“Is there a park nearby so we can get your last interview?” Ann the director of Don’t Talk About the Baby asked.
“Yep, super close,” I replied.
It was Saturday night and we were both exhausted. We started filming my morning routine at sunrise and were approaching hour 14 of filming. We had spent the last two days filming no less than 12 hours.
We reached the park and stepped into the thick damp air of St. Louis summer. Of course there was a playground at the park. Of course there was a little girl’s birthday party. Of course there were butterfly balloons at the party.
I write this on August 31st.
It is August 31st again.
It comes every year.
They would be four this year.
Four years ago this day felt crushing. Four years ago that playground with a birthday party and butterfly balloons would have sent tears down my cheeks. Instead, I stood there while being filmed for a project that I wholeheartedly believe in and am honored to be a part of, taking it all in and giving myself permission to feel it.
The joy. The sadness. The pride. The longing.
It took me about a year to dig my way out of the darkness that was left after our failed infertility journey. A year of working with my therapist, building and wrestling with my faith, truly taking care of myself and re-engaging in my marriage. A year of owning all the parts of my story, speaking them, honoring my truth and my babies by creating this happy, healthy and magnificent version of myself.
Since then, all five of these years, I have spent working my ass off on making sure the infertility journey, hell life, does not leave us all empty shells of who we once were. Helping others to give themselves permission to feel it all, all at the the same time; to feel the clarity and healing of the complicated gray. Writing and speaking the often ignored and rejected words of truth, the words to our freedom to ask for what we want and need and to have the courage to speak our truth always.
To shine the light of thriving out of the darkness to create our own second chances.
“I need you in every interview, this film is focusing a lot on you,” Ann directed me last week at the beginning of our three days of filming.
“Oh, I didn’t realize,” I replied.
I shook my head as if to clear the confusion. The confusion that after four years of rejection after rejection, being called terrible names on HuffPost, a couple negative reviews, being ignored by even some of my closest friends and family, money spent, the hardest and best work of my life for no pay, this was finally happening.
My truth and story, my healthy, albeit controversial, messages are the focus of a feature length documentary on infertility and pregnancy loss. This was everything I had been working for.
There was no time to let it soak in, we had a movie to make, which I quickly learned was not for the weary.
Long hours, bug bites, lots of sweat, more wardrobe changes than you can imagine, pauses for planes and thunder and growling tummies all further complicated by my shock, disbelief, overwhelming gratitude and relief that all of my work was paying off.
For three days straight for 12 to 15 hours a day I was filmed while interviewing my friends, family and clients. We discussed the heartache of infertility and pregnancy loss. We spoke our truths. We rallied the healthy messages of shattering the stigma and talking about our babies.
It is only now a few days later and two mornings of letting myself sleep in that the fog and exhaustion of filming has lifted a bit. I’ve written some and processed the amazingness this all is, only to realize it is one of our due dates today.
They would be four this year. And, this year I miss them, love them and wonder even more than the first three.
I am also more thankful for them than ever. They’ve helped make me who I am; a mother to many and a mother of second chances. It is because of them I am changing the world. I honor them with broken silence, hand holds in the power of me too, by embodying the warriorship of fighting for and creating a happy life in this world; a world without them and yet so much of them.
They would be proud.
They are my biggest blessings.
My life, a blessing through and because of them, is also a manifestation. A manifestation of my work and of my choices to embrace all the parts of my story and to always speak.
God made me the mother I am to do this work, to help others and to change the world.
I have done the work to create this incredible life and to be open enough to receive it. I have believed it was possible and that I am worthy of it. I have had the tenacity of every mother who loves and honors her children always.
It is a blessing made manifest.
And, it is only the beginning.
***All photos by Ann Zamudio, Director of Don’t Talk About the Baby
A piece many may struggle to read, which is exactly why I wrote it and submitted it to HuffPost! Enjoy!
Four years out from ending our own infertility journey and the difficult decisions of the infertility journey are still part of my daily life.
In full disclosure, we ended our journey without the intended, hoped for, dreamed of and paid for ending of happy, healthy babies in our arms.
Professionally, I have been working with clients through and after the infertility journey for the last three of those four years; had to work out my own stuff first.
