In the 20 years my husband and I have been together we have dealt with our fair share (or maybe more than our fair share) of challenges. For us it seems like nothing ever happens without a bump in the road. But at this point we are used to it and almost expect it. If something is going according to plan we hold our breath and watch for the bump.
We also always overcome our challenges. Always.
And we grow and learn from them. Always.
And I like to think we are better people who understand more, listen more and love deeper. Some of that may also just be from getting older.....
Sometimes it also seems like life just keeps throwing stuff at us to see just how much we can handle. Well, let me tell you, we can handle A LOT!!!
(Let me add a disclaimer here.....most of this is, of course, #firstworldproblems. I realize that, and am not complaining at all. We have an amazing life, for which I am exceptionally grateful.)
In the just the last five (plus-ish) years we have dealt with:
My husband's six orthopedic surgeries - one foot, one knee, one shoulder, three wrist. He mountain bikes.....
Our infertility and loss struggle - countless fertility treatments, three miscarriages and an ectopic rupture.....you know the story.
Keeping our severely food allergic son safe as he grows and spends more and more time at school, camp, extra-curricular activities, and with friends.
My parents divorced after 40 years.
D.E.M.A.N.D.I.N.G careers (that we do love, by the way!)
The devastating losses of our two beloved Siberian Huskies - six months apart.
Stress, anxiety, sleepless nights, busy schedules, the crazy of life.
I wouldn't change any of it. Even the infertility and loss journey. All of it has sculpted us into who we are as individuals and as a couple. Although there is some of it I wish hadn't happened......
With all of this I am at a point in my life where I am still trying to heal. Still learning and applying the lessons I have learned from all of this, especially our infertility and loss journey.
The biggest lesson I have learned and work to apply every single day, is to find the joy. There is always joy somewhere......always.
Accomplishments in life, work, home, no matter how small.
A quiet drive home after a long day at work.
Watching my now seven year old son run and play and smile.
Learning to let go a little bit.
And my current and most favorite joy......our new puppy. He is now 12 weeks old and FULL OF ENERGY.
He has brought true joy to our home.
It is hard to have a new puppy. Potty training, constant chewing on stuff, he wakes up when the sun comes up....every day! He has more energy than my husband and I combined. But I honestly don't see any of that because of the joy we all now have with him in our lives.
My son ADORES him. And he ADORES our son. He is the best snuggler and has, in the four weeks he has been part of our family, started to heal a hole in me that I wasn't sure was going to heal.
He is the perfect addition at the perfect time.
So always remember to take a minute and find the joy. Take a deep breath. Life is hard. It throws stuff at you that you may never see coming. But even in the hardest things, there is always a lesson, and always, buried somewhere......joy.
Today I am dedicating my blog to National Infertility Awareness Week and to the launch of Justine Brooks Froelker's latest book The Mother of Second Chances, based on her blog Ever Upward that was released April 17th. For five weeks 25 amazing women will share their stories of infertility and loss as part of this incredible blog tour, because together we can shatter the stigma. Yesterday Meaghan shared her story and Monday we will hear from Elena at Baby Ridley Bump. We would love for you to participate by sharing these posts far and wide. We'd especially love to see your own broken silence by sharing your own infertility story using the hashtags: #NIAW, #infertility and #EverUpward. ___ Definition: Secondary Infertility The inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children. The birth of the first child does not involve any assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications. I struggle with secondary infertility. I am a mom. I have the coolest, funniest, sweetest little boy. My husband and I didn't struggle to get pregnant with him. I was honestly a little freaked out by how quickly I got pregnant with him. Then, when it was time to try again and complete our little family, we were not prepared for what was to come. I became a mom to four babies I never got to hold. It is now almost five and a half years after we made the decision to try to have a second baby. We have battled, struggled, cried, mourned each loss, and have grown so much. And almost unbelievably, we are still standing. Writing has become my outlet. A place to set down my thoughts and feelings on those days when they are just too hard to carry any longer. Writing keeps me sane. It allows me to express all of those emotions rolling around in my brain and dragging me down. And gives me a place to come back to them if I need to. And writing this blog has helped keep me going. I am a survivor. A survivor of an infertility journey that could have killed me. And definitely changed me. The details and raw emotions are outlined in many of my previous posts, but the short version is - I suffered three miscarriages (12 weeks, 6 weeks, and 14 weeks) and survived a ruptured cornual ectopic (my uterus tore at 12 weeks) that has likely ended our journey. I have endured countless