Friday, September 19, 2014

Operation: Bring Home Baby Greavu

So this little blog is HOPPING... four posts in five days, I amaze even myself some times. In case you've missed the news, let me catch you up really quickly: We're ADOPTING and we need help. I promise not to let the blog become a continuous onslaught of fundraising, but as many of our friends and family keep up with us here, I wanted to provide the details of our fundraising on the blog.

So lets start with the numbers... gosh I wish I had those for you. It's a little bit unique, but the route that we've chosen to go for our adoption doesn't have fixed numbers. I can tell you that it will most likely be between $30,000 and $35,000. Believe me, I know that that is a lot of money. It's more than I make in a year. But we're trusting that with the help of our friends and family, we can make this adoption a reality.

We've got plans to do traditional things like yard sales and a jewelry trunk shoes. I've got a whole room in my house currently devoted to stuff we want to sell on craigslist. We've also got a couple of grants that we are preparing to apply for. And hopefully there will be some other fun, creative opportunities to raise some money, but the bulk of our fundraising is going to be through donations. Cue the puzzle fundraiser.

What is a puzzle fundraiser? Well, it's about the cutest idea ever. We've designed a puzzle specifically for our adoption. Each piece signifies a donation of $25. The cool thing about the puzzle isn't that the donator gets a puzzle piece, but rather that the name of the person (or persons) donating goes on the back of the puzzle piece (or pieces). When the puzzle is completed, the front will be a beautiful reminder of our love for our child, and the back will be an incredible testament to the love and support of our friends and family. We intend to frame the completed puzzle in between two pieces of glass and hang it in the nursery (OMG, I can't believe I'm even writing about a nursery!). When our child is older, we'll be able to show him/her just how much he/she was loved and prayed for before we'd ever even met.

How does it work? It's pretty simple. You send us a check which we will deposit directly into our adoption savings account. Or, if checks are too old school for you (because who has time to write checks these days?) you can donate via this link. A quick, secure digital swipe of your card or payment from your paypal account will send a payment directly into our adoption savings account. From there, we count out your pieces ($25 = 1 piece, $50 = 2 pieces, and so on) write your name(s) on the back. It's that easy.

Who can donate? ANYONE. I wish I could tell you that the first puzzle piece is up for grabs, but that honor has actually gone to my great-grandfather: Lloyd T. Mundy. My mom found a bond that my grandfather had purchased for me shortly before he died. The time is not up on the bond, but after looking up the giant return on his investment (a whopping $7), we've decided to forgo the interest and take the money. I'm not exactly sure why my grandfather went the bond route, but I'm pretty sure he'd be pleased to know where we put the money. The first eight puzzle pieces will have his name on the back. But you can have puzzle piece number NINE... woo hoo!

So that's about it. But please stay tuned for further information on other opportunities to help bring home Baby Greavu.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Leap

The truth of the matter is this: my broken reproductive system has not been the largest bump in the road towards building a family. The real pothole for us has been money. In 28 months, we've completed only six cycles of treatment (4 IUIs, 1 IVF, 1 FET). Six cycles... it's not a lot. I have friends who have completed six fresh IVF cycles in less time than that. But for us, money (or the lack of) has created long pauses in the process as every step along the way has seemed insurmountable. And the costs we have covered so far, though large, is still only a fraction of the cost of our adoption. Over the years, anytime one of us brought up adoption, I would quickly become overwhelmed by the dollar signs and string of zeros and shelve the thought once more.

When Sam and I first heard that fertility treatments were recommended for us, it was May 2012. Sam was entering his final semester of classroom hours before his clinical rotations began. I was working full time, carrying our health insurance, and paying as many bills as I possibly could with my tiny, little paycheck. We were getting by, but we were in no way prepared to spend $1,500 on ONE chance at pregnancy. It was mind boggling: "I'm sorry, you want us to pay how much to take a few pills and shove some washed sperm inside me?" I couldn't fathom how we could come up with that kind of cash. At the time, with an unexplained infertility diagnosis, an IUI gave us about a 20% chance of success... we were shocked and overwhelmed by the numbers. We would need to pay approximately $1,500 for ONE SHOT at conception and the odds would only be the same as a normal fertile couple our age.

