4/25/2016

Why I'm Grateful for Years of Infertility

NIAW: Why I'm Grateful for Infertility Struggle
It was 2010.

Two years after we happily walked down the aisle of a Catholic church and exchanged our wedding vows, we found ourselves in an unfamiliar place.

It was a place I never pictured we'd need to be.

I sat nervously twiddling my thumbs with my pants pulled down and a thin paper draped over my lap.

This is it, I thought. This is the beginning of our family...

It was the beginning of our first round of infertility treatments with a reproductive endocrinologist, and we were making plans based on what things looked like "down there" and "in there."

The appointment ended 20-minutes later.

And even though we left with a plan to get pregnant, I cried as my husband and I walked out of that clinic.

The reality that we were now one of those couples -- you know, the 1 in 8 who experience infertility -- was almost too much of a burden to bear.

I felt like we had done everything right. We had good jobs. A beautiful home. We were paying off our student loans, and we were financially secure. We started asking ourselves, What'd we do to deserve this?

My sadness turned into frustration as we drove to the pharmacy to pick up my injections. Lots of injections. Hundreds of dollars worth of injections. We asked ourselves again, What'd we do to deserve this?

As if the thought of paying to become a human pincushion wasn't enough, our insurance company denied coverage. And we continued asking ourselves, What'd we do to deserve this?

We justified the hefty price tag, though, with a renewed sense of hope from one of the top specialists in town. But like most couples with an infertility diagnosis, we had no idea what was around the corner.

Month after month, we gambled with our emotions, our finances and my body.

But they never worked. None of them. The infertility treatments never worked. Our specialist -- as much as she tried to convince us otherwise -- filled our hearts with empty hope. Our bodies failed us time and time again.

Out of dozens of pregnancy tests, there was never a plus sign.

Out of all of the vitamins and supplements and acupuncture sessions to increase our chances of getting pregnant...none of it ever worked.

It was heartbreaking.

It took us an entire year to grieve the loss of having biological children.

We cried. We were angry. We were envious of the perfect lives everyone else seemed to live.

And then little by little, seed by seed, we became hopeful.

You see, there are many ways to build a family.

Some people choose to pursue embryo donation or IVF; others use donor sperm or donor eggs. Some people choose to foster parent or accept a life without children.

And us? We felt a tug at our hearts to adopt. So that's what we did.

The road to get there wasn't always easy. But my goodness, it was worth it.
And now, three [fast] years later, I look back on our family's journey through infertility, adoption and childbirth and I'm grateful.

I'm grateful for it all. Yes, even the disappointments and heartaches, for they've provided me with a level of empathy and understanding only those who have walked can understand.

I'm grateful for what infertility taught me; I'm grateful the road to motherhood wasn't easy because I appreciate it so much more.
Hope After Infertility, Adoption, Pregnancy
Most importantly, I'm grateful for where it eventually led us: to three little girls -- all brought to our family differently -- who we get to call our own.

And now we ask that same question we asked ourselves years ago, except with different meaning: What'd we do to deserve this? To deserve the honor and privilege of raising these three beautiful girls? 


Related content:
Our Journey to Addison
Wishes For My Third Daughter
I Used To Be One Of Them
Why We Chose To Take Maternity Photos
To The Pregnancy Haters
No Apologies Needed
Waking Up Today
The Truth About Getting Pregnant After Infertility and Adoption
The Beauty Of Open Adoption During Pregnancy
To My [Adopted] Children Before I Give Birth
How Infertility And Adoption Made Me a Better Mom
What Love Looks Like
#StartAsking National Infertility Awareness Week

Editor's note: This post was written as part of the Bloggers Unite Challenge for RESOLVE.org during National Infertility Awareness Week. This week, I'm going to #StartAsking those of you in the trenches of infertility struggles -- and those of you who have resolved your infertility -- to speak out and share your stories. 

4/24/2016

An Entire Month

One Month Old Daughter
I can hardly believe an entire month has passed since we welcomed our third daughter into this world -- since I heard her first cry and held her in my arms for the first time. 
One Month Old Daughter
And while I feel like the days go slow (thank you, sleep deprivation), I can't help but feel like these past four weeks have literally flown by. 
One Month Old Daughter
She is growing and making new noises and smirking every day; and I can't get enough of her chubby little cheeks!
Boppy Newborn Lounger
Also, some of you have noticed the pretty pink Boppy pillow in 90% of Addison's pictures, yes? Let me introduce you to the Boppy® Newborn Lounger.
Boppy Newborn Lounger
ALL MOMS NEED TO HAVE THIS.
Boppy Newborn Lounger
It's different from the traditional Boppy pillow (which, by the way, we also love) because it has some cush for the tush if you know what I mean. ;)
Boppy Newborn Lounger
But seriously, this lounger is a comfy place for Addison to kick and coo while her big sisters swoon over her.
Boppy Newborn Lounger
And I'm not gonna lie, it's a comfy place for this momma to rest her head when an impromptu nap presents itself! ;) 



Related content:
Our Journey to Addison
Busy Mom Must-Haves

Sponsored post: I received the above product for free, but opinions, as always, are my own

4/22/2016

Just Survive

Four weeks.

That's how long my husband has been off work while we adjusted to our new level of chaos with three daughters.

After two whirlwind adoptions of which neither of us qualified for paid leave, I'm grateful he was able to take so much time off work.  

But this morning came, and now our 24/7 bonding time as a family of five is over. At least until the weekends, that is.

Now he's back to working at the job he loves

And I'm going to attempt to not curl up in a fetal position and cry in the corner of our living room while our 2-year old tries to rule the world.

