was in those moments I knew this wasn’t the end, even though it felt like it. Our story would continue; but how?

Our heart for adoption was fueled by a calling. Way before we even got married. It spans back to my childhood when I knew I wanted to adopt. A year and a half after we lost Noel, our daughter, we pursued our calling.

We excitedly went through the process with an agency in Tulsa, OK. After much prayer and reflection, we felt at peace with our decision. We were picked unexpectedly quickly and were thrown into a whirlwind of classes, books, legal papers etc.

I remember receiving the phone call that we were chosen.  We were driving to Grimaldi’s to celebrate my 27th birthday. That phone call was the best birthday present.

That summer, 2015, we spent it up in Tulsa, OK with the agency and our birth-mom. She was due beginning of September. So, we only had about 3 or so months until she was born.

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The day finally came and she was here. And boy was she perfect. From every single hair on her head, and let me tell you it was a lot, to her perfect little baby toes. I loved her the moment I saw her.

I loved her as my own. I was finally able to parent on this side of heaven. We changed diapers, had late night and early morning feedings and called her ours. Her healthy cry was music to my ears, and her round cheeks were the perfect size to kiss. I never knew how quickly you could fall in love with someone who has never heard your heartbeat from the inside.

6 days after we took her “home”, our birth-mom changed her mind. With tear-stained cheeks, we said our goodbyes and drove back home to Texas, empty arms again.

I vividly remember one conversation with our birth-mom. I told her that at any point in time, if she ever changed her mind, it’s okay. I know what it’s like to have to give a baby back, and to live without a piece of your heart.

We were never mad at her.

Feelings of disappointment and discouragement and doubt filled our minds.

  • Did we hear wrong from God?
  • Why? Why are we left with aching arms again?
  • How could you let this happen God? You knew the final outcome.

I remember my heart being so severely shattered.  It felt like it would never be repaired from back to back to back losses. (Our daughter dies, we find out we are infertile, then we experience a failed adoption.)

One day after sobbing on my white, not so white anymore (thank you waterproof mascara), pillow, I cried out to the Lord. I told him how disappointed I was, how he let me down, how I felt forgotten and forsaken. I cried until my head was pounding and my loud sobs turned into quiet whimpers. He very tenderly told me, that he knew all of this, he just needed me to be vulnerable with him and to come to him whole heartedly, so we can move forward, together.

It took another year and a half, 2017, until our Liv Noel was born, our rainbow baby via artificial insemination with a donor sperm. During those early months of waiting I pressed into the Lord without abandon. I saturated myself in everything that was true. I wanted a relationship so deep with the Lord that no one could touch it. I made a choice. I could either blend in the desert, or bloom in it. I wanted my valley to be green and lush, full of life, and vast with love.

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Walking the road of a failed adoption was never an experience we thought we would encounter. But through it our marriage is stronger, (cliché but true), my relationship with the Lord is on a completely new level, and I am who I am today because of it, and I like the Alex I’ve fought so hard to become. (Now I would tweak a few pounds here and there, ha ha!)


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Alex is a far west Texas girl who enjoys weekend getaways, quality time and a good chocolate with sprinkles donut. She’s been married to Caleb for 6 years and has 2 daughters. Noel, their angel baby, and Liv their rainbow baby. Alex thrives off of coffee, dance parties with Liv and of course Jesus. 


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’!

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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 illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgerydonate and adopt an embryo,  be on a reality show, go through the fostering process, throw a themed dinner party , have PCOS, have had a cancer diagnosis,be a high school teacher,love someone who’s experiencing infertility, be a step-parent, be the husband in a couple experiencing infertility , experience secondary infertility,experience postpartum anxiety,experience a traumatic loss,be a single mom,have a child born with cancer andbe pregnant with a rainbow baby. Stay tuned for our last contribution, written by little ol’ ME, coming your way next Tuesday! 

what it’s like: to be pregnant with a rainbow baby.

Last February, Danielle reached out to me and wrote: “I would love to work on writing about what it is like to be pregnant with a rainbow baby after miscarriage. I think there is a big misconception that once you’re pregnant and have made it farther than you ever have in pregnancy, that your life is just joyous and your fears are gone…I’m 21 weeks pregnant and still navigating the emotions behind this!”

Her emotions are so accurate to what many women feel after struggling with infertility and I love her willingness to share her story (and joy!) with us in today’s What It’s Like series. Danielle, thank you for your desire to share … and congratulations!


Five years of trying. Three surgeries. Three rounds of IVF. One miscarriage of two babies. One rainbow baby!

I should have been over the moon when we found out we were pregnant with our rainbow baby on our third round of IVF, but I had more anxiety and fear than happiness. This is me, being real honest!

The miscarriage I suffered wrecked me. It wrecked my world. It put me deeper into depression. Because let’s be real, I had been in different stages of depression since our first full unsuccessful year of trying to get pregnant. Throw in a failed IVF, and I was struggling. I lost interest in almost everything I normally loved to do, even run my small business. And my smile was empty and filled with frustration, loneliness and pain.

Going into our third round of IVF, I was completely, emotionally disconnected. I just went through the motions. Appointment, injection, ultrasound…repeat. We had 3 embryos remaining, 1 boy and 2 girls. One of the girl embryos is such a poor quality that our doctor told us to not even consider transferring her. We knew we wanted to transfer our boy and freeze the good quality girl for baby number 2 in a few years.