It was overwhelming and incredibly difficult to come up with the funds, but we did it... three times because we knew the other option was truly HUGE. Imagine our dismay when November 2012 rolled around... we were still living with my mom, with no income, and a bank account that had been decimated by three back to back IUI cycles... and we were still not pregnant. We then had an exceptionally special conversation with our Reproductive Endocrinologist where really fun things like IVF were discussed at the low-low price tag of $15,000. $1,500 had seemed like an impossible feat just a few months ago... $15,000 might as well have been 15 million to us. We couldn't imagine a time when we would have that sort of money. For us, we slammed straight into a brick wall after those three IUIs. Where many couples proceed straight onto IVF, we were forced to stop and wait for fourteen months.

At every step along the way, we have discussed adoption, but the price tag has always seemed impossible. If IUIs proved daunting at $1,500 a piece, how could we ever afford an adoption? If it took us 14 months to pay for IVF, how long would it take to fund an adoption? Fertility treatments, though incredibly expensive, have proven the faster and cheaper route for us to build our family at every intersection along this road, so we have continuously chosen that route. For the longest time, I believed that adoption was the final chapter to our family building story, not only because that is what I have seen modeled, but also because I assumed (and hoped) that adoption would be easier financially in a different season of life. And that is probably true... in five years we will have gone from $160,000 in student loan debt to less than $75,000, even if we only make minimum payments until then. There is no doubt that life will look vastly different when we can stop paying $1,700 a month in student loans. We certainly hope to return to adoption again in several years to add to our family, but we also don't want our current financial situation to limit our potential for a family right now. 

My head has feared adoption for the numbers. My pride has kept me from asking for help throughout our family building journey. I admittedly have issues accepting gifts (even though gifts are my love language) and I hate feeling like I owe people. But countless friends have reminded me that our faith has the most potential to grow when we leap and trust that God will provide. It is our inability to complete the task on our own that allows the Lord the room to show up in a mighty way. So that's exactly what we're doing... we're leaping and asking the Lord to provide.

The truth is we absolutely cannot fund this adoption on our own... not in the time frame we've been given.  We can certainly contribute, and we intend to do so on a monthly basis just like we did with IVF, but we can't do this alone. So we are squashing our pride, saying our prayers, and leaping with eyes wide open asking for assistance to bring home Baby Greavu.

If you would like to support Operation: Bring Home Baby Greavu, please look for tomorrow's post on donation opportunities and other ways you can help.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Decision

Thank you all SO much for the outpouring of love yesterday. My Facebook, email, and phone were blowing up all day with all of your love and excitement. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! In case you missed the announcement, let me catch you up to speed: the Greavus are adopting!


Another shot... because I just really love my little banner


Specifically, we are pursuing domestic infant adoption. I'm sure some of you are thinking "wha? huh? when did this happen?", others are fist pumping and thinking "thank God! It's about time!", and some of you might even be thinking "nooooooo". I get that... all of it. So let me back up and tell you how we got here.

Waaaaaayyyy back before we started IVF, we made a plan. The plan was to do one fresh IVF cycle, then complete all frozen embryo trasnfers available, then when all embryo transfers had been attempted, move forward with adoption. But we all know that the best laid plans turn to dust... and then it rains and they turn to mud. It shouldn't be too shocking that we didn't really move on in the way we originally expected. Following our failed FET in March, Sam and I discussed all of our options. Shockingly, we were not on the same page (heh heh). I knew that we needed to take some time before we made any further decisions... none of these choices are things you want to regret or do without agreeing as a couple.

