Friday, January 30, 2009

Old Me vs New Me

Earlier this week on my birthday, my driver's license expired. A few weeks ago I sent off the papers to renew it by mail and the new one arrived today. I have to say that there was something funny about seeing that same old picture of my 24-year-old self. What's funnier is that now I can pass it off as "me" until 2015! (Thank you, Texas, for not requiring a person's weight to be printed on their driver's license! I would have really hated to lie about it.)

It got me to thinking about the old me - the Stacey of that photo. It was taken the year we moved to Texas, 2001. I was 24 years old, 8 years younger than I am now. I had absolutely no gray hair and I have no recollection of mentally reminding myself not to make a double chin for the camera. I recognize the nervous look on my face that says, "I can't believe I'm making this official. I'm now a Texan and I'm going to have to learn to drive here." Besides that look, I see a happy girl who looks too young to have been married for 3 years already. I see the innocent, relatively carefree, optimistic young lady I used to be.

Sometimes I wonder if that girl is still around. If you read this blog with any regularity, you know what happened next. We decided to try to have a baby. Well, we didn't even really decide to TRY. We just decided to have a baby! Simple, right? The next 8 years that followed were the hardest of my life so far, and I know that those years have changed me as a person. Sometimes when I look at pictures of myself today, I don't see any of that old sparkle in my eyes anymore. I don't mean that I'm never happy or that I have no joy at all. I mean that I can see a woman who has known pain, grief, and disappointment. Sometimes when I'm with a friend who really knows me well, I think they might notice that too even though I feel like I'm hiding it well. And sometimes when I'm with a friend who didn't know me before infertility and recurrent miscarriage entered my life, I wonder if they really know me at all. I never used to break down and cry in the middle of a conversation. I loved going to parties and showers and all kinds of get-togethers. I wasn't afraid of any question that might be asked of me or any comment that might be made, and I very rarely left feeling hurt, sad, angry, or completely isolated from the crowd.

Now, that old optimist in me wants to tell you some good things about this new Stacey. Although I've struggled with it in the in-between times, my faith is stronger now. I had faith back then, but it was largely untested. I'd always been grateful for God's hand in my life during a childhood that wasn't easy. I trusted Him, but now I can see how easy it was to trust once I'd reached my early twenties. I was on the other side of that adversity! I'm still in the middle of this one and I'm learning more and more every day what it's like to trust Him when it's hard. I don't succeed at that every day but I think I'm getting better at it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm still getting to know the new me. I hate the circumstances right now but I'm interested in what kind of person might emerge on the other side of this. That 24-year-old on my driver's license is still part of who I am even though now she's a little rough around the edges.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Birthday Recap

Here's a quick birthday update for those of you who wanted to know how the day went. First I should tell you that my original plan was to spend all day Saturday at the movie theater. Yes, that's my idea of fun! It's been a crazy few weeks (months, really) and I wanted to get lost for a few hours. Well, Saturday wound up being a day that we were stuck at home with work being done on the kitchen. I am grateful for progress, and the good news is that I think this is finally the week! Thursday is hopefully the final scheduled day of construction and we hope to spend the weekend getting settled into the new kitchen. I can't wait to show it to you when it's done. I bet you're sick of hearing me talk about it!

Saturday was a bust, but Sunday turned out to be a very good day. The weather was cloudy and cold but we made the best of it. We went to church that morning and then Chuck and I had lunch at a deli before catching a movie. We saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which we both enjoyed. I love going to the movies and I love movie snacks! I was all set with my popcorn, Junior Mints, and Pibb (Dr Pepper's first cousin). We also did a little bit of shopping at an electronics store (I bought a cd) and Barnes and Noble (of course I bought a couple of books). Before going home we stopped at Chili's for my favorite restaurant dessert - the Molten Chocolate Cake. Yum! Not a nutritious day by any means, but boy was it good!

Last weekend we celebrated with my family while we were home in Louisiana, so that softened the blow of not seeing them yesterday. Chuck and I had a great day together. Oh, and he bought me a lovely bottle of perfume as a gift. I'm not big on perfume in general but this one smells great!

I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that birthdays are hard for me. The last two before this one were extremely difficult, one immediately following a miscarriage and one just after a surgery. Yesterday it was sobering when I changed the info here on my blogger profile. Now I'm 32 and this is year 8 of trying to have a baby. It's hard watching that number creep up while your circumstances aren't changing any. It's like a knife in my heart when I hear people say they want to have their children before they turn 30. I understand, because I thought I wanted that too. It didn't happen that way, and you know what? I'll be grateful to have children whenever it happens. Beggars can't be choosers! I don't want to obsess about how old I am. This is the life I've been given and I'm going to live it.

Thanks everybody for the birthday wishes! I say it all the time, but I mean it - you guys are awesome. If I'd had my children before I was 30, I wouldn't have this incredible group of friends and team of supporters in my life right now. To my real-life friends, thanks for the calls, messages, and cards! It truly was a great day.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Hey everybody! It's Stacey's hubby Chuck. I've used my amazing computer skills to hack into Stacey's blog. Ok, so she told me the password. Anyhoo, in case you missed yesterday's post, I just wanted to let you know that today is Stacey's birthday. And I also wanted to thank all of you loyal readers for your support! It really means a lot to Stacey (and me).

Happy birthday, Sweetheart. I love you!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Favorite Things

Tomorrow is my birthday. While I'm not thrilled about turning 32 (it's not so much the getting older part as much as the getting older while still childless part - age is so much more than a number when you're in this situation) I decided to do a post today in honor of the occasion. I want to tell you about a few things that I really wouldn't want to live without. Of course my family and friends would top the list, but I'm talking specifically about products here. No, I'm not being paid to promote any of these things, but if you have connections I would consider it. (Ha ha)

And now, a few of my favorite things:

1. Swiffer Products

I love any and all things Swiffer. The dusters, the sweeper, the Sweeper Vac, and the Wet Jet - I own all of them. Honestly, these things make cleaning up so easy. The main living space in my house has laminate wood floors, and we are working on phasing out the carpet in the rest of the house. Only the master bedroom has carpet now and it won't be long before we remove it. I go through the house two or three times a week with the Swiffer sweeper for a quick clean up. I love the Wet Jet for mopping because you don't have to wring out a nasty mop! It's seriously my favorite system for cleaning house. Have I convinced you to use it? I always say I should be on their commercials!

