It’s been awhile since I posted some personal updates, so I wanted to do so today!
New Look for the Blog
You may have noticed the blog looks a bit different recently. A few days after Christmas, I had some technical difficulties with the blog that caused me to lose the design. At first, I freaked out because it looked like I was going to lose hours of work. But then, I decided I liked the way it looked without al the colors and backgrounds. So, I decided to keep it as it currently is. There are a few things I will tweak here or there when I have the time, but I think you’ll agree that the new look is cleaner and makes it easier focus on the content of the post.
Out of respect for those of you who are still in the infertility trenches, I don’t often post about our successful IVF in 2015 and our daughter, CJ. I know that reading about other’s pregnancies and babies can bring complicated and mixed feelings, so I completely understand if you’d rather skip this part.
CJ just turned one year old and is healthy and happy. She started walking one day before her first birthday and loves to chase our cat around. We celebrated with a small family party. We don’t post many pictures of her online, but if you’d like to see our 2016 family portrait, you can head over to my personal blog and read my recent update there.
Plans for IVF in 2017
Those of you who have been reading for awhile may remember that we have several frozen embryos from the cycle that brought us CJ. Our plan has always been to use those to try for baby #2. Right now, we are tentatively planning on doing a FET somewhere near the end of 2017.
The biggest decision we have to make regarding the FET is where to do it. We absolutely love our doctor and the clinic that gave us CJ. They treated us with such kindness and professionalism and they are located ten minutes from our house. However, I am very interested in exploring the possibility of doing a natural FET, and my current doctor does not do them.
I know that there are many studies that say IVF doesn’t contribute to higher rates of cancer in the woman. I generally trust those studies. I don’t necessarily believe that IVF is harmful, but I also don’t see how all the hormones can be healthy or helpful. I know there is controversy about the success rates of natural FETs, but I still want to at least explore the idea.
Back in September, I had the privilege of touring the IVF labs at Stanford Fertility and Reproductive Health Services when I attended the Fertility IQ Basecamp. I was so impressed with their facility and my interested was piqued when I heard they perform natural FETs there. It would be a bit of a drive for us, but I think it might be worth it if the doctors determine I’m a good candidate for a natural FET.
Nothing is set in stone yet. I still need to talk to both my current RE and the people at Stanford. Of course, I’ll keep you updated as we make a decision this year!
A Year of Freebies
Finally, if you don’t already subscribe to my newsletter, make sure you sign up to receive it. Each month in 2017, I’m creating and giving away downloadable freebies that are exclusive to the email list. They won’t be available on the blog. You’re automatically added to the newsletter list if you download my free prayer calendar printable. Or, you can just sign up here!
This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.
I am so excited about the interview I have for you all today. I’ve been a raving fan of Natasha’s writing for awhile now and I’ve always wanted to interview her. In fact, at the end of 2015, I sat down and made a list of people I wanted to ask for interviews and she was the first person who came to mind.
But I get really intimidated when it comes to contacting people I admire. So I never wrote to ask her for an interview.
But a few weeks ago, I was contacted by Natasha and asked to be a part of a group of bloggers spreading the news about her new book, Counting Grains of Sand: Learning to Delight in a Promise-Making God. (I may have gotten a little giddy when I got the email. I couldn’t believe she actually knew who I was!).
I got to read an advance copy of the book, and ladies, do yourself a favor and buy a copy now. This is one of those books that has you nodding along as you read, saying things like, “Yes, “That’s exactly how I feel,” and “She just put words into what I’ve been feeling but couldn’t verbalize.” I read through most of the book in one setting because I just. could. not. put. it. down. I thought about it while I folded laundry the next day. I thought about it while I was driving. I thought about it when I woke up that night because my husband was snoring so loud! Yes, it’s THAT GOOD.
After I read the book, I decided to be brave and asked her for an interview, and she graciously agreed. And I mean it when I say that this is one of the most beautiful interviews I’ve published. I’m so thankful for her words and her heart. I know they will encourage you today.
I honestly never thought I’d be able to write this but: I’m a mom. I still battle infertility, but we have now adopted two children, both when they were eight years old. It’s way different than anything I expected from my life, but it’s good.
I am married to a man my dad set me up on a date with (such a true story. You should totally jump over to my blog and read it.) and we are on our tenth year of marriage. It has been a joy. And I really do mean that. Super, super hard, but AMAZING at the same time because my husband is my safe place and I’d rather walk through the worst sorrow with him than the greatest happiness without him.
We live on a little farm in Northern New York where my husband works at a mechanic, repairing farm machinery for area farmers, and I write and clean the house in between homeschooling our two children.
Q. Please tell us about your infertility journey and how has it shaped your writing?
So, I knew before I got married that there was a strong chance I wouldn’t be able to bear children. But I was young! I thought with a little doctoring, a little work, a bunch of prayers, we’d be okay.
We weren’t so much.
And my ability to handle our infertility pretty much dissolved into a heap at my feet a few months after the wedding.
I’ll tell you a secret: I really thought God would probably give us a honeymoon baby. Wouldn’t that be so cool of Him? After all, we were expecting problems—so I was pretty sure God was just going to surprise us with easy-peasy.
Not so much on that either.
But it was there, with all my failed-expectations and all my struggles and all my questions, that God met me for real.
