Whenever I get included in anything infertility and loss awareness wise there are three parts of my brain that fire:
Ego – Duh, my story needs to be a part of this.
Shame – Who do you think you are? You shouldn’t even be included, no one wants to hear or is ready for your story and message.
Gratitude – Thank you so much for including me and remembering my scary story is more common than people think or want to admit.
My name is Justine Froelker, and I am the infertility advocate whose story scares the bejeezus out of most in our community.
We tried IVF due to my history of back surgeries and body casts in high school.
We lost three babies.
The money was gone.
Our hearts were broken.
We stopped treatments before we got the babies.
We are not choosing adoption.
We are accepting a childless not by choice, or as I like to call it, a childfull, life.
I am a forever grieving mother who chooses to do the work to see the gifts in everything.
I am happy and sad…you can watch my TEDx talk on that.
I am happier than I ever was before failed IVF because I choose every day to honor my three, and myself, in the work of happy. I realized the infertility journey had left me a shell of who I once was without the ability to ever go back to her, or even the desire to go back to her. I have fought for, created, and received this incredible life, a life that didn’t turn out how I hoped, dreamed or planned.
Infertility is not who I am. A woman without her children here on earth is not who I am.
These are part of my story. At the end of the day, we will all have our traumas, losses, and tragedies, none of us get out of this life unscathed, sure as hell not the infertility and loss journey. The day we speak more of these truths, and speak the shame that is inherent in this community is the day we free ourselves and flip the script for our loved ones and society to better understand us.
If we want more compassion and empathy from our lawmakers, doctors, and loved ones when it comes to the infertility and loss journey, we must better ask for what we want and need. Asking for what we want and need means we must speak our stories with authentic vulnerability and rewrite our shame.
As a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (trained by Dr. Brené Brown), I teach, talk, and model shame resilience and vulnerable living and loving every single day. Shame defined by Brené is the deeply painful feeling of being flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. I don’t know about you, but my body not being able to do what I thought, and what society thinks, it is supposed to be able to do in getting pregnant and birthing a baby easily made me feel not enough and unworthy.
This isn’t fair.
I deserve this.
Am I being punished?
Is anyone else struggling with this?
Why is this happening to me?
When we own this shame, speak our truth, and ask for what we want and need, we are more likely to get the empathy and compassion we so desperately need and deserve from the people in our lives. For someone to sit with us in our pain, and simply say, “This freaking sucks. I am here,” rather than, “Why don’t you just adopt or just relax…” requires us to get vulnerable first. Healing only takes place in connection, and connection requires vulnerability.
Flipping the script is on us.
Is this scary work?
Is it worth it?
We have a taste of this within our own community if we can stay out of comparison, which is a whole other blog post… When you let your loved ones into your truth, give them the words, ask for what you want and need, you are way more likely to get it. Now, they will mess up and sometimes they won’t have it to give because we are all flawed human beings.
But you asked.
You owned your truth.
You honored your story.
Which means it can’t own you anymore.
Hi, I am Justine Froelker.
I mother more mothers than I can count, and my three in heaven.
I am a mother.
Full of grit and grace, Justine Froelker uses her fiery passion, the occasional curse word, and her witty humor to share her vulnerability and truth to light up the world. Justine is an advocate for speaking about shame and learning to thrive when life doesn't turn out how you hoped, dreamed, or even planned that it would. Justine is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator with over 18 years of experience (based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown). She is the author of her best-selling books, Ever Upward and The Mother of Second Chances. Justine currently lives in Saint Louis with her husband, Chad, and their three dogs. She enjoys her childfull life by spending time with friends and family, practicing creative self-care, laughing (many times at herself) and building butterfly gardens on her acre of land, which has made her an accidental butterfly farmer.