Finding Joy

Today at church we discussed what our “hard” is. What do we struggle with. What can we learn from it? I listened intently, reflecting on my entire life. My hardships. It actually wasn’t till later that week that I realized my hearing loss is a hardship. I’m astonished. I have finally arrived! It takes a level of acceptance and embrace to not view your “hard” as hard anymore.

I was actually focused on a different hard, it was my 5 years of struggling with infertility that I was focused on. Sometimes the hardest trials are when we have righteous desires but the things we desire are outside of our control.

When life beats down on you, how do you stay positive? How can you have joy in the depths of darkness? I believe it’s important to learn from the hard times! You can do this by learning to identify things to be grateful for, things you CAN control instead of what you can not. It’s important to remain positive! This comes more easily with a grateful heart.

When I was about 3 years into the process of trying to get pregnant. I decided to stop sulking! I was done being sad. It wasn’t that simple, I was still sad! However, I shifted my thinking to a more positive outlet. I decided to start doing things that my pregnant friends couldn’t! I made a “Cradle List,” of things to do before kids came along. I tried several new things, like Sushi! Rock climbing, I went bungee jumping! We planned a trip to San Fransisco. These things were fun and distracting, they did not cure my heartache, but they helped me climb out of the black hole of despair, and rejuvenate my marriage and focus on being happy.

While struggling with infertility, I learned many lessons. I have learned EMPATHY. There are many stigmas and ignorant comments that occur when trying to get pregnant. I have learned to put aside judgements and criticism. There is enough anger and hate in the world. What we need is the benefit of the doubt. That each of us, MOST of us, are only trying to have the best of intentions. I’ve learned to not judge the man who mumbles, or the child that stutters or avoids eye contact. Or the mother with rambunctious kids. Only God knows what the story is behind the curtain.

Most importantly, I have learned not to be easily offended. I have learned that most comments have more to do with the person offending than the person who it’s intended to offend. In other words, it’s not ME they have an issue with. It’s usually an insecurity of their own. Instead of being offended or mad, and sometimes I still was! Most of the time, I tried to ignore it or figure out why they would say or do hurtful things. Almost always it is unintentional.

Most importantly, what carries me through any and all of my heartaches is my solid belief in my Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Jesus Christ is the source of peace…Whether they are personal struggles, family troubles, or community crises, peace will come as we trust that God’s Only Begotten Son has power to soothe our aching souls.” That Your Joy May Be Full, by Jean B Bingham.

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Mother’s Day

My journey to motherhood was as frustrating as a fat kid and an empty package of Oreos. Whenever I was hugging the toilet with morning sickness, with my husband, Matthew, holding my hair, I said “its ok! It means its working!” Or “I prayed for this!” And even now, during the trenches of motherhood, with sleepless nights or endless days, I am eternally grateful for being a mother, and remind myself that as hard as it will get, it can never be worse than the alternative. There was a time that I never thought I would be a mother.

Matt and I were married on a beautiful and sunny autumn in November of 2010. Life was bliss. I do not know how we survived with our low income or our first trashy apartment, but we were the happiest of newly weds. Being 25, I was anxious to get started on our little family. We agreed to wait just a year, so I could finish my degree and get more situated financially. Approximately a year later, we stopped birth control and began to “try” to get pregnant. Practice makes perfect! Am I right? Well, I started to wonder about 6 months in, surprisingly not panicking, just concerned, curious, confused as to why we weren’t pregnant yet. I was soon told not to worry, doctors won’t even discuss the issue till you’ve been trying for about a year.

