Wednesday, May 29, 2013

super sweet

Dairy Queen is my absolute favorite. Okay, I have a lot of absolute favorites, but Dairy Queen blizzards are definitely one of them. I always order the same, high maintenance concoction, and it goes something like this, "Hi,, I'll have a medium cookie dough and peanut butter cup blizzard. Like a cookie dough blizzard with an extra helping of peanut butter cups on top of the regular amount of cookie dough. I'll pay the fifty cents for extra stuff. And please hold the chocolate sauce."

Andrew and I have had several conversations about how to minimize the word count on my order, but every time I try, I seriously regret it. If I risk leaving out the chocolate sauce instructions, they inevitably put it in. If I just order a blizzard with cookie dough and peanut butter cups, they tend to skimp on the mix-ins, giving me just one ration rather than the double scoop that I really truly do need. 

So if you work at Dairy Queen, thank you from the bottom of my heart for not spitting in my suped up blizzard. And if you actually have spit in my blizzard...I honestly don't care all that much. They're delicious every time, spit or no spit.

Anyways, last summer Andrew and I headed to the nearest Dairy Queen to celebrate a lazy, beautiful Sunday evening. Andrew went in ahead of Harriet and I to grab a spot in the fairly long line. I hoisted Harriet from her carseat, set her on my hip and slowly made my way towards the door. As I was walking, I noticed a high school kid pulling his car up beside ours. The front corner of his bumper looked like it was coming quite close to our car..and then it made contact...and he didn't even slow down. I heard the grind of metal on metal as he continued to pull into his parking spot, leaving a significant scratch/dent in our door.

"Um, you just hit our car," I informed him as exited his vehicle and started towards the building, totally unphased.

"Ooooh. Sorry about that," he answered as he kept walking.

I'm kind of embarrassed to say that at this point, I honestly had no idea what to do. Usually the person who hits you offers their insurance info, phone number, and to pay for the damage. I should know. I have been on that side of the equation a few times. But never on this side. So I went to get Andrew who explained to the kid what happens in situations like this.

"Oh man," the kid started to sweat a little bit. "Do you think we can just let this one slide?"

Yes, he actually said that. We tried hard not to laugh.

"My parents are going to be super mad at me," he said and then paused, waiting for us to start our next sentence with "oh, well in that case..." We didn't.

"Yeah," Andrew replied with lots of genuine empathy. "I know it really sucks. We've been there. It's just kind of part of life. They'll get over it eventually."

"Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?" the kid asked in desperation.

"Yeah," we answered again with apologetic expressions, "Pay for the repair."

He walked away completely and utterly defeated.

Two minutes later, it was almost our turn to order our food. I heard nervous breathing behind me and turned around to find the kid very much in my bubble. He asked us again if we could just "let this one slide." He reminded us how angry his parents were going to be. We apologized and talked him through the fact that it was an honest mistake, but that even mistakes have to be paid for in life.

He gave up and exited the store.

A minute later, we were collecting our blizzards when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the kid again, about a foot behind us.

"Have you ever heard of [insert name of very expensive private school]?" he asks us.


"Well, I go there. And I'm super stressed out with finals."

I wanted to be like, "Kid, this is not helping your case."

"And my mom has a stressful job," he pauses to think of something else to throw in there but goes back to the always reliable - "my parents are going to be so mad."

Andrew just asks him straight up, "Kid, are your parents actually going to hurt you when they hear about this?"

"Weeeeell...I don't think so."

Well played, kid. Well played.

So we had the same conversation for a third time and sent him on his not-so-merry way. Andrew called his mom that night who seemed very nice and everything was handled smoothly.

I just hope his finals went okay.

One would think that this experience would have dampened the delight I experienced while savoring my blizzard...not one bit. In fact, I was back two days later...and two days after that.

I love sugar. You may remember the cake mix incident. I know that it's not the greatest thing for my polycystic ovarian syndrome (in fact, it's probably the worst), so I'm really trying to cut back. Right now, I'm craving one of the white chocolate s'mores bars that I made last night, but I'm

Thankfully, Marcy at No Maybe Baby sweetened my day by nominating me for the Super Sweet Blogging Award! Marcy is a wonderful blogger whom I feel blessed to have discovered during National Infertility Awareness Week. She's a great writer and is the author of No Maybe Baby: My Journey Through Infertility. Thanks, Marcy, for the recognition!

