Infertility: Having an Advocate When You’re Too Weak to Be an Advocate

Since it’s Infertility Awareness Week, I’ve had our struggles (past and possibly future) with infertility in mind a lot. I’ve read some incredible posts already that have moved me, often to tears. I just want to say one thing to the kind souls making these posts: Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

All of this has really brought to the forefront of my mind recently just how badly women and men suffering from infertility need advocates in the world. We need our friends, fertile and infertile alike and in every variation in between, to be a voice, to remind the world that we’re there.

Infertility is so often a silent, invisible cross that we bear. Maybe our closest friends and family know something about it, or maybe it’s just between us and our spouse. But it’s oh so very rarely that someone in the worst of it puts it all out there for the world to see and doesn’t keep it from anyone. And that is just fine, because we’re vulnerable. We’re already in one of the most painful positions imaginable and since people tend to be accidentally hurtful when they’re trying to be supportive, it can be that much harder to share a burning ache that most people, thankfully, have never had to experience.

But that doesn’t mean that we’re not desperate to be heard, to be seen.

I know that I always wanted (and often still do) to wave my arms and jump up and down screaming, “I’m here! I’m here! I’m here! I count too, and my vocation to motherhood is a real thing!” But I was always terrified of not being able to control the information once it was out there.

That’s the thing, for many of us, I think. We’re already in such pain and so much of what should be such a private process for us (just us, our spouse, and God) has already been picked apart and laid bare before our doctor’s eyes, our NFP instructors perhaps, and anyone who thinks they should have an opinion about our family size (specifically its lack thereof.) We’ve already been told when we need to be intimate, on what medications, and how. We’ve already had more trans-vaginal ultrasounds and blood draws than you can shake a stick at. They don’t even phase us anymore. But still, we feel vulnerable and raw. And it’s scary to share that and risk being under a microscope again.

That’s why we desperately, desperately need you. Most of us are too tender right now to be an advocate for ourselves, but we would give almost anything to have an advocate. Someone just to occasionally remind the world (especially as Mother’s Day draws near) that we are here.

We are all around you, even though we might be hard to spot between the cultural norm of waiting nearly a decade to have children or choosing to have “just one or two.” There are so many of us that have been waiting and hoping for motherhood and fatherhood since day one. We’ve been open to life in every way possible and we’ve sacrificed so much to adhere to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and sanctity of human life, despite our yearning to become parents however we can.

So if you can, whatever your fertility status is, say something. Acknowledge us–our presence and our struggle–this and every week. Share one of these amazing articles, a picture, a prayer. Just be a voice if you can be one.

Now that we’ve been given the gift of our miraculous pregnancy, I’ve been feeling called more and more to become that voice. As some of the intensity and utter rawness of our infertility begins to scar over (it will never leave us entirely, I know,) I feel the Holy Spirit asking me to step out one toe at a time and advocate for my sisters and brothers. I’m still scared, and scarred, but I’m trying to learn.

Will you join me, if you can?

Advocacy and Infertility

Finally Back (An Update On Our Miraculous but Complicated Pregnancy)

Hello, friends, if I may still call you all that after having vanished into the abyss for another 2 months. I have some other posts that I’ve been meaning to/needing to write, but I feel like I owe you a little context/update/explanation first.

Sorry to have been gone, but it’s just been the sort of season of life that requires your full, active attention (not the kind of attention that writes posts in your head during showers and then forgets about them afterwards.) Originally, it started with just being busy at work since First Communion season was approaching fast and we had a lot of weekends and late nights to work. And I was just exhausted and burned out.

But shortly after all of that, we were diagnosed at our 20 week ultrasound (which actually took place at 18 weeks) with a placenta previa (the statement that alcohol increases the odds of previa is is mis-citation of the scholarly article–ignore it. I put in a correction request.) Which is NOT super uncommon at all for that mid-point ultrasound. From what I’m told, about 10-20% of women are diagnosed with it at the point and for all but 2-3% of THOSE, it clears up all on its lovely own. No problema.