The year mark came and passed, smacking me in the face. All my worst fears were coming true. There were so many feelings, the fear of the unknown was the most horrific feeling of all. Maybe I was in denial or oblivious to thinking it could happen to me. How is this happening? I’m doing everything, WE are doing everything we should be, we were good church going folk, I knew I had room to improve, and I’ve never thought infertility was for sinners but suddenly it felt like I was being punished or did something wrong, when my whole life I always determined to be my best. It took me probably another 6 months before I could even utter the word “infertility”. I remember calling to make the appointment, I wasn’t sure how to say it, and broke down in tears afterwards. It was my first time saying it out loud, that awful word. Every time I heard it or said it, I could feel my heart being crushed. Infertility, barren, empty arms. At about 18 months of trying we started hormone therapy (Clomid) to make my body ovulate, took my temperature, peed on a stick daily, marked my charts, scheduled sex like it was a chore. All while avoiding baby showers and baby stores, started to cry inevitably with each menstrual cycle. Even when random songs came on, somehow triggering my maternal instincts.  I was convinced my life sucked. I was depressed. Matt was still hopeful, with his unwavering faith, and reminded me we needed to have faith in the Lord’s timing, and not our own agenda.

After 3 months of Clomid, my doctor recommended we see a specialist. The idea made me cringe. A specialist? Is this happening? Can we afford this?

Our first appointment with the fertility specialist, he asked us what it takes to make a baby. I was annoyed and in no mood to be patronized. I responded, rolling my eyes, “The stars and the moons to align!?” The doctor pondered a minute, chuckled, he said no and proceeded to explain how our reproductive system works. Having extensive medical knowledge, and taken several anatomy courses, I listened impatiently as he continued. He then explained which procedures were needed based on what we knew about my medical condition, which was nothing was wrong. As in, no missing ovaries, no plastic waste in my uterus. Everything was NORMAL. We then began the joys of IUI or inter-uterine insemination aka turkey baster. In summary, I began each cycle with a vaginal ultrasound to check my ovarian follicles and lining of the uterus, make sure we were good to go. I would then take an oral pill for 5 days, on day 5, I would do another ultrasound to check the follicles again. Then I would rush home to inject a shot of HCG hormones, which needed to be within an hour, and the clinic was an hour drive. No woman scorned like a woman stuck in traffic, trying to rush home, to make a baby! And not in a fun way.  Then, after the self injected hormone shot, the next day Matt and I would do the insemination procedure. After which I was to continue another hormone daily until further indicated.

We got pregnant with the first try. What a relief. I’m not broken, maybe it was just poor swimmers, or a temporary set back. We were so happy! I surprised Matt by putting little baby shoes on his plate at dinner. We went to our first ultrasound and heard the heartbeat. I was 6 weeks along. They told us the heartbeat was weak but definitely present. It was Fathers Day that weekend so we announced to both families with delight.

We went in for another ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. We had prayed together before going in. My symptoms had diminished, I felt a void. We lost the baby.

It’s a interesting feeling, to share your body, and then feel an absence. The hardest part for me was that it, he or she, wasn’t passing on its own, I had to take a pill. I had to schedule my own miscarriage. Devastated, we went to a hotel for the 4th of July. It was the worst wait of my life. It took roughly 12 hours once I decided to take the pill. I had some minor contractions and I sobbed for hours as it was happening and as it passed. I couldn’t look at it. I just sobbed.

We took a 6 month intermission and tried the same procedure 2 more times. Pills, shots, violating ultrasounds, and no luck. Each time grew harder and harder. Money was getting tight, emotions more intense, despair settling in. What if THAT was it? What if, even if I got pregnant, I was THAT person with multiple miscarriages? What if I can’t carry a pregnancy to term? I was crushed. I couldn’t help but wonder if we were forcing God’s hand, maybe we were never supposed to have children. Was my faith in God or in science? We discussed adoption, and what our options were. Our next IUI was in April, but it was a full blown snow storm that day. Angry at the world, I decided that was my sign and called it off. 3 yrs, empty arms, hormones and tears. I give up.