Just kidding (kind of...).

But seriously. Flying solo five days a week with three girls under the age of three is a bit daunting.

Our motto: Just survive.
SAHM, Coffee
I covet your prayers. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

4/20/2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

As a busy family, we're constantly looking for quick, easy recipes.

I stumbled upon this Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwich recipe on Pinterest, and thought we'd give it a try.

Mmmmmmmm...and I'm so glad we did! 

Easy. Yummy. And leftovers!

The key [in my opinion] is using a great Caesar dressing and serving with some bakery-fresh buns.

Slow Cooker Recipe - Chicken Caesar Sandwiches2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup of your favorite creamy Caesar Dressing
1/2 cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Romaine lettuce
6 hamburger buns (or Ciabatta rolls)

Directions:

Place chicken and chicken broth in a slow cooker on low for 6-7 hours.

Remove from slow cooker and shred with two forks.

Discard cooking liquid (broth) and place shredded chicken back in the slow cooker.

Stir in dressing, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and pepper over the top.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 20 - 30 minutes or until warm.

Serve on your favorite bakery fresh buns with romaine lettuce.

Recipe adapted from: Valerie's Kitchen

Related Content:
Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
Shredded Ranch Chicken

4/14/2016

Laughing Through the Chaos

This week, the hubbs and I have learned the importance of laughing through the chaos.

It's either that, or flat-out crying. HA. So we choose to laugh...most of the time.

We've laughed over the squeezable yogurt mess in our minivan, the spilled mac & cheese on the dining room floor and that one time we forgot diaper wipes when -- eh hem -- we really need 'em.

Since Addison was born three weeks ago [WHAT. Yes. I know. My baby girl is 3 WEEKS OLD], we've managed to ((gasp)) venture out in public quite a few times with the girls.

And we've all survived. Do we get an award for that? Seriously.

Last week we grabbed some BBQ for our first dinner out as a family of five AND we only managed to spill one cup of ice water. One cup, people. That's a win.

We've laughed over the fact that it takes longer to get the girls loaded into the van than it does to actually run an errand. Except for doctor's appointments. Holy moly, doctor's appointments are an adventure. Thank God the pediatrician's office has Thomas the Train stickers. Lord knows our "two-nager" needs an entire roll of 'em.

And we've laughed at the pure exhaustion that raising 3 girls under the age of 3 has thrown our way.
In fact, our dog knows we're so exhausted that on top of eating our toddlers' lunches, she actually ate an entire raw steak off the counter while we were standing RIGHT THERE. She's totally taking advantage of us.

In all honesty, though, these past few weeks have been a bit foggy. This whole "3 Under 3" business is hard and fun and tiring and draining all at the same time.

But at the end of the lonnnnnnnng days, there are sweet moments of three girls who were chosen to be sisters. And we wouldn't trade the chaos that comes with raising 'em for the world.
These little people are worth it.

We sure wouldn't complain if we had a little more sleep, though ;)

4/04/2016

5 [Easy] Ways to Support Your Pregnant Friend

After years of infertility, our circle of friends shifted toward other couples with similar life experiences. The thread of heartache that connects people with infertility can be a strong foundation for friendships, and we had an incredible circle of friends with that commonality.

While it was a hard club to be a part of (after all, one no one really wants to be infertile...), it's also been a difficult one to leave. And to be honest, it's still hard to know exactly where we fit in. Some of those friends are still distant, and others have kept in touch. I've written about it before, but it's been a tough, emotional ride for us as we've found ourselves treading these unknown waters with friendships we care so deeply about.

Being able to experience pregnancy after struggling with infertility, grieving the loss of having biological children and growing our family through adoption has provided me with such great insight on how I can be a better friend to others blessed with a growing belly.

As someone who has been on the other side, I can tell you there are real struggles with both. There are challenges with being unable to conceive as well as being able to experience pregnancy. Perhaps I was naive, but I assumed the former was harder. Now I've learned neither path is necessarily harder; they're just different.

For years I've shared about how others can support those struggling with infertility; but today, I''m offering ways to support your pregnant friend. Because you know what? They need it, too.
5 [Easy] Ways to Support Your Pregnant Friend
1. Bring her food

My first few months of pregnancy were plagued with sickness and fatigue. The only thing that consistently sounded good: Casey's General Store donuts and Hot Tamales. I can't even tell you how many pounds of Hot Tamales I ate (I stopped keeping track after my first jumbo bag, and then I eventually stopped eating them after my Gestational Diabetes diagnosis), and many of them were gifted to me by dear friends.

2. Get a pedicure

Get your pregnant friend out of the house and get a pedicure with her! My sister and dear friend Miki gifted me with a Saturday of girl-time and a pedicure a few weeks ago. And lemme tell ya something...Having pretty, polished toenails is a commodity pregnant people don't take for granted!

3. Be interested in what she's going through

Give your friend a call or send her a text and ask how she's feeling. My childhood friend Tara was so wonderful about checking in during moments I needed to hear from someone the most. Sometimes, just texting with a momma who has "been there, done that," can be the boost of encouragement you need to get through another day.

4. Send her to a massage

If your girlfriend is blessed with a pregnancy that just so happens to throw out her entire back (like me!), there is perhaps no greater gift than sending her on a pregnancy massage.

5. Pray for her

Pregnancy can be worry-filled for some women, especially when the miracle they're carrying comes with high risks. One of the best things you can do for your pregnant girlfriend is offer to intentionally pray for her and that precious cargo she's carrying.

Related content:

Top 10 Uses for Baby Bump
To My Infertile Friend
What to Expect When You're [Not] Expecting
Our Journey to Addison