Sunday, 23 September 2018

Everything's changing but...

I'm struggling today. In fact I've been struggling for quite a few days now. From the outside you'd think I should be happy and excited as the are lots of new things happening in my life. We moved into a lovely new flat a month or so ago, I started an evening course on Tuesday to train as a pastry chef and next week I start a new job. Everything is changing but we still don't have children. I don't know if we will ever have children. I thought I was ok with being a family of two but I just seem to be fighting back the tears all the time these days.
This morning Neil and I were helping out with the group for special needs kids at church. Seeing Neil running around and interacting with the kids was heartbreaking. We should have been getting ready to adopt our own child who would quite likely have had special needs. For some reason I've had that awful meeting playing over in my head all week. Everything's just painful again.
I'm excited for all the new stuff in my life it's just overwhelming.
I was standing in church this morning watching all the families with their children, babies and baby bumps and just felt like everyone was moving forward and I was standing still. All I wanted was a hug. I'm really struggling to be grateful for what I have got and not just be devastated that we haven't got a child.
Neil is going away for two nights tonight for work and I'm really sad that that will leave just me in the flat. I'm sure I'll enjoy time to myself but it's not where I thought I'd be at 35.
We're trying naturally at the moment and not getting anywhere, life is just hard sometimes!

Sunday, 3 June 2018

A Mother's Heart

We have recently returned from camping with others from our church and churches from across the UK and beyond at the Catalyst festival. It was a valuable few days for both Neil and I but I wouldn't say I enjoyed it. We faced many challenges, not least having to bail water out of our tent in our pyjamas for an hour before we could start our day on the first full day there. We were tested as a couple and as individuals but we came through stronger than we started. For me personally I think God was speaking to me about three things.

My dreams will wait: I need to grieve first.

Since finding out, about a month ago, that we would not be able to adopt and consequently I am likely to never be 'Mummy' I have resurrected another dream I have held nearly as long as the dream to have a child. My dream is to open a cake or chocolate shop or cafe and use it to employ people with a learning disability and teach them to make all sorts of items well and let them use their creativity and learn business skills. Almost immediately after I found out I wouldn't be a Mum I started researching how I can make this dream come to fruition. I am hoping to enrol in a year long college evening course in patisserie and confectionery and am looking into options and locations to start up my business once I have done my course. We both feel like we need a fresh start so we are looking at a complete relocation. At the Catalyst festival I went to a seminar about turning your creative talent into a business. It was delivered by a lady who had started a creative business following a lengthy and traumatic health trial. I got lots of helpful practical tips from the seminar but it also made me realise that I need to straighten out my priorities right now. The lady in the seminar had used her creative gifting and skills to help distract her from her health troubles but she still dealt with them. I realised I was not doing that. I was approaching the whole thing with an attitude of replacement - I can't have a baby so this business will be my baby, I'll start up a cafe instead. God has highlighted to me that this attitude is not healthy. I can still dream, I can still do things like my course to help my dreams come true but I need to grieve as well. Having a business, becoming a professional baker or confectioner will not replace the children I will never have. I need to grieve, heal and recover at the same time as moving towards my new goals. I also think it is healthy to pause the progress of my creative dreams to allow me time to back track and grieve. I can still do the course but I need to make sure I am dealing with what has happened to me as well. This means it may be more than a year before we move away. I have paused my mindset and reset to allow me to grieve and process. That has meant lots of tears and questions already!

I have a God given mother's heart.