About 3-4 years into the process of trying to get pregnant, I decided to stop sulking! I was done being sad. It wasn’t that simple, I was still sad, depressed even. Heartbroken, devastated, but wanting to move forward. I shifted my thinking to a more positive outlet. I decided to start doing things that my pregnant friends couldn’t! I made a “Cradle List,” of things to do before kids came along. I tried several new things, like Sushi! Rock climbing, I went bungee jumping! We planned a trip to San Fransisco. I learned a new sport, soccer, and played on a co-Ed team. These things were fun and distracting, they did not cure my heartache, but they helped me climb out of the black hole of despair, and rejuvenate my marriage and focus on being happy.

A few weeks later, our friends were all going to Disneyland with their kids. Initially, I didn’t want to go and be reminded of how my close friends had multiple children, and we couldn’t even have one. Luckily, I swallowed my pride and went on possibly one of the BEST vacations ever. Sure, there were moments of sadness, but it was so fun being surrounded by the joy and happiness that comes with the magic of Disneyland that even we temporarily forgot our sorrows. Who cares if I was surrounded by other people’s kids? I adored these kids and loved seeing their faces light up with magic!

Shortly after being back to reality, it was Mothers Day. Ugh. Yet another day where I would have to listen to people talk about how hard it is to be a mom, or how the Lord “trusted them” enough to be parents. Dressed in my church clothes and ready to go, I began sobbing uncontrollably. I told Matt, “Please don’t make me go!” I stayed home, drowning in my sorrows, and an empty ice cream bowl.

The next day I got a call. I had a pregnancy scare, over Mothers Day weekend. Paranoia doesn’t cease with every little symptom, hormones and Dr Google handy. I wasn’t even the slightest bit excited, just felt like I had the flu but I wanted to rule it out before taking medicine. I had submitted a blood test on Friday, since I worked at a doctors office. The phone call was my fertility clinic, calling to tell me that I was pregnant. My heart stopped. My initial reaction was they had the wrong girl. No way… Me? But… I canceled my IUI, I’m not on hormones, did I even Ovulate this month? My thoughts were racing. They proceeded to tell me to take my hormones and arranged appointments to have an ultrasound. I actually had to call back the next day to repeat all the details because I was in total shock on that phone call.

I sobbed the whole drive home. I panicked. Is this really happening? What if… I can’t handle another heartbreak… My thoughts kept racing. When I got home, I realized I had less than an hour before my husband was coming home. I was still crying and completely unprepared for this shocking news! I wanted a cute elaborate announcement, so I scrounged around my house trying to find something cute. I found the former baby shoes, not ideal but short on time, I shoved them in my kitchen drawer. I started to make dinner since I was starving! Matt came home, hugged me and asked me to bless the food. As I began to pray, I lost total control of my emotions. All I could say was, “Thank you Heavenly Father for answering our prayers.” I couldn’t bless the food or even speak. Matt said, “Amen,” for me and then just stared at me. I smiled through my tears and said, “I’m pregnant!” And continued sobbing. Matt was shocked, big eyed and jaw dropped, he said “REALLY?!”

It was a spontaneous pregnancy. That’s what the fertility clinic calls it when no intervention was needed. I was 2 weeks along, so we proceeded with the scheduled ultrasounds and hormones. We eventually “graduated” the Fertility Clinic at 9 weeks along. I never needed hormones or any other interventions during the remainder pregnancy. I held my excitement until 20 wks, when we announced at a gender reveal party. That was the moment I actually realized it was happening for us, finally happening. Even though I had horrific morning sickness, every episode brought relief. Every day was still s surprise that baby and I were both healthy.

After 41 weeks and 36 hours of pitocin and not progressing past a 5 dilation, I delivered a baby boy via Caesarian. Sweet Caleb Matthew Rogers.

My OB laughed when less than 24 hours after giving birth, we asked when we could get pregnant again. She said we were the FIRST to ask that question so soon.  Needless to say, she did not recommend any form of birth control, simply reminded us to be careful until I was mentally ready and able to handle another baby. We got pregnant again before Caleb turned 1. Totally shocked, again, at another spontaneous pregnancy. We now have two beautiful boys under 2.

