When I was in high school, I liked English. My teacher however made it very clear to me, on more than one occasion, that English did not like me. She held my paper up, covered in red marks, in front of both classes, and announced that I made the most mistakes in both her classes. It was a defining moment. From that point on, I became pretty insecure about my ability to write throughout high school.
Imagine my surprise then, when I tested out of the basic English composition class to move onto the next level when I arrived at college! It gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I could actually write. Combine that spark with years of journaling, and I decided to ignore my high school teachers decision of my ability.
I did this when I started blogging for the community coffee shop I opened in Northern Ireland called The Press. I would share about the experiences in the coffee shop and announce our upcoming events. I LOVED IT! Writing had always been an outlet and at that point I started to find my own voice.
Fast forward a few years. Bryan and I decided to give IVF one last shot, no pun intended! I figured the easiest way to keep people informed of our progress was through my personal blog. I had only one or two entries at that point. I guess I also need to rewind and insert this little fact. Through the years that we struggled with infertility I also journaled. I used my writing as a way of processing my pain, as a way of praying, as a way of dealing with the grief I carried, but didn’t always want the world to know. I also didn’t want to consistently be “Debbie Downer” by always talking about the sadness I felt. This could be partly my personality or partly the lies we believe that people can’t handle our pain and suffering, I’m not really sure.
Anyway, back to what I was saying. Years before the blog started, Bryan and I had made a special trip to London to see Phantom of the Opera with the London cast. It was one of my bucket list items. It happened around my 30th birthday along with our first failed round of IVF. As we sat having dinner in a little Italian restaurant across from the theater, we decided that someday, when our family had finally arrived, by whatever means it came, that we would share our story in a book.
That moment has arrived. The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants is our story from my personal perspective. I allow you to crack open pages of my own journals, private pictures, sketches and my honest response to the struggle of infertility. I really hold nothing back. I am not trying to shock people, but I am trying to wake people up. This issue is painful. Painful for those struggling and painful for those who are watching someone struggle. 1 out of every 8 couples will deal with infertility now, 1 out of 8!!! Next time you are around that many couples, just look around because I would bet my own money that someone you know really well is struggling. It’s that real friends.
This book took me almost two years to complete. Life happened in a not so kind way almost immediately after I had the full manuscript completed. My father was diagnosed with cancer. At times the book felt like a burden I couldn’t shake while dealing with the grief of watching my father deteriorate. Other times it felt like an escape and a lifeline. What definitely helped was writing. Writing has become a way of life for me. Thanks to authors like Shauna Niequist, Jen Hatmaker, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Brene′ Brown, I began to believe in the power of my own voice. I also had my husband and amazing family and friends cheering me on too!
So the other night, March 12th at 7 p.m. I had my very first book launch! I was overwhelmed to see so many lovely faces come. Some I hadn’t seen in years, and some I have only recently become friends with. It was a beautiful collection of people and I am so grateful for each person taking the time to come and support me in such a tangible way.
Now I have the privilege of promoting this much needed book. I get to share my story again and again with people. Validating each time that what I went through, what we went through, and maybe what you are going through will not be wasted if we let it help and guide others. Our pain truly can bring comfort to someone else’s suffering, if we will let it. It means standing with our hands open instead of with clenched fists.
“I would describe infertility as a process of purification. You go through the fire, but at the end you come out your truest self.” p. 51 The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants
What have you experienced by way of pain in your life? Are you willing to open that area up to even just one person? If so, I think you will find there is healing there. There is purpose in your pain there. There is also forward momentum that helps you leave the past in the past and move towards your future with hope and joy. Please share your story, the world needs it!
I will keep this post short as it is already 11:14pm and we have to be at the hospital for 6:45am tomorrow morning. We can’t believe it is the night before our boys make their way into this world! I don’t know if you can fully let the reality of these moments sink in and properly digest them. We feel excited, terrified, so ready to meet our boys yet nervous all at the same time. I am pretty sure these are all the appropriate emotions for becoming parents and bringing new lives into this world. Yet we are so incredibly thankful to have experienced this whole journey so far and for the future of raising our children, God’s gifts, in a way that points them to Him.
The picture above is from Saturday 30th August at our Northern Irish Baby Shower. Baby Showers are not the norm here so I was thrilled when my good friends Julie and Chelle decided to throw us one. We had brunch, played a few fun games, opened gifts and then the wonderful women of our community surrounded me and prayed for us. As people shared, the tears began to flow. This has been such a long journey and at times felt like our prayers to have a family would not be answered. So many people have walked this with us, cried with us and petitioned God on our behalf. Still over the years God has continued to speak to us about our family. It never felt that God was saying ‘No’, just ‘Not yet’. Hearing other people share their perspectives of our journey was so special, moving and encouraging. We have had moments of discouragement, disillusionment, hurt and frustration but more than that we have been convinced of God’s faithfulness to us in the midst of pain, suffering and hardship. Yes, there is so much pain in this world that far surpasses ours but God is so personal that He always met us where we were, wept with us and journeyed with us. Never once did He leave us alone.
Tomorrow morning we will wake up early, get into our new miracle car (thanks to the Fentons), drive up the M1 to Craigavon Hospital, check into the Assessment Unit at 6:45am and hopefully find out what time our section will be at. Then through the hands of our skilled surgeon and team of medical staff we will meet our beautiful baby boys whom we are already in love with. Our hearts will be full whilst overwhelmed at the responsibility we will possess in caring for these two precious human beings. We cannot wait to introduce you all to our boys!!!! Bringing them home will be one of the greatest moments we have experienced. Then they will get to meet their Grandparents and so many others who love them already. Our story has been incredible already and we cannot wait to see how much our lives will be challenged and enriched by this next step. God, you have so much more to teach us.
So boys, your Dad and Mom can’t wait to meet you, see your faces, hold you, cuddle you, feed you, change your bums, wipe your tears away, discipline you, teach you things…but most importantly love you unconditionally every day!!! Happy Birthday- 1st September, 2014!!!