So here's what I need to do:

  • Thank Marcy (done) 
  • Answer 5 super sweet questions
  • Include the Super Sweet Blogging award image in the blog post (done)
  • Nominate 12 other bloggers

  • Super Sweet Questions: 

    1. Cookies or cake? Cookies, but only if they're soft and chewy. These are my specialty:

    2. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla, hands down.

    3. Favorite sweet treat? Remember the white chocolate s'mores bars I was talking about earlier? Yeah, those. Here's the recipe. And by the way, I ended up caving. I just ate one...a big one.

    4. When do you crave sweet things the most? When I'm not asleep.

    5. Sweet nickname? When I was really little and my brother was even littler, he couldn't say Emily so he called me Embellina. It's odd that the more complicated version was easier for him, but I love the sound of it.

    Now for a blogroll of 12 Super Sweet Bloggers! 

    Genuine Greavu
    Amanda chose the perfect word to title her blog - genuine. Because that's exactly what she is. She's genuine in her blog posts and also with her comments. Her faith is an inspiration to me, and I have been blessed by her time and time again.

    Old Lady and No Baby
    Amber is to be admired not just for her honest writing and steadfast encouragement but also for the mentoring role she plays as a softball coach. Many times while reading her posts, I have prayed that someday my daughter will have a role model like Amber in her life.

    Kate is a delight. She continually finds the humorous side of infertility and writes about her journey in a way that makes me laugh out loud every time. She's a fighter and I'm so glad to be able to share this blogosphere with her.

    Operation Baby Gage 
    Lindsey is a fairly new addition to my blog list, and I'm thrilled to have found her. She is in the midst of something really big right now, so stop on by her wonderful blog and show her some love. You'll be so glad you did.

    Team Harries Beats Infertility
    Caroline's blog posts have spoken straight to my heart right when I needed some encouragement. She is a courageous woman of faith who has become a friend. I'm always glad to see something new from her in my reader.

    Who Shot Down My Stork?
    Risa is a refreshingly funny writer whose posts are full of raw, unedited stories about the highs and lows of infertility. Her husband Chris sometimes blogs too, which is always a treat. This lovely couple is starting IVF so stop by Risa's blog and offer some encouragement.

    Starbucks, Peace, and the Pursuit of a Baby
    Chelsea is a lovely blogger whom I have had the privilege of following for a while now. She is currently going through a tough time, and although she is handling it with courage and grace, I'm sure she could use some extra love. Please check out her blog and leave a comment of kindness.

    You've Got a Friend in Me
    I met Karolyn a long time ago when her sister was one of my college roommates. We've recently reconnected because she's weathering the storm of infertility and blogging beautifully about it. I always feel really grateful for her posts - such positivity, faith, and perseverance.

    Bereaved and Blessed
    Kathy is truly dedicated to this community and her blog is just fabulous. She writes about loss and secondary infertility in a beautifully transparent way. She is a very faithful, thoughtful commenter, and she has been a great encouragement to me over email as well.

    Midwest Pillow Talk
    Sarah is a lot of fun. I always look forward to her posts because they're inevitably hilarious, heartwarming or both. She and I recently set up a little blogger blind date, so I'm really looking forward to meeting her in a few weeks.

    Fertile Healing
    Tanya's blog is an excellent resource - a place of serenity and safety in the midst of the chaos of infertility. Tanya is using her journey through infertility to help others survive the journey. Stop by her site to check out her IVF survival guide, infertility book reviews, and tips for coping with the infamous two-week wait.

    Bruce's Running Blog
    Is it okay if I nominate my dad? His blog isn't about infertility...obviously. It's actually about running. He ran competitively in high school and then didn't run at all for thirty-two years. The year he turned fifty, he ran his first marathon. He was injured during his training, so the longest run he completed in preparation for the big race was a ten mile. He didn't expect to finish the marathon...but he did. And he did pretty well. Since then, my dad has run a bunch of marathons, including the Boston Marathon which I was privileged to attend. He has won lots of medal and I always jump at the chance to brag him right now. His best marathon time is 3:11:44. In a 7K last year, he placed 20th out of 8,786 runners and won his age category of 84 finishers.  If you are interested in running...or even if you're not, stop by his blog and check it out. He hasn't written since last November because his last five races have been canceled (or he's decided not to run) due to awful weather. We're hoping he gets to race again soon. My dad is a huge inspiration to me and has really shown me the meaning of discipline and hard work.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013


    That's it.