2. The Chi Flat Iron

I can't believe I made it through high school and college without this thing. It's not just a flat iron; it's a flat iron from heaven. My hair is relatively thick and wavy (really more like frizzy) but I always want it to be straight. Every time I wash it I use the blow dryer and then the flat iron to smooth it out. I wish I knew how to work with the wave and let it be natural some days but when I try it I just feel ridiculous! Anyway, this flat iron is pricey but it's worth every penny if you want straight hair. I love it.

3. Amazon dot com

Maybe I told you this around Christmas, but I love this website. The only negative thing is that I'm sure it has played a pretty big part in further enabling me to be a hermit. I do most of my Christmas shopping there and other various shopping throughout the year. I have my own wish list and I have created gift idea lists for my family members. I love it when I can look on the idea list or their own personal wish list (which you can search for by email address) and it makes shopping very easy. I think they have the best prices on books, and you only have to spend $25 to qualify for free shipping on an order. Love it!

4. Picasa

What if I told you that there was a fantastic and incredibly user-friendly method for organizing and editing your digital pictures on your computer? (Do you feel like you're watching an infomercial? I swear if this thing could be used as a juicer we'd really have something magical.) Seriously, my husband introduced me to the software application Picasa several years ago after we first got a digital camera. I thought I could never learn how to work with such a thing, but I am in love with it. Better yet, brace yourselves people, it's FREE. When it first came out we actually purchased it, but now it's owned by the nice people at Google and you can download it for free. No joke. It has the best features - you can correct red-eye, do all of your cropping, change to black and white or sepia, and so many other things. It's simple to email photos or add them to your Facebook or blog. In my opinion, the best things about it are first that it's easy to use and it is a great tool for organization. I never have to search long for a photo. When you empty your memory card you simply give the album a title and date and everything is right where you need it. Second, I absolutely love the Web Album feature. You can upload groups of photos into a web album and share the entire album with friends by email. The album is saved so that if I'm away from home and want to show an album I've uploaded to friends, I just sign in to my account from their computer and there is my album. Ok, one more thing that is awesome about it. Let's say I'm at my sister's house for a birthday party and we forgot our camera at home. She takes a whole bunch of great pics and uploads them to a Picasa Web Album to email to me. I can get home, open her email, and download that same album straight into my Picasa. There are the photos all stored neatly into my own computer, just as if I'd taken them myself. Picasa, will you marry me? Ok, even though Picasa is my fiance, he has lots of brothers who are still available. You can get your own here.

5. DVR
I won't spend a lot of time on this one except to tell you how happy I am that we finally got on board with digitally recording our favorite TV shows. We don't have the actual Ti.vo brand, but we have the DVR that comes through our cable company and we are thrilled with it. Maybe this sounds goofy but I think it has saved me so much time. Watching my shows when it's convenient for me (often late at night when I can't sleep) and being able to skip through the commercials is great, not to mention that I don't have to worry about looking for a blank tape or recording over something I want to keep. Anything that makes my life more organized and clutter-free is likely to be on my list of favorite things! This is not a photo of a DVR, but if Simon Baker doesn't motivate you to start recording or watching The Mentalist I don't know what will!

I'm sure I could go on but I think 5 is plenty for today. Market research shows that if you start using these 5 things, your happiness will increase by 30%. Ok, that's not true but it's worth a shot. These are definitely at the top of my list. Now it's your turn. What things have you discovered that make your life so much easier? Tell me all about it and I'll add it to my Amazon wish list.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Facebook: A Love/Hate Relationship

Anyone who knows me in real life will wonder about the title of this post. That's because they know that I love Facebook! For a couple of years now I've been Facebook's biggest fan. I've tried to recruit my friends and family (yes, I'm one of "those people") because I think it's a great tool for keeping in touch with people. Don't worry, I haven't given up on all other conventional forms of keeping in touch. I still call people. I still write letters and send birthday cards. I occasionally even meet people for lunch! (That's saying a lot for the hermit side of me.)

Let me tell you why I love Facebook. I absolutely love that it has gotten me back in touch with dozens and dozens of college friends, many that I thought I may never find again. It's pretty effortless, it's free, and it's easy to get caught up on the past decade or so. Even with friends that I have kept in regular touch with, it's so simple to share photos and day-to-day stuff on Facebook. Really, there's a lot to love about it.

You may think I'm crazy when I tell you that I actually have two Facebook accounts. I have my regular one with all of my friends, family, classmates, and recently even my adviser from college! Several months ago I created a new account to use specifically for connecting with IF friends that I've "met" through this blog. I still don't share all of my personal information there, but it's a place slightly more private than Blogger for sharing photos and just connecting more personally with some of my blog friends. Really, it has been great. I'd love it if even more of you would find me there! (If you want to create a new account just for that like I did, or connect using your regular account you can find my profile at this link. I can't promise that anything there is super exciting, but if you're experiencing infertility and/or miscarriage and would like to have a group of friends to connect with on Facebook, come find me! One word of warning: if you already have an account and want to make a new separate one, be sure and use a different email address or you'll erase your other account, ok?!)

Alright, so here's what I don't like about Facebook. I see things there sometimes that make it hard for me to just enjoy the perks. Ultimately I guess they are just minor annoyances, but they sure do seem to bother me.

Stuff like this:

And this:

And this:

Why, people? I know these are just supposed to be cute or funny or whatever. But really they're pretty insensitive when you think about it. I know that perhaps I'm just a little sensitive to stuff like this, but these have been displayed on the profiles of my friends! I know that 90% of them are aware of my plight.

