Grateful for Infertility? Kristin's Story

We are truly honored to share a beautiful story with you today. A story of learning to live in the present, in the midst of today - the good and the bad. When we are in the midst of a trial, like infertility, it is sometimes so hard for us to learn to accept that God will give us the strength and peace to get through it. But when we can finally grasp that, we can start to live again. We can thrive in the today while still waiting on the tomorrow.  Please join me today as we welcome Kristin to ONSEL today. I know you are going to be touched by the raw beauty of her heart.

Living in this Space {Kristin's Story}
 

But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.
— Jeremiah 17:7-8

I am in the midst of a story unfinished. Strength is carrying me now.

Not the kind of strength that tells everyone I am okay.

The kind of strength that allows pain to be felt. Strength that finds courage to tell the story of my heart.

Plan A, teaching until motherhood. The release would come when motherhood started. Life would truly begin. Months passed, years passed, a decade on the horizon.

Year nine, there was a wrestle, an all out fight. Plan B was finished, the chapter closed, the end. There was no more to give. This chapter was supposed to be short. In fact, not even written, that was the dream. Almost a decade later, my mother's heart shattered to pieces. There would be no release this year or maybe ever.

The call came in the middle of the day at the very place I worked, and had grown to resent, school. Showing up everyday was a reminder of unfilled desires, a broken heart, a life not lived. The load was heavy, there was much to bear, the weight crushing. Resentment brewing, a volcano ready to erupt. Joy diminished.

The phone call ended, the hope of my release shattered to pieces, seventeen first graders waiting for my return. My moist eyes filled with tears as I entered the room. This was never supposed to be my life. My heart was shattered to pieces, yet my first graders new nothing of my broken heart.

Another year, my contract signed, another year of an empty womb.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
— Matthew 11:28

As the school year approached my counselor felt lead to pray over my year. "What are  you most concerned about this new school year?" In my heart of hearts, I didn't want to face that space. The space at school where my dreams shattered. The space was just outside my classroom door. My hands folded and head bowed, I asked God a simple question. A question that I am forever grateful I had the courage to ask. "God, what do you have to say about that space?"

The words were loud and clear, LIVE. A place that spoke death over my womb was to be a place of living. That space was not to be a reminder of death, but the day God asked me to live. Live not waiting of dreams to come, live because of who HE is.

My heart is forever grateful that in His love for me He gave me new life. The chapter that was never supposed to be written at this time has an indefinite ending and there are still more questions than answers. Though there are many battles and longings that go unfilled, I am learning to life in the midst of unfilled desires and empty arms. Jesus said "Blessed are those who mourn, for that shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) I'm grateful that in this season of coming to terms with living without, there is a comforter that I have found alive within that truly gives me peace that surpasses all understanding. In my wilderness season, new life is blooming and being produced. I am learning to live, all to His glory.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:6-7

A month ago at school I was asked by a co-worker if they could take my picture. I sat down and smiled not thinking anything about the location. She then handed me the picture. As I held the picture in my hand, I was overwhelmed by the joy in which my smile seemed to radiate. Then it hit me... I was living in that space.

There are many things in this world that can define a person. Some say I am a daughter, wife, sister, granddaughter, friend or teacher. What really matters in life is that I am a child of God, who desires to walk in the freedom of Christ, and to share the journey of liberty with others.
— Kristin

Kristin and her husband enjoy serving in children's ministry. She can often be found running, reading a book, sipping coffee with a friend, singing songs with her first graders and writing. You can follow more from Kristin on Instagram @wildernessblooms


A series for people who are grateful for infertility?  Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.

Grateful for Infertility? Ashley's Story

Like so many of us, we entered into our relationships and marriages with a certain set of expectations only to find that God had something so different in store for us. If we continue to hang on so tightly to what we think defines a good life, we may miss out on some of the biggest blessings we could ever imagine. If we are so focused on our checklists of standards, expectations and plans, that we lose the ability to be flexible and to put our faith and future in a God who loves us dearly, we may miss His plans completely.  Ashley tells us a beautiful story today about how God shook her world upside down when she met the man of her dreams that was completely different than what she thought she was looking for. And as they entered into their marriage, her world was shaken up again when she realized she wouldn't be able to start her own biological family right away, as she had dreamed.  In today's Grateful for Infertility story, we are grateful for the flexibility we find in our faith and for God's overall plans for blessing us in creative and sometimes surprising ways.  Join me as we welcome Ashley to ONSEL today.