It wasn't long after that that I began to do some research (I know you're shocked). I started reading some books. I started reaching out to adoptive parents as I wanted to know a few things about the process and which agencies were good. Interestingly enough within a day of reaching out to two fellow bloggers they both told me that they had done things a little differently, but that they LOVED how everything worked out and that they highly recommended THE SAME GROUP. So interesting. What are the odds that two couples that don't know each other both used the same group and had the same response? Probably pretty decent if they were talking about one of the big agencies like Bethany, but this place is tiny. I'm not a big one to look at signs... I used to be but it never turned out the way I imagined. I'd think the "signs" meant one thing and then things turned out completely different. However, this really felt like one of those times when I just couldn't ignore this "coincidence".

I decided to contact the organization and request some paperwork. The lady who answered the phone ended up talking to me and answering all of my various questions for over half an hour... a very different response from any of the agencies I contacted. I still felt slightly hesitant about it so I requested some additional paperwork. Unfortunately, the packet of paperwork didn't have any additional information that the lady hadn't shared, but Sam and I still felt pretty good about the situation. Further confirmation came that this was a good, reputable, ethical place when I learned that my pastor and his wife successfully adopted through this same group six years ago. What are the odds that I would know three people to use the same organization when they help a very limited number of families each year? The benefits are certainly the timeline (more on this later) and the guidance through the process.  For me adoption feels very foreign... I feel like I understand infertility treatments. I know what the science means for the most part and I understand the timeline, the process, the chances of success. Infertility treatments, believe it or not, have become comfortable for me. In the midst of the chaos of shots and pills and appointments there is a sense of comfort and predictability. But adoption is a WHOLE new world. I feel immensely unprepared and uninformed despite all of my research. I feel like I did way back in the Clomid days... like the decision between starting the medicine on CD 3 vs CD 4 was SO HUGE... how could I ever decide? Having someone guide us and support us through the process sounds like a great option and a huge relief for my anxiety.

We decided that we really liked the idea of domestic adoption, particularly with this organization, but we were in the MIDDLE of buying a home. So we decided to sit on it for a while and continue to think through and pray about our options. At this point our decision was between domestic adoption or another round of IVF at a top clinic. We both ultimately decided that adoption is the best fit for us in this current season of life. I've mentioned before that adoption was always a part of our plan. Way back when we believed we'd be like every other young couple, we planned to have between two and five children (depends on which of us you asked) and then adopt one or two children internationally. Obviously, our plan looks vastly different now than it did five years ago. We thought we'd complete our family with adoption, but now we're choosing to start our family with adoption.

Some of you may be wondering if we are done with infertility treatments. It's a really fair question. And the answer is that I really don't know, but if I had to answer today, I'd say no. My guess is that we will probably pursue another round of treatment in the future. Whether that will be with my own eggs, donor eggs, or donor embryos I really couldn't say. And no matter what, we will be returning for our frozen embryos in Florida. I hope to be able to return for them by January 2016 (to escape another freezer payment).

Some of you may also be wondering why we've chosen domestic when the "original" plan was for international. Essentially, it's twofold. For one, I just really want a baby. Not a six month old. Not a toddler. Not a child. I want a teeny, tiny, little baby, and that just doesn't happen with international adoptions. The second reason is that this is our first child (i.e. we have NO parenting experience). Some first time parents may feel equipped to bring a toddler or young child from another county into their home, but I do not. I feel like I will be in over my head with any infant (as I'm sure most first time parents feel). I do not feel even remotely prepared to take on the additional issues such as language barriers, attachment issues, health situations, etc that often come with an international adoption. Please don't hear what I'm not saying. We are for international adoption. And it is my hope that in the next few years we can add to our family through international adoption, but it simply doesn't feel like the right fit in our current season of life.

So there you have it. I promise, despite the fact that this probably feels slightly out of left field, we have been researching and praying about this for months. We've waited to make the announcement until we were debt (ahem, credit card debt) free again and we had been accepted by our organization. Now that both have happened, we're ready to shout it from the rooftops! More to come soon about this process and our next steps.

