Browsing Tag

infertility

Adoption, Infertility, Marriage

How We Plan to Be Open to Life in 2016

December 22, 2015

Some of you may find this post odd.

You would never even think of telling others when you and your spouse are thinking about trying for a baby or your openness to life at whatever phase you’re in.

But we’re open books here at True Good and Beautiful and for better or worse it seems like God keeps calling us to high levels of transparency with the world.

Our infertility battles and adoption journey have been available for you to follow along with since early in our marriage, so in keeping with the theme, we want to describe how we are hoping to be open to life in the New Year:

The Bio Way

Gotta leave room for a miracle, right? 🙂

My one known BIG KAHUNA infertility issue is Luetenized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome (LUFS). No doctors can tell me what causes it or how to resolve it. Some guesses are that the pre-ovulatory hormones are wonky or adhesions are getting in the way of ovulation, since post-ovulatory hormones look normal.

So I am going to make some SERIOUS lifestyle changes in hopes of improving hormones and overall fertility:

  1. I plan to go on the Autoimmune Paleo Elimination Diet to find any hidden allergies that could be causing inflammation in my body. After a couple months on this protocol I will get a hormone blood panel and thyroid workup to see if the diet led to improvements.
  2. I also plan to do acupuncture.
  3. And begin seeing a Chiropractor.
  4. The big treatment we are deciding on is either Clear Passage Therapy or Naprotechnology Surgery. Clear Passage Therapy is essentially abdominal Physical Therapy to break up adhesions and scar tissue getting in the way of my fertility. It’s 20 hours spread out over a five day window and I’ve heard it hurts. A LOT! The cost is $5,500 out of pocket and insurance does not cover it. Surgery (my 4th and 5th) would be to remove adhesions (while likely creating some new ones in the process), endometriosis, and any other abnormalities like uterine polyps. They would place Gortex on my organs during the first surgery then remove it 10 days later to reduce adhesion formation. Insurance would cover a portion of that but it’s also got about a $5,000 out-of-pocket price tag for uncovered techniques PLUS recovery time of six weeks.

The Adoption Route

I know miracles happen, but I have more or less accepted we won’t be conceiving any babies and I have made complete peace with that likelihood. We’re totally fine building our family through the gift of adoption. We LOVE adoption and are honored we’ve been blessed with the desire for it. It’s changed our lives and made us better people and will continue to over the years.

So how do we plan to pursue adoption again in the New Year?

  1. Renewing our Home Study with our adoption agency. Now we’ve been through it, I am sure we won’t be so overwhelmed but this is the low point in any adoption. Paperwork just sucks. Having our lives probed and analyzed  and obtaining fingerprints and background checks is also annoying but we’ve got nothing to hide so we’ll pass with flying colors again. Trying to get it all done with a baby turning into a toddler will surely have its challenges.
  2. Traditional Adoption with hopes of making a private connection again would be our hopes due to financial reasons. Meeting a birth family in Colorado specifically would make things much more cost-friendly but we’d be open to out-of-state again and paying double the fees. Significant fundraising efforts would be needed again, as we’ve had a LOT of vehicle related issues this Fall that wiped our savings ear-marked for adoption. Ugh.
  3. Embryo Adoption is also something we are looking into and if I am being honest, it’s currently where we are feeling drawn. Now, many of you likely haven’t heard about this option since it’s relatively new. Some of you also might be confusing it with IVF therapy but I assure you it’s very different. The Catholic Church hasn’t made any statements one way or the other, and as such, for the time being it’s something couples are free to discern and pursue if they feel called to it. To sum it up, we would adopt our children 9 months earlier than typical and I would have the opportunity to carry and give birth to them. Amazing!!! 🙂 If we go down this route, you will hear a whole lot more about our research and discernment.

There you have it.

The New Year holds a LOT of diet and lifestyle changes for me. I go back and forth between being excited and terrified about going Autoimmune Paleo but I need to figure my whole digestive and immune system issues out; I know there is something wacky and it’s just time to get to the bottom of it all.

