An Adoptive Mama’s Mother’s Day

The dust has settled on Mother’s Day once again and I’ve finally found a few minutes to gather my thoughts on my very first Mother’s Day.

First off- I’d like to say that my Husband knocked it out of the park! He knew that after struggling for three years to have a baby, that I was finally looking forward to this day. (Last year, we purposely had a getaway on Mother’s Day weekend so I could get away from the constant reminder of not being a mom.) So my sweet Hubby made me breakfast, set up reservations for lunch after church, wrote a heartfelt note in a card, and he even got on Pinterest to find a family craft that we could all do together! Yes, you read that right- my Husband got on Pinterest y’all! So impressed.

But as the day went on I couldn’t get Samuel’s birth mother out of my head. My thoughts kept wandering back to how she was feeling. Was this Mother’s Day the worst day she’s ever had? How often did Sam cross her mind? Did she secretly shed a few tears for the baby she placed for adoption?

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My heart started to break for her and I started to feel guilty. I know she loved my sweet Sam and I can not imagine the depth of her decision. I was able to celebrate Mother’s Day not by anything I did, but because of her selfless decision. I get to wake up to sweet baby smiles and listen to endless giggles because of her. My greatest happiness came from what could very well could be her greatest sadness.

I truly believe adoption can be beautiful but it can be very messy and emotional as well. Adoption is more complex than most people realize. I thank God every day that I get to be Samuel’s mother, and I pray every night that his birth mother has found peace.

And to my friends who are just praying that they get to celebrate next Mother’s Day with their own miracles- keep believing. I’ll keep praying with you.

 

Until next time……

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A Speech & The ER

A few weeks ago during National Infertility Awareness Week, I was invited to speak to current and past members of Sarah’s Laughter Christian Support for Infertility and Child Loss group at the annual brunch. I was so honored to be asked! But in an unexpected turn of events I ended up having to skip the brunch and take my Husband to the emergency room where he ended up having an emergency appendectomy. Thankfully, he recovered well and is back at 100%! Since I wasn’t able to attend the brunch I wanted to share the speech I wrote with you all:

 

I am so honored to have been asked to speak you all today. Because it’s without a doubt that I know I’m standing in a room with the strongest women in the world. Today is about celebrating you and your amazing strength.

Most of you all know that after a 3-year battle with infertility, my Husband and I adopted our sweet son this past January. Samuel has been the answer to countless tears and prayers. Like you, our journey was long and hard with 3 failed IUI’s, 3 failed IVF transfers, and a failed adoption after parenting a baby boy in our home for 5 days. The past few years almost broke us emotionally, financially, and spiritually. The failed adoption has been, by far, the worst devastating pain I have ever been through.

When I think back on our journey I am reminded of two different quotes. The first is a quote from the Pastor of our church in Nashville we attended. It is a quote that has resonated with me before our infertility journey even began. “God will take the worst moment of your life and transform it into the first line of your testimony.” I’m not sure I’ve ever heard something more true than that.

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The second quote I am reminded of is one that says, “She looked back and marveled how far she had come. She didn’t wonder how she made it: she already knew the answer. Only with God’s help had she powered through. For without His strength she could do nothing”.

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Up until the start of my infertility journey, I never really considered myself a strong person. I certainly never felt strong when getting another failed result from our treatments. Through our journey I’ve been on my knees crying out to God more times than I can count. I’ve laid in bed unable to sleep for nights on end, and I’ve begged God to not let me wake up the next morning, because I couldn’t bear another day of heartache. But it was in those moments that God placed specific people in my life to be my strength. Sometimes it was a text from a wise woman saying “Your story isn’t over yet, Lauren. Keep praising God through the pain.” And other times it was a friend, dropping brownies off at my door step, intentionally not knocking on the door because she knew my pain was too much to talk about at that moment. God’s faithfulness is the only reason why I am able to speak to you all today. He never gave up on me even when I was so ready to give up on my dream.