I spent my twenties searching for this man to meet all the criteria I envisioned I deserved and just knew once I found him I would be able to start my family. I knew I wanted kids right away. I was already 28 and by southern standards, practically an "old maid" (at least my Granny thought so).

Finally one Sunday evening, standing in the church coffee shop, my eyes locked in with this 6'5" tall and thin, dark haired guy loaded up with religious tattoos. I was hooked.

I watched him all service long, singing and praising God and I knew "he was it! The father to my future kids!"

After speaking casually through texts and facebook, and scrolling through his pictures (in that perfectly acceptable Facebook stalker kind of thing girls sometimes do), I saw many pictures of him and a small boy. I asked him who the boy was and he shared that he had a son from a previous marriage. Well that was not what I had been looking for in my future husband!

All of a sudden, this amazing man who instantly hooked me didn't fit any of my criteria. But God had changed my heart, and I knew God had given me what I needed in Timothy.

We began a relationship and I began to fall madly in love with a man and a young boy. Together we became a new family, doing everything together. We were inseparable. Never had I thought I would ever love a child who "wasn't mind." Never had I thought that a bond of love so deep could be formed with someone whose blood was not the same as my own.

That was the old me's way of thinking. When I met Timothy and his son Mason, every criteria, thought, idea of my expectations went out the door. God showed me how to love and what real love was. Prior to them, the only person I really seemed to love was myself.

Once we were married, I wanted to start a family right away. I always just knew it would happen... so when it didn't, it threw me for another loop.

We have tried a few medications and of course clomid. We have done plenty of bloodwork and are in the middle of the process of elimination to determine the cause for our infertility. I won't say that I will never be able to conceive because we are not there yet, and by there I mean done eliminating things. But I will say that I am grateful. I'm grateful because God knows what I need better than myself. I'm grateful because God threw out my list of things "I thought I deserved" and my ideas that I would only be satisfied with a child of my blood. He completely changed me from a selfish person who thought all I cared about was fulfilling some list and doing things my way. He opened my heart up to a man who is an incredibly selfless husband and has given me a son that I can hold onto every night.

I hope and pray one day we can extend our family and I can carry a child, but if that day doesn't come, I am blessed beyond measure with the child I already have in my life. You must be grateful where you are before you can ever be or go anywhere else.


A series for people who are grateful for infertility?  Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.

The Decision: Grateful for Big Tough Girls {Part 2}

In honor of National Adoption Month, I am sharing with you all another Big Tough Girl, Sarah.  I came to know her through our friend, Ashley Mitchell, and have grown to love her so much. I love her honest heart and transparency, her fun spirit, and for the hard decisions she has made that transformed her life.  Sarah is a birth mom, is an integral part of the Big Tough Girl community, a huge adoption advocate, and an awesome new friend.  She and Ashley have worked very hard to form a huge support system for other women who found themselves in the same situation.  Many may judge birth moms, but few will ever understand what they have gone through and the heart changes that take place.  If not for them, women like me would not ever have the chance to be mommies.  I'm grateful for Sarah, our new friendship, and what she stands for.  I'm eternally grateful for the choices that these beautiful, strong women make.  And I'm especially grateful for our own birth mom.  