No matter what route we choose, it’s going to cost significant amounts of money and I admit, sometimes that’s a hard pill to swallow. I am thankful we have financial freedom through being debt-free that we have the ability to cash flow and save for some of the treatments. We said “no” to a lot in 2015 so we could say “yes” to these treatments in 2016. I am also super thankful that others are crazy wicked generous towards us by supporting our work with FOCUS and in our adoptive journey to Miss Josephine Rose…and would likely stand beside us in fundraising for a second adoption.

At the end of the day God will provide. When I remember that truth, all my bitterness fades away. He’s taking us on a wild journey, and I just simply need to sit back and let him act. The more I try and control the worse off we are. God will grow our family however he sees fit and that is all there is to it. I just need to repeat that like a mantra all. day. long. until it sticks!

Infertility

The Biggest Thing I Don’t Trust God With

October 20, 2015

We all have something in our life that we don’t trust God fully with.

For me? It’s infertility.

Shocked, right? 😉

As much as we have been blessed this past year with Josephine, I can see some old fears creeping back in. I need to admit it to myself and to all of you…

I am scared as hell as to how, when, or if our family will grow again.

Last year, I wrote about how becoming a mom changed our battle with infertility. I still stand behind the fact that I won’t completely “go back” to the darkest of dark days I once knew. Josephine has brought too much joy and light to our lives for me to ever get that low again. My deepest desires to become a mother have been fulfilled and I will never forget that.

Thankfully my jealousy of other families I once had is mostly curbed. I no longer get upset that God grows other families just that I don’t trust he will grow ours. I do find myself getting anxious again, though, and I can see the tidal wave of negative emotions beginning to form in the distance.

I am battling a deep seated fear. 

Fear that we’ll never ever ever ever EVER conceive.

Fear that if I do conceive, I will miscarry.

Fear that I will inevitably be the last one standing on the island of infertility…that everyone I know both fertile/infertile/sub-fertile will get pregnant but never me.

Fear that we’ll never be able to afford adoption again.

Fear that if we try to fundraise to adopt again it will all fall apart this time and no one will support us.

Fear that Josie will grow up without siblings we so desperately desire her to be surrounded by.

Fear that all our friends who also have one baby will stop being our friends when then go on to have more babies and only want to hang around “big” families.

Fear that when we start trying to conceive again that it will be the same old crap we’ve been through a million times before filled with treatments and diets up the wazoo yet perpetually unsuccessful outcomes.

Fear that when we try and adopt again, somehow no families will like us or want us to provide a home for their sweet baby.

Fear, fear, and more fear. 

On one hand I am so ashamed that I STILL don’t trust God fully with our family. He outdid himself BIGTIME on bringing Josie into our lives and showed us just how in control he was all along.

On the other hand, I am not shocked because I know me. I am weak, frail, and forgetful. Remember how easy it is to get frustrated and judgey with the Israelites in the Old Testament? They just seem to never get it. Well, now I am basically them. Ugh.

All I can do is take my fears to Jesus, acknowledge them, and surrender. I have to trust that he sees my fears and will conquer them.

In prayer he keeps reminding me of how Josephine came into our lives. It was all orchestrated so perfectly by Him. It’s undeniable that God hasn’t provided for us.

He keeps nudging me to trust that he WILL provide again…but unlike other families with healthy fertility, I get no control as to when or how that happens. (And even they don’t get total control) I am trying to be OK with that. Each day in prayer I willfully surrender these fears to him and cling to truth that, “All things work for good for those who love God.” Romans 8:28

In my core I know that we’ll be just fine. That God will not abandon us. That He will provide for all our needs and will grow our family. I have only to actively surrender myself to His will and the peace of God will fill my heart and soul.

I choose to end this post drenched in fear with a prayer. Through abandoning myself is how Jesus will conquer all my fears and grow trust in my heart. Think about something you struggle to trust God with and pray along with me…

Father,
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Charles de Foucauld

Amen.

