I am a numbers person.

No, not the add, subtract, divide and multiply numbers kind of person (just ask my accountant husband).

The kind of numbers person who remembers dates, phone numbers and birthdays pretty well and for a very long time. I have clients’ phone numbers committed to memory, for no reason, as I no longer work with them and my cell phone remembers them for me. I also usually, and very easily, remember birth dates of friends, family and all the chosen children in my life.

I also have many dates throughout the year that are forever seared into my very being.

I have always known the power of the dates that will haunt us forever as I often remind my clients of this. It is not uncommon that we begin to struggle some; anxiety is higher, depression is heavier or we just start to feel off and, then we stop to think of the date, or the time of year, and are reminded of that loss, trauma or tragedy that happened way back when.

I too have these kinds of dates seared into my heart and into my soul. My soul scars that never go away and in some ways haunt me all throughout the year.

August 25th, 1994 ~ My first back surgery.

June 19th, 1997 ~ My second back surgery.

December 28th, 2011 ~ The first phone call that stopped our lives, Michelle, our surrogate, was not pregnant.

April 16th, 2012 ~ The soul crushing and clarity providing phone call that our second, and last, embryo transfer did not take; Michelle was never going to be pregnant with our child.

June 26th, 2012 ~ The day we made another impossible decision to let go of our Maddie. The day of my true rock bottom.

Our Maddie on her last day on this physical earth.

Our Maddie on her last day on this physical earth.

August 31st, 2012 ~ What would have been the first birthday of our two embryos transferred in the first round of IVF.

The only pictures of our babies.

The only pictures of our babies.

December 21st, 2012 ~ What would have been the first birthday of our last embryo transferred in the second, and last, round of IVF.

June 17th, 2013 ~ The birth of Tipton, our chosen family’s wonderful surprise, our bittersweet reminder that is outweighed by the the love we have for another of our chosen children.

The first time meeting Tipton, my beloved chosen child.

The first time meeting Tipton, my beloved chosen child.

I wish I could have been better prepared by the infertility blogs, message boards and even doctors that these dates never leave us.

Especially, the birthdays of our never meant to be babies, at least never meant to be in our arms on this physical earth.

They are forever, for better or worse, seared in my head, on my heart and within my soul.

Today, I am able to say for the better.

And, through the work of my recovery I am beginning to have more of the magical, full of love, moments seared into every piece of me.

Last night, on June 22nd, 2014, I publicly declared the private decision I was finally able to make for myself on May 6th, 2014.

I was baptized.10411299_10204318090337962_5272420130363430951_n10454343_10204318094378063_6352133533218001059_n

Just a few days shy of my rock bottom when we lost Maddie 2 years ago, after surviving IVF and losing 3 babies, I walked into the waters of baptism last night a renewed, a redefined and a continually healing woman.

I walked into those waters with a scarred but never closed heart and soul and, with my three babies watching from above.

On May 6th, my prayer that Jesus would show His love to me in a way I could finally understand, embrace and accept was answered. As I have written before, there is nothing like being a mental health therapist for over 14 years who has also struggled with infertility to make one doubt God and faith. But, what I realized on May 6th, is that I can still doubt and question. I can even still hold feelings of anger and feel like my life hasn’t been fair.

And yet, I can still believe.

Doubt, questions, anger and all.

Wonder.

I can believe in His love for me. I can trust His plan for me. I can live my life knowing the ending of my story will be His way, whether or not I get to know it on this side of eternity. I can honor that He will take this life and let it shine.

My heart is full. My soul is continuing to heal. My ever upward wonder grows.

Seared dates, soul scars and all.

And, that this wonder, my wonder, is exactly what makes it faith.

*To read more about my seared dates make sure to pick up a copy of the soon to be published Ever Upward: Owning My Childfree Life in Our Child Obsessed.*

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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49 thoughts on “The Dates Seared into Us

  1. You move me. This is a beautiful post that I can relate to, embrace, and feel in my soul as well. I have many soul seared dates as well, though I’ve never thought to call them so. Congratulations on your baptism (I was immersed too). May it always be a soul seared date that brings you hope, joy, and renewal rather than conflict and pain some of the others do. God’s Peace and Blessings to you.

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    1. Thank you so much for this amazing and thoughtful comment! It really means so much! Justine

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  2. Congratulations on your baptism!
    My faith is something that I’ve really struggled with, even before dealing with infertility. I find myself asking “why?” or “what did I do to deserve this?” I know this isn’t a productive way of thinking of things but it’s my crutch when I’m stuck in those dark places. I get angry with God and wonder what this is all supposed to mean. I’m not sure I will ever figure it out completely but I hope I can make it to a place where I have a better understanding of the “why” and can accept the “how”.

