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RESOLVE: Infertility Etiquette, Part 2 #NIAW

Posted by Julie on April 25, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |
Julie's note: April 23-29 is #NIAW---National Infertility Awareness Week. Although my infertility experiences are not recent, I remember the anguish, comments, and the devastation as if it were yesterday. I will be sharing information from RESOLVE.org in hopes of helping readers better understand infertility.

If you are looking for more personal resources, A WALK IN THE VALLEY is a workbook/devotional that takes readers through six different infertility experiences from diagnosis to doctors to where we are now. I am one of the authors and it is a raw, but helpful book I so wish had existed when I was hurting. You can purchase A WALK IN THE VALLEY HERE.

Infertility Etiquette

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than seven million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.

Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

  • They will eventually conceive a baby.
  • They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
  • They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.

Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don’t know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

RESOLVE: Infertility Etiquette

Don’t Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant
For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don’t follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn’t ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.

Let’s face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.

Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to “dream” about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don’t Gossip About Your Friend’s Condition
Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.

Regardless of why you are sharing this information with someone else, it hurts and embarrasses your friend to find out that Madge the bank teller knows what your husband’s sperm count is and when your next period is expected. Infertility is something that should be kept as private as your friend wants to keep it. Respect your friend’s privacy, and don’t share any information that your friend hasn’t authorized.

Don’t Push Adoption (Yet)
Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. (As an adoptive parent, I can fully vouch for this!!) However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a “stranger’s baby,” they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy’s eyes and Mommy’s nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. When my husband and I went for our initial adoption interview, we expected the first question to be, “Why do you want to adopt a baby?” Instead, the question was, “Have you grieved the loss of your biological child yet?” Our social worker emphasized how important it is to shut one door before you open another.

You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn’t her “own,” then adoption isn’t the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.

Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, “Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.”) However, “pushing” the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.

So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say “I am giving you this baby,” there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn’t your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lessen the load. Here are a few ideas.

Let Them Know That You Care
The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you to be there for them lightens the load and lets them know that they aren’t going through this alone.

Remember Them on Mother’s Day
With all of the activity on Mother’s Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother’s Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law.

Mother’s Day is an important celebration and one that I relish now that I am a mother. However, it was very painful while I was waiting for my baby. Remember your infertile friends on Mother’s Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven’t “forgotten” them.

Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments
No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief. Even if the couple chooses to adopt a baby, they must still first grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes.

Once the couple has made the decision to stop treatments, support their decision. Don’t encourage them to try again, and don’t discourage them from adopting, if that is their choice. Once the couple has reached resolution (whether to live without children, adopt a child, or become foster parents), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don’t try to open that chapter again.

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RESOLVE: Infertility Etiquette, Part 1 #NIAW

Posted by Julie on April 23, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |
Julie's note: April 23-29 is #NIAW---National Infertility Awareness Week. Although my infertility experiences are not recent, I remember the anguish, comments, and the devastation as if it were yesterday. I will be sharing information from RESOLVE.org in hopes of helping readers better understand infertility.

If you are looking for more personal resources, A WALK IN THE VALLEY is a workbook/devotional that takes readers through six different infertility experiences from diagnosis to doctors to where we are now. I am one of the authors and it is a raw, but helpful book I so wish had existed when I was hurting. You can purchase A WALK IN THE VALLEY HERE.

Infertility Etiquette

Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than seven million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.

Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

  • They will eventually conceive a baby.
  • They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
  • They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.

Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don’t know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

RESOLVE: Infertility Etiquette

Don’t Tell Them to Relax

Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she “relaxed.” Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of “relaxing” are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as “infertile” until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren’t infertile but just need to “relax.” Those that remain are truly infertile.

Comments such as “just relax” or “try going on a cruise” create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.

These comments can also reach the point of absurdity. As a couple, my husband and I underwent two surgeries, numerous inseminations, hormone treatments, and four years of poking and prodding by doctors. Yet, people still continued to say things like, “If you just relaxed on a cruise . . .” Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor, and even with treatment, many couples will NEVER successfully conceive a child. Relaxation itself does not cure medical infertility.

Don’t Minimize the Problem

Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone’s life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.

Comments like, “Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.,” do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn’t tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father’s Day or Mother’s Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn’t even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

Don’t Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen

Along the same lines, don’t tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the “worst” thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?

Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the “worst” thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the “worst” thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the “worst” thing that could happen.

People wouldn’t dream of telling someone whose parent just died, “It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead.” Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don’t tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don’t Say They Aren’t Meant to Be Parents

One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, “Maybe God doesn’t intend for you to be a mother.” How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don’t you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn’t he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren’t religious, the “maybe it’s not meant to be” comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don’t Ask Why They Aren’t Trying IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method in which the woman harvests multiple eggs, which are then combined with the man’s sperm in a petri dish. This is a method that can produce multiple births. People frequently ask, “Why don’t you just try IVF?” in the same casual tone they would use to ask, “Why don’t you try shopping at another store?”

