The Loneliest Line


Let me tell you a story about a little girl. When she was one, her mother gave her a homemade doll and she named it Amy. When she was four she had the first dream she could remember and in it she was a mom. When she was five, she claimed the closet under the stairs as a nursery and took care of a dozen dolls in some sort of super octo-mom game. In middle school, she aspired to grow up and have 10 (!) kids. As she got older, this dream obviously tempered and became a bit more realistic, but it remained constant. Someday she would be a mom, of that she was sure.

I'm sure you've figured out that that girl is me.

And this is my story to motherhood. It’s one that has felt isolating, lonely and at times hopeless. I’ve gone back and forth about whether to open up about this, but I know that if someone out there is going through the same thing we have, I would want them to know they aren’t alone. (and if I'm being honest, I wouldn't mind hearing that I'm not alone either)

This story doesn’t start with a sudden surprise or casual romantic "let's have a baby" moment. We've always been open to life, but when two people become one and then consider adding new little person, there is alot to consider. It wasn't until this year, with the business stable enough to support us and having moved closer to our families, that we felt that things were as close to “ready” as they’d ever be. We were a little scared and a little excited to see what might be in store for us. 

What was in store for us? Well, mostly countless negative pregnancy tests, long nights filled with tears and lots of doubt.

The first half of the year was fine, I mean, we were disappointed, but we also comforted ourselves with stats like “only 20% conceive in the first month, 75% in the first 6 months...” etc.

As summer turned to fall, every day someone else announced they were expecting. How lonely it is to watch others seem to effortlessly get what you pray for every night. What sort of despicable person cries in private instead of rejoicing about someone else’s happy news?

I do.

I feel guilty for overreacting when we've only tried for “x” months while other people try for years and have "real diagnosed infertility." After all, it’s not infertility until you’ve been trying for a year. We’re just two people who can’t seem to make a baby. Something that for many people happens accidentally.

As sisters, girlfriends, acquaintances, strangers announce their happy news, I tick off month after month of failure.

Failure. Failure. Failure.

It’s hard to stay hopeful every month as we wait for yet another single pink line.

That lonely line. 

People advise us “enjoy this time,” “ it’ll never be the same,” and "you're still so young." While I understand they want to help and that there really isn’t anything better that they could say, those are only small consolations.

We realize that instead of filling the coming months with a little life, we have unexpected time to plan trips and try really hard not to think about how we’d hoped to spend it instead. So here we are. We look forward to exciting adventures, enjoy our home, and love our life together, and yet still remember that last Christmas we thought we'd be in a different place by now. 

Then again, Mary probably thought she'd be in a different place when she gave birth to her child. Josef most likely didn't expect his family to get started the way it did. We make plans and imagine how things will be, only to learn that's not God's plan. 

God didn't come to fulfill our Pinterest dreams. He came to save our lives. Especially at this time of the year, we remember that. He never said He'd fulfill our expectations. He said He'd save us. And that, friends, He has done. All of my selfishness, failure, ingratitude, impatience, envy, and sin is gone. 

It is finished, done, amen. 

But even after that there is still a deep desire for a family. My heart longs for motherhood and to see Dave become a father. I remind myself that there is nothing wrong with that dream. It is good.

I am sure that God has created me with this dream and He hasn't given me this desire to torment me for He is a good God. I know this has and will teach and help me grow, but there will come a day when we will have children. We've learned that it won't happen the way we expected, but somehow, somewhere this story will contain little Russells and a set of very happy parents. 

And when we finally get to hold that little baby bear that we’ve prayed, hoped and cried for, it will be all the sweeter for the waiting.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 
— Romans 5:3-5

p.s. I feel the need to say that I only share my story and pain, and none of this is meant to judge, devalue, or critique anyone else's path or experience. I would be happy to listen to your struggle, preferably over a mug of something hot. We all have hurts, this is mine.

Life Lately (+ Small Joys)

With everything that's been going on with the holidays and moving, I figured it was time to do a little update on what life over here looks like these days.

To be honest, I barely recognize it right now. The main players are all the same — job, kitties, husband, family — but the place, the routine, the rhythm are all different.

Our first week here was filled with the excitement and joy of Christmas, family time and newness. As all that wore off and we were left with a ginormous mess, renovations in every room, and no space that felt clean or cozy, things got a bit ugly. I don't want to be a downer, but have to admit that change is hard, we've had alot of it around here lately, and it hasn't all been sunbursts and butterflies.

There have been bright moments that confirm this decision and there have been times we look at each other and think "what have we gotten ourselves into?" And it's ok. These are the days we'll look back at with a chuckle. Because we're building a home here and it's going to feel so amazing when it's done.

With no further ado or whining, I gathered up a few things that brought joy this week and am taking a moment to be thankful.

-- Coffee. I go to bed looking forward to it.

-- Kitten cuddles for days. Literal days. Ellie has decided I am her favorite cat bed and spends hours upon hours sleeping on me while I work from home.

-- Our bathroom is mostly done. The floor is down. The vanity is in and the water is hooked up. The walls are no longer green. Little things like a TP holder and towel racks aren't in yet, but it's the one room of the house that feel nice to be in. And that's not to be underestimated.

-- Dave younger brother has been a lifesaver. After so many projects, Dave and I were a bit burned out, when his brother showed up and pretty much single handedly assembled the kitchen cupboards. He also had graciously been around at least 3 nights to help install the same cabinets and the countertop. I don't say this lightly, but he's the best.

-- An old friend we've reconnected with bundled up her two kids and brought me a loaf of fresh bread and a jar of homemade jam last week during my lunch. My house was a mess, she'd had a rough morning, but in that moment it was everything I needed.


