Sunday, November 10, 2013


No matter where I turn lately, I see these....reminders of how good we actually have it.
A couple weeks ago, a friend was over and asked innocently, "So whatcha guys doing for the holidays?" You know what my response was? "FUCK the holidays." Yep, it flew right out of my mouth just like that. Wow Emily...Tell us how you really feel!

In my defense, we had just left an outdoor restaurant and as we waited for the check, I sat watching a beautiful family of 3 generations of women having a great evening together...the cutest blonde little sisters playing on an outdoor playground, the mother taking pics of every little move they made, and the grandma with the biggest smile I have ever seen in my life.

I tried my best to see this as the beautiful spectacle is actually was, but inside I was pissed....not only that we don't have our own children, but also that I don't have a mother and my children will never know their grandmother.  What was a perfect dinner at our favorite restaurant, turned into a stream of tears as we paid our check. I pouted all the way to our car and then home to our empty house with non-existent family. I proceeded to drink a ridiculous amount of white wine, because why not? I'm not pregnant! This was a fact reaffirmed loud and clear throughout the evening by my horrendous menstrual cramps as well. I was having a serious case of "The grass is greener."

The real truth? The grass isn't always greener. I am being reminded lately that even when we see what might seem like the "perfect life"  we have no idea what obstacles people may be facing. Everyone gets dealt their own set of circumstances, and I have always kind of felt like infertility is just "our thing" that we've been given to deal with. Outside of infertility, we shouldn't complain. I have the MOST amazing husband in the world. He has a good job with a great deal of autonomy. I have a job where I can choose my own schedule, drive less than a mile to work, and have zero responsibility outside of work hours. We have a beautiful home, can afford healthy food, have access to medical care, and we actually wake up with smiles on our faces most days. In the whole scheme of things, we have it pretty good.

Recently, during my shift at the LIVESTRONG Foundation (where I've been volunteering for almost 5 years) I began a little project that impacted me deeply. If you aren't familiar with LIVESTRONG, feel free to watch this short and very inspiring manifesto...

I have seen that video 20 times, and it still gets me every time. Oh, and just for the record, I personally don't give a shit about Lance Armstrong's personal life or anything he's done outside of creating this amazing organization. 

But anyhoo, back to the project. Every year we hold the LIVESTRONG Challenge, which is a race that brings those affected by cancer together and raises $ for cancer programs. We have blank race bib cards that read "In Memory Of", "In Honor Of", and "I'm A Survivor." Anyone can fill these out and safety pin them to their shirts during the race.

This year, we asked people to donate their race bib cards back to us, and I was given the task of reading through ALL of them, in order to make a giant wall mosaic in our headquarter office....

Holy sobfest. Seeing people write messages to their parents is sad of course, and I know that pain all too well myself. However, the ones written to spouses and children are what really hit me where it hurts. "To husband, my soul mate, my inspiration" Talk about a knife to the heart! I had to excuse myself and literally take a "time out" in the bathroom.  I wanted to drive home going 100 mph and just hug my husband to death.

Being exposed to this sort of heartbreak regularly is a continual reminder of how good we actually have it. To be clear, I'm not saying that infertility is any less painful emotionally than cancer. Infertility is a disease in it's own right; Full of disappointments, scary test results and procedures, medical bills, intense pain and suffering, and it can last for years on end, crushing whatever dreams you thought you had for the future. In fact, I've talked to people who've had both cancer AND infertility, and some of them say that infertility was actually harder to deal with. Does that surprise you? Honestly, it doesn't surprise me one bit.

However, how would I feel if I or my husband were handed a life threatening set of circumstances tomorrow? I've known a couple fellow bloggers who have experienced this in the midst of their struggle to conceive. Bethany at An Anchor to My Soul received news that her hubby had testicular cancer right in the middle of trying for a baby, and needless to say procreating became a little less important in the immediate future once that happened.

Just today, I was reading Jennifer's blog "You Must Believe There Are Miracles" and the story of her sister and brother-in-law. Her sister recently gave birth at 20 weeks after complications, to a premature baby who didn't survive, and her brother-in-law had to come to her hospital from a different hospital, because he was undergoing chemo and radiation for his own brain cancer at the time it all happened. I cannot even FATHOM how truly difficult this must be for them. Please stop by and give Jennifer words of love and support if you can.

One thing is for certain; When someone is dealt a second blow like cancer or unexpected tragedy, suddenly infertility doesn't seem like the end of the world anymore. All one cares about is the safety of their spouse or family member over all else.

