The Brighter Side of IVF by Guest Tina Hergenrader

Almost a decade ago, when my husband and I found out we were infertile, I dedicated every spare second to learning about IVF.


As soon as our doctor told us IVF (thousands of dollars, a couple small surgeries, hundreds of painful injections) was the only way we would be a family, I went straight to Google.

And stayed there for the next several months.

I stalked Trying To Conceive (TTC) websites like I would be tested on what they said. At our doctor’s appointments, I had so many anecdotes and testimonies from my online friends rattling around in my head, I questioned our doctor like his professional peer. Because, truly, at this point I probably was. I certainly spent more time reading about Lupron injections than he did.

The TTC world is a strange one. I knew more about strangers’ menstrual cycles than I did about my own. It’s also a sad world. Obviously. Most women going through IVF want a baby worse than they’ve ever wanted anything. No matter how much money they spend trying or how many hormone-altering shots they grit their teeth through, the process often ends in heartbreak.

This is the stuff of (really, really sad) Hallmark movies.

Because of this, the whole TTC world has kind of a dark cloud over it. Even if (yea!), you get pregnant, you’re so worried your cycle buddy won’t be, you don’t want to tell any of your online friends. You certainly can’t ask your dearest infertile friend to throw your baby shower.

This is why people name their IVF blogs and TTC websites “MY IVF JOURNEY.” Women need a somber tone for this terrifying, lonely business they’re going through…and “IVF IS HELL” seems so brash.

Anyway, if the Lupron and progesterone shots don’t get you down (they always do, by the way), this dark cloud of TTC websites will. I distinctly remember one particularly low day with I googled, “IVF Humor.” The response was, “Your search did not match any documents.”
Ha ha…eh.

All this to say I’m here with some perspective. Four kids later (yes, they were all conceived through the miracle of IVF) and ten years worth of perspective, has helped me see that all of IVF wasn’t hell.
Only the shots were hell, really.

And the miscarriage.

But, wait, that’s not funny.

Let me try again.
Here’s the lighter side of IVF…
1. Look on the bright side! With IVF you have the perfect opportunity to choose your child’s birthday! Or close to it. Actually, the laugh is on me with this one. I chose summer birthdays for all our kids. Which, really? Every mom who has ever debated her child repeating kindergarten knows summer is the WORST time to have a baby.

2. Conceiving your child through IVF means you can call your dad, tell him you’re pregnant, and also never have to admit you’ve had sex.

3. When someone says, “you can’t be just a little bit pregnant,” you can say, “Actually, yes you can.” You can be a little pregnant when you have a couple of perfect embryos in your uterus, and you’re waiting to see if they’ll “take.” So, there’s that.

4. Twins! Triplets! The goal for IVF clinics is “one healthy baby” per IVF cycle. But, let’s be clear, the goal of the patients is “as many babies as I can get for all this pain and money.” The idea of multiple babies to an infertile woman is like dangling Louboutins in front of a shoeless SJP. So, when the doctors tell the patient, “Now, you understand there is a risk of twins, right? You understand the stress two babies can cause, right?” The patient is thinking, HECK YES! I know about the twins. And that’s exactly what I’m praying for, buddy.

5. When your kid is older, and they claim you don’t love them, you can always bring up how much money you spent conceiving them. “Sure, Jimmy might have a new XBOX. But, we had you instead. Sorry, honey. But now maybe you understand how much we wanted you.”

6. Most every day you get a progesterone shot, which is one of those deep-tissue ones that goes right into your thigh muscle. It’s one of those shots the nurses describe as, “you’ll know your husband hit the right spot if it hurts really bad.” Yes. One of those. Every day. The bright side of these shots is that you have the most amazing dreams on Progesterone. Like 4D, super-magical, intense dreams that really give your brain a work-out. Which is nice compared to the mush it’s been before that with the estrogen suppositories (yes, seriously) and daydreaming about babies for months.

7. You get an up close and personal look at what your body was designed to do. While tracking your cycle and egg production and ovulation, you see how outrageously perfectly God designed your body to function. Even the most cynical, egotistical doctors admit that whether or not the embryos “take” was a miracle they couldn’t understand.

8. Prayers. When you’re going through IVF, you can ask your best friends or your whole church to pray you’ll get pregnant. They can even have a little prayer vigil while you’re high on Valium and your legs are in stirrups at the hospital, getting surgically impregnated. When you’re trying to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, a prayer vigil during the actual act is a little more awkward.

9. You will grow closer to your husband. We would do lots of fun little rituals together during IVF. My husband would name the shots he gave me. “Oh, look. This one is the DOUBLEYOURENERGY shot. Take this and you’ll wake up with twice the energy!” Truthfully, he should have named all of them the THISHORMONESHOTWON’TMAKEYOUSOCRAZY shot.

10. The best part of IVF is, of course, the babies. Our four IVF babies are a blessing beyond my comprehension. The years have faded the memories of the miscarriage, hormone shots, and heartbreak. But the joys of IVF—the help conceiving these precious, beautiful kids—is obvious everyday.

