The Answer and My List……

Tonight I watched a birth vlog of a Youtuber that I follow. And I’m not gonna lie. I had a twinge of jealousy.

Jealousy over the fact that I’ll never know what it is like to stare into the eyes of someone who has Chad’s and my DNA.

Jealous that Chad and I won’t have little “us’s” running around.

And then I remembered that, unlike many infertile couples for whom adoption isn’t an option, we have been given a gift.

A few months ago God spoke to us and actually told us why He chose us to remain childless.

We were given an answer.

And even to this day I cherish that. But I am not sure how to feel about it because I know SO many couples and women who long to become parents to humans, and for whatever reason it never happens.

And they never discover the why.

And so I was torn about whether or not I should even write this. Because the last thing I want to do is rub salt on other’s wounds that we have an answer and they don’t.

But in the spirit of encouraging others that there is light after the darkness of childlessness, I am sharing our story of getting an answer.

Our answer was two-fold.

Firstly, the Lord laid it upon our hearts to release our time, finances, and other resources to bless those around us who need help. To ease their burdens.

And finally He asked me to make a list of parents, specifically those who are single. Every day I am to go over each name and pray for them. Recognizing that spiritual support is an integral part of parenting and the more prayer a parent can get the better.

So that is the story of our answer. And I hope our story gave you hope and encouragement.

Cheers!

Viewing Childlessness as a Blessing……And Decreasing World Suck

A caveat: I tend to try hard to look at the bright side of any situation. This has also been true while my husband and I have been on this childless journey for over a year. Yes, we’ve mourned and there have been hard moments, but overall, I’ve tried hard to figure out a way to live positively and ask the Lord how I can use my childlessness for good. Now I also understand that some of these things are not feasible for some couples. If you aren’t able to do some of these things, don’t sweat it. I just wanted to use this post as an encouragement to those that are in the pit at the moment. To encourage you that you can have a fulfilling life after the pain of childlessness.

Look around and find those in your community that need help. Whether financially or otherwise. Maybe there is a single mama who you know who hasn’t had a night out in a long time. Offer to babysit so she can have a night out, or just a much needed nap or bubble bath.

If you’d like to help out others financially, set aside a certain amount each month in a discretionary fund to do good things in the world.

If it’s difficult to be around kids, volunteer with an animal shelter. Or volunteer to foster dogs and cats that need loving homes. You can find more information about fostering a furbaby at your local Humane Society or by contacting rescue groups in your area. A tip on working with rescues, make sure they are a legitimate 501(c)3 and not a place that is pretending. There are places out there that say they are legit, but are only interested in hoarding animals for profit. One note on fostering: while you are fostering either dogs or cats, the rescue group or shelter will provide you with food while they are in your care.

Give to charities that you are passionate about. Whether it is your time or money.

Volunteer with your local nursing home, reading to residents or just visiting with those who don’t get any visitors.

Life after childlessness is tough. But there are ways you can regain a life of joy and hope.

Remember, you are never alone!!

Cheers!

When Questioning Your Path: Trust and Obey

 It happened a few days ago when Chad and I visited friends who had a new baby. The baby, who we’ll refer to as our niece, is one of those babies. You know which ones I’m talking about; the tiny and cute ones. She even exuded more cuteness when she sneezed. I’m pretty sure glitter fell out of her nose.

Then I got to hold her. And it happened.

I don’t know what God did during the baby makin’ process to make them give off that aroma. You know the one I’m talkin’ about. That smell found at the top of their peach fuzzy heads that can make most women’s uteruses (uteri? ) leap around like a Jane Fonda workout session.

I swear, that smell messes with your head, even if you are adamant about remaining childless. I turned to Chad and said, “I need you to tell me something to snap me out of it.”

Chad took the “sleeplessness” angle. Well played, husband.

Here’s the thing, I tend to need more sleep then Chad. But he also needs a certain amount. He works with heavy machinery and if he got any less than what he’s currently getting, things could get dangerous fast. “Oh, well,” You say, “he needs to start drinking coffee!” I’m here to tell you that the amount of coffee this man drinks could be a whole separate blog post. Actually I think I’ll do one at a later date. 😉

When I asked Chad to “talk me out of it,” it was because I was having a twinge of doubt that we were on the right path. I had seen what our friends had and thought maybe the path that they were on was one that we could follow.

