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Thursday, March 26, 2009

More On Getting It Right

Yesterday I wrote a post called "Getting It Right." Inspired by an email I'd received from a friend, it was about those precious times when we feel loved and cared for during difficult times. While the topic is still fresh, I want to say a few more things about getting it right. You see, sometimes I fear that people in my life may feel too much pressure to "say the right thing" or be absolutely perfect in showing their support. Because of all of the times that I've spoken about and written about hearing the wrong thing, I worry that it may be partly my fault.

Today I simply want to say that it really doesn't take much to reach out to a hurting friend. I don't want to encourage the idea that it is nearly impossible to get it just right. Sometimes the smallest gestures touch my heart the most, and that is the message I hope to get across. I mean it when I say that if you have ever called me up to ask how my day was when you know I'm struggling, or sent a heartfelt note after hearing of a loss, or lifted me up in prayer, rest assured that you have gotten it right! I've said this before, but I don't share the link to this blog with all of my real-life friends. If I have shared it, though, it means that I trust you. The fact that you read it shows me that you care.

Being part of a community of bloggers who share in the experience of infertility and loss is also a huge source of support for me. Yesterday I received some fantastic comments on the blog from a combination of real-life friends and blog friends, and I am so grateful. I thank you for choosing to walk this road along with me and allowing me to share in your journey as well. Thanks for the great comments and stories about people who reach out to you!

To sum up, my point is this: "Getting it right" doesn't mean you have to know the right thing to say and how and when to say it. It just means sincerity, compassion, love, and friendship. That's really it. One comment yesterday praised a friend who treats her like normal instead of like a "two-headed infertility monster." That's a great example. Like any other problem, struggle, or illness, a person going through infertility needs to know that there is concern for what we are going through, but we don't want to be defined by this issue. A friend who cares and gets it right won't ignore it, they won't try to fix it, and they'll know that sometimes you want to talk about it and sometimes you'd rather forget about it. Thankfully I have a family that always receives me with open arms, and I am so thankful for my dear friends who have children and treat me like normal.

I just want to leave you with the idea that getting it right is not an exact science. There are a lot of ways to go about doing it, but it always involves a heart that cares. How you wish to show that is up to you. I feel sure that if you care, your friend will know and you'll almost always get it right!

Thanks, friends. I love you guys.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Getting It Right

Sometimes I have the tendency to focus on the negative. I guess it's easy to complain about things not going my way or those comments I hear that really get under my skin. Then there are times, thankfully, when I am really touched by a friend who reaches out or a family member who takes the time to understand and listen. It would be unfair to never recognize the support that we do receive from those who take the time to show that they care.

Several years ago I made a very simple scrapbook out of the cards and letters we'd received after our miscarriages. It is sad but true that by the time we had our sixth loss the level of support appears to have gradually decreased. That is mostly due to the fact that we did not share the news of our pregnancy and subsequent loss as openly as we had a few years before. The hurt that came from recurrent loss caused us to pull back and seek comfort from a smaller and more personal group of immediate family and friends. I don't want to over-analyze it, but I only want to say that I've been extremely grateful for all of the kindness that has been shown to us over the years. Even now that we have not experienced a new loss in a couple of years, I am especially thankful for those of you who hang in there with us month after month and year after year, with what seems like little or no news or progress. If you're reading these words right now, and if you leave comments or send emails or pray for us, then I'm talking about you!

Occasionally I get out that scrapbook that I put together (which needs to be updated) and I'm always touched by the notes that were written, the encouraging words and Scriptures that were shared, the photos of flower arrangements that were sent, and more.



I know it's easy to get bogged down by careless comments and unwanted advice that seem so prevalent to those going through infertility. But today I wanted to focus on the positive - something I should do much more often. A few weeks ago I received an email from one of my oldest friends. I want to share a paragraph from it with you because it has really stuck with me. He wrote:

"I wanted to let you know how sad I feel about y'all's* situation, but how much of an impact you sharing your story in your blog has. Even though I rarely comment, I always read your entries (hoping not to see myself as an example of what not to do, but knowing that if I am, you would still be a great friend and love me anyway). A few weeks ago, some of our best friends had a miscarriage, and it helped me greatly to go back and read some of your earlier entries to try to make sure I was being the best friend to them that I could be. I really grieved for them, and can't imagine having to go through that. Of course, it reminded me of you and I wanted to let you know that I pray for you regularly."

