This past weekend my cowboy and I attended the Sarah’s Laughter Infertility Workshop at Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge, LA. I was reminded by a former high school classmate we attended our SJA Mother Daughter luncheon at this same hotel many moons ago. What a change in pace – sweet luncheons to heavy discussions about infertility. I would say we are sitting at the grown up table now.
The workshop’s theme was “Just Keep Swimming” and my heart swooned over the coordinating decorations – goldfish as centerpieces, jellyfish accents for the photo booth and lifesavers on each table.
Not only did we have a jam packed day of speaker sessions and round table discussions but we also enjoyed some silly time taking pictures in the photo booth area (excuse the awful yellow hotel lighting), sharing our prayer requests on the beautiful prayer board and delighted in a delicious lunch catered by the hotel.
I was beyond excited to share in this special day with all of my Sarah’s Laughter girls as well as Andrew and my mother-in-law.
The workshop started off with a wonderful and emotional message by Elisha Kearns of Waiting for Baby Bird. My Sarah’s Laughter group and I had the pleasure of dining with this amazing woman and her husband Dan the night before at Drusilla’s Seafood in Baton Rouge, LA.
Even though I already had my own personal encounter with her at dinner, sharing in her message with everyone at the workshop was even more special. Once she began sharing her heart, God took over and I continued to feel His presence in the room. There were many moments where I felt the tears welling up in my eyes and I knew I was in for a long day. This was the first speaker and I was already crying! The emotion builds up inside so much when you’re walking through infertility that sometimes when you hear someone share their own experience, the emotions spill out everywhere. That was me at one point or another that day. I found myself emotional when Elisha spoke about her faith. Andrew and I have both reached a point where that is ALL we are standing on right now. Our faith is the only thing carrying us through each day sometimes. She encouraged me so much in that first session – all of our prayers and all of our determination is not forgotten by our almighty God. Elisha has such a comforting way of keeping it real and genuine, allowing us to peek inside her soul, whether it’s pretty or ugly at that moment. It’s truly courageous and inspiring. If you haven’t checked out her blog, I urge you too. Waiting for Baby Bird are the words of Elisha’s heart but her blog also provides faith based encouragement for those days when you can’t seem to hold your head up.
For the bulk of the day, we attended different sessions depending on our interests. Andrew branched off to “Help for Husbands” with James Henderson, my mother-in-law attended “When Infertility Strikes: Friends and Family” and I attended “Navigating the Infertility Seas” with Mary Claire Stickle, a Sarah’s Laughter graduate after conceiving twins and another former high school classmate. Each session touched upon different topics but were all rooted around the same difficult path of infertility and how it affects everyone involved – the couple, their marriage, the family and friends. I received such encouragement from Mary Claire’s story and her strengthened relationship with God through it all. Learning to rest in God during such questionable times is a recurring theme for every speaker. Having the support of a group is huge but the love of our Father is where we find the most peace and comfort. Mary Claire also has a wonderful blog that chronicles her and her husband’s journey for a family and beyond – The Stickles.
One of my favorite parts of the day was the round table discussions. We chose 3 round tables to attend, one being Dr. Storment, fertility specialist at Woman’s Hospital that covered male factor infertility, two being Dr. Dunaway, our fertility specialist at Baton Rouge General that covered diagnosis and treatment of infertility, and three being Paulette Delaney that covered continuing in prayer without an answer. Of course we really listened up to Dr. Storment and his coverage of male factor infertility since that is what we are facing right now. He provided us with paperwork on what affects sperm count, motility and morphology, what the husband can do to help his results and further his chances for conception. Andrew was able to ask questions and share his own journey through a variocele repair and what he is doing now before proceeding with IVF. It was refreshing to have an informal meeting with each specialist and get their feedback on certain topics. They are very passionate about their work and both are compassionate in regards to infertility which you don’t always find in doctors. When we met with Paulette Delaney, I felt like a bowl of tears at that point. Every scripture she discussed, every encouraging word, every supportive answer she provided brought me to tears. Even though I was crying, I still left feeling fulfilled with words of hope and a sense of renewal for our walk ahead.
Andrew and I were pretty silent on the way home. Since Andrew struggles with ADD, dragging him to a workshop where information is thrown at him all day long certainly took a toll on his mindset throughout the day. He was such a trooper and I appreciate his presence beside me more than he may realize. On the ride home, Andrew’s brain was in recovery mode from 8 hours of information and emotional overload. I was doing everything in my power not to be an emotional puddle on the floor of the truck. I felt spiritually renewed but heavy all at the same time. I know that doesn’t quite match up but I was somewhat divided. Since seeing Dr. Dunaway, I’ve experienced somewhat of a grieving process over the past couple weeks. I’ve had to let go of my plans and let go of my conventional ideas of conception. It’s been hard to wrap my head around it and I feel as if something has been ripped from me somehow. My faith and my marriage already feel stronger but my heart is very raw and tender right now. One word was penned at the workshop that describes our state on the regular – HORMOTIONAL. That’s me on any given day it seems lately and I haven’t even started fertility treatments. I pray for Andrew because I will be one hot mess express in the future.
What’s next on the agenda? Well, we have a wonderful event coming up on November 12, 2016 called Baby Steps Infertility Awareness Fun Run.
It is a 1 mile fun run at Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, LA to not only promote infertility awareness but also to support those struggling with infertility. The exciting twist on this fun run is the $10,000 Baby Steps Family Building Grant to use towards fertility treatments, fertility clinic or adoption fees. Among other fabulous giveaways, Dr. Dunaway will also be donating one full IVF cycle as a door prize.
Andrew and I have set up our own team, Team Bayou Baby, and we are in the process of trying to raise money for tickets. It’s all about the tickets y’all! For every $250 we raise for our team, we will receive 10 tickets in our name which means we will have 10 more chances to win the Family Building Grant. If you would like to join us in the fun run on that very special day please head to this link and join our race team – Team Bayou Baby. If you won’t be able to make race day and would love to help support Sarah’s Laughter – Christian Support for Infertility and Child Loss while also increasing our chances to win, head to this link and donate to our Team Bayou Baby. Your support is greatly appreciated!
I also don’t want to forget to mention there will be a Jambalaya Cook-off portion for this event. If you or anyone you know is interested in participating in the cook-off, please register here. The prep timeline and rules are available in the Cook-off drop down menu. Sounds like a fun day to me!
Hopefully by next week, I’ll have a brief update on farm happenings and recent updates for you. Stay tuned…