Sunday, December 21, 2014

Let's Add Another Log to the Fire: LUFS

So they say that things always come in threes. First off I want to know who "they" are and why did they start these awful sayings and misconceptions. At this point now I feel that I must concede as we have gotten more bad news in less than a month's time period. So before Thanksgiving we got the mthfr genetic mutation diagnosis, then the 1st Sunday of Advent we were told we needed to move by the end of January and now I have been diagnosed with LUFS.

What is LUFS? It is lutenized unrupptured follicle syndrome which means my follicle is maturing but it is not releasing the egg so ovulation is not taking place. When the follicle is not rupturing it can just keep getting bigger and become a cyst or shrink back slowly. There is not much treatment for it and the treatments out there are 50/50 that it will be successful in having the patient ovulate. It is a chronic condition in my case based on my charting and symptoms. LUFS can only be detected by doing an u/s series, which we just finished Saturday. I knew before the Dr. said anything just by looking at her face as she was looking at the u/s. She said "It's still there. The follicle didn't rupture, it grew in size and there is debris inside of it." My heart sank as she said those words and as a practitioner I know the odds of pregnancy with LUFS and they aren't good. LUFS is difficult to treat and there isn't much research out there about it. It can be dangerous if the cyst grows so large that it makes the ovary flip over, cutting off blood supply to the ovary and can result in loss of the ovary. This is rare and the symptoms are severe pain so it would be obvious when it was happening and emergency surgery could save the ovary.

 I had mentally prepared myself for the diagnosis the night before the last u/s because the u/s that day was looking like LUFS and she just wanted to confirm it with another u/s the next day. I had a panic attack on Friday night and just sobbed uncontrollably which hasn't happened since we lost Cecilia. I thought to myself "I am always going to be infertile" which sent me into a downward spiral. JJ just held me and as I told him how sorry I am for him he said "I'd rather be with you and not have any biological kids than be with someone else and have biological children. I want to be with you." What a guy! I really am blessed to have him with me on this journey. 

So the next steps from here are to do some blood work to make sure it's not due to low estradiol, if that's the case there would be two medications I would have to take to try and help the follicle to rupture. If my hormones are fine then I would just do the one medication which is an HCG trigger shot on a particular day in my cycle. Either way it looks like I will be administering injections on myself soon if we decide to treat this. Yay needles! Which brings me to the point of saying....

I guess we are TTC again with medical treatment. After some conversation JJ and I came to the conclusion that this is all we can do right now to grow our family. Since we have no idea where we will be living next month we are not going to go to the foster care training we signed up for. We haven't found a place and we are open to renting a studio or one bedroom  and if that's the case then we can't do foster care. We can't start the process of adoption because of money and the living situation is up in the air so the only thing we can do is medical treatment. We may live with family for a few months and then rent a condo from some friends who will be moving to another country in June or July for a year if we don't find a place soon. We are open to whatever God wants for us but we have no idea what that is at this time. We believe in the power of prayer and know that miracles are possible so we are just praying for healing now. We pray with all of our being that God may heal my body from this.

Domine, exaudi orationem meum. Et clamor meus ad te veniat. 
O Lord, hear my prayer. And let my cry come unto thee. 

I did want to leave this post with some blessings we have encountered through this because it's so easy to not see them. I don't want to miss out on blessings even during times of trial and suffering so here they are: 

1. JJ and I got to see a couple friends while down in San Diego for the ultrasounds. We got to see our friend who moved there 4 months ago and have brunch with her. Then we got to visit our priest friend who is down there and he gave us this beautiful Shining Light OL of Guadalupe doll :) 

2. We celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary there by visiting a beautiful CA mission! We lit a candle there for our intentions and explored the grounds for free. We had an u/s that day but we got to switch our appt. for a better time with another practioner and fellow NaPro Dr. patient because she was kind enough to offer when she heard it was our anniversary that day. When we got to the Dr.'s office that morning the staff wished us a happy anniversary :) 

3. We got to have chick-fil-a twice during this week while traveling :) 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Shaking Things Up A Bit

Since my last post there have been so many amazing opportunities to recognize the root of a lot of my self-esteem issues. The actual instances are coming to memory and I am sitting with them for as long as I need to, then moving on. This is not what this post is about though.

So on Sunday our landlord came by unannounced, while we had company over and gave us a letter stating we had 60 days to move out because he plans on selling the house. He explained what the letter was, in front of our company and then proclaimed "we were going to wait until after the holidays to do this but then we decided not to." Wow, really?! We have only been here a year and a half and we asked him before we rented it when/if he planned on selling it. He had said not anytime soon, I guess to him this is not anytime soon. I digress though because if I think about this too long I will end up writing a post about this man, which will eventually put me in an occasion of sin. 

This month we are going to be doing the u/s series, looking for a new place and trying to experience advent and Christmas! When I told my mom, one of the things she said was "your landlord ruined Christmas! You won't have time or extra money for gifts." I laughed because Christmas can't be ruined. It's not about things, it's about an event that changed the course of humanity. It is the event that the entire cosmos awaited, when God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ! So I am pretty sure Christmas can't be ruined. I know my mom knows this and it does feel like we are up against a real life Scrooge for doing this right before Christmas but Christmas is bigger than this. Christ is bigger than this! Plus I already got my mom and little goddaughter their gifts a while ago. Everyone else will understand that we don't have the time or money to do gifts, I will just bake a bunch of cookies to give away. 

We are sad to leave this current place because the location is awesome! It is right next to our parish where I have my follow ups, the sisters of charity and the Carmelites are down the street and the neighborhood is so nice to run in! We are hoping we find a place close by that is cheaper so we can save some money. This has made us more open to different possibilities because we have no idea where we will be at the end of next month. It is going to give us an opportunity to scale down and become minimalists with our stuff. We don't mind getting a much smaller place because it's just the two of us at this point and that's all we can plan for. I told JJ I wouldn't mind a small 1 bedroom place like our first apartment, it could be like our own hobbit hole again. We are already planning on getting rid of some furniture to prepare for a smaller place. I even told JJ we could move to a different county or state and go on an adventure! We both laughed but we are open to whatever/wherever God is calling us to. 

It definitely feels like so much is happening at once plus our anniversary is on one of the days during the u/s series. What a fun way to spend an anniversary, right? (Note sarcasm) We are using our resources with the Carmelite sisters and Sisters of charity for prayers and to be on the look out for places for us. Would y'all say a prayer for us this month for our intentions? We would greatly appreciate it! 

Something that I am appreciating from all this going on is the way JJ and I take on these challenges together. We are a team, we pull together and we let God lead us. So where will we end up? Stay tuned to find out...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Have Been...

I have been...

Judge mental 
Not compassionate 


I have noticed I have not been treating myself well these past couple weeks. Since doing the blood testing and learning of my diagnosis I have been seeing myself as less than. I told ya this is hitting on my self esteem and The Lord wants to address this head on. This is opening up a deep wound that needs more healing. I thought I had gotten past a lot of this stuff of acceptance and had peace. I did for the most part but the peace and acceptance I need to have is not with a situation but it's with myself. Can I accept myself for who I am, genetic mutation and all? Can I really? Can I allow myself to sit with this, sit with myself whatever emotions come what may? 

