Thursday, July 18, 2013

"It's a Calling"

July 18th, 2013

"It's A Calling"~

It's been just a little over nine months that Chris and I have been on the "official wait list" at our adoption agency. Seems longer to me but then again my perspective of waiting for Baby Baker is of course skewed. I'm sitting here rubbing my eyes trying to come up with something insightful or witty to say but I don't have it.

What I do have is a big, glaring sign in my face.

This summer has been filled with some brief, and much needed vacation time with friends and family, lot's of work, and some really wonderful time with my husband. It's great to have him "home for the summer" since he teaches school, and I love to watch him busy himself with little projects around the house.

The latest project has been to slowly start putting together what will be the nursery. I honestly don't know why we both all of sudden felt comfortable with this, but we have. It's little things so far. Re-painting a piece of furniture that will be Baby Baker's changing table, deciding on colors for the curtains, hanging a frame with a print we bought for Baby Baker almost a year ago in it's rightful place.

It feels good.

So what's this big glaring sign I was referring to earlier? Apart from the constant reminder that my plans are not always HIS (it seems this is one I struggle with a lot and always need to be reminded of, some reminders less painful than others....), it's that our path to Baby Baker wasn't an accident or an unfortunate experience, it's a calling.

I've heard people refer to "A Calling" when dealing with religious decisions mainly and sometimes professional ones, but I've realized throughout all of this that it's all happening for a reason.

"In God's schedule of events of your life, infertility is not some in-between phase you just have to get through before you can get on with your "real life". It's a calling. If you have not been able to conceive,  then at this point in your life, God has called you to be infertile. I'm not saying the calling is permanent. Neither am I saying that you are required to enjoy it. But I am saying that God knows what He's doing, and if He isn't allowing you to become pregnant right now, it is because He has some other purpose to fulfill". - Lois Flowers- Infertility:Finding God's Peace in the Journey

So do I really believe this or am I just trying to make myself feel better?

I really believe this. And not only that, I find comfort in it. I don't know why when we got pregnant that we lost him or her to a freak 1% chance of ectopic pregnancy and the loss of my right tube, but I can assure you He does. I don't know why we've been waiting over 9 months for Baby Baker but He does. 

It sounds strange but I can't wait to look back on my life years from now and go, "Ah Ha! So that's why we went through all of that." Do I wish that "Ah Ha" moment was sooner rather than later, sure, but then again, my plans are rarely His plans :)

Updates: We were able to raise over $800 from our Baby Baker Yard sale back in May. I was blown away with all the thoughtful donations from friends, family, and even strangers. Our whole neighborhood came out to support, and Chris and I continue to feel so blessed. 

 Our wonderful adoption agency has placed four precious babies since May, and are working tirelessly to create more "Forever Families". That sweet Waiting Couple Chris and I met with back in May for our support group was one of those very lucky couples who got that call. They are now a "Forever Family" with a beautiful little girl and we couldn't be happier for them. 

We continue to move up the waiting list with each baby placed, and want to thank everyone for your constant prayers and support. Off to go for a run. 

Much Love,

Amanda & Chris

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hope....Friend or Foe? ~May 6th, 2013

Hope when you are in the beginning stages of infertility and trying to have a child is incredibly powerful and uplifting, but the longer your struggle continues, it quickly morphs into something else.

"Hope deferred makes a heart sick"~Proverbs 13:12 

It becomes a danger, something sinister lurking in the back of your heart that you feel you must throw a wall up against. Everyone around you tells you to be hopeful, to stay positive, and you try with all your might to do just that. But what happens if your hopes are dashed or deferred? 

I'm struggling a bit with this post because right now it sounds so negative, but I can assure you it is anything but. In fact, I've never felt more hopeful.