Christina Hergenrader is the author of eight Christian books. When she’s not writing, she loves to bake, take pictures, and soak up life with her husband and four kids. They all live in Texas with their ancient Cocker Spaniel and unusually slow Greyhound. Her most recent book is Starring Roles, a devotional about friendship.
Starring Roles

It’s Okay to Cry

The other day WonderGirl was up on the changing table shouting in my ear while I was putting her in a new diaper. On the ground in the same room, meanwhile, SuperGirl started her crying/whining. You know that sound, moms. There might be 101 reasons why your child is making that sound, but you can usually identify it as different than the “I’m in pain” sound. This pregnancy, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve been impatient a lot. Well, my first instinct when SuperGirl started crying was to tell her to stop. I said her name in that no-nonsense mom voice, and then looked at her–and realized that I had been wrong. She really was making the “I’m in pain” crying sound.

I felt bad, of course. In the moment, all I wanted was for some peace and quiet and for two little girls to stop making noise that annoyed me. All I cared about was how I felt–and I have to say, this is something that bothers me a lot when I get impatient. Because usually when I’m impatient, the situation has already gone so far in that downward spiral that it’s hard to put myself in my children’s shoes.

What if I hadn’t looked at her and seen that she really was in pain? What if I had used my stern mom voice to tell her to stop crying, like I was about to do, instead of immediately changing my tone and going to comfort her?

In all of our posts about grief and loss in one way or another this month on PBK, I think it’s safe to say that we openly acknowledge that we moms have many reasons to cry–and we do let it out as needed. Why, then, do I sometimes try to stifle that emotional reaction in my children?

I want my children to know:

Yes, it’s okay to cry when you’re in physical pain.

It’s okay to cry when someone hurts your feelings.

It’s okay to cry when you’re frustrated and need help.

It’s okay to cry when you’re scared.

It’s okay to cry when you don’t understand.

It’s okay to cry when you’re exhausted.

It’s okay to cry when you’re sad.

And when you grow up and become crazy hormonal at times, it’s okay to cry at those darn manipulative sentimental commercials.

As we’ve seen this month, grief comes through many different avenues. And although we might not all have gone through what someone else has experienced, we KNOW. We’ve shared similar losses, if not the same. We can imagine; we can sympathize.

I have to remember this when it comes to my children. My priorities might not be the same as theirs, and I might have the “bigger picture” when it comes to worries and troubles, but this doesn’t mean that their emotions are any less valid.

And today, when SuperGirl starts her “crying/whining” sound (as she inevitably does multiple times throughout the day), I’m going to try to change my instinctive response. Yes, she might just be overreacting or needing to find a better way to communicate what she wants, but I want her to know it’s okay to cry. Today, my first response will be to hug her.

Who knows? Maybe–just maybe–one day when she’s a teenager and I’m an ignorant mom, HER first response when she’s upset about something will be to come to me to cry. At least, one can hope. =)


I’m Elise Rome, AKA Midnight Mama because I’m usually burning the midnight oil. If SuperGirl (3, with a speech delay) and WonderGirl (2, my very own hip attachment) aren’t getting up in the middle of the night, then I’m busy working on writing and writing-related business until morning. Both my husband and I stay home with the girls (he’s a writer, too!, but usually I’m focused on them throughout the day and only get started working until after 8pm when they’re both in bed. I’m a former Texan now living in Colorado who desperately misses no-snow winters, and my parenting goal is to raise my daughters to be strong, intelligent, and independent women…much like the heroines I write, as a matter of fact. I’m a recovering perfectionist, recovering procrastinator, and perpetually aspire to keep the house clean (because it never actually is). When I’m not chasing around my daughters or adoring my cooking/cleaning/diaper-changing husband of 8 years, I write historical romances about women who fascinate me and men who somehow always remind me of Rhett Butler, the first literary hero who captured my heart.

More on Mommy Guilt and Grief

Robyn’s post earlier this week really moved me, probably because I was thinking of writing something similar. I was going to write more about miscarriage, but here’s the truth about that topic–once you are a few years past it, the pain and all the feelings that go with it, fade. This is good news for those of you who have recently been through a miscarriage, though I’m sure everyone has told you that and it doesn’t make you feel any better about the loss you have just experienced.

After my miscarriage, there were days I was so resentful of mothers. I was a teacher, and I’d watch the parents of the kids I taught and think, they don’t appreciate their child. They don’t know how lucky they are to have such a wonderful little boy or girl. And I even thought that about the kids that drove me nuts.

So when I got pregnant with Baby Galen, you know I had every intention of cherishing her and every moment of motherhood. I would not take any of it for granted. And then she was born, and it was all wonderful for about 3 days. Then we took her home, and it was the worst 18 months of my life. I say this in all honesty. It was the darkest period in my life, and I have had some very dark times.

Baby G 4 weeks

We moved out of the house we lived in when our daughter was born when she was about 18 months old, but we still live nearby. I drove past our old house yesterday, and even driving that street forms a pit of black yuck in my belly. Even if Baby Galen is sitting behind me, chatting happily, making me laugh, I drive that street and I cannot help but feel some of those same emotions of fear, depression, anxiety, despair. It all comes back.