Throughout these three years I have worked with women in every place of the infertility and loss journey; years of trying, all levels of treatments, miscarriages, stillbirth, secondary infertility and everything in between. I, especially, have found a true gift in walking alongside someone during the pregnancy after the infertility and loss struggle.
I have also been honored with witnessing and guiding my clients through some of the toughest moral, ethical and relational decisions of their lives.
Because making a baby in 2016 is not simple for over 7 million of us.
It is those tough moral and ethical issues no one ever really thinks about when they embark on the infertility journey that, I think, have great potential to destroy us.Click here to continue reading.
I’m tired all the time.
I am not sleeping well.
I worry so much.
I just want to be happier.
I feel like my life is passing me by.
All comments I hear from almost every single client who has ever had the courage to walk into my therapy office. These are also comments I hear from just about all of my friends and family on a regular basis.
As a true educator and mental health therapist I have a usual first recommendation for just about every single client and my loved ones: self-care.
So much of our lives will be improved by working on self-care, however most of us are not choosing to make the time to practice it daily. Self-care that includes a morning and nighttime routine, exercise, proper nutrition, supplementation, water intake, meditation and true talk therapy, especially talking about shame and fear must be practiced daily.
We cannot give from an empty well.
Practicing self-care fills up our well.
The biggest eye rolls and groans I ever get?
That, of course, would be whenever I mention the word meditation.
Despite the growing research and popularity of meditation it, unfortunately, is still far from a household name, let alone a daily practice.
The biggest complaints about meditation being:
I don’t have time to meditate!
I can’t get my brain to shut off!
I don’t know how!
My responses to these complaints, right after, “I know, it can feel so hard!” are:
Meditating will actually help you to feel like you have more time and energy!
It is really more about focusing and freeing your mind than shutting it off!
There are so many ways to try!
I practice what I teach and have meditated more days than not the last four years despite being wired as someone who will never be naturally meditative and calm.
As my new acupuncturist asked me a few weeks ago, “Do you consider yourself pretty Type A?”
To which my response was a scoffing and owning, “Um, yes!”
“You’re pretty intense aren’t you?” he asked.
“I am. I like it. I’ve learned to manage it and I don’t want you to take it away,” I proudly stated back.
Type A, intense or passionate, no matter how you describe it, it is one of my best qualities.
It can also be the quality that kills me if I am not careful.
Our strengths can become our weaknesses, and so I’ve learned to manage my intensity with my self-care practices, and especially with my mediation practices. The most helpful way I have stuck with my meditations is to have a toolbox of different ways and resources to meditate.
Because I have chosen to find some way to meditate most days, my sleep, mood, presence, immunity and happiness are all much improved!
Here are some of my favorite resources to get you started as well, give me five to ten minutes every day for the next 21 days using one of these techniques:
So sit your @ss down and try one of these meditations for ten minutes every single day.
I bet you feel a difference for the better, and if you don’t let me know.
But, I’ll probably tell you to try again with a different tool.
It is all about being open to new things and finding what works for you.
Go out my intense, passionate, Type A warriors and find the glory of calm.
The only affiliate link above is Muse. By purchasing Muse through this link you get 15% off the purchase price and I make a small commission. All the other links are simply because I love their work and have found them helpful in my journey.
The three of you would have turned four this year.
The year of becoming little people. The terrible language barriers and potty training of the 2’s out of the way and the dramatics of the 3’s in our past.
The years I have spent wondering of you every day, feeling you always and wandering this earth with pieces of my soul tethered to heaven.
I’ve been told to write a letter to you a few times and for quite some time. But, it wasn’t until I asked one of my warrior mamas to write her babies a letter in hopes of her finding some clarity and healing, even within the uncertain darkness of infertility, that I realized you deserved and I need my words.
I could write of how much I miss you and yet feel like I never had you. The weeks of synthetic hormones to retrieve you, the five days to only hear about your growth in a phone call from the infertility clinic and the gut wrenching two weeks of praying and hoping you would stick in her warm uterus. All to end in a one minute phone call with the words, “She’s not pregnant.” Years of trying, tens of thousands of dollars spent and lifelong dreams crushed in a phone call telling me our relationship was over before I even got to meet you.