What happens when you allow your self to lose hope? Despair right? Despair and depression. I recently read a passage from a book a good friend of mine sent me "Infertility: Finding God's Peace in the Journey" regarding despair:

"Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress
My sight is blurred because of my tears.
My body and soul are withering away.
I am dying from grief;
my years are shortened by sadness.
Misery has drained away my strength;
I am wasting from within.
I am scorned by all my enemies 
and even despised by my neighbors-
even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street, 
they turn the other way.
I have been ignored as if I were dead,
as if I were a broken pot"-
 Psalm 31:9-12

Amazingly powerful right? You can actually see this person destroyed by despair and void of any hope whatsoever in this passage. Have you been this person too? 

I have to say that I find such a strange sense of hope when reading this because I know that I have been there and managed to not let "Misery drain away my strength..."

Chris and I began a support group for the other Waiting Couples for adoption last week. Our first meeting was this past Monday evening and we had the honor of sitting and talking with another couple for over three hours. They've been waiting for over a year and a half and guess what, they are still SO hopeful. So hopeful in fact that they finally broke down and purchased a stroller a few weeks ago.

I know that seems minor and practical to those who haven't experienced infertility or adoption but let me assure's a BIG deal. It goes back to the concept of guarding your heart I suppose. Chris and I have a little place in our guest bedroom closet with a box tucked away of "Baby Baker" things. A baby blanket given to us when we announced our pregnancy, some precious little blocks with animals on them from my sister, a book about some adorable bears adopting from one of my closest friends and more. 

Even though we've only had one meeting so far for our support group, I have never been so hopeful that it will continue to grow and that we will all glean something from one another. 

"...I am scorned by all my enemies and even despised by my neighbors-"

Chris and I are having a fundraising yard sale this weekend for our Baby Baker adoption fund. I put up a pink flyer last week asking our neighborhood for their support. Donations of household items or dropping by the day of the sale to help out. The cynical part of myself that does tend to creep in whispered "hey, nothing may come out of this but post and wait and see". 

Donated items Chris and I received from neighbors we had never even met.

We came home Saturday to a porch full of donated items from neighbors we had never even met. Just as I was pulling everything into the guest bedroom and wiping away the happy tears our doorbell rang. It was another neighbor who had read our blog and desperately wanted to help. She proceeded to unload her car and come back 3 different times that night with things for our yard sale. 

I have never met this wonderful woman before, but she had seen me running in the rain one day and said "that's dedication" and began walking herself. She passed the area where I posted the flyer the other day and went home and pulled up our blog. She read the entire thing and immediately called up our other neighbors who have adopted themselves and told them our story. To say we were touched is an understatement. 

" My years are shortened by sadness.....I have been ignored as if I were dead, as if I were a broken pot."

Our years have NOT been shortened by sadness although I can see how that could quickly happen if you were allow it to. I still have "blue days" every now and again, as my sweet husband calls it, but overwhelmingly they are not sad at all. We are not ignored, and those broken parts of ourselves are mending. 

Chris with our newest nephew Hudson this weekend

I actually must run now, getting ready to go pick up more donated items from friends!! Will keep you all updated on how the fundraiser goes. Please pray for good weather and thank you so much for your continued support. 


Amanda & Chris

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We're Still Here

We're Still Here~ April 16th, 2013

Hi everyone. Yes, it's been a while since I last posted. I had a friend ask me last week if I had just completely stopped writing about our path to Baby Baker and I quickly responded "No". She quirked her eye brow at me and said "well, then perhaps you should write something...ya know, since you haven't quit."

So here I am, not quitting, struggling a bit with exactly what to say because not much has changed since I posted last back in November. Ok I shouldn't say not much has changed, but not much in regards to the updates or status of our adoption process. 

I have come to realize that they call it a "process" because that is exactly what it is. Boy is it ever.  As you all know we were placed officially on the wait list with our agency at the first part of November of last year. Every time I see my husband get a sad far away look on his face when we pass couples with babies or some cute onesie in Target he so desperately wants to put on a little one I say out loud, "I love you, it's ok, it's only been 6 months. Think of it this way, the time for waiting can only get shorter from here."

I say it for both of us to hear because just because I am the one trying to reassure and calm him, I need to hear it and believe it as well. So, 6 months of waiting with a few updates here and there from our agency trying to reassure us as well that things are "happening", but that we have to remain patient. 

