when you lose your place in your own story

Oh hey. Yeah, so it’s been 1 year+ since I’ve written in this little corner of the internet. Sometimes you just lose your place in a story, you know?

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When I became a mother 4.5 years ago, my life sped up immensely. And when Gracie joined us two years ago, I swear we entered warp speed.

You know what else happened when I became a mom? My heart broke open. When we discovered our infertility problems, I thought my heart broke. But then we had Luke, and that tiny little baby just split my heart open in the best way possible, and suddenly all the good and bad and joy and sorrow flowed through my heart in much deeper ways than it ever had before. And again, when Gracie joined us, the intensity of life itself became that much stronger.

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So somewhere in the midst of feeling all the things at warp speed, life got a little foggy. This blog has never been a completely accurate gauge for what’s going on in my life, but it was a glimpse of my journey and the things that I was processing along the way. These past couple years it’s been fuzzy – my internal dialogue (the source of these blog posts) became distant and disjointed and nonexistent at times. I felt swallowed up by the huge feelings and the constant go.go.go of two little kids and I was hanging on furiously so that I wouldn’t miss anything.

It bothered me, this feeling lost in my own story. I still found immense joy in my family and life – but it was just a little different. I couldn’t articulate all the little gifts and challenges that make life amazing, and I missed that inner processing. It took me awhile to put together the pieces, and I feel like I’ve found my place again.

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That season will always be a little bit mysterious to me, but I know that God was faithful in carrying me through it. Did a few years of interrupted sleep play a role? Probably. (My sweet Gracie Kate is just starting to sleep through the night at 2; at 4.5, Luke still wakes nightly). I really thrive on being their mama – even being up in the night with them is something that I often tuck away in my heart because this is such a fleeting time, and I treasure it – but sometimes I forget that it does take a toll on my body.

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I love the adventure of keeping up with a newborn turned infant turned toddler – it’s amazing to reflect on all.the.growth Gracie has had over the span of just two years! But it takes energy to keep up with all that. And Luke is growing up so quickly too – the past few years have also been riddled with ups and downs as we’ve tried to better understand some of the challenges he has. I know a lot of my thoughts and energy have been spent there, too.

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Even more, I feel like this season in life is just heavy with joys and sorrows, much more than other times in my life. So much has happened in the lives of those that are close to me, and I’ve felt it deeply. It almost knocks me over when I think of all the babies born, successes achieved, clear cancer scans, adventures that have happened, health restored and the sheer goodness of God evidently displayed in the lives around me. And in the same breath I try to take in the pain of infertility, all the babies that we never got to meet, the cancer updates that are not what was hoped for, the hospital stays for kids that are too young to belong in such a place, the loneliness, the pain, and the suffering that we don’t understand.

and if you travel here
you will feel it all
the brightest and the darkest
and if you travel here
listen to your heart
take with you what lasts forever
-Future of Forestry

For awhile, my reaction to feeling all.the.things was panic and confusion. I didn’t know how to let them be in my heart, especially when they had to share space with the unbelievable joy that I felt in being a mama to two beautiful kids. This ISTJ just isn’t keen on feeling all the emotions. Instead of letting myself experience these mixed emotions and process through things, too often I’d just replay Gracie’s birth in my head or hustle the kids off to a park where I could zone out in the sunshine. Not the best coping mechanisms, and largely unhelpful.

The more you see the less you know
The less you find out as you go
I knew much more then than I do now
-U2

Yet somehow, over time, I have regained my footing and my heart and head feel much more clear. Somehow I’ve found my place in my story again, and it is just as rich and complicated as I remembered and hoped it would be. Praise the Lord for his many mercies: for steadfast husbands, fabulous kiddos, amazing family and friends, skilled counselors and naturopaths, and the gentle hand of a God that cares intimately for each of us.

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I’m not promising that I’ll be blogging daily – or even regularly – but I’m excited to come leave some words or photos here when I am able. I have missed this blog so much – particularly being able to come back and look at what has happened in the past. I love having glimpses into different seasons of my life, and this season is a full, rich one.

