Infertility: Hope and Heartbreak

Infertility is loss. This is an idea that is just beginning to become more mainstream. But if you’ve been through it, you already know.  

Emotions come in a tidal wave. Hurt, hope, heartbreak, and healing. Sometimes they all rush at once and sometimes it takes days to move from one “stage” to the next. Infertility is in essence the same as living in the middle of a tragedy. A four part tragedy that repeats itself every month…

  1. You start your period and take a day or two just crying, grieving, and wishing it away.
  2. You plan your life around the “green days” and try to keep your husband in a good mood at least every other day.
  3. The dreaded two week wait. You can just feel it! You know it worked this time. But you have to wait two weeks to take a pregnancy test.
  4. Negative pregnancy test. But you take 4 more just to be sure.

And repeat as stated. In our case: repeat 28 times and counting.  

 

I think the silence and mystery that is behind infertility is the hardest of all. My dad died 8 months ago. And to this day well meaning friends and acquaintances will ask me in hushed tones how I’m doing, how the family is doing, and to let them know if they can help in any way. And I am so grateful for the outpouring of support over this time. But while that loss was big, it was also evident. It was extremely public. And it wasn’t tabo. My current loss however, the one I feel during stage 1 every month, is silent. I want to scream it out to people, change my facebook status, and maybe write a blog about loss. But it’s not realistic. But my pain is real. But people don’t want to know. But I need people to know.

Throughout this journey we have found there is two extremely loud emotions: Heartbreak and Hope. People say things that cause heartbreak, but they also say things that bring hope. Mostly we heard that people just don’t know how to respond. These are some of the hurtful and helpful things you can say to someone who is experiencing the loss of infertility:

Hurtful things others have (actually, in real life, to my face) said:

– “You don’t really want kids anyway…they are a handful” …DUH. It is obviously not like I’ve never spent time (A LOT OF TIME) with children that are a handful. Even children I love as close to my own as possible…sometimes I wanted to lock them on the porch…so I get it, kids are a lot of work. Don’t dismiss my wanting kids because you are having a hard season with yours.

– “Have you tried X,Y,Z?!?!”. I am most reluctant to tell any part of my infertility story to friends with kids. Because about 50% of people I have come across who have once been pregnant, are now experts. And yes, I’ve tried that position, that diet, that vitamin, and that tracking system.  

– “It will probably happen once you stop thinking about it”. Now, to show you that even though these things hurt, I still love the humans that said them to me…this is something my own husband has told me. But it is an INSANE and RIDICULOUS idea because 100% of the time I am thinking about putting a baby inside of me. While in the shower, while eating dinner, while babysitting, while picking out my outfit for a wedding, while brushing my teeth, while reading a history book, while shoe shopping, literally 100%. I love my husband so dearly, but while he is able to compartmentalize, I am not. And even though my friend was selling all of her baby equipment, convinced it wasn’t going to happen again, and then conceived, it’s not a proven system.

Helpful (hopeful) things others have said:

-Scripture. I love when my friends combat my hurt/depression/negativity with straight scripture. There is no need for explanation. I never take it the wrong way. I always need more Jesus words than people words.

– “Let me know if you want the name of this book/article/blog I’ve found helpful/interesting” …I love when friends ASK if I want their advice before just sending me a link to click on. It puts me in just a little control of a situation where I feel zero control a large majority of the time. The most well meaning and loving friends have sometimes thrust articles upon me urging me to try this or that. And as much as I love that I’ve been thought of, it seems to just add one more unsolicited file for me to store in my overflowing brain.

– “How can I specifically be praying for your heart”. Oh man. My friend Amanda is a gem. She frequently will ask me how she can pray for my heart. And because she has been faithful in doing this, I know I can trust her with my most honest and painful corners of my heart. When I hear “I’ll be praying for you” sometimes it is hard to believe. Because I know the depth of what we are going through is heavy and with a blanket “i’ll pray”, I’m not sure they have heard my words…or my heart.

 

I say all of those things not to reap sympathy but because my story is just one story. As I start to share I am finding a whole tribe of women who are experiencing the loss of infertility. Apply these thoughts to your friends and family who are hurting and be a part of the Hope they will fee

 

fontcandy (1).jpg

 

 

Father’s Day Prayer

Father’s Day.

