Thanksgiving in October

Burlap BlessingsOur family starts celebrating Thanksgiving early….like in October 😉 As an infertile couple that have been blessed with three babies that celebrate October birthdays, we have A LOT to be thankful for.

My youngest, Matthew, celebrated his 7th bday on Monday. Next Saturday my twins, celebrate their 9th birthday. My pregnancy with the twins was high risk, with a lot of drama that ended with me going into labor at 21 weeks. I spent 11 weeks and 5 days on bed rest in the hospital before I gave birth.

Next week on my blog, I will share some of the letters that I wrote to my sweet babies as I anxiously awaited their arrival. On their birthday, October 17th, I will share an excerpt from my book “Full Heart Empty Womb: How I Survived Infertility … Twice” about their miraculous birth.

It was one of the most difficult times in my life, but God gave me the strength to be the Mama that He knew I would one day be. So much to be Thankful for!

Photo cred to my amazing sis and her business Burlap Blessings​ Check her out on Facebook!

A Miracle High

Life can be a series of highs and lows.  My life has certainly been a testament to that.  Met and married my wonderful husband Eric – High.  Tried to conceive for a couple of years, failed fertility treatments, surgery – Low.  Successfully got pregnant through IVF – HUGE High!  High risk pregnancy that left me on bed rest for what felt like most of my pregnancy – Low.  Delivering premature but healthy twins – High/Low.  Five weeks and one day of being separated from them in the NICU – Low.

I could go on and on.  I want to share with you one of my favorite Highs.  He is my little Miracle High.  Eric and I were told that there was absolutely no way that we could conceive naturally.  For that reason we went through IVF to conceive Ethan and Ella.  I have no doubt that it was, indeed, a fact.  As I said this is a Miracle High.

January 2008

I woke up just like the day before. I had no idea that this morning would change all of our lives so much! Eric was getting ready for work and I was lying in bed watching Sports Center (his choice, not mine). I remembered that I needed to call in a prescription that day. Before I could get it, I had to take a pregnancy test.  My cycle was running way too long and I needed to get on progesterone to get me back on track.  I always thought this was a funny thing for me, of all people, to have to do.  I mean, we know I can’t get pregnant.  On top of that, I went back on birth control after I had Ethan and Ella.  I was simply taking it for convenience sake. Eric and I often laughed about what money we wasted on all those birth control pills early in our marriage.  So off I went to pee on my little stick. I unloaded the dishwasher, sat down, and watched TV for a minute. Should I get the kids up? Oh no wait…better go check the test and get that out of the way.

I walked into the guest bath and looked at the test on the sink. Double take…were those TWO lines? Huh? I must be seeing things. I heard Eric say something so I threw the hand towel over the test and jumped back in bed. Eric said, “Why do you look so weird?” I was still in shock so I said, “Just tired.” He went back to the closet to finish getting dressed and I ran back to the bathroom for a second look. Yes. Definitely two lines. How did this happen??? I mean I know how it happens for most, but not us! We were told that we couldnt get pregnant on our own. Holy cow. Eric’s birthday was the next day. Boy, could I have fun with this!!! I ran upstairs to get the babies up and whispered my secret in their tiny ears.  I was pretty sure they smiled.

Thankfully Eric left shortly after that. I am told later that I am in MAJOR trouble for letting him go to work because he would have called in sick. Whoops. I quickly called my mom, my sister, and Kristen. Kristen, my personal OB nurse, reassured me that the home tests are pretty accurate. Even so, I had my mom come over so I could get an official blood test at the doctor’s office. I still didn’t believe it. I went and looked at the home test again.  Still two lines!  When I called Dr. Blake’s office to get the test they acted like I was crazy. “Mrs. Greer, we usually don’t do blood tests if you have a positive home test.” I replied, “I know, but I don’t believe it. When can I come in?” I went in immediately, got my blood drawn, and paid to have the results to me stat.

I cried and prayed on the whole way home from the doctor’s office. I was smiling ear to ear and laughing as I praised God. I am sure anyone who passed by me on the road thought I was crazy. And I was. Crazy happy. I couldn’t believe God’s blessing on us. How could this be? It took so much for us to get pregnant with Ethan and Ella. Nothing had changed with us. We were still infertile. I mean, I was on BIRTH CONTROL too! This was really a miracle straight from above.