But when have you ever known me or mine to ever do anything by the book? Yeah. You guessed it–it hasn’t moved! Most ladies start having bleeding episodes sometime during the 3rd trimester, usually close to term, when there’s a lot of extra pressure on the cervix/placenta area and the BH contractions start. Rebel that I am, however, I started with the bleeding at just 23 weeks. Which is a terrifying time to bleed because most hospitals won’t perform serious interventions until you’re at 24 weeks (viability.)

Thankfully, the bleeding stopped and baby has been good as gold the whole time (I’ll say that now before anyone starts to really stress–no matter what’s happened with this placenta nonsense, he’s been blissfully unaware with a beautiful heart rate, movement pattern, and continued growth.) We were put on home bed rest, which was unpleasant and difficult with so much chaos happening at work, my desire to do all the things, and no serious internet at home (as in no streaming options available,) but we were making lemonade.

Hear me roar! (Please tell me someone gets this. I’ll hide in my corner if no one does.)

For 10 days. And then the second bleed, which was worse and even more terrifying (except for the relief of knowing that we were past 24 weeks), happened. Thankfully that also stopped itself after about 8 hours off-and-on, but they kept us here at the hospital (which we keep accidentally calling a hotel–our standards are high, yes?) for the next 3.5 weeks. And that’s been rough–but we made lemonade again as best as we can. They have wifi here to stream netflix and the staff COULD. NOT. BE. MORE. AMAZING. Seriously, I’ll never be able to thank all of the nurses, techs, and even the cleaning ladies here enough.

We got to go home on Thursday, which was both scary and wonderful since we knew that the bleeding was only going to pick up. But since I hadn’t bled in several weeks, our doctor really wanted to give us a chance to go home. It was lovely to try out our new bedroom furniture and mattress that had been delivered while I was gone. So lovely.

For 2.5 days (three nights!) I woke up yesterday morning to more bleeding which meant–back to the hospital! We’re not sure how long we’re going to be here for, although it’s quite likely for the duration of the pregnancy (which we pray will be until mid-June or early July and not earlier.)

It’s not quite like this.

Bed rest is not nearly as fun as it may sound (imagine having people chastise you every time you get up to pick something up off the counter on your way to the bathroom,) but we’re just SO unfathomably grateful that we’re here, in a safe place, still pregnant, and pregnant at all. This little miracle baby is just trying to earn his title again and again. I’m so grateful for all of the blessings that God has given us. I know so many of you, dear friends, would trade places with me in a heartbeat (I know I would have–and may again, infertility is a lifelong battle for most of us–without a moment’s hesitation.) So while I want to be real about the struggles of this season of our lives, I want you to know that I don’t take the gift of these struggles for granted. And that I’m offering them up for each and every one of you.

If you’d like to email me or leave me a comment with specific intentions that you want me to pray for, I’d be more than honored to do so. That way, every lonely day, every IV stick and blood draw and weird steroid shot that makes your butt numb, every baby shower I’ll miss, every time I’m utterly exhausted and confused about when or if we’ll ever go home, every time I long to be able to set up our nursery but can’t, every time I’m exhausted from not sleeping in the hospital and an unexpected “visitor” from some department or other just walks on it, all of those will be offered up for you and your needs. Because all of that–it’s SO, so worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for where we were this time last year for anything.

Despite all of the unpleasantness, my heart is SO full of joy and gratitude for the gift of this life. Thank you, thank you, thank you, God!

Strategies for Not Getting Your Belly Touched at Work

Thank you guys for all of your sweet help and support. I think it was just what I needed, and while I’m still pretty scared about the adjustment, I’ve been trying to slowly practice just coming out with it to store patrons I’m more comfortable with, etc. You know, when they give you that pointed, “How are you doing?” with the just-a-little-too-long-glance at your belly. I’m trying to use those as an opportunity to practice sharing my good amazing news. Also a friend came in and already spilled the beans in front of a bunch of them, so I think the cat’s officially out of that bag.

Plus, I’ve been practicing two important maneuvers to avoid the belly-rubbing that I know will ensue:

Stop. Hammertime.