I made my decision pretty early on. At first, before God stepped in & revealed the truth, I thought my only option was abortion. You see, this generational curse of pregnancy before marriage has plagued my family a long time. I felt so much shame having fallen privy to the exact situation I swore I’d never find myself in. I don’t necessarily believe I would have been able to go through with the abortion & if I had, the guilt probably would have killed me, but God had other plans for her. when I weighed out all my choices, parenting meant she’d go without, she wouldn’t have the best life she could or the opportunities she deserved: she deserved better. Abortion meant not even giving her the opportunity to become who she was meant to be: she deserved life. Adoption meant that she would be well taken care of, have everything she needed, never have to worry where a meal or clothing or medical treatment or fatherly love was coming from: she deserved a family. With him, the answer was obvious at first: adoption! But financial circumstances at first disabled them from being able to adopt him too so I decided on parenting, all the while knowing that he deserved better than that, better than broken, angry, self hatred me. God had other plans for him though too. After some financial miracles his parents were able to adopt him as well. It was not an easy choice in either circumstance, but ultimately it was truly exactly the decision meant to flourish their lives in the most amazing ways possible. I’m eternally grateful for both of those decisions: for choosing life & for choosing adoption.
— Sarah

On behalf of all adoptive moms, I want to thank Sarah for making the hard decision - adoption.  Many think this is an easy out for these women and nothing could be further from the truth.  They go through just as many hard emotions in those few short months (and even years beyond) as those of us who have faced infertility or some other pain.  I'm so thankful for these women.  I'm thankful that they chose life.  I'm thankful that my infertility opened my heart to them and allowed me to become friends with some of the bravest women I know - women that my otherwise my path would not have crossed.

Thank you Sarah for allowing me to share your words on our blog today.  I love you and love being hand in hand with you Big Tough Girls.


A series for people who are grateful for infertility?  Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.

Grateful for Infertility? Janessa's Story of IVF and Adoption

We are so grateful for the response we've had to our Grateful for Infertility series and for the amazing stories that have come with each new connection. Janessa's story has to be one of my favorites as she talks about finding gratitude in the midst of some really difficult diagnoses and quest for their own biological child through IVF, and through a beautiful and unique adoption story.

It's weird to say I am grateful for infertility or any trial for that matter.

My name is Janessa and my husband and I have struggled with infertility for three and a half years. But when I look back on the struggle, there definitely is SO much to be thankful for.

If we didn't have infertility, we wouldn't have adopted Ashton. We had been trying for almost two years when he came into our lives. Luckily the grandparents who were looking for adoptive parents were very close to us and knew our fertility struggles! Feel free to click on over to our blog to read more about our unique adoption story. Because of our infertility, we had an opportunity to adopt the most beautiful boy!! And I am so grateful everyday.

I also found out through infertility that I am a carrier of Cystic Fibrosis. Luckily my husband isn't but our children will be carriers. I am now grateful to have that information so that my future family doesn't have to struggle with this. We did IVF in February of this year (2014). Unfortunately, it failed. My doctor was determined to figure out why. We did more testing and found out I have an immunodeficiency and my body kills off embryos. In September, we found a solution for this and tried another round of IVF. I am now 10 weeks along!

This past year has been some of my darkest of times and I have never felt more loved. Lastly, infertility has opened up our lives to so many people. I have made many close friends and have helped many and been helped by many dealing with the same struggles.  Although it has been one of the hardest things we have gone through, and continue to go through, I wouldn't change a single thing.

I was born and raised in Utah, got married and planted roots in Lehi, UT. I love to craft. I espcially love to create wreaths for my front door for every holiday and season. I also do shellac nails, for friends and family, but mostly for myself. When I have free time, I enjoy reading a good book. I'm a blog addict and love to tell about our lives and stories over at jsquaredfrahmI hope you'll stop by!


A series for people who are grateful for infertility?  Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.

Grateful for Infertility? Lisa's Story

It is our honor to bring you a story of faithfulness and blessings through IVF. After struggling through a period of infertility, Lisa is now a dedicated, loving mother of two precious boys. She loves playing with her sons, date nights with her husband, painting pottery and reading. She was gracious enough to share her story of infertility and how it makes her grateful.  Please join us as we have the privilege of sharing Lisa's Story.

Our Story...

After four years of marriage, we decided to try to conceive our first child in October of 2007. We already knew our chances weren't great and my ob-gyn put me on Clomid after only a few months. My body didn't respond favorably at all. We gave up that option after six disappointing months. Eventually, we decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist. We began another drug that works similar to Clomid called Femara. We had a better response to that one but still no pregnancy. Next, we paired it with IUI's. We began to lose hope, unsure if we were willing to take the next so, so expensive step.