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So welcome back to this window into our little life; sorry for this heavy intro, but I felt like I wanted to leave some explanation instead of just jumping in with random posts. And I wanted to be true to myself in these words, so that I could revisit them in the future and remember all that I sorted through in my heart.

Our hearts are heavy and light.
We laugh and scream and sing.
-Jamie Tworkowski

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not waiting to wait

Now that it’s halfway through January, my blog reader is finally starting to slow down with all the new year’s resolutions and goals and various words people have chosen as their theme of 2015.

And I’m over here, still reflecting on advent.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the newness of January, and I’ve done my own share of goal setting and re-organizing for the new year. It’s just that I am still thinking about the end of 2014. Maybe it’s the fact that Luke still asks if we can celebrate advent every day, or just the general speed of life these days. Either way, I’m still processing.

I love the season of advent. I thrive on anticipation, always have. So advent is just right for my personality.

This year, advent didn’t go exactly how I’d hoped. A nasty (and long-lasting) stomach bug made its way through 3/4 of our family, spread out over three weeks. I received more etsy business than I’d really prepared for, which was awesome, but made for a busy month. Gracie has been teething/growth spurting/whatever-ing that has caused some sleep disruption. And Luke is three and a half (enough said).

Last year, advent was such a sweet time. I was in my last trimester of pregnancy, which brought with it lovely anticipation and a killer nesting instinct. I was so well prepared going into advent that I had plenty of time to enjoy the season awaiting the celebration of Christ’s birth.

This year? Not so much. Many times Ian and I made the dramatic comment, “I feel like our lives are out of control.” Because our home has been a bit chaotic. And with the sicknesses, we had to hunker down and stay home more than usual. Which means more mess. And despite my best efforts at creating big-movement opportunities (pillow jumping, anyone?), it means excess energy from our boy. Which results in frenzied activities like decorating and re-decorating the tree.

Look closely and you will spy a napkin, ribbon, a box, some bows, a library DVD, a stuffed animal and a baby bottle.

Look closely and you will spy a napkin, ribbon, a box, some bows, a library DVD, a stuffed animal and a baby bottle.

Or filling the pack-n-play up with random toys in the time it took me to slice our pizza. Not make it, just slice it. (And yes, the pack-n-play emerged as a desperate attempt to corral the baby while I took a shower).

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Our chalkboard was definitely not pinterest-worthy by any means. I was usually a couple days late switching the week’s theme, it was written in a hurry, and usually covered in scribbles by the end of the day.

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We went through a family advent devotional that includes a Jesse tree with an ornament for each day. I had high hopes to create felt ornaments for Luke to unwrap every day and stick on his felt tree. I got through day 5.

I thrive in a neat and orderly environment. I don’t like to relax until everything is cleaned up. And yet, for this season of life, there is so much grace. So much.

Instead of waiting until I had everything nice and neat and prepared before celebrating advent, I was able to jump in and embrace what was there before me. Mugs of coffee gone cold long before I even got my first sip, bows and wrapping paper strewn about, stopping Gracie from her valiant attempts to reach the Christmas lights, reminding Luke for the millionth time to please be gentle with the ornaments – God found my heart in the midst of those chaotic moments and allowed me to anticipate his joy despite my own idea of what waiting and anticipation might look like.

Did it feel as magical as last year? No. But it was full and rich and beautiful in its own messy way. And Jesus’ birth? Not exactly a neat and orderly event either. I’m sure Mary had different ideas about where she wanted to bring him into the world, but once she held him in her arms, I doubt it mattered. And I felt a bit like that this year. Sure, the constant mess might have overwhelmed me, but if I looked up and saw the two little cuties I’ve been blessed with – a boy who memorized our scripture-based advent calendar and a baby girl so curious about everything around her – then my heart felt filled and grounded.