Some of you may be thinking "Kat, it's just a genetic mutation that is treatable. There are lots of women who have had successful pregnancies with this. What's the big deal?!" This is where the big deal lies it's out of my control, there is nothing I did to deserve this, it's in my genes and there is nothing I could've done to prevent it. Instead of that giving me peace it hit me on a self esteem level. I don't talk much about my father because he wasn't in my life much. He pretty much cheated on every woman he was ever with and I have siblings on my father's side who I haven't met yet. I barely met my sister when I was 21 and found out about her when I was 15 or 16. When your father leaves you when you are a small child or was never there in the first place there is always a part of you that thinks "perhaps if I was good enough or a better daughter I could've made him stay or change his ways." The father wound runs so deep that I don't believe it could ever be fully healed this side of heaven. There are just deeper ways that this healing comes at different times. I had made major strides in this healing before I got married and during the first couple years of marriage. 

After speaking with my Dr., confessor and JJ it became very evident that I need some time to allow God to heal this part of the wound. Side note: It was so cool to talk about God with my general practice Dr. and it didn't feel at all awkward! I know my deeper motives that last few weeks for my actions have not been out of genuine charity, it has been out of pride and wanting to be "good enough" for others. I need to reflect on my worth in Christ and not for what I can/can't do. I need to know that I am worth being around because I am me. It was so good to see my family on Thanksgiving my aunts and cousins said how good it was to have us/me there. I don't see my family often because of work schedules mostly but it was so good to be there and be myself, the introverted Catholic that I am, and be accepted for who I am. 

 So my theme for this Advent is "self care" which sounds so selfish to me as this is the season I should be giving so much more than I do. No "self care" doesn't mean watching tv and drinking hot chocolate all the time, although that sounds awesome, it is more about drawing closer to God. Reaching out more for the sacraments, wearing my veil to Mass, journaling and less time online are all in order for me the next few weeks. The closer we draw to God's eternal flame of Love the more our wounds become illuminated. At first this hurts but it is worth the hurt to grow and become who we ought to be. I will be praying for my Advent prayer buddy a lot this season! Happy Advent y'all! 

"If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!" -St. Catherine of Siena 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

It's Not You, It's Me...

We all know and have dreaded hearing that phrase from a significant other. Recently it's been stuck in my mind as I am grappling and dealing with the fact that our infertility is primarily due to my body's inability to have children. We finally got JJ tested, morally of course, because he wanted to know. So I put aside the fact that I was uncomfortable with it so that we could be at peace with JJ's side of things. When JJ and I got the results back from his testing and the Dr. said all looked good and healthy with him, he could take a supplement that would put him in the super excellent category but overall she was very happy with the results. Don't get me wrong I am too, it is one less thing we have to worry about. I just can't help but think that it's not JJ, it's me. I am the reason we don't have any living children! A bit melodramatic, I know ;) 

On top of that we recently got another diagnosis for me from my NaPro Dr. I have an MTHFR genetic mutation. What is this you say? I am still figuring this out myself and have been reading up and researching it for the past couple days. The Dr. wants me to start on a couple supplements and make sure I don't have anything with folic acid. The nurse on the phone that told me was so nonchalant about it and I was thinking "I have a genetic mutation woman! This is serious!." If I did by the off chance get pregnant this cycle I would more than likely lose the baby, so this is the first cycle that I am actually hoping we didn't conceive. 

Most women don't get tested for this until they've had multiple miscarriages but I had a strong hunch so I asked my NaPro Dr. to check for it. She did suggest doing some in depth genetic testing before so she was open to me testing for this first. For us this is more about making sure I am healthy and infertility is a symptom of something greater going on. No it's not in my head and won't just happen if I "relax". If my genetic mutation could relax that would be great, preferably on a beach in Hawaii with a fruity drink. Since it's genetic that means some of my family members can have it too. This is partly exciting because it is giving us some answers as to why we are still unable to conceive. 

We will also be doing an u/s series next cycle to check to see if I'm ovulating, the quality of ovulation and to check if I have LUFS. LUFS is an luteal phase and ovulatory defect. We wanted to do this because with this new revelation we want to know some more info. so we can be prepared to treat my overall health. For women if ovulation is not taking place regularly then this can effect her overall entire health, unless she is pregnant, breastfeeding or in menopause of course. Again, some exciting stuff that will give us more answers. 

All of this news lately has really challenged my self esteem. I thought I had self esteem issues when I was a teenager, that was nothing compared to this. The temptation to think I am broken and unworthy of my husband can be so great at times. Thank God for His mercy and steadfast love that tells me otherwise! When the infertility is on your end it can really challenge your self-esteem and feeling of worth. The thoughts of "why can't I just be normal?!" and "my poor husband is suffering because of me" can easily creep into my head and heart. The ability to be loved not for what I can do for him or give him but just because I am me parallels my relationship with God. Believing that God loves me not for what I can do or not do but because He is Love and can only give love blows my mind, especially when I think of my brokenness and what I lack. Another challenge to face and another diagnosis to learn about. I just want to respond in grace, suffer well and be present and compassionate to the sufferings of others. I hope this present suffering refines me and helps me to love better. There is no better way to increase your faith than to cling to God in suffering. Sanctification comes through suffering, Christ taught us so by His example. 

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church..." Colossians 1:24 

"I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me." Galatians 2:20 

It is days like these where I appreciate how holy my husband is. As the temptation to berate myself grows, his patient and steadfast love calls me out of myself to be present to him and respond to the love he is radiating out to me. He kisses my forehead and tells me I am "the best wife ever" which humbles me and reminds me how much God loves me. On days where I feel like a big fat failure my husband is there with his cheery smile and silly ways to make me laugh. On days where I feel like I am an unworthy disciple and a bad wife, Jesus is there in the Eucharist to draw me to Himself. On days like these I offer prayers for others and their sufferings but most importantly for their sanctification. This is refinement. Passio Christi, conforta me. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Practitioner Diary Vol. 2

*This situation really happened, as unbelievable as it may be after you read this account, it really happened.

So I am at home on Friday and it's around 4:45pm when I get a phone call. It is a man calling to inquire about fertilitycare and when he and his girlfriend can start learning CrMS. He asks how soon they need to learn if she is already pregnant. I tell him that I usually have them come to an intro. session around 8 months so she can get used to doing observations now before the baby comes. I am thinking this is going to be a typical inquiry phone call when he drops the bomb and says "How soon can we learn if we were going to terminate the pregnancy?" There was a momentary internal freak out when I tried to collect my thoughts to respond. I asked how far along she was and he originally said about 12weeks well later in the conversation I learned that they were much farther along than that around 20weeks because they already knew the gender of the baby. 

He kept saying things like "this is the best thing for our baby," "we are not ready to be parents" and "we don't want to give our baby up for adoption because there is no guarantee that she will be happy." With every typical remark that you hear about justifying abortion I tried to answer him calmly and compassionately. I don't know what it feels like to have an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy but I do know suffering that has to deal with fertility. Every part of my being wanted to scream and say "PLEASE DON'T KILL YOUR BABY! I WILL ADOPT YOUR BABY or FOSTER HER UNTIL YOU ARE READY!" 