I do want to say thank you to those of you who have kept us in your thoughts and prayers. Despite not knowing exactly what to say, I really do appreciate the "So any new news?!" questions. Most of the times I just sigh, shake my head, and say "No, still waiting." 

I've been blessed to be busy with work, still running (yes I have actually kept it up and do enjoy it most days), cooking a ton in my newly painted kitchen thanks to my darling husband, and doing the things that I in general love. 

Chris and I are great. Whenever my sweet mother expresses worry or concern over me and our struggle to have a family of our own I always tell her "Hey, Chris and I are great, I love my job, I have my health, I have wonderful friends and an amazing family. I can't let the one thing I don't have over shadow all that I do."

I can actually hear her smile bitter sweetly over the phone when I say this, almost like a mantra, but I think she believes me. I promise to post at least once a month here because I really do need this. I was recently asked by the director of our adoption agency to start a support group for the other Waiting Couples at the agency.

So far there are about 10 couples interested and I really am honored to be involved. Hopefully we will set the date for our first official meeting for the end of this month. (Will keep you updated).

Until then, Chris and I wanted to thank you and let you all know that we are still here :)

                                        "We're Still Here"- Sleeping at Last

All of a sudden, you change my mind
Pull back the curtains, a little at a time
You were on a frequency, the perfect opposite of me
Though I never needed any proof to trust the heart that beats inside of you

Only one thing really matters
We're still here, we're still here
Against all odds, we're still here
We're still here

There is comedy within your eyes, history only you and I can write
There is pigment in your memory, the origins of our family tree
Though I never needed any proof to know the heart that beats inside of you

Only one thing really matters
We're still here, we're still here
Through the static, through the ashes we will brave
Through the perils, endless narrows, ....still here
We're still here, we're still here
We're still here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The gift of time?

November 11th, 2012

I'm not even going to address the fact that it's been months since I've blogged, but wait, I guess I just did didn't I? Thank you for your prayers and sweet "how are things going?" check in's. We greatly appreciate it!

I wasn't really sure what to say on here because we were kind of in adoption process limbo for months. I have a few drafts of posts I made back in September and October that I never posted because well, I was kind of down and pretty sure no one would want to read all of that.

Looking back over it I should have posted it because this blog really is a wonderful therapeutic release for me and I clearly needed an outlet. From here on out, I promise not to censor myself in fear of offending someone. It's a blog about infertility, adoption, but most of all hope, and that shouldn't offend anyone.

Our Home Study with our social worker was officially completed the first week of November. I requested a hard copy and received it just a few days ago.

When we first started this process back in July we were told the home study could take about 3 months which turned out to be accurate. All of the paper work, meetings, doctor appointments etc take that long to compile and then to approve. So what does that mean it's officially completed?

That means the "waiting clock" has officially started. I know. I was confused at first and thought it started when we began all of this back at the end of July but NOW it has begun. We were told it could be anywhere from a year, year in a half to two years.

My first instinct when hearing this was to be depressed. 2 Years? 2 more years of waiting for us? More holidays without our Baby Baker, more watching friend after friend continue to grow their families and us still without? Sounds horribly selfish right?

So, waiting it is. I can do that because I've gained some recent perspective.

I have been blessed with an amazing friend throughout this process who herself has been a patient in those same waiting rooms. She shall remain anonymous at this time because her story is not mine to tell.

 This past January during my first IVF cycle I looked across that waiting room and caught eyes with a vaguely familiar face that smiled in return. Old friends reconnecting over heart break and hope for something better.

She's been a comfort and resource during all of this because she has also successfully adopted two beautiful, healthy children.  Let me just say that I LOVE this girl. I have never known someone with such positive, clear perspective. She just gets it. She's patient, and kind, not only listening to my craziness but lets you into the darkest corners of her heart and shares her experiences. She's vulnerable and strong all at the same time.

