For the past four weeks 14 incredible women have shared their stories and their babies as part of the Footprints Blog Tour in honor National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. To read all their amazing posts please click here.
Today I am proud to share mine.
Please join us tomorrow night, October 15th, at 7pm in the Wave of Light in honor of all the babies gone too soon. And, please share this video far and wide, in it the stigma will be shattered, our hearts healed a bit more and our babies honored.
I work on my phone on the twenty minute drive to church. There are two months a year I am very busy as an infertility and loss thriver and advocate: April (National Infertility Awareness Month) and October (National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month). I feel the car slow and glance up to notice the string of cars with brake lights illuminated for as far as we can see.
Damn pumpkin patch (at least for this woman who can’t have babies).
It is that time of year that every week on our way to church we will pass the biggest and most popular pumpkin patch in St. Louis. I will look to my right every single week for about six weeks and see the orange pumpkins of every size with children crawling all over them while their parents try to get the annual picture.
A reminder, again, that I will never have that experience with my own children.
This Sunday is different though as I work on finding and saving pictures about pregnancy and infant loss on my phone to share each day of the month. It is different because of what I know is waiting for me in the service this week in church. I sigh and look over at Chad just as the traffic begins to pick back up to normal pace,
This is literally an infertile woman’s road of hell. Passing the pumpkin patch full of kids at a slow pace as if to rub it in even more while on the way to child dedication day at your church.
He half laughs with a sigh. I know he both gets it and doesn’t.
We walk into the enormous auditorium just as the first song plays. This is late for us, we are usually here early and have our butts planted in our front row center seats at least ten minutes before the service starts. I knew this week I would not want to be in those seats.
Front row center to the dream that will never be yours…no thank you.
The usher sees us trying to find a seat and motions us to our right, I immediately notice the chairs are marked “family section”. I shake my head and feel my heart rate rise as I make eye contact with Chad. The usher motions again to the same section. I start to feel the panic rise inside of me, Seriously God?
I look at Chad and try to get him to hear me when I say,
I am not sitting in the family section on child dedication day.
He makes the connection and follows me as I bolt to the opposite side of the auditorium and we finally find seats in the upper part of the auditorium.
The music swells and we are taken to church, just like every Sunday. After one song the lights come up and I see the families being led to the front of the stage with their babies.
Here we go.
Chad puts his hand on my leg and I clasped my hands tightly together as if the pressure will keep the tears in this year. My own grief is a tiny bit subdued this year because we have two sets of friends at the front with their adorable daughters. I am able to focus on them for the most part which means my own longing awakens inside of me just a bit.
Until I see her.
I can only see her orange shirt, her dark hair pulled into a ponytail and how tightly her husband is holding her. Her husband’s arm is wrapped around her and I know it is serving multiple purposes, to both hold her up and in and love her. She wipes tears from her face the entire ten minutes that our pastor talks about us as a congregation supporting and loving these families and these children in their walk with Christ.
My own tears escape the rims of my eyes to fall onto my cheeks. Chad puts his arm around me for only a second knowing that if he lingers too long I will lose it myself.
The music swells up. I see her take a deep breath just as her husband’s fingers interlace with hers behind her back.
She wipes more tears.
I wipe my own.
I see her.
I am her.
I only wish there had been an open seat next to her because I would have gone down to sit beside her and grab her hand while we both allowed tears to flow down our cheeks.
Last year at child dedication I was overcome by breath stealing sobs. So much so, I had to sit down in the dark during the song to try to calm myself.
The thoughts and feelings that go through a woman struggling with any version of the infertility or loss story during a child dedication runs the gamut:
Why them and not me?
Will I ever be a mother?
I will never be up there.
I am supposed to be up there this year.
I wonder if those twins are from IVF?
They seem older, I bet they had to do treatments.
My parents will never get to experience this joy.
God, have you forgotten me?
They would have been four this year.
Why do they never mention couples like us…
I am a mother too…
This year right after the dedication they played Christ is Enough.
As a believer I know this and trust it.
As a forever longing mom, my aching heart can sometimes doubt it.
My breath catches as we sing:
Through every storm
My soul will sing…
The cross before me
The world behind me
More than ever these words are true for me.
They are true and I still long for my babies.
I love even harder and more.
You are not alone. Even though it feels as if you are invisible, like no one remembers us or cares enough to see us, you are not invisible.
I see you. I know you. I am you. We are a mothers too.
A quick post of the latest happenings in this life of ever upward; the life of creating my rainbow…
A piece I am super proud of (I bought a skirt for it and everything). I submitted it for months. I was rejected from many. All to finally find a home over at Rebelle Society! Please click here to read one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever written.
My 2nd YouVersion Bible app reading plan was published last week. I will have another one coming out next week on hope. Please click here to see my self-care reading plan.
Finally, I hope you are following along with the Footprints blog tour as we gear up for National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month in October. There are been some incredible stories shared, and we are only halfway through!
As always, thank you for your support, your shares and your love. I can feel it in this journey, and for that I am so grateful.