Don’t Be Crude

It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don’t make crude jokes about your friend’s vulnerable position. Crude comments like “I’ll donate the sperm” or “Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination” are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don’t Complain About Your Pregnancy

This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.

The number one rule is DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don’t put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.

Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from a baby growing inside of you. When I heard a pregnant woman complain about morning sickness, I would think, “I’d gladly throw up for nine straight months if it meant I could have a baby.” When a pregnant woman would complain about her weight gain, I would think, “I would cut off my arm if I could be in your shoes.”

I managed to go to baby showers and hospitals to welcome my friends’ new babies, but it was hard. Without exception, it was hard. Stay sensitive to your infertile friend’s emotions, and give her the leeway that she needs to be happy for you while she cries for herself. If she can’t bring herself to hold your new baby, give her time. She isn’t rejecting you or your new baby; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

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Three God Whispers to Live By

Posted by Julie on April 19, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

How did we get into April? I am loving the lilacs, lawn mower sounds, and general themes of new life and beginnings. If nothing else happens in April, I was giddy to be over March. That was a tough month full of adversity and challenges.

Three God Whispers to Live By

What made things extra hard was that they were not my challenges. Both our kids were facing things that left them hurting and asking God why. I’ve faced prayer times that I thought were difficult, but seeing their pain nearly broke me.

One night we grieved and prayed together. We asked God tough questions and requested wisdom, discernment, and direction.

Not everything has changed, but here are three things God whispered to my heart to prepare for and to apply to the challenges.

 

  • Close the current door with grace. We had an opportunity that we knew wasn’t working. It was time to leave, but feelings were raw and the true defeated one was trying to leave us in a quake of anxiety and depression. It would be easy and tempting to walk away angry and bitter. God’s whisper was to close the door with grace. More than that, the same manner we close one door is the exact way we open the next. We definitely wanted to act wisely.

 

  • Use your voice. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but “praying in your head” doesn’t have the power that praying out loud does. I don’t think God is looking for us to stand in the middle of a park and start talking in King James Bible translation, but when we use our voice and pray, heaven moves and hell quakes. I’ve seen it. As I prayed with the kids, that phrase kept coming back. They needed to push back fears and bring down heaven’s promises to earth with declaration. That takes a voice, and in their hard times, I believe God is developing a powerful voice to speak on His behalf.

 

  • Hands off. They are toddler rules, but I need to hear them. It is my personality to run way ahead of God, turn around, and ask Him how I’m doing. I call it living, “Sarah, Plan B,” and it is not a lifestyle you want to emulate. Sarah ended up with an “Ishmael” of a problem. I hate seeing the kids hurt, but I’ve been around long enough in faith to know that what’s happening is a refining fire. He’s taking everything that isn’t going to work in serving Him and melting it away through affliction. What’s left is pure Him. In their hard times I’m seeing a new level of faith from them. They are pressing in, going to Him and not giving up. I can’t orchestrate that or manipulate it. I’m not going to lie, being an observer of the process was one of the hardest things I’ve come up against as a parent.

I believe with this season and God’s whispers, the kids will look back and credit the time as a spiritual marker—a time they mark as when God changed everything.

Have you gone through a searing time of adversity where God whispered to you?

***

Finding Freedom Through Surrender-A 30 Day Devotional available on Amazon.

 

 

FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER-A 30 Day Devotional features the characters and issues from ENTRUSTED, ENTANGLED, and ENGAGED to encourage you as you let go of fear, loss, change, regret and dreams. I also share my own stories where I was broken and in need of surrender. If you’ve read my contemporary romance series, you’ll be familiar with the characters and inspired. If you’re new to my writing, the devotionals will introduce you to characters and situations you can relate to. Purchase HERE.

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Join Me at Inspy Romance

Posted by Julie on April 9, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

I’ve often said that I’m a reader and then a writer. When I critique manuscripts, it isn’t as an editor that I go through chapters. I look as a reader. I’m such a fan of books.

As an author, I read a lot of blogs to learn more about the craft. One of my favorite blogs has been Inspy Romance. It’s a blog from Christian authors talking about writing, and their passion is to connect with readers. They write in a style that makes me feel like we’re sitting around a table enjoying a cup of coffee.

And secretly, I wished I could be a part of that team.

I never uttered it because it seemed too lofty. As it is, I write every other Wednesday for Christians Read, and that blog includes some of my favorite Christian authors of all time. I have devoured their books. I do not feel like I’m on the same playing field, let alone same sport. So to want to be part of another great blog? I felt silly.

Yet I felt this year would be about transformation, my word for the year. That new opportunities would blossom out of nowhere. That for the prayers and spiritual battles we’ve stayed obedient with, there would be a new level of faith and favor in our lives. Not a “we get stuff” mentality, but that we would be and feel blessed. It’s hard to explain.

