guest author: embracing the unknown.

Hey friends! I am so excited to introduce you to my friend Jen Noonan, LPC today! Jen has just recently released her first book, In Due Timeand we get to celebrate that with her today. Jen is a passionate advocate for primary and secondary infertility and I have loved getting to know her and her story better. I’ve not only asked her to share a little bit with you today, but also, we are hosting a giveaway to win a copy of her book! YAY! Entry is simple – all you need is an email address! The giveaway is open now until the end of the day Saturday, October 3rd. Good luck!

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Click Here to Enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Click Here to Purchase: buy through Amazon* 

Now without further ado, join me in reading Jen’s post for you on Embracing the Unknown.

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“If I had a crystal ball that could tell me we’ll be successful, I would relax.”

I uttered this statement to my husband on more than one occasion during our journey. I would have given anything to have known what our family planning outcome would be. My stress and anxiety levels were through the roof during these times, and I assumed that a guaranteed assurance of success would allow me to move forward in life; a promise that I’d be “okay.”

What I failed to realize was that I was and always have been “okay.” But that’s another blog post for another time!

I can recall multiple times throughout my life when I stressed about outcomes. As far back as I can remember I was worried about the future.

Will I get into my university of choice?

What am I going to do with my life after I graduate?

Will I find a partner to spend the rest of my life with?

Will I get into grad school? If I don’t, what will I do career wise?

Looking back, these questions seem petty in comparison to what I eventually stumbled across. But they didn’t seem petty at the time. They elicited raw emotions, and I spent a great deal of time focusing on their potential outcomes. The anguish of my eventual “what will happen” lasted a lot longer than anticipated, and it took me quite some time to embrace not knowing what might happen.

I had a plan – a plan that is divulged time and again in the fertility community. Our plans might not be the same, but they are very similar. They involve creating a family with at least two children. We assume it’s going to happen when and where we want it to. As the months and years go by, panic sets in. The unknown appears frightening and we become gripped in fear of what might not lie ahead for us. We obsessively focus on our shattering dreams, and find it difficult to embrace our unknown future.

This was nothing new to me. I have always attempted to control my life. I grew up in a household where I was raised to be independent and rely on myself to make things happen. And so I did. I took charge of my life and attempted to steer it in the direction with the most favorable outcomes. On the outside I might have appeared to be driven, but on the inside I was a chronic worrier. If things didn’t work as expected in those situations, I felt defeated. It took a while, but years later I realized and appreciated that these situations always had a favorable outcome, maybe just one that I hadn’t anticipated.

Embracing the unknown is not straightforward, and it is not easy. It involves putting your trust in God, a higher power, or whatever you wish to call it. It involves trusting the process, knowing that you will be led down your own unique path. And in the end, things might not turn out exactly the way you expected, but hopefully you’ll be able to look back and realize that it worked out the way it was supposed to.

Now, I can appreciate that cliché “Everything happens the way it’s supposed to” is sometimes difficult to accept. Especially for those who are in the infertility trenches. It’s often the LAST thing you want to hear from those who are on the other side.

Said another way, we are not in as much control as we think we are. If we can learn to trust the process, we will notice our hearts beating a bit slower, our anger subsiding, smiles appearing on our faces more often, and our cortisol levels dropping.

I have not mastered embracing the unknown. When you’ve spent the majority of your life worrying, it’s a challenge to completely shut off. It’s a work in progress, but one that I believe is invaluable for moving through future obstacles.

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Jen Noonan, LPC

* I am not receiving any compensation for this recommendation or link. As always, I am simply providing you easy access to add this resource to your library! 

rain.

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One rainy day, not too long ago, I sat on my front stoop as Cali took a potty break. The rain had been coming down all day and the skies were a dreary color gray. As I sat on my steps, I glanced over at the flowers sitting on a pot to my right. They looked like they had weathered a storm and they had. The rain had let up for a bit, hence my outside sitting, but it was clear that they had been roughed up with some heavy drops earlier in the day.

And I thought, “Isn’t that how life feels? But what’s that they always say? After the storm comes the sun?”

It was a nice, feel-good moment.

And then I thought, what a crappy cliché that is.

No, really, I actually have decided I strongly dislike that saying. What an annoying bandaid statement to throw at someone when they are being beat down. Well just wait, the sun will shine soon!

I mean, it’s true for my flowers last week. The next day it was sunny and they clearly appreciated the extra watering, standing taller and prouder than ever. And I could sit here and write to you about how our life is like that – we weather the storm and it’s for our good, blah blah blah.

But as I sat there looking at these flowers, I thought about the flowers in Seattle. Those flowers don’t see a whole lot of sun. In fact, they have a lot of gray skies. Or Antarctica. The flowers can’t even survive there because of the elements.