When I expressed to her my worry and over all concern about the "what if's" and the possible wait time to be chosen her response was,

 "Amanda, your baby will come to you when it's your baby. Otherwise, it's not meant to be yours. Your child is out there...we just have to continue to be patient. Try to think of the time you're waiting as a gift. You're being given the gift of time to fundraise and prepare for your child. Don't wish that away."

See? Amazing perspective. I can't even begin to tell you everything this darling woman has been through to have children, but the fact that she can still think this way after everything blows me away.

Frankly, patience is NOT my virtue and it's something I struggle with daily. Sitting in traffic, waiting in line at the grocery store, I have to consistently mentally remind myself to chill out and wait. To say that waiting for our Baby Baker will be a struggle is an understatement. 

But the silver lining to all of this waiting is what a reward! What an amazing outcome at the end of everything. I don't for one moment regret or second guess anything Chris and I have gone through on our journey to Baby Baker. Everything was done in love and most importantly hope. Hope for the child we have yet to meet and hold in our arms because we know they are out there. 

So what's next? 

Chris and I will begin applying for adoption grants. Yes, these do exist! If anyone reading this is adopting please be sure to investigate grant options because it could mean money just sitting there waiting for you to apply for. 

Lots of great fundraising ideas for adoption and lists of current grants

The available grants vary but they are worth applying for. You may get 1, you may get 5, you may get zero but you will never know if you don't try. It's a lot of paper work but hey, we're used to that by now :) The guidelines, restrictions and amounts available are also specific to each grant so be sure to look over all they require carefully. Most of them do require a completed Home Study and that is why we are just now beginning this process. 

We are also thinking of doing some fundraising things to help bring our Baby Baker home so if you have any ideas or would like to help please let us know!

 I've been asked how expensive the adoption process is and here is the basic breakdown: 

Application fee                                            $400 non-refundable

Home Study with report                               $1600

Home Study Updates with report                  $1,000

Post Placement Visit with report                    $500 per visit (average of 3 visits)

Travel time per hour                                       $25

Mileage center per mile                                   .50

Copies and Mailing estimated at                     $100

Attorney Fee to finalize adoption in local probate court             $1500

The other charges that are not itemized basically come to a total of = $20,000 to $22,000 to adopt domestically

I also want to address the funny questions by some if "we are afraid we are going to get ripped off", "are you sure this agency is legit", and "are you actually paying the birth parent for their baby?"

All understandable questions that I honestly did giggle over and to answer those concerns:

 1) no we are not afraid we are going to get ripped off 2) this agency is legit and not in a back ally 3) No, the money goes to the agency, legal fees, social worker fees, and some towards the birth mothers' hospital stay. 

I also want to say thank you to those of you who still find their way to our little blog. Google searches, accidental, curiosity or concern.  Those people all over the world, and I mean that literally, who may be experiencing these same things. Thank you for taking the time to read and care. I believe in happy endings and am praying for you and your hopeful story as well.

Much love,

Amanda & Chris

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I will Wait

August 22, 2012~I will Wait

Chris and I have been busy getting back into the swing of things with work and allowing our summer to come to a close. It really was a perfect blend of relaxation and exhilaration. My favorite season is peeking around the corner and I swear I can taste it in the air. Fall is coming.

Yes it's still almost 90 degrees here and humid, the cicadas still sing in chorus, but I can feel the shift approaching. We officially have ALL of our adoption paperwork turned into the agency. It took awhile, especially the personal autobiographies, but it was worth all of the effort.

This agency has asked that we write a letter to the prospective Birth parents or Birth mother. We had some guidance but it was still very difficult. The prospective birth mother or birth parents will have many letters to read and chose from and that is ultimately how they will pick the adoptive parents. No large expansive files, no photo books or videos, just a simple letter.  Here is an excerpt of our letter:

Dear Birth mother,

I can’t imagine all of the different emotions you must be feeling right now or how difficult this decision must be for you. The fear, the anxiety over making the right choice, all of the questions and concerns swirling around in your head must be overwhelming. We want to assure you that no matter what you decide, it will be the right choice for you and we want to thank you for being strong enough to make it.