All day I avoided calls from Eric and his sister, Amy. How in the world could I play this one off? I couldn’t even sit down I was so excited! I finally got the “official positive” test results from the doctor. Hallelujah! Praise God!! I checked the home test one more time and finally threw it in the trash.

Now how in the world would I give Eric the total shock of his lifetime??? The way we found out we were pregnant with Ethan and Ella was so impersonal.  We called into a voicemail box and listened to a stranger tell us the good news.  Not that we minded one bit.  We were finally pregnant!!

Big Brother and Big SisterI decided I would get the kids Big Brother and Big Sister t-shirts, take their pictures in it, frame it, and give it to Eric for his birthday. Well I am not sure how many of you have tried to get a 16-month old kid to stand still so you can get a good picture of him.  Now throw in a second child.  It isn’t possible. Just take it from me. So I decided the next best thing was to just wrap up the shirts and let Eric open those.

We waited on pins and needles until Eric got home. Of course since we were anxiously awaiting him, he didn’t get home until after 7. After the kids’ bath, Eric read them a story, and then they just had to give their Daddy an early birthday present.

I turned the camera off right after I told him so we could all snuggles.  There were lots of happy tears  all around.  I was told later that Eric was thinking “Why in the world did she give me some shirts for the kids for my birthday?” Apparently what I thought was pretty plain isn’t plain to a man.

Publisher Update

Business Cards – Check

One Sheet – Check

Book Proposal – Check (all 31 pages!!)

Elevator Speech – Check (and practiced at nauseam)

Getting ready for the She Speaks conference was a lot of work!  When I signed up to go the Christian speaking and writing conference, I was able to also sign up to meet with prospective publishers.  This was like a dream for me!

I self published “Full Heart Empty Womb: How I Survived Infertility…Twice” in December.  I have never regretted doing that.  It was the clear path that God led me to take.  I think if I had pursued the traditional publishing route, I would have been overwhelmed with anxiety.  Will they reject my book?  What if they say my writing isn’t good enough?  And not just anxiety about the publishers.  What will my friends think?  Will they judge me for sharing my intimate struggles?  Instead I decided to put my nose to the grindstone and just write as God inspired me.

And God has blessed our journey together.  I have been able to comfort a lot of women.  I have become friends with complete strangers because we have shared the intimate struggle of Infertility.  It is such a blessing that a time of pain has been turned into loving ministry for me.  Everything I have been through could be to help just one person.  That is how vast God’s loves is.  Sharing my journey helped her realized that she wasn’t alone in her pain.  Sharing my pain restored her peace.

I went to get my make-up done in preparation for the conference because what better excuse??  As I was talking to the sweet lady who was helping me, she asked me what I did for a living.  That is always a tricky question for me.  I still kind of giggle when I say “A Writer.”  Why?  I don’t know.  I wrote and published a book.  I write in a blog.  It’s in my FB profile.  I mean I have business cards for Pete’s Sake!!  What more does it take to be an official writer??  😉

Any who – – just telling her that opened a door because she asked about my book.  Now the reaction I get when I tell people the name of my book is always interesting.  Men.  Completely shut down.  I might as well have said “vagina” (except I don’t even say that word.  I even giggled when I typed it.)  Women usually immediately tell me about someone they know who are infertile.  (Hello!  Validation that there is a felt need for this book!)  In this case, she told me about a co-worker who had just tragically had a late term miscarriage.  She wanted to say something to her and didn’t have a clue what to say.  I was able to talk to her about how to comfort her.  God loves those ladies so much that everything I have been through and written could have just been for them.  How AWESOME is that?  I am at complete peace with being part of that Love.

All that being said, if I had a chance to spread that Love further, would I?  Oh yea.  So I signed up to meet with publishers at She Speaks.  My first appointment was at the end of the day on Friday.  I sat in awesome training sessions all day and miraculously was able to concentrate in each one!  About ten minutes before my first interview, I snuck out to go pray and collect my nerves.  I sat in the hallway with my lucky charm my BFF, Jodi, gave me before I left.  I am not a believer in lucky charms, but the weight of it in my hand reminded me that I wasn’t alone.  I stared off in the distance and prayed.  A kind stranger saw me and came up to see if I was okay.  Her name was Debbie.  When I told her I was getting ready for a publisher appointment, she immediately asked if she could pray with me.  I sat in the middle of the hallway, hands clutched with a complete stranger, grateful tears streaming down my face, as Debbie said a heartfelt prayer on my behalf.  After a quick hug of appreciation, I dashed to clean up my mascara before my interview.

