We have been trying to get pregnant for over three years now. And the journey has been very difficult. I wish I could sugar coat it and say there have been pros to this but the honest truth is that it sucks. As I researched a little before starting to write this post, I found articles on how infertility has ruined marriages, women’s bodies, couples mental health, and how IVF (in vitro fertilization), is not recommended. In general, most articles were honest, which I appreciate, but so negative.
Side note: If you're going through infertility, don't google about it. It's freakin scary. Talk to someone you know has or is going through it, instead.
The reality is pretty heavy and painful and I’m going to be as honest and transparent as I can, but I will not allow my pain to dismiss that there is ALWAYS hope when you have God on your side. Infertility sucks. But God is good.
It has been a long journey so far. We started trying to get pregnant in 2016 while we were still living in a small apartment. We were anxious to move to a new place so we could have more space for our growing family. So we decided to move to a new city, buy a home we could afford, with enough room for the children we were hoping to have. Fast forward to 2019, we have a 4 bedroom home and no kids. Just me, my husband, and my mom who lives with us. And an empty room waiting to become a nursery.
In 2017, after trying for a year I decided to let my Gyno know and she recommended for us to do a bunch of tests. Blood work, ultrasounds, semen analysis, etc. After all the exams, we met with her again and my results came back normal. But my husband’s didn’t. And on the report, it read: IVF ONLY.
I was in shock. One minute we were trying naturally–just doing exams to check what was going on. And all of a sudden, we were being told IVF was the ONLY way we’d get pregnant. It was painful, scary, and I felt sad that my husband had to carry this burden.
I did not understand how or why God would let this happen to us. We had done everything in our ability to live in a way that was pleasing to Him. We had made purity when we dated and in marriage a top priority. And we served Him faithfully. I was so confused.
We decided we weren’t ready to take such a big step so we waited for a while. We knew that doing a procedure like IVF was financially, physically, and emotionally draining. It wasn’t until we felt the “ok” from God that we moved forward. In the summer of last year, I spoke to someone very dear to me who encouraged me to call my insurance to see if IVF was covered. She encouraged me to not let fear get in the way of a blessing. And I did just that. To our surprise, our insurance covers it! And that motivated us to look for a fertility clinic that we felt comfortable with. (Side note: our clinic doesn’t take insurance for some parts of the process so we will have to pay a few Gs out of pocket. As Jimmy Fallon would say, “EW”). After lots of research, we made an appointment.
Making an appointment was a big step for us. It meant that we were ready to face our fears. And it also meant that we were out of our denial. This was an issue. We are really struggling with infertility. And we were taking a step medically to address the issue.
When we met with our doctor, he had us do MORE test and exams. He suggested meeting with a urologist before we even decided our next steps. He explained what his predictions were but wanted to make sure we took every step necessary before we went down the IVF route. This made me feel at peace. I knew he had our best interest at heart. But it was also very frustrating because it meant more waiting and potentially more tests which means more money, too.
The latter part of 2018, was filled with lots of appointments with a urologist who is helping my husband improve the root cause of infertility. He’s been on medication for a while now. After a few months of being on the medication, we were told there wasn’t much improvement. Not enough to try for an IUI (Intrauterine insemination), which is a step before IVF. Another letdown.So we decided that we’d keep trying naturally while Edward took this medication to see if after a few months there was an improvement.
And that’s where we’re at right now. We are waiting. And our next appointment is coming up. To be honest, the weeks leading up to our appointments are hard for me. They remind me of what we’re dealing with. It puts focus on something that I wish so badly wasn’t true.
Throughout this process, I have wrestled with God. I have made my pain and my anguish known to him. And in return, He has comforted me and also admonished me. He has searched my heart. He has healed me from a lot of junk that I have carried for years. He has brought to light the fact that my relationship with Him has been a means to an end in many cases. He has helped me celebrate other women and their children in the midst of my pain. He has helped me cope with my pain as others became parents. And he has humbled my heart so that I don’t create an idol of this desire to become parents. Yes, even something as good as being or becoming a parent can become an idol.
There are so many articles that speak of infertility ruining marriages and ruining lives in general. I am thankful that even though it has taken a toll on our relationship, we are stronger than ever. It’s not because we are the most awesome couple in the world, it’s because we have clung to God for dear life. And we have not separated ourselves from our community.
One thing I told myself a few months ago is that I REFUSE to let this consume me. I REFUSE to let this ruin any part of my life. I want us to be parents but not at the expense of my sanity, my relationship with God, or my relationship with my husband. If I’m being real, it’s on ME to let anything ruin my life. I get to decide if I will truly believe God’s word or if I will accept the enemy’s lies.
