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My Infertility Walk in the Valley—#NIAW

Posted by Julie on April 26, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

April 23-29 is National Infertility Awareness Week, #NIAW. The theme this year is Listen Up, and I thought I’d share a bit of my story. 

 

I call infertility the sorority no woman wants to join. When my doctor explained that the pelvic pain and irregular periods I was having was most likely PCOS, polycystic ovaries, I was naive. He sat me down and talked for 45 minutes about his wife’s experience with endometriosis. He let me know there was a good chance that I would not conceive on my own. When it was time to leave, he made sure I knew that he wasn’t the final say. He had a strong faith, and he gave me tips on what to do.

I didn’t feel the reality of the diagnosis right away because I was engaged. I was busy preparing for a wedding, so the impact didn’t hit immediately. But like the forbidden fruit, I never really considered motherhood until there was a chance I might not experience it.

Once we were married, it became an obsession.

My full story is included in the book, A WALK IN THE VALLEY, so I’m limited in what I can share. But for those of you that know us now, we have two kids together. Most people don’t know as newlyweds, my husband had to learn how to inject progesterone in my backside. He was so nervous he often hit muscle, and that left me bedridden. The pelvic pain was so bad that I needed surgery, and they discovered my ovaries were 5x the normal size. I have a high tolerance for pain to this day because of it.

I left conferences that focused on parenting, and I had the shaky-lip-trying-not-to-cry at church when moms had to stand up on Mother’s Day to receive their flowers. It was more than an ache. It was a cavern of pain.

In posts earlier this week I shared infertility etiquette, and I made mistakes, too. I shared with people who couldn’t handle my reality and their responses or lack of one made things worse. I hid. I felt so “less than” that I shut my husband out most nights, hiding upstairs as soon as dinner was over.  I was attached to the internet, looking at all forums and articles that had anything to do with infertility. It wasn’t healthy and only kept my anger in a spiral.

If you are going through infertility, my prayer is that you don’t isolate yourself or use your computer as your only source of hope. I am not being commercial in recommending A WALK IN THE VALLEY, I truly believe in this book and wish I had it back when I was hurting. It contains my entire story from diagnosis to where I am today, but it also includes five other authors who share their entire stories. Not one of us has the same experience, so it is a transparent, comprehensive look at infertility.

If you need someone to talk to, I’m not a counselor, but feel free to contact me.

My prayers are with you.

***

My Infertility Walk in the Valley

Struggling with infertility? As a Christian, how do you work through the hurt, anger, frustration, pain, and sorrow? Where is God’s hope and joy?
This devotional workbook features the stores of real women, and helps you reflect on your experiences via journaling prompts, prayer exercises, and Scripture. Explore topics such as: *infertility testing *diagnosis *decision making *infertility treatment *miscarriage and pregnancy *pregnancy and childbirth after infertility *remaining childless *adoption *foster care, child sponsorship, and orphan hosting *and healing emotionally.

Written by six women who have completed their journey through infertility. Some eventually conceived and gave birth, others adopted, and others remain childless. But all of them have found peace in the loving arms of God. And you can too.

PURCHASE A WALK IN THE VALLEY HERE

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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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An Act of Surrender by Paula Mowery

An Act of Surrender

My husband and I both loved children and planned that we would carry on the Mowery tradition of five. When we decided to start trying to begin our family, I struggled and found that I had infertility issues.

Depression set in and even bitterness when I would see women and girls in unplanned pregnancies. My husband and I would provide a home full of love and a mother and father who had planned for the baby’s arrival.

I was finally able to conceive and have one daughter. But I still held ill feelings as I struggled once again to give my little one a brother or a sister. It never happened. My wise husband said that obviously we had what God wanted for us.

I did fill that baby void with caring for children in my home. This was a blessing to the parents to have a safe and caring place for their little ones. It also blessed us to provide this for the parents and the babies.

Later when my daughter was in her high school years, I was approached by a woman in our church association who runs the local pregnancy center. She wanted me to become the devotional leader for their Thursday evening classes. I told her I needed to think and pray about this.

I went to God with an attitude of “I can’t possibly do this with my history.” God had other plans. I surrendered to His nudging.

For about two years I would deliver the devotion to the girls on their Thursday evening classes. As each girl related her story, those past feelings melted away. I felt honored and humbled that God would use me to share His unconditional love with them. They deserved it.

I’m so glad God nudged me into surrendering to do something I never thought I would do. But as God forgave my former bitter feelings, those girls brought healing for me.

Julie’s Note: Paula and I both shared our infertility journeys with four other authors in the book, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. It is in a workbook format so readers can journal their personal thoughts as they read along. If you know anyone with infertility and/or miscarriage history, PLEASE purchase this book for them. It is not about making money, trust me. We want to see women healed as Paula shares above.