The morning of our FET in October, I was on edge and hormonal. My husband and I argued, and I told him lets just cancel it. After getting over myself, we got in the car and drove to our fertility center.

We checked in and were waiting in the procedure room when our doctor came in to discuss our embryos. (This is normal protocol after they unfreeze the one we chose ahead of time.)

The doctor proceeded to tell us that our good quality boy embryo, that we planned on transferring, did not survive being unthawed. I could immediately see the disappointment on my husbands face. The son he so desperately longed for, was gone. Our son we had a name for was no more. Our hearts sank and the tone changed. And I immediately started to think that this FET was just not meant to be. We had to quickly mourn the loss of him, and move on to the next embryo. It was such a strange feeling.

We were there, we had a girl embryo that was perfect quality, we went through with the transfer. Our doctor was always optimistic with our transfers, always reminding us to have hope and always blessed us with the symbol of the cross over us and declared us pregnant before we left. He is pretty special.

We went home, did the bed rest thing, and went on with life. I didn’t pay attention to any potential symptoms, and I was actually not a very nice person because I was prepared to hear bad news, or guard my heart from another miscarriage.

Friday the 13th, my nurse called and gave me the news, “You’re pregnant, yay congrats!!”

All I could do is laugh. In fact, I laughed for a good couple of days. I felt nothing. No symptoms, no moments of “oh I feel different”. NOTHING.

My HCG level was much better than last time, but I still did not want to get my hopes up until my next blood draw. I prayed for my HCG to get to a specific number for our 2nd blood draw, and God far surpassed that; my numbers tripled.

We went to our first ultrasound and saw the flicker of a heartbeat…she was really there! A baby. Our baby girl. She was the one meant to be all along. God knew exactly what He was doing.

My whole pregnancy, I was afraid to connect with my daughter. I was so afraid of a loss happening at any moment. I got anxiety and held my breath on my way to every ultrasound appointment. I even had fear of having a still birth. People would ask me how excited I was, and how amazing it must feel to have this miracle baby growing inside of me. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely AMAZING, and I miss the heck out of being pregnant; but all of a sudden having this new identity of being a mother-to-be, and no longer a 30-something infertile girl was a struggle for me to transition to. The assumption that a pregnancy after loss means pure joy, was not true for me.

Ava Marie was born on June 21 and the moment I heard her cry, I completely lost it. Tears of joy, relief, amazement and finally the feeling a pure joy! She was here. She is healthy. She is our rainbow after the storm. The most beautiful perfect rainbow.

Maybe we went through all of the pain to getting her, so I would feel the way I feel right now. She is what my heart needed. She saved my soul and brought me back to life. Hope never lost.


Danielle is a wife, mom, and business owner who runs Faithful Scents. God gave her a passion to spread His word and she doesn’t take the responsibility lightly and gives Him all of the glory. You can connect with her on Instagram at @faithfulscents.


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’!

Photo Apr 12, 2 20 32 PM

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 illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgerydonate and adopt an embryo,  be on a reality show, go through the fostering process, throw a themed dinner party , have PCOS, have had a cancer diagnosis,be a high school teacher,love someone who’s experiencing infertility, be a step-parent, be the husband in a couple experiencing infertility , experience secondary infertility, experience postpartum anxiety, experience a traumatic loss, be a single mom, and have a child born with cancer. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

what it’s like: to have a child born with cancer.

Dominique’s words touched my heart when they came across my inbox … “In addition to our infertility struggles we experienced a traumatic first several months with our second born, Thomas. He is now a cancer survivor. Born with cancer. And lives to eventually tell his story…”

Today Dominique is sharing her story as a mom who found out her son was born with cancer. I am so thankful for her willingness to share! 


My husband, Troy, and I both had always wanted children. We tried for years on our own to get pregnant and after several other infertility treatments the one that finally worked was IVF. Through our first round of IVF we had several healthy embryos that we were able to freeze. Our first son, Braxton, was born in 2014 and a little over a year later we decided to take a chance on one of our frozen embryos. I got pregnant on the first try! We were so excited (and of course cautiously optimistic) to bring Baby #2 into the world.

We found out early on that I was having another boy! Our first son was breech and I ended up having a cesarean delivery. My ObGyn said I had healed nicely and said that I could try a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) if I chose to. I was thrilled and nervous. I really wanted to be able to experience a natural birth and have a faster recovery. Running after my toddler wouldn’t be possible with a healing cesarean incision. So we decided to try for a VBAC and then hired the same wonderful doula that assisted our first birth. I felt more at ease knowing that she would be there during my first ever labor.

The night that I went into labor felt like text book. I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, my water broke while I was sitting on the toilet, I called the nurse and then woke up my husband. On the outside I was very calm as my husband drove me to the hospital. But inside I was a little anxious. What will the hard labor pains feel like? Will I be able to do this without drugs? Will I be able to push him out? Well, the rest of the night did not go like text book. My contractions started getting stronger and 36 hours later, I was still having contractions but not strong enough to be in full labor. I had been enduring the pain for so long that I was completely exhausted. Any time I tried to lay down to rest, the contraction would start and it hurt too much to lay down. I finally asked for some pain medication. It didn’t have much effect so I gave in and had an epidural. I was then in bliss and forced to lay down on the account of my legs being numb. Unfortunately, this slowed my contractions way down. The only option (other than cesarean) was Pitocin.