The one day I have been dreading since the day my dad died. A blaring reminder of something I no longer have. A father. The thing is, last father’s day, when dad was alive, I wasn’t even speaking to him. He had returned to the hurtful and powerful lifestyle of drinking to the point of unrecognition. For the last 6 years I had given pretty strict ultimatums about his contact with me. Not my love, my contact. My love, no matter how damaged or hurting, never wavered from my dad. So I have to work really hard to even think about the last father’s day I spent with mine. A junior in college. 4 years ago. Never in a billion years would I expect that would be our last father’s day together. It was so joyful. We went to the hottest baseball game in the world and ended up grilling at home and letting my five year old brother wear a dress just to get a funny reaction out of dad. It’s so strange how memories work.

303604_10151065908406289_329949502_n

My dad loved so big, so deep, and so far.

He loved my friends. From knowing their favorite foods to fixing their cars. All of my friends felt more than comfortable calling my dad if they were in a bind. His chatter never ceased to give them a plethora of knowledge and laughter.

He loved the kids in the nursery. Often we would have to force him to NOT work in the nursery because he would rather do that than any other role. Even when he was not on the list, many parents would ask for him if their kid didn’t want to stay.

He loved his daughters. Painting our nails, spending money on camps, coaching every sport ever.

He loved his son. No one could have ever doubted that. Trey was his biggest joy.

This year I work hard to know that others are able to celebrate their fathers in my presence. I do not ever want anyone to feel uncomfortable sharing about the love they have for their dads.  However, the mask is thick. Thick around my heart and my face. Because smiling is easier than crying and letting others experience joy is greater than spreading my hurt.

But know this, as this Hallmark holiday envelopes us, that it isn’t just me that feels a deep hurt. It is those who have lost their dear fathers, those who are estranged from their fathers, those who only call their fathers on this one day, those who never knew their fathers, and those who wish more than anything that someone would run up to them and call them “dad”.

 

We fit into more than one of those categories.

 

On this day that I grieve my dad and the hurt of missing him. There is another and even fresher reason I grieve. I grieve for my sweet husband and another Father’s Day passing without holding a baby of his own.

My sweet husband has held many titles and has many wonderful characteristics. But the one we are waiting and waiting for is Father.

Ever since Christopher was a child he would tell people that when he grew up he wanted to be a dad. Do you know how special that is? A full time nanny found a husband whose biggest dream is to have a family! If you have ever seen him work in the nursery, play with my nanny kids, or interact at school; you know this isn’t a joke. He thrives around children.

image1 (1)

However, we are a statistic that I never dreamed would reach us. We are just one of over 6 million families in the U.S. who are struggling to start a family. Millions of men are waiting for their first Father’s Day. We aren’t alone.

If you have your father on this earth take a moment to hug his neck, have a meaningful conversation, or pray for him. If you are in one of the above groups of humans who are grieving on this day, know you are being prayed for fervently. And as Father’s Day comes and goes, and the hurt continues, know even then, the creator who created Fathers and is our heavenly Father is still holding you.

My prayer this year is that every son, daughter, father, and husband that is hurting would feel joy. Real joy that surpasses our understanding. That we would be allowed to grieve and remember and yern. Prayers for peace and for comfort. Because our Heavenly Father is big enough.

James Howell Featherston II Memorial

James Howell Featherston II. Born at Scott Air Force Base on August 12, 1963 and went to be at perfect peace with Jesus on December 6, 2015.

If you are sitting here today it is because you were loved by my dad.

It is possible that he coached you in basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball, or baseball. Maybe he wasn’t your coach but he sat in the stands and may as well have been as his booming voice filled the gym.

It is possible he was your Sunday school or small group leader. In which case I can assure you he put a great deal of effort into being prepared and knowledgeable.

It is possible he was your car mechanic while you were stranded on the side of the road. From flat tires to blown transmissions he got you moving again.

It is possible he was your baby whisperer. Wandering the halls of the church or our home putting your screaming child at ease. This was one of his very favorite roles throughout his life. If he just met you and you were holding a baby, I’m sure it didn’t take long before he was sneaking that baby out of your arms, and in turn your baby was probably asleep within seconds.

It is possible he was your mapquest. It didn’t matter what city or state you were in, many knew you could call dad and he would figure out a way to patiently get you to your location.