There is a new show on Showtime called "Time of Death" that explores chronic and end stage disease...

The documentary series follows a group of 8 different people through the process of terminal illness. Please remember these people are all in very late stages of illness, so if you know someone with cancer, they certainly aren't doomed, and this is not meant to freak you out. Do not watch it if terminal illness makes you uneasy.

Maybe I'm weird, but I find this stuff therapeutic. Could be that my mom, dad, step-dad and grandmother all had cancer. It's somehow comforting to know the process of dying and grieving is very similar for most people who experience this sort of thing. Or maybe even more than that, it just gives me a healthy serving of humble pie and adjusts my world view with a clearer sense of perspective.

If you have any interest in checking it out and don't have Showtime, they were nice enough to upload the first episode on YouTube...

Every time I see something like this, in real life or on tv, it makes me even more thankful for the life I have now, even if it's not perfect according to my own plan. I wake up thanking God for all we do have a little more loudly. It's when we get comfortable and just EXPECT all of the good things we already have that our attitude begins to take a turn for the worse. Well I, for one, don't need God or the universe or fate to ask me, "You thought it was hard then? How about now?"

I don't want to be that person that only gains a better perspective once I'm handed an even harder trial to deal with. 
I don't want to look back on the last 2.5 years as wasted time, living my life on complete hold, and asking myself what good I did in the world....or more importantly how many happy memories I created with my husband. I don't want November to be remembered as the month we lost two pregnancies in a row. We will be celebrating 8 wonderful years of marriage this month, and I am not going to let infertility steal that milestone from us!

In the end, if it's not in the cards to have a biological child of our own, that very hard realization will never be crushing enough to change the fact that we share a truly rare kind of love that many people do not EVER get to experience in life. That being said, I'm reeeallly going to try my best from now on to be less focused on what we don't have YET and more focused on what we do have. It can all be taken away in the blink of an eye.

So ask me again what I'm doing for the holidays? I'm going to put up my Christmas tree and enjoy it damnit! I am going to enjoy every single second being married and healthy and blessed with a life that is already fulfilling beyond words.


  1. Girl, this is good stuff! So true! When we focus on what we don't have, we miss out on all of the blessings that we do have. Thanks for sharing that livestrong video, what a touching video. There is so much sadness in this broken world we live in that it's so nice to step back sometimes and realize how blessed we really are. Hope you have a great T-giving and Christmas with your sweet husband.

  2. yes! yes! and yes! I have been having these same doomed thoughts about the holidays. I love Christmas but this year it has been feeling a bit lonely to think about it. I'm glad you wrote this. It just snapped me back to reality. I need to focus on what I DO in fact have and we too are blessed.
    I'm going to check out that Showtime. I too find that stuff therapeutic!
    Thanks Em, I needed this!

    1. I just watched the 2 episodes of Time of Death - WOW! I can't wait to keep watching. Made me hug my husband a little tighter!

  3. This post definitely made me cry. In a good way. I've been thinking the same thing lately about how lucky I am to have the things I do including a DH that has only become an even better partner in all this. I hope you have a wonderful anniversary and that you enjoy the holidays together :)

  4. I can't imagine having to deal with infertility and cancer. I recently learned of a couple who were both childhood cancer survivors and hence infertile from their treatments, after years of waiting they were matched with a birth mom, who decided to parent and took the baby back after a month. Then he learned his cancer returned. How shitty is it that your silver lining to loosing a baby is that they could focus on his treatments. Our community was also shaken recently after the death of a young mother in a freak accident. I carry both these stories to snap me back to reality when I'm feeling sorry for myself. I also saw on facebook today a remarkable series of photos a husband journaled as he and his wife faced her breast cancer. He is a remarkable talent and the images are haunting. I couldn't get the exact link, but it's on and search Community Health
    A Husband Took These Photos Of His Wife And Captured Love And Loss Beautifully

  5. Oh Emily! I just adore you to pieces. This is the kind of thing I think about--what if I got cancer (or other tragic circumstance) and could never attempt to have a biological child? This past Friday a friend told me she has to have a hysterectomy due to fibroids, and she's just grateful at the prospect of living without pain and chronic illness...also, I see you lost your Mom--I did too, to breast/lung cancer in 2009. I'm afraid to watch the documentaries, as grief and memories of my Mom's illness are overwhelming sometimes. I find volunteering with Susan G. Komen cathartic :-) XO

  6. This is such a great post! And it's so true... ALL OF IT! xoxoxo

  7. So beautiful Emily and oh so true! We are blessed beyond belief and take it for granted. Mostly we tend to focus on what we don't have rather than what we do have. Thank you so much for this reminder. Just the one line alone you quoted from the lady about her spouse had me tearing up. Love all of this and you are wonderful for volunteering your time. I'm so sorry you lost your mother to cancer, I lost my sister to it as well. Hugs to you!