10 months

I could say much of the awfulness of that time was due to the fact that Baby Galen was a very difficult baby. I could tell you stories…This was a baby who really didn’t want to be a baby. She didn’t want to be rocked, didn’t want to eat, didn’t want to sleep, didn’t want to lie on her back or on her tummy or her side, or sit in a stroller or a carseat or a playpen or a swing or…you get the idea. I don’t know what she wanted. I don’t think she knew what she wanted. She cried. A lot. I cried. A lot.


But the worst part if all of it–worse than being home alone with a baby who cried for seven hours, worse than being up four times a night for four months, worse than having a baby scream and meltdown every time you tried to feed her–was the guilt I felt. I hated my life. I hated it. I used to joke with my husband that I was running away to Mexico. It was sort of a halfhearted joke, because it took a lot of willpower on many occasions for me not to run away. What happened to cherishing motherhood? What happened to not taking a moment for granted? I just wanted this kid to grow up and go to school already (some days I still want that).

Everyone said, enjoy it now because it goes so fast. No, it didn’t. Every hour was like a day to me. I was trapped and unhappy and going slightly insane. Thank God I had help from friends and relatives. Thank God I went to the doctor and got some meds to help with the anxiety and depression. And thank God nothing lasts forever. Babies grow up. They become little kids who can tell you what they need, who sleep, who eat (sometimes independently), who make you laugh and even say, wow, this day has flown by!


And now I do try to cherish every day, but you know what, maybe that expectation was too lofty. We’re moms, not goddesses. We’re human.

Ever feel like you place unreal expectations on yourself as a mom and then feel guilty that you (a mere mortal) can’t attain them?

I’ll Love Your Forever

This month at Peanut Butter on the Keyboard, we’re talking about loss. And we’re seeing in each other’s stories that as vulnerable as we are, we’re strong. That’s the nature and miracle of mothers: we’re both. And as such we’re well-equipped to teach our children life’s biggest–and sometimes hardest–lesson: that it is through suffering–through loss, pain, grief, and letting go–that the most beautiful things are born. And the cycle never ends. There’s always reason for hope and celebration. Every day has a moment of incandescent beauty  if we look hard enough.

So I’ll Love You Forever–which I’ll always believe was written just as much for the moms reading it aloud as it is for the kids listening to their soothing voices–fits right in with our theme. If you’ve never read this book, I think you’re in for a special experience. And if you have read it before, follow along anyway. Let the narrator read it to you this time, and know as you listen that loving well is the highest calling there is–and we’re doing it. Through all our mistakes, fears, and doubts–bolstered by courage and fueled by joy–we’re loving our children well.

Way to go, moms!!!

What did you think of I’ll Love You Forever? Do you have a favorite children’s book that celebrates the deep bond between children and their mothers?

Hi, I’m Kieran. My family loves music and anything that makes us laugh out loud. Along with Chuck, my husband of 23 years, I try to teach our kids that we have to actively choose happiness–and if I accomplish nothing else as a mom but pass that one lesson along to them, then I think I’ve done my job.

My oldest guy, Nighthawk, was diagnosed in kindergarten with Asperger’s syndrome, and now he’s a junior in college; his sister Indie Girl, who’s younger by 16 months, is a college sophomore; and my youngest, Dragon, is in ninth grade. For our family, it’s about managing your weaknesses and wringing everything you can get out of your strengths. And along the way, finding joy.

The grief no one talks about

It seems we’ve covered just about everything this month, talking about lost dreams with kiddos who have special needs and/or learning disabilities and lost babies through miscarriage. It’s been a tough month, but a great month. How wonderful that we have built a forum here where women can feel comfortable talking about our loss and grief and fears and moments of joy. This is what we wanted when we started this blog, but I can honestly say I never expected the kinds of responses we’ve received so thank you all for that.

But I wanted to talk about something today that it seems us women are seriously reluctant to talk about and in truth, I thought (when I was in the midst of the feelings) that it was just me, but I’ve come to learn that my feelings were all too common and it’s time for us to open up that can of proverbial worms. So I’m gonna be brutally honest with y’all, open up all the ugliness and it makes me nervous, but I have faith that you’ll all get it.

Now some of this I can’t speak to with any kind of authority because I’m an adoptive mom, I’ve never carried a child to term. But I’m going make a bold suggestion and say that those baby blues that people talk about…they’re not exclusively caused from hormones.

Let me explain. If you’ve followed the blog for long, you know that I literally became a mother over night. We had exactly 7 days to prepare our home for our two little girls and then suddenly they were there are my house, an infant and a toddler. We’d been through extensive training, I knew what to expect as far as possible problems with the girls, their adjustment, medical issues they could have, etc. I was as prepared as you can possibly be for all of the parenting issues, even the unique ones specific to our (then) foster-care situation. What I was not prepared for though was me and my own yuck coming to the surface.

