Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Infertility


Lately I have had quite a few discussions with many new people about infertility, and many of whom are struggling in the midst of it. I've actually been shocked by how many people I've talked to recently about this considering how few I knew when I was in the middle of dealing with it myself, and also by how few most of them are connected to as well. It's such a lonely experience and most don't have anyone else to relate to who has experienced the same thing. I know I wrote here and there throughout my infertility struggles, but reading back I didn't express as much as I could have during the most painful times. I didn't share some of the hardest aspects or the feelings I felt because during that time I wasn't sure how it would be accepted and didn't feel able to completely open up about everything I was feeling. I hope to encourage others with this sharing now and relate to both those going through infertility and also those who know others going through it.

During some of my darkest and worst hours of wanting to be a mom and have children, I felt I had no one who I could truly and completely relate to or open up to safely. I'm not saying this was correct or true, but that's how the cloud of infertility enveloping me felt like. Sometimes it was exacerbated by conversations with others that pierced my heart and seemed to punch me in the stomach, and other times it was my own insecurities or inability to convey my feelings. Either way it was one of the loneliest, if not the loneliest time of my entire life. Yes I had many people around me. My husband was of course by my side (as much as he, a man not experiencing the desire to be pregnant himself, could be). I had my sweet understanding friend who I had gone through infertility with for years before who by then had gotten pregnant (and, heartbreakingly, it just wasn't the same any longer...it couldn't be). I had many people who were hopeful and loving and wanting the best for me, but no one I felt that could truly understand and relate to the unimaginable pain and confusion that comes with wanting a baby and to be a mom and not being able to do that. 

No one who understood that the romance and spontaneity of sex with my husband, had instead turned into a scheduled event on a calendar that ended with me laying on my back with my legs in the air for 30 minutes (sorry if that's too much info), and sometimes shaking my butt around thinking that would surely get the sperm and egg to connect! No one to understand the chaos and turmoil that pregnancy announcements caused on me because the joy I felt for them was crippled by the paralyzing desire for my own. Or the hatred and guilt I felt towards myself for not being able to be more ecstatic for my friends in their pregnancies. Or the surprise and disgust I felt at myself for the jealousy that crept in at seeing baby pictures or easy pregnancy announcements. The inability to attend friends baby showers because of the intense pain it caused me, which somehow made me feel even more left out at the same time. The sadness over random conversations with new people asking if I had children and telling me in a chipper fleeting voice that, "Oh you will some day!" after hearing that I didn't. The intense frustration I felt from all the well meaning advice to relax, go on vacation, or try a new sex trick. I fully know that people meant well in their words and wishes, but the way it fell on my empty womb and heart was painful to say the least, and made me feel even more alone and more misunderstood. I'm not proud of any of these thoughts or emotions, but they were real and they were mine. And they are oh so common with those struggling with infertility. 

That's a term I hated to use for years. Infertility. But for anyone wanting a baby or to be a mom and not being able to...it is heartbreaking no matter what you call it or where you are in the process. No matter how long you've waited, what a doctor says, or what the so called average time frame "should" be. It's like a piece of you crumples up and dies with every passing period. It's physically painful. I've realized since talking to multiple women over the past few months that this is such a more common experience than people realize and that people don't know how to respond or help people dealing with this. It is one of the hardest things on relationships between spouses as well as between friends and family. I know because I've experienced it between all of those relationships. Some of whom know, and others who have no idea how drastically our relationships changed during that season of time because I didn't know what to say, or how to say it, and so I stayed quiet and alone. 

I'm writing this for those going through infertility to know that you are absolutely not alone, and to give yourself grace in whatever you feel regardless of what it is. To know that there are others that have been there and have felt the exact same terribly shocking things that you are. That some days you will feel anger. Somedays sadness. Other days hurt. Most days loneliness and confusion. And occasionally those joyful peace filled days that are a breath of fresh air. Give yourself grace in whatever you're feeling, and let yourself feel. It's your journey and sometimes feeling is the only thing you can do. 