It made me realize that for some people reading this, you are a pot of flowers in Seattle and the rainy season in your life is long and hard. The drops hit you hard and your stems break and it feels like it’s never going to stop. And you know what, it may not. And that sucks and I empathize so greatly with you.

And for others of you, you’re a pot of flowers in San Diego and life is just about perfect. (Well, let’s pretend there’s not a drought going on.) But the rainy days are few, the sun is bright and you seem to have a constant bloom happening. And that is awesome, what a gift you have been given!

The reality is we can’t control the weather just like we can’t always control our circumstances. We may not know when the sun is going to come out next and we might be hanging on for dear life for just one more day. But as corny as this sounds, you’re still alive. Every day you wake up, you have another chance to live a day where the rain might stop, the clouds might part and the sun will shine on you.

For me, it’s worth the shot. It’s worth embracing and pursuing each day with the hopes that the storm is passing. It may or may not, but for now, my petals are still hanging on there. It comes down to attitude and perspective and we can either complain about the storms for hours on end or we can suck it up and dig our roots in and wait.

I love how Isaiah 25 reminds us that God weathers the storms with us and offers us protection. I feel like His presence is like a big umbrella. We hear the rain beating down and we still feel some of the raindrops and wind, but we are protected. He takes care of us even when it feels like the rain will never stop.

“They’ll see that you take care of the poor, that you take care of poor people in trouble, provide a warm, dry place in bad weather, provide a cool place when it’s hot …. But You, shelter (us) from the storm and shade from the sun …” (MSG 4a, 5b)

Have you been there? Have you ever felt like the storm is never going to pass? What are you learning in this season? Are you transferring the rain into something beneficial for your life? Are you digging in deep and hanging on to His promises or are you ready to let the storm take you away?

Don’t stop hanging on. At some point, the sun will come out. God wins. It’s only a matter of time.

On that note, congratulations to our winner of the Every Drunken Cheerleader … Why Not Me? + Starbucks card giveaway! After over 1,000 entries, Rafflecopter has randomly selected Natasha P. as the winner! Natasha, I will contact you shortly!

For those who didn’t win, the author, Kristine Waits, is running an awesome deal for everyone who is interested in a copy – A SIGNED BOOK AND FREE SHIPPING if purchased through her site! What an awesome deal! Don’t miss out on buying a copy now because it won’t last long! :) Click here to be routed directly to her webpage.

Have a great week!

june giveaway.

You know what I love? Reading something that makes you feel a little less crazy, a whole lot understood and helps you through the messy journey of infertility. A few months ago I shared a book during a Q & A series that did all of that for me while also encouraging my faith and validating the fact that you can be a Christian and still wonder “why”. The book is called Every Drunken Cheerleader … Why Not Me: Wit, Wisdom & Warmth from Your Fertility Challenged Friend by Kristine Ireland Waits. First of all, can we just giggle at the title? I think it just goes to show you the humor she has, which is laced throughout the pages. Anyways, I am sharing this with you because Kristine has graciously offered a signed copy of her book to the readers of this blog in a giveaway that I am so excited to host! If it was possible to place this book in each of your hands I would, but at least I can make one lucky person’s dream come true!

To enter, all you have to do is leave your name and email (so I can contact you if you win) through Rafflecopter. You can earn more entries by sharing or following, but if you simply just want to throw you name in the hat, it’s super easy! Oh and because reading also requires a good cup of coffee or tea, I am throwing in a $5 Starbucks gift card for the winner too! A free signed book + Starbucks? What’s not to love!?

Enter now by clicking this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will be drawing the winner and announcing on Tuesday, June 9th so don’t miss out! This contest is limited to those in the USA mailing area however for those who are interested in purchasing this book directly, head over to her websiteBarnes and Nobles,or Amazon  to order a copy (it’s print to order so don’t let the “temporarily out” scare you off) or download it on your Kindle today. If you enjoy reading my blog, you’ll click immediately with Kristine! Good luck and happy reading! :)

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friday favorites – february 27.

Happy Friday! Let’s skip all the introduction fluff today and get right to the point – blue and black or white and gold? AHHH! I mean seriously, what the heck is going on!? If you are anything like us, you spent way too much time getting involved in the great debate yesterday and today, arguing what you see. I only see white and gold, while Josh only sees black and blue. This is baffling and yes, I have read many of the reasons “why” this is happening, but still, bottom line, it’s confusing and had me in absolute hysterics last night as I watched Facebook comments come in. Between the dress and the llamas, it was a wild media day. (HA!)

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(If you haven’t already seen “the dress”, let me know what colors you think it is below!)

Alright, moving on, Friday Favorites, here we go!

