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.


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,


*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

26 thoughts on “A Letter to the 14 Year Old Girl Trapped in the Darkness of a Body Cast

  1. sarahjkl82 says:

    Brilliant post. One of my close friends went through surgery to correct scoliosis. Whilst the surgery was complex and the recovery long and arduous, seeing her being able to live her life so much more fully was incredible.


    1. Thank you so much for reading and your comment!!! Justine


  2. You are so strong being able to share that. I couldn’t imagine what you have had to endure. You will see the light.


    1. Thank you so much! My light is brighter than ever, took 20 years, but through this work I’ve found it again! Thanks again! Justine


  3. raphaela99 says:

    Reblogged this on Hummingbird Redemption and commented:


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


  4. Rachel says:

    Beautiful post! So sorry that your last IVF didn’t work 😦 Your strength and character shine through this post. You are a fighter and have fought so hard to come this far. I relate to the strength that we can gain from previous battles. In my case it was an eating disorder that I battled against 20 years ago and now more than 6 years of infertility. I learnt a lot of lessons during the battle for recovery from an eating disorder and those lessons continue to serve me now, with infertility and living with Multiple Sclerosis. I wish you well however you continue on this journey.


    1. Rachel,
      Thank you so much for reading, for your comment and sharing part of your incredible story.


  5. jasmineshei says:

    this is so beautiful! Writing to the younger version of you and giving guidance. In essence, you are sharing your light to others, like me! Thank you, Justine!


    1. Thank you so much Jasmine, this comment means so much! Justine


  6. Lisa says:

    Love this. You are such an inspiration. (And I love the photo of you at the end, by the way!).


    1. Thank you Lisa <3! J


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