I'm also writing this to help those who haven't gone through infertility to realize what to say and especially what not to say to someone going through it. To know that it's ok not to know what to say and often that's much better than advise or well wishes of outcomes that can't possibly be known. We know you mean well, but there is so much that can be said and done to help the loneliness and I hope to help and bless your relationships and friendships with those going through this devastating time. I also hope to give you an inside glance at most likely what they are experiencing without saying.

Here are a few things you can say to someone going through infertility: 

1) I'm so sorry you're experiencing this. 
2) I have no idea what to say. 
3) I love you. 
4) I'm praying for you. 
5) Can I do anything for you? 

Things to please not say to someone going through infertility (and if you have, go back to them and apologize and let them know you didn't realize the impact. I promise it will help them feel better & be helpful in your relationship): 

1) Relax and it'll happen. 
2) My friend did "blah blah" and got pregnant. You should try that.
3) Have you tried X...Y....Z? 
4) Go on a vacation and it'll happen. 
5) There's always adoption. 
6) Have you thought about adoption or fertility treatments? 
7) It'll happen don't worry. 
8) You're just stressing and thinking about it too much. 
9) Everything happens for a reason.
10) You can have my kids!

Even though I'm not in the throws of the despair and hurting of infertility any longer, every time I hear a new story my heart squeezes with pain and compassion for those still dealing with this heart break. The loneliness and misunderstandings surrounding it only add to the pain and suffering this terrible experience encompasses. So many people struggle silently on their own and that is one of the hardest parts of infertility. By sharing my struggles I hope to help others realize they're not alone, and also help those not dealing with it relate better to others who are. Please feel free to forward this to anyone who you think may benefit from reading this and also feel free to email me directly if you have questions or want to talk to someone who has been down this road whether you have, are currently, or know someone who is. (linmclark2@yahoo.com)

Always be humble and gentle. 
Be patient with each other, making allowance for 
each other's faults because of your love.

Ephesians 4:2

Friday, September 2, 2016

Seattle


We made it to Seattle and have almost everything unpacked! It feels surreal. I keep referring to our place as, "our hotel" and, "our room," which still cracks me up every time I do it! It's quite the size difference from a 3 bedroom house with a big backyard and garage! We are living in an open 1 bedroom (meaning there is no ceiling on the bedroom) and 1 bathroom that is 677 sqft. :) It's small! But it's actually very quaint and we really are enjoying it. We have our one small green couch, our coffee table, our dining table (with only 2 chairs) & the TV...and that's everything that fits in our living space! It's nice and cozy. The downsizing and purging of so much STUFF was actually very refreshing and we pretty much have just the essentials now.

Our apartment (not hotel) is really quite spectacular. There is a rooftop hang out that you can see the ocean, ferris wheel, & space needle from on one side. The other side you have a view directly into the football stadium. There are multiple different chairs and couches as well as BBQs spaced out all over. They also have a workout room, theater room, yoga room, and a few other kitchen and living space areas and rooms that are open for use or available to reserve. One of Derek's favorites is the game room. There are about 4 arcade games (including his favorite Buck Hunt) that you can play for free and also shuffleboard and a huge TV. The first night we got back here they had a resident BBQ on the roof with amazing food, wine, & beer that was free! So far it seems to be a pretty fun place!

We've walked around the area lots and have found many fun places to go. The restaurants are pretty amazing...and there are SO MANY within a mile walk of us. Most only a block or two away. Bear is still getting used to there being so many people everywhere and doesn't exactly love the elevator but he's slowly adapting (hopefully)!