There's so much I could say about each one, but I think it's obvious why I think they're pretty hurtful. First of all, I don't know what my "super power" is but evidently it's NOT "growing people." And I don't know how "crafty" anyone thinks I am, but so far I'm not quite crafty enough to "make people." Oh, and I have no idea what I've been doing all these years that I thought I was working full time! No, I don't clock in anymore at a job, but somehow the house is getting cleaned and our clothes are washed.

I know these aren't meant to be taken literally. As a very dear friend said to me recently, though, I wish people would realize that they're not talking to a world full of fertile people only. There's a whole other topic here that could be explored about insensitive status updates on Facebook, but I'm definitely not going to tackle that one right now. I guess today my status message might read: "Stacey is really annoyed by ridiculous pieces of flair."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Lately I've been noticing a change in the direction of my life. I guess it is only slight, since my ultimate goal remains the same. Ultimately I still want to be a mother. I want to raise children, whether biological or adopted. Even that last sentence is a shift in thinking for me. You see, I really didn't give much thought to adoption 10 years ago. I innocently thought that things would go pretty much as I imagined in my mind. I got married, finished college, worked for a couple of years, and was ready to start a family.

In fact, let's back up a bit. When I started college I majored in journalism. As far as career choices went, I knew that I liked to write. I wasn't sure whether that was the right path but I figured it was a safe place to start. Even then I knew that what I wanted out of life was marriage and children, but I have always been a very practical person. I didn't know how long that might take, so I wanted to pursue something I would enjoy. The fact was that I doubted I would find a spouse immediately.

Then came the first major shift.

It became increasingly harder for me to work on a deadline. I was pretty stressed out, and suddenly being a freshman in college, working my minimum wage, on-campus job, and writing for my school's newspaper were stretching me too thin. I know people who have conquered much more difficult things than that, but at the time it was pretty overwhelming for this small-town girl! To top it all off, I was trying to get through without school loans (by God's grace) and without a car. It was certainly a challenge!

By my second year of college I decided to change my major. My relationship with Chuck had grown more serious and I began to consider a more family-oriented major. I didn't regret what studying journalism had taught me so far, so I decided to continue with it as my minor. The best thing is that I hadn't lost any time. I still graduated in 4 years, with only one extra summer of classes in the middle. Don't get me wrong, college had not become just something I thought I should do. As someone who didn't come from a long (or even short) line of college graduates, I felt honored to be there. I worked at it with all of my might, even after getting married between my junior and senior years. My graduation day finally came in May of 1999 (yikes, almost 10 years ago!). I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Family, Infancy, and Early Childhood Education with a double minor in Child Development and (that's right) Journalism. I graduated summa cum laude, and I praised the Lord for seeing me through with my goal intact: finishing college debt free.

That brings me back to the shifting. I felt like my life up until that point had been geared toward having a family. Certainly I consider my husband and myself a family, but I always wanted children too. Although I never wanted to be a teacher, I saw myself having my own children and somehow working with other children. My life has taken quite a different path and I now don't know in what direction it is heading. For example, I used to volunteer at church in the nursery department, mainly to fill a gap that needed extra help. I've come to realize, though, that it isn't my place to do that. That isn't where I need to be right now, and I'm done feeling guilty about it. I would much rather serve where my heart is truly in it. I still love children and want to be a mother more than ever. But how can I serve? Where is my place?

I'm beginning to think that my place, for right now anyway, is a "caring ministry." It turns out that life hasn't given me tons of experience with raising kids even though I thought I had set it up that way. No, I now have more experience with loss, trials, and grief. But I'm not falling apart (again, by God's grace). I hope I'm being made stronger. I've learned over the years that you never know what someone else is facing in life. I've learned to be sensitive to other people's struggles. I've learned to listen and not give empty advice or words of false hope. I hope I've learned to be a better friend and a praying friend.

I trust in God's plan for my life and I'm willing to go where He leads. In this life I've surely learned how to be flexible. Hopefully from here on out, the stretching and the shifting won't be too difficult.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In Other News

The last two posts have been particularly emotional for me to write. I thought today we could have a break from the heavy stuff and only talk about some lighter things, shall we? I need to update you on a couple of random things anyway, so this will be a catch-all kind of a post.

First, if you've been reading for a while then you know that my kitchen is being remodeled. I am so happy to report that this week we had the tile backsplash installed and grouted. The grout just got done today, so it isn't even dry yet. We still need the cabinet guys to come out one more time to install the one unit that was the wrong size and complete all of the trim. We are finally getting closer and I couldn't be more ready. I'm hoping that we will be moving in appliances as early as next week! We actually can't wait to get in there and cook some meals again. I promise to post some before and after pics once the whole thing is done.

I've been slowly working on my reading list for the year. I wish I already had a few crossed off of the list, but having Brisingr as my first book has slowed me down. My brother loves the Eragon series. I borrow his when he is done with them and he has been dying for me to finish this one. Normally it wouldn't take me a very long time to read a book (even one that has 748 pages like this one does). I'm about half way through it right now and not moving very quickly. I think that's mostly due to the amount of time I've spent blogging lately. As with any hobbies, spending a lot of time on one takes time away from the others! I'm very sad that I haven't worked on my scrapbooks for months. Unfortunately, my workspace is currently crammed with all of the stuff that belongs in our kitchen cabinets. I'm telling you, I can't wait to get that project finished!

Lately I'm excited about having my DVR filled with the return of some of my favorite TV shows. I haven't yet watched the premiere of 24 but I'm eager to get to it. (Emily, I've been avoiding your blog after I saw the title of your last post! Hope I can get caught up soon.) I did start watching American Idol auditions last night, with a mixture of curiosity and embarrassment as always. Pretty soon it will be time for a new season of Lost as well. Oh boy!

Finally, remember the post about my January Girl figurine? I'd found December and August on the internet and they were delivered this week. Aren't they cute all together?