Our insurance wouldn't help at all but we wanted to become parents so badly that in October of 2009, we began our first round of IVF. Initially, everything seemed to be going well. We were told I had around 13 eggs developing. So, on the day of retrieval, I was devastated after coming out of light anesthesia, to learn that only 5 eggs were retrieved. Out of those, only one was viable and it wasn't the best looking.

Just after Thanksgiving that year, we found out our first round of IVF had failed. We grieved for what might have been. Our friends and family were supportive but it was a very lonely feeling. Often, couples experiencing this hardship don't know anyone who knows what it feels like. That's why an online support community is so helpful. I found that my prayer life and love of Jesus helped to keep me from despair.

In January of 2010, we began our second and final round of IVF. This was it. There was no way we could afford a third. My doctor decided that since my fertility problem seemed to be improper and inadequate egg maturation, he would give me a high and experimental dose of hormones on my last day of injections. On retrieval day, we got 20 eggs! Eighteen fertilized and 17 made it to transfer day! We transferred 2 beautiful embryos. Ten agonizing days passed. We weren't due at the clinic for a pregnancy test for 4 more days. However, I was convinced it hadn't worked. I cried that morning until it was time for work. I work in a hospital lab as a medical laboratory scientist. I ran a blood test to get it over with so I could go ahead and try to accept that I would never become a mom.

To my great surprise, the test came back with a result of 37.1! I was pregnant! That was a very scary and very early result but the pregnancy continued. In March, at 7 weeks, we found out it was a single pregnancy and I had a huge subchorionic hemorrhage threatening the pregnancy. For the next 5 weeks we prayed every day for our baby. Eventually the hemorrhage healed completely! We were having a little boy! Aside from a well controlled case of gestational diabetes the rest of the pregnancy went well. On October 20th 2011, our bouncing baby boy was born at 39 weeks. He was a healthy 7 lbs 9.5 ounces and perfect!

It's funny, in a way, I'm thankful for everything we went through to have him. Whenever things get tough I always remember what infertility felt like and how blessed I am to be that little miracle's mother. Not every mother has that on the days when their toddler is bouncing off the walls and making mess after mess. I will always have this thankfulness with me. And, it extends to my youngest son as well. That's right! We had a surprise pregnancy last year! I guess my body finally figured out what it was doing! I thank God every day for my handsome wonderful little boys! They are both miracles in different ways as all babies are. I'm also thankful for the 5 frozen embryos we have waiting for us to use to possibly expand our family again.


A series for people who are grateful for infertility?  Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.

Pain to Purpose

When Ashley Mitchell asked me to write a post for Big Tough Girl in honor of National Adoption Month, I of course jumped at the chance.  As you know, she and I have become dear friends through the adoption community.  She leads the charge in providing love, healing, support, encouragement, and community for birth moms - the true Big Tough Girls.  I love hear heart and passion, and I love joining hands with her to encompass each side of the adoption triad.  When she asked me to write, I knew immediately what the subject would be.  I knew several weeks back that I wanted to combine National Adoption Month with Thanksgiving and talk about why I am grateful that my infertility led to the adoption journey that God had planned for us.  I wanted to share something that would touch each side of the adoption triad and pray that it has and continues to do so.  And for others, I pray that it reveals more about me and our story but most of all about how God can turn whatever pain you are going through into a purpose that He has for your life.  It may not be infertility, but I pray that through our journey you can see God's glory and redemption that lies ahead for you and your own life.

Thank you Ashley for sharing Pain to Purpose over at Big Tough Girl today.  I pray that it reaches many, encourages many, and reveals God's glory.  

I knew that “whatever my lot” then it should be well with my soul. But it wasn’t. I was angry. And I was broken, which is exactly where God needed me to be. I had done everything my whole life in the right order – graduate high school, college, get married, get a good job, and now it was supposed to be my time to have children. And it was my time. It just wasn’t exactly how I had planned for it to happen.
— Jenny

(To read the full Pain to Purpose post, click on the link above.)


A series for people who are grateful for infertility?  Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.