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Infertility, Adoption, Pregnancy: Our Story So Far – Part 3

It is still so crazy to me that Ian and I have experienced infertility, adoption, and pregnancy. All three parts of our journey have deeply affected who we are – as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

Every person has a unique story. Often our stories overlap in places – those moments when you feel a connection of “yes, I know what that feels like!” Throughout my life, I’ve always been greatly encouraged by hearing other people’s stories – both ones that I can easily relate to, and ones that widen my perspective of the different experiences that people have. I wanted to take some time and share our story – so far. I wrote most of these posts a year ago, but I wanted to wait until we had another little person and not just a pregnancy before finishing the last part. Well, apparently I ended up waiting 10 months. Anyways, here you go – in three parts over three days, so you’re not stuck reading it allll at once!

To read Part One, click here.
To read Part Two, click here.

Part Three: The Complete Surprise of Pregnancy

Still can't believe I carried a baby in my belly.

Still can’t believe I carried a baby in my belly.

Earlier I wrote about the day I found out I was pregnant. Seriously, my baby is now 10 months old (today!) and it STILL seems unreal. In a way, being pregnant was the strangest thing because I truly never expected it to happen. I am grateful that God protected my heart so well during that time. We had no idea how the pregnancy would go, and I know so many people (the majority of my mom-friends, actually) that have had pregnancy losses. And while as far as we know, we never conceived prior to Gracie, there was definitely some distrust in my body after the whole infertility deal. When I first told Ian that I was pregnant, our initial conversation had a lot of “so IF we have this baby…” talk, and I recognized it and called it out. I knew that we needed to be thankful for every day that I got to carry this baby, but we needed to talk with “when” and not “if” language, and trust God to hold our hearts as we walked in such strange new territory. And God was so gracious to us.

Honestly, pregnancy was awesome for me. I loved being pregnant. I know many friends that have seriously rough or scary pregnancies, so I recognize the gift of an easy pregnancy! Sure, the first trimester I was suuuuper exhausted and nauseous every day. But other than that, it was great. And the birth went awesome too. Seriously, I’d give birth to Gracie again tomorrow if I could (yeah, I’m weird like that).

It’s funny to be given a gift that for a time you so desperately wanted, but have grieved over and accepted as not happening. It’s kind of freeing, actually. I know that it helped give me better perspective on what is really important. We took a Bradley Method natural childbirth class (which was awesome!), and it was interesting to see what was  important to the other couples (who, of course, were all first-time parents). Sure, we wanted a natural birth, but if we ended up with a c-section or whatever, we’d still get to be present at the birth, something we didn’t get with Luke! Other parents were concerned about medical staff interfering with their desire for delayed cord clamping, rubbing the vernix into the skin, etc – all things that were so, so secondary to us.

The day before my due date.

The day before my due date.

The emotions of it all were kind of all over the place. At the beginning of my pregnancy, there was mostly shock, awe, and some guilt (why me out of all my friends struggling with infertility?). That progressed into a very sweet time of content anticipation – I loved being pregnant with such a sweet gift, and I treasured the time I got to carry her. I never reached the point of feeling “so done,” though my excitement in getting to meet her steadily grew.

When Grace was born, everything just seemed so right – our little family expanding with just the right little person. The strangest emotions came awhile after she was born: I missed being pregnant, yet I was obviously so in love with her. I think with Luke, it was awesome because it was ALL the excitement at once: BOOM! With Gracie, there was such a long period of anticipation – and I’m a person that really thrives on anticipation, so it’s hard to come down from, in a weird way. But the emotions of meeting my kids, through adoption or birth? The same: heaven-meets-earth awesome.

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Gracie, just a few hours old.

When we were waiting to adopt, we had one boy name and one girl name picked out. Grace Katherine seemed so right for a child that would join our family through the amazing gift of adoption. Yet when we found out we were expecting a girl through pregnancy, it also seemed perfect for such a surprise gift. Every child is a gift from God, and after experiencing infertility, we were keenly aware of that. Our aching desire to have a family was fulfilled not once, but twice, with two precious gifts from the giver of all good things.