As the name of this blog reflects I believe I am made to nurture. Until recently I thought I was made to nurture my own biological or adopted children. I thought I was made to nurture children in my own home and family. Now it looks like I will not meet my own children in this life I am starting to realise that God can and is honouring my mother's heart in other ways. I nurture and mother the students I encounter every day at work and I have a heart to reach out to people with learning disabilities and love to meet their needs. At the Catalyst festival I felt God encouraging me through other people's children. I found myself more than once with little ones seeking me out and coming to me for cuddles and entertainment. I realised that me spending time valuing and loving their children blessed my friends who were the children's parents. I can outwork my mother's heart by loving other people's children. I'm currently praying this through and trying to work out how I can best love my friends by loving their children whilst also looking after my own heart. I have had a recurring picture during worship times of me surrounded by pre-school aged children but knowing that none of them are mine. This is both encouraging and painful. I found when I was running around with, colouring with, having cuddles with and spending time with these little ones who sought me out my heart was both heavy and healing. It encouraged me that there are children (and their parents) who benefit from and are blessed by my love and care even if the adoption agency wont let us continue. However I had to give these children back and say goodbye, I had to go back to a child free tent, come home to a child free flat. This really pulls at my emotions. In reference to my previous post I am also going back in my emotions to process and grieve the potential children we could have had. This meant there was one very messy afternoon at the Catalyst festival where I dissolved in tears while cooking dinner. It was the start of a process that needed to happen but it wasn't comfortable. The evening meeting after that tearful dinner was spent, for a bit, with a lovely little girl in my arms which was lovely and difficult at the same time. Processing emotions around not being able to have my own children while loving on other people's children is both messy and beautiful. I also found it really hard when the children I was spending time with were tired or hurt - they only wanted their parents. It really hurts that I will never be that comforting, fulfilling presence that a child longs for from a parent when they need it most.

I am a child of the living God.

Through everything that has been going on recently I have really been struggling with my identity, I didn't know who I was. I also couldn't sing worship songs that talked about God being good or that he would never let us down. I felt completely defined by the fact that I can't have children and we can't adopt. I could not reconcile our unmet desire to be parents and our failed natural attempts, fertility treatments, IVF and adoption attempt with a good God who doesn't let us down. When I had my messy meltdown while cooking dinner a good, trusted friend who is also an elder in our church was at our tent talking to Neil. He had to pick up the pieces (and stir our dinner to prevent it from burning!) He told me, among other things, that I was a child of the living God and asked me to repeat it. I couldn't repeat it. It was like something was physically stopping those words from coming out of my mouth and stopping the truth of those words from penetrating my heart. All I could think and say was how much of a horrible person I was, I couldn't see the truth and felt like a failure. Then our friend said something that made my thinking start to change. He said that Jesus promised in the Bible that he would never leave us and that he gave good gifts to his children. I heard this but didn't really believe it. He then said that Jesus also promised in the Bible that he would rise from the dead and that as we know that is true we can trust that all the other promises in the Bible are true. That was when my thinking changed. I know Jesus kept his promise to rise from the dead so I know he will keep the other promises too. I may never understand why all this has happened this side of heaven but I know Jesus will never leave me and that he is good and will not let me down. I can't really remember much more of the conversation but by the end of it I was tentitavly able to say 'I am a child of the living God'. This truth was repeated in the evening worship and I was able to receive it, I even wrote it in my journal in big bubble writing! This morning, at church we sang a song that talked about God being good and that he will never let us down. I was able to sing it this morning.
I spent some time serving on the team working with adults with learning disabilities at the festival. There was a moment where I made a connection with a young lady who was questioning her future and whether God really loved and valued her. I made eye contact with her while singing and signing 'the Father Himself loves you' and I knew she knew that God valued her and loved her for who she is. In that moment I knew that to be true for me too. God uses broken people to serve broken people.

I am slowly healing from the trauma of trying and not suceeding to have children but have slowed down my moving on to ensure I grieve and recover fully. I have readjusted my thinking to view myself as a mother. I have realigned my emotions and feelings to allow myself to love other people's children. I am starting to plan how I can practically love our friends' children whilst also healing my own heart. That's what I got from this year's Catalyst festival.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

A crushing blow

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This has got to be the hardest post I have had to write. The last post I wrote on this blog was about how, as prospective adopters we were expectant parents. Now, I have to write to tell you all that we are no longer expectant parents. Our adoption agency have told us we cannot go forward with the adoption. It's looking like we will not be adoptive parents and it's highly likely we will not be parents at all. We have both been completely knocked sideways by this and are very upset and quite angry. In this post, I will attempt to explain what has happened in the run up to, during and in the aftermath of this decision. Please bear with me as I try to process this through writing my blog.