God has used all of my pain, all of my tears, all of my doubts, and all of my sadness and transformed my broken story of infertility to a beautiful story of His grace and redemption. Samuel is the reason for all of the many “No’s” we received, he was always meant to be our “yes”. Like the quote from Pastor Mike said, God took the worst moments of my life and made it into my testimony. And He will use yours too. So today I want to encourage you all to keep going, keep pushing through the pain. And keep praising God through the pain. Whether you’re struggling with infertility or something else. Your story isn’t over yet either. You are strong. But when you feel like you can’t be strong anymore, let God be strong for you. He has placed Sarah’s Laughter and all your infertility sisters in your life for a reason.

Since the brunch, I have been asked to speak during a break out session or two at the infertility workshop in September. You can find more info about that by following the Sarah’s Laughter Facebook page or by visiting http://www.sarahs-laughter.com .

 

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He Heard.

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week so I figured it was a great time to update the blog. I can’t believe it has been 3 months since I’ve posted here! Just in case you didn’t know, 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility. We were one of them.

Our friends and family already know (and have known for a while lol), but for everyone else out there, we have a wonderful announcement! We found our forever baby!

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This past January we adopted the sweet little boy we have been hoping and praying for, for 3 years. We wanted our baby to have a strong meaningful name so we named him Samuel, which means, “God has heard”. Samuel joined our family at 1 week old. He has been the perfect addition to our family and we have never been happier. But you know that saying that God laughs at our plans? It’s totally true. John and I had a horrible end to 2016 (but that’s a post for another day). So I was just really needing a fresh start for 2017. I ended up taking a new job, and our adoption call literally came on my second day of work! He was going to stay with an interim care nurse until TPR (termination of parental rights) so I knew it would be a few more days until we could get Sam.  But I was terrified to tell my brand new job that I was going to need to take parental leave. My new boss was so excited and happy for us though and bent over backwards to make it work. All of my new co workers were so excited and happy for us that it just warmed my heart so much!

John was actually out of town for work the day we were scheduled to pick Sam up. So in a very last minute turn of events, my mom flew down to ride with me to pick up our new precious bundle of joy! We left after work and he was a few hours away so it made for a very very late night.

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John was bummed he wasn’t here to pick Samuel up with me, but the next day we drove back to the airport where new daddy met his new son at the airport. It was actually pretty much perfect and I don’t think either of us stopped smiling for hours after.

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Looking back on our journey now everything makes more sense than it did in the moment. Samuel made all of our tears, negative tests, failed treatment cycles make sense. Every no we received along the way was because Sam was our “yes”. One of the things I would always tell God when praying, is that if He would answer our prayers for a baby, that I would promise to always give Him the glory. If it wasn’t for His strength in me, I never would have made it through our infertility journey. God heard our cries. And he hears yours too. If you are still struggling with infertility, miscarriages, or infant loss please visit http://www.sarahs-laughter.com . If you ever need someone to talk to my proverbial door is always open.

Earlier this week a patient and I were joking about a rule she made for 2017. She proudly exclaimed, “The only rule of 2017 is that you can never speak of 2016!” She was a victim of the August ’16 “1000 year flood” in Louisiana, and she still isn’t back in her house yet. Little did she know that she was talking to someone who has had a very disappointing year too. Our house was spared from devastating flood, but prayers for a baby once again weren’t answered.

2016 started out on a high as John and I just won a free IVF a couple of months before. It would be our 2nd full IVF but our 3rd IVF transfer. Most of our embryos from that cycle had major issues and would cease to grow. We had one fighter that we knew had normal chromosomes, and we were presented with the opportunity to adopt a donor embryo. Unfortunately, this cycle would go on to fail despite our best efforts. It’s pretty devastating when a situation that seems so perfectly written by God, ends in the opposing way.

Late summer we decided to put our efforts for a biological child to rest. Sometimes, love makes a family, not genetics. Excited about our new path we set out to do the mounds of paperwork, visits with a social worker, and research that adoption requires. And by the time November rolled around we were active and financially (almost) ready to adopt. Currently, we are still waiting for our forever babies.

The year ended with the biggest heart ache that we’ve ever experienced. My heart may never be the same, as a piece of it is gone forever. I know I’m not finished processing all of the emotions,  so that’s a post for a different time.

