resolve to know more.

This week marks an important week in the world of infertility as it is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). It’s a week where people can unite and help educate others about infertility and what it all entails. I have been so grateful that thanks to my blog and social media, we have been able to share our own story and build a network of support as we fight this.

Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. 1 in 8. That’s tragic. It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate – it touches men and women. The highs on this journey can be high and the lows can be devastatingly low. You can’t just dip your foot into this world. When you deal with infertility, you tend to be all in – invested fully with your heart and body. There are days when you feel fine and then without any warning, something triggers your emotions and you unravel very quickly. You learn to grieve as you are forced to face your own reality over and over again. Infertility is hard on relationships as you navigate feelings of brokenness, guilt, jealousy, frustration, sadness and anger. There are friendship causalities along the way.

This year, RESOLVE has set the theme for NIAW by spreading the message “Resolve to know more”. This can be taken in many different ways – for those supporting someone with infertility, it may be resolving to know more about what to say to your friend or learning more about the disease they face. For those struggling with infertility, it may be resolving to know more about when to see a fertility specialist or knowing more about the options ahead for your family. (Check out the links at the bottom of this page with lots of resources!)

To my readers that are supporting someone that is struggling with infertility:

Thank you. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for being interested enough to spend time investing in your knowledge of infertility. Thank you for trying, caring, and loving us. In the spirit of education, here are some great ways to support someone you care about: Let your friend know you care. Become educated in what they are struggling with, not to offer advice but to be more aware of what they are suffering from. If your friend chooses to open up to you, please act interested. Ask them what they need. If you are friends with the husband, don’t forget about him either. Often times it’s even harder for men to talk about how this is affecting them. Support them in whatever they decide, whether that’s pursuing treatments or not. You know Mother’s Day and Father’s Day? Remember them on it. This is often one of the most painful holidays that we encounter and simple acknowledgement of us on that day means so much. Offer to come to doctors appointments with us if you can. We may not take you up on it, but it means a lot to know that you care to do so. Pray for us and offer hugs and simple words of encouragement. We truly are so blessed and lucky to have you in our lives. People like YOU make this struggle easier.

To my readers that are newly diagnosed or quietly struggling with infertility:

I am so sorry. I am so sorry that you have to go through this awful heartache. I am so sorry that your heart breaks as you navigate baby shower and listen to pregnancy talk without anyone being aware of your pain. I am so sorry that you are scared – not knowing what’s ahead and worrying about what your future may hold. If I can offer you any advice, please take the time to learn about when it’s time to talk to a doctor. 91% of people who struggle with infertility wish that they had sought medical attention earlier. If you don’t feel comfortable with your current doctor or the plan, find someone else. If you are uneasy about what you are being told, do some research yourself. And try to find someone to talk to, even if it is completely anonymous. Start an instagram account that is not linked to your facebook account or last name and search for hashtags like #ttc and #infertility. There will be an entire world of support available to you behind those doors. Or tell a close friend that you can trust. It is so difficult to suffer silently. I wish I could give you a hug. I completely understand the decision to be quiet about your battle but know you may receive so much more support than you realize.

To my readers who are vocal about their infertility:

Thank you. Thank you for being the voice of many. Thank you for being willing to share your story. Talking about infertility has become so taboo since it deals with sex and intimacy. Your bravery is shining. Please don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Continue to advocate for yourself. Be in tune with your emotions. There may be a time where the depression that is linked to infertility battles becomes too much and you need to reach out for help. Many reproductive specialists will offer the names and numbers of counselors to talk to. Take advantage of their professional support when you are feeling so overwhelmed by this. Do everything you can to not pick the scab on your heart. Don’t be afraid to grieve but also don’t be afraid to laugh. Speak up when someone has hurt you but don’t personalize everything. Remember to ask yourself what the person’s intentions were, as it likely wasn’t to inflict pain. Know that you are valuable regardless of what your family looks like. You matter.