Favorite Moment: Awww, of course it had to be our IUI yesterday! Can I just tell you how much your prayers worked? The IUI itself was the EASIEST procedure EVER! I’m serious, I didn’t feel a thing and even the nurse was a little flustered afterwards, saying that it was the easiest one she has ever done. It maybe took 45 seconds and man, it was evident that God’s hand was on it, especially since the last time my uterus was clipped and was more painful. So yay answered prayers!!!! THANK YOU for all of the excitement, encouragement, support, thoughts, prayers and love sent this week approaching it and then yesterday. You all are such a gigantic blessing to us!

calling this our first family picture minus cali :)

calling this our first family picture minus cali :)

Favorite Video: I saw this IF: Gathering video pop up on my feed the other day and am SO glad that I took the 9 minutes to watch it. It’s all about self-care and making sure that we are balancing our roles and duties with the need to also take care of ourselves. While some of it spoke to parenting, I learned so much in that segment too. It’s worth a watch! Or throw it on and listen to it while you get ready in the morning. Two of my favorite quote take-aways are:

  • “If you don’t leave margin in your day, some time for you to be you … everything suffers.”
  • “If my goal is to be a gift to the people that God entrusted in my life, I have to take care of myself. It’s like putting oil in a car. You can’t expect water from a stone. You have to keep nourishing and nurturing yourself if you want to have anything to give to the people around you.”

Take a listen! (PS – If you aren’t following IF: Gathering online and taking advantage of their daily devotions, you are missing out! Check out their site at https://ifgathering.com/.)

 

Favorite Fellowship: On Tuesday night I was able to host several of the ladies from my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) small group for a time of fellowship and sharing, and boy, it was so special! I am so thankful that God brings together women of all different ages, seasons, and walks and then teaches us so much using the same Bible passages. That night was so refreshing!

Favorite Jam Session: Oh guys, you know when you are driving and all of a sudden a song comes on that brings out your inner super singing star? That happened to me on one morning and thankfully I was alone because me and Phil Collins CRUSHED In the Air Tonight. I mean, you should have SEEN my drum solo at the end. Sigh, radio win.

Favorite Hint of Spring: These tulips, lovely. A friend from my BSF group brought them over on Tuesday evening and their presence has totally brightened up my house this week. I have a special place in my heart for tulips too, as they were given to me last Mother’s Day by my friend Jana and also by my husband after a transfer on Mother’s Day the year before. I always think of those special moments of being a heavenly mom and have the feelings of being cared for when I see these colorful bulbs. They are the perfect flower to have around the house during this 2WW. Thanks again Ashley!

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Favorite Print: I got this print from She Reads Truth and I just love it. This verse from Lamentations is everything I need: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (3:22-23 ESV). I can’t get enough of the reminder that His love is steadfast, His mercies are new every morning and He is nothing but faithful. Faithfulness, mercy and love are all things I need every second of the day. My life is too messy, broken, imperfect and tough without Him. I love this print!

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Favorite Funnies: I was thoroughly amused by several Oscar meme’s this time – can you tell?

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Another Friday of giggling! Thanks to everyone who contributes to Friday Funnies by sending over your favorites too! This is such a team effort!

Congratulations to Liz E. for being the winner of the Jamberry Nail Wraps + Manicure Kit! If you didn’t win but are interested in ordering some wraps for yourself, check out my cousin Lindsey’s page who generously and thoughtfully donated this fun stuff! Thanks Linds! And thanks to everyone who entered and played along in these giveaways this month. It’s been so much fun and I wish I had free things to give to all of you.

Can I ask for two specific prayer requests during this 2WW- one, for this cycle to be a success (duh, obviously) and two, for my Progesterone in Oil (PIO) injections that start tonight. I had significant hip/leg/butt nerve damage occur from these shots back in 2013 and I am a little concerned that further damage will occur. Josh is the best shot giver for these injections (lovely 2″ inch needles injected into my butt/hip area), so pray that his hand is guided to spots that wouldn’t cause any more issues. It’s complete bad luck that the nerve damage happened the first time, he did everything right. I just pray that this basketball sized area of no-feeling isn’t further irritated. Thanks for those prayers!

Okay, let’s get our Friday on now. Have a great weekend friends!

Have you had a chance to sign up for the next TTC exchange? Make sure to send your email over no later than March 11th! The spots are quickly filling up! 

Q & A part 3.

Happy Monday! Hard to believe we have reached the end of our Q & A post series! I am wrapping up the questions today and hosting one last giveaway. These questions have longer answers so let’s dive right in!

Q: Why are you on a Gluten-Free diet? Do you think it helps with infertility?