The run up - shaken but all is not lost
A month or so ago the half marathon I had been training for for months was cancelled at the last minute due to snow. This was a Sunday. As the roads were supposed to be closed in the morning for the run our church service was happening in the afternoon, like every year. We went to church in the afternoon having had a completely different day to what we had been expecting and had prepared for. Last year Neil got formally diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. I have some professional experience in this area and had been helping him out for years with issues he had with coping with different types of change and some social situations. When we started thinking about adoption we thought we'd get an official diagnosis so we could be completely transparent and Neil would not just come across as an angry man. As part of his Asperger's Neil has hypersensitive hearing and is particularly bothered by loud, bassy music - it causes him physical pain. On this particular Sunday Neil found the worship at church particularly uncomfortable and he had to leave the room. Unfortunately, he looked back at me as he left and thought (wrongly) I was upset with him. He came back and took my hand and we left the room quickly and quite roughly to outside eyes. The change of plan in the morning, the hypersensitivity to noise and misunderstanding my emotions all led to Neil getting very upset and needing help from a friend to calm down. The situation was dealt with and we sorted out our differences. The friend who helped him calm down was one of our references for the adoption.
2 weeks ago our social worker met with that friend and his wife to gather a verbal reference. The Sunday after that meeting the friends fed back to us about the meeting. They said the incident had come up in discussion and they had sensitively explained what had happened and what we had been doing since to improve things and make sure that didn't happen again. They said that they had gotten the impression from our social worker that, although we needed to discuss it, it wouldn't necessarily stop us moving forward. 
We were a bit worried but still quite hopeful. We were not cross at all with our friends for telling our social worker about what had happened. We were going to tell him anyway.

The blow is dealt
Last Thursday we were called to a meeting with our social worker and his team manager. During the meeting we each had to separately explain the incident and our perspective on it and then explain what we were doing about it, strategies we were using and how we were ensuring it didn't happen again. They listened and praised us for the strategies we had put in place and were planning on putting in place. They then explained that having a child, particularly an adopted child leaves you subject to several sudden changes every day. They then said that people with Asperger's could not easily adapt to change or had issues doing so. After listing all our positives (which I think all related to me) they just said that we couldn't be adoptive parents with them at this time due to the issues with Asperger's and change. As they had said 'at this time' I asked when we could adopt. They could not give us a timescale and simply kept saying we weren't ready. I told them it wasn't a fair decision and they started raising things that have previously been quoted as positives about us both as reasons why we're not right to be adoptive parents. They didn't even say sorry.
In addition to all this we found out a month or so ago that our landlord is selling our flat and there was a viewing that day about an hour after we left the meeting. We couldn't cancel it so we went from this awful meeting to Costa and hid at the back drowning our sorrows in chocolate!

The immediate aftermath
We were, and are completely devastated and feel like we are being discriminated against. It really feels like another miscarriage. For years we have been fighting and praying for God to fulfil the deepest desires of our hearts (possibly deeper desire for me than Neil). Now this! I am really struggling to reconcile a kind, loving God who only wants good things for me with this current circumstance. On the other hand I'm also leaning into God and relying on his love, peace and comfort to get me through this ordeal. It's a very strange experience having these two feelings side by side.

What now?
We may have a case to raise for discrimination but not yet. If we do make a complaint it will not be to change the decision, that has been made and we cannot change it. It will be to make sure this kind of discrimination does not happen to other people. I do not want others to go through the pain and trauma we are currently going through. We need to deal with our hearts first and foremost and try to heal and come back from this. We will take our time. We are planning on speaking to a social worker from Home for Good (a Christian adoption support charity) to get a second opinion and a bit of support from someone in the know.
Right now we are in survival mode and trying to come to terms with the fact that we are unlikely to become parents. We have both taken a few days off work and are hunkering down and spending as much time hurting together as possible. We have a wonderful support network and are being looked after. People are offering meals, space and support as we deal with this blow.
We are slowly starting to think about the future. We can try naturally but it is far from easy for us for physical and psychological reasons. This is something we need to pray and think about. At this stage I feel like, if we try naturally and conceive then what on earth was the point of this trauma and all the years of trying and IVF trauma?! Maybe we will find a way to be parents but we really need to prepare our hearts and minds for the fact that our outcome of this struggle may well be to live as a childless couple.
I have been re-reading a book called Resurrection Year about a couple who were in a similar situation and made a drastic change and pursued a different dream together. We have been discussing what out own resurrection year would look like. We have both said that if the result of this is that we live a childless life we want to give ourselves a brand new challenge, move away, have an adventure together. I have a few business dreams that we are now looking into more seriously. Maybe it's time to pursue a different dream.