The Pitocin worked. My contractions picked up and I was soon in full labor. With my husband, my best friend and my doula at my side, I pushed for hours until I felt like my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head (and later found out my face turned purple and swollen). The doctor ended up assisting with a vacuum and that worked! After about three assisted pushes, our little Thomas was born! They placed him in my arms briefly before cleaning him up and then they handed him to me for some skin to skin contact. It was a very strange moment. I was happy because he was out but I was exhausted and looking down at our new baby boy we noticed he had a distant look on his face. I thought, “he must be as exhausted as I am”. They had to take him to the nursery because his oxygen was a little low. They kept him there for monitoring with oxygen assistance until his pediatrician arrived.

And this is when our world got turned upside down. During his evaluation, our pediatrician felt a hard mass between his diaphragm and his bowels. They did an x-ray but could not determine what it was. He believed that the mass is what was causing the low oxygen as it could be impeding on his lungs. He put in the order for him to be transported to Tacoma General hospital where they have a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and advanced imaging equipment for infants. My husband and I were in disbelief. We couldn’t believe that our son was about to be transported for emergency care. What is wrong with our son!? What is inside him?!?!

His doctor suspects that it could be meconium that leaked from his bowel and hardened. The meconium won’t hurt him as it is sterile, but it will need to be removed with surgery! He will have an MRI when he gets to the other hospital to confirm their suspicion. Unfortunately, because I had antibiotics, they said I had to remain under my ObGyn’s care for 48 hours. So, my husband would be following Thomas to the other hospital. It felt like an eternity for the transportation unit to arrive. Troy was getting very impatient knowing that our son could possibly be in danger. But they finally arrived and they encouraged us to hold and kiss him goodbye before they took him. I was very thankful for that.

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Saying goodbye to Thomas before he was transported to the NICU.

Troy called me a short while later to let me know that they arrived safely and that a team of physicians had already been assigned to his case and were working on his diagnosis. I was able to pass time by napping in my hospital bed as I recovered. Troy called me again within what seemed a couple hours. He said he met with one of the surgeons on the team and she explained that they think he has a tumor. My heart dropped to the floor. That’s not what I wanted to hear. I urgently asked what the next steps were. They would be engaging with a children’s oncologist for final diagnosis.

My ObGyn came in to check on me. I told him what happened and he dispatched me right away since I was recovering well. I headed straight for Tacoma General to be with Troy and Thomas. The NICU there was immaculate and everyone was very nice. Since I was only with Thomas the first few hours of his life before he was whisked away, I hadn’t done much breast feeding with him. They had just fed him some formula right before I arrived so they had a breast pump available for me. Over the next couple hours I pumped, stared at Thomas with hopefulness and waited anxiously for the doctors to provide us with a diagnosis. Poor Thomas had a needle in his scalp for blood draws, wires taped to his body for monitoring and tubing taped to his face for oxygen. They let us hold him any time we wanted. It was awkward. I was actually nervous for some reason. I didn’t want to hurt him by accidentally tugging on one of the monitoring systems attached to him. So mostly I just stared at him.

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Me, visiting Thomas in the NICU.

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They finally took off the tubes on his face.

When his oncologist arrived, he introduced himself and then took us out to a computer to show us some images. He diagnosed Thomas with Congenital Neuroblastoma… cancer… CANCER!!! The cause of this cancer is unknown. He had several tumors. It started from the adrenal gland and spread to his liver. Typically, the prognosis for this type of cancer in a newborn, is very very good (98%). The tumor is usually aggressive and responds very well to low doses of chemo. Many times, if the tumor is small enough they won’t give any treatment at all and will just monitor to make sure the tumor shrinks on its own but his tumor was large enough to warrant immediate chemotherapy. Because it was impeding on his lungs they wanted to start chemotherapy before the biopsy! This seemed so bold, but we understood that the clock was ticking and agreed to the chemotherapy. Troy is a cancer survivor, so this diagnosis really hit him hard.

Once he was off the oxygen (which I think was the next day) he was moved upstairs to the Mary Bridge Children’s hospital. He got a nice room with a window by himself in the newly renovated wing of the hospital. He had lots of wonderful visitors from friends to family members. The next few weeks were busy but there was also a lot of sitting around and waiting. Waiting for the chemo, waiting for the nurse to give us an update, waiting for the biopsy, waiting for the results of the biopsy, waiting to see how he responded to the chemo… waiting to take our baby home.

Also, during that time, we met with the Nurse Navigator who meets with us daily to check on us and introduced us to the financial advisor. This financial advisor talked to us about insurance, out of pocket expenses and alternate ways of getting funds to pay for Thomas’s treatment. She encouraged us to start a personal fund-raising campaign so we decided to use GoFundMe. And over just a few weeks we raised over $8000! It was amazing! (note: if you do GoFundMe, know that there’s a fee for withdrawing your money). We had no idea that so many people would be so generous! A few of those generous donations were from our friends’ parents (so people that we didn’t even know)! In addition to a campaign, the financial advisor suggested we apply for their financial assistance. We told her we didn’t think we would qualify because we both work full time jobs with fairly good salaries. She said, it doesn’t matter. She said they receive grants and donations to help families and it sometimes goes unused. So, we applied, and they approved us! So in addition to the GoFundMe, we had additional help with our finances! This was a big relief that we could stop worrying about how to pay for treatment and just focus on Thomas.

