9/27/2015

Infertility: On Stealing My Joy

Infertility sucks.

You know how a lot of couples try to get pregnant...then WHAM! They get pregnant and they're elated and over-the-moon excited?

They plan all these elaborate ways to share the news of their impending bundle of joy.

And they seemingly don't have a fear in the world.

Well, I'm not one of 'em.

The truth is infertility has robbed me of so many of the wonderful feelings that go along with finding out you are pregnant.

First, there was the denial.

Nah. I can't be pregnant. It'd take MORE THAN A MIRACLE for me to be pregnant right now. 

Then, there's the terrifying two weeks leading up to an ultrasound.

Is everything okay? What's going to be wrong when they get a peek in there?

Then, there's the two doctors who have to work together to find a heartbeat.

Cue panic attack. 

Like many other women who have survived the trenches of infertile hell, I've been conditioned to expect heartache when it comes to building our family.

But I've reached the point where [thank God] I can feel myself breathing a little easier.

Together, Chris and I are processing through a loss--the loss of having biological children--we once grieved.

There's a lot of raw feelings that have resurfaced from years ago; a lot of anxiety.

And what I'm learning is that even a pregnancy can't cure someone from the side effects of infertility.

The tremendous loss, brokenness and heartache you feel when you struggle to get pregnant never really truly goes away...even if you do get pregnant.

I wish I could say it does, but a positive pregnancy test doesn't erase and replace all the hurts and disappointments we've experienced.

So I'm not gonna say this pregnancy cures infertility and the pain we felt for so many years... because it simply doesn't.

I'm not gonna say God answered our prayers because that would imply that I wasn't praying hard enough years ago...or that those who struggle with infertility aren't praying "right," either.

I'm not gonna say God knew our deepest desires because that would imply He doesn't know others' wishes and hopes and dreams, too.

But I will say this:

Our children are miracles no matter how they join our family.

It is an equal honor to be chosen as parents as it is to physically carry a child. To wonder and dream about and prepare for another baby.

I'm trying hard to not let infertility steal my joy.

Pregnancy--the good, the uncomfortable and the craziness of it all--is a gift that doesn't come freely or easily for so many people, and it's one I absolutely do not take for granted.

Infertility: You suck. I'm sorry not sorry, but you're not gonna win this time around.

9/23/2015

EASY Alfredo Sauce

I can't tell you the last time we bought a jar of Alfredo sauce because it's so easy to make!

And the best part?

You really can't mess it up!
Easy Recipe for Alfredo Sauce
4 Tbsp. Butter
1.5 Cups Parmesan Cheese
1 cup Whipping Cream
Dash of White Pepper
1 Tbsp. Parsley

Directions:
Melt butter on stove top.
Whisk in whipping cream and Parmesan cheese over low heat until melted.
Stir in white pepper and parsley.

Serve over fettuccine noodles with a side of garlic toast...Enjoy!

9/20/2015

Top 5 Perks of Owning a Minivan

Perks of Owning Minivan
If you follow me on Facebook, you probably noticed the hubbs and I are quite possibly the youngest coolest people on the face of the planet to own a minivan.

We traded in our trendy, awesome SUV for a new-to-us minivan, and you guys...

This is a game-changer.

It's like a limousine for families!

Here are 5 perks of owning a minivan:

1. Cup holders.

There are seriously 10 cup holders in this thing.

That's equivalent to like five cups of coffee, a few sippy cups and a bottle of water!

WINNING.

2. Automatic doors.

HALLELUJAH!

Here you go, kids.

Hop on in.

No assistance needed from us...just the click of a button, and wha-lah! They're in!

(Now onto teaching them how to buckle themselves into their own car seats...)

3. It's Spacious.

We could literally sleep on the floor [if it was safe].

But for real...that middle aisle is great for a make-shift changing station.

And hello? 

We can fit the car seats, diaper bag, DOG, double-stroller, plus a whole lotta shopping bags...

You name it; this thing STILL has room!

4. The windows roll down.

Our SUV had an extended sunroof. It was not practical, but completely awesome that the sunroof extended from front to back.

