You Are Not Forgotten (A Guest Post On Infertility)

July 7, 2015

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Every week or so I get an email from someone who is experiencing the pain of infertility. These messages are heartbreaking and difficult to answer, especially because my journey has been so brief in comparison. Taking Clomid for a few months is nothing next to the rigors of IVF or waiting years for answers and treatment. All I have to offer is light and love. The heartache in waiting to be a mother is a very heavy burden to bear.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from someone named Anna who wanted to advertise her Etsy shop featuring cards for couples experiencing infertility. When I heard her story, I asked if she’d be willing to share it with you and she graciously agreed.

Ten questions for Anna (whose name has been changed) and her raw, honest answers below. As I’ve walked alongside dear friends who have experienced similar infertility journeys, I’ve noticed how hard it is for others to respond. Anna talks about that today. She also describes the terrible HSG in the way that it should be described (It is not just “minor period cramps,” it is death).

When Anna sent her responses, this is how she ended the email: Thanks again for allowing me to do this–lots of emotion here. Maybe it’s the progesterone, maybe it’s the exhaustion of it all, but I know for sure part of it is just getting this shit out.

Out of all the things I continue to learn in this life, most important is that when you’re going through the darkness, the best thing you can hear is, “Me too.”

This is for you, friends.

You are not forgotten.

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1) How long have you and Ben been trying to conceive?

We have been actively trying to conceive for about 7 years and have been patients at our fertility clinic for 2.5 of those years.

2) When did you first know there was a problem?

My biggest fear growing up was that I wouldn’t be able to have kids. It was the most irrational and random fear I can remember as a child. But when Ben and I started trying (and failing) seven years ago, we just played it off as “not good timing.” When I finally mentioned some concern to my gynecologist, she just waved her hands around as if it was the silliest thing she ever heard and reminded me that I’m young and “it just takes time.”

So, for a year I tracked my cycles, took my temperature and prayed my heart out. Still nothing. A couples years later I was diagnosed with insulin resistance and found a wonderful endocrinologist who whipped my endocrine system into shape. She would often bring up our inability to conceive, but I stubbornly played it off. I didn’t want to ask for help. I can still remember walking to the car after an appointment, a yellow sticky note in my hand with the name of a leading fertility specialist, Dr. Williams. I sat in the car looking at it for a while before turning the key. It took us six more grueling months to call that number. And from there the rest is history. Here is a quick recap of our treatment from 2.5 years ago to today:

+ 6 rounds of clomid- 2 pregnancies (both early miscarriages)
+ 4 rounds of IUIs – all negative
+ IVF 1 – early miscarriage with twins
+ IVF 2 – PGDed embryos so no fresh transfer (PGD stands for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis–and lots of money)
+ FET 1 – negative (FET stands for frozen embryo transfer)
+ IVF 3 – banked our embryos (no fresh transfer)
+ IVF 4 – banked our embryos (no fresh transfer)–we did banking to that we could PGD
+ FET 2 – negative
+ IVF 5 – happening now!

Currently, we have 2 embryos still frozen and 3 more waiting to be PGDed then frozen if they are healthy.

3) What has been the hardest part of this process besides the waiting?

There are so many hard parts. I’ve watched best friends and family get pregnant and have healthy babies, host or go to baby showers, baby-sit, and listen to the woes of parenting. These are the things that get hard.

Perhaps most difficult is how we have felt so robbed of the typical reproductive process. The chance to feel the fun and excitement when trying to conceive and the joy and surprise when it actually works. These are often not joyous things for us. Instead they are riddled with fear and terror. Will our HCG number double in 48 hours? Will this be a viable pregnancy or is this another loss? Did all this money, time, energy and emotion just disappear again? 

We just won’t be the couple that accidentally gets pregnant, gets to completely surprise our family, or can fully and blindly trust that our embryo/baby will live to the next day or week. What we’ve experienced has taken that naivety and innocence away. We now know how easy it is to lose, not just once but again and again. These are the things I think are hard, it feels like highway robbery.

There are so many other hard things like my faith, the big picture process of it all and the idea of what it means to be a woman through all this. But, that’s for another day.