It is possible he was your short order cook. If you have ever spent a meal at our home you understand how opinionated all of his children are when it comes to meal time. When friends would spend the night he would spend so much time in the kitchen catering to everyone’s different egg, toast, cinnamon roll, and juice needs.

It is also possible he was your handy man…whether you asked for it or not. I am sure many can remember inviting the Featherstons over for a dinner party and eventually get on the topic of how your ceiling fan stopped working and before you knew it dad was on a ladder, pulling a whole work shop of tools out of his van and fixing your fan. He enjoyed being needed and using the skills God had given him.

It is possible he was your sounding board. Dad was so good at listening. If you just needed to talk out your thoughts, ideas, or problems…many knew you could trust dad to listen and take it all in before reacting.

It is possible he was your assistant event planner. He could hang a VBS decoration like no one else. If you were ever evolved in children’s ministry you knew you could count on dad to take countless trips to the store, stand on a ladder and move the same decoration all around until you decided it was just right, or build sets and props. He loved seeing your big picture come to life.

It is possible he was your personal shopper. Some of you may be surprised that this does not just apply to immediate family. But if you have ever been at a choir concert and forgotten your tights, or at a basketball tournament without a knee brace, a wedding and needed hair spray, or leaving on a road trip without a phone charger. Dad would always be called upon to run to the store and entrusted with grabbing the correct item. A challenge in which he was always ready for.

It is possible he was your golf, fishing, or bowling buddy. He was a competitor but with the sweet spirit of team player. If you participated in these activities with dad you were graced with an earful of potentially useless information about how bowling pins are made, what the science is behind different baits, or why golf balls have little divots all over them.

A select few of you called him son, nephew, brother, uncle, or cousin. You have graced my years with stories of dad. How he was mature and responsible. How he never would wear a coat, drank a gallon of milk a day, and had a smart elect mouth. He loved being a part of your big, crazy, loud, and fun family.

And even fewer of you called him daddy. He was our protector and his love for us was so huge. He was our teacher and his joy was in watching our joy. His heart grew with every bike learned to ride, every book learned to read, and every pancake learned to flip. His heart grew when we got accepted to college, started our internships, won our tournament, got engaged, brought home a trophy, and passed a math class. His heart broke when ours did. When boys were mean to us, when we spent too many hours in the hospital, when we didn’t get into the classes we wanted. He ebbed and flow with the emotions of his children. It was so evident to all. We will remember the love that was sometimes too big for us to handle and fathom.

71558_10150089748466289_565362_n

Trey will never forget the times dad would take him to play tennis. He was so patient in not only teaching him form and rules but in letting him be a kid and have the most fun possible. Those two had an insanely special bond that all the sisters can be jealous of. Dad was super intentional in showing Trey by example how to treat a lady…especially his sisters.

10703649_10152816806266289_6293435073746510816_n

Anna will never forget dad teaching her to fish. One time they were fishing early in the morning before the sun had risen and Anna, the graceful being that she is fell off the dock in full winter gear. Dad was quick to pull her up, untangle her from the line and get her baited up and ready to cast again.

Scan copy 2.jpeg

Ashley will never forget how dad was at her beck and call. She had him wrapped around her finger. From carrying her to bed into her 20’s, calling the dentist and doctors, picking up dress clothes and earrings, or making a special dinner for her every time we ate, Ashley had dad’s number and he always answered.

Scan 2 copy 3.jpeg

And I will never forget the many many sports roadtrips. Every teammate always wanted to ride in the van with dad, which is not super popular for players to feel toward their coach I am finding out first hand. But my friends and teammates wanted to ride with dad because not only did he believe in mountain dew as a source of energy, but he treated every game as a game. It wasn’t the end of the world if we were in last place (1 win to 27 loses puts you there), as long as we were trying hard, having fun, and learning.

306864_10151694793581289_1779934348_n.jpg

And for mom, you called him dear. He loved you big and you loved him deep. From falling in love in Grandfathers mansion at Silver Dollar City (a mushy story you would constantly tell your children ) to countless moves and road trips. You stuck together. Being married a short time myself I know there had to be times that were hard and even annoying. But the love of Jesus, and the love of each other never failed. In reading one of dads bible study books I came across the quote “Marriage is not intended to make us happy but to make us holy”. Even in the times that were not happy, you both strived to make it holy. To hold Christ as the focal point and to give your children an example of a Christ filled marriage. We are all grateful for the many ways you displayed this to us over 32 years.