But I guess what I’m here to say is that as much as I would love to never speak of 2016 again, it’s part of our story, part of the journey.  For the third year in a row, I’m going into a new year with hope that it’s our year for our baby. It may seem crazy that after all our heartache and tears that I still am choosing to believe, but I am. For my hope is not in Fertility Doctors, not in adoption coordinators, not in expectant birth mothers. But my hope is in God. I still believe that He is able to do immeasurably  more than I could ever ask or imagine as explained in Ephesians 3:20.  And I still believe that through all my tears, heartache, and pain, that He is going to make beauty with the ashes just like Isaiah 61:3.

I am thankful that throughout the many disappointments I am blessed with family and friends who remind me that my story isn’t over yet. I am thankful that when God seems so silent and distant I am reminded that He is still there and that He is holding every tear I cry in the palm of His hand. Through it all He is the same God that He was yesterday, is today, and will be tomorrow.

So when 2017 begins tomorrow, I choosing to still believe for Baby Best (or Babies Best!). And whoever you are reading this where ever you are, if you need someone to believe for your situation, whatever it may be, I would be honored to do so. It was in my darkest days that a friend whispered “if you can’t believe this for yourself right now, than I am believing it for you”. And I would love to pay that forward.

Happy New Year to you all!

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It’s World Adoption Day and…

November is National Adoption Month and specifically, today, is World Adoption Day! Yay! Do you want to know why this special day has its own blog post (especially since it has been a minute since I’ve posted) ?!? Well, drum roll please……

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The Best’s are ADOPTING!

We have both always had a heart for adoption. We just always assumed it would come later on in our lives. But we are overjoyed to be embarking on this path now! That’s why I’ve been so quiet on the blog lately. In late July we decided it was time to switch gears in our journey. Since then we’ve been chipping away at all the paperwork, clearances, and the home study. We finally finished everything a few weeks ago and now we basically  have a license to be parents! Haha!

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We have picked an agency and are currently waiting to be matched with a Birth Mother. Today, on World Adoption Day, we have officially been waiting for two weeks. There isn’t a real timeline on how short or long we may have to wait. But the average wait for our agency is anywhere between 3-12 months. Yes, I know that’s a very vague average. But strangely enough, I feel very content. It’s almost a strange feeling because for so long I’ve constantly been trying to plan one move after the other. But for the last two weeks I’ve been at peace, and the good Lord gets all the glory for that!

Our agency is a national agency. Meaning we could be placed with a baby from anywhere in the US. It’s really an exciting time for us just imagining how everything will play out. We are prepared to wait as long as we have to, but knowing that phone call could literally come at any moment just makes me smile.

To bring awareness to World Adoption Day, there is a campaign to draw a smiley face on the palm of your hand. Humphrey is always thrilled (not) to take pictures, so he wanted to support the cause. One of my sweet friends, Nikita, actually sent me a picture of her smiley face this morning! I didn’t even tell her about the awareness campaign, she found out about it herself!

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We would appreciate your continued prayers for us. There are a lot of unknowns and a lot of different emotions during adoption for everyone involved. We just pray that God uses us and our story how He sees fit! Until next time y’all….

 

 

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Find your tribe, love them hard.

If you don’t already know the new trendy word for your group of friends or family is “tribe”. Last week, I was fortunate enough to be lounging around on the beach and listening to the wonderful ocean waves. I started thinking of how incredibly blessed John and I are with all of the support we have on this journey. So why not blog about it?!

 

Family Tribe

I just love my family so much y’all. From close, to extended ,to the In Laws, I couldn’t ask for anything more. See that guy right there in the middle of the beach picture? That’s my Dad. He’s not an emotional man. But when I get a text message saying he wished he had a crystal ball or a magic wand so he could fix our situation, I know he’s hurting for his baby girl. He’s a tough man, but he’s really a big teddy bear on the inside! My sweet Momma is probably our #1 fan. Constantly supporting and praying for us. Always asking what she can do for us. Even though we are hundreds of miles apart, she’s really right by my side. My sister and her little family are always there for support through prayers, love, and a lot of FaceTime fun! Four years ago in her wedding toast I referred to my sis as the “Mother Teresa of Bowling Green” and that is still true today. That adorable baby in the picture? That’s the sweetest foster baby on Earth. She has opened my eyes to a whole new world that needs help and a lot of love.  Baby bro (by baby I mean he’s 25), he couldn’t make the beach trip, but he’s my comedic relief. His text messages and snap chats are always the highlight of my day. Although we aren’t in the same chapter of our lives, he knows his sister hurts sometimes, and he’s always there.