I spent my entire adult life (and frankly some of my pre-adult life) wanting to get married and be a mom. Everyone who knew me knew that I wanted three things in life: be a wife, be a mother, be a writer. Two of those happened at nearly the same time, but as I mentioned in my previous blog, motherhood seemed an elusive dream, a butterfly I simply couldn’t catch. So imagine my shock when I didn’t settle into motherhood with grace and patience and well, joy. The fact was I’m not nearly as good at this as I thought I’d be. I’m more impatient, less tolerant, and less gentle than I expected. I love children and I especially love my children, but those early days (months) were dark – primarily for me.

I woke up in the mornings cringing and literally would look at the clock and count how many hours until naptime. I was terrified of being alone with them. And I was just miserable. Of course I was exhausted, emotionally and physically, but what the hell? I wanted these kids, why was I so damn unhappy? And the tears, Good Lord, the tears, my poor husband didn’t know what the hell was going on. My mother was a life-saver because she would come over and let me nap and she helped so much with just the day-to-day care of the girls while I found my footing. I didn’t know what was going on, all I knew was that I was unhappy and the guilt because of that ate at me day and night.

And I was plagued with questions…had I made a huge mistake? I couldn’t give them back, my goodness those precious babies had already been through too much. But I didn’t feel like I was providing a better life for them, I felt like I was fumbling in the dark, trying to find the light switch. I took care of their basic needs and I cuddled them and then I would have to sneak away to the bathroom so I could cry. I felt like I had ruined our lives. My husband and I fought like crazy – something we just don’t do. He was miserable and had no idea what was going on with me.

It wasn’t until I came through all of that darkness that I could sit back and analyze it and call it for what it was. Grief. Nothing sexier than that, it was just plain old grief and I for one, suspect all parents go through it no matter how they make their families. I resented the girls and the fact that my husband and I couldn’t just go to the movies or even run to Target. I resented them because my writing life all but dried up and I felt like my career was over. It wasn’t really resentment though, I know that now, it was merely me going through the stages of grieving my old life, my old marriage, the old me. Life changes, as the saying goes and nothing changes it more than children. But no body talks about the fact that it’s okay to be sad about letting go of what was. It doesn’t make you love your kids any less to be irritated that you have to consider them and you can’t just run an errand on your own. It’s a huge adjustment and it takes a while to settle into the new you.

Now I’m not saying that post-pardum depression isn’t real, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. What I am saying is that we all get those “baby blues” let’s just stop trying to think of cute terms to cover the feelings and talk about what it really is. Why should we have to silently feel guilty and wretched because we’re feeling something normal. Going through all of that didn’t make me a bad mom and it doesn’t make any of you a bad mom either.

So let’s talk about mommy grief. How was it for you? How did you get out of it? And did you recognize what it was when you were in the midst of it? 

“Can you please just stop time for me, just for a little while?”

When Dreams Die. That’s what I was all set to blog about…and I still plan to. But then this week happened. This week that started off so beautifully (for me), with clear skies, warm, abundant sunshine, balmy breezes, and a very special birthday with my husband and kids, only to slam into a wall the next day when news of the Boston Marathon bombing struck. Then, two days later, the horrific explosion in tiny West, Texas. It’s against that backdrop that I was on Facebook as a post floated by from my daughter’s former preschool teacher, Laura. She says she’s not a writer. She says she’s not articulate. She says words aren’t her thing. But I sat there so moved by the beauty of what she had to say,  I knew I had to share it here. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t consider herself a writer. Because Laura is a woman. She’s a daughter, a mother, and a friend. A teacher. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t consider herself a writer. She’s real. She faces challenges head on and digs deep to find strength and solutions.

I’ve always known she was special. Now you will, too.

From Laura…


Sorry – had to vent. This is my brain and heart spilling out after this week’s tragedies……

When I was just driving home for lunch, I saw NUMEROUS flocks of birds out flying together so freely and happily. They were making the most out of the beautiful day. Up until then, I had spent today, and the last week, at work with cranky, dysfuntional, mislead, and confused people. On any given day, I usually NEVER let them influence my mood or how I treat others. Between that environment and the constant tragedy coverage on 5 different TV’s however, my soul yearned to escape it all.

My heart found the beauty and peace it was needing when I went outside to the beautiful day and the beautiful birds, because I was back in God’s world. That’s why the birds were so happy, because they were only allowing themselves to be a part of God’s world. I DO NOT feel we should not care, shut ourselves off, or be in denial – not at all. I’ve wanted to know every detail of what those people went through  so I could assimilate and assess it all. However, we all must look for and stay in touch with God’s love and peace that is still inside of us and in this world. We must all remember it is His world – we are not and will not be in the clutches of evil!

Evil things are happening – more and more – and are so so scary – if not for us, then for our children. But we must continue to feel the love – the love of the whole universe because we have to. We have to to survive – the love feeds our soul, but the fear kills it. Fear is not real – it is only the absence of the true reality. We also have to, because we have to continue that energy across our world for those, who through their suffering, can’t do it for themselves.

This morning, my daughter said, being sleepy and fatigued, “Can you please just stop time for me, just for a little while?”

I told her I wished for that more than anything. I want to stop the world long enough to go back and fix it. NOT to take away the guns and bombs or the actual genius minds that are able to devise and plot with them – but to take away the pain and dysfunction that WE have created, that creates the people that hold the weapons.