Catholicism

Why I Wanted To Hate #Edel But Couldn’t

July 26, 2015

The Edel Gathering for Catholic women was July 10-11th in Charleston, SC.

That means this blog post is a bit late to the party. It’s alright to judge me a little. 😉

So who in their right mind would want to hate a conference of Catholic women?

Bitter, jealous, and infertile little old me from one year ago.

I’d heard about the first Edel Gathering and saw all the gushing blog posts that followed. last year. It seemed like in order to attend you needed to have a cool mom blog and tons of kids to blog about.

None of which applied to my life…leaving me feeling completely excluded and on the outside. It was pretty darn easy to hate Edel a year ago.

But then something happened.

God worked on my heart and freed me from former bitterness and jealousy. I became a mom through the blessing of adoption. And a dear friend from college invited me to sign up when I was delirious with an 8-day-old baby at home. 🙂

I am glad I got to go and actually experience the conference as opposed to sitting on the sidelines making judgey eyes. Below are my biggest takeaways from Edel 2015:

1. Abandonment To God’s Will Leads To Joy

Of course since I had Josephine with me I couldn’t find the ability to actually write down all the amazing quotes shared on this topic…so I can’t really share with you any quality content, just my reflections.

Whoops.

Throughout all the speakers I felt the Holy Spirit telling me LOUD. AND. CLEAR. that only in God’s will for my life is where my joy lies.

Not in someone else’s situation. Not when things are only going “well” according to my standards. Not when I reach x, y, or z state in life that I am not currently at.

His will TODAY is where my joy can be found. Accepting whatever comes with peace and trust with ungripped hands will wash away my stress, anxiety, and fear that all too often hold me captive and unable to live my vocation to the full.

2. I Am Not Alone

If I had $1 for the times I felt alone this past year I’d be a very rich woman indeed.

Staying home with Josie has been undoubtedly one of my BEST decisions but it’s the HARDEST thing I’ve personally ever done.

It was a looooong winter and the days sort of blended together. Thanks be to God I had a few other Mommas I knew going through the same stages with babies almost identical in age to Josephine.

But the loneliness still crept in on those long snowy days. I think the Devil is an expert at isolation in general but it was unreal how lonely I got those days on end where I never left the house.

Just knowing other moms are out there feeling the same thing was comforting. That I’m not a freak or weirdo for battling these feelings as a mom. I needed to know I wasn’t alone.

3. Moms Aren’t My Enemies

If I am being honest, there used to be a part of me that hated moms. Not only because I was battling infertility and was just flat-out jealous of them but because it seemed like they couldn’t talk about anything BUT their kids…which I found annoying.

Moms became an enemy and I preferred to hang with singles or other married-without-kiddos gals.

Since becoming a mom myself I’ve learned at how kind and giving other moms are. I’ve had other moms reach out to me and be some of the most supportive women I now know. And yes, talking about the kids is tempting, but moms can still talk about MUCH more than the kids if given the freedom!

And I met dozens of those women at Edel.

Moms who were my allies and friends…anything BUT my enemy. It was refreshing to meet Catholic moms from all over the country with all types of personalities and interests yet going through the same things vocationally.

It was truly refreshing. I couldn’t hate it at all. 🙂

Infertility

National Infertility Awareness Week

April 22, 2015

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week again.

Here at True Good and Beautiful we write about this sensitive topic year-round but it’s important to have a week dedicated to awareness, just like any other rare illness out there.

A group of 430 people suffering infertility got together and composed a blog post which I am now re-posting here at TG&B for your reading pleasure. I hope and pray it brings consolation to those suffering infertility and insight to those desiring to learn more about this cross.

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One in six couples will experience infertility at some point in their marriage. Infertility is medically defined as the inability to conceive after 12 cycles of “unprotected” intercourse or 6 cycles using “fertility-focused” intercourse. A couple who has never conceived has “primary infertility” and a couple who has conceived in the past (regardless of the outcome) but is unable to again has “secondary infertility”. Many couples who experience infertility have also experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

April 19 – 25, 2015 is National Infertility Awareness Week.