That is a dangerous thing to do. Especially when you know that God told you to take a specific path. Remember Jonah? God told him to go to Nineveh to talk to the people there. But Jonah thought he knew better and disobeyed. That’s how he ended up in the belly of a whale. Had he gone to Nineveh as he was supposed to, he would have never ended up smelling like fish guts when the whale finally barfed him up on dry land. (Sidenote: anyone else naturally assume that the whale was male? Food for thought… 😀 )

So that’s a bit of an extreme example. But as Christians, we are taught to do two things; trust and obey. Even if it’s a scary proposition.

I remember when I was still living in a big city in the south, after Chad and I became engaged, the question of where we’d live came to the surface (we had been long distance up until that point). I was adamant that I wanted to stay in the big city. I had a supportive church community, friends, and I was able to travel back and forth on my own via public transit. I thought it was the perfect scenario. Except for one thing. Jobs in Chad’s field were hard to come by if he were to relocate, and the current position he was in was full time with benefits. On the other hand, I only had a part time job with zero benefits (unless you want to count unlimited free soda at the sandwich place located next door to my office 😉 )

So there we were, Mr. Full-Time-Job-with-Benefits and Ms. There’s-No-Way-In-Ha-Ha-That-I’m-Moving-to-His-Small-Town.

Then one day we were having a conversation with a family friend. We were discussing who was going to move and our friend asked us both one question. Who had a full time job with benefits? The answer was Chad. Right at that moment it became crystal clear; I would move to Chad’s town. And honestly I was finally OK with that path.

Can you guess what happened 3 weeks after I moved to Chad’s town? Yep. He was let go from his full time job with benefits.

My reaction was modeled after the years of adult maturity I had under my belt; I internally threw a fit of Biblical proportions, just like Jonah. How dare God allow this to happen! At that moment I wanted to move back to my city. Back to my comfort zone (yes, I would be taking Chad with me).

But then a still small voice said, “Trust Me.”

Chad quickly found a new job that he loved and, as an added bonus, we were able to spend more time together. We were able to go to church and have a rich social life. A life that continues to flourish today.

Had I continued to look at the wonderful things others had in the midst of our crappy situation, I would not have experienced the blessings of God’s grace, love and mercy.

So back to my brand new niece. I can’t explain how much I love her. Each time a new niece or nephew is born, my heart grows. And I now understand my purpose and path; to show her how much God loves her through my actions and to be there when she needs someone to talk to. To encourage her parents to stay on the same path when things get tough.

Because the end result is more than worth it. All we need to do is trust and obey.

 

 

 

What a Difference a Year Makes and New Years Resolutions…

During our Christmas vacation, I shared the following photo on Facebook:

christmas 2015

The caption was as follows: “What a difference a year makes! Praising the Lord for his mercy and grace!”

Of all the 32 likes, I’m wondering if anyone thought about what this picture represented to me, beyond the length of my hair.  In contrast, here is a picture taken last year around the same time:

christmas 2014

Besides the shorter length of my hair is something that you can’t see; how broken I felt inside. See we had just come to the conclusion that we’d not have children.

I’ve blogged about this several times. My first entry can be found here. The rest can be found at the bottom of that same page under “related.”

At this time last year I was wondering what my purpose in life was. If I wasn’t supposed to be a mother, what could I do to fulfill myself? Would I ever be happy not being a mom? Would my marriage crumble under this stress?

It’s been an unexpected year so far. A year filled with joy and hope. I actually did give birth in February; to my blog. A place for me to give people hope and a purpose. And to remind them that they are never alone in their struggles.

I also learned more about the new community I was a part of: the awesome community of people who are Childless Not By Choice. A community that I am grateful for. The community is a place I can go when I’m feeling down or frustrated. And they are always encouraging, always supportive.

Through this community I’ve realized that each CNBC story is as diverse as the snowflakes that have yet to fall outside my window. Although each is unique, they are all valid and meaningful. There is a sacredness to each narrative.