I had been extremely reluctant to even think about trying a gluten free diet, as I didn’t have any reason to. My sister found gluten caused her extreme headaches and my mom found herself feeling less foggy without it. But I didn’t have a problem with headaches or fogginess. I ignored all articles sent to me and did some mild investigation without many changes. However, as we were going into our 4th embryo transfer in 2013, I decided to look into the research one last time. And what I found was simple yet compelling. One of the symptoms of undiagnosed gluten sensitivity is infertility. But surely I would have other symptoms right? Not necessarily. You don’t have to test positive for celiac to have gluten sensitivity which makes it a little hard to tell if you are really sensitive or not. But that night, I decided to go cold turkey, gluten-free. The reason was simple, if research was showing that gluten sensitivity and infertility are related, and if I was willing to put my body through countless amounts of medicated cycles, then I could give up gluten as well. It certainly wouldn’t hurt. It wasn’t easy at first, but it has become significantly second nature now, plus knowing that this is something that could be making a difference makes it worth it.

Since going gluten free, I have had full and complete healing of all IBS symptoms. I no longer have digestive issues (and when I do, it’s because of my friend Mr. Metformin) and feel significantly less bloated. Also, having PCOS, I need to stay away from carbohydrates and found eliminating the potential of temptation from my diet to be extremely helpful as well. Is a gluten free diet for everyone struggling with infertility? Maybe, maybe not. If this is something that intrigues you to learn more about, do some research. See what you think and how you feel about it. At the end of the day, the only way to be successful with something is to be fully onboard so you have to make a decision that you feel confident in.

Q: What types of exercise do you recommend while dealing with infertility?

I have to be honest, exercise isn’t my favorite thing. I enjoy how I feel after I work out, more knowing that I am done for the day versus those magical endorphins you are supposed to feel. That being said, diet and exercise are the two top ways to combat PCOS symptoms, beh.

While not in the midst of a cycle, I have found a mixture of cardio and strength training to be successful for me. (Josh and I work out at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping here in the Twin Cities and we love it.) However, when I am cycling and have started any type of stimulation medication, I have to switch to something with low impact, like a gentle yoga, walking, or swimming. When you are cycling, your ovaries swell up – like big time. Anything that could cause an ovary to accidentally twist is dangerous and would cut off circulation, thus losing an ovary. (When my doctor told me this, I gulped!) That being said, activity is still important while cycling because you want to increase blood flow and stay healthy. So be mindful of the activities you are doing and if you have any questions, ask your doctor. My abdomen has been particularly tender this week from the letrozole stimulation and doing a few sit-ups were painful. Be kind to your body and know what feels okay, but also, make sure you are doing something.

Q: What are some of the cutest things your pup has ever done?

I love this question! :) Cali is such a joy in our family and has definitely brought a lot of healing to our hearts. Her intuition is incredibly good and I actually am a little concerned that she does think the world revolves around her, ha! I want to share a million pictures and stories, but for the sake of brevity, I will just share one. This video below is a favorite – I ran into the grocery store and left her in the car with Josh for a couple minutes. She was very ready for me to return and very insistent on watching the store door to make sure she didn’t miss me exiting. :)

Q: How do you keep the faith and maintain hope in all of this?

Many people sent me in a version of this question and I struggle with how to answer it, as it seems so complex and yet so simple. I have written about this before a bit in this post back in 2013. But as I sat down to answer this, I thought back to an email I replied to this weekend from another reader, R. As R struggles to cope with another failed cycle, she asked the same type of question – how do you keep going? The more I thought about how to answer this in my blog, I realized that perhaps my 1:1 answer to her would be helpful to someone else, so here you go:

How do I keep going? Oh, only through strength that is greater than my own. This quote has reminded me that He is still in control, even when the outcomes are different than I expected or hoped:

“We mustn’t lose the hope of a specific promise that God has given us. It may not look like we expect it to (who expected the Messiah to be born in a manager?) or arrive when we want it to arrive (who knew Abraham and Sarah could have kids in their old age?), but God is always faithful to His word. Romans 8:31-32 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”  Because this one promise is true, even if you don’t see anything else in your life working the way you think it should, it’s enough! God is still in control. And He is for you. You just have to be patient.” (Craig Groeschel)

R, I keep going when I remember that HIS grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness. When we come to a point where our prayers haven’t been answered exactly how we wish they would have been, cling to the FACT that HE is all we need. His grace is all we need. I don’t know how I always keep going. There are days when I cry out and ask if I am supposed to keep going. But you know what, He has not yet removed the persistent and desperate calling to be a Mom from my heart yet. And I know Him to be a good God, even when it feels like situations are just ugly, because He reminds me that WE can handle this. Even thought our timing is different than we wish, it doesn’t mean He has left you. And it doesn’t mean you are being punished for something, or aren’t good enough, or are broken. It just means that sometimes the process will be so worth it when we get to the end. The Bible is filled with stories of people waiting and hoping and expecting different – Sarah and Abraham waiting for a child, Mary and Martha waiting for Jesus to come heal their brother Lazarus, Job waiting for his sufferings to end, the Israelites waiting and roaming for 40 years to get to the Promised Land, now all of us waiting for Jesus to come back. Waiting seems to be a crucial part of faith – I don’t know why we can’t be spared some of the pain in the meantime but I do want to reassure you that you are not alone. 

