She's interesting, she's endearing and she should write cards for Hallmark. For all of these reasons, Elisha Kearns of Waiting for Baby Bird is our blogger of the month from our list of Top Fertility Blogs. Using the lens of her faith, her blog frequently takes deep dives into those all-the-feels moments of the infertility experience. You know those moments— the extreme highs and lows, the slow-motion moments where you ask yourself is this for real? For someone who admits that she "hates writing," we think she's pretty good at it. Elisha put some serious thought into our questions (we are amazed!) and we think you will be too. Here is what she had to say about her journey as an infertility blogger and the importance of balancing hope and heartbreak.
FS: Tell us about yourself
EK: My birth certificate calls me Elisha. My Daddyo calls me Punkin-Head. My friends have named me Wishwa. And my husband of 11 years? I wish he would call me something sweet and endearing, but he calls me Waladog. Regardless, I just don’t want anyone to call me late for a Sunday afternoon dinner of fried chicken with all of the fixins! Alongside my name and the all-important favorite food, you should also know that I am a 30 something gal living the small town life in rural Southern Illinois not only as a wife but also a stay-at-home Momma; because while my womb has remained empty, my arms have not. In July 2017 after spending 1,273 days in foster care, my husband and I were finally able to adopt Mikayla, who is now 7 years old and full of sass.
I must also point out in this tell-me-all-the-things-about-yourself section that aside from being a terrible cook who forgets the clothes in the washer and a type A organizer who somehow often forgets to pack a school lunch box, I am also a Jesus follower who messes up daily in my walk with Him as well. But you know? It’s okay. Because we are all imperfect creatures living messing lives. But it’s in our mess I think we can still shine the light, which is what I try to do as a full-time faith-based infertility blogger and speaker. But when I am not rewashing clothes, running up to the school five minutes before lunch with a lunch box full of unhealthy foods, or pouring out my heart to others, you can also find me snuggled up on the couch with my two cats reading a good book.
FS: How did your experience with infertility start and how has the story unfolded?
EK: Weight gain. Excess sweating. Facial hair. Mood swings. Bloat. Irregular cycles. All of these were signs my body was changing in late 2006 and I couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until 2007 while watching an episode on Oprah, in which special guest Dr. Oz was on discussing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) that the dots started to connect. However because I wasn’t ready for children, and through diet and exercise I was able to maintain the symptoms, I didn’t seek an official diagnosis or treatment until 2010. It was then during that appointment I learned the severity of my situation. And it was also during that same appointment in which I was told that conception was going to be near impossible without the help of medical intervention. Leaving that appointment scared, yet hopeful, my husband and I did seek the advice and help of medical science in 2011. But after several failed medicated cycles of timed intercourse and one early miscarriage after becoming pregnant through the use of IVF, we have decided to no longer pursue the use of fertility doctors. Instead, we are focusing our time, energy and money on a more natural/holistic approach in order to balance my hormones. We are hopeful that through diet, exercise, and a medicine cabinet full of supplements, as well as by the grace of God, we will one day obtain the miracle pregnancy doctors have given me a 3% chance of ever having. But if I were honest, despite my strong faith at times, I waver. And how could it not? Because the diagnosis, the statistics and my historical record of not being able to sustain a healthy pregnancy does sometimes cause me concern. And it makes me feel discouraged. And when another month goes by without seeing those two precious pink lines, I can’t help but wonder if it’s worth even hoping for anymore. But when I choose to take my focus off my abilities (or lack thereof) and I make the effort to put them on God’s abilities instead, everything about my perspective towards my situation changes. Because while PCOS has a name, Jesus has a name too! And friends, His name is above all names. Therefore despite the doctor’s report, despite the odds stacked up against me, and despite what my past keeps screaming, I will never give up hope to believe that the desires He has planted in the soft fertile soil of my heart will no longer just grow in my heart, but also in my womb.
FS: Why did you start blogging?
EK: That’s a great question! Because the funny thing is…I hate writing! So it would seem odd that I would start a blog, right? Right. But it wasn’t my idea (trust me!), it was God’s. In July 2012 after I had experienced my early miscarriage after our first IVF treatment cycle, something began stirring within my heart to help those who were also struggling with infertility and miscarriage. I remember a certain moment while looking out of a window when I heard in my spirit three words: hope, blog, and healing. At the time I didn’t even know what a blog was let alone how to start one. But after some research and then putting it off, (like I mentioned earlier, I hated writing) I eventually bit the bullet in the fall of 2013 and launched “Waiting for Baby Bird”. Little did I know at the time that anyone besides my mom and my nosey neighbor would read it. But despite who my audience would be, my mission was (and always has been) to connect with my readers and make them not feel alone. I want them to know that what they are feeling, someone else is also feeling. And what they are going through, someone else is too. It’s normal to be angry, bitter and jealous. It’s okay to have a meltdown and say one minute you are giving up but the next get back up. Like I mentioned earlier, life is messy. Situations are messy. None of us are going to get it right. And sometimes you need someone who is in the trenches with you telling you that it’s okay and it’s going to be okay. Because it is. But until it is, it’s also okay to not be okay.
FS: What are three words that describe your blog?
FS: What topic do you find yourself covering most often and why?
If you are looking for documentation of my treatment cycles, a list of my supplements, pictures of my cervical mucus, or screenshots of my ovulation charts, then my blog is not for you. Because you won’t find it. Instead what you will find are stories. Such as the time I went to a family event and everyone around me was pregnant. Or the moment I broke down in the shower begging God to not do it for me, but for him, my husband. It’s typically in these stories you will not only find my real and raw thoughts and feelings, but also how I worked through them. Because have you ever read a blog and after you were done reading it you felt worse than before? I know I have, which is why I never want my readers to leave my website feeling that way. This is why if I write about a time when I was struggling with jealousy, anger, or the unfairness of it all, I always ensure that I leave the person reading with something that builds them back up or perhaps gives them hope or inspiration for when they encounter the same issues. I might write an article about a situation that happened 8 months prior and the reason it has taken me that long is because I was still working on it. I was still resolving my feelings and I didn’t want to write about it until I had something other than the pain to share.