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

-Grace, U2

I get asked about the difference between having kids through adoption vs. birth sometimes. It’s a hard question to answer, because there are just so many layers to separate, it’s almost impossible. Both experiences were so amazing, and different yet the same… I imagine might be similar to comparing any siblings’ births. I was a different person when Grace was born – I was already a mom, so that made a big difference. I think one of my favorite things about our story is that we got the bonus excitement of getting to have the first-time experience of becoming parents with Luke, and then getting the first-time experience of birth with Gracie. It was probably more relaxing to go through pregnancy for the first time while already knowing what it’s like to be parents. Although I do admit that I had fleeting daydreams of getting to just sit and do nothing (or sleep!) during my first trimester, or the chance to recover from my first birth (hello, third-degree tears) without parenting a toddler. But overwhelmingly I have just felt grateful for the family we have been given, and especially for the unique ways that Luke and Grace joined our family. My heart is full.

IMG_8415So that’s where our story ends so far. It remains to be seen if our family continues to grow, and if so, which way it will happen.  I love our story; the ups and downs seem almost surreal when I write them out, but it’s a true story. I hope that hearing how God has grown our family has been encouraging to you as well – thanks for listening!

 

 

Infertility, Adoption, Pregnancy: Our Story So Far – Part 2

It is still so crazy to me that Ian and I have experienced infertility, adoption, and pregnancy. All three parts of our journey have deeply affected who we are – as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

Every person has a unique story. Often our stories overlap in places – those moments when you feel a connection of “yes, I know what that feels like!” Throughout my life, I’ve always been greatly encouraged by hearing other people’s stories – both ones that I can easily relate to, and ones that widen my perspective of the different experiences that people have. I wanted to take some time and share our story – so far. I wrote most of these posts a year ago, but I wanted to wait until we had another little person and not just a pregnancy before finishing the last part. Well, apparently I ended up waiting 10 months. Anyways, here you go – in three parts over three days, so you’re not stuck reading it allll at once!

To read Part One, click here.

Part Two: The Absolute Joy of Adoption

Just minutes after meeting our son!

Just minutes after meeting our son!

Sometimes when I tell people our adoption story, I feel almost guilty for how quickly we seemed to move from despair to hope. Silly, I know – it’s just that many people have stories that involve years of disappointment and loss and indecision related to their infertility. For us, it was pretty straightforward – which is definitely a reflection of our personalities. While we were heartbroken to discover that we probably wouldn’t get pregnant, it didn’t change our desire to have a family. We agreed that IVF was not something we wanted to try, so adoption was the next thing for us to consider. Again, we were so blessed to have close friends that were just finishing the adoption process – in fact, their daughter’s adoption came through just weeks after we made the decision to adopt! Her arrival not only solidified our decision to adopt, but she was such a joy and encouragement to us, like a bonus gift from God affirming our journey towards parenthood.

Now, I’ve always loved adoption – one of my best friends was adopted, and it always just seemed like a cool part of who she was. I also had this idea that maybe her parents loved her a bit more than most parents, since they went out and found her, she didn’t just “happen” to join their family. However, never did it seriously cross my mind to actually be an adoptive parent – that seemed like something that was for “kid people,” and I definitely did not consider myself to be a kid person. I mean, I think kids and babies are great, but my personality is to relate to them in the same way that I do adults – I have a closer circle that I enjoy investing time and relational energy in, but I’m not crazy about getting to talk with, play with or cuddle every kid I come across. Some people are just natural “baby whisperers” or have personalities that attract kiddos to them – but that’s not me. So my initial – and maybe only – hesitation with adoption was, “really, God, me? Are you sure I’m the right person to adopt?”

Once we started the adoption process – the application, the fingerprints, the homestudy application, the classes, the homestudy visits, the profile book – it was exciting. Sure, it took time and sometimes the paperwork was tedious, but it was all a step closer to growing our family. I still remember exactly how I felt and what we did on the day of our first homestudy visit – such anticipation! It’s interesting to look back and see what happened emotionally over just a short time: from grief over our infertility – some days I felt like I could barely catch my breath from the pain – to an almost giddy, joyful anticipation.