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Big brother got to meet Thomas for the first time!

His biopsy went well. It took a week or so for the results to come back and confirmed that the tumor was indeed Neuroblastoma. He was responding well to his chemotherapy. The nurse posted his stats on a white board and started a new line each day, so we could see the trend of how the numbers are rising or falling. This helped us to understand his response.

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A weeks worth of stats on the board so we could see his progression.

And finally, we were told he could go home!

They would send an in-home nurse once a week to change out the dressing for his central line. Our tasks at home would be flushing the line and giving him a couple of Rx’s. We had training on how to flush the line and administer the meds. And his next cycles of chemo he was able to come home the day after treatment instead of waiting a week like this first cycle.  He also had an MIBG (gamma-ray) scan to check how active the tumors were and to see if there were tumors elsewhere in the body that weren’t picked up by the CT. Once we got him home, it was such a relief. It felt soooo good to have him home. But I must admit we were a little nervous knowing that his immune system was weakened from the chemotherapy. We had our house deep cleaned before we let him in the door.

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He was eating good but threw up a few times so the nurse scheduled to weigh him a few days later and had the doctor prescribe anti-nausea medication. He had genetic blood testing done and the results came in favorable. Each time he was scheduled for a chemo treatment they would do an abdominal ultrasound first to check the size of the tumors. After the first round of chemo, the oncologist could feel the difference from the outside! And each round the tumors shrank even more. At only a month old he had already been through two rounds of chemotherapy!!! Before his third round of chemo, he had to stay in the hospital for a few days because of a perianal abscess. Poor guy had to have it sliced and drained. Eeeek. He did really well and then for the next few weeks we were instructed to wash his butt with a squirt water bottle for diaper changes to flush it and we couldn’t use wipes! That made diaper changing fun… not!

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On his third round of chemo, his blood pressure dropped. It was one of the side effects of the drug called Etoposide. After the infusion was complete they put him back on IV fluids to raise his blood pressure back up but each time they tried to take him off, it went back down. I ended up staying the night with him and by the next afternoon his blood pressure was normal. I really think it was because I stayed there with him. His platelets were up and down each chemo cycle but this time his platelets were too low and so he had to have a platelet infusion. This really made us nervous but he reacted perfectly to the infusion. Phew!

Before his fourth round of chemo, he had an ultrasound and they determined that his tumors shrunk more than 50% of their original size. They will continue to shrink on their own without any additional treatment, so he did not need any more chemotherapy! It was the best day ever! He had another MIBG scan to verify no additional tumors plus an audio and echocardiogram to check for hearing and heart side effects. All results were good so he finally had his Broviac (central line) taken out! For the first year after treatment he had monthly checkups and then quarterly checks the second and third year. Over the next few months we had to be super cautious until his immune system rebuilt so we rarely took him in public places.

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Today, Thomas is a sweet and sassy little two year old that loves to cuddle, dance, loves the water, is a major dare devil and loves to pester his brother but at the same time wants to be just like him. I still can’t believe that we went through trials of having a son born with cancer. Some days I cried, but most days I just had to be the strongest mom that I knew how to be to keep my sons hopes as high as possible. Yes, he was a baby but he had to have known something wasn’t right and we were there to help him. If you are a parent or family member with a child diagnosed with cancer, remember, you are the best advocate your child has, so be strong! And also remember to take care of yourself!

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Relay for Life 2017

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Thomas – Summer 2018


bio

Dominique is a wife of a hard working husband and a mother of two perfect boys. She and her family live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She works full time as an IT Specialist and on her downtime enjoys cooking, watching movies with her husband, cozying up in front of the fireplace, building train sets with the boys, and watching them grow! You can follow her blog and connect with her on Twitter @nicagraves,


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’!

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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 illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgerydonate and adopt an embryo,  be on a reality show, go through the fostering process, throw a themed dinner party , have PCOS, have had a cancer diagnosis,be a high school teacher,love someone who’s experiencing infertility, be a step-parent, be the husband in a couple experiencing infertility , experience secondary infertility, experience postpartum anxiety, experience a traumatic loss, and be a single mom. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

what it’s like: to be a single mom.

Megan, our story-sharer today, is truly one of the sweetest people I have ever known. We went through IVF cycles together years ago and in the process, became close friends fast. I am in awe of her strength and kindness, her loyalty to her people, and her ability to remind people they are loved and thought of. Today Megan shares what it’s like being a single-mom, and I know you’re about to fall in love with her too. I am so thankful for her bravery and willingness to share with us today. 

Meg, I adore you more than you will ever know! You have been one of my biggest cheerleaders over the years and I am in awe of who you are. Thank you for sharing your “What It’s Like” with us today. 