4) Has your perspective/conversations changed since starting 7 years ago?

Yes. The most notable change has been imagining our life without children. For the first few years of trying it was all about: How many kids? How far apart? What if we had all boys or all girls? As time passed, our conversations became about what is would be like having just one child. Then, years later, we had the hard conversation about the possibility of never having children.

Surprisingly you become ready for each conversation as they emerge. There was a period of time when we agreed we are very happy with our life together and could live a fulfilling life without kids. We would be OKAY. Now that we have some embryos frozen through IVF, we are back to the idea that we will have children one day.

5) How has IVF been going?

This is most likely our last attempt using my uterus. Our embryos should be implanting since they are genetically normal, but after two rounds of those embryos not working, the doctors are concerned it may have something to do with my uterus. Even though it’s in beautiful shape and show no signs of sickness, there can still be trouble that is unseen. Basically I may not be able to medically carry a child. It is heartbreaking.

The next step is surrogacy. 

6) What does that look like?

Again the conversation and perspective of things continues to change. What would it be like to not carry my own children? To not be pregnant? To not know what it’s like to feel a baby kick and grow inside of me? These are the very real questions I’m flooded with every single day–and so far I don’t have the answers. I do know that we’ll be ready if the time comes to face those questions and navigate our way through them just like all the other layers of the process so far. 

7) If you feel comfortable sharing, can you describe some of the physical toll you’ve had to endure over the past 7 years?

From the beginning, I’ve been in awe of my body. It is so strong and resilient even though the end result hasn’t been what we’ve been hoping for. When we first started on Clomid, I was so nervous to take that first pill. I’d heard so many things about what Clomid can do to your body, mind and soul. But now that I’m deep in the throes of IVF, taking one little pill for four days out of cycle feels like a vitamin. I had my bad days on Clomid, but they were only in four day intervals so I could managed the other 24 days of my cycle pretty well. When we moved to IUIs, it was a similar experience. Even though it was my first introduction to injections, it was at max two injections during a cycle, followed by the actual IUI itself.

I was managing all of this pretty well with a high pain tolerance, but I should mention that I also had surgery to check for endometriosis and the recovering excruciating! I also had an hysterosalpingogram (HSG) before we started any treatment at all, and still to this day that is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. The lady before me was screaming, crying and throwing up. Literally someone’s husband passed out from just watching. By the time they called my name, I was shaking in my hospital gown, ready to ditch the whole thing. But I did it–and my tubes were open (a good thing).

Then came IVF!

IVF is not for the weak and weary, nor is it for the control freaks and anxious (me). There are many different protocols for IVF, but most are similar in their pattern of events. My protocols were about six weeks long from the first day of treatment to the day of transfer. So, for me it started with two weeks of birth control (yes, it was so strange to take this, but it resets your system and allows the doctors to better manipulate your cycle), then requires an ultrasound to confirm everything is clear to go. Next up is daily injections. I had to be on a pretty high dose every single round, so I would take up to three injections a day for about two weeks. During those two weeks it requires daily ultrasounds (always internal, always) and blood work. My clinic is over an hour away, so it would require driving two hours a day, usually very early in the morning, only to go back to work all day and then home for injections (then do it all over again).

As my follicles would grow, I would get very bloated, irritable, and tired since my body was working so hard. Eventually my follicles (which hold an egg) would become big enough to retrieve, which means it’s time for a process called egg retrieval. That’s where I’m put under anesthesia and they go in and take out all of my precious eggs from my ovaries to fertilize with Ben’s “sample.” I had anywhere from 21-34 eggs retrieved per cycle, so my ovaries were so swollen and sore. After retrieval I would wait five days for a fresh transfer (where they transfer back 1-2 embryos in a very specific part of my uterus) or let my body heal and four weeks later start a whole bunch of other medications for a frozen embryo transfer.

After a transfer I sit around for a couple of weeks trying not to pull my hair out and do all the things I’m supposed to like stay calm, positive, and believe. Easier said than done. Honestly the biggest toll on my body was waiting to find out if it worked. It can be such a mind game, and stress, fear, and sadness can really take hold in your body. There were so many rounds I thought it worked only to get a call saying my blood work results were negative.