I'm not a huge collector of nicknacks, in fact the only other collections I have besides DVDs and books are postcards, which I keep filed away in albums. I don't like having a lot of miscellaneous stuff around to dust, and besides, my shelves are already full of photographs. Searching for the other figurines in this set, though, has become a fun little challenge for me. I hope I'll be able to find the other nine someday.

Ok, one last thing. Shoot, I wasn't going to mention infertility this time but it always seems to come up these days. Oh well. After Christmas, Chuck and I were talking about saving up our money to buy the camera he's been talking about for years. We had a pretty nice start with some Christmas money we'd received and we were ready to start putting some more into savings for the camera. I swear this never happens to us, but last week he decided to check in our hiding place where we keep important documents and such things and occasionally some extra cash. Much to his surprise, he discovered that we had more cash in there than we realized! Holy cow, it was just enough to cover the new camera! What's that got to do with IF? Well, some of that money I remember us putting away two Christmases ago (when we were pregnant) for a baby bed. You know, I'm not giving up hope on a pregnancy ever happening, but we both just felt good about taking that money out and using it on something we can enjoy today! The UPS guy just delivered the new camera a few hours ago and I know Chuck can't wait to get home from work and play with it. He loves taking pics and I love to scrapbook them, so we are both thrilled with the new purchase. We'll be trying it out this weekend when we go to Louisiana for our nephew's birthday party.

So, how about you? What are your hobbies? Are you reading a good book right now? Do you have any unique collections? What are you watching on TV these days? Let's chat.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Announcements (Part Two)

Yesterday I did a post about hearing pregnancy announcements from non-IF friends (meaning people I know in real life who have not struggled with infertility). It was based upon many years of experiences that my husband and I have been through, after hearing dozens and dozens of announcements. There have been positive and negative experiences and I hope the post reflected both. If you haven't read part one and would like to, you can find it here.

I have to tell you that even when the situation is handled very well, it is almost always difficult to hear pregnancy news. I really don't know if that sounds incredibly selfish - it's the only point of view I have to work with. I'm never angry about the idea that a baby will be born, of course! There is just a sadness inside - a disappointment and a reminder of my own situation and my own deepest longings. It's a reminder that even though a successful pregnancy at times seems like the most impossible thing that could ever happen, it happens in this world every day. I know that you understand this if you've lived with infertility. If you have not, I appreciate the fact that you even read this blog! It touches my heart that you'd care enough about myself and others to try to learn more about this topic and how you can be a friend to someone in your life who may be hurting.

Today I'd like to continue the topic with a little twist. Ever since I first started this blog, and especially since becoming part of an infertility blogging community, I realized that I was opening myself up in entirely new ways. Sure, it's very different to suddenly share every thought and emotion you have about something so deeply personal with anybody who might be reading. That was a stretch for me at first but I have not regretted doing it. The next big hurdle was that I was going to have to move a lot of pain and hurt back up to the surface that I'd worked hard to bury. I was going to have to face those feelings and write about them and risk having people think that I need serious counseling - or whatever they'd choose to think. It's a pretty vulnerable feeling. I was also afraid that I would start spending too much time thinking about this issue. I was afraid that I'd be overwhelmed by the amount of suffering that exists beyond my own. I wasn't sure that I would ever find the right words to say to others even though I'd been through such dark times myself.

Those were all fears that I had when I started this blog, but there was one more. I was terrified that I would gain a new group of friends who were seeking pregnancy, and one by one they would all succeed and I would again be the last one - just like in real life. This may be the most painfully honest thing I've ever confessed on the blog. Do I want you all to succeed? Absolutely! I pray constantly for those of you who are in this valley with me. I ache when you hurt and I mourn when you experience loss. I identify with your feelings and insecurities about infertility and miscarriage. But I have this secret fear of being the one left behind. It has happened to me before. I remember a friend once pointing out that out of our original young married Sunday school class, I was the only one who had not had a baby yet (as if I hadn't noticed). She talked of it like I was the last item on a to-do list that had not been checked off. And believe me, I'd noticed. In 8 years I've had dozens of friends get pregnant, have babies, and have second, third, and fourth babies. Most of those "babies" are in school now! I've shopped for countless baby gifts, gone to tons of baby showers, made umpteen hospital visits, and taken meals to the families of the newborns. Trust me, I know. I'm the only one left. Put your pencil down, honey, because it may be a long time yet before you can check my name off of the list!

I want to be perfectly clear that I love my friends' children. I have their framed photos in my house, their birthdays on my calendar, and many of their names on my Christmas list. They have brought me much joy over the years and I wouldn't change that one bit. My point is simply that I long to be a part of that crowd in a different way - not just their mommy's friend from school or church, or a really fun aunt. I want to be somebody's mommy too.

Ok, I've gotten off base for a minute. What I want to say to my IF/blogger friends is this: I am grateful for you every day! I have made some friendships that I know will be around for years to come, even though we haven't met in person. I pray for you! I pray that the Lord will hear your prayers and open your wombs and heal your pain. I am very, very happy when your battle with infertility comes to an end. It is particularly sweet because I know you've struggled and waited and picked yourself up time and time again. I will always wish you the best as you seek to become parents and your dreams are fulfilled.

When I started blogging I felt like I had been given a purpose. I'd been handed something to do with all of this stuff that's been such a huge part of my life for so long! I felt like God had given me a ministry as well. He opened the door for me to meet others who are like me and who understand. Because of my experiences with miscarriage, I felt that I could particularly connect with women who had also experienced loss, although I've been more than happy to meet people from different situations as well. I will be perfectly straightforward and tell you that I sometimes don't know how to continue to show my support when an IF blog becomes a pregnancy blog. I certainly don't lose interest or delete it from my feedreader! I want to know how things progress and I'm rooting for you. But suddenly the audience changes. The comments section is filled with other tales of pregnancy. The topics become ones that I know nothing about, or that I have only painful memories about. Pretty soon I find that I have nothing to say besides "congratulations" or "I wish you the best." Those are sincere responses but sometimes all I have to offer. I certainly don't want to change the mood of the happy post by talking about the few weeks that I experienced the same symptoms before my pregnancy was cut short, or how elated I was to see my baby's heartbeat too before his or her life was over. I don't want to scare you with my horror stories, which are really all I have left of my pregnancies unless something drastic happens. I hope you can see how it becomes difficult. For me, seeing two lines on a pregnancy test has never been the finish line.