    I'm calling my doctor. I'm going to be my own advocate. I'm going to demand a change in my protocol.

    I need a prescription for hope. 

    I need my doctor to pick up his fancy pen and almost illegibly scrawl the word hope on his prescription pad. I need him to pick a dose - the perfect dose for my circumstance, my personality. I need a dose that's big enough to count as positive thinking but small enough that the side effects won't leave me incapacitated if this cycle's a bust. I need to stop by the pharmacy later today, pick up my white paper bag, and undo the single staple to find tiny vials of hope clinking together alongside my femara and ovidrel.     

    And if this wasn't a daydream...if it was really, truly real...I would sit down in the driver's seat of my car and plunge that tiny needle through the vial's rubber cap. I'd draw up that perfect dose - the one predetermined by my doctor to lift my spirits without diminishing my ability to be realistic. I'd pinch some fat on my belly, count to three, and with a long exhale and a wince, I'd set that hope formula free in my system and wait for it to kick in.

    "It's working," I'd tell my husband as I walked through the door.

    "How do you know?"

    "I had a vision of us at the hospital, introducing Harriet to her new brother or sister...and I didn't even feel silly," I'd answer.

    Sunday, May 5, 2013


    If there's one thing I've done a lot of in my life, it's church. 

    I’ve fidgeted through seemingly endless elementary school chapel services.

    I’ve caught the short-lived fever of confession and spiritual renewal at youth rallies.

    I’ve sung from my soul in the darkness at Vespers in college.

    I’ve sweated through my sundress at four-hour gospel services.

    I’ve joined my spiritual family to worship under a tent the week after our beautiful church burned to the ground.

    I’ve worshiped in whispers with an underground church community in Turkey.

    I’ve tucked my head around the thick curtain of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Nepal and reveled in the intoxicating chants.

    I’ve stood silently and breathed the wet, sacred air inside a ramshackle leper colony church outside Kathmandu.

    I’ve visited the Vatican three times and have marveled at the mystery and majesty of that space.

    I’ve spent many nights sleeping in the choir loft of a dear old London church.

    I’ve been forever changed by witnessing Sabbath at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

    And now…I attend a massive church with several campuses and thousands of attendees. A church where I couldn’t name more than fifteen friends and most weekends, I attend services without seeing a single one of them. A church with stadium seating and its own coffee shop.

    It’s a far cry from some of the other places of worship I’ve visited, but I love it. I love taking Harriet there and entrusting her to the kind-faced grandmother in the nursery. I love the loud music and that irresistible urge to not only sing along, but to dance a little too. I love gleaning the wisdom of the Word and of those who faithfully study it.

    But there have been times in my life when church is the very last place I want to be. When I was small, sunny days tempted me into praying that the pastor would forget his last few points and let us out early. But as an adult, I’ve dreaded church the most on Mother’s Day.

    I’m not sure why but churches make a big deal out of these parent holidays. They give flowers to the moms, candy to the dads. They share messages about how wonderful mamas are and how men need to step up to the plate. (I’m not sure why this is, but it just is.) Women and their little daughters dress in coordinating outfits while guys don shirts declaring “#1 Dad” and “World’s Greatest.” And all the while, men and women who are in the throes of infertility sink deeper into their seats and hide their broken hearts behind bulletins and Bibles.

    So the year after Ethan died, I sent an email to my church leadership. I got the main template off of the Resolve website and then altered it a bit to make it more personal. 

    Dear Pastors and Staff,

    My name is Em. My husband and I are church members and have been attending and volunteering for about four years now.