Once again, Heavenly Father came through with His promise. He listens and answers our prayers. It may not be on an earthly time table, but He does answer prayers. Every family comes in different shapes and sizes, every child is a miracle! My testimony of faith and prayers are strengthened constantly. I may never know why we had to wait. Answered prayers don’t always mean getting exactly what you want, and when you want it. I regret being weak in my trial, I let my fear overrule my faith. I know that my Heavenly Father is there, He is aware of my needs and wishes. He knows exactly what I need and I am stronger because He pushed me to become so.

Hard Lessons

Today at church we discussed what our “hard” is. What do we struggle with? What can we learn from it? I listened intently, reflecting on my entire life. My hardships. It actually wasn’t till later that week that I realized my hearing loss is a hardship. I’m astonished. I have finally arrived! I think it takes a level of acceptance and embrace to not view your “hard” as hard anymore. And don’t forget humility. It took many hard falls and tears as well as friends to influence and help me arrive to where I am today.

Lessons I have learned from my hearing loss:

It’s okay to be DIFFERENT! I spent half my life trying to “compete” and be normal! Academically and socially. I guess when you’re different you learn to envy normal. But as my momma says, “Normal is a setting on a dishwasher.”

There’s no ONE right way. Everyone is different. Therefore there is no one size fits all. Everyone runs on all cylinders at their own pace. We are all doing our best. Let’s face it, no one came here to be mediocre.

LISTEN. I have learned to listen. I am an excellent listener. Jokes aside, I have to truly focus, and hone in on what is being said. My life is like the game Mad Gab. Like a translator, I am constantly deciphering and decoding what is being said. Therefore, if I hear you, I actually HEAR you. And if I don’t, I Iaugh and hope it was a joke.

I have learned EMPATHY. I have learned to put aside judgements and criticism. There is enough anger and hate in the world. What we need is the benefit of the doubt. That each of us, MOST of us, are only trying to have the best of intentions. I’ve learned to not judge the man who mumbles, or the child that stutters or avoids eye contact. Or the mother with rambunctious kids. Who knows what the story is behind the curtain.

Most importantly, I have learned not to be easily offended. It helps that I can’t hear the rude jokes told behind my back. But even when I do, I don’t rely on it. I have learned that most comments have more to do with the person offending than the person who it’s intended to offend. In other words, it’s not ME they have an issue with. It’s usually an insecurity of their own.

My husband and I have the perfect marriage, because I can’t hear half of what he says, giving him another chance to rephrase or omit as needed. It takes a lot of patience to be married to a deaf girl.

A Deaf Girl in a Hearing World

I have an unpopular opinion. You see, the deaf community won’t see me as “deaf” and politically speaking, I’m not. I’m hearing impaired, hard of hearing, or “speaking.” I relate more to the hearing world. I am unbelievably grateful for my hearing aids and wouldn’t change a thing, except I wish I used sign language. It’s a beautiful language, but that’s another topic.

I want to discuss the paradox of being hearing impaired. I am not deaf, I do not immerse myself in deaf culture, or sign language. I love it, and I would love to sign more often. I teach my kids sign. But I chose to be hearing.

I was born with a “moderate to profound” hearing loss. My mom was positive for GBS, or group B Strep. It is common practice now to test and treat GBS before a baby is delivered, or in my case induced. It’s a classic lawsuit that we probably could win. I was in NICU for 2 weeks and nearly died. My poor mother. I can only imagine the panic and heartache, all of which could have been prevented.

My hearing loss was discovered, or diagnosed, when I was 3. I wasn’t speaking, but they didn’t suspect hearing loss since I would respond to noise. My mother, who is very insistent of finding the answers and not afraid to disagree with doctors, didn’t give up until she got her answer. The audiologist casually told her that her daughter had profound hearing loss. Her heart sank. She had no idea what that meant or what to do. She did lots of research, which wasn’t “Google” in the 1980’s. I wouldn’t change any of her choices. She considered all options. I was fitted for hearing aids at age 3. I had a bracelet that stated my name and “if lost call…” This was pre-cell phone era, and I can only imagine had they lost me, running home and waiting and praying for the landline phone to ring.