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Several months ago, Chelsea graciously extended me an offer to put my blogger hat back on to help with a series for her blog. I was ready to rock it and go- and then she mentioned “…it’s on what it’s like to be a single mom”.  You know those super dramatic moments, when you’re watching a movie and the music plays that DUN DUN DUN sound and it zooms in on the person’s face, showing them completely horrified? That was me. I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t know how I was going to write this, what I was going to say, and if I could even remotely do other single mothers out there justice. There are little challenges I back down from, so I figured I, at some point, would force myself to sit down and type this. As I write these words, this might be my sixth attempt. Yep, my sixth.

This for me is incredibly scary and intimidating; the transparency of my life situation makes me nervous to shout out to you, the person reading this. Growing up, I was the person who naively thought I would live out the American dream, having a husband and four kids, grow old with said husband, witness our kids leave the nest, then taking lavish vacations together and growing old- until we inevitably live out that scene of the Notebook where the couple dies together in the hospital- that happily ever after sort of story. Let me say- that ending DOES happen for many, many people. Maybe not the final scene of the Notebook- but for many, a one-time marriage and all of the amazing things that accompany it.

For me, that wasn’t the case (And that is OKAY-and if you ever find yourself in the same position- that is okay, too. Trust me on this one).

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The month that my youngest turned one, I received a startling message in the middle of the night that completely turned my world upside down in that very moment. A message that led to many discoveries about the life I thought I was living, the marriage I thought I was in. That moment was heartbreaking and tragic and was the beginning of many weeks and months of discoveries that inevitably led me to a lawyer’s office to file for a divorce. I believe in that American dream I was telling you from earlier. I believe in the forever, the vows made before family and friends, the sanctity of marriage. I believe in rolling over in bed in the morning with your hair looking crazy, some makeup left over from the night before, and telling that person next to you good morning every day for the rest of your life. I know that level of forever exists for everyone- myself included.

As a Christian, pursuing a divorce was a very big struggle for me. I fought an incredibly hard internal battle for months, even long after filing. I felt like I was under public scrutiny for my failed marriage. I was someone, who at one time, had a blog and projected this image of my perfectly put together family. I was ashamed to bear a single mom status, I was scared for the future. I felt like I failed my children, who I swore I would never put through something like this, especially after the journey I experienced to become a mother. I felt like I failed my family miserably, and was embarrassed that for months several people would speak of things I was blissfully unaware of that had happened in my marriage. Do you want to know what I did know, despite all of that? That I was loved and supported by my incredible group of friends and family, that I needed to get up and fight for the life that I wanted for my boys and I.

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Rebuilding yourself up and your life while physically and emotionally trying to heal is not for the faint of heart. I was very fortunate to stay at home after my oldest was born after a grueling journey with IVF, and left a career in social work behind. When the split happened, I quickly had to get back on my feet and find a job that would not only bring in the income needed for a family of three, but also be accommodating to my schedule and having my children 24 out of the 28 days a month. I also had to find daycare, which at the time was an absolute nightmare considering the close ages of my children. I couldn’t find any openings at places I felt comfortable with. I wasn’t having any luck finding a job. I vividly remembering feeling defeated one day after a day full of interviews, coming home to a home ownership disaster, several voicemails about no daycare openings and wondering if my life was ever going to be back on track. I was angry, sad, and probably 20 other emotions that day. I desperately wanted a break, for things to just be okay. Then I remember walking into my living room and the boys were snuggled up together on the couch, and I knew a change in my mentality had to happen. Our lives, our happiness- was in my hands and in my hands alone. I could do this and was going to be sure I did it well. Within a few weeks, I finally had a job, daycare lined up, and things started coming together slowly from there.

There’s a certain level of honesty you have to have with yourself as a single mom, and for me I had to take a really hard look at myself and realize that while I was regaining my balance, I had to work on myself, too. Insecurities and trust issues were at the very top of that list. Many things inside of me felt shattered, and I was determined to be the person I was before all of these things happened.  Years of misconceptions and dishonest thoughts about who I was changed the person I was inside. And to really face that, work on those things, and make those changes – it takes time and it takes hard work. I didn’t want to be this broken person who somehow lost my spirit in a bad relationship, I wanted to be a strong woman who happened to overcome a less than ideal situation and walk away better because of it.

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Our day to day lives now, are still as hectic as ever, but we embrace each day as it comes and roll with it. I wear many hats, just as any other parent would- I also just happen to rock the responsibilities many dads take care of. Learning about vehicles and plumbing and other ‘fix it’ type of responsibilities weren’t exactly my area of expertise, but thanks to Google and a stubborn personality, I ended up getting it down. I also had an absolutely horrible month recently where somehow a raccoon made it’s way into my attic (I wish this were a joke) and that was the start of a streak of bad luck as a homeowner where I could not find a break. Juggling a home, two busy toddler boys, finances, a demanding full time job, daycare, and apparently animals from the wilderness are becoming some of the things that I’m still learning how to excel at. Some days I feel like I’m failing, some days I feel like I’m nailing it, but honestly, isn’t that motherhood?