Stop. Hammertime. Thanks Google Image Search!

1) Hide behind the counter. Don’t come out. Put large boxes in the walkway by the entrance to the counter so people can’t get in without it getting even more awkward than before and them probably falling over. Basically, I’m perfecting the art of the barricade. Also, sitting in the rolling chair provides extra maneuverability while simultaneously keeping me a little further out of arm’s reach.

2) Movement. When not behind the counter, move quickly from room to the next, never slowing down. If they can’t catch you, they can’t rub you. Adding a lot of twists, turns, and sudden movements to regular walking might make you look positively bonkers, but it’ll add an air of confusion about which way you’re going next and seems to make people less likely to risk touching you, in case they might catch whatever crazy you have. Obviously, this tactic is going to get less useful the further along we get, but I’m planning on milking it while I can.

So as you can see, things are going pretty well in the adjustment department and I’ve only become a half-crazed tactician. I’ve only momentarily considering faking a terrible cold and sneezing at anyone unwelcome who gets too close. I think I’ll save that for the worst of the trouble-makers. Perhaps I should practice my fake sneezing now though, since I’m kind of a natural flailer when it comes to sneezing. A-ttractive.


The only prayer request I have left to make (other than continued prayers for baby’s well-being & little soul, of course) is that I might have the opportunity to tell one patron in particular personally before she finds out from someone else. You see, this lady is sweet and well-intentioned as can be. She had been asking me EVERY WEEK since August or September whether I was pregnant. Which, of course at the time, I was not. And which was exceptionally painful since she wouldn’t let it drop, even after I explained that we would love to be, but were struggling badly with infertility. She was clearly oblivious to the pain that she was causing and thought it was some kind of a joke how I would get frustrated with her after she asked me each week. She genuinely didn’t get it and had probably never considered what it would feel like for someone who wasn’t sure that she would ever be able to say yes to be asked that question constantly.

So, finally, a few weeks ago, I mustered up all of my confrontation-hating courage and pulled her aside to explain in no uncertain terms how hurtful it was for someone in that situation to be asked repeatedly whether she was expecting (and to be told that she looked like it on top of it.) I didn’t get very far before she nearly burst into tears and said that she was so sorry and hadn’t realized what that had been like for me. She was so sweet and she’s never brought it up again. I wish I’d realized how much more direct I needed to be with her earlier. It would’ve saved me several months worth of heartache.

So now, I feel as though I owe her sweet self a personal announcement, especially after having confronted her about her questions regarding my fertility issues while actually 3 months pregnant. I’d just rather her not hear it from someone else first. I’ll admit that I’m a little nervous that she’s just going to start dancing around telling me that she was right and all I needed to do was keep praying, and forget about our earlier conversation. Because she would do that. The dancing, I mean. Possibly the second part. But I really want her to remember how much I meant our earlier conversation. It’s important. And I don’t want any other women she knows to get hurt unintentionally like I did. So, dear friends, would you please keep that intention in your prayers for me? That I can a) get the opportunity to tell her personally first and b) that I can get enough words out before she excitedly starts talking over me to convey that I still meant it?

Thanks, you guys are the best.🙂

Post-Infertility Pregnancy Announcement Anxieties…that’s a thing, right?

I am a big fat chicken. And I’m not 100% sure why. But I need some advice, folks. (Beware, this one’s a bit of a rambler.)

Many of you have had the experience of being asked horribly rude questions like, “Are you pregnant?” and “When is the baby due?” when you were NOT expecting. It’s awful, even when you know without a doubt that the person asking you is well-intentioned and just excited for you. But when you’re not actually expecting (and worse yet, when that’s all you want in the whole wide world but you can’t do anything about it,) it’s really hurtful. I’ve mentioned all this before, I know. I’ve told you some of the stories of people coming up to me at my store, rubbing my belly, and then arguing with me about whether or not I was pregnant. Yeah, arguing. Those were rough days.

