Managing the Chaos – libby Starr
When I found out I was going to have my fourth child in five years, several worries popped into my head. How am I going to get my kindergartner to school on time with three babies/toddlers to manage? How long is the dinnertime/bathtime/bedtime routine going to take? Will I have enough love and energy to devote to ALL of them? How on earth am I going to manage four different schedules for the next 18 years? My youngest child is now 4 ½, and I’m happy to say that we made it through the infant and almost through the toddler stages. I can lovingly say it was a beautiful whirlwind, but I know it seemed like more of a crazy disaster while it was happening. Nonetheless, our family has moved onto a new stage in life, and with Mother’s Day being celebrated this weekend, I wanted to share what I feel like has nurtured and helped me as a busy mom of several little ones.
Once my oldest child entered 3rd grade, our after-school activities multiplied greatly. We entered the world of organized sports, real homework, and divide-and-conquer mentalities for my husband and me. We were constantly running in so many directions that I could not physically keep up with it all. I realized that I was going to have to ask for help from some friends. Not wanting to be indebted to anyone for a favor and most certainly not wanting anyone to think I couldn’t handle this all on my own were initial deterrents, but I soon worked out a few carpools for different activities and realized I was helping out friends in the process as well. Isn’t it amazing the joy you can receive from helping out a friend? I now have deals worked out with different friends for gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, track, soccer, t-ball, and playdates. My kids have fostered amazing friendships with other kids as well as other adults, and I feel like we somewhat have a little bit of manageability with our schedules. I even have a friend (ok, it’s actually my sister, but I most certainly would call her one of my greatest friends) that will keep my kids so I can squeeze in a Refine31 class, then I will keep her kids another day for her to do the same!
This is not to say that my family has it all figured out or that we do not ever get overwhelmed, but in the craziness of life with young children and tweens (yikes...cannot believe my oldest is now considered a tween), one of the greatest lessons I have learned is to lean on other moms for their support, encouragement, and help. I look around at Refine31 and see so many fresh, new moms, and I know the baby stage is extremely exhausting and the toddler stage seems never-ending, but you will soon enter a new stage of full schedules (whether you have one child or four), and the late afternoons and evenings seem so daunting. Don’t let it consume you! Find your army of friends to help you through it and for you to help them through it. The benefits you will all receive are countless.
The Other Side of Infertility – kelly Meier
I am one of the lucky ones. I am a mom. I get to go to Christmas programs and on zoo trips. I get to take a ridiculous amount of pictures and show anyone who will look. I am one of the lucky ones. And I know it. I know it because there was a time when I thought it would never happen...that I would never be a mom. And it was a heartbreaking journey.
When I was little, as every little girl does, I would dream of my future. I would dream of my husband and name my future children. It is a game we all play. My dream never included infertility. It never included a life without children. But as my husband and I began our journey, I found that infertility was indeed part of that dream.
I was 32 when my husband and I began to think about starting a family. To many, this is late and I was old but that never crossed my mind. It never occurred to me that I might have trouble. It never even entered my mind that infertility would be the card we would be dealt. But it was. As we began trying to have children, I wasn't surprised when I didn't get pregnant the first month. I almost expected that result. But then one month turned into two and two turned into a year and before I knew it, we had been trying a year and a half with no result.
Anyone who has dealt with infertility understands the heartbreak as the months pass by with no pregnancy. To be completely candid, I took solace in this. I found peace knowing I wasn't traveling this road alone. But it was still heartbreaking.
When my husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for about a year, our doctor decided to begin the first step in infertility treatment. I felt joy in this step because we seemed to have a plan and I followed that plan to the letter, never veering. The joy I felt when I took what seemed like the 1000th pregnancy test and it said 'pregnant' is something I am unable to describe. My husband and I both cried. We were so happy.
My husband and I were so happy the day we went in for our first ultrasound. Finally, a good doctor visit. One filled with happiness. One that didn't throw me deeper into a depression. I knew right away by the ultrasound tech's nonreaction that something was gravely wrong. I made her tell me even though she wasn't supposed to say anything. There is no possible way to describe what the words 'there is no heartbeat' did to me that day. I felt completely broken. I actually don't remember the rest of the appointment but I remember crying harder than I have ever cried. I remember feeling lost and hopeless. I remember going home and not knowing what to do. My husband....the love of my life...saved me that day. He just picked me up and we laid down. I am sure we were there for hours but I have no idea. But he never left my side.
To this day, it one of the biggest losses I have experienced. The emptiness I felt was overwhelming. I prayed to God to give me joy. Without Him, there is no way I would have found it.
But remember, I am one of the lucky ones. I knew that God would not put the desire in my heart to have children if He were not going to fulfill that in some way. I knew there was a plan.
4 months later, I was pregnant with our first child and a year later, our daughter and a year after that, our son.
God is faithful. God is good. He knows the desires of our heart. And to those struggling with infertility, let me assure you, even in your darkest hour, He is there. I know. Because I am one of the lucky ones.