To everyone reading this today, I challenge you to pray for someone that is struggling – even if you are someone struggling yourself. Maybe it’s someone you know or someone random. (Check out the hashtags of #niaw and #1in8 on Instagram or Facebook. Your page will be flooded with the faces of couples who are battling this fight.) Pray for a healthy pregnancy, pray for healing of their bodies, pray for wisdom for them as they navigate their treatment options, pray for peace to flood their hearts, pray for their spirits and their joy to be refilled, pray for their faith to be strengthened, pray for their marriage to withhold the stress of this struggle, pray for the medical team working with them and pray for those in their life that support them.

Josh and I are 1 in 8. We are doing everything we can to not let this disease define us and it’s one of the hardest and most heartbreaking situations we could ever imagine going through. Yet, still we have hope because we are not alone in our fight. We have a Savior who stands with us in it all, we have the love and support of many, we have the wisdom of doctors and we have each other – all of this certainly sets us up for success.

1in8

Here are some resources for those wanting to learn a basic understanding of the disease of infertility, for those who want to learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week, or that wants to read more facts from my NIAW blog last year.

niaw

it’s friday, but sunday comes.

As I sit in front of my computer, I keep praying that I would somehow blink and when I open my eyes, this post would be fully written and God will have somehow written out the words I am to write today. Because honestly, blogging on Good Friday feels enormously overwhelming to me, simply because I have so many thoughts and emotions running through me that I know that I will not be able to do justice to articulate what today means.

Today is Friday. Today is the day my Lord was beaten, spit on, stripped, mocked, restrained, humiliated, laughed at, forsaken and killed. Today is a day that Jesus willingly walked in to, knowing what it would cost Him. (“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42) Today is the day where eternity was changed, where my sins, my disgusting behaviors, were nailed to the cross and the curtain was torn, making personal, daily relationships with our Savior possible.

Today overwhelms me. Today reminds me of the cost that was paid for the ability to spend eternity with my Lord. So often we fast forward through today, we lump this weekend together as “Easter weekend” and speak merely of the resurrection, but we forget about Friday. We forget about the pain, the death, the sorrow, and the sacrifice that was needed in order to get to Sunday.

If you have never seen this video, I encourage you to watch it. It’s based on S.M. Lockridge’s sermon and I can’t make it through the first “It’s Friday …” without the tears welling up.

“It’s Friday. The world’s winning. People are sinning. And evil’s grinning. It’s Friday. The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands to the cross. They nail my Savior’s feet to the cross. And then they raise him up next to criminals.  It’s Friday.  But let me tell you something, Sunday’s comin’.”

Here’s the thing, Sunday does come. Just as Jesus went through Friday and Saturday, He got to Sunday – and what a beautiful, victorious day that was. Sometimes in our life, we go through seasons of Fridays and Saturdays. The days of grief and pain, the days of feeling forsaken and the days where it seems everyone has turned on you. We go through the silence of the Saturdays. Where we mourn and we don’t know what’s going on. The pain is so confusing, the comfort we thought was coming doesn’t come and our world seems empty. And perhaps our Saturdays stretch into long periods of time, feeling like they will never end. Why? Why is this happening? We begin the prayer of Jesus and ask for the cup to be removed, the pain to go away, the trial to be lifted. We deserve that! We deserve our miracle. We don’t deserve to go through this pain! Ah, our selfish hearts. We forget to follow up our prayers with the second half of Jesus’ prayer in Luke, “Nevertheless not my will but yours be done.” Here’s the thing though, Sunday does come. Sunday may take a little longer to get here for some of us, but Sunday does come. There is victory to be found. It may not look like what you imagined it to look like, but I guarantee, it will be better than you expected. The stone will be rolled away. The linens will be stripped off and there will be freedom found.

And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly…” (Luke 22:45a) How often, when we are in great agony, do we pray more earnestly? I tend to find myself in those times simply complaining more, venting more, talking about it more, but do I pray more earnestly? Do I begin to sweat like great drops of blood falling to the ground? That intense prayer. That’s what praying not my will, but yours be done looks like. That’s trusting in our Father.

Today is a reminder to me that even Jesus, the Son of Man and Lord of Lords had to suffer. (And suffer doesn’t even seem like a nearly strong enough word, it’s been far too dulled down.) My “sufferings” seem so small, petite, tiny, minuscule, compared to what He went through. Today empowers me to remember that because of this weekend – because of His death and resurrection – we have already won. We have all we need.