My pain comes from knowing that this pain is in the world and feeling how much pain must be in these people. I want to try to hold true to the love and peace I feel from God’s world and hope that helps give me the comfort to trudge on through all the sadness. I hope all of those who can, will continue to send out the energy of love and hopefulness in the times when it is most unlikely. Maybe this is what will overcome and treat the pain in our world.

Thank you to God for letting me see the birds and for reminding me it’s Your world. Their brains and hearts are so much smaller than ours, but they don’t forget. They have found peace and freedom today. Although evil rips away at us, this is what will always remind us and help us feel we are ONLY bound by and in the clutches of God’s love.

Evil will never win and cannot take us away from that.


Movie Night!

Okay, I confess, I wasn’t sure what to write about. Then I sat down and watched a movie with my husband and now I’m going to recommend said movie.

Tonight we watched Crazy, Stupid Love and I think if you haven’t seen it you need to watch it too. Because SO MANY REASONS.

Because Emma Stone is so quirky and adorable, and Ryan Gosling takes his shirt off and he does THE MOVE from Dirty Dancing. Because it made me cringe from the awkward moments, and it made me cry with the honest ones.

The characters were really good, and I have a tough time with a lot of romantic movies because…I write romance novels. And my romance novels have a really strong emphasis on the internal conflict and character development, so a lot of really cutesy rom com type movies (with some notable exceptions!) don’t do it for me because they’re all misunderstandings and external plot elements. But this had some really honest moments, and I really believed in the love stories.

Which is a testament to the movie because there was some very tough stuff, for me anyway. Things I would have maybe even thrown a book across the room for. 🙂 But they worked in the movie and part of that is because it was played so well and with such integrity.

Anyway, grab a tissue. Watch it with your husband/wife/significant other and talk about the issues. Because this movie shows a marriage falling apart, and when it’s worth fighting for. It shows new love, and young love, and really ill-advised love…it’s all Crazy, Stupid Love.

And Ryan Gosling shirtless. So seriously. 😉

Guest Mom Tiffany Clare: Beautiful Children

It’s such a pleasure to have fellow St. Martin’s Press author Tiffany Clare joining us at Peanut Butter on the Keyboard today. Thanks, Tiffany, for being you. Your honesty and courage are inspiring, and we wish you and your family all the best! 

When I came onto this blog last week, I felt a connection with the women here (whether they knew they were making that connection or not). And then I knew I had a write a blog after reading Maisey’s entry because it hit so close to home.

The blogs were inspiring, uplifting in their mutual melancholy and honesty. I have always believed that sharing your experiences, be they good or bad, is always key in life if you want to grow as a human being. Sharing allows you to open up to the possibility of learning more, teaches you sometimes to listen, and if you’re lucky it helps you find that illusive piece to the puzzle you’ve always tried to fit in place when all the pieces you have seem too small, too crooked, and just not right.

The day I found out I was pregnant I remember lying in bed, looking up at the ceiling and Billy the Cat (God rest his loving soul) nudged against my face over and over again, telling me he loved me in his cat way. All I could think was wow-shit-wow. I was in such a state of shock that my then boyfriend of three years (now my husband) and me were pregnant that I just couldn’t process it. Could. Not. Process. It.

What did it all mean, I thought? I was young and was still learning life and figuring out my career (it wasn’t till I had my daughter that I started writing for publication). After the shit-wow-shit factor wore off, we took pregnancy very seriously, and I got a midwife, prepared to do the whole thing naturally, and the right way, whatever that is (shh—we will not talk about the mars bar I ate EVERY day of that pregnancy). I prepared myself, knowing I had to make room for someone who would always be more important than me, who I would cherish above all. Whose needs would forever come before my own.

When we brought our healthy son home, I was so terrified I would break him that I couldn’t put him down. I brought him to bed with me, not the crib nearby, so I could hear him breathing throughout the night to make sure he was okay, well, safe and alive. It’s such a hard feeling to describe. I think sometimes only another mother can understand that need to protect the baby so new from the womb. They are just so defenseless, so precious . . . I digress.

Babyhood was lovely. I had the happiest baby you ever met. He ate. He slept. He played. He smiled and laughed. He was so, so happy. The perfect baby.

When we went for his two-year check up with the family doctor he failed to meet certain criteria with his development. He didn’t talk and he had motor skill difficulties. He was our happy, little chub-monster so eager to make everyone smile around him that for some reason or other hadn’t learned how to communicate ‘normally’, or with language, but with sounds and hand motions instead. So ensued the endless tests: hearing, mouth, eyes, nose, throat, blood work, physiological, blah, blah, blah, you name it, we probably did it. Everything was normal except his motor (gross and fine) skills, and his speech, which was non-existent until well after three.

In broad-term-medical-speak he had a ‘Learning Disability’. What the hell is that we asked? Everyone just said, it’s LD, like that helped. We had our son see doctors, pathologists, psychoanalytical people that speak non-English to you like you understand every word, teachers, tutors, people who think they can tell you what’s wrong and offer unsolicited advice, family that ‘knows’ what’s wrong, theories from people that love you saying that he’s just a boy, they develop slower, he’ll be fine.

