The Lifelong Loss of a Due Date and Still Choosing to Be Ever Upward

August 31st, 2012

The day we dreamed our first child (or children, as we transferred two embryos) were to be born. We would have hoped to welcome one or two babies into the world around this time. But they were never our babies to have on this side of eternity. I was never meant to mother them in the traditional sense. Always to be just a dream and yet so much more.

But instead we spent time together in Lake Tahoe redefining after infertility treatments, side effects, financial stressors and no babies to show for it.

I had to walk back into myself that day. Because if I didn’t make that choice I think I may have literally died of a broken heart.

As the day passed…I chose myself again.

As the day passed by I chose to find a piece of ever upward.

August 31st, 2013

They would have been one year old today. So much work and healing in the last year, on myself especially but, also in every single relationship in my life.

But instead we moved into Mason House; the family home we created to share with our loved ones for years to come.

As the year passed by…the pain began to subside just a tiny bit and it stings a little less every day as we actively find other love and joy.

As the year passed by I chose to make my ever upward.

August 31st, 2014

I felt off all day. But I didn’t even notice the date necessarily, I actually was a day off. Obviously, I knew in my heart and soul that our babies were due this day and that today they would have been  two years old.

But instead I spent the day with my namesake, Abigail Justine. I held her, I loved on her and played with her. We went and saw butterflies together and rode the carousel. I have no doubt she is the enough in my life after so much almost enough.

Lifelong losses of due date choosing to be ever upward

 

This and my loved ones are beginning to read my book, Ever Upward. As I watch them feel the book in their hands and take in the beauty of the cover, I see the smile come across their faces, their eyes fill with tears and true love and support exuding from them. In all of this I feel many of the same feelings I think I may have had had they been holding my child.

Ever Upward has been a labor of my love and pain. It has been conceived through the dream of becoming a mother and the loss of that dream. And, it has been birthed with the help and love of so many. Ever Upward is my baby many years in the making.

As the years pass by…the scars heal a bit more, I embrace it all and trust my ever upward.

As the years pass by I choose to be ever upward.

And, most of all I make sure to be open to the ever upward that has come from the lifelong losses of this journey through my work.

These choices are not consolation. These choices don’t erase the losses. These choices can never make it better.

These choices are simply the lights of what happens when I do the work to let go of what isn’t in order to grasp what is.

This is the light, the love, the essence of ever upward.

This is the choice to be ever upward.

*To read more about my experiences through two back surgeries, the survival of infertility and how I chose to change my life make sure preorder your copy of Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.*

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating  ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

 

Exclusive Look at Chapter 1 of Ever Upward

I am so thankful to Baby Hopeful for their feature on Ever Upward. If you just can’t wait for the October 1st release date, you can read the first 1000 words of Chapter 1~Conceiving Our Chosen Family here!

Don’t forget to pre-order your book today!

And, don’t forget to register for the book signing and launch party!

So far the reviews are amazing, make sure to check them out and spread the word!

Having trouble describing Ever Upward to others?

Ever Upward is a book of stories, my story, about what to do with your life when it just didn’t turn out how you had hoped; it is about letting go of what isn’t in order to find and embrace our ever upward.

Also, here is the back cover text just in case:

“When are you having kids?”

“Why don’t you just adopt?”

To the 1 in 8 couples who endure infertility treatments, common questions like these do not feel at all innocent or well-meaning. Instead, they can feel invalidating to the brutal battle of infertility and minimizing to the often arduous path of adoption.

Ever Upward is the story of how Justine Brooks Froelker redefined her life for the better after the heartbreaking, devastating and lifelong losses of infertility. Beginning with Justine’s incredible story of surviving two back surgeries, a year in a body cast and IVF with a gestational surrogate, Justine guides the reader through the strategies she used to overcome the loss of her dream of motherhood and chose to thrive through the ownership and acceptance of her childfree, yet childfull life.

Providing a voice to those silenced by infertility, Ever Upward gives permission to talk about it, embrace it and own it all. Opening the conversation to ask for understanding and acceptance of the path that sadly doesn’t include children, it challenge us all to consider more than one happy ending.

Ever Upward is Justine’s story, and yet it is our story, parent or not, because behind the wall of shamed silence, the smile and “I can do everything” attitude lies millions of couples suffering with the pain of infertility. Join Justine as she shows us that the connection to our stories in the only way back to the truth of who we are.

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If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating  ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

Recovery, Flaws and All

Every day I choose to practice my recovery. Every day I choose to work on myself.

Some days are good. Some not so good.

Some days feel easier. Some more of a struggle.

A pain in the ass? Yep! Worth it? Absolutely!

Self compassion in recovery

What I am finding is important in my recovery is to have self-compassion for those not so good or easy days. The days of struggle. The days that I can literally see my old angry, agitated, anxious or depressed self returning, even if just a bit. The days that if I am not careful I say things to myself like,

Get your shit together! This isn’t who you are anymore! Just freaking do better! Why can’t anything ever be easy? Why does this always happen? (And typically many curse words).