We are choosing to believe God. We are choosing to trust Him. We are taking every step cautiously so that we can hear from Him. Even though we are on the route to IVF, we don’t know for sure if that’s what we’ll decide to do. And if we do, we don’t know for sure if that route will result in a baby. And we don’t know for sure if we will ever have our own kids. Which scares me and makes me incredibly sad. But we DO know that God is faithful. And that miracles happen in many ways. Not always the way we imaged or wanted, but they happen.
The last thing we ever want is for people to pity us. For people to see us and say “I feel so sorry for them. They don’t deserve this”. I am aware that sharing all this might bring pity. And that kinda makes me nervous. I share this because I truly believe that God wants to use our pain. God doesn’t cause us pain, He is our Father and only wants good stuff for us. But he does use our pain to help us understand and be there for others.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Corinthians 1:3–5)
So, this is our story. It’s still being written. And I trust the hands that are writing it. I know His plans are bigger, better, and brighter than mine. I choose to humble myself before him and accept His will for our lives. I choose to celebrate in the middle of my pain. And I choose to allow him to use it for His glory.
If you’re currently going through an obstacle, loss, medical diagnosis, hard new season, whatever it is, know that you’re not alone. God is with you and wants to hear your heart. And I am here to say that your pain is valid and real and justified. I also want to say that no matter how deep the pain, there is hope. And that hope is Jesus. Cling to him. He will never let you down.
Today is probably my favorite: National Plan Your Vacation Day. It is a day to commit to scheduling time off. Why is this even important? As I planned this post, I thought it might be too superficial.
But taking time off, to recharge is so important for our health. Essentially, taking vacation time should be a time to find rest, see the world from a different perspective, and learn about different cultures. Even if it’s in your own backyard.
I’m not one to over-spiritualize things, but vacation time can be a time to connect with God and hear from Him in a new way. And it can bring deeper connections with your family and friends.
I asked my husband to help me with this post, so shoutout to him! He is the planner and budgeter in our family. I learned a few things myself as I asked him how he plans for vacation.
Here are 10 Practical Steps For Vacation Planning:
2. Think of who will be going on vacation with you I’ve never really vacationed alone. I’ve traveled for work alone which can be really nice because I can choose what to do and where to go once I’m off of work. In those cases, I really don’t have to consult with anyone. But when you vacation with others, it’s good to keep in mind other people’s schedules. If it’s really a vacation you want to include others in, coordinate when to take time off together.
3. Write a bucket list Where do you want to go this year? List all the places. We usually pick 2 small vacations that we can do locally and 1 big vacation. Big to us has meant going on a cruise, taking an extended vacation with family at Disney World, and most recently, going to Hawaii. Not all years look the same. The year we moved to Orlando, we were closing on a house and could not afford to go on a big trip but we did weekend road trips and staycations.
4. Research, research, research The moment you get an idea of a destination or when you have created your bucket list, start researching hotels, flights (example: when is the best time to book flights for that destination), transportation needs, and things to do in that city. This gives you an idea of the cost and the type of activities you’ll be doing. And if it’s not within your budget or it’s not your ideal destination, at least you already have done some research and can use that for future vacation planning.
5. Envision yourself there This may seem kinda new age-y. No worries, this is not to help you “escape” from reality. This is meant to gauge what you desire to experience on vacation. Maybe this year you want to feel like you’re going on a retreat so a place where you can relax, sleep in, and take it slow works best. Maybe you want to be more active this year, so you envision yourself hiking or skiing or walking around a big city. I think you get what I mean.
6. Use Google maps Start looking for specific things to do in the destination of your vacation. Use Google maps to search for what’s around the area: museums, aquariums, theatres, restaurants, parks, historical sites. And if you see something you really want to do, find out the cost. You’ll get a really good idea of what you can do and what fits in the budget.
7. Think of what kind of transportation you’ll need It’s important to think of what kind of transportation you’ll need and how that will go into the budget. Things to keep in mind: will it be worth renting a car, is Ubering cost-friendly in that city, is public transportation accessible, can a family member lend you their car for a couple days?
8. Make an inventory of all the money and resources you will have for the upcoming year Write down how much money you can use for the year on vacation. And where that money is coming from. Is it from your paycheck, from your side hustle, from investments, birthday money, additional paychecks or bonuses, weekend jobs? And make note of the dollar amount that it all adds up to.
9. Go back to your research Look back at your research and bucket list. With all the information you gathered and the inventory of money you created, think of how far your money will take you. Which vacation can you realistically go on? Think about how you’ll allocate each vacation day and what you can do on those days. Will you take a few staycations and 1 big trip or 2 big trips? Last year, we knew we could only afford Hawaii if we reserved most of our resources and time for that trip. We only took road trips for family get-togethers and hosted a family reunion in our home.
