Who Said Miracles Don’t Happen Anymore?

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. Six weeks being separated from them in the NICU – Low.

I could go on and on. Today I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite Highs. He is my little Miracle High. Eric and I were told that there is absolutely no way that we could conceive. That is why 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.

Here is an excerpt from my family blog in 2008:

Ah I woke up just like the day before. I had no idea that this morning would change all our lives so much! Eric was getting ready for work and I was 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 simply was taking it for convenience sake. Eric and I often laughed about all the money we wasted on all those birth control pills early in our marriage. So off I went to pee on my little stick. 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…..was that 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 2 lines. How did this happen??? I mean I know how it happens for most, but not us! We were told that we couldn’t 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 am pretty sure they smiled.

Thankfully Eric left shortly after that. (I was told later that I was 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 were 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 2 lines! When I called the doctor’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.

All day I was avoiding 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!!

I 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 them. 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.

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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 they just had to give their Daddy an early birthday present. He didn’t know it, but I was recording the whole thing : )

I turned the camera off right after I told him so we could all snuggle. 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.

My Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day PIc“Watch out for that first step it is a doozy!!”  – Ned Reyerson.

That is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies when I was little. Why don’t they make movies like that anymore? Bill Murray plays Phil, who must relive the same day over and over. There are several times in my life where I felt like I was smack dab in the middle of “Groundhog Day.” In fact, when I was reading back through my book, Full Heart Empty Womb, I had to take that analogy out because I used it more than once!

My most meaningful Groundhog Day experience was when I was in the hospital on bed rest pregnant with my twins. I had been through a rough couple of years prior trying to conceive. When I finally was able to conceive through IVF, I had a high-risk pregnancy. I went into pre-term labor that landed me in the hospital on bed rest at only 22 weeks.

For 11 weeks, I felt like I was relieving the same day. I would wake up. Order my breakfast from the cafeteria (blueberry muffin, cheerios, sweet acidophilis milk – which we affectionately called my sweet ass milk ;). Pee. Lay and wait for my breakfast while I watched The Today Show. Pray. Sit Up. HOORAY!! Eat. Lay back down. Wait for my morning nurse to give meds. Drink water. Pee. Nurse comes gives me meds in my IV. Shift to my other side. Drink water. Pee. Finally the doctor comes to round on me. Tells me the same thing as the day before. “Every day we keep them in you, is four days less in the NICU!!” Pray. Then the best 10 minutes of my day – SHOWER!!! Lay. Drink Water. Watch Talk of the Town. Order lunch. Pee. Drink. Shift positions. Sit Up. Hooray!!! Eat. Lay back down. Crap. Gotta pee again. Get hooked up for my daily monitoring. Shift and try to get comfortable with all the cords. Stare at the contraction monitor and wonder why I can’t feel a single contraction. Pray. Shift. Count the flowers on the wallpaper. Drift off to sleep. Wake up when the nurse comes to turn off the monitor. Pee. Drink Water. Pray. Watch “Everybody Loves Raymond” in Spanish because I am that desperate for entertainment. Drink water. Shift. Stare at the clock. Eric is here with supper!!!! Pee. Sit up!! Eat yummy take-out. Lay down. Pee. Choke down chalky Mylanta for heartburn.  Watch TV with Eric. Shift. Pray. Watch Eric make his fold out bed next to me like he does every night. Drink water. Pray.  Take my Ambien. Pee. And fall into a peaceful sleep.

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It was a treat when Eric would bring our dog, Majors, to visit me in the hospital!

Thankfully I was blessed to be able to do that for 11 weeks….or 77 days….or 1,848 hours…or 110,880 minutes. And because I was able to relive that same day over and over and over, my babies not only survived, they thrived.

Count your blessing on your Groundhog Days.

Cure for the Common Worry-Wart

Direct LIGHT.

I have always had the propensity to worry. I remember as a child staying up late stressing about anything and everything. A spelling test the next day. My locker combination. Who would I sit with at the lunch table? They were all silly things, but they weighed heavy on my small shoulders.  Now that I am a mama, I lay awake some nights and worry about my children’s spelling tests, book chats, and friendships.  It seems as though it is never ending!