fertility treatments, endless numbers of doctor appointments, has more ultrasounds than I can count, filled so many prescriptions for fertility meds that the people at the pharmacy recognize me. I have been next to my husband and across from my doctor to hear heartbreaking news more times than anyone should have to. I told my doctor, as he came to see me in pre-op one morning, that I really really wanted to stop seeing him there. Five D&Cs, one emergency surgery for my ectopic rupture (and five day hospital stay), and surgery to remove a gigantic ovarian cyst will create that feeling. But we are likely going to meet there again. I have emotional and physical scars that are now a permanent part of who I am. But they do not define me. I refuse to let them. They have shaped me into a woman who is more aware of her emotions. A woman who loves more deeply. A woman who now understands that nothing is guaranteed in life. I struggle with how I feel when I see another Mom and her multiple children. How is she different than me? Why does she get to have more than one child and I don't? Clearly I am not good enough. Not good enough. I have to remind myself that I am good enough. I have battled and fought and clawed and eventually emerged from a darkenss I was not sure I would ever come out of. And I fight daily not to slip back down into that darkness. I have learned things about myself, my husband, my family, my friends, and my doctors that are some of the most important things I have learned in my life. I am strong. I am a fighter. My losses are part of who I am, but do not define me. I am a mother to five children. One who I get to hold tight every day and four who I never got to meet. I cry. Sometimes for no apparent reason. I get frustrated and angry. Why did this happen to us? I channel my emotions from this five year journey to help anyone and everyone I can. My journey through infertility and loss has given my a unique perspective. My hope is this blog and any other forum I am presented with to talk to other infertility and loss survivors will help at least one person. Because everyone who goes through this infertility and/or loss journey deserves to know....... You are not alone. You do not have to endure any of this by yourself. I am here and I will listen. I will stand with you and hold you up if you need me to. You are good enough.
Tonight I am sitting in an elementary school gym, watching my son's basketball practice. Two years ago tonight I was laying in a hospital bed, barely awake. It was a Sunday night, I had just come through three hours of emergency surgery and still wasn't quite sure what had happened.
Two years later, as I look back on that day I am so grateful for so many things. So many things that happened that day and so many things that have happened in the 731 days since. It has not been an easy ride, but I am absolutely in a better place than I was that day, and one year ago today.
On this day last year I was anxious, nervous, and created a bubble around myself. I was anxious to just get through the day. I was nervous about my emotions. And to protect myself I made sure I was going to be home (read - not at work) and every minute of the entire day was planned so there was no down time. No time to dwell or be sad. I wanted to power through and move on.
This year is so different. It wasn't until last week I realized we were almost to the two year anniversary of my surgery. And I was good with it. Just another day. And I will say I am extremely proud of myself for that. I am a worrier. I dwell on things. So to come up on the anniversary of the day that had such a big impact on my life and be ok with it is huge for me. And let me note, not a day goes by that I do not think about my surgery. I have a giant scar that I see every morning as I get dressed that makes it almost impossible to not remember.
So I don't want to dwell on the "what happened". I want to list the things I was grateful for that day and all of the things I am grateful for that have come from that day.
I have the most amazing husband. February is his busiest time of the year at work. My emergency surgery, five day hospital stay, and five week recovery happened right in the middle of that. He never waivered. He sat next to me and took care of me while still working and not sleeping. In the two years since he has supported me and loved me and held me up on my most challenging days. I am so lucky to have him by my side.
I have the best little boy. His smile is infectious. He loves his mama! And on my hardest days, even though he has no idea why the day is so hard, he can pull me right back to reality and cheer me up!
I have learned so much about myself. About my ability to recover. How strong I really am (even though I don't feel like it sometimes). That it is ok to have an "off" day as long as I do not let it take over my life.
I am grateful for my family and friends, without whom I would have had a much tougher time getting to where I am. Having amazing people to talk to makes such a difference.
I am grateful for Dr. D, every day. He is an amazing physician who was definitely on his game that day. He, along with Dr. W and the team at the hospital saved my life that day. Something I can never thank them enough for.
And while I would not want to go through what I have gone through again, I am grateful for the experience. It has helped shape me into the person I am. Made me a person who loves a little more, hugs a little tighter and forgives a little faster.