I was not a mother.
And, I believed that for a long while.
It was dark, there were tears, a lot of anger and a sense of self that disappeared behind never being seen.
I could write of all my wonderings. Would you have had my freckles or your dad’s blonde curls? Would you have been spunky like me or stoic like him? Would I have handled the poop and he the puke? What books would have been your favorite in your nighttime routine? What kind of grandparents would they have been? I could fill the biggest library on earth with my wonderings of the last four years, let alone of the lifetime of wonderings ahead of me.
I am a mother.
I worry, I wonder, I question, I doubt, I love.
Even if only from afar.
I could write how forgotten you and my motherhood are most days. No one speaks of you, some even say you don’t count. Many aren’t sure what to ask me or how to relate to me; a childless mother, I am often the only one everywhere I go.
The invisible mother.
The one without the happy ending.
Yet, only through you have I fought for, found and created my own happy ending of thriving.
What I hope you know is how loved and wanted you are and were.
I hope I make you proud.
I hope every day you are honored in my work, my words, and especially, my love.
I have learned God gifted you to me, even if only for a whisper of time, as you were always His to begin with. I am blessed He chose me as your mother, it is the best gift I have ever received.
In the lifelong absence and the daily presence of you, I have found me.
It is because of you I notice every sunset and sunrise, see beauty in pain, feel with my whole being, believe in the unseen, give more than I ever have, seek the unknown, laugh with childlike wonder, walk with curiosity and have more gratitude for it all than ever before.
It is because of you I love harder and better.
I love you always.
Thank you, my loves.
I met with fellow blogger and author Lindsay Fischer last week for lunch. Two hours later I walked away with a new friend, the knowing of a fellow warrior and a comrade in the trenches of being an author and blogger.
In other words, I think I may have just met my best friend…even if she doesn’t realize it yet.
We exchanged our books, including Lindsay’s soon to be released The Two Week Wait Challenge: A Sassy Girl’s Guide to Surviving the TWW. I was excited to read this little guide for the arduous TWW that I see so many clients through, and survived myself a couple of times.
I loved it and have added it to the Ever Upward Resource page. Please see my review below that I will also be posting to Amazon once the book officially comes out.
As a survivor of a couple TWWs myself and a therapist helping countless clients through the process of TTC, infertility and loss I found Lindsay’s survival guide to be a truth salve to my soul. This guide is refreshing, engaging and full of helpful ideas and resources. Lindsay is sharing what I have been teaching my clients for years and so much of what I am finding helpful in guiding women through the TTC, infertility and loss journey. The tools she shares are part of how we will all thrive and not only survive this journey. Lindsay’s humor makes you feel like you have a nonjudgmental best friend by your side through the arduous wait of the days leading up to testing. Her daily challenges and assignments provide a easy and tangible framework for the reader to wrap both their heads, hearts and hands around in order to prevent being completely consumed by worry, anxiety, anger and anything else that pops up in the clomid crazy train of infertility treatments. I highly recommend this book to anyone going through the TTC journey, no matter where they are in it. This guide combined with speaking your story and seeking help will help you to define your own happy ending, no matter what you get from the journey. Lindsay and her work are great examples of the Ever Upward life.
I knew a few months ago when I was interviewed by Mel of Momscast I knew it was my best interview to date. To get words like great vulnerability, humor and wisdom to describe my messages from some of my fellow bloggers and friends is the sparkle on top.
I’m so proud of this interview and excited to share some of my new messages. Please share far and wide. Thanks so much!
Click here to listen.
Today’s writing prompt felt like it needed to be shared.
What if you stopped asking permission to be yourself and stopped apologizing for who that person is?
Chin up. Chill out. Calm down. You’re so intense. Don’t be so dramatic.
The messages from life, society and sometimes, even people I love.
Sometimes meant to shame, other times meant for love.
And, I love all of her.
I feel. I love. I fight.
I am everything of wholehearted.
Fully and completely sincere. Enthusiastic. Energetic. Hearty. Earnest.
I am pure energy. I am whole love.
I love loud. I live full. I am mighty.
I am a lot.