8) How have you and Ben been able to sustain a healthy relationship while struggling through testing, procedures, and disappointments?

I’ll be honest, there have been some really difficult moments. We’ve been through a lot together; both getting our graduate degrees, him finishing his Ph.D., and opening a business together. Some of our most epic and memorable arguments have originated from this infertility process. We have to make decisions every month that fertile couples do not. Decisions that are not easy and will impact us for the rest of our life. Decisions like, what does the hospital do with our frozen embryos if one of us dies? Both of us die? Who do they go to? How many do we transfer? Do we want twins? Do we want to know the genders and select which ones to transfer? Do we transfer the lower graded ones or higher? Should we keep the better ones for later? Will we ever use all these embryos? If not, what should the hospital do with them? What should the hospital do with our embryos that die?

It’s easy to get tripped up not just over the answers, but over the fact that we have to deal with this in the first place. Every day we are faced with embryo updates, cell levels, follicle numbers, injection reminders, cycle day updates, and blood work results. This process consumes every part of our life. We learned very early on that we needed to protect our relationship as much as possible through this. It was very difficult at first, all of it seemed so unnatural, manual and contrived.

By the time we reached IVF, Ben made the comment that he is just the “stud horse.” It was funny, but I also realized that’s very much what it feels like to him. So we’ve worked hard to make sure he’s included in the process. He comes to appointments, checks in for updates, is involved in the decision making, is at all of the procedures, and takes care of me after every retrieval and transfer. Most recently he’s also been giving me all my progesterone shots (which are intramuscular and straight in the butt cheek–he enjoys this very much). He has had to work through his own feelings as a man going through the process of infertility. It’s so different for both us. We grieve different things, experience things differently, and if we aren’t careful–can feel unsupported or unheard by the other. As the time went on, we both had to learn a lot about each other and how to comfort and soothe the hurt places that we didn’t know existed. He knows to hold me through bad news, an offensive comment thrown our way, or when I’m doubting myself as a woman who may not give birth. I know to reassure him he is enough for me, he is valued through this process, and that he matters in all decisions and procedures. These are the things that truly matter to us.

Probably the most important element for us has been humor. We’ve learned to laugh through some of the most uncomfortable moments of this. We have many jokes surrounding our doctors and others we’ve encountered at the clinic. The ridiculousness of it all has helped us get through some really hard times. I’ve always appreciated I could laugh with Ben and I’ve never felt more grateful for that than in the last 2.5 years. It’s a daily thing, but I do feel as though we’ve learned to appreciate each other more through this on our good days and our bad.

9) I know that sometimes people trying to help often end up doing more harm than good. What advice can you give to those who know someone struggling with infertility?

Having sensitivity and really listening. So often I might share something that feels scary to me and someone will say, “Well when I was pregnant…” or “Oh, I remember when we were trying….” None of that is not considered listening, it’s considered talking about yourself. I understand a lot of times it comes from a place of not being able to relate and a real desire to comfort, but it comes off as just another person who doesn’t get it and doesn’t want to try to get it.

Recently I was talking with someone who is well aware of what we are going through, and the conversation turned to having children later in life. Comments were made such as, “I’m so glad we didn’t have kids in our 30s and 40s…” or “I can’t imagine having kids that old…” Um, well I can. That’s my reality. I don’t have a choice like most others.

Of course I don’t want people to say pad things or say, “I don’t want this to offend you.” How mortifying. I just need sensitivity. A realization that everyone has a different journey and enough self awareness to step outside of your experience and really hear someone else. I had another person close to me complain about her kids only to turn to me and say, “Are you sure you want to have kids?” It was one of the most hurtful things anyone has ever said to me because of course I’m sure! I have to choose wanting children every single day. Every day when I inject myself, suffer from hot flashes, and deal with mood swings. Every month when I pay the clinic and go through the heartache of loss and grief. Believe me, I’m not just doing this for fun or to see what happens. I have to choose it every day in order to make sense of what I’m doing. 