Monday, September 15, 2014

BIG News

So there have been some mutterings around these parts... secrets, next steps, big news, and the like. You have all handled these ambiguous statements like champs. Far, far better than I ever do when the roles are reversed. But I have good news: your wait is over, your patience is rewarded, the news is revealed:






In case you can't read my beautiful sign (white letters = bad choice. my bad), how about a close up:


Photos by Emily Whitehead Hayes…
check her our at www.ejanephotography.com


Still no? Okay, how about this:

We Are Adopting!!!


Check back tomorrow for more information… I'm pretty sure I'll have a lot to say on this little piece of news. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Drops in the Bucket

This post has been sitting in my drafts for almost a year... seriously. I never got around to finishing it like I wanted and then it just sat sad and forgotten and grew dusty. But dusty blog posts are about as good as it gets around here these days. Kidding... except not really. Actually, I drug this old thing out because my friend Amie was discussing IVF and the price tag and it reminded me of this old thing. I decided to dust it off and post it in case anyone else out there is debating between saving for treatment, emptying out your savings, or swiping the credit card. I'll say what I said to her: absolutely zero guilt with whatever decision you make. IVF is EXPENSIVE and Sam and I are proof that it doesn't always work... you've got to find the solution for your family in your season of life that you can life with no matter the outcome of the procedure.

So after my Debt Free (sort of) post and the announcement that we're expecting to paying for IVF 100% out of pocket AND out of savings, I got several messages from people wondering how we did it. As I stated before, I am not the person you want to ask for money advice. We fail, and fail, and fail in terms of our finances. It is literally by God's grace that we were able to do this. It's kind of one of those "the stars aligned" type of deals. However, I do want to share what worked for us in case it helps someone else. Many couples pay for fertility treatments through various methods: parents, donors, grants, but for many the options are to save or take out a loan. Here's how we came to our decision and what we did about it:

First of all, let me just say that I'm honestly not emphasizing saving for IVF over taking out a loan. The saving thing sort of just happened. And by that I mean, we VERY intentionally saved, but we also never felt like a loan was an option until we were already close to the number we needed. Why? Well, we were first told to pursue IVF in November 2012 after three failed IUI cycles. The cost was quoted to us at $13,200 for one cycle (plus meds of course), but we were told our best bet was a refund program coming in at over $30,000. At the time, I was jobless and Sam was in physical therapy school... I really never thought too seriously about the potential to receive a medical loan. It seemed super unlikely, so I didn't look into it. Who would give two unemployed twenty somethings with zero assets a loan for 15-30K? What I was tempted to do was max out Sam's school loans (shh, don't tell the government), but he was so adverse to the idea that it led to the longest, ugliest fight of our marriage. I mean BIG people... I'm sort of surprised me moved past that one. With time, I forgot about loans... it wasn't worth it to continuously think about it and wish for it if we weren't going to do it. So again, we came to the decision to save not because we think a loan is a terrible idea, but because of our circumstances. If we had had the ability to take out the loan in December of 2012 AND if we'd both been on the same page, I'm pretty sure I'd have gone for it. So yeah, if you're leaning towards a loan or swiping the credit card, you're in good company here.

Another point to make is this: there are no shortcuts here. Saving takes time. It took us about fourteen months from the time we heard "IVF is next" until we were ready. Now, less than half of that time was spent actively saving for IVF, first we were unemployed and then we were paying off debt, but my point is just saving is a longer road, no matter what (unless of course you have wealthy in-laws or a heck of a savings account at your disposal). There were times when I felt so worried over the delay I was fighting off panic attacks and there were other times when I felt confident in our plan. It just takes time. Patience is a virtue, right? But if you've been told you are running out of time, I'd honestly recommend the loan. In fact, even Dave Ramsey, "Mr. No Debt, Ever," would. He said so here and here and here. So if I'm ever in this situation again (which we probably will be), at say 35 years old, I'm taking Dave's advice and getting the loan.