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Also, spoiler alert. My two boys are thriving, growing, and are becoming incredibly sweet, hilarious little humans. My youngest is about to turn three in October, and my oldest will turn five and start Kindergarten next year. Watching them grow into who they are and seeing their interests and personalities bloom is pretty incredible. Being a mother, even if I do have that single title, is hands down the most rewarding and beautiful thing I’ve experienced in my life.  Another spoiler alert- over the Summer I managed to snag the most patient, loving, understanding, hardworking and kindest man I’ve ever met. The past several months have been nothing short of incredible and I feel so immensely blessed by his presence. He also happens to be a police officer (which I am so proud to support), so the uniform may have scored him a bonus point or two. I’m incredibly thankful to be at the place in life that I am currently at, and can’t wait to see where this next year takes the boys and I. I have a feeling life is about to be really, really good.

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Usually most blog posts end up with some compelling revelation or word of advice. I’m not sure I’m your girl for that, all things considered, but I’ll drop some honest facts from you, learned through experience. No matter your situation, your past, your goals, whatever negative, horrible thing you are dealing with in your life- you CAN overcome it. You can do better. You can be the person you want to be, you can live a happy life. You, and only you, chooses your narrative. Do things have to be perfect for them to be good? Absolutely not. Your past doesn’t define you, your last relationship doesn’t define you. The things that people say or do to you, they don’t define you. Those insecurities and lies in your head are simply that- lies. I always tell myself that it only takes a few moments of some major courage to make some of the biggest moves of your life. So no matter how heavy life feels for you at the moment, no matter how scared you are to take that leap into whatever- simply just believe in yourself and do what you have to do right NOW to get yourself to that next step in your life. I promise, it will be worth it.


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Megan is a Missouri native and homegrown farm kid meets city girl. She enjoys trips to Starbucks, dancing in her minivan, living out loud, and trying to find the positivity in every situation. After a journey with infertility and IVF-ICSI, she is the proud mother of two little boys who enjoy frequenting pet stores, having movie nights, playing dinosaurs and getting down during their own personal dance parties. Megan is a devoted Christian who enjoys cooking, fashion, traveling, decorating, all things holiday related, and cheering on her brother during high school basketball games. You can find her on Instagram at @brink.meg, where you’re sure to make a new friend and acquire your new personal cheerleader in her.


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’!

Photo Apr 12, 2 20 32 PM

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 illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgerydonate and adopt an embryo,  be on a reality show, go through the fostering process, throw a themed dinner party , have PCOS, have had a cancer diagnosis,be a high school teacher,love someone who’s experiencing infertility, be a step-parent, be the husband in a couple experiencing infertility , experience secondary infertility, experience postpartum anxiety, and experience a traumatic loss. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

what it’s like: to experience a traumatic loss.

Suicide. The word splashes across our screens in a new-media blast, coming and going quickly, but rarely sticking around to share the stories of those impacted by it. It’s a word to shatters lives of those gone and those left behind, and today, my sweet friend Jessica is sharing her story on how this word changed her world.

Jess and I met on social media years back, and for the first time, got the chance to meet face to face last month. Friendship at first sight is a real thing and Jess is a living reminder to me that God sends friendships into our lives in all different ways, including Instagram connections! She exudes genuine love, warmth, and vulnerability and is truly one of the strongest people I know. Her strength comes from within and is rooted in Jesus and I am incredibly proud to call her my friend.

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Sharing this story wasn’t easy for Jessica. We exchanged messages about how writing this dug up some pretty deep emotions and instead of changing her mind, she decided to dig in deep and pull these words from a sacred, tender place in her heart in hopes that it may stop someone from making a life-altering choice, and to seek help instead. 

Let’s celebrate her vulnerability today and read what it’s like to experience a traumatic loss, like suicide. 


I always thought the worst news I would ever receive would be “I had miscarried my child” but sadly that wasn’t the case. The worst news I ever received was that my older sister had died by taking her life.

Losing my sister to suicide was honestly the worst kind of hell you can imagine; from receiving call that she had died, to hearing the details of her death, to having to break this news to our mother, to traveling the 1200 miles from Texas to Pennsylvania, to facing Marce’s spouse & her family in Pennsylvania, to seeing her in her final resting place & trying to wrap my mind around everything happening around me. It was earth shattering.

I’m a child of divorce & with that comes a bit of a untraditional family dynamic. I had two half-sisters and one stepsister. Being a big sister to my two younger siblings was a title I held with the highest regard because my older sister Marce was my hero. Growing up with a 14 year age difference, she was like a second mom & I idolized her. My baby sister and I have a 12 year age gap so I felt like I was following in Marce’s footsteps and I was more than happy to do so. Everything I learned about being a big sister I learned from her.

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As we grew up, she had her own family & built a life in Pennsylvania while I did the same in Texas. She had a beautiful baby girl from her first marriage & built this beautiful life with an incredible woman. I couldn’t have been happier for her. I graduated high school, got a “big girl” job, married the love of my life, & then entered the hardest season of my life: loss & infertility.

Shortly after getting married my husband Seth & I found out we were pregnant with our first child. We were newlyweds, 3 months into marriage & then it happened. At 12 weeks, I experienced my first miscarriage. Over the next 4 years of our married lives I had 2 more miscarriages. It was a heartbreaking season of life. I battled serve depression & anxiety. The loss of 3 babies reeked havoc on my marriage, my mental health, my relationships with my family, friends & even with the Lord.

Growing up I came to know the Lord and had a relationship with Him I was very proud of. My faith was the foundation of my life but going through such a traumatic loss multiple times made me question everything I knew.