Instead I informed him on fetal development and how already his daughter feels pain and will feel the pain of the abortion. I also let him know how this will affect his girlfriend in the long run and the health complications she may have. I talked to him about post partum depression that she will experience and the help she will need in the long run in dealing with this decision. I tried to be a good listener but I also called him out on some of the fallacies he was spouting. There was a point in the conversation where the phone got cut off and I didn't have his number but, he called back which tells me he wanted to talk about this and was not sure about the decision they had made. We left the conversation with me letting him know he can call back at any time whether or not they go through with the abortion and learn CrMS from the other practitioner at our center. 

After I got off the phone with him I wept and prayed. I hate it that people who don't want to get pregnant can get pregnant and people who want to can't. I hate sin. I had been texting our pro-life coordinator and she was texting me resources as I was talking to the guy. I talked to her afterward and just broke down. I asked her how on earth does she talk to these couples on a regular basis! I could not even handle one! Being pro-life is hard and being infertile doing pro-life work is extra hard. I was a little mad at God that I would have to be the one receiving this phone call. Whether it was a prank or not (the phone call took place on Halloween) it felt like a cosmic cruel joke. Why would an infertile gal who has lost a child before have to be on the other end of that phone call?! I had some choice words with God afterward and cried A LOT. 

I know there is spiritual warfare in the work that I do but this took it to a whole new level. Following God's will is not easy, especially when it involves suffering. Our respect life coordinator reminded me that God doesn't always call the most qualified for the task but will give me the tools I need to get through the task. This opened up a new level of suffering for me and I have to say it stings and is painful. It has taken much prayer and daily Mass to give this situation to God and let it go. I think the enemy was hoping I would get so discouraged from this that I would just collapse inward. Well that's not gonna happen because God is bigger and stronger than all of this! These are some of the interesting situations we as practitioners get into and need to navigate which is another reason why I am so thankful for the other practitioners who do the work I do. I pray these parents change their mind and choose adoption or to parent. I pray they see this child for who she is, a beautiful gift and creature created by God.          

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Requiem Re-cap

Yesterday we had this event...

I can't believe it's all over and done with! All the months of planning and advertising culminated yesterday in a beautiful Mass. You know that feeling when you have done the will of God or a task He has put before you and it's over and you just feel like our Heavenly Father is pleased with you? Yeah, I am in that feeling right now. I know it's not through any awesomeness on my part, it's through God's Awesomesness that it all was done. Whoever needed to be there came and hopefully those who did need it and were not able to come will find healing. 

I had picked out the readings with Fr. P, our pastor, who was all set to do the Mass. We set up the courtyard and meeting room for some refreshments afterward and the choir had all the songs picked out. Then as I was in the sacristy about half an hour before Mass Fr. L in formed me that Fr. P was ill and couldn't do the Mass. Enter small, ok big internal freak out on my part! Fr. L said he would be doing the Mass, Fr. L is a newly ordained priest so I felt bad for him to take on this heavy subject on a moments notice.  Fr. L wanted to use incense which made me very happy because JJ and I really love incense at Mass.

 I showed him the gospel so he could prepare a homily and internally prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide him. Oh boy did the Holy Spirit answer my prayer! Fr. L's homily could not have been more perfect! He addressed the very real pain of child loss along with the gratitude for that life and hope in Christ. I think that the families there, including us, benefited greatly from Fr. L's approach. The choir sounded so beautiful and the lector did an excellent job. The Mass was overall done at a slower more reflective pace. 

It was hard for me to focus though because I was one of the main organizers. There were times where I got choked up but I didn't allow myself to go there because I knew I would lose it and not be able to do what needed to be done after the Mass. I didn't really get to reflect until later that evening after the clean up and hanging out. When we got home and sat down I let the tears flow; the tears of mourning, healing and gratitude. I felt like we finally honored Cecilia properly, in the context of Holy Mass. I did it for her and all those little ones who often get forgotten. My mother as well as JJ's mom was there, they have both had a miscarriage. There were people there who I didn't even know had miscarriages and I see them at Mass regularly. 

I am so glad we did this and I hope we can do this annually to remember Cecilia and all of those children. There was so much guilt and pain I had been carrying from not being able to have a burial place for Cecilia and I felt like God healed that part of my heart yesterday. I felt my motherhood more than I had ever felt before and for that I am truly grateful. Blessed be the name of The Lord! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Long Term Infertility

As JJ and I are approaching 7 years of marriage in December we will be going on 6 years of infertility. I never thought we would reach this milestone, I really thought this would be over by now. I know that no matter how long you go through infertility it is awful. I feel like I am in the oddest position since we have conceived before but we are technically still in the primary infertility category. As time goes by the feeling of disappointment is less and the confusion of "why not us" grows. I expect Aunt Flow to show up although I welcome her to take a vacation away from me anytime ;) 

As people get their ticket off of this island and they have been waiting for a year or much longer than that, the realization of being here is much more prevalent. There are less people to commiserate with about the woes of being infertile but at the same time you are glad that the island is getting less populated. I definitely feel like I have reached a "veteran" status so to speak as I help couples who are in the beginning stages of their journey through NaPro or meeting them through the events that I plan for couples dealing with infertility/miscarriage. 

I feel like I need to show couples who are in their first few years of infertility that YOU will survive and it will NOT always consume you, even if you never have any children. Your thoughts won't always be on having children, your life won't be run by a chart and you will be able to peacefully be around pregnant women. Yes, you will have your moments of sadness and jealousy but you will bounce back from them much quicker than you used to. You will find a way to live in God's will even though it may not be exactly what you thought it would be. You will learn to love your life just as it is, living in the present and not just on the future that you hope for. You will become a stronger more compassionate person if you are open to growing and you will not always feel jealous or bitter. You will be happy!  

I have been reflecting lately on the things I love about my life that I get to do because we are not parenting yet and we are no longer on the medical train. For example I started running after some motivation I got from Donna. If we were doing medical treatment our Dr. would caution me from starting to run because it could throw off my cycle. We recently started drinking raw milk and having more raw dairy products. Again if you are starting this while TTC and taking meds you would have to be more cautious about it. The thoughts of "what if I'm pregnant" don't come up as often before my period starts, formerly known as the 2ww. My schedule for seeing clients is more open and flexible without worrying about childcare. 

I feel like we are at a peaceful yet painful place. Peaceful because it is a gift given to me by the Holy Spirit. Painful because my body is still broken in some way and I can not give JJ the children we desire. It is such an odd feeling to know you don't have the control over the transmission of human life, God does. He is creator and I am His creature, nothing more but nothing less. Infertility is not my story, it's just a part of my story.  As the years go by without conceiving our chances of having biological children become less so we are navigating what our life is going to look like. We are learning to love our life in the now and not what could be. I hope I can grow in grace with each infertile passing year. If I ever do get off this island I want to be able to look back and say I spent my time wisely living in God's will. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What Can You Do? Some Practical Advice

As a follow up to my last post I thought I would give some practical advice to non-infertile women on how they can help their infertile friends/family through those awkward group settings where everyone is talking or complaining about child rearing. Sometimes our fertile friends notice that we are uncomfortable but have no idea what to do. So here is some helpful advice! If you have any suggestions on what you've done or what your friends have done for you please put them in the com box :) 

Be Present

I know this sounds like a given but often times we are not very present to each other. Know your audience. If you know someone at that party, women's group or gathering is living with infertility or recently experienced the death of their unborn child be aware of what you are saying. Think before you speak, especially if you are going to vent about pregnancy or child rearing. It's not to say you should not be able to share your struggles but if you are in a group setting and you know the other women will jump on the venting band wagon perhaps that comment or venting should be kept best for the mom's group you go to. If we are really present in our conversations we are aware of what we and others are saying and be cognizant of how others are reacting to the conversation. 