And it went AWESOME.  My first interview was also with my first choice of publishers.  She listened as I gave my spiel and asked a lot of questions.  In the end, she said I had a definite Felt Need (YES!!!), a great story, (YES!!), need to get a literary agent (On it!!) and need to continue to build my platform (that would be where YOU help by liking and sharing my blog & FB page ;).  I was so encouraged!  I honestly had no clue what would happen, and this was the best case scenario.  OH YEA!

I have learned that this is a long process.  Although this was a huge accomplishment for me, it is merely one step in a long process, and I probably won’t hear anything for several months.  But it is one step further.  My next interview went well too.  I walked into the room and instantly knew I was meeting with a matriarch of the publishing industry.  She was kind and thorough with her questions.  In the end, she told me that she only publishes ten books a year and that mine was too much of a niche market.  I thought that was fair and told her so.  However, she expressed to me that she felt strongly that I should get an agent and there definitely was a publisher out there for me.  She continued to share some much needed industry insight the rest of our time together.

I left the conference feeling reenergized and confirmed.  I am continually praying for God to direct my path for His will.

And I think I got a pretty big arrow about what way to go.

“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”  Proverbs 2:26

The Skinny….The Down Low….The 411

The Skinny, The Down Low, The 411A year ago the extent of my writing was a grocery list and a FB post.  What a difference a year makes.  It occurred to me that I have finally burst out of my tiny bubble and that people are following my blog that aren’t even related to me 😉

I thought I would play a little catch up.  I started this blog at the end of May.  It has been so much fun to write and I am thrilled that it is resonating with so many people.

I actually only started seriously writing about a year ago.  I was inspired to write a book about my journey through Infertility.  I went through a particularly difficult year in 2013 filled with unsuccessful fertility treatments and a lot of tears.  I felt so alone and misunderstood.  And that is crazy because one out of EIGHT couples struggle with Infertility.

But no one talks about it.

Except me.  God divinely reached into my little brain and pulled out that filter.

So that was that.  I decided to write a book, tell my story, and share how I survived through it all.  In December 2014, I self-published “Full Heart Empty Womb: How I Survived Infertility … Twice”  After, I took a deep breath, enjoyed the holidays with my family, then jumped into the second part of my journey after the new year.  And boy did I underestimate what an undertaking that would be.  I had to focus on promoting my book…promoting me.  This was wayyyy out of my comfort zone.  This is the girl who never even sends out Friend Requests on FB because I am scared of rejection 😉

I have had some ups and downs.  Just when I was overwhelmed and at my lowest, God gave me the She Speaks Email
encouragement I needed to keep going.  He has plans for me.  One night in February, I was having one of my typical insomniac nights.  Up thinking, worrying, and stressing about everything out of my control.  How can I reach more people?  This is too much for me to do on my own!!  I finally got out of bed and went to my office.  As soon as I pulled up my email, I found an email that reminded me that I am not doing any of this on my own.  God is here guiding me every step of the way.  It was an email from Proverbs 31 Ministries and the subject line was “You’re called to speak or write.  Now What?”  Well, yes.  Yes I am!  Then when I opened the email, it said, “Do you ever feel alone in your calling as a Speaker, Writer, or Leader?”  I mean….HELL-LO!  Talk about a direct encouragement from above exactly when I needed it!  Even at 2:20 a.m.!!

I waited a respectable amount of time….well until 5:30…and woke up Eric to talk about me going to the She Speaks conference this Summer.  I had a whole speech prepared about how it would be beneficial  for me and my book.  I didn’t even get to my second bullet point before Eric was telling me to register.  How grateful am I that I have such a supportive husband??!!

So here we are six months later and I am leaving for She Speaks this Thursday.  And I am SUPER PUMPED.  Not only am I going to go to sessions to help me improve my writing, but I also have appointments with two major publishing houses about publishing my book.  I am glad I self-published because, honestly, I think I would have lost my nerve if I hadn’t just pushed through all the way to completion.  However, I would love the opportunity to publish on a wider scale so I can reach more people.