We, a group of Catholic women who have experienced infertility, would like to take a moment to share with you what the experience of infertility is like, share ways that you can be of support to a family member or friend, and share resources that are helpful.

If you are experiencing infertility, please know you are not alone. You are loved and prayed for and there are resources to help you with the spiritual, emotional, and medical aspects of this journey

The Experience of Infertility

In the beginning of trying to conceive a child, there is much hope and anticipation; for some, even a small fear of “what if we get pregnant right away?” There is planning of how to tell your husband and when you’d announce to the rest of the family. It is a joyful time that for most couples results in a positive pregnancy test within the first few months. However, for one in six couples, the months go by without a positive test and the fears and doubts begin to creep in. At the 6th month of trying using fertility-focused intercourse (using Natural Family Planning), the couple knows something is wrong and is considered “infertile” by doctors who understand the charting of a woman’s pattern of fertility. At the 9th month of trying, the month that, had they conceived that first month, a baby would have been arriving, is often the most painful of the early milestones. At the 12th month mark the couple “earns” the label from the mainstream medical community as “infertile”.

As the months go by, the hopes and dreams are replaced with fears, doubts, and the most invasive doctors’ appointments possible. As a Catholic couple faithful to the teachings of the Church, we are presented by secular doctors with options that are not options for us and are told things like “you’ll never have children” and “you have unexplained infertility”; by our Catholic doctors we are told to keep praying and to have hope as they roll up their sleeves and work hard to figure out the cause of our infertility, with each visit asking, “How are you and your husband doing with all of this?”

We find it hard to fit in. We have faith and values that are different than our secular culture, but our small families, whether childless (primary infertility) or with fewer children than we hoped for (secondary infertility), make us blend in with the norm. We have faith and values that are in line with the teachings of our Church, but our daily life looks so much different than the others who share those values and that makes us stand out in a way that we would rather not. We are Catholic husbands and wives living out our vocation fully. Our openness to life does not come in the form of children; it takes on the form of a quiet “no” or “not yet” or “maybe never” from God each month as we slowly trod along. Our openness to and respect for life courageously resists the temptations presented to us by the secular artificial reproductive technology industry.

Often times our friends and family do not know what to say to us, and so they choose to not say anything. Our infertility stands like a great big elephant in the room that separates us from others. Most of the time, we don’t want to talk about it, especially not in public or in group settings because it is painful and we will often shed tears. We realize it is difficult and ask that you realize this difficulty as well. We will do our best to be patient and to explain our situation to those who genuinely would like to know, but please respect our privacy and the boundaries we establish, as not only is infertility painful, it is also very personal.

One of the hardest experiences of infertility is that it is cyclical. Each month we get our hopes up as we try; we know what our due date would be as soon as we ovulate; we know how we would share the news with our husband and when and how we would tell our parents. We spend two weeks walking a fine line between hope and realism, between dreaming and despairing. When our next cycle begins – with cramps and bleeding and tears – we often only have a day or two before we must begin taking the medications that are meant to help us conceive. There is little to no time to mourn the dream that is once again not achievable; no time to truly allow ourselves to heal from one disappointment before we must begin hoping and trying again. We do not get to pick what days our hormones will plummet or how the medications we are often taking will affect us. We do not get to pick the day that would be “best” for us for our next cycle to start. We are at the mercy of hope, and while that hope keeps us going it is also what leaves us in tears when it is not realized.

Some will experience infertility with a complete lack of cycles. Some couples won’t even get to experience the benefit of being able to really try to conceive because of this harsh reality, which is a constant reminder of brokenness for those experiencing it. The pain and anxiety that comes from a lack of reproductive health can be crippling.

And yet others, despite hormonal dysfunction and health issues, will experience the cyclical nature of infertility through conception itself (or recurring conception). These couples go on to lose their children (early, full term, or shortly after birth, and anywhere in between) either once or many times. If you know that we’ve experienced a loss (something we may or may not have the courage to share), know that we are grieving. It wasn’t “just” a pregnancy or “just another” pregnancy that was lost; it was our living baby that died. And we are more likely to be traumatized by the cyclical nature of our infertility because of our losses. We do not get to choose that our cycles will mimic our losses. We are at the mercy of hope.