I came by it honest. My mama is a worry-wart as was her mother. You could say anxiety is in my genes. (Not to be confused with the anxiety that my skinny jeans give me after Christmas 😉 Fortunately, my mama also gave me a tool to combat my anxiety. Mama always wrote scripture on post-it notes and placed them around her mirror on her vanity. She prayed over the scriptures as she got ready to face the day. She suggested that I write down Phillipians 4:6-7 and put it on my mirror to pray and meditate on each morning.

Phillipians4:6-7

The post-it is a little tattered after 12 years and 3 moves. It has long lost its sticky so it can attach to my mirror, but the verse is engrained in my heart and mind.

A couple of years ago, I was going through a particularly difficult time when my husband and I were dealing with our second battle with infertility. My sweet friend, Ginger, sent me a link to Frances Chan preaching about Phillipians 4:4-7. (Watch it and you will be blessed!)

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What a blessing it was for me to have a fresh look at the verse I had been praying over for years! By looking at the whole passage, it also gave me a better perspective. If I spend my time rejoicing, I won’t have much time to be anxious. And I don’t need to be anxious because…The Lord is near.

I am in a time in my life where I could be absolutely riddled with anxiety. I wrote recently about my Daddy diagnosis with Stage 4 of a very rare cancer (as in only two hundred cases in the last twenty years). In the last week, we have gotten bad news and even worse news. He was supposed to have surgery on Wednesday to remove his tumor and some lymph nodes. It was cancelled at the last minute because a PET scan showed that it had spread drastically. We can now add inoperable and incurable to the words that are bouncing around like a pinball in my head.

I could easily lay back and succumb to the horrible “what-ifs” that keep trying to bubble up in my head. Instead, I am choosing to rejoice in the Lord and focus on the positive things that He has blessed us with in our seemingly dire situation:

  • Although Dad’s cancer has progressed far along, he is not in any pain now.
  • As much as we wish he could have had the surgery to remove the tumor, it was an extremely complicated surgery with a tremendous amount of possible complications. He was spared that pain.
  • We live in the Nashville area, which is quickly becoming the medical capital of the world. People travel from far away to come to Vanderbilt. We drive up the street and can go home each night.  We have the best doctors in our backyard.
  • Speaking of those awesome doctors, they like to keep a close eye and their hands on people with rare cancers. Dad is personally being treated by the best of the best of the best.
  • Dad is starting chemo on Thursday, but he is going through one of the more tolerable chemo cocktails for patients. Since he hasn’t been in any pain, he will be stronger to deal with any side effects of the chemo.
  • And if/when he has a tough day(s), he is retired and is able to rest and take it easy. Heck he can watch TV and play on his iPad like it is his J-O-B.
  • I am thankful that I am close and can help out. My sister, Amy, is in Texas and it is so hard on her to be far away.
  • My parents have a church family at First Baptist in Dickson, TN that loves them so much. The level of support they have is phenomenal.
  • New drugs are coming out continually for cancer patients. Just because they haven’t found a drug that has cured his cancer, doesn’t mean they won’t.
  • Our hope is not on anything that is here on this earth. Although we don’t understand why Daddy is going through this here and now, we know that Daddy’s eternity is with Him.

None of this is by accident. It is all part of His plan. God is near us as we travel this road.

And because we know all these things, God blesses us with the peace of God which transcends all understanding and guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Thank you, Abba Father, for loving my Daddy even more than I do.

How to Go from Party Rock Star to Party Pariah in 2 Seconds Flat

Saturday night my family went to a Christmas party at our good friend’s Party Rock Star pichouse. I love me a good Christmas party. Get dressed up. Talk to adults. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

When we got there, the kids rushed to the basement to play with the other kids. Eric and I mingled between the eclectic group of his, hers and their friends at the party. I found myself standing at the kitchen island talking to a guy having the standard get to know you chit-chat.

Where are you from?