I still care and I'll still follow the story of your pregnancy and your life. I won't pretend you don't exist. I also keep up with many of you by e-mail, which helps me to stay in touch when I don't know how to comment on a particular blog post. I consider you my friends, and just as I ask this of my real-life friends, I won't let pregnancy change that. I'm asking you to hang in there with me and with all of us who haven't reached our goals yet and may still be grieving our losses. Maybe our comments have become less frequent but we do still care. We need time and it's impossible to know how long it might take before we're ready. I want to hear from you, too. I still want to know what's new in your life and how the pregnancy is going. I'm still here.

Thanks for indulging me for another very long post and a lot of words that I needed to say. I'm committed to this ministry, this community, and these friendships, and I'm committed to praying for you at every stage of your journey! I would value your feedback here in the comments or in an e-mail if you'd rather.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Announcements (Part One)

I've been having a lot of thoughts lately about the topic of pregnancy announcements. I feel like I say this a lot on my blog, but please understand that I don't write anything here to try to take a stab at some particular person who might be reading. I don't write to make anyone feel guilty about how they might have handled a certain situation. I write here to share my feelings about all aspects of living with infertility and miscarriage. When I write about a topic like this one today, I hope to open up some dialogue between people on different sides of the issue. So, with that disclaimer out of the way, here goes.

The fact is that for most people in my situation, hearing pregnancy announcements is hard. As much as I don't want that to be true, it is. I wish I could explain just how much I wish it didn't have to be an issue at all. I remember way back when it wasn't, and I long for that day to come again. How the news is delivered actually does make a difference, I believe. Trust me when I tell you that in 8 years I have heard lots of pregnancy announcements. For organization's sake, I'll list out a few scenarios and comment on each individually.

1. The Surprise
This is the pregnancy announcement that comes totally out of the blue and is usually delivered in a group setting, at a party, at a restaurant, at a family reunion or holiday gathering, or wherever. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with gathering up your family and friends for your special announcement, but certainly if there's someone in the crowd that you know has had difficulty with infertility or miscarriage, there is probably a better way to let them in on it. I can't speak for everyone but I can tell you that being in my shoes and being blindsided with pregnancy info in a public place is hard. Keep in mind, I'm not upset that the couple is having a baby! I'm upset because I know that my feelings will be on display in this room full of people who know what I'm going through and are looking for my reaction. I know it's not about me, but suddenly I feel put on the spot and I have to fight with myself to keep it together.

2. The Guessing Game
Oh, how I hate this one. I know that finding out that you're pregnant is exciting. I know that you just got married two months ago and you "weren't even trying," and oops, this is totally an accident and you have no idea how it happened. I know that you just peed on a stick and saw two lines and haven't been to the doctor yet but you just can't wait to tell everybody. (Yes, I'm being snarky, but I really do understand that it's their right to tell people whenever and however they want.) But seriously, if you want me to know that you're pregnant, please don't make me guess what the great news is. Don't play around and send me an e-mail that says you're really excited about something that will be happening on a date that is exactly 9 months from today. I'm not dumb enough to have absolutely no idea what that news could be. The bottom line here is that I'd rather just hear the news, plain and simple, no guessing games. I'm happy for you, but this game is not my idea of fun.

3. The Mass E-mail/text message
I actually don't mind being told about a friend's pregnancy by e-mail or even text message. I'll tell you why: because I don't have to worry about my reaction. I don't have to be concerned about whether my voice sounds shaky or sincere. I hope that my friends know me well enough to know that I do rejoice in their good fortune. Even if I feel sad for me, I can feel happy for them. Particularly for friends who have had problems with pregnancy or conception, I've most likely been praying that it will happen for them! But it's hard when, like I mentioned earlier, I feel put on the spot or feel like I have to make my enthusiasm over the news match their own. When the news comes by message, I can deal with it however I need to at that moment, and I can reply when I'm ready with my congratulations.
There is one downside to this mass text messaging business. Hearing the important news that you're pregnant or that the baby was just born or things like that by text message is totally fine with me. I don't, however, need a mass text message sent to my phone every single time you have an ultrasound or doctor's appointment, felt the baby move, or had false labor pains. There really is such a thing as too much information! That's not to say that I don't want to be involved in a family member or close friend's life, but that kind of info is hard to hear constantly when you've been through painful experiences with pregnancy.

4. The "This Isn't a Big Deal"
Yes, it's a bit hard to get through a pregnancy announcement where the person is absolutely overjoyed and goes on and on about how awesome their life is. But I kinda get that. I understand in a way. I've been pregnant before, and yes, I even remember what it was like when I didn't have the dark cloud of recurrent miscarriage following me around. I know full well that finding out you're expecting a baby is a joyful time. But sometimes I get reactions that go the other way and I never know what to do with that. To tell you the truth, it's weird to get a ho-hum-I-guess-I'm-pregnant-it's-no-big-deal announcement. I'll have people casually ask me, "Oh, did you hear we might be pregnant?" They just shrug it off like it's not anything to get excited over. I get the feeling that this is perhaps to cushion the blow or protect my feelings. As much as I think those people are well-intentioned, I would rather if they would just be authentic with me. It's ok that you're excited. You don't have to pretend that you aren't!

5. The "Wait, I Didn't Tell You?"
As hard as the pregnancy announcement might be to someone who has been waiting for years and years for their own baby, the non-announcement can be just as painful. There have been many times where my husband and I are the last people on the planet to hear the news from a friend. If it's someone we don't see often, sometimes we don't ever hear about the pregnancy until the child is born! Of course, I know that people lose touch, but I can't help but get the feeling that the friend didn't know what to say, so they chose to say nothing. To be honest, leaving us in the dark for that long makes us feel like our friendship is not important, or that you think we don't care when in fact we do. I'll never forget going to church one day when all of my girlfriends were talking about the cute baby announcement they'd gotten in the mail from one of our friends who had moved away. I hadn't gotten one. I blamed it on the mail being slow, but it never came.