When I think about this time, the word that comes to mind is elpis, a Greek word that is most often translated as “hope” in the New Testament. The word is so much richer than the wishful use of “hope” that we often use today – elpis is a confident expectation of things to come. I was confident that God was at work growing our family, and that made it easier – even exciting – to trust him through all the unknowns. Was it still hard when it seemed like everyone I  knew was getting pregnant? Sure. But it helped so much to be moving forward in a direction – I could still feel the grief (and jealousy, let’s be honest) but I had a solid place of hope to land on, not a bottomless pit of despair.

We were able to complete all our requirements and be officially approved and ready to adopt about nine months after we started the process. While it was super exciting to reach that point, we knew that we could be in the next phase indefinitely, just waiting for a birth mother to choose us to parent her child. This, in my opinion, is the hardest part of the adoption process. All those supportive people in your life? Suddenly they are asking you questions all the time: “any news? baby on the way?” It’s completely out of love and support, but it does get tiring – having to think of a response, and having to hear the questions on days when you are discouraged or are trying not to think about how long you will wait.

Waiting for an adoption is tricky - how much do you prepare? How much can your heart take? This was Luke's room one month before he joined our family - we had a carseat, a crib, and one newborn-sized onesie I had hand-stamped.

Waiting for an adoption is tricky – how much do you prepare? How much can your heart take? This was Luke’s room one month before he joined our family – we had a carseat, a crib, and one newborn-sized onesie I had hand-stamped.

To our complete surprise, we became parents only a couple months after completing our requirements! I will never forget receiving the phone call from our social worker.

I have never felt so incredibly elated, shocked, and overwhelmed with gratitude. It was like getting the news of a positive pregnancy test and having the baby within 30 seconds – if that’s not exciting, I don’t know what is! You can read more about Luke’s birth story and adoption finalization if you want to relive the awesomeness.

I’m pretty sure I stayed high on that mountaintop of love and joy and excitement for at least a year. One of the things I had worried about with adoption is that I wouldn’t get the postpartum hormones that help you bond with your child. That turned out to be a ridiculous fear, because holy moly, I was in love and the hormones showed up even though I didn’t give birth to him. There was never a moment of question; we were his parents and it was just meant to be.

Now Luke is three. Three! Most days go by without his adoption crossing my mind (although I think about adoption in general all the time – praying for friends who are still in the process and dreaming/scheming about adopting again someday). I’ll be reminded of how he joined our family when a stranger asks “where did he get his curly hair?!” or when he talks about how Gracie grew in my tummy. I don’t think he fully understands his story yet, and it’s just not a priority in his little world just yet. But we’ll keep telling him the amazing story of how he joined our family, and it will be a part of who he is.

Trusting God with my heart’s hopes and desires is a challenge – I like to hold on tight to my plans. I do hope that my ability to trust him continues to grow as he proves himself faithful over and over and over again. There are so many stories in my life of God’s abundant faithfulness – times where I didn’t get what I wanted; instead he gave me something much richer and deeper. And this – the story of how our firstborn son joined our family – is one of my favorite stories so far.

So in love with my little man.

So in love with my little man.

 

Infertility, Adoption, Pregnancy: Our Story So Far – Part 1

It is still so crazy to me that Ian and I have experienced infertility, adoption, and pregnancy. All three parts of our journey have deeply affected who we are – as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

Every person has a unique story. Often our stories overlap in places – those moments when you feel a connection of “yes, I know what that feels like!” Throughout my life, I’ve always been greatly encouraged by hearing other people’s stories – both ones that I can easily relate to, and ones that widen my perspective of the different experiences that people have. I wanted to take some time and share our story – so far. I wrote most of these posts a year ago, but I wanted to wait until we had another little person and not just a pregnancy before finishing the last part. Well, apparently I ended up waiting 10 months. Anyways, here you go – in three parts over three days, so you’re not stuck reading it allll at once!

Part One: Joining the Infertility Club

Celebrating our 3rd anniversary on Orcas Island.

Celebrating our 3rd anniversary on Orcas Island.