It’s okay to curl up and cry all day. It’s okay to pour out your disappointments to Him and keep praying, even when it feels really quiet. I believe that even in the quiet, that He is right there with you. I just want to come give you a big big hug. 

I have been in your shoes many times, I feel your pain. It wasn’t until just this year that I found out that I have a pretty severe blood clotting disorder known to cause third trimester miscarriages, plus many other life-threatening risks associated with traveling, surgeries, etc. The fact that I have been spared so many times without my knowing about this disorder gives me goosebumps. I never wanted to experience early miscarriages like I have, but then I think, what if – what if I was spared from a third trimester miscarriage, which I think would have been an absolutely horrific thing to go through. What if all of the failed cycles were protecting me from an even more tragic outcome that I would have never imagined. What if all these failed cycles were for me and not against me. I choose to believe that the pain you are feeling is not in vain. Even if we never find out the why’s, hang tight to the promises that He cares for you so much. I am praying for you extra today and am so sorry that you have to experience this sorrow. It’s real and valid and I will continue to lift you up in my thoughts.

To all my readers wondering how you keep going, continue to pray about it. Continue to offer your desire up to Him and ask Him to open and close doors to help direct your path. When the calling is still there, just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. Just get through today, don’t worry yet about what tomorrow looks like. Cling to a favorite verse when your heart seems to overwhelm you (some of my favorites are here). Keep opening the Bible and reading His stories. Do you know that there is not one story in the Bible where someone is mentioned as barren or desiring a child that ends with them not having a child? I believe God answers the desires of our hearts, even though the timing is not always our own. Take needed breaks when you are too overwhelmed and never, ever stop crying out to Him.

Q: Have you ever considered adoption? How do you determine that timing?

The loaded question! Many people ask infertile couples about adoption, often with good hearts, wanting that couple to be relieved of the pain of wanting a family and feeling like adoption is a simple answer. The tough thing that many people don’t fully take into consideration is that adoption is a calling. Adoption is not a band-aid for a couple struggling to have their own biological child. The process of adoption is beautiful and needed but God didn’t create every couple with the personalities, wirings or desires to go through the process. You open yourself up to background checks, lengthy waiting lists, and strenuous psychological testing. Then you have to answer questions like domestic or international, open or closed, known illness or special needs or the known, newborn or older, through an agency or finding someone on your own, ethnic difference or similar to you and your spouse …. and what happens if the biological mother or father chooses to change their mind about the adoption, having up to 60 days post-birth in most states to do so?  You’ve already fallen in love with that child. Then the questions when they get older. Why was I given up for adoption? Can I have a relationship with my birth mom? What about my birth dad? Who am I? These are all special questions to be answered and dealt with by the people that God has called to be a part of the gift of adoption.

Neither Josh or I feel called to adopt and I know that many people may not understand that, and you know, that is okay, because we feel strongly at this point that it’s the God-given decision for us. Might that change someday? Yes, of course! I believe God puts and changes the desires of our hearts in His timing. There are people who are made with giftings, desires and strengths to handle all of the unknowns and details that come with adoption – many of them already with children, or many of them feeling called to adopt long before they knew their struggles. There are couples going through infertility that feel passionate about creating their family this way and that is beautiful, special, and perfect for the story God has written for them. But there are others who aren’t called to adopt and that is beautiful and perfect as well.

I have had people share that they just don’t think they could ever handle going through IVF. That they don’t feel called to do that, that they aren’t sure they could handle all of the questions that go with it, or the physical brutality of the process. It re-enforces to me that not everyone is called to the same journey of starting their family. If God has put adoption on your heart, I think that is a wonderful thing. I could fill this page with verses that support adoption, fostering and all the other wonderful things. I also know that God doesn’t put everything in everyone’s heart and that not everyone is equipped in the same way.