Redirect the Conversation

If you notice the conversation is all about child rearing or venting about said subject try and redirect the discussion. Tact is needed for this because you don't just want to shout "be quiet y'all so and so is uncomfortable." That would be super embarrassing for the infertile and the redirector! Maybe changing the subject when it would be appropriate for you to add something. Talking about the seasons or favorite recipes you have been making or crafts you have been working on or the show you are binge watching at the moment or the good deals you've found on women's clothing are great subjects all women can relate to. 

This is not to say children should not be discussed at all, of course they will be talked about because you have children! I appreciate my friends sharing the realities of raising children because I don't want to idolize parenthood and look at it through rose colored glasses but I prefer that sharing to be one on one so we can both share our struggles. If I am the only one not raising children in the conversation all about child rearing/pregnancy then I feel like I am wearing a scarlet "I" and infertility feels really isolating. 

Seek Them Out

If you were not successful at changing the subject and you know your friend was uncomfortable then seek them out some time during or after the gathering. Ask them how they are doing, how's work or their ministry. Infertile women often feel ignored by their peers so making that effort to acknowledge someone can be very affirming. If you know them well enough you can ask how their treatment or adoption/foster care is going. If you don't know them that well then stick to the basic subjects of common interest. Let them know you are praying for them and if they have any prayer requests then to let you know. 

So that's my advice from an infertile woman's perspective. What I have to remember is that most often when I am in a group of married women is that most if not all of them will have children. I feel so awkward trying to contribute to the conversation if it's all about child rearing because I am not raising any children, although I know a lot about child development, it's OK if I have nothing to say. Even though we are living out our vocations differently at the moment I find great comfort in relating to my women friends whether they are married or single. I love when we can all build each other up even if we can't relate exactly to what each other is going through. So as we are going into the various holidays soon hopefully there will be more fellowship and fun rather than awkward isolating moments.   

Monday, September 15, 2014

When They Say.....We Think.....

*Let me preface this post by saying I think all mothers need a break at times and they need to vent about how hard it is to raise their children. I do not think mothers need to shut up and not talk about their children or suffer in silence about their struggles. I think it's good and healthy for them to do so and I love hearing about my friend's and family's kids. Most of the time I am fine with hearing the milestones and a little venting from my friends about their children. As a friend I want to share the joys and sorrows with them in their state in life. 

So the other day I went to women's group and the topic was gentleness. At this group children are allowed so a lot of stay at home or part time working outside the home moms bring their kids. It's great because the children are playing outside in a courtyard as the rest of us are drinking tea and discussing/reading about the day's topic. There is of course a bit of chaos as to be expected with lots of children around :) At each meeting I have attended I am usually a little more on edge afterward and JJ has noticed this. Most of the women who go are mothers raising children, there have been older women and a single woman who have come before but then haven't returned. I love when other women come to the meetings because it balances out the perspective I think. When it's all mothers raising children and me, that's when it's a bad combination and that is when I come home frazzled. 

At this particular meeting there was a lot of venting about one's children, more than normal. It felt like the entire first half of the meeting was different women venting about their children and how hard it is to raise their children. It may have been only 10mins. but it felt like so long and the silence in my heart was deafening. As these women were complaining about lack of silence I thought "All I have is silence. A deafening one that resounds from my womb." As they complained about the chaos I thought "All I have is order and no one but JJ and I to make our house messy." As they complained about not having alone time I thought "All I have when I am not at work, volunteering, out with friends or with JJ is alone time." When they complained about children jumping on them whenever they got on the phone or on the computer I thought "there is no one to interrupt me or climb all over me as I make a phone call."  There was even a point where someone mentioned "the moms should all get together for an Advent reflection with out the kids." Ouch it stung and what I thought was "I am always with out my kid." 

As they questioned and discussed their decisions about being a stay at home mom I just sat there in silence having nothing to say, well nothing to say that would've been appropriate for the children to hear ;) I don't get what they are going through and I may never get it. I tried to be compassionate and listen to their struggles all the while I just wanted to scream. I wanted to say "hey can you just stop talking about this" but I couldn't. There was no where for me to go to excuse myself either. I just sat there, the silence from my childlessness was so loud I thought they would hear it but they didn't. 

I have to say I was probably extra sensitive at this meeting because AF is just around the corner, we just got some medical news that reaffirms the brokenness of my body and Cecilia's due date anniversary was on Fri. Sept. 12th (she would've been two). I didn't share any of this at the meeting because I am not comfortable enough with all of the women there to do so and I just couldn't after all the venting/complaining. It would have sent me over the edge so I just kept my mouth shut. I also don't want it to seem like these women are monsters who were torturing me w/ a lot of talk of raising a family, it wasn't like that at all! 

After the meeting when JJ got home from work he asked how it went and I just let the flood gates open. I told him through my sobs what had happened and he affirmed what I had been thinking for a month or so, that I should not go back to the women's group for now. Maybe someday but maybe it's just not the place for me. If there was more variety like single women, married and widowed then maybe I would go back. The time of the group is more conducive to SAHMs and I was able to go because my CrMS work schedule is so flexible. I think a big reason that it is so difficult to be there is the fact that we are at a standstill with adoption, have no idea if we should reconsider foster care and we have not conceived since Cecilia almost 3 years ago! I think the unknowing state is particularly hard, if we were in the process of adoption or foster care I could feel better about going to these meetings. 

The next day I prayed for all the women who go to the group at Mass that God would help them in their vocation and state in life.  I wanted to make sure I harbored no ill will toward them and I don't, we are just at different places and it is more of a moms group. I don't want them to feel like they have to walk on egg shells around me because I know it is a very needed group for them but I don't think it would be healthy for me at this point to go. They should be able to freely talk about their struggles in a supportive environment. I think the greatest support I can give them right now are my prayers. I am sad about it because I met some great women there who I would only see in the context of the group. I know if a friendship is suppose to happen with them God will make it happen.  I sent an email to the leader who is also a friend of mine letting her know I wouldn't be returning and why, that was so hard to do. I got to talk to her about it over the phone and explain a little more which I think helped. She didn't criticize me or make me feel guilty she just listened compassionately and tried to understand. I do hope I can go back to the group some day perhaps when my vision is a little more clear about my motherhood. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Requiem Mass Los Angeles

Hi All! I am trying to promote a Requiem Mass I am organizing along with our Respect Life coordinator at our parish. It is a memorial Mass for all children lost to miscarriage and stillbirth. When we lost our Cecilia over two years ago in a miscarriage we did not get to have a funeral or memorial Mass. We miscarried so early that most people thought it was no big deal but if we are truly pro-life then that means every life is precious no matter how small. So this Mass is to honor all those babies who have passed through a miscarriage or stillbirth. We wanted to do this Mass during Respect Life Month to bring more of an awareness to the pro-life community about this topic. 

We are hoping to get a big turn out to bring some healing and love to those families who have lost a baby. It helps to know that we are not alone and even though we wish no one would have to go through this we are glad when we can support one another. I have too many friends who have also lost children whether they are dealing with infertility or have many children, sadly miscarriage or stillbirth does not discriminate. We will have a small reception in the parish hall afterwards so come on out and let's honor these babies who are very much a part of the Body of Christ! 