A few months before our 3-year anniversary, Ian and I decided that we were ready to add a little one to our family. We eased into it – not particularly “trying” to get pregnant, but leaving ourselves open to it happening. Around six months or so of that, we started being a little more intentional (ovulation charts, anyone?). When we still hadn’t gotten pregnant after about a year of that, we decided to do some testing to see what was up. Even though we really wanted to be pregnant, we were pretty chill about the whole thing, and were surprised that the doctor immediately gave us the label of having “infertility issues” simply because we’d gone a whole year without conceiving.

After a series of tests for both of us, they gave us our results, and they weren’t super promising – their recommendation was for us to pursue in vitro fertilization, and the most aggressive approach of IVF at that. They said it was highly unlikely that we’d  get pregnant with anything less than that procedure.

At this point, let me just say that while I don’t wish infertility on anyone, I have been immensely thankful that we have been able to have multiple friends with infertility challenges. Without those relationships, I think I would have felt so alone. And even at the very beginning of this journey, while I didn’t understand all the emotions that it would bring, at the very least I knew we weren’t alone, and that made a huge difference when hearing our diagnosis. (So if you are experiencing infertility – reach out to someone you know – it helps SO MUCH. Heck, email me if you think you don’t know anyone that’s walked down this road).

I’m not sure what other fertility clinics are like, but our experience was so bizarre. The doctor delivered this heavy news to us, then we were immediately ushered into another office to meet with someone about scheduling and financing an IVF procedure. No joke, she pulled out a calendar and rattled off the next few potential dates and what that would look like for us as far as injections, timing, etc. And of course the $15k+ financing options were discussed too. And everywhere you looked in this clinic, there were photos of happy babies – success stories. It was so strange! Luckily Ian and I were on the same page and walked out of there with a simple “yeah, we’ll think about it.”

While I wasn’t super emotional during that appointment (shock, I suppose), that evening I pretty much fell apart. It felt like my heart had been shattered, and I continued to feel intensely hurt for the next few weeks. I definitely questioned God’s goodness, and whether he even cared about the details of my life. Yet, even in the midst of sorrow, I was able to see glimpses of his grace – particularly his gentleness to my delicate heart. There were many ways that we could have discovered our infertility diagnosis, but the way it came about – sometimes phone calls from doctors that were slightly out of order, or premature – I felt like God gently eased us into hearing the news. For that, I felt extremely grateful – like I just barely survived emotionally because of his gentleness to me.

Nevertheless, infertility is a huge shock. I know there are some people that grow up knowing that they have infertility challenges due to a medical condition or some other known reason, etc. But for the majority of infertile couples, it comes as a complete shock. Having kids is just something you expect to happen – it’s perfectly natural for people to ask, “when will you start having kids?” because for most people, you just decide to go for it and it happens not too long down the road. Even more, infertility and pregnancy loss are still not talked about very openly, so even though lots of people experience struggles, it’s not always out in the open.

Even for us – personally knowing other couples that couldn’t get pregnant – it was a shock. Sure, it happened to them, but we had no reason to suspect that we would have any trouble conceiving. So it took time to adjust to this news that seemed so big and daunting. Again, I am SO thankful for our friends who have walked with us. This was a dark and difficult time in our journey of growing a family, but thankfully it was only part of the journey…

Celebrating our 4th anniversary

Celebrating our 4th anniversary, about a month before learning of our infertility challenges.

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Oh man. There are so many things that gave me extra smiles today.

1. Tomorrow is leap day! That doesn’t happen every year, you know.

2. I get to see / have seen a bunch of friends this week – friends that I don’t get to see often.

3. Super fun news from other friends.

4. Baby sunglasses.
The sun made a legit appearance in our backyard yesterday, and Luke was pleased.

5. My husband often makes the bed after I leave for work. How great is he?

6. Meal planning. Call me crazy, but I love being domestic. And organized.
March planning, look out!

7. This hilarious dish soap Ian found for me. I really love the Palmolive Pure + Clear, and Ian found it at Deals Only for cheap a long time ago and stocked up. Finally we ran out and I asked him to look for more. He came home with a couple bottles of this stuff, and it really makes me laugh. It is actually really similar to Pure + Clear, so I love it, but I find it hilarious that they market special “baby” soap. As if normal dish soap doesn’t work on “milk and food residue.”

