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It’s Been a Year

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I’ve been awfully quiet this year. You don’t have to tell me.

I never thought I would be one of those bloggers to go silent for months at a time with barely a peep. But I also never really expected this past year to be what it has been.

We started out the year with the passing of my grandfather. He was 96 years old – losing him was not a surprise, but that does not mean that we have missed him any less this year. He was one of the kindest, gentlest souls that this Earth has ever known. We feel his absence deeply, especially with Christmas approaching.

In February we lost our precious Alma girl. I will never apologize for loving my animals fiercely; I am lucky to have married a man who feels the same. Losing her so suddenly truly knocked us off our collective axis. We still miss her every day.

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And then we hit June. Oh, June.

In June my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV triple negative breast cancer. Even as a writer, I don’t really have the words to verbalize our lives since June. If you’ve been a long-time reader, you may remember that Momma beat colon cancer two years ago. Surgery and done. Cured (aside from annual colonoscopies to watch for new polyps). Stressful and scary, but ultimately short and (relatively speaking) easy. These past few months have been a wholly new experience, and not one I would wish on anyone.

I don’t know that I can even properly summarize the past 5+ months and all that has happened, so instead I’ll tell you where she is at now. She had a double mastectomy in late October and has healed wonderfully from that. Unfortunately, the cancer is aggressive and had already metastasized to her bones by the time she was diagnosed, so it is still an uphill battle. She began her next steps in treatment a couple of weeks ago, with a new team of doctors at Mayo Clinic behind her. Surgery was a big hurdle to cross, but she still has a long journey ahead of her. Our family has a long journey ahead of us. We appreciate any love and prayers you can send our way.

home

And quietly in the background, like a song you desperately want to get out of your head, one other challenge has been lurking for Alex and me – infertility. Oh, what a word to find myself writing. It is socially acceptable to talk about loss. It’s socially acceptable to talk about cancer. Even if people have not experienced those things directly, they can recall someone in their lives who has; they are quick to empathize.

Even in 2016, no one talks about infertility. The silence is almost deafening. And somehow the silence causes those of us who are in the midst of the battle to continue to stay quiet. We don’t say anything for fear of making others uncomfortable. We are riding an emotional rollercoaster with almost no concrete answers from doctors and we are riding it by ourselves, save for our partners and perhaps a few select close friends and family. It’s a lonely place to exist.

It’s that loneliness, coupled with the stress of everything else that’s happened this year, that has made me quiet here. I haven’t known what to say – so I haven’t said anything. I can’t say that I have processed any of what has been happening in our lives in the past several months. Far from it. Most days I feel like I am barely holding it together. But I feel like I cannot continue to stay silent. Silence does not help. Silence only perpetuates the loneliness.

roux

Maybe someday soon I’ll find myself able to share new recipes here again. Those who follow me on Facebook know that I certainly still have one foot in the blogging world. Perhaps soon I’ll find myself able to dive in fully again.

But for now I hand you my heart, laid bare and wounded. I ask you for grace – for me for being so quiet for so many months, but also for those around you.

Remember that you never know what battle someone is facing. Be a friend. Be a safe space.

So much love,

-S

I decided that no one wants photos related to loss, cancer OR infertility. So I decided to just share some unrelated photos from my Instagram feed. who doesn’t want to look at our dog being embarrassed by a bath??

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Virginia

Tuesday 29th of August 2017

I came here for the first time looking for home made fig pop tarts because I nearly inhaled my biscuit with Mackays fig preserves and I found you! Naturally, I read thru your about me and that got me hooked. I enjoy your writing style. Steph, I hope you and your family are in a better place today. Sorry for your moms second cancer diagnosis. Thank you for being brave to write about your life the way you do. I will keep reading your posts!

Stephie

Monday 18th of September 2017

Thank you so much, Virginia. <3

Margo

Monday 12th of June 2017

Sweet Stephie - I had no trouble getting pregnant the first time I was married but i married a man that couldn't stay faithful. Finally after his bringing home many "little gifts", which were proofs of his wanderings I divorced him and I was left to raise two lovely small boys alone. Back then, I was awarded $88 a month child support & Texas does not have alimony, so I had to move home and my parents & the rest of the family helped me by babysitting while I worked shift work at Lipton Tea in Galveston. When I remarried I too went through a period of being unable to carry a baby to term. - I'd conceive, then miscarry - I racked up 5 definite and 2 highly probable miscarriages. I was in my 20's with elderly -in-laws (70's & 80's) that loved me dearly & when they became critically ill, I became their caregiver for my then husband was an only child. I was so busy with caring for them, conceiving was a dream of the past & then bingo! I got pregnant two more times and thankfully was able to carry them full term but most of the time was divided between bedrest and being a caregiver.