My parents sent my to Utah’s deaf school for the Deaf and Blind. I rode the bus for nearly an hour, there and back, to go to this school. I was one of 6 students. I remember our daily routine of testing all the students hearing aid batteries. There was one time my teacher was dumping everyone’s batteries when she realized it was the battery checker that was broken!

I loved my class. I had a “Magic School Bus” education. My teachers name was Miss Riddle (sounds like Miss Frizzle), 6 students and a ton of field trips! We went to the State Capital, the zoo, the State Fair, even got front row to the ballet Nutcracker! Every year! We even rode a short bus! All like the television series. I would argue that I had a terrific education. While in this class, they did not promote sign language or deaf culture. It was frowned upon and would “handicap” our potential. I even got punished for trying to teach my friend, Wendy, who was profoundly deaf AND had a heavy Czechoslovakian accent, sign language. My hand was slapped and recess was taken away, my parents were called. It was a big ordeal. I didn’t understand what I had done wrong! I knew sign language because my mom wanted to make sure I was immersed in both worlds, and would take me to an after school program every week that was for my church and for deaf and signing children. I was “mainstreamed” to public education at age 8. By MY choice. My parents were told I was “high functioning” and the top of my class. At the time, I was spending most of my time in my deaf class while immersed with the “normal” kids for math and science. They proposed that I go to my main school and do the opposite having only one class with a hearing specialist or speech pathologist and all of my other classes be mainstreamed. My wise mother again, felt it was MY choice to make. From a child’s perspective, I wanted to ride the bus and go to school with my neighborhood friends.

I wonder what my life would be had I chosen to stay. Would I have been top of my class? Popular? Full ride scholarship? More leadership oriented rather than shy, insecure and feeling lost.

There are some things in public school that were not appropriate, like facing me to a wall while my peers watched a educational film. Why not just turn on closed captions or just ask me if I could hear and understand it? The education system in Utah during the 90’s was definitely not at its best. I experimented with the FM system, a black box hung around my neck while my teacher wore a microphone. I remember when the class sat in a circle for reading time, and everyone passed the mic as they read. The kids loved it! They were great for a while. Until that age when being different was bad. Then I was teased, insecure and often left out.

I definitely had my perks being “the deaf girl.” Even though IEP’s were obnoxious, and patronizing, I got extensions on deadlines, extra time and precautions for testing. Once a counselor even asked if I could participate in gym! I almost lied but my mother spoke first and said yes. No fair. Needless to say, it wasn’t all bad. I graduated with honors, even got 2 scholarships, one specifically for excelling through personal hardships. I went to college, graduated and worked as a Medical Assistant. (I aspired to be a nurse, but I quickly learned my license would be constantly in jeopardy in a “He said She said” scenario with my hearing and it wouldn’t be worth my constant worry and doubt in my abilities.)

I wouldn’t change my education. Public education failed me, but I turned out alright. I had note takers, FM systems, a private tutor slash speech pathologist but honestly, I think my hard work and dedication paid off. I chose not to be a victim of circumstance. I wanted to prove everyone wrong. Statically, Deaf adults average about a 9 year old reading level. At least, that’s what I was constantly told from peers and the public education system. When I graduated high school, I tested at above grade level in reading, speech, writing and pretty much every category but math. But who needs math! (I married my math tutor!)

I had a great time at college. Worked full time, probably should have asked for assistance but I tackled college “normal” and without assistance. None of my professors knew about my hearing loss. I had to retake some classes multiple times, and it definitely was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I was the first woman in my immediate family to graduate college, and I did it with hearing aids.

Be YOUnique

In elementary school I was teased,

In junior high I was stared at,

In high school I was told I would fail,

And in college I was a unicorn.