8. My piano, and the fact that baby boo loves it so much. He pretty much insists on playing it every night before dinner. His favorite method is to grab my pointer fingers and play single keys with them. He has even played a scale. Musical genius, I tell you.

What made you smile today?

love

everybody, everybody wants to love
everybody, everybody wants to be loved

happy is the heart that still feels pain
darkness drains and light will come again
swing open your chest and let it in
just let the love, love, love begin

[everybody by ingrid michaelson]

I am a big fan of love. Who isn’t?

I think about love a lot. I think about how blessed I am to be loved by so many people in my life. People who love me when I’m at my worst. People whose love brings out the best in me.

I think about the crazy, huge love that Jesus has for us. The love that the Jesus Storybook Bible describes as the “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” It’s crazy because we don’t deserve to be loved the way we are – all messed up with mixed motives, good intentions that never take flight, and flat-out failures.

But sometimes – and I don’t think I’m the only one here – God’s love feels so far away. So distant that I start to think that he must not care.

I’m not talking about right now – heck, now is one of those filled-to-overflowing-with-love kind of times in my life. But two years ago, I thought I might die of heartache.

I honestly don’t remember the exact day that we got the official diagnosis of our infertility issues, but it was somewhere around the end of January or beginning of February. At first there was sadness and shock. But then, oh my, devastation like I’ve never felt. It was awful. I felt like my world was crashing in and I couldn’t breathe.

I think most people just assume they’ll be able to have biological kids. So when we learned that we probably wouldn’t get pregnant without the help of in vitro fertilization, we were pretty surprised.

I cried hard for weeks, and I am not a huge crier by nature. I cried when I woke up, I cried falling asleep, I cried multiple times throughout the day – it was rough going.

And I can tell you that I didn’t have the kindest words for God and his “never-stopping” love during this time.

It’d be easy for me to sit here and say “but look at me now! We adopted this incredible little boy and life is wonderful again!” (Okay, he is incredible!) But what’s actually amazing – to me – is that I felt like life was wonderful again long before Luke came along. And THAT I credit purely to God’s love, grace, and faithfulness.

Yes, there were those weeks of crying and grief and feeling like I was at the bottom of a dark pit. But there was also grace in so many ways. Even in my sadness and anger, God somehow gave me the strength to cling to those bits of light. The grace of having close friends who understood what we were feeling and were able to support us so well. The grace of gradually getting our “diagnosis” piece by piece – a few tests were done, and the doctors went from “maybe you guys will need a little medical help getting pregnant” to “you’ll need the most intense IVF treatment out there” over the span of a few weeks. God was so gentle to me in that way; I don’t think I could have taken the shock of the whole situation right away.

And somehow love pulled me through. I was kicking and screaming about how unfair and unkind God was to me, but when I started to quiet down a bit, I was met with immense love and hope. I’m not talking about a simple acceptance of the circumstances or a change of plans –  I hear people say “oh, you can just adopt” as if you’re out shopping for something that’s out of stock and “oh, you can just get a different brand.” Trust me, no one “just” adopts, let alone couples that have gone through the shock of infertility.

The hope that I experienced – and Ian too, it happened for both of us as a couple – was full of eager anticipation and expectation about what God had in store for us. We went from wondering why God wouldn’t give us a pregnancy that we wanted so badly, to feeling like he was giving us an extra special privilege by leading us to adoption. After all the crying and grief, it was almost a feeling of giddiness. And definitely joy. The dreams that were crushed were replaced with bigger, brighter ones as we embarked on a new journey towards parenthood.

And what a ride! Better than I ever could have imagined, and pure love, I tell you.

potato print onesie / joy overcomes infertility devastationjust let the love love love begin

[everybody by ingrid michaelson]