10. Make it happen One of the best parts about vacationing is feeling a sense of accomplishment so really go for it! Truly commit to making it happen. Be disciplined with your savings and reduce everyday costs where you see fit. Something that can help you save monthly is to look at the services you use and ask about deals or discounts. Something that has helped us commit to taking our trips is to look for opportunities to reserve lodging with hotels or rentals that don’t require full payment or a deposit. Cruises, for example, can be paid on a monthly basis, which can help you save and budget easily. Finally, download alllll the apps and look for deals weekly. You’ll be sure to find something that meets your needs and you’ll probably notice trends for future trips.
I hope these steps helped you realize that you CAN and SHOULD take time off. Write that bucket list, stay committed by saving, and remember to coordinate with the people you love vacationing with.
So tell me… where are you planning to visit in 2019?
Today is National Vision Board Day! Who knew this was a
Well, I’m glad it is because that means we can get our creative
juices flowing. And we get to imagine and envision our goals and dreams
becoming a reality.
There is so much power in painting a picture and creating a
world that isn’t here yet. Imagination and dream casting reignites our passion
for life. It helps up create our future.
You know, sometimes our routines and responsibilities make
us forget to dream, to have fun, to get creative, and to build our future. Being
present is necessary. Being responsible is necessary.
But once in a while, it’s good to become a kid again. Break out the glue, scissors, and glitter! Let’s imagine and pray over the goals and dreams God has placed in our hearts.
For some reason, when we start seeing it and creating it and putting it on paper (or board in this case), these things start to seem possible. What we’re basically doing with this creative exercise is fanning into flame the gift of God, which He has given to each and every one of us (2 Timothy 1:6-7).
So, what do you need to create a Vision Board for 2019? Very
Ribbon, glitter, fabric, anything you can find at home that inspires you
Arrange all the inspiration, printouts, verses, etc. on your board
Place it in a space where you can see it every day.
Bonus: brew a cup of coffee, pick your favorite mug, sip on it while creating. This is just to set the mood 😉 Some music may help too.
The most important thing is to be honest with yourself. Ask
yourself what you want 2019 to look like. Maybe that means fitting into an old
pair of jeans. Maybe it means finally having the courage to get that haircut.
Maybe it means starting a business (what does that look like?). Maybe it means
starting a family. Or maybe it’s refurnishing and designing a room in your
Whatever you see, whatever you’ve written down as goals, translate them into pictures and visuals, and put them on your board.
This may seem kind of redundant year after year. But it’s an activity I really enjoy and sets the tone for my year.
If you’re choosing a word for 2019 as I am, I want to encourage you to let go of all the pressure to perform, be perfect, and meet every single goal.
It’s my mission through Styld by Grace to inspire you (and myself) to choose grace over perfection. We work our butts off to do our very best AND we let go of all guilt and shame when we fall short. Because guess what, we are human, we are are not perfect little robots. Remember that in our weakness, God shows off His power (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).
As I started to brainstorm how’d I pick my word of the year, my first step was to ask God to give me clarity and perspective for the coming year. At first, I thought of the word ‘Adventure’ but that just didn’t feel right.
So I decided to do two activities in my journal. The first was sort of like a retrospective of 2018 and a forecast for 2019. The second activity was a list of all the ways I will implement my word of the year.
I started thinking of the thoughts and behaviors that overwhelmed me in 2018. So many times I shied away from things, I became discouraged to pray big prayers, I fell into the mentality that what I’m doing is insignificant.
After thinking and doing these activities, I chose the word ‘BOLD’ as my 2019 word of the year. In 2019 I want to learn to live with boldness and conviction. Bold steps of faith, bold action plans, bold prayers.
Below I have listed tools you can use for these activities yourself. As well as the questions and prompts for both activities.
Activity #1 One Word Questionnaire: 1. What worked for me in 2018? 2. What didn’t work for me in 2018? 3. What would success look like in 2019? 4. Word dump (write down any and all keywords that stand out) 5. One word (choose one word as your word of the year for 2019).
Activity #2 How can I ______ in 2019?: (Example using my word ‘bold’: “How can I be bold in 2019”?) 1. Definition of the word chosen 2. Categories: • Relationships • Finances • Faith • Career / Business • Dreams / Aspirations • Health & Fitness • Education • Fun Add or remove as many as you’d like.
Simple, right? I’d love to know your word for 2019. Let me know in the comments below and if these activities helped.