Sunday, 21 January 2018


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For the first time in a year and a half I can now say that Neil and I are expectant parents. We are preparing our hearts and our home to welcome in our child. For us, though we will likely have more than nine months for this preparation. This is because I'm not pregnant; we have stepped into the world of preparing to adopt. We are in the middle of stage 1 and are currently learning all about why children need to find adoptive families, how their experiences affect things like attachment and how we as adoptive parents can help them find their place in the world. We have had conversations with each other and with social workers about the type of child we feel we could welcome into our family and have started planning changes to our home to make it more child friendly.

I am still infertile, I will always be infertile (barring a miracle). I will always be mother to eight little ones in heaven. They will always be part of my story. But now I am in a process that is highly likely to end with a child in our home. I'm not under any illusions about the adoption process, I'm well aware that things could go wrong and we might not get approved to bring home a child. However, our agency have said that they do everything they can to get you approved and help you deal with issues that would stop this as and when they arise. After all being pregnant is no guarantee that you are going to have a baby in your home. All that being said I am currently in transition from childless mother to expectant mother. It's a strange feeling because I still feel sad when others announce pregnancies or I see others interacting with their children but it's through a different lens. Unlike a pregnant expectant mum I don't have a clear time limit on my waiting (although I have rough guidelines for the different stages) but I still feel hope that one day in the not too distant future I will be interacting with my own child and celebrating the day they get to share our surname. Another difference when you are expectant through adoption rather than pregnancy is that there are no outward signs. When you see a lady with a baby bump you know she will soon be mummy, when you see me you have no idea that I am an expectant mummy. That is one of the things that makes the transition quite tricky to navigate as people don't know why I'm having to make changes in my life. We have to get voluntary experience with children so have had to cancel some commitments to prioritise these activities and have also had to have lots of evenings just reading and studying which makes us quite tired. 

One thing I have learnt a lot about throughout this whole journey to parenthood is grieving. The grief of infertility is unique in it's duration and repetitive nature. It is relentless. But it is still possible to move through the stages of grief during infertility and come to a place of acceptance. I am there now. I have accepted that, for such a time as this, I will not have a biological child. I will have a child to love, nurture and raise but they will not share my genetic information. With God's help I have made peace with this fact. Recently, however, I have realised there are lots of little things that I also need to grieve. One of my colleagues is pregnant and the other day fellow colleagues were getting all excited trying to guess whether she's having a boy or a girl. I was left feeling very sad and it struck me that I'm not going to have that moment where people gaze at my bump and guess if it's a girl or a boy. It's a bit of a silly example but it's another thing I need to grieve. At this stage we don't know how old or able our child will be. We may never have to cope with nappy changes, night feeds, toilet training, weaning to solid foods and many other things. These are things that I'm sure many parents would not wish to repeat but they are valuable, necessary parts of parenting and if our child has passed through these stages when they come home with us they will be other things we will have to grieve. This ongoing, complex grief is one reason, I believe, that the adoption process involves such lengthy, in depth paperwork and interviews; so you can be sure you have worked through it all. I am certainly getting there.