I so greatly admire people with the heart and calling of adoption. It is one of the most beautiful processes and I have so many friends who have made this look effortless and have handled it all with such joy and grace. My heart prays for you all often as I know the path that you are on is emotional and full of its own unique stresses and struggles. And likewise, I ask that you continue to respect our journey and calling as well, whatever that turns out to be. Adoption is a big deal and we all are called to start our families in different ways. Isn’t it beautiful how God uses so many unique opportunities and processes?! Everyone has the chance to adopt if it’s something they choose. There shouldn’t be guilt associated with that choice either. So there’s my thoughts on that. :)

If you have made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I feel like I should hand you a lollipop or something. Or how about I offer you the chance to win 2 sets of Jamberry nail wraps and a manicure set? My amazing cousin Lindsey offered up these goodies for a giveaway, simply because she has a heart for my readers and wanted to help spoil someone. How amazing is she!? (Giveaway open now until Friday morning, where the winner will be announced during Friday Favorites. Free entries are a great way to win!)

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Enter Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Until next time! XO!

friday favorites – february 20.

Repeat after me – 28 days till spring. 28 days till spring. 28 days till spring. We can do this.

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Favorite Dinner Date: Josh and I had the BEST dinner date to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The food was absolutely amazing (Acqua never fails to disappoint!) and it felt so good to sit for a few hours and talk and laugh and catch up. I am so grateful for this man. (Plus the basil mojito’s there are on point. Like, #winning.)

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heading out for my 12th valentine’s day date with this hunk!

quick restaurant selfie.

quick restaurant selfie.

allllll the food we ate. bacon ketchup. GF clam chowder soup. plenty of sugary goodness.  All of it, delicious.

allllll the food we ate. bacon ketchup. GF clam chowder soup. plenty of sugary goodness. All of it, delicious.

his and hers bread. (gluten free and regular -- the best treat everrrrrr)

his and hers bread. (gluten free and regular — the best treat everrrrrr)

Favorite Flowers: Trader Joe’s had these gorgeous purple wax flowers on sale at $2.99 a bunch this week. Nothing says SPRING COME SOON like a little bit of flowery life in the house. I have a feeling they will last a while too.

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Favorite Quote: “I want to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude, of groundedness, of enough, even when I am longing for something more. The longing and gratitude, both. I’m practicing believing that God knows more than I know, that He sees what I can’t, that He’s weaving a future I can’t even imagine from where I sit this morning.” –shauna niequist-

Remember how my last cycle got cancelled due to overstimulating? Well, I should have started a new cycle weeks ago. And I didn’t. No, I can assure you, I am not pregnant. My body just decided to revolt, shake things up a bit, make me wait a little longer and storm the castle of confusion.

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We waited and waited. Did some checking, took a monstrous PIO injection used to induce a cycle and then waited some more. Well, even the inducing didn’t work. (And let me tell you, it makes you feel awesome. Um, not.) So on Monday I zipped over to my clinic for some bloodwork and another ultrasound, all showing that my body is truly just trying to be rebellious without a real cause. Yes, a few smaller cysts here and there, but nothing too exciting or unusual for me. So with that news, the doctors plan is just to start another Letrozole (Femara)/IUI cycle and see what happens. They cut my meds down by half, started the letrozole on Monday and finishing tonight, and I will go in next Tuesday to see what’s going on.

Okay, all of this ties back in to the quote, I promise.

So after my early morning, 7-something appointment, I stopped over by Starbucks to make my grocery list and menu for the week. Well, my ‘quick list-making stop’ evolved into a quiet and relaxing morning, watching the snow fall down around me, making me feel like I was in a snow globe, while ingesting the beautiful words above.

Coming out of the appointment I felt pretty apathetic but Shauna’s quote reminded me a few things – one, that I am to be fully and completely grounded in Him, grateful for life even when I am longing for more. It reminded me that God IS weaving a future, even when I can’t see the other side. It reminded me that it’s okay if we can’t see the other side from where we sit right now. (In fact, if we could see the other side, it would omit the need for faith.) It reminded me that above all, regardless of what is going on in my life, that I want to develop into a person of deep gratitude and surrender to the One who holds my future in His hands. And in order to develop into that type of person, I have to focus more on trusting Him then I do on what I am longing for.

I am so thankful this quote lined up with the messy unknowns of another cycle, helping to re-root myself in Him. Let’s do this.

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Favorite Date: I got to have an auntie/niece date with my oldest niece this week, and goodness, did we have fun! First of all, how do kids grow up so fast? Scarlett was chatting away and playing jokes on me and using her big, bright, beautiful imagination in ways that awed me. We stopped for lunch, visited a treasure store (aka a thrift store where she, unfortunately, chose a porcelain bell as the most prized treasure she ever did see. I have a feeling I will pay for this one day when I have children who are out with their aunt, hee hee!), and then spent time chatting over coffee at, where else, Starbucks. I love this peanut. Please, stop growing up.

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oh you know, just passing notes at the table.

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“this is the best thing I have ever had.”

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“i love ringing this bell.”

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oh this little girl just melts my heart into a million pieces.