Would you be willing to share this post on your blog to help me spread the word? Even if you are not in L.A. some of your readers may be. If you want a pdf version of the flyer please email me. Thank you! 


Monday, August 25, 2014

Alabama Re-Cap, Finally!

Wow it seems like we were just in good ol' Alabama but it was two months ago that we went there! Time has been flying by this year! I am glad we got to go back to The Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament on pilgrimage/vacation. God did so many wonderful things for us there! I miss that place every time we leave there it is such an oasis, a humid one, but an oasis none the less. We so needed to go at the exact time we did. It was in the middle of a very busy time and the trip was sandwiched perfectly in between it all. We forgot our camera and didn't take any pictures at all so you will have to be satisfied w/ the ones from our last trip.

When we got there the 1st couple of days were a rough start. It was a travel day and we got in later than expected plus there was a crazy situation with the rental cars. We still had to try to go to the who.le foods to do our grocery shopping but decided to do the 1hr drive back to Birmingham the next day, we were just to exhausted and starving. Then when we got there the group we went with had already done the room assignments and we were sharing a house with about 12 other people. Sounds like fun, right? Well we needed our own kitchen or refrigerator to put about a week's worth of food for us because of our gluten and nut allergies. Well when we got back with our groceries there was not an ounce of room for any of our food! Long story short we ended up switching rooms/houses with my mom and her roommate because they had their own little studio apt. with a fully equipped kitchen and didn't need a whole fridge for their food. After that things got a lot better and we were able to settle in and not have to worry about our food situation.

It was perfect that we were more secluded and on our own for the trip, just like we like it. We should have been hermits I tell ya! We knew that this trip needed to be restful, reflective and communicative between JJ and I. We would not have been able to do that if we had been sharing a house with 12 people where the walls were kind of thin. There was a lot we needed to reflect and discuss so it was great we had our own little place. To be honest we are not community life type of people so we would want to go back if we got to stay in the same place or same type of set up as we did this time. Anyway back to the trip...

It was hot and humid no doubt but, thank the good Lord for air conditioning! I was still broken hearted from the failed adoption a couple weeks prior so I definitely brought that intention on this trip. I really enjoyed just going to daily Mass, praying, hanging out with friends, getting to know new people and spending lots of time with JJ. We got to know a woman P who is older than us, probably in her 60s. She came on the trip w/out her husband. She was the sweetest woman and kept telling everyone that she adopted us :) She said she would be praying for us, that God would bless us with children. She was so encouraging, joyful and a little bit of a mischief maker. She was a big highlight of our trip! Another woman C who is a widow was so sweet and said that when she looks at me and JJ she is reminded of her hubby that she lost and she thinks we are a beautiful couple. We felt very bonded and affirmed in our marriage on this trip!

 There were actually 3 of us couples that have been dealing with both infertility and miscarriage with JJ and I being the veteran couple. I thought it was interesting but I think it is too high of a number! So I am going to break this up into physical highlights and spiritual highlights so that I don't just keep writing nonsense, ok.

Physical Highlights:  

1. Cracker Barrel! People Cracker Barrel is the best and I wish we had one here in L.A. Yes, we can't eat a lot of their yummy biscuits and such but there is a lot we can have there and I bring my own biscuits, they are better anyway! I also love how reasonable the prices for meals are in AL, it made me really dislike L.A and our expensive hipster style here.

2. The new Saint JP2 Eucharistic center/museum that opened up this year at the Shrine. It was breathtakingly beautiful inside and they did a great job with explaining the Eucharist. I know, I know where are the pictures right? We are so lame! Go on the website and look at all their gorgeous pictures, much better than we could have taken.

3. Summer rain! It was amazing to hear the rain and feel it while trying to get into the car. The thunder and lightning was a little more unnerving but it was still beautiful. The humidity afterward was awful but the rain was fun.

4. The Corpus Christi feast day procession! It was gorgeous and majestic to see all of the rose pedals on the ground of the courtyard, the children were frolicking in them and playing after the procession. The inside of the Shrine is also a big highlight because it is just takes your breath away.

5. A couple of stolen kisses with JJ as the fire flies were lighting up the fields at dusk. I am blushing as I write this but it was really a picturesque setting.

If you want to know what it looks like on the inside of the main church of the shrine click here. We personally like the lower church which is found here.

Spiritual Highlights/Challenges:

Okay so there were a lot of little things here and there that God did for me but I am really going to talk about the crazy wonderful things that happened. I think I have partly put off writing this post so that I can keep the amazing things that happened to myself as long as possible. Also partly due to fear that they would not come true but God is calling me on that fear and saying to A big theme of the pilgrimage was children more specifically babies. Not just with us but a lot of other people. So I mentioned there were 3 of us infertile couples who have also experienced miscarriage(s). Well other people, mostly older parents were praying for their grandbabies in utero or sick babies just born. I especially took the intention and prayed for this lovely blogger and her baby in utero as well as our friends who have been married 8 years, dealt with infertility and miscarried last year and now are in their almost 7th month of pregnancy. It was weird that babies were just coming up left and right when we prayed together as a group.

I tried to ignore the scriptures and words I was getting about adoption and biological children because well I was hurt and tired. The more I tried to ignore the stronger the messages became. One day as we were praying as a group together they started to sing some praise and worship songs. I get easily distracted when songs are sung and then people lead worship by talking in between songs, quite frankly its annoying to me but, hey to each their own. So that I could focus better I left to go get my missal back at our casita and JJ came with me because he had to use the restroom. I grabbed my missal and went outside to sit on the bench to wait for him. Well it was dusk and the fireflies started to come out like crazy so I just sat and marveled at the beauty. Well I knew God was just whispering His love for me in that moment and I whispered, more like exhaled back "I love you too." Then it was as if He just wanted me to be loved by Him not for what I can do or produce from my body but, just because I am me I am loved. Yes a basic principle but, one that an infertile gal needs to hear over and over because so much of the worth we put on ourselves is in doing or producing something or someone. It was a magical moment.

It got even more real as we got so many scriptures and verbal confirmations about children that I just can't share because it was too big and I want to keep all these things that happened close to my heart for as long as possible. I have shared with friends in person some but I just want to hold this so close to my heart until God wants me to share these beautiful revelations and God-incidences. In short our hope for children both biological and adoptive was enlivened in a HUGE way!

There was some healing that took place between JJ and I as we broke down some communication barriers we had. Tears flowed and healing happened, for that I am truly grateful to the Lord. There were definitely some challenges that the Lord prompted in me. One was that I need to start going back to daily Mass. Apparently God was very clear in letting me know that I needed it, I needed Him! I have been going almost every day since the trip. I am not too strict about it but I do go at least 3 or 4 times out of the week besides Sunday which is a huge improvement from just going on Sunday. Another challenge was for JJ and I to pray a daily rosary together. You guys, I don't like praying the rosary very much. There I said it, I am terrible I know! God has been calling me to pray a daily rosary for years and JJ has been wanting to do it since we got married. So I caved and I said fine I'll do it! There are days we don't get to pray it together but for the most part we have been. I know I need the rosary too because just in this short time I have seen a transformation in me.

 So the rosary and daily Mass have been so good for me to just pray and gather strength for this journey. I don't know how much longer we will be childless but I do know that God will provide the fortitude we need. Right now we are still in the trenches of infertility and the only person keeping me from becoming an angry bitter woman is Jesus. He is holding me together with every pregnancy/adoption announcement, baby shower and cycle day 1. He continues to give me peace despite our challenges and I am so grateful for that. A grateful heart is also something I struggle with and God is working on that in me. 

When we left Alabama I wanted to cry because that place feels so much like home. It was nice to come home and sleep in my own bed and cook in my own kitchen though. We await the day we get to go back there and see what God has for us because we know it will be nothing short of amazing. Deo Gratias!   

Friday, July 25, 2014

Adoption Update

We are still here folks, I can't believe I haven't written in almost a month! It has been a busy time and there is a lot going on right now that we are trying to figure out. I am taking this time in between follow ups in the nice air conditioning of the office to update y'all because I know when I get home I will have to start dinner, then go to another follow up and by the time that is done I will be d-o-n-e for the day. 

In regards to adoption we are at the same place of not having the money and trying to figure out how this will all work. It has been a difficult thing to know we have the desire to adopt and know which avenue to go through but we can't because of finances. I feel like my hands are tied and all I can do is ask God to untie the knot of finances for us. We have had to turn down adoption opportunities from our facilitators and friends who have let us know about children/birth mothers. It has been the hardest thing to have to say no because we can't scrape the money together for it, especially because a lot of them have been last minute.

 Adoption is not easy. We are talking about needing at least $15,000 to start off with and that does not come by easily, at least not for us. So please don't tell us about any adoption opportunities until further notice so we don't have to say no unless it's of little to no cost, which doesn't really happen. Oh and please don't tell us to just do foster care because it's free. We have discerned that for right now foster care is not for us. The financial part, having to say no and knowing the baby girl's due date who we almost adopted passed at the beginning of July has made this aspect of our lives a little bit of a crap fest lately. 

As a melancholic I get discouraged easily and can tend to give up on things. I am trying to fight that tendency that says "just give up, it's too hard!" We are figuring out what kinds of fundraisers we can do and grants we can apply for. We can not do loans because to pay back a loan would be more than we can financially handle at this time. Isn't there a rich family who would like to help a working class family adopt out there somewhere? At first we wanted to pay for the adoption all on our own because of pride and because we thought well it's our child we should pay the cost. We also thought it would be weird to ask people for money to help us bring our child/children home. Adoption is way different financially than being able to have biological children because your up front cost is $20,000-$30,000 plus the cost of raising the child(ren). My perspective has changed now, I am not above begging or asking for financial help ;) Once we have a fundraiser and date to start we will let y'all know!

We did get to go to our infant cpr class which was fun. All the couples there were pregnant of course and we were starting to feel out of place but the instructor was so welcoming and encouraging to us. She gave us the discount price they usually give to couples who deliver at the hospital, she kept telling me about mommy resources and emphasizing to me that I am just as much a mother as the other women there. They went around the room to ask everyone when they are due and JJ said with a grin on his face, "we actually don't know when we are due, it's a surprise because we are adopting!" Then the instructor said "congratulations that's is great news!" All in all it was a good class and I highly recommend expectant parents take the class.  

Even though it's been hard lately because we are stuck in this unknowing, adoption is very much still in our hearts and around us a lot. We went to a film festival where we saw a movie called "40" about abortion in our country. Part of it talked about how abortion clinics demonize adoption and push women toward abortion rather than adoption. There was a lot of encouragement for pro-lifers to become more knowledgable about adoption so they can council women that it is a great option if they can not parent. I am so glad it was dark in that theater because I was balling my eyes out during that whole part of the film. I also got some good resources from the film so we can get more versed in the adoption process. 

So that is where we are at, just giving it to God and asking Him to direct our path. At daily Mass yesterday I just cried, told God how hard this all is and to please give me fortitude and grace for this journey. It has been such a long road that sometimes I think we are in the same place we were years ago. I know we are not! I know we have grown so much and healed in so many ways, we are so very grateful for that! I still need to do a wrap-up post about our trip to Alabama and some spiritual challenges and growth that has happened. I just need to sit down and do it, even in the midst of this busy time. The next couple weeks aren't suppose to be as busy so I will try and collect my thoughts then. Happy feast day of Sts. Anne and Joachim coming up on the 26th and happy anniversary of Humane Vitae tomorrow! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Living in the Virtue of Hope

Aunt flow came two days after I published my last post so I guess that settled that for that cycle. Sorry it has taken me so long to post about it if some of you were on pins and needles waiting to hear if there was any news. We were on vacation/pilgrimage last week in Alabama and I had no time to write up a post before we left, it was a crazy busy time.

 When I told JJ AF came he profusely apologized for getting my hopes up but I cut him off mid-sentence (one of the few times I though it was ok to) because I loved getting my hopes up. It actually felt less disappointing and less sad to me to have had hope than to have been my usual cynical self. I think this is because like the scripture says "hope does not disappoint," situations disappoint us not hope. I have been at this infertility thing for over 5 years and something I've learned is that hope is required for the long haul. Seeing that we have been married for 6 1/2 years without children here on earth can definitely be discouraging at times but we are called to live in hope. 

Hope is a theological virtue it takes the act of the will and grace to have it. Hope is not just a feeling like love is not just a feeling it is an action because it engages our entire self of intellect, will and emotion. It is an active virtue and I am learning how to excercise it slowly like a muscle. It is painful and sore at times but it's a good kind of pain that comes with growth. 

A friend commented on my last post that she had a hard time with hope, faith was easier* for her to grasp than hope. I couldn't agree more! Hope is harder to grasp for me, faith is easier* because I know how powerful God is so I have faith. Love is easier* because we have the highest example of sacrificial love in Jesus. Now hope on the other hand is mysterious. Some people think it is just like faith but it is not, it's tied in with faith a lot but, they are not the same. I know I've also gotten hope confused with wishful thinking but again, they are not the same. I have a feeling that the virtue of hope is tied in with the Holy Spirit because the HS is such a mystery. Although because of Jesus' death and resurrection we have a reason for hope. Ahh, don't you just love the mysteries of the Church and the Trinity?! 

"Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit."** Hmmm but what about hoping for things here on earth, is that part of the virtue? Is it more virtue or wishful thinking when we have humanly desires such as relationships or children? If it takes the act of the will to actively hope how does that work when those things we desire may never be fulfilled? Great questions, huh?! 

These questions have sent me into some reflection and meditation especially since I have been recently challenged in this area. When you suffer in some way or another it becomes very difficult to hope that the particular suffering will ever be removed especially if you have been dealing with it for years. There sometimes would seem to be no end in sight and daring to hope feels like it isn't an option anymore. Like I mentioned in my previous post, it's not just about having faith or praying harder. There is something more to this hope business...

Well this is what the Church says: "hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity." **

While I was on vacation at the Shirne, which feels so much like home when I am there, I had the privilege of sharing the car JJ and I rented with the two priests that went with us. We shuttled them around from place to place and it was such a blessing to be in the presence of these holy men. I asked one of them who had recently given a homily on the theological virtues and their correlation to the Holy Trinity. I had my opportunity to ask him which member of the Holy Trinity would be most correlated with  hope. He proceeded to tell me that Jesus Christ, God the Son would be most closely linked with hope because of the redemption He brings through His death and resurrection. Love or Charity would be most associated with the Holy Spirit because of the grace and action it takes to live out our faith and hope. Jesus' sacrifice opened the gates of heaven for us so our hope or our main goal is heaven. This may be common sense to some but this was a new way for me to go deeper into the mystery of hope. 