Our faith is tested. We ask God “why?”, we yell at Him; we draw closer to God and we push Him away. Mass brings us to tears more often than not and the season of Advent brings us to our knees. The chorus of “Happy Mother’s Day” that surrounds us at Mass every year will be almost more devastating than the blessing of mothers itself. We know that the Lord is trustworthy and that we can trust in Him; sometimes it is just a bigger task than we can achieve on our own.

 Please…

* Pray for us. Truly, it is the best thing that anyone can do.

* Do not make assumptions about anything – not the size of a family or whether or not a couple knows what is morally acceptable to the Church. Most couples who experience infertility do so in silence and these assumptions only add to the pain. If you are genuinely interested, and not merely curious, begin a genuine friendship and discover the truth over time.

* Do not offer advice such as “just relax,” “you should adopt,” “try this medical option or that medical option” – or really give any advice. Infertility is a symptom of an underlying medical problem; a medical problem that often involves complicated and invasive treatment to cure.

* Do not assume that we will adopt. Adoption is a separate calling and should be discerned by every married couple irrespective of their ability to conceive biological children. Infertility does not automatically mean that a couple is meant to adopt.

* Do not assume that if we try to adopt that the process will be successful. Many adoption attempts fail and don’t result in a couple receiving a child placement (temporarily or permanently). Some couples are flat out rejected from attempting to adopt by different agencies and governments. Just like adoption is an incredibly intrusive and emotionally charged issue that is part of a separate calling in the journey to “parenthood”, it isn’t always a possibility for infertile parents. Do not assume we can. And be gentle if we are trying. It’s extra painful to be infertile and not be able to adopt. And we are likely so hurt that we can’t bear to share the details with everyone.

* Ask how we are doing and be willing to hear and be present for the “real” answer. Often times we answer, “OK” because that’s the easy, “safe” answer. Let us know that you are willing to walk through this tough time with us. Frequently we just need someone who is willing to listen and give us a hug and let us know we are loved.

* Offer a Mass for us or give us a prayer card or medal to let us know you are praying for us. Just please refrain from telling us how we must pray this novena or ask for that saint’s intercession. Most likely we’ve prayed it and ask for the intercession daily. Please feel free to pray novenas and ask for intercession on our behalf.

* Be tolerant and patient. The medications we take can leave us at less than our best; we may not have the energy or ability to do much. Please also respect us when we say “no, thank you” to food or drinks. We may have restricted diets due to our medical conditions and/or medications.

* Share the good news of your pregnancy privately (preferably in an email or card or letter and not via text, IM chat, phone call or in person) and as soon as possible. Please understand that we are truly filled with joy for you; any sadness we feel is because we have been reminded of our own pain and we often feel horrible guilt over it as well. Please be patient and kind if we don’t respond immediately, attend your baby shower or don’t “Like” all of your Facebook updates about your children. Again, it is really about us, not you.

* Help steer group conversations away from pregnancy and parenting topics when we are around. We like to be able to interact in a conversation to which we can contribute meaningfully.

*Do not exclude us from your life because you think we may be uncomfortable. It is actually more painful to be left out because of the cross we’re carrying, and we know that doesn’t make a lot of sense to our families and friends. We will excuse ourselves from events or situations if we must, and please let us do so gracefully if the circumstance arises.

* Do not ask when we are going to “start a family” (we started one the day we got married).

* Do not ask which one of us is the “problem” – we are either fertile or infertile as a couple.

* Do grieve with us if you know that we’ve experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death (or many). You may not know what to say to comfort us, and that’s ok. Let us grieve at our own pace and on our own schedule without guilt or explanations, even if we have living children. Do not offer platitudes for why you think it happened, how you think it’s part of God’s plan for us to suffer, or any number of things you think might have been wrong with the child. It was our living baby that died. Let us grieve, pray for us, and if you can, let us know you care by being there for us in our grief. Let us know that you remember that our baby lived, no matter how short of a life.