We’ve also had people who find out we are struggling with infertility and quickly say, “Well, you can always adopt.” This is something we have had to deal with a lot. Adoption is certainly not off of the table for us, but we don’t want to approach adoption as a last option. Instead we want to fully choose it because that’s what we want to do, not because of any other impatience in our heart. Ben was adopted and I thank Jesus for that because I never would have met him otherwise. We have definitely considered it, but at this point we are focused on our 5 embryos that have an 80% chance of life. Until we are sure about their fate, we cannot ethically and mentally consider anything else. Right now we are choosing to give our embryos a fair shot.

Hugs and care packages also go a long way. We’ve had so many friends drop off baskets of goodies on our porch when we’ve got bad news. There’s also been an outpouring of visitors, meals, and lunch dates just to talk about how I’m doing on my medication. It’s been really amazing to see friends and family who knew nothing of infertility now asking me about my estrogen levels and fertilization reports. I’m so impressed by these people. They started from scratch just like us and chose to learn. It goes a long way.

10) What has been the most helpful piece of advice or wisdom you’ve used to stay strong through this process?

Two things. One, I am not in control. Sitting at home pacing, picking my face, or stuffing my mouth with chips won’t change what’s on the end of the lab work, embryo report, or ultrasound. 

I also have to constantly tell myself, “You, Anna, are not forgotten.” I spend my life and career helping people work through the hardest moments of their life, and I now know what it’s like to ride that wave with no land in sight, only to trust and lean on the others around you. There have been mountains and valleys of emotion–oceans and dessert of tears–but we are remaining hopeful that we are not forgotten through all of this and someday, we will look beyond the suffering to something more beautiful than ever expected.

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Anna lives in Virginia with her husband and two cats. She is a lover of people who use their blinker, flash mobs, and real mayo. She is currently working on a book about the woes and challenges of infertility which will hopefully be out next year. She has also just started a new line of greeting cards for couples trying to conceive hoping to provide inspiration and support through the mailbox. A link to her shop here.

Friday Snacks {07.03.15}

July 3, 2015

FINALFSFive Links To Read

An Invite She Didn’t Have To Decline + These Goobers Unscripted + Bad Day Fixer + The Craziest Headline Ever + Lights In This World

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One Thing To Love

This Favorite Etsy Shop.

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I’ve talked about Sweet Jane Studio before. Last October we got this fox cardigan for Waylon and he still asks to wear it, even if it’s 90 degrees out. It is probably my favorite piece of clothing he’s ever worn. Now it’s Eva’s turn and can you believe this dress?

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Shop owner Crystal makes fun and adorable kids clothing inspired by 1950s-70s pop culture. Her products are made to be worn, whether it’s to a birthday party or to the playground. We have had Waylon’s cardigan for almost a year and it still looks like new. Many items are appliquéd with images of animals. Her goal is to create clothes that kids and adults can enjoy (this bunny dress is also to die for). From Crystal: 

I’ve been making kids clothing for 4 years and started when the youngest of my 3 kids was a baby. I’ve always enjoyed sewing and wanted to make clothing for her that I liked – which typically involved the use of vintage fabrics. I have a huge love/obsession for vintage fabric and some of it makes its way into some of my designs.

Use Coupon Code katejuly2015 For 10% Off Through 7/10/15!

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Shop // Instagram // Twitter

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One Truth For The Week

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Happy Friday

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Thank you to everyone who shared Internet gems. You make Fridays better.

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Guest Post: A Letter To Moms Whose Partners Works Long Hours

July 2, 2015

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Austin started his first day of residency yesterday with 50 patients, two weeks of night float, and the nerves of a high school freshman who has never been in charge of a human life before. Some say making it through intern year is harder than making it through four years of medical school, but we’re just going to take it one day at a time.

A few weeks ago, my good friend Suzie sent me a letter of love and encouragement on surviving residency. I immediately shared it with my medwifery friends who now refer to it as “the letter,” and thought I would share it with you, too. Not only is it full of wisdom, but it’s packed with the kind of real life tips that are actually useful. It’s one thing to say, “Be patient!” but a rare thing to tell you how.