Faithful God
Five years ago I received a promise from God that I would have a child to raise and nurture in my home with my husband. A turbulent journey with fertility treatment, IVF, miscarriage and failed medical tests has seriously rocked my faith in God's ability to make good on this promise. I'm beginning to realise that the child I am made to nurture does not have to grow inside me for me to nurture them. I count myself privileged to be in a position where I can provide nurturing love, care and attention to a child who has had a difficult start in life. My prayer life has been adversely affected by all that has happened and I still really struggle to pray for myself in any respect. I have been unable to pray for a baby for myself for 2 years, since my first miscarriage. I am now able to pray for this adoption to be successful but I am very careful with my wording, praying more for the child and Neil than myself. I am fortunate to have a support network of people who pray for me and who pray for my journey to be mummy as I am unable to do it myself. It is strange because I still believe that God keeps his promises and answers prayer but I have been waiting so long and had so many disappointments I cannot bring myself to utter those prayers anymore. My prayer life is wobbly at best but I am trying to get better. We have already had some setbacks and difficulties in this adoption process but I am trying to remember to trust God with these things and bring them to Him in prayer.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Baby loss, mental health and me.

This past week has been baby loss awareness week and Tuesday was World Mental Health day. It was also the week when I had confirmation that I have mild generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and began cognitive behaviour therapy to treat it. In addition, yesterday marks 2 years since my first embryo was implanted into my womb. In light of that it seems an appropriate time to write a post about how baby loss and mental health affects me in my day to day living.

It is a known fact to readers of this blog that I have had 2 miscarriages and am no stranger to baby loss. I actually consider myself to have lost 8 babies. When our embryos were created we had 8 little blobs in the freezer that each contained some of my genetic information and some of Neil's. We had 8 potential babies. We have now lost all 8 of those potential babies through various events. The first 2 were lost because they failed the genetic tests all our embryos were subjected to. They were abnormal due to my balanced chromosome translocation and did not have the right genetic material to be viable. We instructed the clinic to let them perish. The next potential baby was the embryo that was implanted into my womb 2 years ago yesterday. Despite promising signs during the 2 week wait the pregnancy test taken at the end of that wait was negative; baby had failed to implant. The next loss was the most challenging both physically and mentally. Two weeks after implantation the obligatory pregnancy test was positive. I was pregnant for the first time ever in my life. The story is recorded in previous posts in this blog so I won't repeat it here but the pregnancy ended in a missed miscarriage picked up at 8 weeks. The baby had died at 6 weeks and I had a surgically managed miscarriage when I was technically 10 weeks pregnant. Baby number 5 also gave me a positive pregnancy test. This one was also not meant to be and the tests became negative within a week. It was a miscarriage before 5 weeks and is classed as a chemical pregnancy. The last three babies we lost were all lost because I had a real sense from God that enough was enough and we made the difficult decision to donate our 3 remaining embryos to medical research (thus benefiting future parents and justifying their existence) and close the door on our IVF journey.

Those are the cold hard facts of my experience with baby loss but it is not that simple. It's now well over a year since my last miscarriage and 5 months since we donated our remaining 3 embryos to medical research. I have grieved a lot. However, I continue to grieve, I think I will continue to grieve as long as I live. Grief comes in waves. But it is easier to let other things come into my life. I will never forget my 8 babies even though I never met them. The grief of baby loss and infertility is an ever present feature in my life and the intensity comes and goes. I often find myself surrounded by babies and bumps, particularly at church and sometimes the jealousy and unfairness of it all overwhelms me. I am so excited and ready for the next step of adoption but I would be made of wood if I didn't feel the sting of loss. I am slowly getting to a place where I can feel happy for other families and my grief and pain is not so visible. With God's help I am now hopeful for a future where I will be Mummy and Neil will be Daddy. Baby loss has entered my life and changed it. A lot of the change has been painful and feels negative but there have been positive changes too. I feel like I have grown in my abilities to encourage and comfort other people generally but especially people who have had experience of baby loss and/or infertility. I also feel like I am more kind, empathetic and understanding for having gone through my experiences of baby loss.