When you have young children, everyone is there in the background as feedback. It’s so hard to tune it out when your kid can’t play with other kids their age and communicate with them on a normal level, or doesn’t hit any of the other milestones at the ‘right’ age. And believe you me, as a writer, it was a really hard pill to swallow that no matter how hard we tried we could not teach our son to read, never-mind writing. How’s that for failure?

I felt lost as a mother. Like I’d done something wrong. We pushed for special placements in school, we pushed for speech pathologists, we pushed, we pushed, we frickin’ pushed till we were blue in the face fighting for him when we didn’t understand what was wrong anymore than the people treating him and teaching him the best they could. It was so tiring, but we kept on, knowing that if we stopped he would suffer and be lost in the system.

We had him privately tested again with a child psychologist after years of frustration and answers that weren’t good enough for us. Believe it or not, the testing didn’t come out any clearer than before. This time we had a term called Combined ADHD and LD that was mostly language focused in the write up (I still think it’s some type of dyslexia, but I’m not a doctor to say so, just a mother who likes to think she knows her child best). The one good thing about this testing was that we were finally referred to a doctor that dealt with this kind of stuff.

When we met the specialized pediatrician he knew what we were going through, he could explain why to every issue our son had ever had and had to deal with in his non-language way. Keep in mind this person was the FIRST person that understood and could explain to us what no one else had been able to explain. He had the best description for my son’s condition that it merits paraphrasing. The only difference between my son and a child with autism is that my son has a social aptitude that is acceptable in society’s eyes and therefore will never have the support systems sprouting up for the recognized disability of autism that is societally less desirable in ‘normal’ peoples eyes. Harsh words, but the truth we had waited so frickin’ long to hear.

With that new knowledge came a further realization: the plan we had for our child from womb to adulthood would be delayed. I raged and screamed inside because it’s already so hard to find a balance between growing as a person, and supporting and teaching your children to grow into who they need to be to survive in the wild-world. We weren’t going to go about raising our son normally no matter how we tried, we had to break out of the mold that told us normal was best. So we had to face facts. Our son who is now coming up to his twelfth birthday will probably get worse before he ever gains enough confidence and understanding of the world around him to grow into the adult we had always envisioned in our pre-conceived notion of what was acceptable and normal in the world we live in today.

There was a false sense of failure in all this for a very long time, though we didn’t see it this way for years and years. We felt like we did something wrong right from the beginning. Then we felt like we’d never get our life back on track with ‘us’ because our son would never fit into that ‘normal’ mold and reach the milestones every other kid reaches at certain ages in life. In essence my husband and I grieved the life we thought we would have with children. We had to learn to set that aside and come to terms with abnormal being okay.

Let me go back a moment and share just one more thought about when I was pregnant. I put it away when it happened in real life and brought it out and examined it years later.

I went for an ultrasound at five-months. Turned out there were shadows, or cysts, found on my baby’s brain in utero. I remember my midwife calmly telling me that this could mean something, or it could mean nothing since technology was so advanced that oftentimes things found were ‘unexplainable’.

I think back to that moment more often now and wonder if the universe was testing me to see if I was really ready for this next step in my life. If I could put someone before myself, If I could commit to a lifelong journey that would no longer be just about me, and that normal should be reserved for someone more boring, staid, less creative in solutions, in life—those things were never me.

The worst case scenario from my midwife came next: the cysts could mean that the baby had trisomy 21 which essentially meant the child would unlikely make it past the first year of life. They offered genetic testing (which involved a ginormous needle through my belly and into my uterus to determine if this was the case—very dangerous). If it was that particular disease, we would be referred to a psychologist, some other something-gists upon something-gists to discuss aborting so late in the pregnancy due to ‘special’ circumstances.

I went home after that and cried and cried and cried. I talked extensively with my husband about our options. About the what ‘ifs’, after the changes we were ready to go through already for this child, about what this meant for us as parents if there was a chance we lost the child later. It was a long road of discussions and crying and heartache which only lasted a week but felt like a millennia to make that decision. I did not opt for the ginormous needle, the cysts on his brain eventually faded (and have nothing to do with his LD). So maybe we had accepted doing things the abnormal way before we ever met our son, we just forgot that in our journey as parents.

I think life throws you a curveball once in a while, even if that curve drives you far from your original path, and all so the universe can teach you something worthwhile. While I don’t pretend it will get any easier, I have learned to let go of normal. Maybe I’ve always felt inside I would have to do that. Maybe this is my life lesson, and this path with my son will make me sprout into the person I always envision I’d become in the end. Who knows, but it’s food for thought.

tiffanyclareDeciding that life had far more to offer than a nine to five job, bickering children in the evening and housework of any kind, Tiffany Clare opened up her laptop to rediscover her love of the written word. Tiffany writes historical romances set in the Victorian era for St. Martin’s Press. She lives in Toronto with her ever-patient photographer husband, two mischievous children, a cat that thinks he’s a dog and a dog that thinks she’s a princess.