I sit at the dining room table. The slightest glimmer of the rising sun brightening the sky outside the floor to ceiling window as I take the first drink of my yummy, albeit nutritious, breakfast smoothie. My usual songs of rising playing and my coloring journal in front of me. Oftentimes my morning writing turns into written prayers, as if talking to Him helps to clear my head while also making it all the more real.
The work I am doing. The words I am speaking. The fight I am fighting.
I know He is listening, and yet I often have to remind myself I am not alone in this.
When suddenly I am surprised by the words I am writing, my own words, in the chosen color of pink for today,
Why Lord did you write this story for me if you aren’t going to give people the ears and hearts to hear it?
As soon as I see the sentence, the prayer, it does not take but a half breath for the next sentence to come out of my hand,
Give ears to the earless.
I close my eyes as a exasperated breath escapes my lips, damn it.
Yep, I curse, even when I talk to Him. He knows I am thinking it anyways. And, guess what? He loves me anyway.
Please God, help me to find a way to do this. I pray for clarity, creativity and courage to create the openness…
Perception may be that I am uber successful, the emails I get each week thanking me for my work and also asking to take me to lunch to learn from me speak to this. And yet, most days I feel as if I am jumping up and down, waving my arms desperately and screaming, “Does anyone see me? Can anyone hear?”
I have come to realize I am in the business of the invisible unspoken; I speak my life into a world of people who don’t want to hear my story, in fact some of them actively deny it.
Let’s just start with therapy. The stigma is changing as people begin to not only admit but boast that they see a great therapist and you should too. Yet, mental illness is widely misunderstood by both the general public and I am finding even more so by the medical community; let alone, that happiness is a choice and takes intentional daily work. I am a therapist. People love my resources, my education and inspiration. Yet, they struggle, and sometimes even refuse, to do the damn work themselves.
Then we’ve got my side gig in network marketing with a supplement company that I am very proud of, whose products have changed my life and an industry I love more and more each day. The misconceptions on network marketing and supplementation are endless. People question my motives, products and the industry daily. When all I am trying to do is help myself and others find freedom in their health and finances. Rather, than open up to a different way, what I think is a better way, many choose to stay in their known misery (not much unlike my daily work as a therapist).
Finally, my purpose and calling here on earth; my motherhood, although most won’t call it that. My story scares most people, I am the epitome of life not turning out how you planned, hoped, dreamed or paid for. I am the worst case scenario: tried to have kids, paid a lot of money to have kids and ended the journey without them.
I am childless and a mother.
I am the case who lowers the infertility clinics statistics because I did not get the baby and I am the therapist who is helping women thrive through and after this journey no matter what they get. Because despite what the media and the average clinic wants you to believe, not all of us end up with babies; yet there are many versions of the happy ending, I promise.
I am the infertility community’s black sheep and one of the hardest working advocates for anyone no matter where they are in the journey. I know my narrative scares the shit out of most and yet it is my scary story, the permission to speak the unspoken and to say enough that helps so many thrive no matter what they get in life.
I am the general society’s unacknowledged unsuccess story and a change maker, even if only on the tiniest of scales. People want the story of someone who never gave up and got the traditional happy ending. When in reality those stories are actually few and far between because none of us get out of this life without having to redefine something and choosing to thrive thereafter. My truth is about thriving when life did not turn out, and despite what is shared in the media, or even in my own community, I have one hell of a happy ending. I fight for it, create it and receive it every day.
I was made the mother I am to teach and model it for you.
Now sitting on my orange couch flanked by three little dogs, I take a sip of my steaming decaf coffee. I set the timer on my phone for five minutes for my creative writing which begins as a continuation of my earlier written prayers. My handwriting slows down and clears up after I write again, why give me this story if no one is ready to hear it?
Because, my child, it is not about you, it is about them. It is about Me. Therefore go out and love like Me. Walking in the grace and the mess of truth in love and the complicated gray. I promise, you were made for such a time as this and they are listening.
Join me and 14 other bloggers from around the country as we lead up to October 15th, 2016 with our Footprints Blog Tour.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan declared October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
On the morning of October 15th, 2016 I will join thousands of fellow bereaved parents to walk in honor of our babies at the National Share Walk of Remembrance in St. Charles, Missouri. Later that evening, at 7 pm, all around the world candles will be lit in honor of our lost babies as part of the Wave of Light.
To help us raise awareness of pregnancy and infant loss join me the next several weeks for a blog tour. Read my fellow warriors stories of loss, courage, hope, healing and honor. Let us come together to educate the world on pregnancy and infant loss and therefore build compassion for our continued healing.
We would love for you to participate by sharing these posts far and wide. We’d especially love to see your own Walk of Remembrance and Wave of Light pictures on your social media outlets, please use the following hashtags: #ShareWalk2016, #pregnancyandinfantlossawareness, #WaveofLight.
Together we will #shatterthestigma.
Don’t miss the HUGE sale on Ever Upward this month too! Click here.
Post links will be published once blogs are posted.
“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.