I am deaf

As a teenager, I had an epiphany. I knew I had a choice. I could let people mock, ridicule, belittle me. Or, I could rise above it. I could be offended or choose to be happy. I could feel free to be myself, or I could be consumed by misery.

I choose happiness. Its a daily choice. Not always an easy choice, but it’s always the best choice.

I never regret a day that I choose to be happy.

The Day I Became Gigi

Scrambling through the airport, to check in our bags, Kandace turned to me and says “How much does your bag weigh?” “47.8” I say. She frantically opens her bag takes big black boots and her scriptures and shoves them in my bag. It went from 51.2 to 49.8 and mine was up to 49.8. Later on that flight, we began to play the Delta airlines games (before WiFi and smart phones and all that). I started entering my name when she looked over and said, “No, no no, the whole airplane sees this.” I realized her name was projected as Pam. At that time I looked back at my screen and it said, GiGi. “Don’t divulge your real name. This will be your New York name for our trip.” She grinned. I’m sure I looked puzzled and she said, “What? You’ve never used a fake name before??” I hadn’t. I was 23 and had never used a fake name, nor lied about details about myself. I didn’t realize till now what a profound thing that was. Especially while having a lisps and saying “Sarah” was no easy task. I hated my name for a long time because it was difficult for me to say. However, it never occurred to me that I would lie or change it for random occasions. It was a fun harmless thing, nothing wrong with it. I was raised to never lie and to love who you are, therefore no need to lie.

Kandace, along with some other friends, helped me find my confidence. I didn’t lie about who I was, but I didn’t say I was confident. Obviously I had some confidence, I had neon pink Hearing aids, living with roommates I had never met previously, I was traveling to NYC with a dozen friends and I was more concerned about if the guy I was texting liked me than my speech impediment. It took an outsider to show and tell me that my confidence was contagious, that I was funny and witty. To admire my enthusiasm and ability to be myself. Not just the condescending comments that I “speak sooo well” or “I never would have guessed” comments about my hearing. I was able to identify as something outside of my hearing loss, but also because OF my hearing loss. I became confident in my entire identity. All inclusive. Not just bits and pieces.

That day, I became Gigi.

My Friends Call Me Gigi

My name is Sarah, but my friends call me Gigi. I’m a 30 something mom of boys, I love sunshine, chocolate and photography. Oh, and I’m deaf. My identifier is, “the deaf girl,” and it doesn’t bother me. One time in college, I was at a party, a few dozen people, single, mingling and flirting it up. Suddenly, the room gets silent, except for this loud, obnoxious stomping on the hardwood floor. Everyone is staring at me. I only knew a handful of people, and the guy stomping his foot was not one of them. Neither were half of the people staring at me. I felt flushed, I’m sure I was blushing. I look at him and shout from across the room, “ What are you DOING?” He sensed my playful tone and shouted back, louder than necessary, “ I was told you are deaf, so I thought if I stomped on the floor, you would feel the vibrations with your enhanced senses!”

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Friends have a way of building your confidence by teasing you relentlessly. He still sporadically calls me to tell me a joke. Like, one day he calls and says he’s passing a billboard that says “Don’t Diss Ability” and that he sincerely wanted to apologize for all those times he made fun of me. Then we both started laughing.

I’d be lying if I said I found every deaf joke funny. But when you chose to be happy, you chose not to be offended! After all, being offended makes you an angry old hag, and I am not a hag. I am Gigi. It took an outsider to show and tell me that my confidence was contagious, that I was funny and witty. To admire my enthusiasm and ability to be myself. Not just the condescending comments that I “speak sooo well” or “I never would have guessed” comments about my hearing. I was able to identify as something outside of my hearing loss, but also because OF my hearing loss. I became confident in my entire identity. All inclusive. Not just bits and pieces.

That day, I became Gigi.

Gigi is my alter ego, it’s me in a cape, conquering the world. Gigi is my confidence. I choose to be Gigi.