He went on to say that he had made our last name his password for the month at work, as a reminder to himself to pray for us. In the same email, my friend told me that he and his wife are expecting their second child. I cried when I read the letter, but not because I was jealous, and (believe it or not) not even because of how much I hate infertility. The tears came because this is a friend who cares, and I am truly happy for him. This is friendship. This is getting it right. I don't know if this will make me sound selfish, but the sincerity behind those words made me forget for a second that I don't have what other people have, that thing that I want so badly. Furthermore, the fact that he was able to use what I'd written to reach out to other friends experiencing miscarriage meant the world to me. It made me feel like I don't write all of this down for nothing! (Thanks, RCP. I know you've always been afraid of making an appearance on my blog, but I thought you deserved a little praise. You and your sis are great friends to us.)

This is just one example, but I have some other gems like that. I keep them stored away for times when I need reminding that people do care. What about you? What are some examples that stand out in your mind of people getting it right? I would love to hear stories of how people have encouraged you in your struggle.

*Note: Yes, here in Texas we actually use "y'all's" as the plural possessive for "y'all." Just wanted to clear that up! :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Improvements

We continue to be very busy around the house. I love this time of year for cleaning things up and making improvements, whether big or small.

Last weekend we started a project in the laundry room. When we had the backsplash done in the kitchen recently, we bought some extra tile to eventually redo the floors in the laundry room and guest bathroom. When the washing machine started leaking a few weeks back, we took the opportunity to give the whole laundry room a makeover. Fortunately, we already had most of the supplies on hand. We used a $50 gift card to Home Depot to buy just about everything else. It was nice to be able to give the room a facelift without breaking the bank!

As is usually the case, our weekend project turned into a week-long project. I guess that's not so bad considering we did all of the work ourselves and Chuck still had to go to his regular job every day (which was a bit painful since it was spring break week in Texas). The worst part about it was not being able to do laundry for 7 days! Here are some pictures of our project. It's a pretty small room, especially with the washer and dryer in place, but I'm really happy with the update.

Laundry room before:
Chuck removing the old flooring:

Working on the new tile:

New floor and baseboards:

We painted the walls brown and the cabinets white (by the way, I just got my hair cut at the end of last week, so it's not quite that long anymore!):

Finished room (we found the cute signs at Hobby Lobby; the one on the right we bought black but spray painted it white):


Our new fresh and clean laundry room:


This is what kept me busy all week and mostly away from my computer. Do you have a room in your house that you would most like to update?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Daydreams About Fatherhood

My husband will be a great father someday.

It is very comforting for me to know that. I couldn't be happier about it, but of course it makes me incredibly sad that he has to wait too. I constantly grieve over the fact that "my infertility" has to be "our infertility." I know he loves me anyway, but I can't help but feel some guilt and regret over that. If we ever do have children, I'm not worried at all about how he will do. He will be amazing. He would be the coolest guy they could ever meet. I know from experience that living with him is a blast!

If we have a boy someday, he will take him fishing. He might teach him how to play the guitar. They will no doubt play video games together and fly kites and laugh at silly things. Our son will know that his dad loves him. He will teach him how to grow up and be a responsible man who loves his wife and loves Jesus.


If we have a girl someday, he will take her fishing. He might teach her how to play the guitar. They will no doubt play video games together and fly kites and laugh at silly things. Our daughter will know that her dad loves her. He will teach her how to grow up and be a responsible woman who will want to marry a man just like her dad.


I watch my husband with our nephews all the time. I see how they look up to him and how he makes them laugh. He makes them feel like they are the two most important boys in the whole world. Sometimes when we're not with them (they live about 2 hours away), he'll look at me and say, "I miss my boys." It melts my heart. It encourages me every day to know he can love children who did not come from our bodies. I know that he would love an adopted child unconditionally. Our nephews share none of the same genetic material as my husband. They are my sister's boys. My sister is happily married to their daddy. I don't place what they share with their uncle any higher than what they have with their dad, but I know that their relationship with Chuck is special.


I know he loves them with his whole heart.




He has watched them grow up since they were first born. When nephew A was born in 2001, Chuck had very little experience with babies. Nephew N came along the next year, and by now Chuck has had lots of practice being an uncle. He has changed many diapers and wiped many bottoms, spent many afternoons at the park or in the backyard, and kissed away many hurts. He does stuff with them that boys love to do, and he always teaches them new things. To them, it seems their uncle can do anything: he's the very best at drawing, playing games, and building things. Even though they are boys, he isn't afraid to give them hugs and kisses.