I'm not pregnant

But the issue that I’m facing now is that for once, praise and thank God, I AM actually pregnant. And I’m so, so happy, so overjoyed. But I haven’t figured out how to handle all the folks that are starting to ask again now that I’m starting to actually show. Because I still think it’s kind of rude of either a) complete strangers or b) Nosy Nellies who immediately spread it like wildfire around the place to be asking. Maybe I should be taking it as a compliment that they think I’m naturally skinny enough that any little bumps would have to be a baby (I’m not.) But I just don’t enjoy being talked about and I sort of feel as though cheerfully answering, “Yes I am! Baby’s due in July!” is rewarding bad behavior.

But the last thing that I want is to allow myself to bask in bitterness over past hurts. If infertility was my cross to bear before, then it’s because it was supposed to help make me a saint. Which means that if I don’t find a way to let go of the bitterness (the pain is one thing that will never entirely go away, but the bitterness is something entirely different and something that should be under my control), then I haven’t let God work in my life the way that He’s trying to.

I’m so scared (it sounds overly dramatic, but I am) of having hundreds of sweet, well-meant Catholics at my work asking in very pushy ways very personal questions that I may not want to answer. Even though all I want to do is celebrate this baby, I’m so anxious over the thought of being touched and exposed more than I already have been. Infertility doesn’t just disappear with a miracle–it leaves a few scars. (Don’t get me wrong–I’ll take those scars absolutely any day in exchange for my miracle!)

Is embracing this kind of nosiness part of embracing a culture of life? Is this kind of experience and anxiety unique to my situation as a fairly public member of my Catholic community? Is there a wonderfully charitable way of addressing my sweet but nosy customers that I haven’t thought of yet? Or do I just need to find a way to put on my big girl panties and throw myself into this touching/personal question asking/”I’m so glad you finally decided to have a baby!”-hearing experience and offer it up?


Miracles and Motherhood

I have miraculous news. So miraculous, I haven’t been able to even think of writing about it. And if today you’re in a place where you need to not read it, that is more than ok. Click away. I’m not going to judge or blame you because I’ve had those days. So, so many of them. But if today is the kind of day that makes good news fill you with joy and lift your burden, read on:

We’re pregnant.

Those feet--so cute!

Those feet–so cute!

For the first time in my entire life, that little stick showed two pink lines. We cried (especially me, of course,) and then immediately started looking up any and all reasons for false positives. Even after having logically ruled them out, being late, and having had a strong positive test (and then another one the next morning because crazy,) we were so in shock that we were too terrified to let ourselves believe it. In fact, part of me still doesn’t. I’m not sure when that will really change. When does it?

We called our doctor on Monday morning (we found out on a Saturday night–All Saints’ Day–which means we have to assume that this blessing is thanks to the ENTIRE litany of saints we’ve been praying to every night,) and she was good enough to talk a little sense into me, thank God. She told me to chill out (somewhat more politely than that) and just let ourselves embrace it RIGHT. NOW. She reminded me that no matter what else ever would happen or not happen, that I was now a mother and he was now a father and nothing would ever, ever, ever, ever change that. And I needed to hear those words so badly. So, so badly. More crying ensued, of course. Those were the words I’d been waiting to hear my entire lifetime and I knew they were so true. I’m more grateful than any words can ever begin to express for that gift. I know how many women I love are still longing to hear them, and please, please know that I pray constantly that we all might someday.

In fact, I want to say what I’ve always desperately wanted to hear from someone in the position I was dying to be in. You ARE a mother. Even if your child doesn’t exist yet, or has passed away before even implanting, or hasn’t been conceived by the woman who will have the honor of bearing the child that will be yours to love, or if spiritual motherhood is the path that God has called you down, whatever your situation is. If you long for motherhood in your heart, if you know that motherhood is your vocation, if you already love your children with a ferocious, wild love–you are a mother. Please take that to heart and know that I mean it. I know we’ve all been scared that no one thinks we deserve the title until we’ve had morning sickness or changed dirty diapers, but I think that you do. Your motherhood doesn’t cheapen mine. You’ve spent nights sobbing and praying for the gift of or health of your children; you’ve written them letters and dreamed of kissing boo-boos and being covered in bodily fluids (because you’re realistic); your arms literally ache with the absence of their weight, I know. If you love your children so much that it hurts, then you are a mother. Even if you can’t hold your children in your arms today. You have a mother’s heart and that COUNTS. It does, it does, it does.