Do you have kids?

What do you do?

I am finally able to say “Writer” with a straight face. Instantly, I was the most interesting woman in the world. We had a good conversation about blogging and the publishing process. Then came the question. “So what is your book about? Is it a novel? Mystery? Thriller?”

“No. Actually, I wrote a book about infertility. It is about my battle with it, how I overcame it and what I learned along the way.”

His eyes instantly started darting around the room searching for his wife, his buddy, anyone that he could rush to talk to instead of me.

As Matthew would say, Seriously??

Grow. A. Pair. My Infertility isn’t catching. Your swimmers will keep on swimming in spite of your proximity to an infertile person. That’s not how it works. And remember the first part of our conversation? I have three kids. Obviously I overcame infertility and am not going to turn into a babbling pile of hormonal tears on you.

As Eric likes to say, “We kicked infertility’s a$$.”

I remember when I was younger and in the trenches with infertility, I felt the same way. I only told a hand full of people because it is such a private struggle. Some were supportive but some avoided me like the plague.

If someone is brave enough to share their struggle with you, then reciprocate that bravery. Be there for them. Don’t avoid them. You can’t catch Infertility.

Nothing you can say will magically make things better. You aren’t expected to fix things.  We, of all people, know that there are no easy fixes.  And as hard as it is for you, it is a million times harder for them.  A hug, an “I love you,” and “I’m praying for you” go a long way.

Then don’t just say you will pray. Do it. Pray for peace for them. Pray for the strength of their marriage. Pray for them to be surrounded by supportive people. And pray for God to give you comforting words for them when they need them.

This is totally written tongue and cheek. Had we not gone through the experience with our own battle, we could have had the same reaction. Alas, that is why I write – to help raise what I like to call your C.Q. – Compassion Quotient.

And because we could all use a laugh….check out these  “Most Interesting Man in the World” quotes.  Hysterical. Oh gosh.  It is toss up which one is my favorite.  The Weeping Willow, the Holy Grail and Russian all had me in tears.

Happy Monday.  Just eleven days till Christmas!

 

That Time God Spoke to Me Through FB…

I absolutely love the “On this Day” feature on Facebook. I can’t help it. I am hopelessly nostalgic and love to see where I was last year and the year before and so on. I mean look at yesterday’s memory. Who wouldn’t want to re-live that?? When I shared the picture, it made so many people laugh at the “Greerswalds.” Nothing makes me happier than to put a smile on other people’s faces.

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Who knew that God would use this little feature to give me the encouragement I so desperately needed today…

You see I started this blog in May with a primary goal – to increase my online presence (aka my platform), so that I could publish my book with a major publishing house. That is what everyone says you have to do. Seriously. I have attended seminars, read articles, watched YouTube videos. They all say it.

I am happy with what God has help me accomplished through self-publishing my book “Full Heart Empty Womb: How I Survived Infertility…Twice,” but if God has a wider audience for me out there then I have to at least try.

But no one told me that trying would be so hard. This morning I was so discouraged. I realized that it has been well over four months since my book proposal was taken by a publisher to be reviewed. I was told that it was a long process, so I hadn’t even let myself think about it until recently. As my calendar drifts towards the fifth month of waiting, my fiery passion I felt months ago has simmered down to a flicker.

And the doubting voices in my head have gotten louder and louder. Your book proposal that you worked so hard on is just a coaster for someone’s coffee mug. That is if isn’t sitting in the REJECTION file, and they just haven’t gotten around to contacting you. What is the point of this whole “platform” thing anyway? Who cares what a 30-something-stay-at-home mom has to say? Your own kids don’t really listen to what you say. You really are just wasting your time. 

So with tears in my eyes and a defeated heart, I sat down to pray. I have been so busy that I am ashamed to say that I haven’t taken the time to have a true quiet time in a while. (And I wonder why I was so defeated? 😉 I am not talking about nightly prayers with the kids, prayers for needs of loved ones, or even Hallelujah prayers for life’s little blessings. I am talking the sitting down with God and letting it all hang out. All the fears. All the questions. The pleading for something…anything to keep me going in the right direction.