But this mini? 

The windows roll down! All of 'em!

Sheesh...the last time I was riding in the back of a minivan was in middle school, and the windows would *crack* open the slightest bit.

But these windows?

They're legit.

We can roll in style with the windows DOWN [never mind the fact that Barney or Mother Goose Club is almost always playing...]!

5. It's fits our [growing] family!

You gotta do what ya gotta do, right?!

Here's hoping we can steer clear of a 16-passenger van for at least a few years ;)

9/17/2015

To My [Infertile] Friend...

Infertility
These past few months have been so hard for me.

So hard.

I know how much it sucks to be in your shoes right now. And how badly you'd love to be in mine.

Being pregnant with no medical intervention while your dear friend has exhausted all options and still can't get that BFP ("Big Fat Positive") she's been dreaming and praying about is gut-wrenching.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry you can't experience this miracle right now.

I'm sorry I'm one of your other friends who miraculously "got pregnant."

I'm sorry our joy pours salt in a wound you so badly want to heal.

I want you to know that it's okay to be angry. I know the anger you feel toward your situation doesn't mean you're not happy for my family and me.

I want you to know it's okay to skip out on the BBQ or the next gathering you'd see me at because it'd be too painful to see a baby bump.

I want you to know it's okay to remove me from Facebook, to block me on Twitter and roll your eyes when you see all the articles and tips I'm saving for surviving childbirth on my Pinterest page.

As much as I want you and need you in my life, it's okay if you decide to ignore my text messages or emails. To let your phone go to voicemail every time I call. To vent to your friends about how much this stings.

It's okay to cry and curse, "Why her? Why them? Why not us?"

It's okay.

Because I've been in your shoes.

I've felt the same way.

That same emptiness you're feeling?

That brokenness you're feeling?

That envy seeping into your heart uncontrollably? 

I've felt it, too.

I've prayed the same prayers.

I've walked the same valleys.

And survived the same trenches.

I get it.

And I want you to know that however you're feeling about me being pregnant is okay.
Related Posts:
Life Is Full of Surprises: Our Fourth Miracle is on the Way
|Pregnancy| Is This Really Happening?
At the Doctor's Office
Our Move + Exhaustion

9/16/2015

|Pregnancy| Is This Really Happening?

Pregnant After Infertility

Y'all.

It's happening.
|I'm pregnant.|
There is a sweet, precious miracle growing inside of me that has a heartbeat.

Lemme back up for a second...

For 10 days, life was kinda hazy.

I was worried.

Infertility taught me to expect obstacles when building our family, so I was very much in denial that I was actually pregnant.

And at the very least, I thought if I was there had to be something wrong with the pregnancy.

Chris and I nervously checked into the clinic on a Thursday morning.

We met our new medical staff, went over extensive medical histories, and got more information about pregnancy than I ever knew existed.

After some exams and lots of blood work, we were whisked away to the ultrasound room to date the pregnancy.

The last time I had an ultrasound was five years ago after a month of injections and a final round of insemination.

But there I was that Thursday morning.

Laying on the exam table with my shirt pulled up.

The tech rubbed gel on my belly, and told us to look at the screen in front of us.

Then I saw it.

WE saw it.

A tiny little thing whose heart was flickering at 140 beats per minute.

That's when it happened.

I started weeping. Uncontrollably. My stomach was shaking. I couldn't catch my breath.

I just cried.

I cried out of happiness. Disbelief. Unworthiness.

I cried because I felt guilty that we were somehow chosen for this path while many of our dear friends continue to trudge through the trenches of infertility.

I cried because we spent so many days, months and years begging God to allow us to experience this moment. And because we spent so many days, months and years angry at Him, our friends--sometimes the world--because we felt like we had been forgotten about.

I cried because we had let go of that dream; we had grieved the loss of having biological children, but now there was hope again.

I looked up at my husband who was holding my weak, cold hand.

His chin quivered.

"Is this real?" I asked him through my sobs and sniffles.

"Is this really happening right now?"

He handed me a Kleenex, and I saw a tear roll down his cheek.