I was so angry. Grief stricken.

Heartbroken & full of so much shame.

I had fallen into a dark hole I found so hard to escape. My grief had crippled me and made it difficult to function. I felt like I was being punished for something. Obviously I know that the Lord was never punishing me. He never wanted to see me hurting. He is good and loving even when life isn’t, but being in such a dark place in my grief I couldn’t think clearly. My heart hurt so badly all I wanted was for it to end and for the pain to stop. Honestly, I wanted to die. My poor husband. I put that man through hell & then some, but thankfully my own suicide attempts were never successful.

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Life did get better. I started trying to live & work through my grief. I started working, being more active in my relationships with those I loved and then, on my first week of a new job I got the call that changed everything. The call that rocked my world in such a way my miscarriages had seemed like child’s play compared to the loss I was about to experience. My beloved big sister Marce had died. I later learned that not only had she had decided to take her own life but as a result of that choice, my 11 year old niece Madison had died as well.

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Losing my sister and niece at the same time was unspeakable. I could hardly comprehend the magnitude of such a loss & then learning the circumstances of their deaths….I couldn’t process it. All I wanted to do was cry and grieve but my own grief had to take a backseat because I had to contact our mother and break the news that her oldest daughter and only granddaughter were gone.

Let me say this; if you have ever thought of taking your own life or imagined that this world or the people in your life would be better off without you—I can promise you that you are WRONG!

I’ll never forget how it felt to tell my mom her daughter committed suicide. I’ll never forget seeing her in so much pain. No parent should ever have to lose their child. Losing my sister in such a traumatic way I was left questioning everything just as I did when I miscarried. The questions built up and plagued my every thought again. I wanted to fall apart in the early days of their deaths but my mother’s needed me to be the strong one and by the grace of God, I was able to be the strength she needed. I never imagined in losing my sister I would find so much inner strength, and as a result of that loss, I was able to survive another miscarriage 2 years later.

It’s been 6 years since I lost Marce and Madison and not a day goes by where I don’t think of them. I’ve always believed that God has a reason for everything but somethings will never make sense. I’ll never truly understand why I had to experience 4 miscarriages, or why my niece’s life was cut short. I’ll never understand why my sister felt death was the only option. Those questions I’ll ask Him one day but I find comfort in knowing I’ll see them again. Losing my sister in such a traumatic way gave me an appreciation for this life and helped me get out of the dark hole I had been living in for years. Grief used to crippled me but now I refuse to let it have that power over me. So what is it like to experience a traumatic loss? It’s life altering.

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If you or someone you know is in crisis please reach out for help.  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

CALL: 1-800-273-8255 http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org


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Jessica is a 32 years old Texas native. Lover of all things girly with a slight addiction to Dr. Pepper & iced white chocolate mochas. Loving wife to Seth of 11yrs, furMama to a sweet dog named Charlie & two cats Haley & Bleeker. Jesus follower, full time nanny, avid reader & Astros fan. After surviving four miscarriage & TTC for over 10 years she’s still holding on to hope for the day she’ll become a mom. You can connect with her on Instagram @jesslacombewhere she shares her heart & all the things that mean the most.


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’!

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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 illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgerydonate and adopt an embryo,  be on a reality show, go through the fostering process, throw a themed dinner party , have PCOS, have had a cancer diagnosis,be a high school teacher,love someone who’s experiencing infertilitybe a step-parent,be the husband in a couple experiencing infertility , experience secondary infertility, and experience postpartum anxiety. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!

what it’s like: to have postpartum anxiety.

How often do you hear about postpartum anxiety being talked about? Not often – at least not often enough. Yet the fact are that almost 15 percent of moms suffer from a postpartum mood disorder like anxiety or depression, and 20% of people don’t report their struggles. It’s time to start breaking the stigma that postpartum mood concerns are okay to talk about. It’s no one’s fault. You can suffer and still be a good mom. It doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for your blessings, or aware of how unlikely your worries are to come true. It’s SO important for moms to talk about their struggles, emotions, concerns, and worries. My guess is if you started to talk about your story, someone else would jump in quickly and say “ME TOO – I thought I was all alone in that.”

That’s how I felt reading Allie’s story today. It’s eye-opening and reassuring when you know of someone else who says what you’re thinking. I am so grateful for her willingness to open up to us today and share her story and journey with postpartum anxiety (and depression). Share her words, or find the strength to talk to your doctor if the story echos a “me too” in your heart.

You are not alone.

You are not a bad mother.

You can live without constant worry.

And now, here’s Allie’s story.


… let’s see: how old is my daughter? 4 years old, okay …

So about 4 years ago, I was so deep in the middle of my own perpetual anxiety “attack” that I couldn’t see straight, quite literally. I awoke one morning so dizzy that I felt drunk. I was having intermittent heart palpitations so frequently, that I went in for an echocardiogram and wore a heart monitor for 24 hours. Convinced that I was dying, I was a little surprised when all of my lab work came back normal. I was a little annoyed when I was told it was all likely due to stress. I was taken aback when I was written a prescription for TWO different medicines and scheduled for regular appointments with a one-on-one therapist as well as a group therapy session.