I don’t know why my story has so far been hopeful. Yes, I’ve had days when I’ve felt a loss, but I’ve also had more days filled with promise. My marriage is as strong as ever. And I think I’ve found my purpose; as a blogger to help others understand the plight of the CNBC, and as a child-care provider. I’ve also realized the important role I play in the lives of my nieces and nephews (My newest niece will come into the world next week and I couldn’t be more excited. 😉 ).

So this year ends with hope. And excitement. I actually have a new years resolution that I think will stick. It’s a goal really (is there a difference? ). But I think I’ll leave it at that till I reach 200 blog entries. Don’t worry, I’m actually almost there. I have a few things to flesh out before I make the official announcement anyway. Till then, always remember you are never alone….especially as this year ends and another begins! Oh, and Jesus loves you 😉

Cheers!

Here is a song I can’t get out of my head and I think it’s a great one to start a new year. While my situation is different, I think the lyrics still apply….living this year with anxiety and childlessness, I feel like the lyrics, “I’m gonna do all the things that you said I never could” still apply to me and the “you” in the song is anxiety and doubt.

To the Woman Who’s Just Resigned to Remain Childless: You Are NOT Alone!!

I was in your shoes in December. See, my husband and I had always thought we’d have kids. But early on decided that adoption was the best option. We just didn’t know when that would happen. Then at Christmas, after considering a myriad of things, we decided it was best if we remained childless.

I don’t know what going through that is like for a man, but as a woman, it is completely and utterly disorienting. Imagine growing up thinking that you’d one day be a mother. As you grow older and marry, the method of motherhood changes slightly, but it’s still a distant goal.

Then the day comes that you and your husband decide to make the painful decision to remain childless. And it’s devastating. And it just plain SUCKS. You think your life is moving in one trajectory, and God comes in and quietly whispers to you, “I have another plan for you. I want you to take this path.” And the path is unknown and scary. For weeks after your decision (or last treatment, or word from the doctor that it’s not going to happen, or another failed adoption) you are in a daze, trying to figure out what this new path looks like. In between crying and the depression that follows, you slowly begin the long healing process.

Living through this for almost a year, I have some things to say that I hope are helpful to you.

1. Grief for as long as you like. Anyone that tells you that you should be over your grief right now should not be listened to.

2. You are NOT less of a woman because you are childless!! This is a LIE that society perpetuates all too often. Even if you are childless, you still have WORTH and MEANING to your life.

3. When you are up for it, join a support group. Seek out members of your community that may be going through the same thing, or look to social media. I know it’s not the same as face to face contact, but at least you get daily words of encouragement when you need it. From people around the world.

4. If and when you are up for it, talk about your experience with others. Issues of infertility and childlessness are still in a sense considered taboo topics but, at least for myself, I’ve found that talking has helped me heal SO much. It’s also educated others about these issues.

5. Make a list of things you can do now that kids won’t be in the picture (I understand this is a hard one if you are still grieving. If so, put this one on the back-burner till you feel ready to tackle it) Sleeping in was something my husband and I put on our list. If this one is too hard, skip it entirely.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve and move on from being childless. Therefore this list isn’t necessarily complete. These are things that I found helped me.

Remember, dear, sweet, wonderful woman,

You are NOT alone. EVER!!

Cheers!

 

A Heartfelt Rebuttal From A Childless Aunt: Dear Brit Tashjian…….

This blog post is in response to the article posted by Brit Tashjian from yourtango.com. You may read the article here.

Dear Brit:

As a woman who is childless by choice I’d like to say thank you for perpetuating the stereotype that I am indeed selfish. Bravo to you for helping to pressure young women who don’t want to be mothers to make the choice anyway, and then realize down the road that their God-given instincts were correct after-all and mothering is not for them. At least they won’t be labeled as “selfish.”

I guess if I really do think about it, in a way I am selfish. I do sleep in and sometimes sleep all day. On those days my anxiety and depression-that runs in my family-has gotten the better of me and I need to give my body a chance to recharge. 