But as the mental health therapist, I know this critical inner voice doesn’t motivate change and it sure as hell doesn’t feel very good.

So I must do the work to change that inner dialogue. I must remind myself that this life, this recovery, is an ongoing process.

It is a practice.

And, that some days it is okay to white knuckle my way through, as long I practice.

The balance of embracing my flaws

But I also must remind myself that there are some parts of my personality that are just not that easy to change. Call it genetics, call it life experience, I don’t really care and I am not sure it really matters. What I do know is that I must practice what I teach to my clients. That sometimes there are parts of who we are that just aren’t the parts that we can ever get rid of completely. But we sure as hell can do the work to make them work for us rather than against us.

So part of my recovery must be a balance. A balance between working my recovery because it makes me a better, happier and healthier person and the need to accept and embrace who I naturally am…

Flaws and all

Because, I, Justine Lea Brooks Froelker will always be:

Impatient.

I like to joke that all of my patience was used up spending a year of my life in a body cast. But, I also know it is partly genetic, thank you dad ;).

And, it is just who I am.

Potty mouthed.

I curse. A lot. I started my counseling career working with people who struggle with addiction; lots of lively language is typically used in that setting. I also come from a very passionate (read sailor mouth) family. I have almost mastered not cursing while I teach and in front children. But, I pretty much choose to not refrain in front of adults; this pretty mouth says dirty things.

And, it is just who I am.

Fast.

I walk fast, like really fast, and hard, you can seriously hear me coming from a mile away. If I say I will do something I will get it done fast. I drive fast, so fast that most people make comments to my husband after riding with me and vow to never do so again. I do everything FAST. No deep dark secret here, I just struggle to slow down.

And, it is just who I am.

Clumsy.

I am terribly hard on electronics. I regularly break stuff, spill stuff and hurt myself by tripping, bumping into things and dropping things. I also completely realize that this is a direct result of the above characteristic.

And, it is just who I am.

Embracing my flaws and practicing recovery

These are characteristics of who I am and I am not sure I can ever “fix” them. These are the characteristics that if I am not careful in managing them and practicing in my recovery they can make me my old, unhappy and unhealthy self very quickly.

But, these are my characteristics that make me, me.

As part of my recovery:

  • I will embrace them, knowing that they are not all of who I am.
  • I will speak them because then they lose some of their negative power over me and I also call them out knowing I can work on them.
  • I will practice my recovery, even if it is in finding my balance.
  • And, I will own it all.

I also trust and know that these “flaws” also make me one of the hardest working, most committed and entertaining wife, daughter, friend and loved one ever.

I am not only lovable but also loved because of them, not despite them.

Because, I am enough. We all are.

Recovery, flaws and all.

And, it is just who I am.

*To read more about my experiences through two back surgeries and a year of my life spent in a body cast make sure preorder your copy of Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.*

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating  ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

 

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Reigniting the Spark

Justine Froelker:

Another reviews is in! Thank you so much to Elisha of Waiting for Baby Bird for her review of Chapter 6 of Ever Upward!

Originally posted on waiting for baby bird:

Froelker-EverUpward CVR-LGSeveral weeks ago, author and blogger, Justine Brooks Froelker, gave me the honor and privilege to read a chapter of my choice and then write a review for her soon to be released book, Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to own a Childless Life.  There were so many interesting chapters to choose from, but the one that stood out and grabbed my attention the most was “Reigniting the Spark.”  This is such an important topic as too many times throughout the struggle to conceive, one of the biggest challenges a couple might face is maintaining and protecting the intimacy within their marriage.

Within this chapter, Justine discusses how IUI, IVF, timed intercourse, irregular cycles and financial difficulties can all put a strain on one’s marriage and intimacy level.  Unfortunately, I know first hand what she is talking about.   My husband and I have been married…

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Book Review – Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life

Justine Froelker:

So thankful to Awaiting Autumn for her review of Chapter 6 of Ever Upward! The friendships, the support and love are so much appreciated!

Originally posted on Awaiting Autumn:

The infertility community is undoubtedly a web of inter-connectedness. Often, I don’t even realize how I discover new resources, practitioners, authors or blogs. I stumble upon them and a connection is born.

This is exactly how I met Justine Brooks Froelker and began reading her blog Ever Upward.

Justine shares her stories about struggle, hope, fight and recovery through infertility and into child-free living – a choice and a voice that is unique within the infertility community.

When Justine asked me if I would be willing to read a chapter from her upcoming book, Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life, I immediately said yes and chose Chapter 6 – Reigniting the Spark.

It’s no doubt that passion dwindles for couples facing infertility. My husband and I have definitely felt the strain, so I figured this topic would be a good fit.

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A Letter to the 14 Year Old Girl Trapped in the Darkness of a Body Cast

August 25th, 1994 I had my first of two back surgeries, both of which left me in a body cast for 6 months following each surgery.

Twenty years later these are the words I need to say to that part of who I am still to this today.

The words to that scared 14 year old girl because in these words I choose to heal her.