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Merry Christmas

A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices...

In so many ways, we all find ourselves weary this December. For me, the big changes of a move and new house, leaving our first home, the disappointment of cancelled family Christmas plans, the concerning health issues of loved ones, among other things weigh heavy on our hearts this year. (Not to mention any of the heart-wrenching pain and suffering we see happening around the world.)

"Weary" is the perfect word for the way I've felt for a while now. 

The beauty of a weary soul is how much deeper and more poignant the thrill of Christmas hope is. I feel a little sad that we've missed out on some of my favorite holiday activities this year due to the hustle and bustle of our move. But it's been an amazing chance for me to remember the true reason we celebrate this time of the year.

Dear Little Yellow House

Tonight is our last in our first house and as is typical with me, I'm feeling all sentimental and nostalgic about it.

Dear Little Yellow House,

I remember 3 years ago when we were waiting for the sale on you to go through, before we were married, on a beautiful fall day, I stopped in the driveway and put my hand on your siding. I prayed that everything would work out. That Dave would find a home in your walls and that I would join him once we were married. I prayed my hopes and dreams and deepest desires that afternoon. I don't think I could have ever imagined what a blessing a little house could be.

I also didn't imagine that we'd say good bye so soon. But somehow we are. 

I've divided my life into chapters according to the homes I've lived in. Each place important, even those I barely remember: my aunt and uncle's house in Austria for the first 2 months of my life, the little house on Prospect Street in the north, the farm I grew up on in southern Michigan, my many college dorm rooms and now our first little house, the home I became an adult in. Each chapter and special in its own right, but the three and a half years here will always be especially dear.

Little Yellow House, thank you.

Thank you for being our first home. 

Thank you for being the place I learned to be a wife and where we came home after our honeymoon to start life together. For being the place we unpacked our wedding gifts and found them their places in cabinets and drawers.

Thank you for having so much potential and giving us a place to learn how to work on projects together. For being the place where we learned that clutter weighs us down and clean, bright spaces make peaceful living easier. 

Thank you for being the home we brought our kittens to and where we learned how amazing it is to be greeted by sweet little noses when we walk through the door. 

Thank you for being a place we were happy to host and welcome people to visit. Some of my favorite memories are bonfires and dinners shared with friends.

Thank you for being a refuge when we needed it. For giving us a place to lick our wounds and heal as we learned how hard the world could be. But also for being the launching pad for going back out and facing things that scared us, but ultimately make us stronger and better.

Thank you for the safety to dream and discuss the big decisions that would make those dreams reality. For being a haven to crash into when the hard work of making dreams happen left us drained and weary.

Little Yellow House, thank you for being the home where we became a family. For all the cozy nights and dinners cooked with golden light filling the kitchen. For the good times and the hard times.

We are better for the time we spent here. There is no way we'll forget our first little home.

Our Next Adventure

Drumroll please....

We closed on a new house last night.

This signals the start of a new stage of life for us. We're so excited and a bit nervous too.

The past month has been filled with an insane amount of big decisions and hard work. We found a house, offered, had our offer accepted, made the big decision to move, packed up a quarter our stuff, got our house ready to list, listed it, had 5 showings in a week, I got approved to continue my job remotely and now we've closed on the new house.

We didn't pick the timing. In fact, I probably would have chosen any other time than the holidays, but this is how it happened, and it's working out. And now we'll have Dave's slow season to settle in the new house.

To back up just a bit, we began casually looking at houses closer to Dave's job to cut down on his 1 1/2 hour commute the last week of October. We knew continuing to live the way we have since March was not sustainable. Our thoughts were that we might find something and move sometime in the spring or summer of 2017. 

We started looking at country houses on 5+ acres with enough space to raise a family. However the market for that type of house in the area we were looking was not ideal and we got pretty discouraged that we'd have to settle for an ugly house or do a major (expensive) remodel.

October 30: we returned home from some showings feeling disappointed and I escaped by taking a nap. When I woke up, Dave had an idea he wanted to bounce off me. He suggested instead of putting the pressure on ourselves to find a house for the next 20 years, we look for something that will work for the next 5. Something like the house we have right now, with a few improvements and closer to his work. He even had two houses as examples to show me on Zillow. 

All of a sudden I felt so much better. This we could. This was manageable. 

We decided right then and there to look into one of the houses Dave had found. It was only 5 minutes from his office and had a few details that had me excited.

October 31: Dave couldn't sleep that night because he was thinking about that house. In the morning, he reached out to the realtor and got a showing despite the fact that she was planning to take the listing down that day. I had to be at work that day, but was able to take a break while Dave walked me through the house on facetime. We both loved it. That night we added our offer to the 2 others already submitted. 

November 1: We woke up the next morning to find out our offer had been accepted and I drove down after work to get my first in real life look at the house. (I had 24 hours to see the house and approve as a contingency in the offer.) Well, I couldn't find anything I didn't like or couldn't imagine making work. This house had all the little things we always wished to add to our old house. The only thing missing was a dishwasher and we could fix that. It wasn't any bigger than our old house — still just a small 2 bedroom, 1 bath. But we'd have a basement and bigger closets. For me a big selling point was how much natural light the windows let in and the views out of the windows. It was all we need. 

Over dinner that night we discussed the reality of the decision. Going through with the offer meant we'd move toward many things, but also away from the home we'd built for 3.5 years. We felt a bit crazy, but we had to strike while the iron was hot. So we did. Our decision was official on November 1. It was a week after we'd started looking. 

And now here we are. With a new house on our hands. And a whole new life to build. We can't wait to get started. 

For now, here's a picture of our air mattress bedroom setup in the new house: