Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Long Road Home: Weathering the Storm of Infertility

I typically tend to focus more on our adoption journey, but today it was on my heart to share about infertility. If you've followed our journey over the past couple of years, you know that Cary & I didn't wait long after getting married to start trying for a baby. We both thought getting pregnant would happen quickly, but it didn't. About a year after we started trying, we were diagnosed with infertility. Months before receiving our diagnosis, I knew in my heart that something wasn't right. Those months were hard on me. I felt lonely, frustrated, sad, confused & worried. Little did I know, we would soon have my suspicions confirmed & things would get a whole lot harder for a season of life. 

In November 2013, at which point we had been trying the conceive for about 10 months, Cary's football season ended with the Edmonton Eskimos. It was time for us to return to Louisiana for the off-season. We decided to take the long way home from Canada by taking a 13-day 5,000 mile road trip. During that time, we were not only struggling to conceive, but Cary had also suffered an injury to his leg that required surgery & ended his playing time for the 2013 football season. We planned the road trip in hopes that special time spent adventuring together would lift our spirits. We planned to see a lot during our time on the road, but the main attraction of the trip would be the drive down the coast of Cali on Hwy 1. 

Our official road trip song was the theme song of the tv show The O.C.“California”

The first leg of our trip took us through a stretch of the Canadian rockies. A few hours before we passed through the mountains, the snow starting coming down pretty hard. We didn't have great tires or 4 wheel drive, so we knew we had to make it through the mountains that night in order to ensure we didn't get stuck & have trip delayed. I know this will probably sound ridiculous to our Canadian friends or those of you who live with snow for a big part of the year, but we Louisiana kids actually feared for our lives pretty much the whole drive that night. As we drove through the snowy mountain pass for hours, Cary was gripping the steering will with all his might & I was in a near panic. We could only drive about 20 mph & had no service on our phones. We prayed constantly & out loud at times that God would just get us to the other side of the storm. After driving for what seemed like days, we made it through the thick of the mountains to a small town where we stayed the night. That night we clung to each other a little bit tighter & thanked God for our safety. Sounds a little dramatic now, but it really was intense.
When we woke up in the morning, the conditions were significantly better. The snow had stopped falling & we could see a faint hint of sunshine trying to break through the overcast sky. We were so relieved to have survived the worst of the storm. We got back on the road to continue our journey. The further southwest we headed, the better the weather conditions seemed to get. Before we knew it, there was only a hint of snow on the ground & the skies were a hazy blue. After a few days of driving, we finally made it to California. The morning we got up for our epic trip down Hwy 1, the beautiful sunny Cali weather we’d been hoping for finally kicked in. The skies were so blue, the sunshine was out & we were having a blast together! The memory of our snowy mountain drive only made us appreciate the beautiful weather all the more. The rest of our trip was amazing. For a few days, the only thing on our mind was enjoying one other & the amazing views & places. The pain that had seemed to overshadow our lives for months dulled & we found ourselves smiling more than we had in a long time. Our road trip would become a metaphor for the next 2 years of our lives.

Toward the end of our trip, we stopped at a little store in New Mexico & stumbled onto a pair of the cutest little baby moccasins. Up until this point, I had prevented myself from buying anything for a baby… But when I saw those tiny shoes, my heart just knew we had to get them as a symbol of hope. After we got home from our trip, I put the moccasins away in a box in our room. I planned on taking them out someday to use as part of a pregnancy announcement.

The next month, we received our infertility diagnosis. I remember the day I got the phone call like it was yesterday. The next couple of weeks were the darkest of my life. I felt like I was back in the snowy mountain pass, wondering if I would ever make it out of the dark swirling storm of infertility. I went through the stages of grief painfully & slowly. As the weeks turned into months, I felt myself slowly moving out of the storm toward the hazy blue overcast stage of acceptance (with a small side of lingering anger). Even though I was still hurting, I began to feel more like myself again. I stopped pushing Cary away & we starting being there for one another. As time passed, we grew closer & started praying about what was next for our family. One day I found myself sitting on the floor in our bedroom holding those tiny moccasins in my hands & asking God where He wanted us to go from there. As I prayed, I remember feeling a little glimmer of hope for the first time in a long time. That was the beginning of our journey to healing.

Today as I dressed Isabel, I pulled out the tiny moccasins we bought 2 years ago on that epic road trip & put them on her. As I watched her kick her feet around & then turn her face toward me with a big smile, my heart flashed back to the moment of hope on the road trip when I decided to buy those shoes. Back then I couldn't have imagined the journey God had in store for our family.

We have weathered some major metaphorical storms over the past few years. We’ve learned that the storms of life can either break you or make you stronger. At times, I felt like we might not make it through, but by the grace of God, lots of prayer, new dreams, hard work & dedication to one other, we’ve been able to find our way back to blue skies. As difficult as infertility has been to survive, I can say I am now in a way grateful for it, because it ended up leading us to adoption, which led us to parenthood, which has been the brightest season of our lives.

I’ve experienced a season of life when the storm felt like it would never end. I share my story with vulnerability in hopes of encouraging others. Although your story may be different than mine, I pray my words are still able touch your heart & bring you hope. I know what it’s like to feel hopeless, to have your dreams crushed, to almost drown in grief. I’m writing today to testify that eventually, life will get better. The pain will fade. You will find hope again. It may only start as a tiny glimmer, but if you don’t give up, that tiny glimmer of hope will slowly grow until it’s bright enough to take over the darkness.

“You will feel better than this, maybe not yet, but you will. You just keep living until you are alive again.”
-Call The Midwife

Whenever we were first going through infertility, I started to believe we would never have children. My mom & a good friend committed to "stand in the gap" in faith & prayer for me. Adoption happens to be the way God has led us to grow our family. If you'd like to talk to me about infertility or adoption, please don't hesitate to email me: 

 If you’re dealing with infertility or grief, don’t suffer through it alone. Reach out to someone who can relate to your struggle or who will commit to pray for you. Scripture can be a beautiful source of strength & encouragement.

If you’re in Baton Rouge, Sarah’s Laughter-Christian Support for Infertility & Child Loss can be an amazing resource for you.

With love, 

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