Kelly's Adoption Journey

I could not be happier than to introduce you all to Kelly today.  She is one of my very best friends that I have yet to hug.  A lot of people don't understand how you can be not only be friends, never mind be really true friends, with someone you've never met.  I have to say that in the adoption community it happens every single day.  And it is not just adoptive parents that I connect with - it is amazing birth moms and adoptees as well.  You see, there is something we all have in common and something that is the most important thing to us - to love without barriers and to share that love with the world.  Through all of that, very similar stories, and our love of the Lord, Kelly and I became friends very quickly.  Plus we share the love of hashtag silliness and antics which is just icing on the cake.

Kelly is sharing with us today an excerpt from her blog post, My Journey to Adoption.  Like many of us, she had to wade through the valley and then let the Lord pull her to the top of the mountain.  Her journey, like many of ours has not been without sacrifice, loss, and unanswered questions.  But through all of that the Lord has blessed her tremendously through the gift of adoption.

Please join us in welcoming Kelly to Our Not So Engineered Life today and I know that you will fall in love with her heart and soul just as I have after reading her story.  

And Kelly, thank you for allowing us to share your story today.  I am forever grateful for our friendship and can't wait for you to hear this sweet southern accent of mine in person one day soon.  I will brace myself for the laughs..."bless my heart." - Jenny
 

My Journey to Adoption - by Kelly

Infertility is so life consuming. Anyone who says otherwise is a big fat liar. Some peoples life consuming moments just last far less time. The consumption of my infertility actually began before I was even sure I was infertile. It began in the simple words of a teenage girl who stated, "my worst fear is that I will never have children." That was the beginning of over a decade of thoughts and fears. Infertility has rocked my faith, my marriage, my self esteem, it has basically rocked my world. It ripped my destiny, what I knew I was meant to be, right from my grasp. I have spent so many years speculating why, with little success.

Then, last year, a ray of sunshine burst through years of heart aching rain clouds. It was a perfect message sent just for me, so personal I know it was meant to heal me heart. I had just experienced my third miscarriage. I was so helpless, hopeless as my doctor told me that there was no heartbeat. I sobbed as my doctor struggled with what to do for me. 15 minutes later I walked across the road to my husbands truck, shaking my head while I was consumed with my tears. Oh it was cloudy that day. 

And then something happened soon after that, I am not sure when or how. I felt the most unimaginable peace. I felt the Lord consume my grief and leave peace and comfort in its place. The thought came into my mind that He was so proud of me. He was so proud of how hard I have fought, for every sleepless night, for every treatment and horrible injection. It was done. And He told me that was okay! I thought infertility was life consuming! I was wrong! That moment of peace was!

I still do not know why I cannot carry my babies. I have let that go. I probably will never know. But I was able to give control of that to Him. That was the first time I was able to do that. We decided to just let go of having children for a time. But He had different plans. He was clearing the way for something I wasn't ready for until that moment. 

Then one day, when I was home alone, a video on adoption came across my social media. I scanned past but felt that I should go back. And then The Lord moved another mountain, the one that had prevented me from choosing adoption. The video shattered all the walls I had created. I knew that we needed to begin moving toward adoption. When I told Will, he just smiled and asked me what took me so long. He knew along,that little stink. But like the amazing husband he is, he let me get there on my own cause he knew it would mean more to me.

That was October of 2013. And here we are, June 2014, home study approved, consultant hired, being presented to birth mothers. Our baby feels closer than he/she ever has. But I am still resistant. I am resistant to let myself get excited or feel that the end is near. Dang heart break! That is what happens when you put the pieces back together, you build walls around it so it doesn't break again. 

But I know there is another moment coming. Another moment where God will fill me with peace again. A moment where I will be able to let go of the control to Him and His perfect plan. I know in a short time I will hold our baby in my arms and wonder if I have ever felt anything like it. I will praise His tender mercies for knowing better than I did about how this would go down. I will praise him and thank Him for every rain cloud that brought me to that moment of sunshine.