With that said, here's what we did.
  • First, we transferred a portion ($2,500) of Sam's mutual fund into a CD so that we couldn't touch it. This was a starting place. I still didn't have a job, Sam was still in school, but it allowed me to feel like we had started. It wasn't necessarily the wisest financial decision, but it helped my anxiety while we waited to really get started. You've got to be able to live with yourself.
  • Secondly, we got jobs (hopefully, you would be starting from this place). Once we both had jobs, we began to pay off our credit card debt. It made zero sense to me to save for one thing, while paying 10-18% interest on another. I'm proud of the decision, but I second guessed myself A LOT. If we'd held onto the debt, we could have saved the same amount significantly faster.
  • Third thing was a budget. We are bad at budgets. You know those people who love them? Who track every dollar? We are not those people. We broke the budget monthly. But guilt is a powerful motivator and we needed something to keep us on track. If last month sucked, we could move on the 1st of each month... start fresh.
An important thing to note is that we were not perfect in anyway... we weren't even good. Our budget lacked a lot of "necessities". We sliced and diced until we were down to actual living expenses (i.e. bills). Our out to eat budget $40 for the month... and if you didn't buy it in the grocery store it came out of that amount, so this wasn't date night, this was Chick-fil-A. We went over EVERY MONTH in one place or another. There was no "new coffee pot" budget, not even an "OPK budget", so yeah as you can imagine, we went over a lot. It was not a sustainable, live the rest of your life budget by any means. This was for two reasons. One, our salaries, living situation, the whole thing was super new to us, we didn't know how much gas we would need or how much the power bill would be. We had to guess, and sometimes we went over (hello, Georgia summers). The second reason is this: I literally wanted to feel the pain every time I bought something that wasn't budgeted. I wanted to think to myself every. single. time. that I bought something outside of the budget, "this is less money for IVF". It's a bad budgeting system and not one that we have continued to use, but for our situation at the time, it worked.

An example: clothes. Even Dave Ramsey is an advocate of buying clothes. I figure if it's on Dave's list, it can be on mine too. Except when we created out budget, it was with NECESSITIES in mind. Are clothes a necessity? Yes, most certainly. But are new clothes a necessity in this season of life? Our answer was no. We had enough clothes to last six months or more, so there was absolutely no clothing budget. That is, until my husband ripped belt loops off his pants leaving giant holes... suddenly pants were more of a necessity. I waited for a sale, used coupons, and got the best deal I could, but as there was not a "clothes budget" it came out of the IVF fund.

Another important thing to note. We already knew before we signed a lease on our apartment that we were gearing up to live well below our means. It is always easier to make one decision that saves a big chunk of money, rather than a hundred small decisions. In my opinion, the single most significant thing we did was choose to rent a cheap place. Dave Ramsey recommends that you spend 25% or less of your monthly income on your rent or mortgage. Well we spent, 6.6% of our gross income and just under 10% of our bring home salary on housing. If we had been in a situation where we could not lower our rent or mortgage payment, it would have been very difficult to save as quickly as we did. The housing was a huge monthly savings for us and it has taught me that I never want to be house poor. Margin is always good.

And lastly, if budgeting, saving, or getting out of debt is difficult for you, I highly recommend an app (assuming you haven't ditched your smart phone in your saving frenzy). We used MINT... a free app (because $2 apps are not in the budget) that allows you to see exactly how much you have to spend at any given moment in a particular area. This was HUGE for us. It removes the "I didn't know" from the conversation (err argument). Our out to eat budget was forty dollars a month. So if we wanted to run to Dairy Queen for a blizzard, we checked the app. If $39.60 was staring us in the face on the 8th day of the month (which happened all too often), well then we had our answer. Forty cents does not pay for a blizzard. If we chose to go get the blizzard anyway, it was with the knowledge that we were blowing the budget, and even more importantly, that the extra three dollars was three dollars that was intended for IVF... ice cream starts to lose its appeal. With an app, there is no excuse; you can always know EXACTLY where you stand. And it removes a lot of math and data entry from my life. Praise the Lord.