We are fortunate to be able to live close enough to see them so often, and we have never missed a birthday or Christmas together. The boys are already 8 and 6 years old, and with each passing year I worry that maybe they won't think we're so great anymore. Thankfully, they always prove me wrong. As their aunt I have always loved them deeply, but I can honestly say that it doesn't hurt my feelings one bit when they run past me sometimes to throw their arms around their uncle. In fact, that makes me love them even more. They think he's as great as I do. I get that.


He's a great husband and uncle, and one day I know he WILL be a great father. I can't wait.

Monday, March 9, 2009

In Other News

It's time for a little break from writing about infertility. I've been in a funk for the past couple of weeks. It is a combination of things, really, the main one being the return of my old friend Insomnia. The time change this weekend only made my problem worse. I was so exhausted on Sunday that I came home from church and slept on the couch for over 2 hours! (I know what you're thinking and no, definitely not pregnant.) Naps are not usually my thing. Don't get me wrong, I think naps are great. It's just that indulging in a nap usually means it will be that much more impossible for me to fall asleep at night.

The only good thing about being unable to sleep is that it gives me lots more time to read books. I'm making great progress on my reading list, recently finishing Life of Pi and The Little Prince. Right now I am more than halfway through The Secret Garden and I'm enjoying that little escape.

Chuck spent the weekend trying to identify a problem with our washing machine. We have had the worst luck with appliances lately! I'd been noticing a musty smell in the laundry room (I've learned to trust my nose!), and then a little puddle appeared one day after I washed some clothes. Fortunately, my husband is very handy around the house and he thinks he has it figured out, but of course we have to wait on a part to be delivered hopefully this week. I'm still using the washer (after he put it back together) and we'll tackle it again next weekend. Isn't it true that when it rains, it pours? We've been on quite an adventure as homeowners lately.

We spent the rest of the weekend with some great entertainment at home. We finished watching the John Adams miniseries on DVD, which was very good. If you haven't seen it yet, I hope you'll check it out. Ever since our trip to Washington, D.C. the summer before last, we've been very interested in learning more about American history. In 2007 Chuck and I went to D.C. because he had a work conference to attend. The trip was extra special because we were able to invite my mom and my brother to go along with us. It was the very first visit there for the three of us (Chuck had been in junior high on a school trip) and we had an amazing time visiting our nation's capital. My mom has always been incredibly patriotic, so experiencing D.C. with her was unique and special. Also, she and my brother have done very little traveling over the years. Some months after we returned home she caught the John Adams series on TV, and later I bought her the book and my sis bought her the DVDs, which Chuck and I just finished watching this weekend. (And now we've come full-circle!) It's exciting to see my mom's continued passion for learning about history after that trip we took. She just soaks it up like a sponge!


One of our Net.flix movies from the weekend was The Kite Runner. I have to tell you that we both absolutely loved this movie. I'm a little mad at myself for not reading the book first, but the movie did not disappoint. Chuck and I watched it last night and by the end we were both in tears. (Sorry honey, but you know I'd rather be married to someone who would be moved by this film than someone who wouldn't!) If you haven't seen the movie, I'd recommend it. Like I said, I haven't read the book but now I want to! I have no doubt that it would be a great read.


I am more than ready for Spring to arrive. Here in Texas we've had some summery days already, with a little taste of Spring here and there. We're getting a "cold front" (I'm sure that's a relative term) later this week, which I'm guessing might be the last one of the season for us. I'm ready to get the yard and flower beds looking pretty again!


That's life for us here in our corner of the world. How did you spend your weekend?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Not Easy

It's not easy making decisions about our future when each option is scary and uncertain, but we do it because we have to.

It's not easy putting my life on hold for years and years while I wait for something to happen, but I continue to wait as patiently as I can.

It's not easy listening to baby stories when I got another negative pregnancy test that morning, but I do it politely and don't say a word.

It's not easy hearing my husband talk about how awkward it will be to attend a baby shower for a co-worker, but I've been there more times than I can count (and I feel for him).

It's not easy for us to shop for baby gifts year after year, but we do it because we love our friends and we really are happy for them.

It's not easy getting back in touch with old friends who will wonder why I haven't had children yet, but I do it because I care about keeping in touch.

It's not easy knowing that my husband would be an amazing father and not being able to do a thing about it.

It's not easy to try again when the pain of past losses is still so fresh.

It's not easy to keep praying during times when I wonder if I'm being heard.

And it's not always easy to keep hoping and trusting, but I do it because I know that that my God is faithful.