My In Laws. You know those times where you just need to be somewhere, where you can laugh? You need to visit this house. I understand now where my Husband gets his humor from. This family is truly great and are constantly laughing. I’m so glad John has them to open up to and to be completely honest with. We all need a place like that. I’ve shared some really meaningful heart to hearts with my Mother in Law, and they really meant a lot to me. Also, I just realized we need to take more pictures! 😀 John will be thrilled!

A special shout out to Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. You guys are the best! We love you so,so, much! I’m starting to get overwhelmed by how great our family is.

My TTC Tribe

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My Sarah’s Laughter Support Group girls. We like to joke around and say we’re a part of an “involuntary sorority”, but I know God has placed each one of them in my life. They have been my sanity, and shoulder to lean on, my confidants, my tissue givers, and so much more. I have learned so much from these ladies and have found a strength I never knew I had through them. They are truly inspiring. I thank God every day for Sarah’s Laughter.

* Beth and a few other of the girls aren’t pictured, sometimes it’s hard to get us all together!

Friend Tribe

So if I uploaded pictures of all my sweet friends this post would go on and on forever. But I’m lucky to have friends that date back to middle/high school, college, church, work, and even Moms of my friends(!) that have really been there for me. I have saved all of the cards you all have sent! I appreciate every single message more than you will ever know. I have been so humbled to see how you all support us no matter what.

 

Even though we may not be exactly where we would like to be yet, I don’t think you can say “Thank you” enough. So, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts, we love you all!

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Hoping Through The Hurt

 

I’m not really for sure how to start this blog entry off. One of my last posts was about our retrieval part of the free IVF that we won at the Baby Steps 5k 2015.  After all was said and done we ended up with 5 embryos. Due to the recommendation of our RE we ran some extra tests. Not only did that test show that only 1 out of our 5 embryos were viable, it also showed that we actually have 2 infertility problems instead of just one. In addition to our original problem, we now know that I don’t have good egg quality, which one of the reasons why we keep having failed transfers. Unfortunately, John and I don’t make strong embryos.

We knew our only viable embryo did not receive a good “grade” under the microscope. To make a long story short we ended up adopting a donor embryo to transfer with ours. Our hearts were happy and we were full of positive expectations. This was our cycle, it was finally our turn to become pregnant and have a baby. We excitedly showed up to our clinic on transfer day, only to be told our adopted embryo didn’t make it through the thaw process. But we still had our original embryo. And we knew that God is bigger than lab grades and our embryo still had a shot.

It failed. Again.

These past 2 weeks have been filled with indescribable hurt and anger. It’s a pain that is in my innermost being, an ache that is deep within my soul. For a few days, it’s the only time in my life I haven’t been able to pray. I would just lay on my bed searching for something to say to God, but unable to say anything at all. Everything was falling so perfectly into place that we didn’t really think there was anyway that it wouldn’t work. We were picked out of 2,000+ tickets to win a free IVF, something only God could have orchestrated. Then why would He let it fail? Why is He allowing us to go through disappointment after disappointment when what we want is so pure, a baby to call our own?

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I don’t have the answers. But I know God is still good. At my last support group meeting at Sarah’s Laughter, our speakers recommended an amazing book.  Holding On To Hope by Nancy Guthrie. I’ve already finished reading it and it’s slowly helping me deal with all my hurt. I hurt for myself, I hurt for my Husband, I hurt for my family and my in-laws. I know how bad they want to fix this situation for us, I know how much they have prayed and pleaded to God on our behalf. I hurt because we don’t have good news to give them. At times there is so much hurt in my heart I think it may explode. But after reading and digesting this book  I’m starting to look at things differently. Not to give anything away to those who haven’t read it yet, but it’s about the author’s personal story and also about Job from The Bible. Job suffered and suffered but he praised God anyway.  We will continue to worship and praise God through this storm, however long it may last. This book has helped me see I needed to start praying about what He is trying to teach us through this season. I don’t believe God allows us to suffer with no purpose in the pain. He is trying to teach us something, mold us somehow, guide us to a certain purpose. I’m slowly starting to see why.

It was easy in my grief to think that us winning such a wonderful gift was a waste. I felt like I let Baby Steps down, I immediately wished someone else would have won who it would have worked for. Before we won, we had a social worker scheduled to meet with us about beginning the adoption process, so after, it was easy to be angry and tell God I could have had a baby by now if we hadn’t won.

But it wasn’t a waste. If we didn’t win we never would have done the extra testing, so we wouldn’t have found out about my egg quality. Since we now know we have hit the infertility jackpot, it’s easier to put the desire for a biological child to rest (but I still believe in miracles from God). I think we would have always wondered if we had tried one more time if it would have worked. If we did not win we wouldn’t have really began to look into embryo adoption, since our eyes were set on domestic infant adoption. Plus, there aren’t too many days in our lives where you can stop and think about the most perfect and extraordinary day you have ever had. November 21, 2015 will forever reign as one of those days for me. A day full of joy and bliss because of the Baby Steps. It was a day where we felt so loved and supported by family and friends near and far. As Beth likes to say, it is always a total Ephesians 3:20 day. It’s a day no one can take away from us, no matter if it worked out like we thought it should or not.

We still hurt. But we are choosing to believe that there will be good that comes of this. We are still hoping for a Best. I fully believe that God placed the desire of children in our hearts, so somehow, some way, He will provide. For now we wait.

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I’m on a Podcast!

imageA few weeks ago I went over to the Sarah’s Laughter Infertility Support group office. Beth and her Husband, Jason, were starting a brand new podcast for Sarah’s Laughter. At one of our meetings Beth asked for volunteers to share their stories, and it was my turn to record! I wasn’t really nervous. Beth is so easy to talk to and I assumed Jason would be as well, and he was! They had emailed me some points they wanted to talk about so I could get my thoughts together. It was a really enjoyable experience and it’s so neat that women everywhere will be able to access it. I’ve been attending the support group meetings for almost a year now. It’s such an exciting time because there is so much growth happening. Since I’ve joined I have gotten to watch Sarah’s Laughter expand from Beth’s house to an office building, start an online support group for women who aren’t local, and start the podcast. God is definitely moving within the ministry and I’m so happy to be apart of it.

 

To listen to our podcast and the others click here.

If you would like to follow my “behind the scenes” IVF journey at @hopingforbabybest on Instagram!

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IVF Take Two

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As many of you know last November my Husband and I won a free IVF courtesy of the Baby Steps 5K and Dr. Dunaway. We recently hopped back on the IVF train and started our free cycle. (To read about our original IVF cycle click here).

This cycle is taking place in two parts per the recommendations of our RE. The first part,   stimming (or stimulation) & retrieval, finished up this past Friday. The 2nd part will be a frozen transfer to take place sometime in May.

In Feburary I began birth control pills, and started giving myself Lupron injections on my birthday. What a gift!  After about a week in the beginning of March, I added two new injections to the line up, Follistim and Menopur. The injections make your body produce more eggs than it normally would.  During my first IVF I was able to mix two stim injections together and only give myself one shot until close to the end when I added other. This cycle it was three nightly injections. After a couple nights of injections I starting going to monitoring appointments every other day, then every day when I was approaching retrieval. Between 11 nights of 3 injections and blood draws at every monitoring appointment, I was starting to feel like a pin cushion. I was so relieved when I finally got the go ahead to take my trigger shot (a shot that makes you ovulate) and get my retrieval date.

Last Friday John, my mom, and I showed up at my RE’s office bright and early at 7 am. We were immediately taken back so I could change into the fashionable surgery garb and get an IV placed.

