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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.

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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.

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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??

58 Comments

  1. Oh, sweetie, I’m sorry there’s been so much pain. And while the pain I’ve felt in the past hasn’t been the same as yours, it was still strong enough to knock me off my feet so I understand. The only comfort I can offer is that the world spins around and the intolerable can turn to joy even if right now you can’t imagine it. Be comforted by your loving husband and the grace of having animals and wait for time to pass.

    BTW, infertility is not shameful and I can’t believe how many women I know who struggle with some form of it. Go seek those women and be comforted by them. I do know that stress is the enemy of health and that includes reproductive health so the problem may resolve just when you least expect it. Hugs for now.

  2. Stephie, my heart aches for you right now. This year has been unreal. Infertility is a battle I wouldn’t wish on anyone and that alone is enough to almost break. I’m praying for your sweet mama and I am praying for you and Alex through all of this. {hugs}

  3. Goodness, Stephie. First of all Next, I want you to know I’m so glad you have shared all this so openly. Let people love on you and be your strength when you are feeling like you can’t stand anymore. Know that from a distance I am thinking about you.

  4. Oh Stephie, this really has been a rough year 🙁 I’m so so sorry that you’re going through all of this. I already knew about most of it (and have been keeping your mom in my prayers <3) but I had no idea about your struggles with conceiving. It breaks my heart that you guys are going through this, and it makes me so upset that people don't talk about it more-I know so many many people going through it and infertility should not be a taboo subject. You're such an amazing, strong, and sweet person and I know good things are coming for you. Because you deserve them <3

  5. Stephie, I was so very moved by your heartfelt message.. Thank you for sharing from your hurting heart…I think it truly helps other hurting hearts who don’t know how to express their own hurt, yet they are nodding their heads to your words.. Your words were lifted in wisdom and set down in humility. Love to you and Alex and prayers coming at you both.. and Mama too…

  6. Your momma and family have been in our prayers – and now you and Alex will be as well. Thank you for the courage this took to write. Opening up our difficult times and places is never easy. I know your faith is strong and will lead you through this valley. Just know you will always be in my prayers – praying for strength and healing for all!

  7. Stephie,
    My heart goes out to you in all aspects that you wrote here. I have lost grandparents and remember vividly taking care of your mom after her surgery. I pray that the doctors at Mayo Clinic are able to provide treatment and healing. And as far as infertility, you are right. It is not something talked about and for that I am sorry. I have personally not dealt with infertility or don’t have anyone close to me who has. I wish you healing, answers, and will be thinking of you often. Hugs…….

  8. I am very sorry for the loss of your grandfather. You never get over missing them, it will be 18 years since I lost my grandpa in January 2017. I feel that they watch over us from above and occasionally we get to feel a “hug”. I will pray for your mother and for you. May she receive the best care available and have the health and strength to overcome cancer. May you and your husband be strong in your love for one another and support one another during your struggle for a child.

  9. I have been so depressed about the election. But you helped put things in perspective. My loved ones are OK. I wish all of you healing and an end to your struggle with infertility. xo

  10. Prayers for your mom since I heard her news. We were sorority sisters in college. And for you too and your husband. Keep hope and love in your heart and surround yourself with those that love you.

  11. I have prayed for you and your mother. You are right. We nearly all can relate to loss on some level. As for your silence, I remember, many years ago now, when I announced to a group of girlfriends that I was pregnant–I instantly felt that something was off. It turned out I was the only one of us who hadn’t had fertility trouble. My friends were honest about how difficult this struggle is. I have been careful ever since to guard my mouth. I use the word “if” not “when” whenever the subject of babies comes up. Each of my friends had a different journey to travel with different outcomes. You are right, we need to look at others with thoughtful eyes, kind hearts, and gentle words.

  12. My prayers are with you and your family during this time of trial. Keep your faith and family close and muddle through the holidays as best you are able. Let us help carry your burdens with daily prayers.