Really, the bottom line is that everyone is certainly allowed to announce their pregnancy in any way they choose. If, however, you have a friend in my situation, she will be grateful if you consider her feelings when sharing your news the next time around. Maybe you feel like the list above leaves you with no options! Now I'd love to share some ways that I feel people have done it very well.

1. Be honest & real.
These are my two favorite characteristics in people! I love it when my friends are straightforward. They have some news to tell me, so they call me up or send me a message and they deliver the news in a direct and heartfelt way. They know that I love them and care about them, and that I'm happy about their news and wish them the best. They don't feel the need to apologize about their pregnancy, and they don't push me to share my deepest feelings about my situation in that moment.

2. Be sensitive.
I'm not saying you have to get emotional or feel sad for me when you have happy news. Friendship is about give and take. It's about being there for every step along the way, for all the ups and downs that will come in life. I remember when a friend called to tell me she was having her second baby while my first loss was still very fresh. She cried with me and said that she wished we could have shared the experience together. I knew that in her joy she was still sad for me, and she knew that in my sorrow I was still happy for her. That's what friendship is. No, you don't have to cry if that's not what you're feeling. Being authentic and sincere, though, is definitely the way to go. The overall attitude of the person sharing the news can make or break the whole experience, I think.

3. Be forthcoming.
Recently I got an e-mail from a friend asking if we could get together for lunch so she could share some big news with me in person. Of course you know what was going through my head. A little while later she sent me another message telling me that it was work-related so I wouldn't be wondering what it was. I loved that. How refreshing! It felt good to let my guard down and enjoy lunch with my girlfriend without wondering what was about to happen or how I might react. I didn't feel like I was being set up for any ambush either. Had she been announcing a pregnancy, though, I have to say that I would have wanted to hear about it in a straightforward way right then in the e-mail. Making an appointment to talk about it one-on-one would make me pretty uncomfortable right now and can be very overwhelming.

One of the greatest things is when those rare friendships come along that will have the same comfortable, easy feeling no matter what life throws at us. I treasure my dear friends who have managed to not allow pregnancy or motherhood or anything else to change what we have. They teach me things about parenting year after year - the joys as well as the struggles. It's good to have friends who are great parents to their children, and I value that. Unfortunately there are some friendships that don't hold up through extended times of grief for whatever reason, and I find that very sad.

Whew, even after such a long post I feel like there is more to be said on this topic. I also want to talk about announcements within the infertility community as well, but that's for another post and another day (very soon). The last thing in the world that I want here is to come across as whiny and selfish. I think being honest about these feelings is good, and I encourage you to let me know whether you agree or disagree with any of these points. I don't claim to speak for any one group of people - I know that every single person has their own feelings and opinions about this, so please share!

Friday, January 9, 2009

New Books for a New Year

One of my resolutions (or goals, if you prefer) for the new year was to keep a log of the books I read in 2009. As 2008 drew to a close I had several books stacking up on the nightstand that I wanted to eventually get to. Then I received some more books from my wish list as Christmas gifts. I've compiled a list of those books, along with a few that I'd still like to purchase and a couple that I started last year and didn't finish. I don't normally start books and not finish them, but I guess a couple of hurricanes and a kitchen remodel are enough to disrupt anybody's schedule! It was a crazy year, my friends.

I like a variety of books, but I mostly read fiction. I also enjoy children's books and books geared toward younger readers. Recently I came across a quote by C.S. Lewis that described how I feel about children's books. He wrote, "It certainly is my opinion that a book worth reading only in childhood is not worth reading even then." I agree - a good book is a good book at any age!

Ok, here's the list I'm working on now. I may add a few but I'm not planning on removing any.

2009 Reading List:

1. Brisingr – Christopher Paolini (currently reading)
2. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne (begun in 2008)
3. The Year of Living Biblically – A.J. Jacobs (begun in 2008)
4. Middlemarch – George Eliot
5. The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
6. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
7. Your Heart Belongs to Me – Dean Koontz
8. An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination – Elizabeth McCracken
9. Crazy Love – Francis Chan

Young Reader Books:

1. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane – Kate Dicamillo
2. Coraline – Neil Gaiman (Thanks, Andrea for the
review on your blog. It made me want to read this one and Stardust!)
3. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
4. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – C.S. Lewis
5. Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson
6. Jacob Have I Loved – Katherine Paterson

After posting this list on my Facebook page and asking for recommendations, these are the books that some of my friends like that I'm considering reading this year as well:

1. Blue Like Jazz - Donald Miller
2. The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
3. Gilead - Marilynne Robinson
4. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt

There were a couple of other books recommended but I don't want the list to be too overwhelming at first! These are the ones I thought I would enjoy most if I get everything else read.

Another general rule I have is to read the book before watching the movie based on the book. This list includes a few books whose movies I've already seen (in most cases I didn't realize it was based on a book). Also, the list contains books I've never read before, with one exception. I read Jacob Have I Loved back in junior high. I don't remember much about it, so I recently bought an inexpensive paperback copy and it made the list.

I thought it might be a good idea to post my reading list on my blog to find some other readers out there! I'd love to hear what you are reading, and please let me know which of these books you especially liked or didn't like. Also, go check out my pal Andrea's book blog for some great book reviews and suggestions.

Ah, I just love books! Happy reading!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Dating Story

Earlier this week Chuck and I celebrated the anniversary of our first date. We always recognize the day but we don't make a huge deal out of it since we have a wedding anniversary to celebrate as well. Usually we go out or cook dinner together, and sometimes we catch a movie. This week we have been very short on free time so we stopped in at our favorite Mexican restaurant and shared some fajitas (the best we've ever tasted) in between errands. We've been pretty stressed lately and a break was really nice.