Just when I was about to lose all control of my emotions, the tech said, "Everything looks great! Looks like baby will be here the first week in April!"

I sat up. My face was beet red with globs mascara smudged under my eyes.

I'm sure folks in the lobby wondered WHAT HAPPENED to me as I walked out to our car trying to put myself together.

All I can say is God certainly had grand plans for our family.

Years ago when we prayed to become parents, I would've never imagined the road we'd travel. But He knew every detail, detour and pit stop. He knew all along that two little girls were meant to be sisters and part of our family. And He knew this baby was meant to be part of our story, too.

Every fiber in my body is so grateful we're able to experience this -- yes, even the nausea, intense cravings for Hot Tamales and complete exhaustion are good at reminding me something amazing is happening.

Thank you for your support, encouragement and love as we prepare to welcome yet another miracle into our family in the coming weeks and months!

Related posts:
At the Doctor's Office
Our Move + Exhaustion

9/15/2015

At the Doctor's Office...

With tired eyes, I weaved in and out of morning traffic and checked in at the local clinic.

After filling out what seemed like 239084 pages of medical history, I was called from the lobby into a tiny, stark exam room.

"What brings you in today?" the nurse asked.

"I'm not feeling well. I'm so tired I can hardly function." I told her.

Based on my medical history and struggle with infertility, the first step--despite me explaining how unnecessary it was--was a pregnancy test.

I went into the bathroom, did my thing, and made my way back into that tiny, stark room.

There I sat, twiddling my thumbs on the exam table lined with crinkly paper.

Minutes later, over the intercom I heard:

"Dr. So-and-So, POSITIVE TEST RESULTS. Dr. So-and-So. POSITIVE TEST RESULTS."

The lady on the intercom repeated it at least five times.

I started sweating. Shaking.

A few choice words ran through my head.

Surely they can't be talking about me...RIGHT?

Wrong.

The doctor came in.

|Congratulations! You're pregnant!|

I wanted to grab her white jacket and stethoscope in utter disbelief.

Instead I sat there with tears welling up in my eyes.

"Are you sure? How sure are you? I mean...should I take another test?"

She smiled.

I cried.
Positive Pregnancy Test
Tears rolled down my cheeks in shock and disbelief at the thought of having three children under the age of three...

At the thought that for some reason, there was quite possibly a miracle growing inside of me--a woman once told she'd likely never be able to conceive a child...

I drove home, weeping. Told my husband we were gonna need to get a minivan. Called my sister and told her I wouldn't be drinking that bottle of wine with the girls that night (She responded with screaming. A few choice words. And lots more screaming.).

I prayed for this to not be a mistake.

When I got home, I sat down at the table; with a box of Kleenex by my side, I took a deep breath scheduled my first appointment.

It would be a long ten days of waiting before I would allow it to sink in.

At the Doctor's Office...

With tired eyes, I weaved in and out of morning traffic and checked in at the local clinic.

After filling out what seemed like 239084 pages of medical history, I was called from the lobby into a tiny, stark exam room.

"What brings you in today?" the nurse asked.

"I'm not feeling well. I'm so tired I can hardly function." I told her.

Based on my medical history and struggle with infertility, the first step--despite me explaining how unnecessary it was--was a pregnancy test.

I went into the bathroom, did my thing, and made my way back into that tiny, stark room.

There I sat, twiddling my thumbs on the exam table lined with crinkly paper.

Minutes later, over the intercom I heard:

"Dr. So-and-So, POSITIVE TEST RESULTS. Dr. So-and-So. POSITIVE TEST RESULTS."

The lady on the intercom repeated it at least five times.

I started sweating. Shaking.

A few choice words ran through my head.

Surely they can't be talking about me...RIGHT?

Wrong.

The doctor came in.

|Congratulations! You're pregnant!|

I wanted to grab her white jacket and stethoscope in utter disbelief.

Instead I sat there with tears welling up in my eyes.

"Are you sure? How sure are you? I mean...should I take another test?"

She smiled.