Favorite Reminder: Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and I have to admit, I can fall into the routine practices that seasons like Advent and Lent can offer. In trying to be more intentional, I ordered the She Reads Truth Lent devotion book in hopes to focus more on what Lent means. I loved the introduction and how it defines lent: “Lent sets aside time for believers to focus intently on that action which is at the crux of our faith – drawing near to the cross of Christ and resting in the shadow of His sacrifice, glory, and forgiveness.”

I shared online that my prayer for myself is that I use this time of Lent to be intentional about returning to the cross, repenting and mourning the reality of my sinfulness, and remembering the precious gift Christ has given me. I pray that this season becomes more than just giving up something, I pray that we can all press pause and remember just how much we need the cross. If you are looking for a great devotional to use, follow along on shereadstruth.com or download the app. The website offers free devotionals/scripture readings daily while the app charges $2.99 for the plan for its app-functionality. It’s not too late to start.

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Favorite Cali Picture: She certainly was not barking at anything right before this. In fact, she too looks confused as to who was yapping at a blowing leaf. (*eyeroll*)

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Favorite Funnies:

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And finally, congratulations to Kristin H. for winning the giveaway for the gorgeous Wishbone + Gem necklace! We are necklace twins, so fun! Thanks again to Crystal for sharing your talents with my readers!

Until next week – xo!

Q & A part 2

First of all, is anyone watching the Bachelor? After 5 hours of Chris Soules + ladies this week, I feel like I need a major girl-chat to process everything that went on. Comment below if you watch and what you think! No spoilers please!

In other news, this week is part 2 of the Q&A Series! Thanks again to everyone who has sent in questions. Today we are featuring another giveaway, this time from Fertile Gems, (see more below), and then next week we will wrap this series up with part 3 and onet final giveaway. How fun has February been!? Love it!

OK, let’s dive into some more questions!

Q: Have you ever questioned blogging or had concerns with sharing private things with your work, friends, family, and church home?

A: Great question! Blogging scares me regularly. Every time I press “post”, I kind of feel like I have stripped down and am running naked through the neighborhood. I would rather strangers read my posts than people I know. It’s such a vulnerable thing, writing, and there are times I hold back thoughts or situations to protect the emotions of those closest to me as well. So yes, there are times I question blogging, but not in a way that makes me stop. It puts a good reminder in my heart and mind to be cautious not to hurt anyone with my words and also, to share in a way that’s helpful to others but (hopefully) won’t damage my reputation either, like in a working situation. I always try to write with the mindset that anyone I know may read this, including the person I may be giving a story about. It helps direct my words and mentality, while still remaining authentic and vulnerable. It’s a tango!

Regarding actual privacy, I try my best to keep identities protected and actual locations hidden if people don’t want that shared. If children are being posted on or about, I run it past Mom or Dad. I also try to make sure that when I am telling stories, I am telling my stories, not someone else’s story. Those stories are for them to share and I don’t want to encroach into their story. It can be hard to untangle experiences and emotions at times, but I want to protect the people in my life too. If I am telling a story about Josh, I run it past him first to make sure he is okay with it. I don’t ever want my blogging to cause others to concern their privacy either.

Q: What are your thoughts about acupuncture?

Ha! Remember the first time I went to acupuncture? Rethinking this experience is making me giggle. Acupuncture is something that I have been doing on and off for almost 2 years now and have to say, am still totally neutral on my opinion. I know some people LOVE IT and others HATE IT. I tend to be pretty undecided. That being said, I found cupping to be an extremely valuable part of my healing process when I had significant hormone-related back pain. I also found acupuncture to help my headaches while on Lupron and stimming during IVF cycles. When I was not on medicated cycles however, I didn’t find it to be hugely successful in helping me ovulate/cycle.

However, one thing that I am hugely passionate about is having pre and post transfer acupuncture sessions in the doctor’s office if they allow it. My acupuncturist came into the clinic and I had the most relaxing sessions right before and immediately after our embryo(s) were transferred. It allows time to pray/meditate, breath, and relax. Plus, you are on valium so it’s like you are floating with glee in a magical PUPO cloud.

Otherwise though, do what you are comfortable with and find relaxing. If it relaxes you, great. If you find yourself unable to relax and over thinking whether its working or not, then maybe it’s not for you. I always suggest everyone gives it a try to decide for yourself.

Q: What are the last 5 movies you’ve seen that have rocked your world?

I wish I watched more movies that rocked my world! I actually tend to be a pretty shallow movie watcher. I feel like the “good”, award winner movies tend to be a little violent/profane/sorrow-filled for me. For example, I would love to see American Sniper if I felt my heart could take it, but sometimes emotions overwhelm me a bit and so I protect me heart and just skip it all together.