Find Tiffany on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

A Mommy on the Edge…or at Least the Verge of a Massive Purge…by Heather Snow

Thank you so much for having me today at Peanut Butter on the Keyboard. I’m so excited to be here amongst such fabulous writer and reader mommies! A little about me for those who don’t know me: I’m a sleep-deprived mother of two young boys, known affectionately on social media as The Heir and The Spare. I’m an avid reader…or at least I was before deadlines and diaper duty. Now I’m more of an avid listener—God bless audiobooks! I’m a cat person who somehow just got tricked into agreeing to get a dog this summer (rotten husband…and he said it in front of the boys, who are now over the moon. I would be an evil mommy to say no now…)—oh, and I write historical romance with heroines who put the blue in bluestocking, the men who love them and the mysteries they have to solve.


Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to applaud the ladies here at PBOTK for their April theme of miscarriage, infertility and special needs. I’ve really enjoyed the open and honest discussions that have been happening this month. I never understood the devastation of these issues until I experienced them myself. Robyn DeHart and I have discussed our histories in the past, and mine is very similar to hers: PCOS, infertility, miscarriage and finally the family we were meant to have through adoption. When I visited the site earlier in the month, I almost switched my topic to be in line with the theme, but it’s been covered so beautifully that I really haven’t got much to add there.

So I decided to stick with the topic that I’d originally planned to talk about because it is a part of my everyday reality that, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to get a handle on. The MESS! Oh. My. Goodness. Who knew two small children could wreak such havoc on what was once a tidy little domicile? Our home was once a place of peace and refuge and…well, tidiness. No longer.

It all started when the Heir was a baby. You see, I waited years and years for him to come along, and in the meantime I read all of the baby and parenting books and magazines, picking up tips on how I was going to give this cherished child every possible advantage I could reasonably give him. One thing I knew I wanted to foster in him was creativity. I wanted him to be an outside-the-box thinker, and one early suggestion was to stimulate his curiosity by giving him a cabinet and drawer in every room (while safely baby-locking the rest, of course) and filling it with things he could tactically explore: you know, crinkly things, plastic things, things of different textures, weights, etc. You were supposed to change it up every once in a while so it never got stale. He loved it of course, and I loved watching him discover new things. What I didn’t love was watching him string said items all through the house.

It’s only gotten worse since then. Yes, I fell for the “Crazy Hat Box!” which became the “Costume Box For Dramatic Play!” and the “Color Your Own Rice For Sensory Play!” (what a mess that was), and “Recycle Your Household Items for Arts and Crafts!” and “Blocks for motor and spatial skills!” and “Legos to strengthen imagination and creativity!” and “Books! Books! Books!”. Dear God, the books. You could fill a children’s library in a small village from our shelves alone… We have rolling drawers full of art supplies, so they are available when creativity strikes. We have a play kitchen, filled with realistic food items. We have a variety of instruments in case the need to express themselves musically cannot be denied. I could probably run a darned good preschool just from the things in my living room alone. Yes, I am that mom.

How did I get so far gone? I’m not a hoarder in my real life…and if I were, I’d certainly hoard something better than blue and purple rice and a bunch of toilet paper rolls waiting to be made into trees when we finally get around to building that cardboard city!
Just to give you an idea of what this has done to our happy home…one day last week, I went to the restroom for a few moments, leaving the two boys (4 ½ and 1 ½) at the breakfast table. I emerged a few minutes later to this.

Mess 1

Mess 2

Oh, and that trail of foam letters from the art box? Strewn not just through the living room, but the hearth room, the dining room, the kitchen, and completely around the staircase. This despite all of my efforts to keep it reined in. And I’ve tried. We have bins. Lots of bins. And cabinets. And rolling drawers. Organized by category and stacked neatly, with a rule that one never gets opened until another is completely put away. (I’ll let you guess how often that works for me).

Some days, it makes it all back in. But some days it doesn’t. And those days start to pile atop each other until I’m pulling my hair out and swearing that the moment my little darlings go to sleep that night, I’m going to pile it all into the mini-van and drop it at the neighborhood daycare center. Or at least lock it all away behind a giant padlock so only I can control access…mwu-ha-ha-ha.
Tell me I’m not alone. Better yet, tell me there is hope. How do those of you with small children keep the mess between the lines without devoting every second of your life to it? Is there a way to balance the desire to foster creativity and the need for a clutter-free space?

Heather Snow is an award winning historical romance author with a degree in Chemistry who discovered she preferred creating chemistry on the page rather than in the lab. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two rambunctious boys, and one very put upon cat.

055 Heather Snow Website
The final book in her Veiled Seduction series, SWEET MADNESS, hit shelves April 2, 2013. RT Book Reviews Magazine gives it 4 ½ stars, saying “In this emotional, compassionate romance…the powerful love story will sweep readers away.”
Find out more at or connect with Heather at , or at her blog, Heather’s Historical Reader Salon at


When Your Child Grows Up Without a Grandparent

So far this month we’ve talked about miscarriage and special needs. Today I’m writing about the loss of grandparents.