So that's essentially it. I'm not a money guru by any stretch of the imagination, but with a lot of mistakes, we were able to pay for IVF out of pocket with zero insurance coverage! And we learned a lot in the process. Sam and I are far more money conscious now  than we ever were before. I am pro a debt-free life 97% of the time... clothes, food, furniture, pets... those things don't belong on credit cards in my opinion. But that 3% of the time... well that includes air conditioning units, because let's get real, I was not about to live through a Georgia summer without AC.... and so we have been using all of the knowledge we gained last year and doing the hard work all over again to get out of debt (again) and pay off all of the unforeseen  moving and new home expenses. That 3% also includes fertility disasters. No one grows up intending to need $30,000 to start a family, so don't blame yourself if you don't have the funds lying around. But do recognize that you are the master of your finances if you choose (either you're the master of your finances, or they'll be the master of you). One way or another, you're going to pay for it, either before the treatment or after, so either way, I encourage you to find places you can trim the fat. Save up faster, or pay it off earlier... you'll be glad you did. Some days, most days in fact, it will feel like you're hard work is only drops in a bucket, but persistence pays off. Your bucket will overflow eventually.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grace in the Storm

I haven't felt like I've had a lot to say lately. Life is pretty regular, normal, every day kind of stuff right now, or as my friend  Jennie says, BAU- Business As Usual. That's us for sure. But last night, I was scrolling through Facebook before going to bed, you know, just in case anything really important happened like another dozen people dumped water on their heads. I ran into a post that really got me stirred up. And sadly, I was embarrassed on behalf on the infertility community.

Okay, so a little background: For those of you who don't follow Georgia news, you may not have heard of Tripp Halstead, but anyone around Atlanta has probably followed the story to some degree. Almost two years ago, a little boy (Tripp) was playing outside at his daycare when strong winds caused a large branch to fall on the two year old's head. Tripp spent a long time in the hospital and the injury has been a life altering event for his family. Last night, an update from his mom just happened to pop up in my news feed. Apparently, she's been undergoing some type of infertility treatment and her most recent (and according to Tracy her last) cycle failed. She posted a heartfelt comment about the situation.

Tracy's page has over a million followers, so you can imagine she received quite a number of comments on a post like that. As of a few moments ago, there are over 1,100. It should also not be surprising that the majority of her followers are not infertile... her story, her page is about her son, not infertility. As such, many of the comments are from people who have absolutely no idea what infertility is like nor what they should or should not say. Here are a few of the comments:

If it's God's will, it'll happen.

Why don't you adopt?

Lots of really helpful stuff here. Some "if it's meant to happen, it will." Quite a number of stories about a friend of a friend who stopped treatment and then "poof. pregnant just like that." And then everyone's favorite, "you can always adopt." I actually found a few, "you know if you adopt, you'll probably get pregnant." The comments make me want to gag. They are awful, hurtful, unhelpful. But here's the thing: just about every commenter is saying something from a place of compassion. They say something because they care. They say the wrong thing because they don't know any better.

Now I know that just about every infertility blogger has posted their own version of What to Say to Your Infertile Friend and Resolve has a really helpful list on the website. But here's the thing, I don't think those of us dealing with infertility can expect the whole world to be well versed in this area. Some people are going to inadvertently say hurtful things when they are trying to help or comfort us. At that moment we have the opportunity to offer grace (and maybe a gentle education on etiquette) or we can turn into the stereotypical bitter infertile.

One such comment stirred up quite the controversy:

The dreaded: "Just relax"
Poor Reba had no idea what she was about to unleash. As of this morning, she had 44 comments to her comment, and there are quite a few other comments to the comments within her comment... essentially it's ugly. Quite a few infertile women went ballistic. And I get it. Sometimes if one more person tells me to relax OR that God will get me pregnant if He wants to OR that Sarah was 90 when she got pregnant, so I'm never too old... in those moments I've certainly wanted to punch the commenter in the face. Thus far, I've resisted, but it doesn't mean I haven't had the urge.