Overall it's been pretty lovely. It was nice to come up here last week and unpack, have a few day "vacation" back in Portland and come back up here to a mostly unpacked hotel...I mean apartment. ;) It's a little strange that this is our real life and I do feel like we're on vacation since Derek hasn't started working yet but I'm sure it'll feel real once that happens! As for now we're enjoying our time together scouting out our new city and celebrating this time off that Derek hasn't had in years. We're really just so very thankful for all of this and we're excited to see what God has in store for us here!

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, 
plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11

Here are a few pictures of our new place!

 Bear checking out the view from our apartment window

 Rooftop Middle

 Cute Mediterranean place we found only a few blocks away

 Sunset on the roof

 Our apartment!

Other view of the apartment! :)

 View from the rooftop to the north west

 View from the rooftop to the north west

View from the rooftop to the south

 Before unpacking was completed!

Before unpacking was completed!

Adorable welcome gift when we arrived at our apartment

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Moving


Yesterday was an emotional day as we locked up our Lanewood house for the last time and drove our way up to Seattle. Even though it was a crazy rollercoaster selling this house, it's bittersweet that we closed escrow yesterday and are no longer home owners of our sweet Lanewood home. That home provided us with so many amazing memories and has been the growth place of so many beautiful friendships. So many birthday parties, Ugly Sweater Christmas parties, dog parties, BBQ's, Beer Release parties, bible studies, and countless other amazing times had there. It's the last home Gracie lived in, it's where we came to terms with infertility, it's where Derek finally finished medical training after 10 years. It will be sorely missed but we are thankful to God for the sale finally going through and completing that part of our life's puzzle. :)

Derek and I recently realized that we have not lived in one place as long as we have in Portland since we were both in elementary school. That’s a crazy thought. The past 6 plus years here in Portland have been AMAZING to say the least. The friends that have become family here have been a life support to us through this crazy medical training, as well as the ups and downs of our life's events over the past 6 plus years. There are too many to list. To say we will miss living here and the people around us does not even begin to describe how we feel. It’s so extreme that my heart has honestly not fully grasped the concept yet. It’s painful to think about. However, we know that God has a plan in moving us and we trust that plan as we always have and look forward to what He has in store for us…even though we can’t see the outcome yet. He is a great God and has blessed us more than we ever could have imagined. 

We hope and pray that the friendships we’ve made in Portland will continue to flourish and grow and be encouraged. We will continue to pray for our Portland family and hope to have many visitors in the near future! Our door is always open…even if it is a little further away now. :) Thank you Portland for being an amazing home and thank you everyone for making our time there INCREDIBLE. We are so thankful.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Waiting


I'm sure I've named past posts with this same name but it seems to be a lesson that I don't learn very well and something that is obviously important for God to teach me. I know He has a plan in it, and I trust that, I just don't like having to wait to see what it is. :) I don't know why I don't do waiting very well. I've certainly had boat loads of experience in this department! If only I could handle it better, maybe I wouldn't have to endure it as much! But waiting seems to slowly shrivel up my stomach and make me feel as though the world were coming to a slow painful end. Not the heaven beautiful end kind. A torturous, don't know if I can endure it kind of experience. Now I realize this sounds ridiculously dramatic and maybe that's why I'm in this waiting predicament again. I don't like waiting.

I don't like waiting in line at the grocery store or the gas station. I hate waiting at red lights or for slow moving cars. I don't even like waiting for dinner to finish cooking! I haven't enjoyed waiting to find out where we'll be moving or what the future holds, and currently I am not loving waiting to know what is going to happen with the selling of our home.

It's craziness. I didn't even want to sell this home. I LOVE this home and the city and all the many many beautiful memories that have been made here. It's the first time in my adult life I have felt at HOME. It's the first house Derek and I have owned and it's the first place we've felt like we've put down roots and really become a part of a community. The countless birthday parties, bible studies, beer releases and BBQs that have taken place here are only some of the amazing times we've experienced. The many babies who have graced our floors and have given me such fulfillment in playing mom have memories in every room. All the dogs who have raced around our backyard and grown up here, including our one and only Gracie living out her last days in this house. This house holds so much love and beauty. It is one of the biggest miracles we've seen God do in our lives with bringing the price of $289K down to a crazy affordable $170K for us and so much more! Our realtor told us in 40 years of real estate he'd never seen anything like it. This house was made to be our home.