Justine,

I know you are scared, but relieved that you finally have an answer to your pain. This is not the only time you will feel this gut wrenching and breath stealing bittersweet feeling. You will again feel this painful clarity on the day you receive the phone call that your last round of IVF did not work and you learn that your journey to have children is over.

But I can promise you, it is all worth it and you will be okay.

You have many years in front of you of struggle. Mostly with the struggle to find and believe in your light again. Because today, unfortunately, you will lose a major part of your spirit, only to fight for and find it again in twenty years.

In twenty years time, you will find this light again when you have survived failed IVF, lost three babies and fought for your recovery back to yourself.

This event of your first back surgery, yes honey, I am sorry but you will have to survive another one of these, puts in motion everything that will make you an amazing being.

You will have incredible stories of inspiration and laughter to share with the world of your back surgeries. You will have incredible stories of struggle and hope to share with the world of your fight to become a mother. You will have incredible stories of loss and purpose to share with the world of your ever upward journey to find yourself and recovery.

You will come to understand, accept, embrace and own every part of yourself and your story. You will own your shame surrounding infertility by understanding how alone you are about to feel throughout these surgeries. You will have endless help throughout these surgeries; people who love you, even those who barely know you, will step forward to help in some way. Twenty years later you will have the language to understand that your light was lost even within this amazing help because it was given through sympathy and not empathy. Because, really how else does anyone feel but sorry for the 14 year old having to have back surgery, live in a body cast and miss half of her freshman year of high school? Let alone to then have to do it all over again in a few years.

Twenty years later you will have the clarity to no longer dim your light around your story of surviving IVF and accepting a childfree life because of pity. And, instead choose to shine the light to break the silence of struggle and hard.

Because sad is sad and hard is just hard.

Some things just really can’t be fixed that easily; like a 14 and 17 year old in a body cast and a 34 year old woman who really wanted to be a mother but can’t.

Find the joy and the love in the help from everyone around you throughout this time, even it if is only in sympathy. Because it is still born out of the intention of great love.

Trust that you will thrive through this and that this isn’t the end of your story; because, I promise, it is not even close.

collage_20140706120743822And try, to hold onto that light just a little, knowing and believing that someday it will flicker again.

I promise this tiny belief and flicker is enough to get you through.

Because, your light will never be fully suffocated as you have an unending, ever growing and truly ever upward resilience.

In ever upward light and love,

Me

*To read more about my experiences through two back surgeries and a year of my life spent in a body cast make sure preorder your copy of Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.*

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating  ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine

When We Become a Mother or Father

A deep knowing breath.

The warmth of a soul scar healing just a bit more.

A sense of truth, understanding and validation.

This is just a tiny sense of what I felt when I read these words from Lindsey Henke in her Still Standing post.

“But in my opinion a mother isn’t born when a child is born. A mother and father are born when the dream of a child is conceived.”

There are times when I allow my comparison, scarcity and shame to dim my light and I am fearful of sharing my story. This fear is born out of the messages I tell myself. The messages that have actually been said out loud to me. And, the messages that society drills into me.

There will be some who will never ever consider me a mother. The ones who say I didn’t try enough. The ones who judge my decision to not adopt. The ones who say I must not have wanted to be a mother badly enough. The ones who say I didn’t lose because our three babies were only eight cell embryos.

I will never get full understanding from everyone, let alone validation. But, I will still speak my story. I will own all the parts of my story. And, I will continue to fight and break the shamed silence that surrounds infertility, miscarriage, infant loss and recovery.

But, I will not do so to convince my deniers.

I will do so because if I don’t I simply am not living my ever upward.

If I don’t I am not practicing my recovery, that I fought like hell to get to.

If I don’t I am not following my light.

Becoming a mother

I became a mother the minute I posted my ad on the surrogacy message board. I became even more I became a motherof a mother when I met Michelle. I became even more of a mother when our embryos were transferred into her loving and mothering uterus. I became even more of a mother the days we received the call that none of our babies were strong enough to even implant.

I am a mother with empty arms here on this earth. I am a mother who parents her children on this side of eternity. I am a mother to many people and things in my life.

Simply, I too, was born a mother the day I dreamed of becoming one.

I am a childfree mother who lives a childfull life.

This is me.

This is my light.

This is my ever upward.

Always redefining, finding ever upward

We dream and then sometimes we lose.

We suffer and then we rise.

We struggle and then we thrive.

These are choices we must make each and every day. These are my choices to let go of what was never meant to be mine and to make sure it wasn’t for nothing. Because I know I am a mother and more.

These are our choices to embrace our stories, to redefine and own it all.

This is life.

It is sad.

It is amazing.

It is ever upward.

*To read more about our surrogacy story and my recovery to preorder your copy of Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life.*

If you found this post enjoyable, inspiring, helpful, hopeful, interesting or even infuriating  ;), please take the time and the chance to share it through your social media! More shares means more eyes, means more people helped and the message heard on a wider scale. Thank you! Justine