  13. Oh, Stephie. So much love and grace to your family. This is a tough season no doubt, but with the kind of love I’ve seen in your family, you guys are going to pull through it! I have so much love for you guys, and you’re always the top of our prayer list <3 <3 <3

    Call if you ever need anything. Love you

  14. Oh, what a year. Prayers for your Mom. She sounds like quite the warrior. And I have been through the lonely world of infertility. After 6 years, countless procedures, and 5 losses, I had my beautiful son last month. It was a long road, but my miracle boy is here. Please don’t ever give up, and as weird as this sounds, have faith that your child will find you when they are ready. I truly hope & believe 2017 will be good to you. Sending hugs!

  15. Sending so much love to you and your family. I’m so glad you decided to speak your pain into this space. I know writing on the Internet can feel like throwing your words into the sky, but know that they’re hitting me here in my very real living room in my very real heart. I have two other friends who are dealing with infertility right now. As my friend shared earlier this week on Facebook, “I’ve decided that the stigma around infertility and pregnancy loss is bullshit. I’m not going to isolate myself any further. ” <<<This. You're not alone, and your willingness to share will give others who are struggling the same courage to share. <3 <3

  16. May God watch over you and Alex and your Mom –he walks beside you every step and he sometimes carries you through the toughest battles so you are not alone. Prayers and hugs to you and Alex and your Mom and family. Thank you for sharing this with everyone who loves your site and know we all love you

  17. Thank you. At a time when everyone around us seems to be popping ’em out and blithely asking if and when we’ll have kids, it’s a comfort to read something – anything – about someone else’s experience.

    1. Oh, Noelle. You’d think in 2016 we would be past asking other people when they’re going to have kids. And we’re at the perfect age where half of our friends are having their first and the other have have moved on to #2 (or sometimes even more!) – I know what it’s like to want to poke your eyes out from seeing yet another pregnancy announcement on social media. Sending you so much love.

  18. You’ll come out much stronger after all these struggles. There are always miracles. Never lose your hope. Believe that everything happens happens for a reason and happens for your own good, eventually, even if we do not see it rightaway.

  19. Oh hon. My heart aches for you and your sweet family. What heavy burdens you’re carrying right now — lots of love and prayers sent your way. Blogging will always be here waiting for you. Take all the time you need. ❤️

  20. Praying for you and your entire family friend. Stay strong and continue to have faith. We had a very long two year infertility battle and wound up beating the odds when we got pregnant naturally after being told we only had a 3% chance. Unfortunately it was after years of failed (expensive!) rounds of IVF. Just know it all works out and you’re not alone. ????????????????

  21. Prayers, hugs, love.. Today, and always. Words are difficult, this is tough. No doubt about it. Lifting you up each day.

  22. Stephie, my heart aches for you. I really can’t put into words what II am feeling for you. It is good to hear from you. Take all the time you need, we are all here for you.

  23. Stephie, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, and all of the other hardships and sorrows that you have gone through this past year. I will keep you and your family in my prayers and please try not (although sometimes it’s impossible not to) to let yourself stress about stepping away for any amount of time in order to take care of yourself and your family. <3

  24. Stephie, I’m so sorry to hear about your various hardships. I also applaud you for being so transparent. By sharing I pray they you receive some comfort, a great tribe that will provide you and your family tremendous support, which includes me, and healing for others going through.

    Although hurting you continue to smile and both you and your mom are inspirations to me.

    I’m going to keep you in prayer and if you need anything, you have my direct number, call anytime.

    Love you much and that’s real. Sending you hugs.
    Felicia

  25. I’m sorry you’ve had such a tough year. Infertility is the worst, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. We struggled through infertility, and we’re finally blessed with a baby boy after many unsuccessful IUIs and two rounds of IVF. I’m always happy to listen to/talk with anyone about infertility because it’s just so horrible and painful. I blogged about our journey too. Hang in there.

  26. Thinking of you and your family, Stephie! Your Mom was (is) a sorority sister of mine and I have such fun memories of times with her! I pray for your Mom every night and I have great hopes that she will concur this setback just like she tackles everything else in life! She has a positive attitude and that’s a big part of it. With this and your other “storms,” God is in control! Don’t stress. Just relax and trust him. Wishing you a much better 2017!!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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!!

  30. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. You have our love and hugs too! Give your mother my love for raising such a daughter as you. Any woman would be proud to have you as a daughter. If you ever want to talk, email me – we can exchange phone numbers through an email and you can call any time of day or night…May God richly bless you and Alex sweetheart…Cherish one another…

  31. 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!

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