But Inspy Romance came calling.

If you aren’t familiar with this blog, they are focused on readers. They host frequent giveaways. They talk about how their stories came to be. Cover design. Funny stories. And so much more.

My first post is Tuesday, April 11 and I will introduce myself and have a giveaway. I hope you not only read my post, but subscribe to the blog. If you love reading Christian romance, you will enjoy the blog.

Happy Reading!

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What 47 Looks Like on Me

Posted by Julie on April 8, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

I’ve been doing this a few years, post-birthday, sharing where I am, how far I’ve come, and where I hope to go.

How 47 Looks On Me

I have to say, 47 is weird. It’s a stone’s throw to 50, and wow, that’s an age I never gave a lot of thought to as a college student. That seems like yesterday.

One problem.

My SON is the college student, not me.

In fact, I just got notice my college reunion, #25, is this year.

Wow.

It’s a year where two of our children, Tom’s first two that I met when they were 12 and 10, are expecting sons this summer. We’re going to be grandparents. Yet, we have a middle schooler. And honestly? I relate more to teens than senior citizens. I’m eligible to be in the senior group in less than 10 years. And I just can’t see myself jumping all in for that. But the youth conferences I’m invited to attend as part of the adults helping out? I love it. Love it.

Weird.

I have to color my sassy red hair monthly, but if I felt it were safe and I had that kind of money, it could be every other week. Red is hard to maintain, but what it covers is white. Snow white. And I am NOT going there just yet.

If ever.

But 46 was a stumble, if not all-out free-fall in confidence. Menopause has been part of my life for years, thanks to surgery. Something about 2016 was a marker for everything to flip on me. Waking every hour. Volcanic temperatures. Voracious hunger. Mood swings I had not had in years. Depression. Anxiety. Weight gain.

So entering 47 is with a bit of trepidation. Thankfully, an endocrinologist helped get my health straightened out and I feel a lot better. But a tiny part wonders if it is short-term. There are times emotionally I feel completely fragile, and I hate it. People need me. And I don’t like spiraling out with no reason except hormones.

Yet, in those tears and exhaustion, so much happened that was GOOD. Our oldest son of the four kids got married to a wonderful woman. Our son graduated from high school and started pursuing education at Kent State. I started my own writing and speaking business/ministry. In three months I released two books in both print and eBook form. Now my hormones rebelling makes more sense…

It’s in writing I feel I’m on more stable ground. When I questioned God if I was doing the right thing, it was at 3:23 in the morning I woke and knew I was supposed to open my Bible to Colossians 3:23.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23

I feel free from numbers. Where my books rank. How much money they generate. I want to see readers living free in Christ. This 47th year I am on track to finish my first contemporary romance series with ENGAGED and start the first of six book in my new series about surrendering what others think. I’m not scared. I’m excited.

I take into 47 an amazing piece of wisdom my pastor shared when I doubted I could survive the stress and changes. He told me to picture an arch, and imagine Jesus on the other side. As long as I stayed on one side and Him on the other, a million tons of stuff could be on that arch and it would not break. That held true through all the things I mentioned, plus much more I have not.

It is true as I’ve watched the kids grow in Him through their personal valleys I know all too well: rejection. Loneliness. Depression. Anxiety. Doing the right thing and feeling completely alone. Their pain has been the most devastating thing to observe and feel so helpless. Yet, we’ve had the deepest most intimate prayer times we’ve ever had. In those times, God revealed so many awesome things. Messages of hope. Encouragement. That they are not alone. They are deeply cared for.

I’m 47 and full of hope for the world and people around me. Not because of the election results or new administration, but because there are so many promises I’ve prayed and prayed and believe breakthrough is close at hand. For our family. Friends who are hurting. Ministries that are 1000% ready to give all God asks of them, and have 1% provision as far as the world sees. I don’t know how or when, but I know it’s close.

And I guess to sum it up, it’s the same two words I’d use for turning 47.

I’m ready.

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iBloom: 5 Steps to Grow Your Business (FREE gift from iBloom)

Posted by Julie on April 1, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

 5 STEPS TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS

Do you want to grow your business this year? [FREE gift from iBloom!]

 

Is your business on life support? Or at the very least, is it not growing as quickly as you’d hoped?

When I needed help turning a corner in my business, iBloom was there to help me and I am SO thankful for them! There was a lot that I was doing right but there were pieces that just weren’t coming together.

All I really wanted was to

1) Work my business

2) Earn the income I needed

3) Make a difference in the process

I just needed some help making these three come together. Can you relate?

 

5 STEPS TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS THIS YEAR

(What you need to know for your business to GROW!)

If you’re tired of working your business and not getting great results, then this FREE training is for YOU! iBloom can help you grow your business, get results, and earn an income while making a difference.

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Blessings,

Julie

(I’m an affiliate partner for iBloom because there products mean so much to me.)



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