Regardless the outcome, I am thankful.  I have been praying about this so much and I know that it is all in God’s hands.  Hopefully, my book will be picked up, improved upon, and I will be able to help a lot more women.  If not, I am satisfied with knowing that I have helped a lot of women already because I wasn’t afraid to tell my story.

Pretty sweet situation to be in.

I am ready to head to She Speaks with my 31 page book proposal (gasp!), business cards (just hysterical), a lot of prayers (hint hint), and confidence that God will do His thing (no matter what it is).

And, of course, my Mema’s pearls to wear in my interviews.  (And I think Mema is looking down from Heaven and is smiling).

My Epilogue

My Epilogue - SLM

I absolutely love to read. My favorite thing in the whole world is my precious Kindle. It is loaded with hundreds of books that I use to escape for just a little while every night before bed.

I fell out of the habit of reading for pleasure when I was in college. I rediscovered it after I had my youngest child, Matthew. All of my friends were talking about this book about a couple and the boy was a vampire. (hey – no judgment!! You know you read it too!) Anyway I admit it. I read it and every other one in the saga within a month. Every three hours I would disappear in my room with Baby Matthew to nurse and read. Matthew gained about 5 pounds that month 😉

I have moved on from teenage vampires, but I do still enjoy a good love story.   And I don’t have a nursing baby to use as an excuse to have a quiet time to read. However, I do read for about an hour every night before bed. It is part of my Steph Time. Time just for me. 

This Spring I discovered a new author at the recommendation of my friend, Tara. It is an Austrailian author named, Liane Moriarty. Her first book that I read was The Husband’s Secret. There are a lot of things I like about it. It is told from different points of view. There are a few different story lines that run parallel and you aren’t quite sure how or when they will intersect. It is also so witty and will make you laugh…and even cry much to my chagrin.

But the thing I love the most of the book is the way it ends. Don’t worry I am not going to give anything away! It truly is one of my favorite Epilogues I have ever read. Instead of wrapping everything up real quick in a red bow with a wedding and/or a child born, it starts like this…. 

“There are so many secrets of our lives we’ll never know.”

Moriarty then proceeds to go through each of the characters and details how one changed choice or slightly altered circumstance could have drastically changed the outcome of their life and other people’s too. And we’ll never know.

Wow. Just Wow. Have you ever thought about that? What tragedy have we narrowly missed, yet we don’t even know it? Or conversely, what blessings have vanished before we even know of their possibility?

The car accident that was avoided because you lost your keys and were running 10 minutes late.

The breathtaking sunset you missed with your family because you were too busy trying to take the perfect family photo.

When I think about my life and Epilogue, I take comfort that someday all of those secrets will be brought to light. I often talk to my children about how wonderful Heaven will be. Usually it is after that have asked me a particularly difficult question, and I quickly refer them to Jesus. “Ask Him in Heaven! He will tell you!” Oh how busy they will keep Him! All joking aside, I do believe that we will be able to learn about things that we never could comprehend during our time here on Earth.

One time during my life that I really want to have a heart to heart with Jesus about is in 2013. It was when my husband, Eric, and I were going through fertility treatments. We had been extremely prayerful about each decision we made along the way, so we were confident we were in God’s will for our family. We had been cautiously optimistic that we were going to get pregnant. Why not? It was the direction that God was leading us, right? Even so, it was a long, hard, tear filled year for me.

After the second round of failed IVF and a surgery that left me without my fallopian tubes, the nail was in the proverbial coffin. The babies that I had loved and rocked in my dreams would never be. Why had God led us down this road only to be heartbroken?

I remember crying to my mom one day asking her to pray for me because I having such a hard time dealing with the anger and sadness I was feeling. Why didn’t God answer our prayers? She gently spoke to me. “Stephanie, you cannot see the whole story as God can. Perhaps He is saving you from even more pain down the road.”

I had never thought about that. What if I had gotten pregnant but it had ended in a miscarriage? Did God save me from that pain? Or the book that I have written about my battle with Infertility…I never would have felt led to share my story if I had a different ending. How many people am I helping by sharing my story? The horrible surgery I had to remove my fallopian tubes. Could that impact my health down the road? There are some studies that it reduces the risk of Ovarian Cancer. Could that have saved me for the children I have been blessed with?

The bottom line is that I can’t know the answers to everything this side of Heaven. I have to trust that God has written the best story for my life. He is the Author of my story. And I look forward to my book club with Him when I finally get to read my Epilogue.