I filled my prescription, but I put off taking it for a few more weeks. I was paralyzed with the fear of what the medication meant. I couldn’t see my own need to utilize pharmaceuticals for my own mental health. I was scared of the stigma attached to psychiatric medication. I was also irrationally scared of every single side effect possible. It personified all that I feared of myself and my disorder. It meant admitting that I was too weak to conquer this on my own. It was waving the white flag on life: “here I am, too feeble to live a beautiful, blessed, happy life without creating my own issues in my own head.” I felt like a failure as a mother, as a person, as a child of God and someone bestowed with His blessings.

At that particular time, my anxiety seemed to manifest as an intense, irrational fear of death; death of either my husband, my kids, myself or all of us. When you are handed a prescription for something that “could cause suicidal tendencies,” you start to panic a bit. Additionally, the thought of being diagnosed with a disorder in which I technically am unable to control my own feelings and emotions at all times was terrifying to a control-freak like myself. Not only was I having to admit that I was not in complete control of my mental state, but then I was supposed to agree to take a daily medication that could possibly cause me to do the very thing I was most fixated on: die.

The truth is, my anxiety was causing me to become depressed. I would never have classified myself as such. I erroneously believed someone suffering from depression looked and behaved in a certain way, but I was depressed because I was hopeless. I was running through a labyrinth of my own fears and everywhere I turned to escape was another wall. It was defeating. It was exhausting. I relinquished my existence to one of perpetual fear and stress. This didn’t mean I didn’t want to exist. As mentioned above, it was quite the opposite. I LOVED my life. I couldn’t even accept how wonderful it was because I was so scared that at some point, the other shoe would drop. I lived in fear of a possible moment in which it would all be ripped away from me.

While yes, lying awake at night for hours, still as stone, listening for any sounds of a potential hazard was exhausting, I carried this burden and accepted it. Yes, grinding my teeth 24 hours per day left me in physical pain, but I ignored it. Sure, my mind was preoccupied with countless “what ifs,” but I classified them as “prepared for anything.” It wasn’t until my anxiety presented itself physically that I realized how bad it had become.

So, two weeks went by as I juggled the idea of continuing along this exhausting, unmedicated path or following a personalized plan from a group of mental health experts. I finally gave in to the idea of medicated treatment when my mom and my best friend both encouraged me to flip the dialog: If I were being prescribed medication for any other illness, would I hesitate to begin treatment for even a second?

You see, we all know that stress is a killer. So why do so many of us allow such a thing to slowly kill us? Because of a stigma surrounding the treatment? Even the more holistic approaches to reducing stress and managing anxiety (such as sleeping, meditating, healthy diets and overall self care) are hardly allowed for in our society. It’s no wonder so many people are weary of what it means to utilize medication.

I am thankful for my treatment plan and for the medication it includes. I am proud and thankful to say that I have been working on managing my anxiety with great success for 4 years now.

Sometimes I still get very scared when my anxiety grows greater than my ability to control it. Sometimes I worry that I use my anxiety as an excuse: that instead of treating self-care as a necessary tool to cope with my illness, I use it as a crutch to avoid challenging things. It’s a very fine balance between understanding what is a healthy way to manage anxiety and what is considered abnormal in coping.

My biggest fear of my illness is passing it on to my children. I see my son exhibit many of my same anxious tendencies and although it breaks my heart, I still thank God for my blessings: you see, there is nobody more understanding of his neuroses – and how to help him manage them – than myself. It’s a tragic bond we share, but it motivates all of my efforts in controlling my own anxiety in the hopes that I can help him control his own. I try to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, if managing anxiety is our most pressing personal issue, then life is still pretty darn good.

I’m here to tell you that doctors, medication, therapists, prayer and holistic self-care measures are all part of the the beautiful blessings God has granted us. We do not need to live in a constant state of worry. We have many different tools available to help us appreciate and fully enjoy our current blessings without obsessing over potential future worries. I urge anyone stuck in the hamster-wheel of anxiety to seek help. Advocate for yourself. Understand that life in constant fear is NOT normal or noble, but seeking and utilizing treatment measures IS.


Dole Whip at DisneyAlli Hietbrink is a 32 year old wife and Stay at Home Mother to two children. She is the owner of Ca Natives and lives in Northern California with her husband, kids and two Goldendoodle babies. Alli enjoys writing, decorating, yoga, cooking, crafting, social campaigning and personal growth. You can connect with her on her blog CA Natives and on Instagram at @canatives. 


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’!

Photo Apr 12, 2 20 32 PM

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 illnessfund raise for fertility treatments, have a traumatic birthing experience, take a natural route with infertility,  be on a reality show, go through the adoption process, have male factor infertility,be a stay at home mom, be an entertainer,  be given a Down syndrome diagnosis for your child , experience multiple miscarriages, have a surrogate, experience a late pregnancy stillbirth, be a police officers wife, be a working mom , be a breastfeeding mother, have weight loss surgerydonate and adopt an embryo,  be on a reality show, go through the fostering process, throw a themed dinner party , have PCOS, have had a cancer diagnosis,be a high school teacher,love someone who’s experiencing infertilitybe a step-parent,be the husband in a couple experiencing infertility and experience secondary infertility. Stay tuned for many other amazing topics to come every Tuesday and Friday here!