After I dried my tears, I went to my mission control – the kitchen island. I started assembling breakfasts, lunches, and unloading the dishwasher all while listening to my Christmas playlist. As I waited for my Eggo to pop out of the toaster, I clicked on Facebook and immediately saw this memory:

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Tears immediately filled my eyes. I knew this was encouragement from God. December 2, 2014 was one of the best days of my life. It was the day that I got my proof copy of my book. It was my rainbow at the end of a storm. I finally got to see that by sharing my pain, I would help countless others find healing. And it healed me.

I don’t know if I will ever see my book on the shelves of Lifeway or Barnes & Noble (However, you can find it here 😉 But I do know that with God’s help, I have made a difference. I have a file of letters I have received from women who have been touched by my journey. If sharing my story with those women is the extent of His plan is for me, then I feel blessed to be a part of it.

And this blog? I never in a million years would have thought I had anything “worth” writing. If I hadn’t written my book, I would never have started the SLM blog. Seems as though I can write about a lot more than Infertility and people enjoy it.

Whether I am helping people who are struggling with Infertility, encouraging Mamas, or just making someone laugh, I feel so blessed that God has brought me on this journey.

The only thing I am going to try to do is stay on God’s path for me.  And as long as I stay close to Him, He will keep me between the lines.

Happy Holidays??

Happy Holidays PicIt is the most wonderful time of the year, right? Full of happiness, cheer and all that jazz….

It wasn’t until I was struggling with infertility that the “most wonderful time of the year” turned into the worst. It was a time when I would want to go to bed and wake up after the New Year.   Why is that, you wonder?? Similar to how someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one, people who are infertile are grieving the child that they want desperately in their life. If you are blessed enough to not have even had to deal with infertility, then this will help you have some insight into how hard the holidays are for infertile people. Give yourself a pat on the back. You are about increase what I like to call your CQ – Compassion Quotient 😉

Thanksgiving. A time when you, hopefully, are able to sit around the table with your family. It is a day that you can focus on all the many blessings that you have in your life. But what if the one thing that your heart desires most is out of your reach? What if you are at the adult table staring at the kid table wondering, “When is it my turn?” Ironically, the main topic of conversation at said adult table is….kids. What can you add to the conversation? The failed cycles? The horrible side effects from the evil fertility drugs? The nights you spend crying yourself to sleep? Sure. Go ahead and put on that “Hello My Name is: WET BLANKET” sticker on your shirt! There will be updates on friends and family. Judy is pregnant. Susie just had a baby. And Lisa just had her 5th baby!! Each one is like a dagger to your aching heart. You may even hear one of your family members saying how thankful they are to be able to send their kids to another table so they can have some peace and quiet. (Believe me as a mother of three now…I GET IT!! But it still hurts to hear.) Your heart breaks because you would give anything to have every second of your day consumed with a precious child. Do they realize what a blessing they have? You try hard to focus on the blessings you have in your life. However, the hole in your heart that only a child can fill, feels so hollow today. Will it be filled by next Thanksgiving?

Christmas. In 2013, it started before the holiday. I was ordering my Christmas cards. I had it all planned out. The cute Christmas card with a clever pregnancy announcement all in one. It was going to be so precious. But things didn’t go according to my plan. After nearly a year of fertility treatments, there was no announcement to be made. I just had a broken heart that no one even knew about because infertility just isn’t something that you talk about openly.

As much as this holiday should be focused on Jesus’ birth, it is still very much centered around Santa and children. I am blessed to have a close knit family and love to be around them. I am proud to call myself Aunt Teppie to six nieces and nephews. As much as I love them, it wasn’t always easy to be around them. I would spend all day with my game face on. My smile plastered on my face and ready to play. I would fight the thoughts about wishing I had one of my own. I would smile and give a trite answer when asked when Eric and I were going to have one of our own. “Our kids are going to be so far apart in age that they won’t be close!!” “I’m trying the best I can!!” I would scream in my head as I smiled and shrugged.