So I watch movies on the Hallmark Channel or drag my husband to see Night at the Museum 3 (I laughed … and cried) or Hunger Games or the Divergent series. I love me a good Harry Potter film and PG-13 chic flick too! I wish I had a better deeper answer for you!

Q: How do you feel embryos should be handled ethically?

A: We believe deeply that all embryos created have life. We value the fact that life starts at conception and so it’s been very important to us to ensure that all embryos created that develop and process through the viable stages are used. When Josh and I first started our IVF journey, we knew that it could open a door for our family to be larger than we anticipated, knowing that if we had extra embryos to freeze, that we would continue frozen cycles to give them all a chance at implanting and sustaining life.

Doctors offices will give you the choice to “dispose” of extra embryos, donate your embryos to another couple who can’t biologically create a child or have the desire to adopt an embryo, donate the embryo(s) to science, or freeze them for your own family, continuing to make annual payments to the frozen daycare center. We have always chosen and will continue to choose to freeze them regardless of their quality.

When we were embarking into our 4th cycle, we had 1 little Frostie left. You may remember from this post where our doctors suggested us skipping transferring Frostie because of his/her low quality and instead doing a new fresh cycle. It was important to Josh and I that Frostie got a chance, and so we moved forward with that frozen cycle and our little snowbaby. While that cycle wasn’t successful, I am SO glad that we transferred Frostie and I know that God provided us a lot of peace with our decision to do that, even though it didn’t result in a pregnancy.

If you have a similar mindset as we do and are concerned about the abundance of embryos that could be created in a cycle, please know that there are many options to work with your doctor to minimize the amount of embryos created. It may start with stimulating egg production at a slower rate and removing less eggs, therefore creating less embryos, but it is possible. There is always a chance that when that type of cycle occurs and less embryos are created, that you may have to do multiple cycles, but it is worth pursuing and discussing with your doctor as well. If you ever have more specific questions on this for me, feel free to email me.

All of this being said, these are our opinions that we reserve the right to have so if you view things differently or would make different decisions, I simply ask for mutual respect as these are personal and spiritual decisions each couple makes.

Q: Where do you suggest finding support? How have you been able to develop a good system of support on this journey?

A: This journey can feel really lonely when you are fighting it alone, when no one around you understands, and when you don’t feel you have anyone to talk to. One of the benefits about social media is that it gives you the chance to connect with people who are struggling in a similar way as you, while not necessarily having to live close to you. Instagram has been the number one way for me to connect with other women who are struggling. Did you know that you can also create an annoyomous instagram account, not linked to your Facebook, so that you can have a true TTC outlet? You can start simple, by searching for a hashtag! Phrases like #ivf, #iui, #infertiliy, #ttc, #pcos, #endo, #clomid will all give you a SLEW of women who are ready to share and connect. You would be so surprised at how many beautiful true friendships have formed out of a single hashtag!

Meet my friend Karen! We met over Instagram, started emailing and now not a day goes by where we don't talk, text or skype date. She may live in FL but all that matters is that I have found my "person"! Love you K.

Meet my friend Karen! We met over Instagram, started emailing and now not a day goes by where we don’t talk, text or skype date. She may live in FL but all that matters is that I have found my “person”! Love you K.

I also run TTC package exchanges every few months that several hundred women on this journey participate in and I have witnessed SO many awesome friendships form simply by being randomly paired up. You can search for things like #ttcexchanges on Instagram too if you want to get connected right away! There are Facebook groups as well. My own personal experience is that forums can be really aggressive and mean-spirited so I try to stay away from them. Some churches have small groups that form with women who are struggling, so checking with your local church is a great option too. Otherwise, use websites like RESOLVE to find other methods of support.

Oh and guess what, our next TTC Exchange, similar to the Mug Exchange, will be kicking off at the end of the month! Stay tuned!

Now it’s giveaway time!

My friend Crystal over at Fertile Gems sent me the most beautiful fertility necklace and we just HAVE to share one with a lucky winner! Fertile Gems creates handcrafted fertility jewelry that is meant to put a smile on your face, remind you to calm down, relax and HOPE. They also include the choice of a gemstone and each gemstone has different meanings.

The necklace we are giving away is similar to this one below – except yours will be in sterling silver and you will be able to pick your own gemstone. (The wishbone is known as a good luck symbol of life and fertility.) If you are interested in purchasing one, I know you won’t be disappointed. Check out her Etsy store today!

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This giveaway will last until Friday morning, and then the winner will be announced on Friday Favorites. Everyone ears 5 free entries just for fun! Just include your name / email so I can connect with you if you win. Good luck!

Click Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for sending in some great questions! Next week we wrap this up by talking about the ever-so-big questions about adoption, gluten-free diets, maintaining faith and hope and more!