We thank you for your personal sacrifice and for helping making our dreams of a family a reality. Our heart break over our struggles to have a child will not be in vain and we will know without a shadow of a doubt that this was the path we were always meant to be on….because it brought us the child we were always meant to have.

Thank you and much love~

Amanda and Chris

We were also asked to list reasons why we were pursing adoption or "bulleted points" that would give the birth mother or birth parents a glimpse into the type of people we are. Here are a few of our points:

·      I can’t wait to make forts with you out of blankets and stacked books
·      I want to bake Christmas cookies with you and decorate gingerbread men with tons of colored icing.
·      Have you in the kitchen with Susu as she makes her famous Thanksgiving Turkey and watch the Macy’s Day parade together as we sip hot chocolate.
·      Chris can’t wait to be Santa and eat the cookies you left for him on the fire place.
·      I promise to sing you to sleep every night  “You are my Sunshine”
We can’t wait to put you in the cutest pj’s and wake up on a Saturday morning to pancakes and music
·      Going to our neighborhood park and sliding down slides together. Pushing you on a swing
·      Wandering down the toy aisle and letting you pick out your favorite
·      Reading stories to you every night before we tuck you in
·      Taking walks with you around our neighborhood in your stroller
·      Letting you pick out your favorite cookie at the bakery counter in the grocery store
·      Using our imaginations to become astronauts, pirates, princesses or our favorite animals.
·      I can’t wait to cheer you on whether it’s a sporting event, a concert, an art show, a gold star you received on your schoolwork, or just being the amazing person that I already know you will be. 
·      Hearing your laugh for the first time and knowing that it will be the most beautiful sound I will ever hear.
·      Teaching you how to tie your shoes.
·      Let’s catch fire flies and get ice cream from our neighborhood ice cream truck (he drives down our street every single day at 3:30 in the afternoon)
·      I promise to always be patient with you. To be your biggest supporter and fan, to always encourage you to be you no matter what. 
·      To kiss your “Boo-boo’s” away
·      Teaching you to say “please” and “thank you” and to always apologize when you are sorry.
·      To watch my husband Chris sing and dance with you barefoot in our kitchen to his favorite songs.
·      Tucking you in, turning on your night light, and making sure there aren’t any monsters in your closet.
·      Filling Easter eggs with all sorts of goodies and watching you find them
·      Picking out a family pet together
·      I can’t wait to introduce you to your cousins and I just know you all will be the best of friends.
·      Teaching you how to ride a bike. Putting your little helmet on your head and buying the coolest streamers for your bike handles.
·      Teaching you how to write your name in the air with a sparkler on the 4th of July.
·      Letting your grandparents “Susu”, “Papa”, “Grammy” and “Pop” all spoil you.
·      Explaining to you that you can’t always get your way and that there are consequences to our actions.
·      Giving you a “bubble beard” in the bath tub
·      Starting a hope chest for our child and teaching them all about their birth parents. 

I realize reading some of these may seem simple and obvious, but we've never had those opportunities. Never had a chance to do those things with our child as a family. Those little everyday things that people take for granted, we've never had the chance to. 

We are setting the date for our first at home visit from our social worker Rebecca for the second part of September. She's been lovely to work with thus far and incredibly supportive. We are also registered for our first "Parenting" classes and CPR training next week at St. Vincent's hospital and look forwarding to completing all of our requirements. 

I took the title to this post from one of my favorite songs, "I will Wait" by the band Mumford and Son's. I've referenced them before in posts and I am obsessed with their music. It's so uplifting and honestly heartbreaking at times but this new song, to be released on their new album out in September, is so very amazing. I can't express how much I love this song. 