That was the post from this summer just a short time before we were chosen and our son was born. And I know now how right I was. Being Rockwell's mom has changed me life. I never knew my heart could love so much. And I praise Him! I praise God for knowing how beautiful my story would be. I am grateful that He didn't swoop in and cure me. I am grateful He allowed me to feel the depths of grief because now the highs of happiness feel that much more sweet. 

It has made it so I can truly take in moments like this...

So to say I am grateful for my infertility is an understatement. I am grateful that through His power I am who I am now. It is helping me reach my potential and to be a light for others. It has guided me to form One More Loved Foundation. And I can already see this new adventure will change my life too.

I am so grateful that my heart feels so full after feeling so empty. And He is the one who gave me that. 

You can read more from Kelly over at her blog, Kelly Bee.  She and two other wonderful adoptive moms have just formed a non-profit, One More Loved Foundation, to assist other families going through the adoption process. 


A series for people who are grateful for infertility?  Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.

Being Grateful for Big Tough Girls {Part 1}

Today I am taking a bit of a different spin on why I am grateful for my infertility.  It's also National Adoption Awareness Month and instead of featuring things just specific to my own story, I want to feature others that are equally as deserving to have their stories shared.  The person I am featuring today is not directly affected by infertility, but she has a huge impact on many of us that are.  If not for my infertility I would have never met this amazing BIG TOUGH GIRL.

Ashley is a dear friend of mine that I have embraced in my heart and hope to one day embrace in my arms.  She is a birth mom who has bared her soul, formed a huge Big Tough Girl community, is a huge advocate for adoption, and a friend to everyone she meets. Through the power of redemption, God led her from sitting in an abortion clinic to placing her baby boy for adoption. From that moment on she grew in her faith and formed a huge support system for other women who found themselves in the same situation.  Many may judge them, but few will ever understand what they have gone through and the heart changes that take place.  If not for them, women like me would not ever have the chance to be mommies.  I'm grateful for Ashley, our friendship, what she stands for, and for our partnership to build the adoption community.  I'm eternally grateful for the choices that these beautiful, strong women make.  And I'm especially grateful for our own birth mom.  

In the 8.5 years since placement I have never shared a picture from the hospital, and I have only shared a few moments from those few days. There are moments from my time in the hospital when I was a mother for the first time that I will never forget. I wanted his family to experience as many moments of firsts and bonding as possible...but this moment was really something amazing. I am so grateful for those sacred and tender moments that I keep so close my heart. Bringing this amazing child into this world is one of my greatest accomplishments.
— Ashley Mitchell, birth mom

If not for my infertility, if not for these precious women, and if not for adoption - then I would have missed out on some of the greatest friendships and blessings in my life.  I would not be the mommy of E.  Today I am grateful that out of the pain, arose a great friendship that spans the country.  Please join us in welcoming Ashley back to the blog today as we share HER adoption story (click on link below). You won't want to miss her story.
 

BIG TOUGH GIRL. MY ADOPTION STORY.

Ashley Mitchell is sharing her truly inspiring story with the world!  She shares of her journey of finding herself in an unplanned pregnancy, the sacred miracle that took place at the abortion clinic, the adoption plan, placing a baby for adoption and LIFE AFTER PLACEMENT.  Not only is she sharing her grief and loss, including many life challenges with alcohol abuse, a life changing and heart breaking drunk driving accident, the battle of cancer and more she is also sharing her amazing story of survival, faith, miracles, hope, finding her worth, healing and community.  Ashley speaks to audiences about what it takes to become a self-proclaimed Big Tough Girl™. She speaks about finding acceptance first during the grieving process, learning to own your story, redemption and standing firm in your foundation of love and healing.  Ashley has great fire, passion and MOXIE and she brings that to you LIVE!  Her powerful story will stir your soul and bring you to tears.


A series for people who are grateful for infertility?  Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.

Gratitude in Childlessness?

This month we are focusing on finding gratitude for our infertility. As Jenny and I tell our stories of how God led us through our struggles with infertility, mine through fertility treatments and IVF and Jenny's through adoption, I'm sure some of you are thinking "well, of course they can say they are grateful now; they have babies." Of course we're eternally grateful for our children that God blessed us with. But the real challenge is finding that genuine grateful heart in the midst of the struggle. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Could you still be grateful in your infertility if you weren't blessed with a child, through some means, at the end of the journey? Is it possible to find peace and sufficient grace to sustain you even if that longing for a child is still in your heart? 