Yet, we're being moved to Seattle. And it seemed as though we were to put the house on the market. No, let me change that. We were supposed to put this house on the market, I know that. We prayed for months about it and God changed my heart. I was sad to let it go but I knew it was something I was supposed to do. To let go. So we did. And everyone told us how it would sell immediately because of the market and yadda yadda because everyone else's houses WERE selling immediately! I felt weird anytime someone would say that to us though, almost as though they were going to jinx it, which I know is a ridiculous thought. But then our house DID sell immediately! We were floored! It was weird though because I felt really sad and even cried over it. I felt like someone was taking my house and it was so bizarre. My feelings were mixed with the relief of the waiting being over but at the same time it felt weird and I just figured I was being crazy me.

Then a week later the sellers backed out due to apparently realizing that the house was close to Cedar Hills Blvd. (You did walk through the house and actually see the street and house before making an offer, right!?!? - And yes they did, by the way) To say I was annoyed and bitter is an understatement. Which, yes, I realize is comically ironic considering I was basically mad they were "stealing" my house in the first place! However, since then our house has sat on the market (for 3 weeks). We've had open houses and showings and most people say the same thing that it's too close to Cedar Hills Blvd. This slightly infuriates me because if I'm not mistaken, our house IS listed on the map. So it's not like the location of our house is a big secret until you arrive here. All the while making us keep everything tidy and then get out of the house with sometimes only 15 minutes notice (stressful), while people tromp through our house (and leave pee on our toilet seat or leave our back sliding door open - yes just a few examples of many that have stressed me out)...only to say the location is the problem. It's baffling. And exhausting.

I'm trying to be patient, I really am. But from past experiences I know I am not great at the game of patience. I'm terrible actually. And this is no different. Now the choices begin....do we lower the price? Do we wait it out? Do we just keep the house? Do we try to find a responsible friend to rent it? The hard part is we don't know! We don't know what we are supposed to do and so we wait. My least favorite thing to do ever. Wait. But that's what we're doing, and I'm trying not to go crazy in the process. Which is silly considering we don't even have a date we're moving to Seattle and therefore don't even have a time frame to technically want the house sold by. So why do I feel so impatient!?! I think my natural response to waiting is automatic resistance. I don't know why. But apparently it's something that, yet again, I'm supposed to be practicing. And I am, practicing it real good! ;)

"If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." James 4:15

Friday, May 8, 2015

A New Mother's Day


Over the past many years, Mother's Day has previously been an incredibly difficult and complicated day for me for the simple reason that I was not a mother myself...yet I was blessed with a wonderful mother and mother to my husband, wonderful grandmothers, as well as many amazing friends who were mothers. It's not that I didn't appreciate the day itself or those it honored, it's that in the past this day brought up the stark reality of my then painful situation and lonely sadness.

One of the hardest and most memorable was 3 years ago. It was one of the worst years emotionally for me where I rarely went more than a few days without crying in between. I came home emotionally exhausted from working at the winery on Mother's Day (having a million people ask me if I was a mother yet or planned to have children) to find that Derek had arranged a surprise "Mother's Day Sucks" party for me! It was one of the sweetest things he's ever done. He decorated the entire back yard with balloons, flowers, streamers, and chocolate covered strawberries. My favorite was that on each mylar ballon that said "Happy Mother's Day!" he wrote in black sharpie underneath "sucks." In that moment I connected with my husband in a way that I couldn't have if I hadn't experienced the terrible hurt of infertility. To see that he understood my pain and acknowledged it while also putting such a thoughtful and humorous spin on it was a turning point for me in healing and in not feeling completely alone in my situation. As crazy or weird as it may sound, it was exactly what I needed and somehow made me feel better in the midst of a terribly painful and lonely time.