The truth of the matter is that social media and the invention of the "comment" has given everyone a good deal more courage and a lot less common sense. People write things that they would never actually say to someone face to face. Blood starts to boil as the comments add and pretty soon the most level-headed and kindhearted person is adding more fuel to the fire. It becomes kind of ridiculous. I almost found myself wanting to comment (which I never do) to douse the flames a bit and remind everyone that the point was never to create controversy, but rather support a woman who is hurting. Thankfully, I resisted as I'm sure it wouldn't have had the effect I was looking for, but rather incite further comment fury.

I'm a big proponent of Thumper's words of wisdom: "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all." However, I get that sometimes something does need to be said. There are occasions in life, when saying nothing does more harm than good... I'm not sure that this situation was one of those times, but regardless everyone involved could have handled the situation better. A woman was hurting because she found out that the treatment she had hoped would bring her a baby failed, her womb is still empty, and she felt as if that was her last chance to add to her family. The fighting and arguing about what is or is not helpful, insensitive, rude, etc. was really not necessary. Instead of finding comfort, Tracy found a lot of angry women using her space to engage in stupid, petty arguments. I was just so frustrated with the whole thing.

The more I read, the more I felt like the women who aren't infertile, were really frustrated with the women who are. Like as a group... not as an individual. That as a group we portray ourselves as bitter, angry women who are on the hunt and ready to jump down anyone's throat for saying the wrong thing. It broke my heart. I typically try to keep my blog true to it's title... I don't try to engage or incite arguments, but I do try my very best to be honest. But the truth is, some days I'm afraid to write what I really want because of this exact situation. I'm afraid that somewhere out there, there is a group of people just waiting, looking, searching for buzz words ready to blow up my comments section and make me and my friends feel guilty for various things like adoption and IVF and other controversial things. My biggest fear with the blog is to unintentionally and inadvertently give someone a platform to tear others down in the spirit of "free speech" and "open dialogue." So I all too often stay quiet to protect the innocent... my blog will never be a place intended for hate.

I was really disappointed in all of those involved in the situation last night. The whole situation could have been handled with a lot more grace by everyone. I hate to think that infertile women are out their giving me a bad name, as I would never want to do something that made anyone view infertility or my infertile sisters in a bad light. My goal is to shine a light on infertility, educate people about infertility, and offer support to anyone in need... not to bash people or create an environment where we all sit around and hate on fertile people. Because really, what's the point? Yes, there are jerks out there who will say rude and hurtful things just to be mean, but in my experience, nine times out of ten, the hurtful comment is made in ignorance. Attacking the person does zero good. It makes them defensive and makes us, as a community, look bad. There is a better solution. The truth is that infertile women often are bitter... I know I've been bitter often throughout these years. This journey is hard. This storm is fierce. But bitterness (particularly abusive, negative, hateful bitterness) will solve nothing, grace on the other hand will soften hearts. The comments people say do hurt and I do want to lash out, but I know that it will never help the situation. My wish would be that when people think of me that they would think "what a hard, long journey, but she handled it with so much grace. what a beautiful story." Admittedly, I don't always do that, but that would be my wish for anyone struggling with infertility, for us all as a community... that we would present ourselves well, that we would hold our heads high, but that we would engage with humble hearts.  No one wants to advocate for someone that they dislike, and the truth is, we can't create the change we want in our communities or within the government if people think all infertile women are hateful, spiteful, and bitter. I'm proud of the community, proud of my friends; I just want others to see us as I do.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Next Right Thing

The truth is I'm nervous. Nervous because life is pretty good right now. I'm still dealing with some lingering depression, but it's not situational. We've been home owners for about three months now and it really feels awesome. It feels good to invest in us, in our future. It feels good to put down roots. It feels good to do hard work because it's OURS (yeah, yeah technically it's the bank's, but you know what I mean). Buying our first home was definitely the next right thing for us. But I'll admit that there were a few days weeks in the home buying process where I was wondering if we were making a GIANT mistake.