My hope is not dependent on having things my way or in my time, my hope is for good things and the ultimate Good is God. Now whether or not I get the good things I desire like biological and adoptive children (oh yes because I want both!) I can have confidence that I will have good things whether that be here on earth or heaven, which I hope I get to some day. The desire and hope for biological and adoptive children is ultimately increasing my desire and hope for God and heaven. It takes work though because I can easily become selfish in this yearning and turn toward self pity instead of charity. The more I put my hope in Jesus the more He purifies my desires which in turn works on the virtue of charity in me.

There have been so many scenarios recently that give us hope for children, especially what happened to us while we were in Alabama which I will explain in another post. For now I pray we will all excercise our virtue of hope by the grace of God.  

*By easier I don't mean that it is actively easier to do I just mean the concept is more easily grasped. 

**CCC 1817 and 1818

Monday, June 9, 2014

Standing in Hope...When There is None.

So after finding out the bmom chose to try and parent a couple weeks ago JJ and I hit a low point with adoption and trying to grow our family. It was a huge smack in the face reminder that this is still going to be an up hill battle. It has not been easy for us thus far and it's not going to suddenly start getting easy for us to bring our children into our life. Thank you for all your kind words and prayers, they really helped us! Our facilitators told us about another bmom right after due in September but we haven't heard anything back about that situation. We are kind of glad because we just needed to slow down from the whirlwind. We will be going back to Alabama this month and we just want to focus on that blessing right now and then tackle the adoption stuff when we get back. Adoption is no easy road at all! There is so much you have to do and the process makes you feel a little like a criminal at times with the fingerprinting, scrutinization and home invasion inspection. We are willing to do it because we know that in the end it will be worth it. When we hold our child for the first time we will know that it was all worth it.

The thing is we can't see that end yet, it's like a blurry vision that is slowly becoming clearer. That hope that our childless life will come to an end someday is like an oasis that you see in the midst of a desert or a hazy dream that when you wake up you can't quite remember the details. Which brings me to the concept of hope. Oh hope, that thing that makes you feel excitement for things to come even though you logically know that it might turn out bad. Hope makes you feel naive and childlike, as if everything is going to work out in your favor. We know that we can't afford adoption, we have checked the numbers and gone over our budget and there really isn't a hope that we can afford it. Unless someone drops a big fat check on our doorstep (any takers? Anybody?) we can not do this on our own. Especially as our facilitators mentioned another potential situation that we have to say no to because it's way above our best effort price range. So the dream of adoption has been feeling further away...

Enter our pastor Fr. P who has been praying for us and helping us with discernment. We met with him recently to discuss the whole adoption process and costs. He is still shocked that it costs so much but he patiently listened to us as we told him the events that have unfolded in the last month or so. He probably saw the weariness in our eyes as we felt like we brought our burdens to the meeting. Praise God for our priests who hear so many people's burdens and sins! He asked if we had looked into loans and we said yes. It didn't take him long to figure out that we wouldn't be able to afford paying back a loan with having the added expense of a new baby. Plus the fact that we will probably need a new car sometime in the next year or two because of the many miles JJ travels for work everyday. He asked if there were scholarships and grants and I said yes but they won't even consider you unless your home study is done which a homestudy in CA is a little over $3,000. We told him that some people have expressed a desire to donate to our adoption costs but we would want them to have it be tax deductible. 

Right then a light bulb in Fr.'s eyes lit up and he said "I didn't know adoption costed this much until you two told me all that it entails but, why don't we start a pro-life adoption grant here at the parish? So that families and young couples such as yourselves can get help with adoption. Adoption is so pro-life and I think it would be great to help you out but not just you, other couples as well." Our ears perked up as we told Fr. we would love that because we don't want it to be all about helping us, we want other couples who would like to adopt a baby, especially those in danger of abortion to get help to do so. Imagine if we can save more babies from abortion by promoting adoption for those little ones! It was a thought we all had. At the end of the meeting Fr. P had a huge smile on his face and said he was so excited to start this and he can't wait to see how the parish responds. I love how Fr. P is a go getter because we naturally are not, so he gave us some homework to work w/ our respect life coordinator at our parish to get something started. I briefly mentioned it to our respect life coordinator and her eyes lit up and she said "oh my gosh yes,this is perfect! We just helped to raise some money for two babies saved by adoption from abortion!" So we set a meeting with her for the end of this week to iron out the details and get a fundraiser going. 

On the other front JJ and I were challenged to pray that God would bless us with children but more specifically that I would become pregnant. Now some of you may think that after more than 5 years of trying and all that we've done to try to get pregnant that having some semblance of hope of pregnancy would be preposterous. Well I thought that too until about a week ago. It was the gospel reading at Mass, you know the famous one about "ask the Father anything in my name and it will be given to you" (John 16:23-30). Now I've heard this scripture before and I cringe when I hear it because I think "Jesus I know you mean well but umm, it doesn't work!" JJ and I had a great conversation about this gospel and we both discovered that we may not have been asking the right question or we may have been holding back our desire when we have asked God or may not have been addressing God the Father. 

We left the conversation at that and both pondered this on our own. It's not a question of whether or not I have enough faith or need to pray more fervently, it's a question of whether or not I have hope. I locked hope tightly away so that I would not be disappointed every month but it turns out I still am disappointed even when I know I can't be pregnant. I have been bringing my pre-conceived notions and cynicism to our adoption situations and to every cycle end that our situation will remain the same. I have assumed that God does not want to work in this area of our life. This realization convicted me and I knew that I needed to change my attitude because hope is an essential part of the Christian life.

So as I was showering, where all deep prayer and thinking happens, I asked God the Father for children but more specifically to allow me to become pregnant. I was surprised that I didn't ask for an adoption to happen soon, I asked to become pregnant. How foolish, right? After all these years? I felt totally embarrassed and foolish afterward and brushed it off like it didn't matter but, it did matter. God convicted me again of my bad attitude when I laughed at JJ who told me he thought I could be pregnant, I laughed out loud and then realized JJ was serious. I told him that it was not possible for me to be pregnant. JJ then proceeded to tell me that he had asked God the Father to allow me to become pregnant and I told him I had asked the same thing.

 I felt so awful for laughing at JJ's hope I felt like an old testament wife who I internally judge for not trusting their husband's word and yet I was doing the exact same thing! I apologized to God and to JJ and I told JJ if he had hope that I was pregnant then I would to. I would force myself to battle my pessimism and I would stand in hope with him. Realistically there would not be a shred of hope left after so long, especially knowing about the statistics of long term infertility and we aren't even doing medical treatment or charting but, I need to learn to be obedient and supportive of my husband. It is so much better to live with hope instead of the jadedness that comes with infertility and failed adoption. I need to hope and my husband is asking me to hope with him. JJ is not asking me to wish it is true but to hope it is true. He is not someone who "lays down the law" or asks me to do something specific very often, he is a very even keeled man so if he is asking me to do something I need to listen and do it. I need to put away my fear and doomesday mentality about my broken body and our finances and I need to see the hope that God is putting before me. Having hope does not mean that it will happen right away or exactly how we want but it means that you wait with anticipation for good things! Don't we all need a little more hope in our lives?