This Mother's Day, however, marks the first one that I have not dreaded in as long as I can remember. To say I have been healed and changed is an understatement and I am so incredibly thankful. I have so many reasons to be thankful for and especially for all the children I do have in my life. My sweet goddaughters whose mom, Tif, so sweetly sent me Mother's Day flowers that are filling my whole house with such a beautiful fragrance right now. It's a reminder of the love that I get to share with so many amazing children and that I do get to experience moments of motherhood through my friends and family and all their children. It's such a blessing to me now that I get to have a different perspective and love on them in ways that I wouldn't be able to if I were taking care of my own. It's a beautiful thing and only made possible by God. I'm so thankful. I'm thankful that this is who God made me to be and I wouldn't be without having gone through infertility or experiencing all those painful Mother's Days.

However, I know that this day still causes much pain for many people. Whether it is waiting to have a child of their own, mourning the loss of a child or children, or missing their mother - Mother's Day can be an extremely difficult and heart wrenching day. Having a very close friend who just lost her baby and will mourn this day, I feel an empathetic sadness about this day for her. I feel for her, I hurt for her, I dread this day for her...and I pray that it will pass quickly for her and that she will not have to endure another Mother's Day like this. As easy as it is to remember all the mother's in our lives, I want to make a conscious effort to remember all those who find this day difficult instead of filled with joy. There have been so many people in my life that reached out to me on Mother's Day and the days leading up to it to check in on me and I can't express how thankful I was for that. How just being acknowledged meant the world to me and that I wasn't forgotten just because I didn't have a baby bouncing on my lap. Let's make it a point to reach out to those who may be finding this day difficult. It may be uncomfortable and you don't know what to say and that's ok. Just tell them you love them. You're praying for them. You're thinking about them. Just let them know they are not forgotten on this day.

This Mother's Day I am truly thankful. I'm thankful that I have a wonderful mother. I'm thankful for my mother in law and the amazing man she created. I'm thankful that I have many friends and family members that are mothers. I'm thankful for all the amazing children in my life because of those mothers. I'm thankful for the future children who will be in my life because of those mothers and other mothers I may have yet to even meet. All I know is that God didn't leave me out of Mother's Day, He just had a different role for me in it. It's a beautiful day and I'm so thankful to be included in the lives of those who are. And to those who aren't able to find this day beautiful yet...just wait, you will. It may not be how you envisioned, but someday the pain will subside and you too will feel joy again.

"God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain..." -Revelation 21:4

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fear Of The Future...Here We Go Again

I feel like for over the past 10 years my life has been a series of changing living locations and preparing for the next move in Derek's career path. Having been settled in Portland now for just about 5 years and even living in our current home for just under 5 years, it's a thought that thankfully hasn't been on my mind in a long time. Moving or changing or relocating just hasn't even been on the horizon. We barely know what Derek's schedule will look like 4 weeks from now let alone in over a year from when he finishes his fellowship. I haven't really thought of changing places....and I have thouroughly enjoyed the emotional and mental break from it.

However, it's come up in conversation recently and now I can't get it out of my brain. The stress, the wonder, the trying to play reverse psychology on God (as Andrew put it the other night at bible study! Haha!), the fear...ugh how I don't miss these feelings. But I am also SO thankful for the past 5 years of mental break from it having been rooted here. Having a break from all the up in the air changes and moves and not knowing what was next or where Derek would get accepted for medical school, then residency, then fellowship....ahhhh it has been a lovely break. And now, it's back. In one year and one month Derek will finish fellowship and will start a "real" job somewhere. Where? We don't know. Do we have hopes? Expectations? Wishes? Of course!! But, all we can do right now is wait for time to pass and trust. There isn't even anything to do or look for yet. It's WAY too early to even really think about this yet! My brain, however, didn't get that memo apparently.