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    1. I know exactly where you are with these feelings and thoughts. I’ve wrestled with my faith for a while now, it really did take my active seeking, finding the new church (their services are online if you want to check it out) and giving myself the permission to still have the doubts and believe. Thank for the read and comment, Jessica! Sending you light and clarity ❤

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  3. chels819 says:

    First of all, congratulations on your baptism! What a beautiful celebration in heaven happened – I love that precious feeling coming out of the water.
    Secondly, this was so great – “I wish I could have been better prepared by the infertility blogs, message boards and even doctors that these dates never leave us.” That is so that truth! My brain and heart are seared with dates as well. Big hugs!

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment! It was an incredible day and feeling to walk into that water and even more so to come out of the water! Thank you again! Justine

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  4. carolina647 says:

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring and touching post.

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    1. Thank you so much for the read and comment!!! Justine

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  5. Praise God! It’s so beautiful to hear about people’s faith growing in the midst of trials!

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    1. It was a long road, but oh so worth it. Thank you so much for the support, the read and the comment! Justine

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  6. Lisa says:

    Congrats on your baptism, Justine. You are so right about the dates, and I love your honest about how you still believe despite your doubts and anger. When I grow up, I want to write like you!

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    1. Lisa, Thank you so much! And you write your story amazingly, but thank you so much! Much love, Justine

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  7. georgia says:

    i am like you… a numbers person… in the same sense that you are. interestingly, not all the dates that i remember are around the child i lost {although, lately they are the most prevalent in my mind}. i also remember other significant dates. and so, two of yours above popped out immediately to me. August 31st was the day my dad died. June 17th, the day he was born. how nice that we can remember not only the difficult dates, but also the ones that hold good memories or facts. i’m sorry for all the heartbreaking dates that you have to relive each year. but glad for the good ones… like your baptism. congratulations. i appreciate what you said about having anger while still believing. i so believe that we can be unwavering in our faith and still bring doubt, fear or anger to God… that he’s big enough to handle it and would rather have our honesty than to pretend we just don’t struggle with those things. David in the Psalms did this throughout. i think so should we.

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    1. Thank you so much for the read and comment! And so much for your reminder and how you put it in that God is big enough to take all of us in, doubts and all. Thank you! And, I will get reading Psalms, finding up Job now.

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  8. Georgia B. says:

    i am like you… a numbers person… in the same sense that you are. interestingly, not all the dates that i remember are around the child i lost {although, lately they are the most prevalent in my mind}. i also remember other significant dates. and so, two of yours above popped out immediately to me. August 31st was the day my dad died. June 17th, the day he was born. how nice that we can remember not only the difficult dates, but also the ones that hold good memories or facts. i’m sorry for all the heartbreaking dates that you have to relive each year. but glad for the good ones… like your baptism. congratulations. i appreciate what you said about having anger while still believing. i so believe that we can be unwavering in our faith and still bring doubt, fear or anger to God… that he’s big enough to handle it and would rather have our honesty than to pretend we just don’t struggle with those things. David in the Psalms did this throughout. i think so should we.

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    1. fern says:

      I went through seven long years of infertility so I relate to this blog post. I had more than one IVF procedure and a few FET’s. I have a sense of loss even though in the end I was blessed with children. I planted a small rose bush 17 years ago. At that time I lost an IVF baby and my twin brother’s wife miscarried at 6 months. This rose bush is now huge and abundant in growth and flowers. When my dog died I planted a plum tree and that, too, has grown from the exact spot where my dog was buried. I love these living memorials because it shows me life continues.
      Congratulations on your baptism. I liked this quote from your post:
      “I can believe in His love for me. I can trust His plan for me. I can live my life knowing the ending of my story will be His way, whether or not I get to know it on this side of eternity. I can honor that He will take this life and let it shine.”
      xo Fern

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      1. Thank you so much Fern for taking the time to read and comment! And I love your planting ideas!

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  9. mcjanzen says:

    You are the very reason I wrote my book. It’s like you have already read it. Very good post! And a very good choice you made May 6th.

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    1. Thank you so much! Who are you publishing through and do you have a release date yet? How exciting! My book will be publicly released in April 2015 but will be advanced book copies hopefully as early as this late fall. Thank you for the read and comment! Justine

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      1. mcjanzen says:

        At this point, I plan to self-publish. I haven’t explored other options. I like the fact I retain all my intellectual property…no strings attached. I don’t have a release date yet. I was aiming for October 15th of this year, but that is very ambitious. Good luck to you!

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  10. Thanks for sharing your heart. Though life is hard it is more beautiful when we can look to Christ and say “It is well with my soul.” God welcomes our questions, our doubts, and our insecurities. It’s just hard admitting it some days!

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    1. Ooooh, I love that, “It is well with my soul.” Thank you for sharing that! J

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  11. Beautiful post. Thank you. X

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    1. Thank you so much, hope it helped some! Justine

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  12. So beautiful. Thanks Justine.

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    1. Thank you!!!! <3, J

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