I’m not saying that I didn’t know God at all, I did! But there is something about knowing God in the middle of sorrow and loss that transforms a person.
I always wanted to be a writer. I have a couple awesome novels sitting in computer files, in fact. But it was the story of infertility and loss that God led me to write and my writing has deepened in a way I never could have predicted. Pain does that to a person.
Q. You’ve experienced infertility, miscarriage, and failed adoptions. How do you resist despair and hopelessness?
I cling to Jesus with everything I have.
I know that sounds like a cliché answer, but I don’t know how to put it any other way.
I recently went through a week of literally crying through every. single. day. Oh, lands. Talk about feeling dumb. At Bible study one night, I held a close friend’s newborn and bawled all over her. Then I sat through the whole meeting scrubbing at my face to keep the tears from dripping on my Bible.
My poor husband.
The root cause of it all was that all in one week we saw twins that we had once been “in line” so-to-speak to adopt but who were placed with another family, then got the news that the birth mom of our baby Annie (who was a preemie and only lived 12 days) had lost parental rights to her two year old daughter and a family with four children were adopting her, and of course, it was also the anniversary of Annie’s death.
Oh, and that was the week my coffee tasted funny and I got super-stupid excited that maybe I was pregnant because my sister-in-law, who is pregnant with her fifth child, wasn’t able to even sip coffee because it just tasted weird to her with all those pregnancy hormones rushing around…but of course, I wasn’t pregnant AT ALL, I just had used outdated half & half.
So, there were some pretty rough moments of “God, what is so wrong with me that I can’t have babies, still? Not even adopt one. Is this really, truly, a forever thing?”
And as I share in my post about the whole coffee/rotten creamer ordeal, when I stay close to Jesus, I live.
But I still cry sometimes. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you don’t cry at times, you’re probably not really alive.
Q. You’re the mother to two children whom you adopted when they were older (not babies). What’s the best part about older-child adoption and what do you want people to know about adopting an older child?
Older-child adoption is the coolest thing ever. It’s also the very, very, very, very, very (and that’s probably not enough “verys”) hardest thing a person can ever do.
The best part is that you get to look at this child, who has faced so much heartache and loss, and you get to say, “Hey. We’re going to be family. I choose you to be part of my life and my heart and my home and my everything.” And the first time that child looks at you and their eyes actually sparkle? Yeah. It’s pretty much amazing.
But adopting older children isn’t for everyone. And it’s certainly not a “cure” for infertility.
If you’ve never considered it, definitely pray and ask the Lord if it’s something He’s leading you toward. And if He’s not? Don’t forget to support those who are walking this road. It’s a lonely, lonely place.
Part of our job as parents to older adopted children is to protect their stories until they are grown enough to deal with them—which means we’re not going to be telling the world what our child has faced. This feels awkward at times.
I’ve had people tell me they are concerned about how my husband and I parent. I even had one lady express her genuine concern that I did not fully understand how wonderful my daughter really was and I needed to give her more freedom.
If you know someone who has older adopted children, the best support is to trust that there is probably more to the story.
There are very real reasons why my eleven year old has boundaries more like a six year old. And I do really, truly, know how wonderful my girl is. She’s my daughter. The daughter I waited eight years for.
No child is adopted without trauma of some kind, and an older child has probably faced 10x the amount of trauma you could dream up. So unless you are a personal confidant of the adoptive parents, you probably have just the tiniest glimpse of what the family is working hard to heal from. So give grace and pray for us parents. We need wisdom desperately.
Q. Your latest book, Counting Grains of Sand, will be released this month. Why did you decide to write this book and what’s the heart of its message?
I’ve had so many people read my first book, Pain Redeemed, which is about our infertility struggle, and tell me they couldn’t wait to hear the rest of the story.
At first I didn’t think there would be any more to the story. I was just here, unable to have children, and trusting that God would redeem my infertility and use it for His glory.
But the story of Abraham and Sarah—and all the years they spent counting the stars and the sand on the seashore, trying to believe in God’s promises—began carving its way into my life. I had this idea for a book called “Counting Grains of Sand” where I shared all the ways God “gave” me children. I was super, super excited about it.
There was a little boy who I cared for. My nieces and nephews who spent days at my house. We had a failed adoption, but then eventually we brought our daughter home! I numbered the ways God had given me what I desired.
I started writing the book back then, but soon we faced another season of incredible loss and the book just sat there on my computer. I kept thinking, this isn’t enough, God. It’s not enough to just count the ways you’ve given me children. Something is missing.
And there was. I realized I was counting the wrong thing.
His promise wasn’t about how many children Abraham had, or I have. It was all about His unrelenting love and compassion for me. His kindness.
So that’s the heart of the book. Learning to recognize (to DELIGHT) in the Lord and how it opens our eyes to see Him.
Q. What’s the one piece of encouragement you’d like to give women struggling with infertility?
You’re not alone, dear one. Jesus is right beside you. He really, truly is. And in Him is everything you need to survive.
I have no idea how God will redeem your sorrows, but I know He will.
It might not look like you expect it to. It might not be with a baby (and I know how hard it is to accept that!) but it will be good.
My deepest thanks to Natasha for sharing a bit of her heart with us. Please leave a comment below to let her know you appreciate her and make sure to check out her books, Counting Grains of Sand and Pain Redeemed.
Did you enjoy this interview? You can read dozens more interviews with other infertility warriors here!