    As you know, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are quickly approaching, and I’m sure you’re busy preparing your messages.
    Please consider the fact that 1 in 8 couples of childbearing age are struggling with infertility. My husband and I have been personally touched by this issue. We became pregnant with our son, Ethan Andrew, as a result of infertility treatments. Sadly, we lost him at about five months gestation. We started treatments a few months after his death and ended up losing a second baby very early in the pregnancy. We are still undergoing infertility treatments and after much prayer, discussion, and research, we are currently in the middle of the in vitro fertilization process. I never would have guessed that nearly two years after we first started trying to conceive, we would have two babies in heaven, and none here on earth with us. Infertility takes an incredible toll on families - emotionally, financially, relationally, mentally, and spiritually.

    Infertility has stolen so much from us - financial security, relationships, even aspects of our personalities. Infertility affects couples for years after their infertility journey, even if they are able to have children on their own. 

    Unfortunately, church can be one of the most difficult places to be when you have lost a baby or are struggling with infertility. Walking by the nursery, listening to announcements about kids’ programming, seeing children everywhere, hearing pastors tell stories about kids, listening to a message series on raising children, attending parent/child all can be painful and can make church feel like an emotionally dangerous place. Many religious and social events revolve around children, and couples without them sometimes feel uncomfortable or left out of activities altogether. Because the topic of infertility involves reproduction, it is an extremely personal problem that couples face. For this reason, it is often a very difficult topic to discuss, even with a trusted pastor.

    Although infertility is rarely physically life threatening, it can be devastating to a person's sense of hope. Couples often endure monthly cycles of emotional roller coaster rides, ranging from optimism and excitement to despair and depression. Infertility sometimes lasts for years and people often go through this experience in isolation, as their desire for a larger family remains unfulfilled.

    I ask that you keep these points in mind, particularly during worship services, and that you remember couples with infertility in your prayers just as you honor all the mothers and fathers in our congregation. Especially as you prepare your Mother's Day and Father's Day messages this year, please know that these particular holidays are two of the most painful days for those struggling to have children and those who have lost children. These days can also be incredibly painful for single people who have never had the opportunity to have children, parents who have lost grown children, and those who are estranged from their families.

    One quick word about child dedications: Please always remember to announce them ahead of time so couples facing infertility and baby loss can either choose not to attend that service or can at least be prepared for it. Being surprised by a child dedication service is incredible painful. Our son Ethan would have been dedicated at the most recent child dedication service. Sitting in that service and seeing all of the other babies who would have been his peers brought me to tears. I am not sure if it would be possible to have flowers up front on child dedication days to recognize the babies who would have been dedicated that day if they would have lived, but I thought I'd throw the idea out there. I know that child dedication is a joyous time, and I do not want to take away from that. But up to 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, so chances are, there are many, many families in the audience who would be blessed by a simple gesture or recognition of their children in Heaven. My husband and I would be more than happy to contribute some money if that is an issue. 

    If you would like more information about infertility, please visit the RESOLVE website at  

    Before I close, I want to mention that one of the pastors contacted us the day after we lost Ethan, and two pastors came to our house with flowers and prayers. I have also sought prayer about this issue after services from the prayer volunteers and have been incredibly blessed by them. I am now an after-service prayer helper because I want to offer others the same encouragement the prayer volunteers have offered me. We love this church and have no complaints. But because we have been so deeply touched by this issue, I want to be an advocate for other childless moms and dads and those who want children but have yet to become pregnant. Even if you decide not to say anything from the stage or make any changes to the way child and parenting matters are handled, I think I speak for all of us dealing with infertility when I say that we will be very grateful if you keep us in your minds, hearts, and prayers.

    Thank you in advance for your consideration in this matter.


    Both times I sent versions of this email, it went unanswered. But a few weeks later, our senior pastor spent some time in his sermon talking about the many years he and his wife struggled to get pregnant. And since then, I have noticed infertility mentioned many times. I’m not in any way saying that this was a result of my email. In fact, they may have always been sensitive to this issue. Perhaps I just missed it when it didn’t yet seem to apply to me. At the time, I questioned whether I sounded whiny or self-focused, but in retrospect, I’m glad that I spoke up.

    Feel free to cut and paste portions of the above email if you’d like to share it with your church leadership. But you might be better off visiting the RESOLVE website and using the templates they have written.

    To all of my infertile friends out there, may peace follow you on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. May you find a way to honor yourself and your struggle. And may church someday feel like the safe spiritual home it was meant to be…for all of us.
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