Our first date was January 6, 1996. It was my freshman year of college and his junior year. We met at a weekly meeting of the Christian organization Campus Crusade for Christ. I don't really remember the very first time we met. I was new there, so everyone was new to me! Chuck says he remembers seeing me for the first time and knowing right away that I was Connie's sister. This has always been funny to me because most people don't think we look alike at all.

That Fall we gradually got to know one another better by being involved in the same campus organization and going on a few retreats as a group. Getting to know Chuck was not very easy because he was very shy back then. What helped tremendously was getting to know him a little more personally by e-mail and online chatting. I was very new to computers back in the mid-90s. A college buddy taught me how to use the "prehistoric" machines in the computer lab and I was so happy because I could keep up with my BFF who'd gone to a different college back home. Downstairs in my dorm there was a tiny common room that had two computers in it. I would often pop in there at night to check my mail and before long I started chatting with Chuck, who was often online from home (we attended college in his hometown, so he didn't live on campus). I began to realize that the shy guitar player I thought I knew was actually quite witty, not to mention smart and kind.

Still I was pretty surprised when he asked me out on a date. True to form, he asked me over the computer instead of in person. He said he'd really been wanting to go see the new movie Toy Story, and did I want to go with him?

Well, I wasn't sure. I was still afraid the date would be awkward and that his shyness would prevent him from talking to me (keep in mind that I didn't have much dating experience). I went ahead and said yes, then went upstairs to quiz my sister (who was my roomie, too) about this guy. She couldn't offer much. She said all she knew was that he was very quiet, he played guitar, and he used to have long hair! I told her I'd just agreed to go on a date with him. We were both pretty clueless about what to expect but relatively confident that he wasn't an axe murderer, so I kept the plans.

It was very cold and icy on the night of our date (ice storms aren't terribly unusual in Northern Louisiana). The roads were somewhat treacherous and in fact he'd been in a minor fender bender just a few nights before because of the ice. This was before the days of personal cell phones, so I remember his parents had let him borrow their bag phone for the 30-minute drive to the neighboring town. I always think about how one day I'll have to describe to our kids what a bag phone was! We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant and then we went to see Toy Story - the original one. He was interested in seeing a movie that was entirely computer animated. I'm sure I didn't even know that at the time but I was ok with seeing a cartoon. The most important thing, though, was that in the hour that we were in the car round-trip, the conversation was great! We both talked the entire time and it was never, ever awkward. I couldn't believe that the guy I'd barely heard speak an entire paragraph was suddenly so comfortable. (After living with him for 10 years now I can tell you that this is still true. Chuck is shy in a group setting but much more comfortable one-on-one.)

The best part is that on the drive over he was very straightforward about his intentions about the date. There was no pressure - he thought I was nice and he wanted to get to know me better. There was something about him spelling it out that way that really spoke my language. I'd been strung along for several weeks by a guy whose intentions were very vague. I wasn't sure whether that guy was interested or not interested; we'd have a "date" here and there and then he wouldn't call for days. It was so refreshing to not have to guess at this one. After he dropped me off that night I went upstairs in the dorm to chat with some girlfriends. They were floored that a guy would be so forthcoming, and insisted that Chuck needed to teach a class on dating etiquette! All of this reassured me that I'd done the right thing saying yes to him. I certainly did the right thing when I said yes to his marriage proposal in August of the next year.

Maybe it seems silly to celebrate a first date anniversary, but we still do it. It was a great date and we love reminiscing about it. I almost forgot, a couple of days after the date I got a Toy Story postcard in my mailbox on campus. I pretty much knew then that there was something special about this guy. He still does charming things like that today, and it's one of the many reasons that I enjoy looking back on that date 13 years later.

Monday, January 5, 2009

January Girl And My Favorite Piece of Furniture

I can probably count on one hand the amount of things I have leftover from my childhood. The few things I do still have are very special to me. Among my favorites is this little January figurine that represents my birthday month. I didn't know much about her until I started working on this post. Now I think I'm starting a collection! After some searching on the internet today I've found her sisters December and August. I think it will be sweet to have the whole set someday.

I've had Miss January for as long as I can remember. My mom thinks she bought her at a local drug store in the early '80s. If you look closely, you can see that she has been glued back together in a few places. That's ok. I still love her. I have picked up a few scars over the years as well. I normally keep her on a shelf in one of the guest rooms, but as you might have guessed, January is her month to shine. This month she is proudly displayed in the entryway just inside our front door atop my favorite piece of furniture - a buffet we bought at a cute secondhand store a few years ago.

It's funny how I use my infertility journey as a calendar of sorts. I remember how we went shopping to buy that buffet after our third miscarriage in 2004. We were feeling very discouraged about the news and it prompted us to do two things - get out for some neighborhood shopping one evening, and plan a trip to New England. The shopping trip resulted in what I consider one of the best purchases we've ever made. I love this buffet, and I love to decorate it each season with favorite dishes, figurines, and photographs. Also, the inside holds so much stuff! I have candles in one drawer, placemats, cloth napkins, and table runners in another, and other decorative odds and ends in another. The cabinets hold vases, a punch bowl, and tons of seasonal decorations. It's easy to change stuff out as the year moves along. At Christmas its top is completely full but other months it displays just a few precious things. (Click here to see a picture of it decorated at Easter with my favorite antique teacups.)

Last month I didn't think I could fit a single extra thing on the buffet. Now it's January. It's my birthday month and it's a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. I have only a few special things on the buffet this month: a table runner made by Chuck's grandmother and some plates and glasses she gave me a few years ago that look like Depression Glass; an antique postcard given to me by one of my dearest friends, postmarked on my birthday (January 25) but in 1910; and of course, my January girl is front and center. I even found a cute little pedestal for her to stand on.