We were just blessed to become friends with an amazing woman who can tell you it is possible. Through her struggle with barrenness, she is learning to embody the full spirit that Paul wrote about when he said:

But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Today, November 6, 2014, marks her thirteenth year since being diagnosed with infertility. Please join me in welcoming our new dear friend Jen to ONSEL as she tells us why she is able to find gratitude in her infertility. 

November 6, 2001 was just another day.

Except for the doctor's appointment that changed my life.  The one where the doctor gently told me that I would never have biological children.

The things I thought I knew about life and love and God were shattered in an instant, with the delivery of a few simple words in a doctor's office.

I was 24 years old.

I grew up believing in God. I was a good girl who tried to do good things and stay out of trouble. I believed that good people received blessings in life and then got to go to Heaven when they died.

I failed to understand what it meant to be in a relationship with Jesus.

These wrong beliefs about God took me to a very dark place when I learned I would never bear children of my own. My view of the world was radically transformed that day. I no longer had a sense of who this God was that I believed in. I no longer believed that He was good or wanted to give good things to me. Otherwise, why would He take this beautiful gift from me?

I internalized my wrong beliefs:

  • I was a bad person.
  • I did not deserve good things.
  • I was a failure as a woman.
  • God had forsaken me.

I sunk into a clinical depression, suffered panic attacks and anxiety, and had crazy mood swings. Severe anxiety gripped me with every visit to the OBGYN - a benign lump in my breast, bone scans that revealed osteopenia, multiple medication changes, but most of all... seeing the pregnant women and babies. Suddenly they were everywhere. I could not leave my house without seeing a baby. Walking by the baby clothes in a store would reduce me to tears. 

Why did God hate me so much to take this dream from me? What did I do that was so terrible?

I stumbled through this dark period of my life for eight long years. In December 2009, God put a book in my hands that changed the course of my life forever. The book told the story of an infertile woman whose hope was in Jesus Christ. It told of a God who loved and had a plan for our lives.

I remember closing that book, tears streaming down my face with the thought, "God really does love me." It was the first time I felt a sense of hope, a midst my darkness. I truly believed then, for the first time, that God did have a plan for my life, but it just did not include children.

The next morning I woke up and looked outside. I started shaking. So many emotions flooded my senses in that moment. I was confused, dumbfounded, and completely overwhelmed with emotion. Laid before me was the following scene.

God became so real to me at that moment. He was no longer this mean tyrant who was waiting for me to mess up so He could punish me. I felt an overwhelming sense of His presence and love.

Eight months later, God placed me in a loving church home with people who helped me navigate through my beliefs and discover the truth of who God is versus what I made up in my head. He gave me peace in my infertility journey that I never thought I would experience. He blessed my life with my three-year-old nephew whom I love dearly.

With all of that said, can I truly say that I am grateful for my infertility? I walked through some very dark times, so it is such a difficult question to answer. It is a heartrending, painful, tear-filled, and mind-numbing journey that I would not wish on anyone. However, I have accepted that this is God's chosen path for my life. He entrusted me to walk this road. He knows what He is doing. There is a reason and a purpose in everything God does. Nothing is by accident or without reason.

I am grateful for every single day of my infertility because it brings me closer to my Savior. He sustains me. The days where the pain overwhelms me, my God is there. He has shown His love to me in ways that I cannot fathom nor comprehend. He has revealed His realness to me countless times.

I truly believe I would not have my relationship with Jesus today had I not walked through that dark valley. He rescued me from the pit and planted me on a firm foundation. He showed me that no matter what my trial, He will be with me and give me peace. It took me a long time to find Him, but now that I have, I wouldn't change a day of my journey for anything.

Jennifer Mlecynski is an educational grant writer by day and a faith blogger by night. She lives with her husband of eight years and their three rambunctious dogs in upstate NY. She loves to read, watch movies and play board games. She is also obsessed with Dallas Cowboys football. You can find her blogging at http://www.jenwrites.net.