One of the seemingly negative changes that has happened due to my baby loss experiences is that my anxiety has gotten to a stage that it is now classifiable as a medical condition; generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Growing up I was always a very anxious person and had quite a few phobias. I was terrified of dogs and being sick. The phobia of being sick took over my life as a student and developed into a fear of food. I would control what I ate and how much I ate so that I didn't ever feel full which was akin to feeling sick to me. I would avoid situations such as eating in front of others or in a restaurant.Through a combination of prayer and me working hard to change my thinking I was able to break free from both phobias and all the anxiety and panic attacks that plagued me. As I have posted here before my struggles with infertility, failed IVF and baby loss have triggered my phobia of being sick and fear of food and left me with clinical depression. On three separate occasions my depression got so bad that I deliberately cut my wrists just to get some release and as a cry for help. I have been in some dark places. I have received counselling and prayer and am now in a much better place. As well as GAD I do currently have a diagnosis of mild depression but I feel like I am in control of that. I have realised that my anxiety is taking over my life and making it quite hard to function so have started cognitive behaviour therapy for it. It is an illness that needs treating, not just the way I am.

For me GAD means I have a ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach constantly. A lot of the time I can push it down to the bottom and function normally and people don't know that there's anything wrong. But sometimes it rises to the surface and I feel like I can't cope. I currently have panic attacks about once a fortnight and I often burst into tears without really feeling upset inside. I do have a list of recognised triggers for my panic attacks and crying episodes: being in a group of people or large crowd, being around pregnant people or young babies eating in front of people (not Neil) or out in a restaurant, feeling full, feeling sick and when my friends are talking to someone else (that is hard to admit as it makes me feel like a bad, jealous person but anxiety is irrational and distorts your thinking). Sometimes though the panic attacks and crying episodes come completely out of the blue with no obvious trigger. Also, the situations on my list of triggers do not trigger my anxiety every time I am in them although if I am feeling particularly bad I will try to avoid those things. I also often find myself going through the day with a real sense of dread and feeling like something awful is about to happen. It's not all doom and gloom and I am managing to function on a day to day basis and often feel happy and like I am enjoying life. I am so thankful that I am able to go to work and that actually work provides enough of a distraction that I often don't notice the ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. I have had one day recently where I burst into tears randomly at work and had to explain that no one had actually upset me it was just a symptom of my GAD. I have recently been asked to step up and teach one day a week at work and this is a challenge I am relishing and enjoying. It really helps take my mind off the anxiety but I am worried that the manager will see me crying if it happens again, think I'm not coping and take my teaching day away. That is the opposite of helpful. I'm probably worrying over nothing; that's GAD for you!

My life has been shaped by baby loss and that includes my mental health. I am now getting help for my mental health conditions and with God's help I will come out the other side a stronger, more rounded person. I hope that I can continue to help others and develop my giftings in encouragement, kindness and comfort, even from the middle of my mess.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Being Vulnerable and being kind

This is a story of my summer. It has been a time of very mixed emotions, some good, some bad; of challenges, times of rest and disappointments. I work in education so I have had the best part of 2 months on 'Summer Holiday' so this post is the story of those 2 months.

Beginning in Hope

At the end of June/beginning of July Neil and I decided to try, really try to get pregnant naturally. We had made the decision a few months earlier to stop all fertility treatments and move on to adoption as our way of trying to build our family. You can read more about that in previous blog posts. We were content and at peace with the decision we had made but we both felt called to try one last time to have our own biological child. This is far from easy for us. I suffer from extreme pain and muscle spasms/tightness during intercourse so we have found other ways to enjoy each other. It's also emotionally hard for us as it reminds us of what we have lost. But we both felt we should try. We did everything we could to help make it possible. We followed something called the sperm meets egg plan which sets out precisely when you should 'get together' for optimal conception. I took painkillers and had hot baths to relax me. We did everything right. We kept it secret, only telling one other person that we were trying. We were convinced it had worked, I even felt symptoms of early pregnancy. Our summer began in hope.