 

Mom has asked me to read a little of the story of their love from her perspective:

“Jimmy & I met in 1981, both at 17 years old. When Jimmy’s church youth choir from St. Louis made a road trip Springfield, Mo. It didn’t matter that I was dating the pastors son, he wooed me. The second time I saw him, he rented a plane, at age 17 and flew it himself to visit me in Springfield. Okay, now that was impressive! He was a perfect gentleman, always. From opening up doors to never letting me carry a heavy thing.

On May 22, 1983 I became Mrs. Jimmy Featherston. Almost 33 years ago. We had 8 years before we were blessed with our first child.  Joy continued to fill our home with each child. But our greatest joy was when each child surrendered their life to King Jesus.

Jimmy served in the Army for 3 years, with one year in Korea without me. We lived in 6 states together and only 2 of them were for the Army.

Jimmy taught me to love the Cardinals & camping. His love language was service, he loved and served me very well. Every event, party or celebration I held, Jimmy was the worker bee behind the scenes. No task was ever too big or too small. One of the fondest memory was when he tied a 6 foot Christmas tree on his motorcycle and to his back and road up HWY 1 in California to surprise me, or when he drove 3 hours to bring me my photos when I forget them on a scrapbooking weekend. Or setting up my beach chair and umbrella and then returning to bring me a soda or lunch.

It is impossible to imagine life without him. To breath, to think, to make life decisions without him. To marry off the other three children or fight over who got to hold the grand babies that are to come. My heart will forever be remembering all the incredible blessings we shared and saddened by the ones we will not share.

I’m trusting Jesus to hold me and comfort me.”

 

If you are here today it is because my dad filled one of these or many other roles in your life. As a husband and father of many outgoing humans it was often thought that dad had a background role to play. But honestly as many of you think back…dad was a steady constant in your life. No matter what role he played, a hole is left where his presence was. We will miss our loving, patient, and caring mapquest mechanic friend cook teacher baby whisperer son brother husband…daddy.

11262497_10153349133056289_7188848362208654518_n (1).jpg

Love is forever.

Beauty is as beauty does…

 

Growing up with two younger sisters we were often seen in public in matching pink frilly dresses and sweet ringlet curls or up-dos that included an entire bottle of hairspray. I remember getting many compliments: “they are so cute!”, “how adorable”, “what beautiful daughters!” every time we went out. And it is true. We were three little cuties. But something about that word beautiful always set my mom off. I do not have one memory of a compliment that did not include the same comeback. I heard it so many times that now, as an adult, every time I hear the word beautiful I have a automatic response.

“Beauty is as beauty does”

Every. Single. Time. It was actually quite annoying. Because I just wanted to bathe in the compliment and dwell on the fact that the hour in the bathroom getting my hair done was worth it because people noticed. However, my mom was much wiser than I. She knew that no matter how much money we spent on our outfits or how much hairspray and glitter we had holding our hair together, none of that mattered if our actions were ugly. And she made sure to tell the complimenter. Because if we were throwing a fit, yet we looked beautiful on the outside, it didn’t matter.

“Beauty is as beauty does”

One can only be beautiful if their actions reflect beauty. This was what was ingrained in me as I grew up. As a female growing up at the  beginning of the airbrush, photoshop, auto-tune era, I am grateful for this mantra. Even as a child I could easily spot famous people who may be viewed as beautiful but had attitudes and actions that were so ugly that it didn’t matter what was on the outside.

“Beauty is as beauty does”

This is what For the Sake of Beautiful is all about. Finding the beauty in the heart and soul of people. Seeing things for what they are and not for what they appear. Taking things that matter and pulling from the inside beauty. Because I think we are all painfully aware that to be beautiful one needs more than a pretty face and a lot of photoshop.

Beautiful.

For the sake of Beautiful.

Full Definition of BEAUTY

1:  the quality of qualities in a person or that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit :  loveliness
2:  a beautiful person or thing; especially :  a beautiful woman
3:  a particularly graceful, ornamental, or excellent quality

The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

For the sake of Beautiful.

Pursuing wisdom and grace and beauty.