It’s funny that I can’t even write this post without bawling; I don’t normally consider myself to be an overly emotional person.


My mom and I had grown close as I grew into my adult years (we weren’t so close during the rebellious teenage years). We talked almost every day, for as little as five minutes but usually over an hour. Most of the time it was about nothing; it was simply for the pleasure of talking to each other. I lived in Colorado, she lived in Texas. She had become my best friend.

When I got pregnant in 2008, she was over the moon for me. She threw my baby shower, a surprise shower over Christmas when she could be here. She stayed with us for three weeks around SuperGirl’s due date so she could make sure she wouldn’t miss her birth. We actually had an argument after SuperGirl was born (because she was overdue and my mom only had a week left to stay) about her not having enough time with the baby; I was holding her too much! (Which just shows you how important communication is! I would have gladly let her take her more so I could sleep.)

After she went back home, we tried to Skype every week so she could “talk” to SuperGirl on camera and see her. One of her favorite things was to try to get SuperGirl to stick her tongue out and wag it back and forth–something SuperGirl never did for her, unfortunately. She loved my daughter immeasurably, as much as any grandparent has ever loved a grandchild, and was looking forward to coming back up to Colorado to celebrate SuperGirl’s first birthday.

Of course, that never happened.

SuperGirl’s first birthday was in June 2010. My mother was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in March. She died April 22, 2010 at the age of 49.

It kills me that not only will my mother not be able to see SuperGirl grow up (or WonderGirl, or this baby boy we’re expecting), that she won’t be able to have a relationship with her, but that my children will never know what a truly amazing woman their grandmother was. Not apart from my words, anyway. They’ll never get to play with her, to go shopping with her, to be indulged by her. They’ll never be tickled or chased or eat too many of her special Christmas cookies.


SuperGirl was born June 2009. That fall, my mother-in-law, who had previously been diagnosed with emphysema and COPD, took a turn for the worse. She had to quit working, was put on 24/7 oxygen, and her range of activity was limited. She could no longer garden, one of her favorite things, because it left her too out of breath. The only places she went regularly were her doctors’ offices. She sometimes went upstairs (she lived in a MIL suite in my sister-in-law’s basement) to eat with everyone for holidays, but most often we went down to her.

WonderGirl was born in November 2010. Every memory my daughters have of their Grandma is of her being mostly bed-ridden and hooked up to oxygen. Despite all of her medical complications, she doted on both girls as much as she could, and was always grateful for every chance she had to see them. The last time they saw her in the hospital, she was able to go downstairs to the gift shop and buy them each a stuffed animal. From the time she took a turn for the worse in 2009, she went in and out of the hospital several times a year until she eventually passed this past December. One of the last things she told me was how sad she was that they wouldn’t remember her.


My children will grow up without biological grandmothers (I have a father and stepmother who live in Florida; my husband’s father died before he was born).

Because I didn’t experience loss of a close loved one until my mother passed, I haven’t really known how to approach this with my kids. I talk about my mom a lot–perhaps too much. When I was telling SuperGirl before her second birthday everyone who would be at her birthday party, she asked, “And Mawmaw, too?” Of course, I cried and told her Mawmaw was in heaven and couldn’t be there.

SuperGirl now understands better that Mawmaw and Grandma are in heaven. I don’t think WonderGirl has any idea who Mawmaw is, and I’m not sure she even understands that Grandma is gone. Sometimes when we talk about my husband’s family, she still includes Grandma along with everyone else. We have pictures around the house we talk about, and my husband and I try to connect our girls to things we have that either grandmother gave us.

But as far as they know, Mawmaw is as real as the superheroes they watch on TV, and all I can do is hope they will have at least vague memories of my mother-in-law.

Sometimes I get jealous of friends or family who still have grandmothers for their children. Not because their children get packages in the mail or because the parents have “built-in” babysitters, but because of a thousand-plus little things like that my children will miss out on. And who’s going to tell me when they think I’m doing something wrong raising them? Who’s going to listen to me complain when they turn into rebellious teenagers just like I was?

I’ll try to teach them about the wonderful women they should have known. I’ll try to love them enough to make up for that gap. But I fear it’ll never be enough–at least not for me.


I’m Elise Rome, AKA Midnight Mama because I’m usually burning the midnight oil. If SuperGirl (3, with a speech delay) and WonderGirl (2, my very own hip attachment) aren’t getting up in the middle of the night, then I’m busy working on writing and writing-related business until morning. Both my husband and I stay home with the girls (he’s a writer, too!, but usually I’m focused on them throughout the day and only get started working until after 8pm when they’re both in bed. I’m a former Texan now living in Colorado who desperately misses no-snow winters, and my parenting goal is to raise my daughters to be strong, intelligent, and independent women…much like the heroines I write, as a matter of fact. I’m a recovering perfectionist, recovering procrastinator, and perpetually aspire to keep the house clean (because it never actually is). When I’m not chasing around my daughters or adoring my cooking/cleaning/diaper-changing husband of 9 years, I write historical romances about women who fascinate me and men who somehow always remind me of Rhett Butler, the first literary hero who captured my heart.