There are so many professions outside the medical field that require long hours away from partners and children at home without a co-parent. When I sent this letter to my friend Katie who is married to a farmer, she could only nod in mutual understanding. There is so much sacrifice that comes in any marriage, but ones that involve a lot of time apart require a certain skill set. One that I’m only starting to learn.

A letter for the sisterhood who is at home doing dinner alone for the 100th time.

We got this.

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My dear friend Kate,

This is it. This is your “you’ve arrived at residency letter.” I don’t claim to have any amazing advice.  I only have a few  more years on you as we are about to start our LAST year of residency, as you begin your first. So, here are my thoughts.

Resentment is a dangerous emotion. Everything you feel as you go through this adjustment period (believe it or not, you will get used to this new insanity) is valid. The sacrifice you’ve made will feel huge and so much more than you knew you ever agreed to.  Try as hard as you can though, to avoid resentment. Resentment will seriously mess you up. When I’ve felt true resentment, and I have, I’ve learned to immediately name it and share it with Kyle. Often resentment comes when I don’t feel like the sacrifice is being NOTICED or appreciated. For me, I’ve learned I need words and reminders that Kyle is GRATEFUL for the sacrifice.  You might be the same way, or not at all. My advice is just to be careful and take note of resentment and don’t let it linger.

I want to talk about guilt. It will be EASY and tempting to make Austin feel guilty. Sad stories of the kids crying for their dad, little videos sent that are meant to be cute but really have a subtext of “ you’re missing this…” or a subtext of “these kids are crazy and it’s all your fault.” It’s easy to point out what they’ve missed because of work and always emphasizing how much harder your life is because of his chosen career. Please remember that what you want Austin to feel is GRATEFUL. Not guilty. Guilt does not make anyone feel better. But feeling recognized and appreciated does. Guilt builds a wedge and just makes things harder. It isolates. And a very important thing to know is he will already feel guilty on his own. More than you will know at first. He will ache to see his kids and worry about what this whole thing is doing to his family and relationships. Yes, he will work Mother’s Day and feel like shit about it already. For the first part of residency, he will doubt himself as a doctor, a husband and a father and that is a heavy burden. Be the person who makes him feel better, not worse.

I am not suggesting a 1950’s relationship where your needs are sidelined because you don’t want to make him feel bad. NOT AT ALL. I am saying is you want to get through this together and be stronger for it and I believe it’s important to be mindful of how words and actions elicit guilt. Always know there is nowhere else he would rather be than home with you and the kids.

Create a buffer for extended family. They will not get it. They just won’t. They will take things personally and be offended when they shouldn’t be.  He will miss family days, holidays, and forget how old his nieces and nephews are. As much as you feel you can, help them understand and then move on. Don’t let it get to you that they don’t understand. They can’t.

Share with others who get it! Vent and cry and talk it out. Please talk with me, voxer 1000 times about his schedule, I WANT TO KNOW. Tell me 23 times how his next day off is 24 days away. Here’s my advice though, share with those who get it in an uncensored way, but for everyone else, stick to small doses. Share with me and “the birds” and new residency friends. We will get it!! You will notice others want to understand, they genuinely do, but it can cause a sense of pity and friends not wanting to share with you about their weekend plans. You will get a sense that they just feel bad for you. You might just have to see how this goes for you, but I’ve found that friends in the same situation react in a way that feels helpful and is uplifting. With friends who can’t relate it feels like you’re dragging them down or just raining on their amazing 10 weeks of summer off with their teacher husband.

DON’T WAIT. Do not wait for Austin. I can’t stress this enough. If he’s working Saturday and texts that he will “be leaving in a few minutes” right as you’re about to head to the park with the kids, DO NOT WAIT. Do not wait to have dinner because he said he might be “out the door soon.” Do not always wait to do something fun with the kids till dad has a day off. Waiting = resentment. Too often the reality is he won’t be home in a few minutes. It will be 20 or 30 or another 2 hours. His day off will be switched or cancelled when he’s called in. If you’re living in a sense of waiting for him you will go crazy.  It’s always better to not wait because if he does get out the door…great! He can show up at the park and surprise the kids and it will be wonderful. If he makes it home for dinner, he can heat up a plate while everyone is still at the table. So much better than waiting around feeling angry. Don’t hold him to time. You just have to be really zen about this. It is hard and as you know I am not a zen master. They have no control over their time. It is what it is.