"I will Wait" Lyrics

I came home, like a stone
And I fell heavy into your arms
Days of dust, which we've known
Will blow away with this new sun

And I'll Kneel down
Wait for now
I'll kneel down
Know my ground

And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you

So break my step, and relent
You forgave and I won't forget
Know what we've seen
And him with less
Now in some way, shake the excess

And I will wait I'll wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait I will wait for you

Now I'll be bold, as well as strong
Use my head alongside my heart
So tame my flesh and fix my eyes
A tethered mind free from the lies

And I'll Kneel down
Wait for now
I'll kneel down
Know my ground

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And Bow my head
Keep my heart slow

And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

Yes little Baby Baker, I will wait for you.

Much love,

Amanda & Chris

Monday, August 6, 2012

August 5, 2012~Peace that comes with a Decision~

This post took me a bit longer to write for various reasons but the main one being we had not made a decision yet as to which adoption agency we were going with. Well...........our decision was made last week and our paper work has officially been submitted!!!

Chris and I, after many LONG talks, meetings with agency members, and prayers have finally decided to go with domestic adoption at a local agency here in Birmingham. The group is Family Adoption Services in Homewood Alabama and we could not be at more peace about this decision.

Months ago when I began really looking into the adoption process I had always visualized doing International and going to China. As fate would have it, my "plans" again don't always go the way I think they should. In the previous post I talked about how my plans were not HIS plans and I think this was just another example of this.

Sign outside of our Adoption Agency office

When investigating the International Adoption option via China we ran into some very specific road blocks. I won't get into all of them here since they are quite personal (you are probably thinking well goodness she's shared just about everything else right? why not this?) but just know that it's not as black and white as you might think.  

It was very difficult to see that door close to us but Chris and I both know it happened in order to place us on the correct path to receive our Baby Baker. We met with several agencies and talked with friends who had gone through the adoption process themselves. It finally came down to where did we feel the most comfortable. 

I would like to say that each group we met with was lovely, empathetic, and professional but one stood out from the rest.

During our first meeting with Family Adoption Services the entire office came into the meeting to sit with us and discuss the possibility of us joining their prospective parents group. I honestly felt like this group cared and had our best interest at heart. 

Family Adoption Services. Precious little house in Homewood. 

I started to tear up and cry during the meeting when they asked me if I had any concerns and my main one selfishly being that I didn't want to wait years and years for our child. We have already waited almost 6 years, lost one along the way, and my husband and I desperately want to be parents. But all of that is obvious right?

The owner of the agency and her husband themselves could not have children. In fact, her doctor all those years ago told her "Go home and plant a garden...". I swear, sometimes people really do say the strangest things to people dealing with infertility. You would be amazed at what's been said to us. 

Susan (the owner) got up and handed me a tissue, grabbed my hand and told me "I am so sorry for your loss, your heart ache, and the pain you both have endured. I understand and am here to help. Your child will make it to your arms in His perfect time and I promise you it will not be years and years."

Chris and I left feeling very confident with this group but we still took the time to make sure we were making the right decision. I called them two weeks later and told them the news that we would be filling out the paper work and joining their prospective parents group. The sweet girl at the front desk actually squealed with happiness for us. 

So.....what next? Well, lots and lots of details. Lots of paper work, lots of meetings and the start of our Home Study with our social worker. What's a Home study? A Home Study is where the agency assigns you a social worker who interviews you on several different occasions at your home and requires you to meet certain expectations. Or for lack of better ways of putting it....delves into every aspect of your life possible. 

FBI background checks, finger printing (that was not fun by the way), blood work, doctor's appointments, HIV tests (yeah, you read that correctly), parenting classes, CPR certification, tax returns etc. 

Scary but exciting stuff. The Home Study typically takes about three months to complete and once that is complete the wait time for your child begins. Average wait time with this agency is a year to a year and a half but it all depends on how many mothers they have at that time and other various factors. Could be sooner....could be later. Hoping for the prior :)

I am also happy to tell you that I have still been running. On average about 4 times a week depending on my work schedule and the weather. Yes, it's still unbearably hot and humid here and I probably look like Phoebe from the episode of Friends when she jogs with Rachel and looks like a crazy person. Oh well. 

More to come soon....and I do mean soon :) 

Much Love,

Amanda & Chris

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Baby Race

July 18th~ The Baby Race

I would assume most of you are familiar with the HBO series from a few or so years ago, Sex and the City, but just in case not here's why it's been on my mind lately. One of the central characters in particular. Can you guess which one?

 No not Carrie although my crazy wild hair gets compared to hers quite a bit but Charlotte, her straight edged prim demure friend who very vividly went through the pains of infertility throughout the series.

I know it seems like the obvious choice but here's why it has been coming to me lately. I've taken up jogging, or walking/running these last 3 weeks. For those of you who don't know me, for me to actively decide to do anything physical much less jogging it would normally require a man with a hatchet chasing after me or someone trying to give me an injection (just ask Chris, he got quite good at cornering me when he had to).

So I've been jogging around my neighborhood and man did it suck to start with. It's hot, nasty and humid down here in the south pretty consistently but something in me made me go into my closet, dust off my basically brand new running shoes and go for it.
Sia's "Breathe Me" remix. What I've been running to lately.

Ok so why the Charlotte from Sex and the City connection? Well, towards the end of the show she began trying IVF and could not get pregnant after several failed attempts. She started running to take her mind off of things, give her stress and sadness a place to go. 

There is one scene in particular that I can't keep replaying in my head when she jogs past a woman pushing her baby in a running stroller and the hurt, pain, jealousy, and frustration plays across her face so perfectly as she races past her and keeps on running. 

So is this how I've felt lately? To be completely honest, some days yes. Some days it's hard to breathe and on those days I find that I push myself even further than the last. One more hill (Birmingham is surprisingly hilly), one more back can do it. DIG! Yes it's disgustingly hot and this is pure torture but do it!
The voice in my head can be a very shouty, loud four letter word sometimes so she's tough to tune out.

 I had someone ask me a few weeks ago why we "gave up" trying to have a child via fertility treatments.

I do want to preface by saying that this individual does not know my husband nor I very well and that I truly think they were trying to ask out of genuine interest and concern. But did the way they worded that question basically feel like a slap in the face? You bet.

After the conversation with this person I realized that perhaps I didn't explain my reasons to not try IVF again at this time very well.

IVF and fertility treatments are a great thing! I have the two most precious niece and nephew because of it but it just wasn't the right time to consider going through them again. At least not now.

Mackenzie and Cooper. My beloved sister's children through her first IVF attempt.

Cooper with his Unc "Kiss"

 The truth is if Chris and I had been lucky enough to have had any of our embryo's survive to the stage that they could have been frozen for another attempt we would have definitely tried it. It's half the cost typically and you don't have to go through all of the injections in the beginning of the process.

But unfortunately none of our embryo's made it to that stage and that decision was made for us. It just didn't make sense to continue doing something that we didn't have the budget for AND that quite frankly isn't the greatest thing to do to your body time and time again.

However Chris and I will never "give up" on trying for a biological child of our own. How could we? There is always a chance, a possibility of it happening for us and I will never let go of that sliver of hope.

I've realized through almost 5 years of this and probably the majority of my life that you can't plan for everything. Sure it might make you feel better about things but your plan isn't really HIS plan. It was always my way of coping through things to have a plan. I knew that "Ok, this might not have worked but I still have plan B or C or even D".

I'm here to tell you that most of what I "thought" or planned for in my life has gone the complete opposite way...And thank the Lord that it did because apart from the heartbreak of trying to have a family my life is pretty amazing.

So, to end this long winded post as I sit here in work out gear dreading peeling it off and doing it all over again tomorrow a couple of things come to mind:

1) It worked out for the character Charlotte in the end and it will work out for you to. Silly I know. It might not look like how you had always envisioned it, but it will be right.

2) The comparisons to what you don't have right now that you want will drive you crazy. Better to plug in that Ipod, get the music blaring and try your best to drown out those pesky comparisons.

3) Take a deep breathe. Dig with everything you have and push up that hill. The view is pretty spectacular and you will feel better once you've climbed it :)

Much Love,

Amanda & Chris