I cried.
Positive Pregnancy Test
Tears rolled down my cheeks in shock and disbelief at the thought of having three children under the age of three...

At the thought that for some reason, there was quite possibly a miracle growing inside of me--a woman once told she'd likely never be able to conceive a child...

I drove home, weeping. Told my husband we were gonna need to get a minivan. Called my sister and told her I wouldn't be drinking that bottle of wine with the girls that night (She responded with screaming. A few choice words. And lots more screaming.).

I prayed for this to not be a mistake.

When I got home, I sat down at the table; with a box of Kleenex by my side, I took a deep breath scheduled my first appointment.

It would be a long ten days of waiting before I would allow it to sink in.

9/14/2015

Our Move + Exhaustion

"I found a new recipe for cookies [on Pinterest]. I'm gonna take the girls to the store to get the ingredients. Be back in a bit!"

That was the text I sent my husband while he was finishing things up at work.

I knew he'd beat us home for dinner. And he knows a "quick" trip to Target typically turns into more of a field trip for our toddler and baby.

I pulled in the parking lot.

"Shopping at Target! Go shopping at Target!" my two-year old yelled excitedly as I unbuckled her from her car seat.

I smiled, attempted to look put together while juggling both girls in my arms with my purse sliding halfway down my shoulder and trying to lock the car.

Yep. Keepin' it classy up in here, folks.

But the truth is, I hadn't been feeling the best.
Moving to New City

Our move had me completely exhausted.

I was so wiped I felt like I could sleep all day and still be tired.

A simple trip to Target required mustering up all the energy I've had these days.

And gosh, if Target can't wake me up with the fresh aroma of Starbucks coffee in the entrance, I don't know what can...

The exhaustion was real.

After a few days, I told Chris I needed to get checked out. Maybe my blood sugar was low. Maybe I needed acupuncture to reset my chi. Maybe I just needed an IV of caffeine.

Shoot. I dunno...but something had to give. My body was trying to tell me something...I just didn't know what.

So days after our move, I found myself scouring the internet searching for the closest family doctor.

While I'm okay, what happened next was completely shocking.

[See next: At the Doctor's Office]

9/08/2015

Life As We Know It

Sisters Adoption
When I look at these pictures [taken by the mega-talented Tess Irene Photography], I get a little teary-eyed because I think about a summer that went by way too fast.
Sisters Adoption
I think about these girls -- born hundreds of miles away from one another to different women and into different circumstances -- and how so many things had to fall into place for them to be chosen as sisters.
Sisters, Adoption
I look at this girl -- the one who first made me a momma -- and I'm so grateful for the joy she has brought our family since the day we first held her in our arms.
Sisters, Adoption
And then I swoon over this carefree beauty who joined our family 18-months later, and I wonder how I got so lucky to be chosen as her mom.
Sisters, Adoption
Five years ago, if you would've asked me what my family would look like, I would've thrown my hands up and said, "Who knows?" Infertility had robbed us of so much hope. It left us feeling broken and doubtful and defeated.
Sisters, Adoption
But now?
Sisters, Adoption
Now I look at these girls and think about our family and how I can't imagine life without them.

9/02/2015

Peppercorn BBQ Ranch Burgers

Looking for a great excuse to fire up the grill?

Look no further!

This recipe for Peppercorn BBQ Ranch Burgers is easy and oh-so yummy!
Recipe - Peppercorn BBQ Ranch Burgers
2 lbs Ground Beef
1 Packet Ranch Seasoning
1/3 Cup Crushed Peppercorn
1/4 Cup Ranch Dressing
1/4 Cup BBQ Sauce
Cheddar Cheese

Instructions:

Combine ground beef with ranch seasoning.

Shape into balls and coat with crushed peppercorn.

Press into patties.

Cook burgers over grill. When cooked through, remove from heat, and add slice of cheddar cheese.

Combine ranch dressing and barbecue sauce in bowl for a BBQ-Ranch sauce.

Place burgers on buns (we like ours toasted 'round here!), and top with BBQ-Ranch sauce.

Enjoy!

Source: Iowa Girl Eats