I hope that you won’t mind if I do my best to embrace this gift, this miracle, while I have him or her here. I’ve spent so long praying for this, and I don’t want any of us to miss out on a moment if we receive one. I’ll understand if continuing to read about however things go is too much for you. It’s really and truly ok. But I hope that, if you want, you’ll keep coming around and sharing with me. I pray that although I’m trying to embrace the tremendous absence of the weight that God has decided to lift from me (and trust me, it’s through nothing I’ve earned on my own,) that I’ll always have the heart that I hoped my friends would have for me. You’re still not alone, friends, and I won’t stop caring about your burdens. But hopefully, come July-ish, there will be pictures of someone adorable for us to all coo over together. That’s the internet equivalent of letting someone hold your baby, right?

I’ll fill you in on the chaos of the last several months later (and I promise there has been a lot going on,) but for now, would you please send up a prayer of thanks for us? We’ve received a gift we thought we’d never be blessed with and it’s absolutely a miracle. Thanks.

The Story of the Giant Easter Bread & Answer Me This #2

So, folks, it’s Sunday (I wrote this on Saturday, but didn’t have time between when the link-up went up Sunday morning and uhhh…Wednesday morning apparently to add the links and finally post… Oops!) Wednesday again and I plan on milking this Answer Me This link-up thing for all it’s worth. But first, how’s about a little story involving the world’s biggest loaf of bread?

Once upon a time, a naive young wife named Theresa was asked to bring food to her grandmother-in-law’s Easter potluck extravaganza. Thinking that it would be lovely to bring a few traditional staples from her side of the family, she began digging through the little cookbook that her family had put together with their very own traditional recipes years before and decided on lasagna, rum pecan pie (the rum was her own addition,) and {drumroll please} Easter Pepper Bread!

What’s Easter pepper bread, you ask? Why it’s a delicious Italian traditional bread made with lots and lots of cheese…and a bit of pepper. Some folks call it Easter Cheese Bread, but her Papa (what she lovingly called her Italian grandpa) always called it “Easter Pepper Bread,” so that’s what it is.

Thus, her adventure began. She had gathered all the necessary ingredients, including the 10, yes ten cups of flour it would require. She began to mix all of these wonderful ingredients in the KitchenAid mixer (after 4+ failed attempts to proof the yeast,) but wait! What was that terrible sound? And the smell of burning, grinding gears? And how did the mixing bowl become detached from the mixer? And why is there half-mixed bread dough all over the place?! She quickly turned off the mixer, looked around, realizing that the dough was too huge for the bowl (although she’d only added 6 of the 10 cups of flour thus far…that’s right,) and promptly had herself a little breakdown. Not a proud moment.

Thankfully, her husband was working from home and since it was Good Friday, an act of penance was probably called for anyway. He calmed her down, assured her that her grandfather was not looking down on her from above, too ashamed to intercede, and began to help knead the giant dough by hand.

Yes boys and girls, the heroic husband fought that giant ball of dough with his own bare man-hands. Can this picture possibly do justice to the sheer size of it?


Those are knuckle prints, by the by.

Those are knuckle prints, by the by.

All was well and they decided to only add 9 of the 10 cups because, well, they couldn’t take another break-down. So after several hours of letting it rise and punching it down, it was time to cram that giant ball of dough into this little spring form pan:

It took a lot of squishing to get it in there, let me tell you.

It took a lot of squishing to get it in there, let me tell you. Pardon the blur.

See? it fit. Kind of.

And about an hour later, they had this beautiful finished Italian Easter Pepper Bread loaf (remember that this was with less flour than it called for):


Kind of looks like Marvin the Martian's head, right?


Out of the pan! Still huge.

Out of the pan! Still huge.