There are so many young women that go through what you are going through and my heart breaks for you, just like there are many that have gone through many miscarriages like I have been through, but one of my closest friends had it worse than either of us. She sailed through her pregnancy & delivered a beautiful little girl that looked like an exquisite pink cheeked china doll, she lived three days & died in her sleep, they never got to bring her home. I have placed you and Alex on our prayer chain. It is so terrbily hard not to dwell on something that you yearn for so badly that you ache with it in every cell of your bodies, from deep inside out. So many well meaning people offer suggestions, and they are well meaning but that doesn't mean that their words meant to console cut so deep instead.

I wish I had a "magic wand" that I could wave and ease the pain in the hearts of you, Alex and your mother. All I can do is lift you up in prayer & send love & hugs your way on angels wings to ease your pain.

As for cancer, my mother was married twice, she divorced my father when I was 6 weeks old and when I was 18 months old she met my daddy that loved me and married my mother and adopted me. Mother came from a large family and all of my aunts and uncles accused daddy of marrying my mother to get me. My birth father died at age 45 with acute lymphatic leukemia, I saw him 5 times in my life including his funeral. My daddy that adopted me, loved me and raised me as his own died at age 53 with asbestosis. I asked my mother when he was dying what I had done to make her hate me all of my life (for i could see the hate in her eyes while looking at me when she was unaware that I was observing her)...she looked away...my sin was that even though I could have passed for her twin at the time each of us was 17...all she saw when she looked at me was my birth father. Yet I remind myself that even though I've had setbacks, others have had a worse life than I.

Your friends and acquaintances, simply do not think, for some reason it never enters the minds of people that your childlessness is not the choice of you and Alex.

Do not give up, hope does spring eternal. I know that you desire your own flesh and blood. I finally left my second husband for he would beat my two boys from my first marriage and I could handle it no longer. By the time I married this last time, my present husband had a 12 year old son by his first marriage, that was to some extent neglected by his mother. She and his step father were both nurses and both worked nights, which meant that he got up to an empty house and went to bed to an empty house. We gained full custofy of him. This year he will be 39 this month. He told me not long ago "Mom, when you and Dad got married I never thought that I could love Blanche, Nick & Joe and PK as much as my real brother and sister and yet the five of us are closer than I am to my own brother and sister. While I could not adopt him legally, for his mother would not give consent, the love between us is just as powferful as the love that I bear my own flesh and blood children.

I have known acquaintances, that finally gave up and adopted a child and miracle of miracles, when they had a little one on which to pour out their love, she conceived (which had been told was impossible) and gave birth to a child of her own. God does work miracles sweet Stephie; we and many others are wrapping our love around you and yours, calling forth a miracle for you, Alex and a double miracle for your sweet Mom.

Stephie

Thursday 15th of June 2017

Oh, Margo. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Thank you for your words and for your prayers. I am sending you the biggest hug right now. xoxo.

Liz

Friday 12th of May 2017

I'm so sorry for all the worries and sadness that's come into your life. I'll keep you and your dear mom in my prayers!!

Patricia Haupt

Wednesday 15th of March 2017

I came across your blog today after looking for a recipe for potato cookies for our monthly baking group. My heart breaks for your struggles and I prayed immediately for you and your family. I will continue praying and trusting for many miracles in your life. May your "Grandpa's Jesus" be real and close to all in your family as you journey through these valleys.

Stephie

Sunday 19th of March 2017

Thank you so, so much, Patricia.

Bevery

Tuesday 20th of December 2016

Hi Stephie, today I stumbled onto your blog for the first time and saw your post. I have been in your shoes. Back in the late 70's early 80's we had infertility issues and after many different tests and infertility drugs we were told that I produce an antibody that kills my husband's sperm. I wouldn't do this with everyone but I do this with him. At that time insurance would not pay for "test tube babies ". So we felt we were out of options. My husband decided he would mediate daily on seeing our baby, both of us holding our baby, etc. He asked that I do the same. We both did this for quite some time and finally a stubborn sperm made it's way through the antibodies. We had a little girl 27 years ago and she is still very stubborn. I do believe the mediation helped. I am sorry to hear about your Mom. I have lost a sister to breast cancer and at this time my brother is fighting CMML which is a rare form of Leukemia. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers. If you feel lead please try the mediation. Can't hurt. Wishing you and yours hope, love and peace.

Stephie

Thursday 22nd of December 2016

I adore your story. Thank you for sharing. <3