People always tell you to trust your gut. I don't know, maybe that works for some people, but my gut is untrustworthy. Anxiety brings on a very fussy gut. Seriously guys, the fear of the fire drill sent me home sick so many times in Kindergarten I ended up at a specialist for chronic stomach pain… just ask my mom. I have never been able to trust my gut... if the situation for any reason causes me to be nervous, my gut will tell me to run the other way. For example, my gut would have never allowed me to get married. I've mentioned before that I was anxious when I got engaged. I was nervous about getting married. I was not calm. My stomach was uneasy. I was anxious... it took time for me to breathe and for the anxiety to slip away. Time for my stomach to chill out. The morning after the wedding, I woke up with so much peace. And I've gained more and more and more since then. Sam was the right man. Marriage was the right decision. It was the next right thing.

I've got another one of those BIG type of decisions looming. Some times I think about it and I feel really good. It feels like a good plan. I feel happy and optimistic about the possibilities. Other times, particularly when I think about committing to that step, announcing the decision, signing paperwork, etc; I feel nervous. When I think about what could go wrong in five, ten, twenty years because of this decision, I feel nauseous. I can't trust my gut here.

I think my greatest fear is loss and pain and heartache. Really, just more of the same. For a while the whole concept of doing nothing, of not cycling, of not trying, seemed absurd. I thought I'd send myself into a panic attack at the mere idea of leaving the embryos frozen in Florida and taking a break from all of that. But the longer I've sat in this place, the longer I've enjoyed it. My life is good. Seriously, it is. Sure, it's partly because I'm prohibiting my mind from wandering down the deep, dark, twisty roads of infertility misery. I'm not allowing myself to really even think about infertility let alone dwell on it. But the feel good feeling is also because not trying means I can't fail. I am not plagued by worry. I'm not spending countless hours researching the benefits of eletroacupuncture or the potential effects of eating a roast beef sandwich or skipping a prenatal vitamin. I'm just living, maybe for the first time in three years, and it feels really nice. I'm not a hundred percent sure I'm ready to open myself back up to the potential for more heartache, more loss, more regret, more rejection.

However, I also know that doing nothing will most likely yield more nothing. Sure, the Lord could bless my womb and we could get pregnant next month, but He hasn't promised me that. And I believe that the Lord asks us to do life: to make choices, to work hard, to try, to grow, to fail. If we want to grow our family, we are going to have to take some risks. Risks can feel really scary though, especially when past experience says that risks don't bring rewards, but ruin. When your expectations are crushed, your hope can be lost amidst the rubble.

I've written about this series before, but it's come back to my mind recently. I keep hearing this phrase in my head over and over again. Jeff Henderson shared in the series Climate Change that God is in the business of building hope in our lives, but we have to trust him... especially when life doesn’t make a lot of sense. That trust looks like simply choosing to do the next right thing and letting God take care of the big picture. At first that really seems like a dumb idea to me. I like to be in the know. I like to see how everything will work out. I do not like to react to unforeseen circumstances, I like to be proactive. I like to know how the story ends. But lately, I've been thinking more and more that maybe knowing the whole story isn't for the best. If you told me three years ago that I'd be here (still infertile, still childless) I'm not sure that I would have had the courage to go on. Because really, my worst nightmares wouldn't have included all of this. So I've been thinking maybe I don't see the whole picture, maybe I don't know the whole story because the truth would freeze my feet. All I have to do is trust and take a step... do the next right thing.

I don't know if the next right thing will be THE thing that brings home Baby Greavu, but I'm hoping that it will at least bring us one step closer. And I guess that's the leap of faith… trusting that the next right thing, will lead us to the next, next right thing, and so on. We just focus on the step right in front of us and trust that He sees the whole journey.