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Cute, right?! Since I have tiny baby veins in my hands the Anesthesiologist had trouble placing my IV (just like my last retrieval)! He accidentally busted the vein on the top of my hand, so he had to place the IV on the inside of my wrist. But he was really nice and funny so that made up for it. During the IV placement my super brave Husband was hiding behind a piece of paper basically shaking because there was a needle in the room. I couldn’t help but laugh at him while he was trying to shout encouraging words to me from behind the paper. The anesthesiologist politely recommended that when it comes time for us to have a baby and get an epidural, John should probably leave the room! It would be safer for everyone! Ha!

The retrieval went on without a hitch. Besides the fact that my right ovary decided to move behind my uterus, so they had to go through my uterus to get to it. Did y’all know that ovaries could move around? Me either. This caused a little more discomfort than last time but it wasn’t too bad. After they retrieved and counted my eggs, Dr. Dunaway came in to let me know we got 14 eggs.

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Dr. Dunaway called me personally the next day to let me know out of our 14 eggs, 13 were mature, and 9 fertilized. I don’t think a Dr. has actually ever called me personally before. It was really nice. We received the final frozen embryo report  yesterday. We have 5 frozen embryos. Due to our past failed transfers it was recommended that we run a few extra tests, so we should get those results back soon.

Now we wait. And wait. And wait. My body will get a chance to rest until we gear back up for a FET sometime in May. We want to thank all of you who have reached out to us. Please continue to help us pray that we will be blessed with Baby Best soon.

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Stack Of Stones

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This past group meeting at Sarah’s Laughter has been one of the my favorites! The devotional and activity that Beth prepared for us really spoke to me.  It was based on the 3rd and 4th chapters in the book of Joshua.

Moses had passed away and Joshua became the people of Israel’s new leader. Joshua and the Israelites were on a journey through out the land when they came upon the Jordan River. Joshua knew he needed to get his people across but he didn’t know how. Not only were there women and children following him, but the Jordan River was in it’s flood season. Meaning higher and faster waters. Joshua may have felt that God was leading him into uncharted waters, but God already had a plan.

“And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘when you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river'” Joshua 3:6-7

So the priests did as Joshua told them. They took the ark of the covenant which they were carrying and went to stand in the Jordan River. The miracle? The River stopped flowing, dead in it’s tracks. The priests and all the Israelites passed through the River basin on dry land.

God has also commanded Joshua to pick 12 men to find a stone from the middle of the River. Joshua set up the stones as a reminder of the miracle God performed. When descendants would see the stones, the stones served as a perfect reminder to tell of God’s miracles and faithfulness to His people.

He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. Joshua 4:21-23

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So naturally, what did we do? We built our own stack of stones. None of us have been blessed with the miracle of children yet, but all of us have seen tiny miracles in our journey so far. As we were building our stacks of stones Beth encouraged us to give each stone a meaning.

I ended up with 9 stones in my stack. Each one represents something we’ve encountered along our infertility journey.

The base of my stack has 4 stones, one for each embryo John and I were blessed with during our first cycle. These embryos didn’t develop into pregnancies, but they will live forever in my heart. They were a little piece of me and a little piece of my Husband. The closest we have been to parenthood.

I have a stone representing my relationship with God. These past two years have been incredibly hard. But my relationship with God has grown and has been refined tremendously.

There is a stone for Sarah’s Laughter. This support group has helped kept me sane. It’s a place I can be totally gut wrenching honest with people with the same struggles and not be judged at all.

There is a stone for winning a free IVF during the Baby Steps 5k. A true miracle, something only God could orchestrate himself. Because of this win, we have renewed hope for Baby Best.

One stone is for the support of family and friends. You all have helped carry  John and I through our roughest days. For you, we are truly thankful. All the cards, messages, and happy mail, has kept our spirits high.

I put a stone in for the emotional pain and struggles we have been through. I do have hope I will be a mom soon. But when I am, I never want to forget this journey. It is because of the pain and heartache we have had to bear, that I have found so much empathy for others.

The last stone on the top of my stack is for our future children. One day they will look at these stones glued together and wonder what it’s for. I will be able to tell them how they are miracles, how much we longed for them, and how God was faithful through it all.

The stacks of stones can be used in so many other instances other than infertility. I encourage you to make one too for whatever miracles God has done in your own life! It is such an amazing reminder to look back and remember what God has done.

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