If he’s working on a holiday, don’t look at facebook. Enough said. Try as hard as you can to not compare your life with “normal” people’s lives. It is really hard.  Don’t look at everyone’s barbeque pictures on the 4th of July when you spent the last 12 hours dealing with crying whiny kids all by yourself. You know the quote on comparison. Thief of joy.

Listen and give space regarding what he needs to share about his days. His days will include some really boring things and then some really dramatic and really heartbreaking parts too. Help him not be a robot about it all. They need a wall to get through it day after day, but I think they really need someone to listen when they are ready to release the emotional parts of the job.

Let’s talk about the kids. I have a good friend from Goshen whose dad is a doctor. I’ve talked to her a lot about this and gained some insight from her experience. She has shared that her memories of this time are completely shaped by her mom’s reactions and attitude. I’ve found that challenging in a good way. She doesn’t remember feeling like her dad was never around or missed everything, even though she knows that was the case. She remembers how her mom always stressed and reminded her how important she was to her dad.  It’s important to remind the kids how excited dad will be to hear about something compared to,  “too bad your dad missed this…” This sounds like a no brainer, and you are obviously an amazing mom and will do this naturally. It is something I do find myself needing to remember. It is especially hard when Kyle gets called in on a day he should have off or has to work Christmas morning for example. My attitude completely shapes Amelia’s reaction and attitude (and soon Everett’s.) Amelia has gotten many real life lessons on how to deal with disappointment (as will your kids) so I try to be aware that I need to model what I want her to learn. I’m not saying to be fake, but there is a bit of theatrics when young kids are involved. This is a long time of their childhood and the memories are important.

Lastly, perspective. This is a mental exercise that seems ridiculous but I honestly find myself doing it A LOT. I really do try to think of things I am grateful for, because as you know, all the scientists and Gretchen Rubins of this world are right. It does make you happier to be grateful! I try to remember military wives are apart from their husbands for 9 whole months. As you know, I often hate cooking dinner. I used to complain about it all the time, but I’ve stopped. Because when I am so stinking sick of being the only one to cook dinner over and over and over, I think of refugees with hungry babies and honestly, how dare I begrudge the gift of feeding my children?! What a lavish luxury to prepare my children food THREE times a day. How many mama’s in this world would give anything for that? I could cry about it right now.  These sorts of mental exercises and perspectives help me remember that when it comes down to it, the majority of the human race has endured much greater hardships than spending a 14 hour day alone with their children. It’s NOT THAT BAD.  (THIS is not to negate feelings of the opposite that actually IT IS UNBELIEVABLY HARD. Yes. It is.  Both are true.) Mental exercises in perspective and gratitude really do help.

When it comes down to it, it will all be harder and easier than you think. It will be unbearable and then, just like that, not as much.  You’ll be going along great, thinking you’ve got it all under control and then a month from hell will take you down at the knees. But the next month will be better, and rotations and night floats will come around more than once and you will notice it is easier than it was the first time.

You’ve got this. I am here for you and I love you!!!

Suzie

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Four Years Of Parenting

June 26, 2015

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Four years ago today, I pushed my very first baby into this world after 24 blissful hours of labor (no). When the nurse came to check on us a few hours later, I cried so hard that I scared everyone in the room. As it turns out, it’s not really possible to be awake for three days without a little hysteria. The same goes with parenting.

01Just like last year, I am left without much to say beyond “Here we are” and “We’re doing the best we can.” Year three was good but hard. I expect nothing else for the coming year.