Craig Groeschel says, “The right perspective changes everything. When all you can think of is what you want to complain about, you can be pretty miserable and ungrateful. But when you shift your focus, your heart changes. Instead of being poisoned by ingratitude, you’re transformed by gratitude and contentment.”

My prayer for all of us this Easter is that we can become more aware of the sacrifice we have been given and then, begin to shift our eyes and our focus from ourselves and our own sufferings, and develop a spirit of gratitude for all we have been given, starting with the gift of salvation for those who choose Him.

Sunday comes. God wins. Death is squelched. Praise the Lord!!!

field trips, jokes and fresh air.

I just sat down at the coffee shop. Okay, by “just” I mean about 3 and a half hours ago, but I am finally getting to writing a post. It’s an easily distractible world! There is the constant commotion at the counter, visitors stopping by (Hi Mom!), the chairs getting moved around, eavesdropping on others conversations … I find myself being so grateful to be out of the house for a change that I am finding a whole new appreciation for the sounds of the milk steamer and clanking of change as people throw in a few cents as a tip.

The cutest old man walked up to me and asked me if he could sit at the chair across from me. He carried over a muffin and a cup of coffee and despite the open chairs all around, apparently just wanted some company. So across from me he sat at our little 2 person table with my laptop in between us. He asked what I was doing and saw my Bible sitting next to me from a study I was working on. “Oh. I used to read that when I was 16.”  He has told me a few jokes, but not without first asking for permission. “Do you have time for another joke?”  He made a few cute comments about winter and when I told him to be safe on the roads, told me that I was taking all of the adventure out of his day by giving him orders like that. I heard a story about his friends Tom, Dick, and Harry (yes, it did end up being another joke, but not the kind that you’re imagining, the punch line was about a pet bird being eaten.) And then he said goodbye, got another muffin to go and is back out on the roads. It was refreshing to see someone pursue interaction like that and he left by letting me know that he would be celebrating Easter. So cute.

Anyways, it’s me, Chelsea. I realize I haven’t posted in 2 weeks (yikes) and wanted to apologize for that. I just opened my laptop today for the first time since my last post. And can I be honest? I am so OVER my last two weeks that I don’t want to talk about it at all. For those of you who aren’t friends with me through another social media avenue, I need to let you know that surgery went very well and that the doctor found no endometriosis, that my tubes are open and that there was no visible organ issues. The only thing she found was a polyp on my uterus that she removed and will test, but said that she wasn’t concerned whatsoever. So that is good news – it eliminated many concerns and we are thankful for that. Unfortunately it didn’t answer any of the questions about the pains I have been having, but I will process all that another day. I meet with my doctor on Friday now to go over the pictures and hear from her exactly what she saw.

The last 2 weeks have included the surgery, many naps, the death of a wonderful family friend who’s absence is incredibly felt, a lot of love received in the form of texts, cards, emails, flowers, gift cards, ice cream, coffee and meals, time at our urgency center finding out I have a nasty intestinal infection that may or may not be related to the surgery, IV bags of fluids, pills, pills and more pills, tears, gaining 7 pounds of bloat and then losing 15 pounds of bloat (and hydration), a desperate call to my bestie (who thankfully was having a slow day at work), several word vomit texts, finding out sad news on a few different levels, and finally – finally! – rounding a bend just yesterday.

I am tired of talking about myself. I am tired of not feeling well. And contrary to my last post, am tired of being asked how I am doing, because then I have to answer and feel frustrated that I am not feeling “fine”. I kept trying to keep everything in perspective – it would pass, the sickness and soreness was not permanent, and in perspective of what others were dealing with, was so small. But my brain was (is) so tired. I just want to be past everything. I don’t like complaining. I don’t like that a week ago those stupid pains came back, the ones that the surgery would hopefully fix. I hate that after all this, we are still no closer to our family than we were before – in fact, all the physical fighting done in the last 12 days didn’t even have anything to do with that (which maybe is why it felt so overwhelming?). I don’t know. I am just so glad it’s over. Can I say that? I am praying each day is better than the day before and NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS.

So today was my field trip day. Despite attending a wake last week and dragging myself through church on Sunday (thankfully without passing out), I’ve been painfully secluded due to feeling so icky. (Granted, I had some family visitors and when I am not feeling well, would rather be alone, so friends, please don’t feel bad for not visiting.) But all in all, today has been a great day. So seriously, thank you Lord for bringing healing!

My old man visitor today made me smile. The fresh air, despite it being cold and blizzardy, has been refreshing. My hot tea has tasted delicious and my latest book has brought a smile to my face. Today is beautiful. And as I sit and listen to my music, I feel His presence sitting on my heart, reminding me that I am not alone. That none of this is in vain. That He has uniquely designed me to need Him above all else. And so, yes, I wish I had handled my attitude the last 2 weeks a little differently. I wish I hadn’t allowed myself to feel so mentally drained and I wish that I would have turned to His Word more than I had turned to the TV, but we learn right?

“You calm the storms and you give me rest. You hold me in your hands, You won’t let me fall. You steal my heart and you take my breath away.” (Lifehouse – Everything)

do something.

I just don’t want to say the wrong thing.”

This is something I frequently hear and I can be honest, yes, sometimes people say the “wrong thing”. At times, it’s intentional, someone suffering “worse” than you and wanting to cut into your heart so it makes them feel better. (I will never understand this.) But other times, it’s simply someone saying something with good intentions but with naivety to your emotions and it catches you off guard, causing you pain as you reflect on the conversation.

Both offenses are forgivable with the right heart. The intentional persons words being dismissed and often causing me more sadness to know that someone is struggling so much and without any joy. The naïve friend’s words let go because I know their hearts are in the right place, even if the words stung.

But what I am learning is that it’s the people who say nothing that hurt the most.

It’s the people who know you had a tough week and avoid eye contact and walk the other way. It’s the friends who don’t respond to your text messages when you need them the most. It’s the awkward land when you know they know what’s going on and yet you never hear from them.

I am constantly touched by the people who reach out, the ones who send emails, texts, Facebook messages, cards. I can’t tell you how much it fills my heart to get a message from someone I haven’t talked to in 10 years letting me know I am in their prayers. When people share that they have cried with us, it moves me in a way that is difficult to put into words.  It means something. It’s not awkward, in fact, if you have been following along quietly on someone’s story – anyone’s! – I strongly encourage you to reach out. It’s the supporters that come along side us that mean so much, it keeps us going.

You may not know what to say. You know what’s perfectly acceptable? Admitting “I don’t know what to say, I just want you to know I am thinking about you.” You don’t know what to do? Send a card. You don’t have their address? Send a Facebook message or ask a mutual friend. This doesn’t just go for someone dealing with infertility, this applies to anyone struggling with something painful. The loss of a family member. Being let go from a job. Struggling with financial payments. Hearing news that a spouse wants to separate. Surviving a miscarriage. Watching a wayward child make painful decisions. Hearing of an illness. Dealing with post partum depression. Just feeling a little lost.

Do something.

I have dropped the ball many times. I hear about a friend who has gone through something difficult and mean to pick up the phone, and then too much time passes and I never do. I see a Facebook status about a tough time and have the best intentions to connect, but forget. I have many cards and emails that go unwritten and phone calls that don’t get placed.

So often we don’t want to say the wrong thing, which is why I am a firm believer in simple words like “praying for you” (only if you really are) or “thinking about you”. The power of a $5 gift card to a local coffee shop or a bouquet of flowers dropped off at their door goes a long way. It doesn’t need to be something huge; it just needs to be something that says I care. It doesn’t need to be financial, many aren’t in the place to do that, it just needs to be something.

When you are at a low point, when the circumstances around you seem suffocating, it can often be painful to face the day. I remember after one of my miscarriages wondering around Cub Foods in a daze, somewhat shocked that people were smiling and laughing and talking about the weather. But it’s in those moments,  when someone comes up besides me and just reminds me that I’m not alone, well, it means the world to me.

Shauna Niequist writes “When you are in that place, it’s a gift to be asked how you’re doing, and most of the time the answer comes tumbling out, like water over a broken dam, because someone finally asked, finally offered to carry what feels like an unbearable load with you.”

The simplest questions go a long way. What can I do? How are you feeling? Do you want to talk about it? Please be respectful of the location in which you ask these questions. If you are whizzing past someone in the church lobby, gently touch their arm and say “Hey, I saw what’s been going on with _____ . I just want you to know you are in my thoughts. I’m really sorry you have to deal with this.” The church lobby (or any very busy place) is NOT the place to say “Hey, I heard you miscarried last week. Tell me how you are feeling. How are you dealing with this?”

Don’t feel like you have to say something profound. It’s not about you having the magic words as it is about the person you are talking to simply knowing you care. If you have the resources, send a gift card for a dinner (Chipotle or Buffalo Wild Wings can brighten anyone’s day, right?) or make a meal. A note or text goes a long way. Just remember that your words, your care, might be exactly what the person needs to survive another day. Life is hard, we need to be there for one another.

And please, when you ask someone how they are, give them the option to say “I don’t want to talk about it right now.” Some days it hurts too much and you are too vulnerable to want to discuss it. That’s when simply knowing someone cares enough to ask means so much.

I apologize to anyone who I have let down by not being there. I am amazed at how my heart aches when I feel let down by a friend who doesn’t seem to care and I know that I likely am the cause of such heartache too. It can be a tough cycle to break outside of yourself and your own difficult season to show you care. But it’s worth it. We live in a world of vague Facebook posts hinting at something difficult and yet, many of us are too afraid to send the message to say “What’s up? Are you okay? I’m not sure what you are going through but I notice.”

So do me a favor today, do something for someone. (No, this isn’t about me. Do something for someone else. I am incredibly blessed.) Maybe it’s a comment on their Facebook wall or Instagram picture. Perhaps it’s grabbing a card at Target or sending an electronic gift card. It may be time for you to pick up the phone and send a text or make a call. Even something as simple as “liking” a Facebook post or blog post simply acknowledges that you know and care. Chances are as you are reading this, you are thinking about who that person is that you should reach out to. Do it. It may mean much more than you know.

In other news, my surgery has been scheduled and will be taking place THIS Friday, the 4th at 9:00 am. I met with the doctor earlier this week and feel very confident going into it. We will know what was done, removed, and briefly seen that same day and then I will meet with her on the 18th to review all the pictures taken and talk about what was seen in more detail.  Thank you in advance for all your prayers as we go into this. Specific prayer requests would include:

  • Surgery itself: for the hands of the doctors and nurses working with me, for the anesthesia, for the pain management afterwards and for whatever needs to be done in the operating room to go smoothly.
  • Minimal discoveries: we are praying hard that no body part needs to be removed (ie: fallopian tubes, ovaries, etc.) and that if there is anything found, that it can be treated easily while they are in there, avoiding a second surgery.
  • Recovery – The surgery itself is done by filling the abdomen with gas and recovery afterwards can be painful since not all the gas can always be removed. The incisions (typically 3-4 plus your belly button) can get itchy and we are praying against infection.
A brief look at how they do the surgery - simplified! For mine they will navigate all the way up to the liver then back down.

A brief look at how they do the surgery – simplified! For mine they will navigate all the way up to the liver then back down.

  • Answers: at the end of the day, we pray that God will provide us with some answers and wisdom as to what is going on.

Thank you again for your prayers. We are heading into this surgery after having a nice relaxing vacation with Josh’s family in Mexico last week and so I leave you with a few pictures of what our last week held. Gorgeous isn’t it? I’ll update as soon as I am able post-op. Thanks again for your prayers!

Thanks to my father-in-law and hubby, we snagged a front palapa every morning and had this gorgeous view!

Thanks to my father-in-law and hubby, we snagged a front palapa every morning and had this gorgeous view!

photo 1

I spent many hours floating in the pool with my book and an arnie palmer. Perfection!

My floating pool view.

The “quiet” pool.

We had an amazing dinner on the beach one night - what a view!

We had an amazing dinner on the beach one night – what a view!

We made a few visits to the spa - relaxation at its finest!

We made a few visits to the spa – relaxation at its finest!

On the plane on our way down!

On the plane on our way down!

Getting ready for dinner one night.

Getting ready for dinner one night.

No vacation is every fun without a fish face selfie!

No vacation is every fun without a fish face selfie!