At night, I would be exhausted from playing the happy Aunt Teppie all day. I was emotionally drained. How long would I just be Aunt Teppie? When would it be my turn to be Mommy? I wanted to be up late at night wrapping baby dolls and toy cars. I wanted to have silly fights with Eric about how to put together the $@$% play kitchen. I wanted to have my baby on my knee reading “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for the umpteenth time. Would it be different next Christmas? Last Christmas I was sure I would have a baby by now. Will it ever happen?

Oh then New Years. Did I even want to reflect on the last year? Failed cycle after failed cycle. Ups and downs. Waiting for test results. Waiting for a phone call. Waiting for an appointment. Waiting for another cycle. Hadn’t I wished away the better part of the last year? Would next year be any different?

When I think back a few years ago to New Year’s, Eric and I were energized. We were about to start fertility treatments with our frozen embryos affectionately called our “totsicles.” We couldn’t wait to see what God had in store for us because in our mind it meant a baby or even babies!! Unfortunately, instead of a baby it was a year of pain and sadness. By the time New Year’s rolled around again, we were ready to throw a party to declare “So long 2013. Don’t let the door hit you in the …”

Now I look back to last year’s New Years Eve when I was celebrating publishing my book about what I learned on my journey through Infertility. I feel that same energy I felt a couple of years ago but about a completely different journey. God did have a plan for me. I never in a million years would have dreamed two years ago that this would be His plan for me.

So my message for you is to stay strong. When you go to bed feeling emotionally drained, pray. Pray for strength. Pray for patience. Pray for clarity about all the choices you are faced with every day. God loves you and hears you. He will give you the strength that you need.

You may not find out what the plan is for you and your family as quickly as you want to, but there is a plan for you. You may be celebrating New Year’s in a year or two and have a better reality than you could have ever dreamed of…

Two Hospitals in Three Hours – EEEKKS!!

Today we visited two hospitals in less than three hours.  EEEKKS!!

One visit was planned.  The other was…not.  Lemme explain.

Last weekend we had a combined birthday party for our three children.  They are all October babies, so we thought having a costume party would be a blast.  We decided that instead of asking for presents, we would ask for donations.  We asked the children to bring donations for the Centennial Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).  We did this for several reasons:

1.  The Centennial NICU has a very special place in our hearts.  My twins were preemies and spent their first 5 weeks and 1 day of their life there.

2.  We thought it was important to teach our children the importance of charitable giving.

3.  We didn’t want any of the guests to feel like they needed to buy a present for all three of my kids.

4. We spoil them enough; my kids don’t need one more thing in their room!!

Today we loaded up 48 receiving blankets,12 bibs,12 onesies, 2, sleepers, 6 of the tiniest most precious pants, and over $100 in donations for the Centennial NICU.  The nurses were over the moon excited about the donations.  We even saw a nurse that was in the unit when Ethan and Ella was there, and she remembered them!

Southern Lady Mama - nicu donations

We had such a good conversation on the way home about how God wants us to show His love and help take care of His people.  They also had a lot of questions about my time in the hospital.  Ella asked me if I was scared.  I answered, “I was but God blessed me with such a peace that just isn’t possible without Him.  We had hundreds of people praying for me and you!”  It is amazing to me that God used this situation to not only strengthen my faith, but also as a way to teach my children about His love and faithfulness. They have a very real example about how your faith can give you peace in the worst of times.

We were home from the hospital for about ten minutes when my youngest, Matthew, hit his chin with his handlebars on his Razor scooter.  Hospital #2.  3 stitches.  It was a rather uneventful visit with the inevitable long doctor wait for the stitches.  After he had enough of the waiting, he started counting (quite loudly) “1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi,” then sighed loudly and exclaimed, “Oh for Pete’s Sake!  This is ridiculous!!  1 Texas, 2 Texas, 3 Texas….”all the way up to 100 Texas 🙂

I feel so blessed that God gave me these three babies to raise to love Him, care for His people, and for Pete’s Sake – laugh.  Like A lot.