Waylon is a sensitive kid. If you google a checklist for what qualifies a Highly Sensitive Person, his face appears, crying over bees and the sound of a flushing toilet. He’s also an intense kid. So far this summer he’s used his time off to swim, pretend to be a space ranger, and play a little game called 900 Questions. Have you ever met a four-year-old? They are kind of like three-year-olds but louder. His redeeming qualities include impressive comedic timing and actually being great at Costco.

If I have any advice for new parents, it’s this: Expect nothing, assume nothing, and try not to drink too much in the evenings. Honestly sometimes the best thing to do for your child is take a deep breath and lie down in a dark room.

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I will never forget that night in June; just past midnight, Austin at my side, our midwife whispering he’s almost here. It was the start of one of my greatest love stories. No matter how hard it is to have a one, two, three, four-year-old–I love Waylon in the most desperate kind of way. He is my heart, the best part of this wild and precious life.

Happy Birthday to my first, sweet, impossible boy. You are a treasure.

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More birthday fun here.

20 Tips On Writing From Smart Women

June 25, 2015

Barbara-Kingsolver-001Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.
Barbara Kingsolver

MAThe only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.
Margaret Atwood

CSBuried beneath all the anxiety and sorrow and fear and self-loathing, there’s arrogance at its core. It presumes you should be successful at twenty-six, when really it takes most writers so much longer to get there… You loathe yourself, and yet you’re consumed by the grandiose ideas you have about your own importance. You’re up too high and down too low. Neither is the place where we get any work done. We get the work done on the ground level. And the kindest thing I can do for you is to tell you to get your ass on the floor. I know it’s hard to write, darling. But it’s harder not to. The only way you’ll find out if you “have it in you” is to get to work and see if you do. The only way to override your “limitations, insecurities, jealousies, and ineptitude” is to produce.
Cheryl Strayed

ADDo not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.
Annie Dillard

Toni MorrisonIf there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
Toni Morrison

ALYou own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
Anne Lamott

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
Sylvia Plath

JoyceCarolOatesBe daring, take on anything. Don’t labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.
Joyce Carol Oates

zadie-smithProtect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
Zadie Smith

APEveryone lies about writing. They lie about how easy it is or how hard it was. They perpetuate a romantic idea that writing is some beautiful experience that takes place in an architectural room filled with leather novels and chai tea…. The truth is, writing is this: hard and boring and occasionally great but usually not.
Amy Poehler

Madeleine-LEngleI have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.
Madeleine L’Engle

TFIt’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it…You have to let people see what you wrote.
Tina Fey

Doris LessingAdvice to young writers? Always the same advice: learn to trust our own judgment, learn inner independence, learn to trust that time will sort the good from the bad – including your own bad. 
Doris Lessing

JKYou have to resign yourself to wasting lots of trees before you write anything really good. That’s just how it is. It’s like learning an instrument. You’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot. That’s just part of the learning process. And read a lot. Reading a lot really helps. Read anything you can get your hands on.
JK Rowling

ALIf something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.
Anne Lamott

MAYou can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.
Maya Angelou

AEImagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you ­finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.
Anne Enright

On writing, my advice is the same to all. If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything that you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Write. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less. — Ignore critics. Critics are a dime a dozen. Anybody can be a critic. Writers are priceless. —- Go where the pleasure is in your writing. Go where the pain is. Write the book you would like to read. Write the book you have been trying to find but have not found. But write. And remember, there are no rules for our profession. Ignore rules. Ignore what I say here if it doesn’t help you. Do it your own way. — Every writer knows fear and discouragement. Just write. — The world is crying for new writing. It is crying for fresh and original voices and new characters and new stories. If you won’t write the classics of tomorrow, well, we will not have any. Good luck.
Anne Rice

cherylI’d stopped being grandiose. I’d lowered myself to the notion that the absolute only thing that mattered was getting that extra beating heart out of my chest. Which meant I had to write my book. My very possibly mediocre book. My very possibly never-going-to-be-published book. My absolutely nowhere-in-league-with-the-writers-I’d-admired-so-much-that-I-practically-memorized-their-sentences book. It was only then, when I humbly surrendered, that I was able to do the work I needed to do.
Cheryl Strayed

ALPerfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.
Anne Lamott

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