So here I am at the tail end of my cycle not knowing what is going to happen. Will aunt flow show up? Will I take a pregnancy test? Will we get funding for our adoption? I have no clue but, I.have.hope. Lord God, help me to wait with expectant hope! 

"We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we are saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance." -Romans 8:22-25*

"...we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5*

* Emphasis mine. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


The birth mother we met with decided to not place the baby due in July up for adoption. The baby is a girl. We are obviously sad about it. She did not go with another family but decided to try and parent. The more heart breaking thing about it is that the baby girl will probably go into foster care/dcfs custody once she is born and not stay with the birth mother. There is nothing we can do about it except pray. There are some other heart breaking and weird circumstances about this case but I don't think I should go into any further details. I got the call on Friday afternoon as I was working on last minute details for the infertility/miscarriage retreat that I was leading the next day. I told JJ when he got home from work and I could see the disappointment in his eyes. This journey is hard, not just adoption but infertility. I haven't had much time to process it all because of a busy weekend we had which was a blessing. The retreat went really well and I am so thankful that it all came together, more on that in a other post.  

I saw my AFGM at the retreat and she could identify with the pain that I was feeling. I was trying not to say what it felt like but she said it out loud and that made feel better about sharing it. This failed adoption feels like a miscarriage. The feelings about it are very similar but not the same amount of intensity. When I shared it with JJ he agreed that his feelings were similar to what he experienced when we lost Cecilia. It's like you got the positive pregnancy test but you are not going to get to meet or hold this baby. Sorry if this doesn't make sense, it's just how it makes sense to me. 

We went to a baptism on Monday and I was fine until they did the blessing of the mother and father at the end. That part gets me every.single.time. The last song at the baptism was Blessed Be your Name which is one of my favorite praise and worship songs. At that point I just wanted to crawl into a hole  and just wallow. The other part of me just wanted to be there and see all of our friends and have fun. I tried my best to not be so down but I don't think I was fooling anyone, ha! One of our priest friends who was there told me that I could call/text him anytime to let him know how things were going and that he is praying for us. We have such a supportive group of family, friends and church family or "churchies" as we like to call them. A lot of them let us know they are praying for us, that they are sorry to hear what happened and gave us some encouraging words. In this respect we are very blessed, I know of many other couples who don't feel supported by their friends and family. We are so grateful for the prayers and love, I know they are giving us strength and grace for this road. 

So that is where we are. Our next step is to do things in normal order like start our home study and all that. I think we are going to start the home study after our vacation in June or right before it, we haven't decided yet. Thank you for all the prayers we really appreciate it! Please continue to pray for us. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

How to Meet a Birth Mother w/out Going Insane!

So our adoption facilitators told us early last week that they were going to show our profile to a new birth mother. The one from a couple weeks ago they hadn't heard from again so we are pretty sure she chose to parent. They showed the birth mother 6 profiles and we were the couple that she wanted to meet, the one she liked the most. I was in shock and I was amazed she wanted to meet us considering I put the profile together in only a couple hours. They let us know late afternoon on Friday that she wanted to meet us on Sunday if we were available. I believe the words from the facilitator were "what does your Sunday look like?" My response was "whatever you want it to look like? Tell us when and where, we will be there." I am glad they told us only two days before so I didn't have too much time to agonize over the meeting. We were going to meet the facilitators on Saturday anyway so that put us more at ease so we could ask them a lot of our questions. So here are my tips that may help you get through what could be the most awkward, nervous, exciting and uncomfortable meeting of your life! 

1. Pray, pray and pray some more!

Start praying right away for peace, whatever may come. Pray for the birth mother and her discernment and for the baby who could potentially become your child. Get others to pray for you, gather up your prayer warriors so that you know you will be surrounded in prayer. Knowing that we had the support of our friends and family through prayer was such a huge relief. Pray a rosary on the way to the meeting! My DH suggested we pray a rosary while we were on the freeway and although I was a ball of nerves and didn't want to I went with it. It was so good for me to focus on prayer and ask Our Lady to intercede for us, it really calmed my nerves. 

2. Do your hair and make-up

Now I am not saying this for vanity's sake or trying to sell yourself to the birth mother. It is more so that you feel more at ease. Let's face it when we feel beautiful we feel more confident in who we are. Plus I find doing my hair and make-up pretty relaxing because I put on my favorite music to get ready to and just concentrate on getting ready. 

3. Be Comfortable

Do things and surround yourself with what gives you comfort. Listen to your favorite music on the way there, wear a favorite bracelet or pair of earrings. If you have a favorite rosary bring it with you in your purse. Being comfortable will make you more relaxed and more yourself which is who the birth mother wants to get to know. 

4. Embrace the Situation and Be Random

Now don't be all random and all over the place when you are meeting with her, do that before. When I found out she wanted to meet us I had all these thoughts and feelings that were jumbled together. I embraced my crazy and just let it happen. There would be times where I would just shout "Ahhhhh!" when JJ and I were home or in the car on the way there. I cried because I was overwhelmed by the supportive response we got from family and friends who were surrounding us in prayer. I even cried on the way there because it gave me hope which is hard to come by when you have been dealing with infertility. 

5. Bring a Small Gift 

This may sound a little odd but I think it's a nice ice breaker. Ask your agency or facilitator a little about her so you know what may be appropriate. We found out she likes candy so we got her some of our favorite candies and it turned out her and I both love the savory and sweet combination which was one of the candies we got her. This helped us to break the ice a bit and made it feel a little less awkward. 

6. Remember You Are Both Human

This may sound obvious but I think we can forget this as you and the birth mother are in opposite situations, she is pregnant and you desperately want to have a child. You feel judged because you think she is critiquing your every move and she feels judged for being in the situation that brought her to choose adoption. JJ and I really tried to treat this as if we were meeting any new person for the first time. We allowed her to control the conversation so she could feel comfortable asking us questions which wasn't that difficult because she was naturally extroverted and we are naturally introverted. I tried to be a little more extroverted so that I was consciously not drawing too inward which I tend to do around new strangers. Be honest with your answers because you are not perfect and she should get to know the real you, she is trying to make the best decision for the baby that she can and I am sure it is not easy. 

7. Celebrate

When it's all said and done whether or not you find out if you are a match that day go out and celebrate in a small way. This helped us to feel good about the accomplishment that we had done, it was one more thing on the adoption journey that we had experienced. Even if she doesn't choose us we now know what happens at a meeting with a birth mother so we have some experience under our belts. JJ and I went out for frozen yogurt afterwards and it was just what we needed! 

So those are my tips for meeting with a birth mother. All in all we had a great experience! We will find out this week if she chooses us so please keep us in your prayers! Our facilitators said 90% of the time if a birth mother has chosen to meet with you it's usually a match but the melancholic in me is thinking about the other 10% of the time. I have a pretty busy week ahead with clients and the retreat coming up on Saturday so I won't have too much time to agonize about it but let's be real I will be thinking about it a lot. Please keep her, our facilitators and us in your prayers this week, thank you! St. Joseph, pray for us!