I will confess that I have a fear of change. I love stability and I also confess I sometimes envy those who have it. Who have nothing on the horizon of shifting change of possible locations or knowing that everything about the plan they are on will definitely change in one year and one month from right now. I forgot what this feeling was like of not knowing what the future will hold for not just small things but huge things such as what city or state we will be living in. The possibility of not knowing a single person for thousands of miles surrounding you. Of starting ALL over. It's exhausting really. Granted I also know that nothing could change. We could stay right here and all this thinking could be for nothing...but my brain again, didn't get that memo. :)

Sorry for the venting....and I don't even know if anyone is reading this, but someday in the future I want to look back on this and read and remember what I felt, because I know I don't always share it in the moment. But I am right now. This is the moment. And I don't want to forget this...all of this. Because it's really been a beautiful ride and I want to remember not only the great, but also the trying parts of it too.

I truly do trust that God has a plan and this morning in my Jesus Calling devo (by Sarah Young) the message was absolutely spot on for me:

"If you learn to trust Me - really trust Me - with your whole being, then nothing can separate you from My Peace. Everything you endure can be put to good use by allowing it to train you in trusting Me. . . Do not fear what this day, or any day, may bring your way. Concentrate on trusting Me and on doing what needs to be done. Relax in My sovereignty, remembering that I go before you, as well as with you, into each day. Fear no evil, for I can bring good out of every situation you will ever encounter."

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." -Psalm 23:4

I know it and I believe it....sometimes it's just getting your heart to feel it and follow along. :) And if anyone is reading this I, of course, always appreciate the prayers for not only our future but also for my heart! :)


Words

An amazing thing about having gone through infertility is that it gives you an empathy for other people's struggles like no other. Before having gone through it, I always felt for people. I really did. I've always been an over empathetic, feel-y, and super emotional person. But having experienced what felt like a loss every month for YEARS upon YEARS really changed my empathy relation into a full blown experience with others. Especially when that experience is along side a very close friend. It's interesting to me how things can affect me in ways like it's my own personal experience...even though it's not anymore. It has made me so much more aware of the effect people's words can have on others and how often people don't realize the severity of their words. I know most people aren't out to purposely hurt others, it's just that they can't relate because they haven't experienced a similar hurt. And I'm glad that many people have that innocence that they can't relate, because otherwise life would be very very sad. It's just that sometimes we need to look at situations and know that we are not in control, we don't know what the outcome will be like, and that's ok. We don't have to fill the silence with meaningless words that we don't mean or don't truly know. We can simply say we are sorry and don't know what in the world to say...because really there aren't any words.

I recently read in a bible study the story about Jesus telling His disciples what was going to happen to Him and Peter not knowing what to say did the same thing as we do all the time...

'From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."' -Matthew 16:21-23

Even Peter, who walked alongside Jesus, couldn't handle life going differently than what the normal constituted or from what was "expected," and tried to say he knew differently how things would go. But sometimes things are going to go differently than what is expected or even desired. That still doesn't mean that God isn't in control.

I can't count the amount of people and times that I have been told over the past 9 plus years that I would get pregnant and/or have a child. Sometimes people even told me specific time frames (all of which have long ago passed). I don't blame them or hold any grudges. I understand. Just like Peter, we all sometimes can't handle a situation going differently than what we desire for ourselves or even for someone else. Walking through the loss of a child with my dear friend, I have unfortunately witnessed many similar situations of people not knowing what to say and filling the void with telling her the "positive future" in many different forms. Again, nothing against them. I know I used to do the exact same thing before my experience with infertility.

Hopefully we can move forward and try to remember that God is in control and is the only one that truly knows the future. Only He can tell us the plan. We just need to support one another, be there for each other, and love on one another....through all the bad but also all the good. Because God does say that there WILL be good...we just don't know what it will look like exactly.

'Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."' -James 4:14-15