FS: Who is your target reader?
EK: I understand the struggle and I know the feelings that arise when everyone around you is getting their answers to prayers. But you? You are still begging. You are still hoping. You are still pouring your heart out in prayer. You know God can do it because He is God. You know the verses that say anything is possible, and you believe them. You just doubt and question if He will do the impossible for you. I think it is a general fear and mindset that those struggling with infertility have. It’s not that they don’t believe God can, it’s just that they struggle to believe God will. And so for me, my blog targets those who at times feel hopeless as they wonder if God does have favorites, and as a result, that is why they are being overlooked, abandoned, or forgotten by Him. If as you read this you find yourself agreeing or nodding your head yes, then sweet friend, you are my target reader.
FS: What's unique about your blog?
EK: Have you ever read something, whether it was a blog post, a book, or even a news article and walked away thinking you could have written it yourself? And it’s because the author touched on every thought and every emotion you have had regarding a similar situation? Well, from what I have been told by others, that’s exactly what reading my articles are like. I believe that through my transparency you can literally feel the heartfelt emotion through my words which makes my blog so relatable. But it’s not just the transparency and my ability to make you feel as though you are in the story, but also my ability to intertwine hope within the heartbreak. People need both. They need to see your wounds but also your scars. Because your scars show that the wounds can and will heal.
FS: What was your most popular post ever? Why do you think it was popular with readers?
EK: Every year I have one blog post that becomes a crowd favorite and nearly gets swept away by the internet. But there has been one article that despite being written three years ago, it continues to receive my top views for that given year. It is called,"You are Not Alone: Flying Together with Broken Wings.” I wrote this article because so often I hear women who are going through infertility feel alone and isolated, but I know that from personal experience, it doesn’t have to be that way. And so in the article I remind them that while this path of infertility has unexpected rainstorms and high winds intended to knock you to your hands and knees, scraped and bruised, beaten and scarred, there are thousands of others on this same journey, or even a similar journey, ready and willing to pick them back up as they whisper into your heart the truth that there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. It’s a very powerful article and one that I never dreamed would gain the attention that it has. I think even Resolve (The National Infertility Association) has shared it on their Facebook page a few times.
FS: What is the best thing about writing about infertility?
EK: It’s free therapy! Seriously! Each time I write about a story it brings up so many emotions, and typically I need a box of Kleenexes just to get through the introduction, but the truth is that writing can be so healing! I have found that some of the most painful and heartbreaking events that have occurred in my life tend to follow me around and haunt me; that is until I write about it. Once I write it out….or pour it out…I feel emptier. But in a good way! I don’t feel as though I am carrying around so much baggage. This is why I am a full believer in people writing in a journal every day. It’s almost like a brain dump and it can help clear your mind as you process your emotions. I often hear others tell me when I make this suggestion to keep a journal that they can’t because they are not good writers. But guess what? Being a good writer has nothing to do with it! No one is asking you to publish it. So why not give it a try? I promise after you do, you will feel so much better mentally and emotionally.
FS: What is the worst thing?
EK: Writing about the heartbreaking experiences in your life, such as infertility, can be therapeutic as I have mentioned before. But at the same time, it can open you up to needing more therapy! I say that because when I write, I write from the soul. I write from the heart. And I also write from the pages of my diary. This means that each time I press the publish button on an article I didn’t hold back. As a result, I feel as though I am running through my front yard naked, exposing every nook and cranny about me. But at the end of the day the number of emails and messages I receive from women all around the world who are grateful for my vulnerability because it made them feel less alone, far outweighs anything I could ever possibly list as the worst thing in regards to sharing my struggle.
FS: What's the best tip you have to offer someone struggling with fertility issues?
EK: The best tip? Ay, yi, yi! That’s a toughie. There are so many little nuggets of advice I would give someone struggling with infertility. Ya know…maybe take a vacation. Or just relax. Perhaps have their husband stop wearing tightie-whities? Just kidding! Just kidding! Those don’t work. Not even the one about how if you adopt then you will get pregnant. How do I know? I can put a checkmark next to them all. But on a serious note, if I had to narrow it down to just one tip I would tell the other person to not be ashamed. Whether it is ashamed to ask for help. Ashamed to ask for prayers. Ashamed to ask for a hug. Or simply ashamed to let someone know to back off when they ask…“Hey, when are you going to have kids?” I often think about how we wouldn’t be ashamed to tell someone else that we have a cancer diagnosis so why should we be ashamed to tell others we are struggling with infertility? It’s not our fault. It doesn’t mean we are bad people or that God thinks we would be horrible mothers. We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t do anything to deserve it. It’s not some form of punishment. It’s just something that happens. I believe that when we keep something so devastating and life-altering to ourselves we fail to partake in all the love and support God wants to give us through those He purposefully places in our lives. Sure you will get the occasional bad advice or person who lacks empathy, but at the same time you will also get that sweet card on a hard day or a hug from a friend who may not understand your pain, but can understand a hurting heart. So sweet sister, if you are reading this right now and struggling to grow your family, don’t be ashamed to share your story. Don’t be afraid to invite someone into your pain. Or let them help you carry the burden. You don’t have to walk this alone. And you most certainly don’t need to feel ashamed or be ashamed to walk it at all.