DSC_0275 (2)_editedPaula is a pastor’s wife, mom to a college student, author, acquiring editor, and speaker. No matter the hat she wears, she strives to honor God’s plan even if it means going out on a limb and leaving comfort zones. Reviewers have characterized her writing as “thundering with emotion.” Her book, Be The Blessing, won the 2014 Selah Award in the novella category. Paula enjoys reading and reviewing Christian fiction, writing Christian romance and devotionals, and helping other authors realize their dream of publication.  

 You can follow Paula at www.facebook.com/pages/Paula-Mowery/175869562589187. Learn more about Paula at her blog at www.paulamowery.blogspot.com

THE CRUX OF HONOR

An Act of Surrender is Paula Mowery's story and inspiration for The Crux of Honor.

An Act of Surrender is Paula Mowery’s story and inspiration for The Crux of Honor.

Chelsea Wilson’s life is a constant reminder of what living dishonorably looks like. At every turn she continues to prove her mother’s shunning must be deserved.

Dr. Kevin Alley returns to the old home place to establish his medical practice. After running into Chelsea, he knows his love for her is still strong.

Chelsea is ousted from her small rented room when her mother bursts in, proclaiming Chelsea’s pregnancy.

Kevin takes Chelsea in, giving her space to live on the upper level of his house.

When Chelsea’s baby displays life-threatening symptoms, Chelsea must face her mother. Secrets unfold about Chelsea’s parents. Can Chelsea and Kevin uncover the secrets linked to Amish heritage in time to save the baby? Can the two find love together despite their history?

Purchase THE CRUX OF HONOR here

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Books for the Readers on Your Christmas List

Posted by Julie on December 5, 2015 in About Me, Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, surrender, Writing |

If you’re looking for ideas for the readers on your Christmas list, I thought I’d give you some inspiration.

 

  1. The Heart Seekers Series. This includes A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger. It’s now all in one volume and for the first time, in print. If you’d like to indulge for yourself, the Kindle version is FREE through Sunday, December 6th.

    The Heart Seekers Series contains 3 books +character updates + #1 bestseller, The Christmas Tree Treasure.

    The Heart Seekers Series contains 3 books +character updates + #1 bestseller, The Christmas Tree Treasure.

Not only do you receive those novellas in one place, we wrote character updates (find out what happened to my characters, Nora Laing and Landon Gates.) We also included the #1 bestseller, A Christmas Tree Treasure.
I’m proud of this series and it’s a great deal.

2.

More Christmas Moments

More Christmas Moments

More Christmas Moments. Last year I wrote a blog post over at Christians Read about how to manage When the Most Wonderful Time of Year Isn’t. My CR colleague, Yvonne Lehman, asked if she could use the post in her book, More Christmas Moments. Not only is my contribution in there, but there are so many heartwarming and inspirational stories.
It’s  one to buy for yourself and also purchase for others.

3.

Entrusted is a perfect Christmas read.

Entrusted is a perfect Christmas read.

Entrusted. This is my baby, the bestselling Adirondack romance that explores surrendering fear through grief, loss, and change.

Entrusted is the first of three books and features a village of characters, laugh out loud moments, and inspiration to find freedom through surrender.

To purchase Entrusted, click here.

4. A Walk in the Valley. I wish I could tell you that no one struggles at Christmas.

A Walk in the Valley could help a loved one this Christmas.

A Walk in the Valley could help a loved one this Christmas.

A Walk in the Valley is a workbook designed to help you with healing through infertility. It’s the book I wish I could have had when I was hurting and angry.

To purchase A Walk in the Valley, click here.

If you want to keep informed of my writing so you can buy for Christmas, follow my Amazon page.

PS
Beyond purchasing, the best gift you can give an author is if you liked the book, leave a review. It makes a BIG difference!

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Saturday Confession: Walking with Whoppers

Posted by Julie on April 18, 2015 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

91LVPrvc+FLApril is Infertility Awareness Month and the release date for A Walk in the Valley: Christian Encouragement for Your Journey through Infertility. I am one of the authors and I thought today I’d give a snippet of my life as an infertility patient. The book takes each author’s story from diagnosis to where things are today. None of our stories are the same, especially the endings. I believe any woman who has experienced infertility and/or miscarriage at any time, even years ago, would be encouraged by this book. It’s real, but infused with hope from God’s Word.

I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries in 1995 but looking back, I had symptoms not long after puberty started. I had pelvic pain. Acne. Depression. As I grew into my twenties, each symptom became much worse.

I was engaged when the diagnosis came and the book goes into detail what life was like. But a typical wedding planning and newlywed experience wasn’t mine. Imagine monthly shots in the backside administered by someone scared to death to give them. The wide mood swings that took me very dark places. Pelvic pain so bad I had trouble walking.

My answer to prayer came in a surgery that is rarely performed anymore. I had a wedge resection where half of each ovary was taken out. At the time I thought that would end my chances to conceive. My surgeon explained it would enhance them. I was so desperate for relief from pain I surrendered it all. I just wanted to live.

After the surgery my doctor let me know why I was in so much pain. My ovaries were each 5x the size of normal. His words? “You were walking around with whoppers.”

I was pain free for years.

To pre order A Walk in the Valley, click here.



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