I love decorating with sentimental things from around the house. It's just a simple thing, but it makes me happy.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Christmas, New Year, and Resolutions

What a stressful time it has been at my house! We just returned home last night and I'm not sure I realized just how depressing it would be coming home to a house whose kitchen is being remodeled. I'm very grateful for progress but boy is it getting difficult. I have no idea when we'll even be able to take down the Christmas decorations - the house is in chaos and this not typical of my home! Thankfully the new countertops and sink were installed while we were away. Chuck is playing plumber right now (at midnight) and hooking up the new faucet. It's coming along, however slowly.

We had a nice Christmas holiday but we are terribly road weary. We did lots of going as we usually do. We spent three nights in Chuck's hometown at my in-laws and we also visited three sets of good friends. It's so nice being with good friends, isn't it? You know the kind I mean - those you just pick right up with even if you haven't been able to visit for a while. I'm so thankful for friends like these! Next we traveled south to have Christmas at my mom's. We had our festivities on Saturday, then we got up early and traveled east a couple of hours to visit Chuck's grandparents in yet another part of Louisiana. It's sad to realize how much things have changed in just a year. Last year we were visiting Granny and Pop in their home, but this year we spent time with them at the nursing home where Pop must live after his stroke. It was great to see them and they are two people I admire most in all the world. We had lunch at my grandmother's house with my cousin and half sister also stopping by. Grandma cooked okra gumbo! Even at 91 she still has amazing skills in the kitchen. We went by my dad's house for about an hour and then made our way back to my sister's quite exhausted.

We stayed five nights at my sister's house, not returning home until New Year's Day. It was so nice to enjoy our nephews while school was out! Here's a pic of me enjoying my new computer (and reading your blogs!) while snuggling with my older nephew. We both love to read, and he finished all 240 pages of that Peter Pan book in one night! Pretty impressive for an almost-8-year-old, I think! (And yes, it does make me very sad that his feet are almost as big as mine. He's growing up too fast.)

We spent lots of family time all together, playing games and doing silly things. My younger nephew got a karaoke machine for Christmas and I had a great time singing with my mom and sis! (If you know me in real life you probably know that I would NEVER sing karaoke with any crowd other than my immediate family!) It was a blast. We also spent New Year's Eve just down the road from Mom's at an old family friend's house. They have a bonfire and fireworks show every year, so it was fun hanging out there. I can't tell you how sad it was to return home after all of that time with family and friends, especially with so much work to be done here. (Sigh)

I've been thinking about resolutions for the new year. It's nothing really spectacular or exciting, just a few simple goals I've decided to work on:

  1. I hesitate to classify this as a New Year's resolution for fear of setting myself up for failure, but I really would like to settle into a regular fitness routine. I could certainly stand to lose a few pounds, eat healthier, and get into shape.

  2. Next, I'd like to work harder on not getting so stressed out by schedules and circumstances. I'm getting better about saying no to people, but I have a tendency to fill up the calendar weeks and months in advance and before I know it I'm all tied up in knots because it gets to be too much. I want to really limit that this year.

  3. I want to have more consistency and organization when it comes to daily devotionals and prayer time. This one is so important to me, and I tend to let it slip (usually as a result of too much activity as mentioned in #2).

  4. This year I hope to get caught up on my scrapbooks. I'm almost 2 years behind already (I do a chronological album for each year) and I have several other mini-album ideas that I hope to work on as well.

  5. Finally, this is just a little something but I've decided to keep a log of the books I have read and want to read in 2009. I wish I'd been doing this for years because I absolutely love to read. I'd love to hear any good recommendations! I've got a stack of books that I'm already dying to tackle this year.

These are my goals for the year. What about you? Do you make resolutions? Do you worry about not meeting your goals?

Oh, and one last thing. Definitely one of the highlights of my year in 2008 was starting this blog. It's been a pleasure to get to know so many of you out there! Because of you 2008 will hold a special place in my heart. Happy New Year, friends. I'm hoping for a year of miracles!

Friday, January 2, 2009

For Those Who Wait

I heard a song recently that really spoke to where I am in my life right now. I have since learned that it is from the soundtrack of a movie I've heard of but haven't seen. I want to share the lyrics here for those of you who are still waiting.

But first you should know that I know what it's like to wait. Every new year is a reminder for me of just how long this wait has been. Maybe 2008 wasn't a great year for you. Maybe you had a lot of hopes and expectations for the year that just didn't pan out. I hope that if you had disappointments last year, you also had good times and made some great memories with people you love. I hope you've been able to find joy in your life even while you wait.

My sixth miscarriage happened in January of 2007. By January of 2008 we'd sought out a new doctor and had plenty of new tests run. I had just had surgery to take care of some scar tissue and mild endometriosis. We were given the all-clear to try again for another pregnancy a few months later. To make a long story short, the good news is that we did not add another loss in 2008. The bad news is that we did not have a pregnancy. For the first time since our first pregnancy in 2002, this year we were not able to get pregnant on our own. In all of the eight years that we've been trying to become parents, this is the longest time we've had to wait. Now it's January 2009 - two years since our last pregnancy.

Really though, it is eight years of waiting. Yes, there have been pregnancies, and they were all lives that we loved and cherished. But we still wait. We still don't get to be with our babies in the here and now. I want to tell you today that I know how hard it is to wait. I know that many of us wait for different things in our lives, so I feel certain that even those of you not living with infertility can relate to this song called While I'm Waiting by John Waller. I've copied these lyrics from this website along with the artist's explanation for writing the song. (Also, you can purchase the song on iTunes, or check it out on John Waller's CD The Blessing.) I want this to be my anthem for the new year.

While I’m Waiting
Psalm 5:3, 27:14, 33:20, 37:7, 38:15, 40:1, Isaiah 30:18, Lamentations 3:24
John Waller

"The explanation for this song is simple, I was waiting on God and I was hurting when I wrote the lyrics. I probably wouldn’t have written a song if my friend, Mike, hadn’t encouraged me to document what I was going through during that time. I’m sure there are few people who can’t relate to this song, but the important thing to remember while we’re waiting on God is to not just wait but to actively wait. Serve, worship and be faithful with what you have, where you are… even while (you) wait.”

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

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