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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Treasures

I think it's pretty safe to say that when you're going through infertility it's hard to find the bright spots most days. Life still has its joys, of course, but I mean it's difficult sometimes to recognize any good that could possibly come out of a trial when you're still so deeply submerged in it. I know that, personally, I spent day after day and year after year trudging along with my shoulders hunched and head down, bracing myself for another disappointment and just trying to make it one day at a time. It was hard to keep picking myself up after another loss... and another... and another. It felt (and still feels) like a burden, a struggle, and an uphill climb.

Thankfully, in the midst of all that, my husband and I worked to make some happy memories. We wanted to someday look back on our waiting years and see that there was still joy to be found -- but it took a few years for us to get there and actually put it into practice. That doesn't mean there weren't still a lot of hard days. It just meant that we tried to make the best of it. We spent lots of time with our families, we spoiled our nephews, we tried to be more spontaneous and do more fun things together, and we traveled. We went to Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, San Francisco, Florida, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Washington, D.C., and New York City. We saved our money for vacations and seized every opportunity to turn work trips into new adventures. We used money we'd been saving for baby furniture to buy a new camera and I documented our new memories in scrapbooks. And now, years later, while I don't view my battle with infertility as over and done (although I pray it is), I can look back on portions of that time fondly. Those memories are some of the treasures that have come out of that trial.

That's what this post is about. Treasures. And by far the most amazing treasures that I've found over the past decade have been people. Our family members and some of our oldest and dearest friends stuck by us during that time and prayed their hearts out for us. That's a treasure. It means more to me than I could ever express. Sometimes people I didn't even know that well sent a card or told me how they were touched by our situation and our faith. That always encouraged me to keep going, and it helped me to learn to be more open about sharing our struggle because I knew that others were hurting too.

Suddenly there were lots of new people in my life who had also been through miscarriage or infertility. There were others who understood all the devastation and disappointment, the guilt and the grief that we'd been going through. All at once I could use this blog to sort out my emotions and fears, and read about other people who were facing similar circumstances. And it all came at a time when I needed it the most. That was a treasure.

Soon I began to feel such a kinship with my blog friends. Over the years it has worked out (not coincidentally, I believe) for me to meet a few of them in person. It has been one of my favorite things about blogging and one of the biggest and best treasures to come from this trial. Even now that I don't blog as much as I used to, I've been able to keep up with several friends and get to know them a little bit better on pretty much a day-to-day basis through facebook and email. Oh, how I wish I could meet all of them in real life!

What really amazes me now is to be able to see all of our paths in hindsight. None of our experiences were exactly the same. Some were more similar than others, but all of them were about longing and loss in one way or another. I always felt an extra special bond with those who shared not only my fight but also my faith. It's just one of those common denominators that often makes an instant connection.

My first in-real-life blog friend experience was in February of 2009 when I met Tammy. (I originally wrote about it here.) I didn't really "know" Tammy that well when it worked out for us to meet, but we didn't want to pass up the opportunity and I'm so glad we didn't. Our friendship has blossomed ever since that day. Thinking back to where we both were in 2009 and all that has happened since is pretty incredible. Tammy and her husband are such a precious couple, and it was a joy to watch as they brought home their beautiful daughter, Hannah, at Christmas just a couple of months ago! I am still over-the-moon excited for them.

Just a few months later, in May 2009, I found myself on vacation with my whole family in a cozy and beautiful cabin in Tennessee. While we were planning the trip, I realized that we wouldn't be very far away from a dear blog friend in North Carolina, Beth. It was settled: we were going to set up a meeting! (Read more about our meeting here.) Beth and I had been communicating frequently through email ever since I'd first discovered her blog the previous year. I felt an instant connection with her and we'd formed a fast friendship. She and I shared so many griefs and fears together, and amazingly, we've celebrated with these dear friends as they've welcomed not one, not two, but THREE gorgeous boys into their family since then! It still gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

Fast forward to just a little over a year later, in July 2010. I had discovered a while before that one of my sweet blog friends lived not too far from my hometown in Louisiana. I knew then that I was destined to meet Crystal during one of my trips back home, and I was so touched that our first meeting happened at my baby shower. (I wrote more about it here.) We were expecting Lily in September, and it was very sweet to share that time together as Crystal was also expecting her miracle baby boy that December. Our meeting is a very special memory of an amazing, almost ethereal time for me -- for us both, I'm sure, as we found ourselves in the middle of our long-awaited and much prayed for healthy pregnancies. It has been a special treat to be able to visit with Crystal and her adorable son twice more since then, at Christmas of 2010 when our babies were tiny and again last Christmas as they toddled around and played together. This friendship has been such a sweet gift!

That brings me to 2012, and the addition of a fourth friend to this special list of treasures. At the end of last month on our way back from visiting family in Oklahoma, we were able to stop by the home of my blog friend, Jessica. Our trip would take us within just a few miles of their house, not far from the interstate, and it was the perfect opportunity for our families to meet. Jessica and I had an amazing moment not long after she found my blog when we realized that we'd attended the same college. We never knew each other there, but before long we also made the connection that she and my husband had both grown up right there in that small college town and had -- brace yourselves -- graduated from high school together! Oh, I just love the way God works things out. We had a wonderful visit with Jessica and her husband, and we were thrilled to be able to meet their precious new miracle girl, just 7 weeks old. It was the kind of meeting where everything just clicked and it was as natural and easy as being with old friends. We are so thankful that we got to meet these friends face-to-face after sharing in the struggle, and it touched my heart to watch our daughter play in their daughter's room. What a blessing it was!


To each and every one of the special friends we've "met" along the way, I hope you know what a treasure YOU are.