Kindness during suffering

I wasn't pregnant. I found out at the beginning of August. It was test day according to the plan. I had been at work at the care home where I used to work full time since early in the morning so I waited till later in the day to take the test. It was the day before my period was due and I felt different to how I normally do so I secretly hoped. But I think I knew really. The test was negative and about an hour later my period started. I was crushed as that all too familiar feeling of disappointment and hope floating away yet again washed over me. I also felt really sad for Neil. We really are happy that we are going to adopt but there are still things I need to work through. One of those things is the fact that I'm never going to see Neil interacting with our own newborn baby.
This disappointment and sadness came around the same time that I had watched a documentary on TV about a lady who writes encouraging letters to people going through tough, challenging times in their lives. This inspired me so much I decided to do something similar. So I put a post on some of the social media groups for people going through infertility and baby loss that I'm part of and got quite a response. Most of the people I have written to are not Christians but I prayed for them as I wrote and wrote whatever I felt they needed to hear. I have had some feedback that I wrote exactly the words that were needed at that moment. I love how God works through us even at our weakest points. I wrote a letter on the day that I had my negative test and had to really work hard to be encouraging to someone else as I was hurting. I did it though and felt God minister to me as I ministered to others through these letters.

Beginning to heal

A few days after that negative test Neil and I headed off to Cornwall for CreationFest. It's a free (just pay for camping) Christian festival. We had a week of enjoying time together as a couple and some great times with God. It was really nice to be in a place where no one knew us or what was going on with us. We could feel what we needed to feel when we needed to feel it. We did share our story with some on the prayer team and got some prayer but it was just nice to have time to talk together and with God. We sang a song through the week with the line 'my impossible, He makes possible'. I came away with a new hope that God would make my impossible possible. I will be Mummy. I don't know when or how but I know it will happen. I left that week a different person, I was still sad and struggling with disappointment but hope and peace had crept back in. I was beginning to heal.

Fellowship and vulnerability

Last weekend, as the summer holiday was coming to an end I went to a retreat day for women going through infertility, miscarriage and childlessness. It was organised by the wonderful ladies at Saltwater and Honey and was a refreshing yet difficult day. It was a day of hearing and sharing stories, of being vulnerable with each other and being brave enough to share in each other's grief. There was something very healing and refreshing about sharing your story with women with similar stories. I was able to speak to a lady who has a similar story to mine and get some perspective from a bit further along in our story. We sat in the chapel tasting the bitterness of saltwater as we grieved together and the sweetness of honey as we recognised the joys that can come during this time and I felt like I had found my people. I realised during the day that I am not as good at being vulnerable with my infertility story as I thought I was. I can write about it in graphic detail in this blog and in social media posts and emails with ease. In fact I couldn't get through this journey without this blog. But when I really think about it I very rarely sit down with anyone other than Neil and really talk about my suffering and grief. At this retreat day we were given opportunity to do this and it was very healing. We learnt about how we all carry shame and that shame can form a block in our relationship with God. Talking about our struggles and sharing our shame breaks down that block and the relationship can be rebuilt. I am not very good at that. I need to think about who I have in my life who I can have this kind of vulnerability with. I have a few people in mind but I am scared of saying too much and being rejected or not being able to be there for them. I guess I just need to start and this retreat was a start.

So that was my summer, well some of it. I spent the first part thinking I may finally be pregnant naturally and the rest of it coming to terms with the fact that I wasn't, again. Oh and I have started doing kind things, like writing letters and sending gifts and cards to others going through similar struggles. I like to think I am doing this:

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Learning to forgive myself

I am having a tough week. The kind of week where every day throws another reason to beat yourself up at you. And it's only Tuesday. I keep making mistakes, mishearing things, misunderstanding people and letting people down. I'm having a really hard time liking myself and can't imagine why anyone would want to spend any time with me let alone like or even love me. I can't even understand why hubby, or even God would love me. I know this all sounds a bit miserable and dramatic  I'm just being real.
I can't understand why God, or anyone, would love me but I KNOW God loves me. I need to pull myself out of this low point before I get in too deep. I need to learn to forgive myself, to give myself a break. I don't really know how to do this but I have started this afternoon by listening to worship music. I also listed the things I have done wrong and asked for God's forgiveness for them. I believe God had forgiven me for those things but I am a long way off being able to forgive myself. I want to see myself as God sees me. I feel like I don't really know who I am at the moment. I don't know where my identity lies anymore. I know I am a daughter of God but I don't feel worthy just now.