  8. Oh my goodness! Perspective is a game changer. I know exactly the feeling you have all except for losing a parent. Can you send me your email I have been trying to respond to your comments on my blog but you are a no reply blogger. I want to respond to your comment on my post about the holidays. Also this love strong organizations is amazing the brokenness in our world is so saddening!!

  9. Emily-I love this reminder. I have been through hell and back the last couple of weeks but Darren, my husband, is strong and healthy and by my side. To lose him is nothing when compared to IF. I hate being infertile and I hate the "no guarantee" of a bilological child-but the idea of life without him? Devastating. I once googled adoptive mom stories asking "if they loved their adopted kids as much as their biological kids." It's always a fear of mine if we go that route. The adoptive mom pointed out that we are not "biologically" related to our spouses and to think of the love we have for them. This gave me so much peace. Anyway, I love the post :)

  10. Love this. I certainly can relate to so much of this post and you have expressed it all so eloquently.

    My heart aches for so many ladies right now and sometimes I look at my husband at night and am overwhelmed by how thankful I am for my life. It may not be how we thought it would be, but every day that I have him by my side...I know that I'll get through anything.

    I second your sentiment of "fuck the holiday's", yet I too, will get my tree out, hang my stockings and ho hum my way through it and all the babies I have to encounter along the way. :)

  11. Thank you for sharing these videos!

  12. I love this post. It's so easy to feel sorry for myself and miss out on all that I have in front of me. We all need reminders now and then to keep us grounded. Infertility is one of the hardest things ever and we are founded in our feelings of frustration sadness ect. Actually living to the fullest is the hard part

  13. I found your blog via the amazing Miss Heidi at Hidden Infertility. What a beautiful post...Because I work in health care, those stories bombard me daily, but I think I have also become somewhat immune to it. I got teary reading about the tributes to lost husbands...That is my worst nightmare, and so tonight I will hug him a little tighter!
    I really wish I got Showtime! I guess I will check out YouTube. My hubby always teases me for renting the saddest movies and listening to the most depressing music...haha

  14. I'm so sorry your dinner turned into something painful. Sometimes those type of things seem to just come out of no where, and it can be so-o easy to compare others' situations to ours and wish we had what they had! These past couple of weeks have really put me in check that I should be much more grateful for the blessings in my life. It has changed me and hopefully I can keep a better proper perspective.
    Still, I am NOT surprised at all about some people who have had both cancer and infertility saying that infertility was harder. Don't you think people with cancer get much more sympathy/attention/focus/whatever than those battling infertility?

    With or without a baby, I am hoping/trying to be happier, more appreciative, and enjoy life more because I have wasted A LOT of time waiting and wishing for things that I didn't have.

    You are so so sweet and a blessing in my life! Thank you for your support and shout out ;) ...and really, our paths most likely would have never crossed if we both weren't in this fight for a baby, so good things are happening- just in ways we never thought of or didn't quite plan ;)

  15. This is a great post. I love your honesty and the great lesson/reminder you shared. It's amazing how even now that Matt's cancer is in remission, I am so quick to go right back to comparing and wishing for more and not simply being thankful for what I do have. And I truly do have so much. And I am thankful for that lesson this year. I(we) have a choice of two attitudes for the holidays...I like your ending one the best :-) anyway, I go back and forth in those two attitudes constantly, but hope I will embrace thankfulness for life itself more and more. Cancer did give us a deeper appreciation for the life God has given us, for sure. If it wasn't for that, I would probably just stay in the "its all hell" attitude.

    p.s. love that you love Livestrong! It was amazing how as soon as Matt was diagnosed he/we clung to that organization instantly. It was so comforting to know that there are so many others out there going through similar things. So thanks for volunteering!!

  16. These are great reminders! We, too, have so much to be thankful for. I'm glad to hear you're going to enjoy your tree and your time with hubby this holiday season. I know this is a tough month for you.

  17. Hi, I just found your blog. I just started seeing an RE for infertility and while I feel completely overwhelmed and sad at this point...your post gave me a great reminder on to try and focus on the good things in life...rather than this giant hurdle!