Doesn't it compare nicely to this lovely Umbrian woman's loaf?

Doesn’t it compare nicely to this lovely Umbrian woman’s loaf?

And they lived happily ever after. The End.

Now kids, story time is over and it’s on to questions time. Good segue? Sure!

1. What did you and your family wear to Mass on Easter Sunday?

As I type this on Saturday, we haven’t been yet, but the plans were set in stone long ago. I have a pretty new brightly-colored dress and the dear husband has been putting together a “stroller” (which is apparently the fanciest thing in the world that you can wear before 6 pm and be legit.) Except that I was supposed to hem the pants on them and fasting days and simple sewing jobs do. not. mix. So I accidentally cut them in a bad place and have to try to fix it. See? It was a VERY penitential Good Friday. Pray for me, please.


Classy, yes? He’s excited anyway.

2. Easter Bunny: thumbs up or thumbs down?

I am again neutral on the Easter Bunny issue. Rabbits are actually kind of gross animals, I should know. They poop all over themselves and just sit there, staring at you with their beady little red eyes. However, I do like that this one brings me candy and little gifts. So he’s ok, I guess. Plus I do have to agree with the whole “believing in magical impossible-sounding things reinforcing the Faith” thing.

3. Do you prefer to celebrate holidays at your own house or at someone else’s house?

It’s strange that I never considered this question before I moved away from my side of the family. Growing up, we had a large family party at least once a month to celebrate whatever holidays and birthdays had fallen within it. And no matter where we were, it always felt like home. I never thought about it. We all showed up early to clean and cook, and we always stayed late to clean up afterwards.

But since moving up here, I’m on the fence. I do notice and feel the difference. (Please note, it’s not in any way due to a lack of love or hospitality on the part of the other side of my family. They’re so wonderful to me and make me feel so loved.) I love having events at our house whenever possible because it’s fun to plan and it’s fun to get to make the decisions aaaaand it’s fun to already be home when the party is over. However, it is stressful. So perhaps a combination is the best of all worlds? Some here, some there.

4. What is your favorite kind of candy?

Twix. Original Reese’s Cups (not the weird shapes–they have too much peanut butter.) Twizzlers. Peeps! Oh, and those Queen Anne’s chocolate cherry cordials that only seem to surface around Christmas. Are you buying?

5. Do you like video games?

Yes, yes I do. However, outside of games like MarioKart, MarioParty, and Perfect Dark on our N64 (oh! and the mine cart level on Donkey Kong for the Super Nintendo…I just play that one level over and over and over,) I really prefer computer games. Specifically computer strategy games that I can play cooperatively with my husband. We started doing it when we were dating very long-distance and needed another way to bond beyond “just” talking on the phone. I’m a firm believer that playing games like Starcraft and Age of Empires has been such a great team-building, communication-improving exercise in fun for us that I’d recommend some variation of it for any family. My only rule when we play these games has been that we NEVER play against one another. We’re always on the same team. Because we’re too competitive to be enemies and I don’t like the mood that it fosters. We’re teammates in everything in this life–even our video games.

6. Do you speak another language? 

Not well. I took 3 years of Spanish in highschool, 3 years of Latin and 1 year of Attic Greek in college, and 6 months of the most traumatic French class ever in the sixth grade. I am fluent in nothing but English. In Italian, I can say, “Thank you, grandpa.” But that’s about it.


That’s all, folks! Have a happy and blessed Easter! Go enjoy some more Q&As at CAY. (See what I did there? Letters. Also I think I used that same link 3 times in this post.)

What Not To Say To Friends Struggling With Infertility

Infertility: What Not To Say

Just as a disclaimer before we begin: I know that at only a year and a half of conscious infertility, I am far from an expert in how all women feel. Please remember that every woman is different and needs to be loved and supported differently. But these are some good guidelines for the well-intentioned. These are things that I’d like the people around me to know. I welcome additional ideas or questions in the comments.



Dealing with infertility is hard. If a friend or co-worker bravely opens up to you about her own struggles with any form or stage of fertility struggles, here are some things not to say:

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