* Do not say things like “I know you’ll be parents some day,” or “It will happen, I know it will!” Along the same lines, please do not tell us stories of a couple you know who struggled for years and went on to conceive or to “just adopt and then you’ll get pregnant” (this one actually only happens a small percentage of the time). Only God knows what our future holds, please pray with us that we are able to graciously accept His will for our lives.

* Do not pity us. Yes, we have much sorrow. Yes, we struggle. But, we place our faith in God, lean on the grace of our marriage, and trust that someday, whether here on earth or in heaven, we will see and understand God’s plan.

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Because this topic is so difficult for so many women and men, the best thing our friends and family can do (and indeed strangers we encounter who may be aware of our struggles) is pray for us. We are grateful for those who offer their prayers and support in a gentle way. Your support is invaluable to us.

Lastly, remember that compassion means “to suffer with”. We didn’t sign up for this to happen. We can’t control whether we overcome this. And we’re doing our best to navigate the murky waters and maintain our sanity and our faith and our relationships with our family and friends through it all. We truly need your support and love to accomplish that. Please, please suffer with us and be Christ to us. No other understanding of our cross will be more merciful or more loving than if you put yourself in a situation to sympathize or empathize with us. The pain of infertility is exacerbated by the fact that it draws us into ourselves. We need your help to remind us in the most difficult moments that we aren’t alone, God didn’t forget us, and that we have something precious to offer through the fruitfulness of our marriage even when it isn’t manifesting in the children we so desperately want to hold. Together, we can offer up our shared suffering for Christ. It’s a powerful witness to both of our faiths to travel this road together and we’ll manage it better with your help than if we have to travel it all alone.

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This post was made possible through the collaboration of 430 members of a “secret” facebook group of Catholic women and men struggling with the pains of infertility in all of its forms. Together we are stronger. And in having the conversation, we are breaking the silence.

If you are Catholic and experiencing the pains of infertility and would like to join a “secret” facebook support group, please let me know and I will happily add you to our discussion.”

Adoption, Infertility, Marriage, Mission, Money

New Here? Allow Us To Introduce Ourselves

April 21, 2015

Today Amanda guest posted over  with Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee on the Catholic News Agency blog.

We battled infertility (still do) for the first 3.5 years of our marriage so this topic is close to our hearts. We hope and pray it helps others to love their family and friends carrying the cross of infertility better.

Many of you are probably visiting us here at True Good & Beautiful for the very first time today.

Welcome!

We want to take a minute and share with you who we are and how you can join us more regularly if you like what you see on Jenny’s blog.

Here at True Good & Beautiful, we write about couple different topics:

  • Money

We are Dave Ramsey lovers. Whatever he says goes in this house! In this section you can read the longer version of our journey to financial peace as well as how we used Dave’s principles in the home buying process.

  • Mission

We are also in love with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Church. We are missionaries with FOCUS – Fellowship of Catholic University Students. In this section you can read about our missionary adventures in addition to how we are trying to live as Christian disciples in the modern world.

  • Marriage

What can we say, we love the vocation of Holy Matrimony and are thankful for the gift it is from above. In this section you can read about our love story and the ways in which we intentionally work on growing our relationship as the months and years go by.

  • More

There are a few other topics we write about here at True Good & Beautiful – Infertility, Adoption, Parenting, and Intentional Living.

Despite writing about a variety of subjects, everything we post stems back to truth, goodness, and beauty. We believe that anything that relates to these core transcendentals is worth writing about, since they link our earthly reality with heavenly realty. Our tagline – thrive in what matters most is our ultimate purpose here.

Lastly, we love our readers and want to stay engaged and connected with you! Sign up for our posts to arrive directly in your inbox on the top right of this page. Or connect with us on social media below:

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Thanks again for taking the time to check us out and we hope to see you around!

