Hey fellow star-counters,

I think that’s what I’m going to call you guys. Star-counters. It’s a reference from the story of Abram and Sarah and you should totally check out the full thing in Genesis 15. But in my own words, Abram is having a hard night and he cries out to God, “Why haven’t you given me kids?!”

Been there? I have.

Many times.

So God tells him to go outside and look up at the stars. The God says to him;

“Look up at the sky and count the stars- if indeed you can count them.
So shall your offspring be.”

In the midst of Abram’s hopeless situation, God gives him a promise. God shows him hope. He causes Abram to look beyond his current situation. And I believe that God wants us to experience that same hope. He wants us to know He’s in control even when our hormones are not. He is the Prince of Peace and he wants us to know His peace even when we get another negative test result.

God may not have promised each one of us that our children will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Or that we’d be able to have children naturally. Or even that our children will be perfectly healthy when we finally get them. But he has promised to be in control. One of my favorite promises that He’s made comes from Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord.
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.
Plans to give you a hope and a future.”

So if the challenges of today are more than you can bear, take time to look up and count the stars. Remember the promises that God has made to you. He wants to prosper you and He has plans for your future.

I’ll be counting stars with you.

-S

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Tired of seeing negative pregnancy tests. Alone. Surrounded by baby bumps. Overwhelmed. Desperate for a baby. Struggling not to be jealous.

I find myself with these feelings all too often. And from the sounds of things, you probably have too. This journey through infertility isn’t easy. Actually, it sucks. And a lot of our friends and family don’t get it.

Which is why we started this blog. We’re eager to connect with other couples who are going through the same struggles and heartbreak. We want to know that we’re not alone. But we don’t just want to talk about our problems and wallow in our sadness, we want this to be a place of hope.

So a couple weeks ago, we secretly added another page. If you’ve already noticed it, good job. You’re probably great at “I Spy” games. If not, look up to the top of our homepage and you’ll see a link that says Prayer. We believe that prayer is powerful and effective. In the Bible, it says:

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray.

James 5: 16 Pray for one another so that you may be healed.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, we’d be honored to pray for you. There’s also an option to share your prayer request with the community. If you choose that option, we’ll share your prayer request in a weekly prayer post. How cool would it be to know that 100+ people are praying for you? But you don’t have to share it with the community. We understand that infertility can be a pretty private issue (we’re keeping our identities annonymous for a reason!).

So check out our new page and let us know how we can be praying for you.

And remember, you’re not alone.

Some day, God is going to reveal the fact to every Christian, that the very principles they now rebel against, have been the instruments which He used in perfecting their characters and molding them into perfection, polished stones for His great building yonder. — Cortland Myers.

Suffering is a wonderful fertilizer to the roots of character. The great object of this life is character. This is the only thing we can carry with us into eternity….To gain the most of it and the best of it is the object of probation. — Austin Phellps.

by the end of this i will surely have a lot of character!

Hope these help with the Monday blues.

– Abram

it was not easy, but it was progress

i am back!

please excuse my longest absence on this blog to date.  i hope you understand why.  i had quite the weekend last weekend and needed to pretend this was not my situation.

what a weekend indeed

for those that follow us on twitter (twitter.com/stillcountingst) or read this week’s post from “Sarah”, you may have seen that thanksgiving brought a very big announcement:  our sister is pregnant.  we knew the announcement was coming and knew that thanksgiving is going to be a celebration of new life and pregnancy; just not ours.  Wednesday night i was a bit of a mess.

this is supposed to be our announcement.  we are supposed to get everyone excited.

on Friday we had a close couple come in from out-of-town with their 4 week old adorable daughter.  let’s call her “wedding night surprise”.

on Friday night we met up with our favorite couple in the world who have been so supportive and prayed so much for us.  in between beers, BBQ, catching up, and laughter we started to discuss their recent miscarriage and how it is shaping their faith.

on Saturday my fertile brother came into town with four children under the age of seven.  him and his wife met about the time i was engaged and they are way ahead of the game

how this could have gone// what i could have missed

this could have been a weekend i totally missed.  if i thought internally, if i thought only about my current “crisis”, i could have been shut out from the world for three days.

i could have missed out on being excited to have a brand new niece or nephew in the family.  i could have totally missed how cool and fun it will be to play around with the little ones once our sisters start popping out kids.  i could have made it awkward so that no one was excited.

i could have been bitter about the “wedding night surprise” and not been totally excited that one of our friends is a mom.

i could have made my friends’ tragedy and heartache be about what i am missing.  my heart could have been hard and pushed them out rather than grieving with them.  i could have missed a chance to be there for two people i really care about and want to pray for.

i could have held the super fertility against my out-of-town relatives and ignored them.  i could have missed a huge chance to get closer to my nieces and nephews just because i am waiting to add to the group.