A series for people who are grateful for infertility?  Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.

Hope or Despair, and the Gift of Choice

Here it comes. The first of many moments to choose. How am I going to handle this?

I have been suspecting something was off for a while. Month after month, the day of hoping and holding my breath, comes and goes, leaving a long trail of disappointment and questions. I have started researching everything I can in hopes that internet based research will make things right.  Surely my WebMD/Google issued medical degree will make me an "expert" in the field of baby making. (You laugh, but you know you've done it too. Just take a quick look at your search history and see what comes up.) Basically, I have managed to accomplish little other than utter confusion, thoroughly mixed emotions, and read enough to know that I know essentially nothing and need some professional help from my doctor. So I make the appointment.  You know the one.  The one where I hang my head in shame and embarrassment and admit, out loud, to someone other than my husband... "We've been trying to get pregnant for over a year now and something's wrong. Can you help us figure out how to have a baby?"

Of course for me for me that first step was the first of a long path of a ridiculous number of tests, a diagnosis of infertility, and all the subsequent fertility treatments that we underwent to finally be blessed with our precious little girl. (If you haven't read our IVF story and want to, you can click here.) It was more than that. It was the first of many choices we would make. I'm not talking about the choice to do tests or see this doctor, use this practice or have this procedure done. I'm talking about the first choice of how we were going to spiritually and emotionally walk this road.  And that leads me to something else I became aware of in our infertility.

The gift of choice. We are faced with an awful lot of trials of varying sizes during our life. But we are also given the choice on how we are going to go through them. It's so easy for us to do what the world tells us to do and feel sorry for ourselves. To justify a pity party because were disappointed again and we're being dealt an unfair amount of bad luck. I love throwing parties of any kind, so when I throw myself a pity party, I go all out for those too, as if it were the annual Christmas shindig. Though that is a valid choice that we can make when we are thrown another hand of bad cards to play with, is it the best choice? 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
— Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

So if the pity party isn't the best road to choose, what is? I just finished reading an amazing book, God is Just Not Fair, by Jennifer Rothschild and she sums this up well.

Every difficult, confusing season in life offers a choice. You can either surrender your questions and sorrow to God so he can use them, or you can surrender to bitterness and the enemy of your soul, who will use them against you. Don’t give him the weapons to hurt you. Trust God, be patient, and even forgive him if you need to. Humble yourself and wrap yourself in your blanket of faith. In doing so, you will turn your sorrow into a tool that refines you and makes you beautiful. In doing so, you will find meaning in your sorrow.
— Jennifer Rothschild, God is Just Not Fair

I absolutely didn't get that right all the time. I still don't. There were times along our struggle that I chose bitterness and pity parties and to dwell in my sorrow. But I quickly realized that my problems soon seemed bigger than ever before and were consuming me. I would have to backtrack on my path, back to the moment of choice (another failed pregnancy test, a failed cycle, a miscarriage, etc) and choose again. I had to consciously choose to let God walk through this journey with me, to trust Him with my pain, to give Him a chance to give my sorrow meaning. And He did.

None of that would mean as much if we weren't blessed with the gift of choice. If I hadn't taken a few wrong turns and had to fight back through the darkness that was closing in, I wouldn't have the full appreciation for the times I walked through the struggle with God by my side, carrying the burden for me and giving me hope.

Hope is the anchor of the soul. But it's our choice to anchor ourselves in God's promises or to drift afloat in our despair. I am eternally grateful for the choice and for what is always waiting for me when I throw my anchor out.


A series for people who are grateful for infertility?  Sounds crazy right! But it's not... what was once a phase of life marked by heartache and longing, has now become the scars that make us beautiful. Some of you reading this are right in the middle of your wait, are facing an unclear future or have been scarred by infertility. You may be struggling with how you could possibly be grateful for infertility. It took us a long time to get there ourselves. This is one of those areas where sometimes our faith has to guide us while our hearts and heads catch up. We have to practice thankfulness, even when it makes little sense, while God does His divine work on our souls.