Adoption, Infertility, Our Story

How Josie Got Her Name

February 4, 2015

The name Josephine Rose wasn’t on our radar until only a few weeks prior to her birth.

But when we finally said that name out loud, it was instantly perfect. The name fit our story of waiting for her so well.

That’s what we want to share here today.

It all starts back during our days of dating. Jonathan was battling with some personal issues and in turn I was struggling to know where our relationship was supposed to turn. I prayed a novena to St. Therese begging for her help. I asked her for red roses and white lilies if I truly was on God’s path for me in dating and marrying Jonathan. What do you know, I show up at my home parish later that week and it’s FILLED with that exact flower arrangement. Moments later I was filled with peace that I was right where I was supposed to be.

I don’t know how but from that moment I knew the red rose and white lily would be a special sign to me of God’s love and promise that I was in the middle of his will for my life. There were times I would see the arrangement over the next couple of years and it was always exactly when I needed to see it. Always a source of comfort and peace, since the rose is a symbol of Mary and the white lily is a symbol of St. Joseph. I knew that with them praying for me, I was in good hands.

Until it got confusing.

A year ago Jonathan and I were in the middle of pretty invasive infertility treatments. We were trying some new medications and I was going in for ultrasounds to monitor my follicle development and hopeful ovulation 4-6 times a cycle. It was truly exhausting but I had more hope than ever that each cycle might be the cycle.

I was also extremely busy at work, planning and executing the FOCUS Greek Getaways. Let’s just say that between those and dealing with my infertility treatments, I was only surviving by God’s grace.

It was February 6th and I was in North Carolina for the Smokies Greek Getaway. Unusually I was actually a few days late and my period felt nowhere in sight. Could it be?!?!?!?! I called Jonathan excitedly and decided I wouldn’t test until after the Getaway since I needed to just get through the weekend first and foremost.

Our planning team went to pray and attend mass at a nearby Cathedral and upon walking in, I see a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, surrounded by white lilies and red roses. “I must be pregnant!” was the only thought in my mind. I was sure of it. I don’t just randomly see that arrangement of flowers. Ever. I sat down to attend mass, feeling peaceful and content, in awe that I was finally (or so I thought) carrying life within me.

Fast-forward one day to February 7th. I get my period. Hard.

I plummeted into a couple hours of extreme sadness and depression, knowing I needed to pull myself together so I could run a conference in only a few hours. I knew the students were worth offering my pain up for, so that is what I did. Offered it up for their weekend and moved forward, telling nobody what I was going through.

Now I was just mad. I NEVER see the roses and lilies randomly. Why now, when I undoubtedly thought we were FINALLY going to be parents? Nothing made sense.

Until this past August when Jonathan and I began to think about names for the baby we were hoping to adopt.

We were standing in a Marshall’s t-shirt aisle when Jonathan said, “I think I know the name of this baby girl. How about Josephine Rose, in honor of the white lily and red rose that has always been a source of peace for us.”

It sat with me for a moment. I thought back on that last time I saw the lily and the rose and got tricked into thinking I was pregnant. But then I realized something…

What’s nine months from those bleary February days when I saw the red rose and while lily, assured that we were FINALLY expecting a baby?

The due date our our baby girl. She might not have been conceived in my womb at the time…but she was conceived during those very days.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Everything clicked at once and I realized that I wasn’t tricked last February. It really was yet again, a sign that meant something special for me. A sign of hope.

Josephine Rose was the perfect name.

That evening, we looked up the name of Josephine…and it meant “God will add.” Yet again, perfect. God was adding this little lady to our family only in a way that was so undeniably HIM. On one hand, I couldn’t believe it but on the other hand? Totally could. This is the kind of story only God writes. I could never have made it this good.

From that day on, we knew that was to be this little gal’s name.

On November 10, 2014 when we finally held her in our arms and were able to call her Josephine Rose for the first time, it was so very special. It was a name filled with so much meaning and purpose…a perfect name for our new family’s story of finding one another.