i could have put back on my “infertility goggles” (see prior post) and looked at how everything affects ME

my conscious decision to hit pause

i hit pause.  i told myself i had to.  it was extremely difficult to do, but i knew that this is a very exciting point in our lives that i might regret missing when i look back in 20 years.  i spent most of Wednesday and Thursday answering comments and emails and getting strengthened by this new community surrounding our blog.  i was amazed at us breaking 400 views 3 days in a row as a new blog and spent time knowing we are not alone.  i released as much of this pain as i could and then i looked at my situation and told it that the pain is going to have to wait until next week.

i spent time wondering what would have happened if Moses was so distraught over his flock or lack of eloquence that he never stopped at the burning bush and found God’s calling for an entire nation.  i wondered what it would have been like if David focused solely on his small stature and never fought the giant.  i wondered about Abraham, who could have only focused on the infertility and never truly trusted God with Isaac.  What would have happened if these people did not know the pause button?

and in the midst of the craziness i felt a little bit of joy

i actually was happy for my friends and family and made it a little more about them than myself.

it was not easy, but it was progress

– Abram

we have been trying for three years. they tried for three days.

We’re back from Thanksgiving and we missed you!

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend and got to spend some of it with family. Did any of you find great Black Friday deals? I stayed far away from that madness. I love to shop but pepper spray and pushing scare me. Abram and I spent our days with family and friends and even got to catch a few naps in between. As we were going around the Thanksgiving dinner table and sharing what we’re thankful for, I realized that this blog has been a huge blessing to me lately. You guys have become a community of hope for me and you remind me that I’m not alone in this scary land of infertility. Thank you for stopping by our site and encouraging us with your comments. I honestly can’t sum up how much that means to me.

I know that Holidays can be really hard when dealing with infertility, so I spent some time on Thanksgiving Day praying for each one of you. It’s hard when you’ve spent so much time hoping and dreaming of making the Big Announcement to your family but only have negative pregnancy tests to show for it. I know what that feels like. For those of you who follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/stillcountingst), you may have seen that Thanksgiving brought a very big announcement: My younger sister is pregnant.

Oh man.

We knew the announcement was coming, but nothing can fully prepare you for the moment.

I can’t help but think it should have been me. We’ve been trying for 3 years. She and her husband tried for 3 days. Literally. It was their first month trying. I wanted to have the first grandchild and make my family excited and proud. I wanted to be the one to make my parents grandparents. That was supposed to be our announcement. She got to break the news to family while going around the table and sharing “thankfuls”. How picture perfect is that?! Why does it make me feel sick?

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. Proverbs 13:12a

Every time I hear someone is pregnant, I literally get a stomach ache. Jealousy and disappointment overcome me. I want to be happy for them and get excited over every little detail, but I feel like I don’t have it in me. I just can’t get over the question of “why not me”? When will it be my turn?

But a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12b

But at the same time, I’m happy for them. I’m happy for my sister. I’m learning to make a very intentional decision to choose joy. There’s going to be new life in our family and that brings a ton of excitement. And by God’s grace, my reaction has been good. On my own, I would have yelled and screamed and pouted in the corner when I heard her good news, but God’s showered loads of grace on me over the past year just to prepare me for this moment.

The writer of Proverbs sure knew what he was talking about when he said hope deferred makes the heart sick. I’m tired of waiting. Tired of being heart-sick. I want to make that announcement soon. I want to experience my deepest longing fulfilled. I want to know the joy and fullness of the tree of life.

But until then, I will trust God’s timing.

Someday I’ll get to make my Big Announcement.

I just have to keep reminding myself.

I’ll just try to cope with these stomach aches.

How do you guys handle when your friends or sisters make the Big Announcement?

Let’s face it.  there are not a ton of books out there for us guys.  i have had a hard time finding a ton of guys even talking about this topic.  i especially have not found a how-to manual.  since my wife and i are very open about the process, i have gotten some pretty good feedback from her as to what she expects. Hopefully some of that will pertain to the rest of you.  (i have also chewed on my fair share of shoes)

“Sarah” is one of the most loving people I know.  She is one of those people that lights up a room: big smile, long brunette hair, fashionable, superhuman white teeth.  She is a fighter with a knack for the delicate.  She has a high tolerance for pain and a good eye for decorating a house.  A Jane-of-all-trades (if that is a phrase).  Believe it or not she is also the emotionally stable one of the marriage and we laugh about that all the time.  (I can’t help crying.  I am an artist)

I am one of those guys that just accepts the fact that somehow I landed her.  It doesn’t make a ton of sense that she married me, but I’m not complaining.

I am especially reminded of how I won the marriage lottery when I have to take my size 10.5 shoes out of my mouth.  Here are some ideas of conversations to stay away from:

1. Probably do not mention that she is being hormonal.  This is especially important when she is taking medicine that is a depressant or is specifically designed to play with her hormones.  No matter how much your current argument makes no sense, it will not make it any better to point out that her emotions are out of wack.  she is trying to help you become a father and screwing with the chemical makeup of her body.

2. Mentioning that she gets to be a hot skinny mom if you have to adopt sounds like a good idea, but... she is going to be a hot mom either way.  This is not motivation for your wife to adopt.  This is motivation for your wife to have self-esteem issues.  There is a big difference there.