See, my husband and I made the conscious choice to remain childless after much soul-searching and prayer. There was a number of factors that played into our decision really; such as our age, collective energy levels, and multiple physical/mental concerns that would very possibly short change the care of our child. 

It wasn’t a choice, really. It was the responsible, right thing to do. 

Oh, I forgot to tell you what I do for a living. I’m actually in child-care. That’s right, I step in when those who apparently made the “right” choice to become parents need a well deserved night out. Or a nap. I know I’m probably a poor substitute for the “real thing” since I don’t have children of my own and therefore probably lack the skills necessary to care for children that range in age from preschool to elementary. Sure when I started I may have put on a few diapers backwards, but I eventually got the hang of it. And in all my years of caring for children, I haven’t lost one yet, so I must be doing something right. 😉

Looking back over the article you wrote, there is that question of happiness and fulfillment that you don’t think one can have outside of children. Funny you should mention this because I find tremendous joy and fulfillment in seeing the faces of refreshed parents at the end of my shift. I also find joy in reading to my niece and nephews, playing Lego’s and talking in silly voices over mountains of crayons and reams of paper. 

And at the end of the day, I can rest my head on my pillow, in my childless house-only scattered with the toys of my cats-and know in my heart that I’m going down the right path with my life. 

Cheers! 

What NOT to Say to Someone Who is Childless Not by Choice

With input from my online support group, here is a list of things not to say to someone who is Childless Not By Choice (CNBC): 

1. “You can always adopt”- OK, I’ve got a confession to make-I’ve actually suggested this aloud or in my head, but didn’t understand the logical fallacy of this suggestion until this year when we realized we’d never have children. Adoption is way more complicated than it may seem on the outside. In the United States, this process could cost upwards of $20,000 or higher. For couples that don’t have the financial resources, this obstacle can seem insurmountable. If you go the route of Foster to Adopt, the cost is cheaper, but you have to consider whether or not you can mentally handle bonding with a child that may not become adoptable.

Even if the financial resources are available, adoptions are tricky because there is always the possibility that the birth parents could change their mind. In the US, this can occur within the first 30 days. I personally know of several families that weren’t able to have children of their own and tried adoption several times. Each time the birth mother changed her mind and the child had to go back. The process can become so mentally exhausting that eventually it ceases to be a solution to childlessness. 

2. “You don’t have kids, so you don’t understand”- To a person that is childless, this is a punch in the gut. Especially if that person has worked in child care for many years. Just because we may not have raised a tiny human, it doesn’t mean that we are clueless when it comes to kids. My job is to give parents a break so they can recharge, while I take care of their children. Don’t discount someone because they don’t have tiny humans to care for at home. 

3. “It’s been years since you’ve realized you couldn’t have kids. Aren’t you over it by now?”- Grief knows no timeline. My grandma died years ago and some days I still have moments where I need to compose myself. Milestones such as graduations and weddings can be hard for those of us who’ve lost children or had to give up the dream of having children of our own. But this doesn’t mean we don’t want to be invited to these events. Please invite us to events with children, and let us decide if we can handle going. 

4. “Your pet is not a baby. Stop calling it your child.”- Oh boy! This one is controversial. And if you say it, it may get you unfriended on FB. Yes, we understand that an animal is not a tiny human. Keep in mind this is one way we are coping with our reality. This keeps us sane and hurts no one. Let it go. 

5. “It must have been God’s will”- Even if you are talking to a professing christian, this one is a big no-no. I believe that God grieves with us when we lose a child or are unable to have them. Making it seem like God wanted this pain in our life is counter productive to healing the hurt. 

6. “Don’t lose hope”- Going through unsuccessful fertility treatments, failed adoptions, and miscarriages, at some point we’ll throw in the towel. It’s our way of accepting reality and trying to heal. In a way we have to lose hope of ever having what we wanted, so we can move on and find a new normal. 

Walking this road with a loved one is difficult and it can be tricky to know what to say. Avoiding the above statements is a step in the right direction. Let your loved one know that you are there to listen. Sometimes the most healing thing we can be given is a friend. 

If you are walking this difficult road of childlessness not by choice, you are NOT alone.

Cheers!

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