3. She most likely isn’t the person to tell that they do not understand what you are going through.  I know as a man we keep this bottled up inside and pretend we are not victims, but if our wives are going through all of this medical trauma on top of not being able to have a kid, they MORE than understand what we are going through.  We have a unique set of circumstances, but i am pretty sure she can understand.  Go get some support from friends or family.

4. Probably don’t talk about having a long-term perspective the day she gets a negative test.  Timing brothers, timing!  This is probably a time just to love her and tell her that.  Probably not a time to break out pamphlets on adoption and show her blogs about adopted infants.  Usually not a good time to say “maybe next time”.

Hopefully these quick and easy steps can help your stressful holiday weekend go a bit smoother.  I am going to take a short weekend from the blog and get back to all of you next week.

If you have any advice you would like to add, leave a comment to help us guys out.

– Abram

I mentioned last week that one of my closest friends recently suffered a miscarriage. I can’t begin to understand the pain she’s experiencing, but I imagine the feeling of loss is immense. Maybe some of you have been there. She had that positive pregnancy test, experienced all of the usual pregnancy symptoms, and even had a growing belly. Her calendar was marked, her work notified, and her joy was growing faster than her belly. And then tragedy struck. She lost the baby. All of her plans shattered.

Less than a week after the miscarriage and D and C, she sent me an e-mail titled “I am thankful.” In the midst of the storm, she was able to praise Jesus and tell of his faithfulness. At a time when so many would disown God, she clung to Him and chose to trust His sovereignty. Her response reminds me of the Willis family’s powerful response I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

The e-mail my sweet friend wrote detailed all the ways that God provided in the midst of their tragedy. She ended it with a poem that she gave me permission to share. It’s about her time at the hospital and her experience with the D and C, but I think it’s encouragement to all of us that we can be thankful no matter what we’re going through.

I am Thankful

I never thought we’d be in this place,
but we’re thankful to be, to experience His grace.
Today we’re thankful for the goodness of the Lord,
and that He gave us not just enough, but immeasurably more.
He made a nurse obedient to His tug,
He provided another nurse Mollie and a teddy bear to hug.
A doctor not willing to hurry, giving us not a reason to worry.
Loving parents right there at our side,
reminding us in Him to abide.
He made a room open up, so He could continue to fill up our cup.
Each moment was ordained, right there He remained.
Even though our hearts are breaking,
it was for a greater purpose He was making.
Our families at home down on their knees
through the power of prayer our fears were released.
Every prayer was answered,
every concern removed.
Our plans may have been shattered,
but His was proved.
His timing is perfect, His ways secure,
In our loss, His love endures.
Scared and confused,
the questions abounded,
In the midst of it all,
we were surrounded.
We know not the reason,
We cannot question His plans,
We do know our little one
is now in His hands.

I am so blessed to know this awesome woman of God! Please keep her and her husband in your prayers and maybe leave an encouraging word here for them. She pops in here occasionally and I’m sure she could use the support.
This Thanksgiving, let’s challenge ourselves to remember what we’re thankful for. In my family, we go around the dinner table and all share one thing we’re thankful for. Let’s pretend this blog is our table, what are you thankful for this year?

-Sarah

it has been very interesting in this long process finding out who my wife has told and realizing who i have told about what we are dealing with.  the random people who are keeping our secret are a unique mix of people.

we feel this overwhelming shame of telling people we can’t get pregnant.  there is a fear that they will judge us, tell us what we need to do, get weird around us, or keep secrets to protect us.

it is almost as if we did something shameful to put us in this place

but we haven’t done anything to put us in this situation.  this is the hand we have been dealt.

to be honest i am extremely scared of telling my parents.  i have let them in on glimpses of what we are going through, but i have always hated their reactions and it is putting a wall between us.  they tend to react with all the wrong clichés and do not seem to understand how hard this is.

my wife has told her mom but it seems like her mom, who is typically incredibly supportive and thoughtful, has no idea how to respond.  we get cards in the mail to get over colds or do well on tests, but never to tell us she is praying we get better.

i really wish infertility could be seen as a disease.  i wish people understood we are handicapped by this.  i wish people understood how many couples are struggling with infertility because their bodies aren’t functioning properly.

maybe then i could come out of the closet and let everyone know that our bodies need healing and that we are struggling to make this work.  that same confusion that people get when they find out they have cancer is the confusion that i live with; why me.

maybe someday this blog will not have to be anonymous.

but for now i want a get well soon card.  i want to be told it is o.k.  i want to be told that I am o.k.

until then i will continue to put up a wall and keep this secret to myself.

how have all of you decided who to tell and who to not tell?

– “Abram ”

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12

when this is a bad thing

Everyone around me seems to be getting pregnant by double-dipping their tortilla chips or sharing a glass of water.  On the other hand there are millions of us trying every pill, shot, diet and dish we can find with hope of having a child.  Infertility is unfair.

when this is a good thing

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).  Salvation is unfair.

it is a lot easier for me to get upset that life is not fair.

i am not ashamed that i get upset.

i do wish that i could catch myself rejoicing every once in a while that life is unfair.

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