Family · Uncategorized

Lemons and Lemonade

“I will never walk behind you or in front of you, but always beside you.”

When I first spoke those words on July 21, 2012 I had no idea how important they really were. The sun was near its last leg that day, dancing along the horizon and casting beautiful colors of orange and pink along the ocean of Papa’iola Beach. It had rained in the morning, and despite my fear of ruining my outdoor wedding, it had actually left a sweet scent along the shore as well as beautiful rainbows throughout the afternoon. Looking back, it’s amazing how symbolic that day really was.

I grew up close to my mother. As a military brat and an only child for seven and a half years before my little sister came by surprise, my mom became my best friend all those years my dad was out at sea. Perhaps it’s because of our strong bond that I always knew I’d want a child of my own. For some children their dolls are just toys. But deep down I always knew it was training for me.

As newlyweds, my husband and I knew we needed to get our bearings before we started a family. It wasn’t until over a year later in December 2013 that we made the decision to try. As articles, people and even my gynecologist told us, most couples take about a year before becoming pregnant. However, around March 2014 I had a gut feeling something was wrong. To be honest, growing up I always had a feeling it might be difficult for me to conceive. Call it intuition or just plain paranoia from a self-proclaimed ball of anxiety, but that feeling worsened as time went on. On the day of my annual gynecological exam I took the opportunity to express my concerns to my doctor. A routine checkup soon turned into something much bigger.

On April 28, 2014 I found out I needed a laparoscopic myomectomy. In layman’s terms, I’d have a robot operating on me through keyhole-sized incisions along my abdomen. As frightening as the whole ordeal was, I was relieved to know I finally had a reason for all my inklings and reservations. After a five hour surgery to remove a 63 gram fibroid attached to the back of my uterus, along with some Stage 4 endometriosis I didn’t even know was there, I felt the nightmare was over. My husband and I would finally conceive! Little did I know, it was only the beginning to our journey.

Almost exactly a year later, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I shared the news with my husband and though we were elated, that horrible feeling of doubt reared its ugly head again. A few hours after seeing those two beautiful pink lines, I began to bleed. Chemical pregnancy. Such a sterile name for what it truly is, an early miscarriage. Though I’m sure my husband grieved just as hard as I, he never showed it, always concerned with making sure I was okay.

So continued our painful journey. Throughout all our treatments: medicated timed intercourse, failed IUI’s, two polypectomies, and most recently IVF and a failed FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer), everyone around us seemed to be getting pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, the countless baby shower invites, Facebook announcements and cute Instagram pictures are reasons for great celebration and we are truly happy for everyone, but to us they are also reminders of what we don’t have.

“We have each other.” My husband never fails to remind me of this. Though he’s never once showed me anything other than love, I was always quick to question his devotion. How can he still possibly love me? It’s my fault isn’t it? I’m the one who is broken. It’s because of me we can’t have children.

It’s not your fault or mine. It just is.” With a smile he always wiped away my tears. “I made a promise to you that day in Hawaii, and we’re sticking through this together. If life is just you and me, then it’s enough.”

And you know what? It is enough.

I’ve read stories of how infertility often tears couples apart. Considering the emotional turmoil and stress endured, it’s not hard to understand why. If there’s a silver lining to our infertility battle, it’s this—my husband and I actually became closer. Throughout every battle and every tear, we stayed steadfast, hand in hand braving the next storm together. My husband has been my rock through it all, and I hope he can say the same thing about me. The tribulations of life can no doubt wreak havoc on many relationships, however I found ours only strengthened when we sought each other out instead of running away and dealing with them on our own.

The days immediately after our failed IVF were some of the hardest I’ve had to face. As someone with an avid dislike for roller coasters, I found myself riding the most horrible one of all—the emotional kind. As strong as I tried to be, certain triggers set me off. I was always on the verge of tears, fighting this mental battle within me. On one particular day I rushed to my car on the brink of breaking down. Proud to have held back my tears until I was safely in the parking lot, my first instinct was to call my husband. Like a strong hand shoved into a turbulent sea, he saved me from drowning yet again. In that moment of hearing his voice I quickly realized how much deeper I have fallen in love with him. Despite all the hardships we faced, I love him more than I did all those years ago on the beach. There is no way I can do life without him.

Though our path to parenthood is still unclear, I know whatever storms may be brewing ahead of us there will be even more rainbows to brighten up our day. No matter where we go or what happens in our lives, we’ll always walk side by side.

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Family

The Silence Isn’t Quiet…I Will Rise Up

“I’ll rise up in spite of the ache…and I’ll do it a thousand times again for you.”

I’ve been called brave and commended for my strength. As kind as those words are, I feel like a fraud.

How can I ever consider myself strong just for stomaching this horrible card I’ve been dealt?  Is it truly courageous to undergo all the surgeries and medical treatments because I felt like I had no other choice?

There are stronger, braver people out there. Men and women who lay their lives on the line every single day. How can anyone suggest I’m remotely similar to any of them because of my inability to create life?

But the thing is, I am strong. We all are. There is no competition in how we handle life’s trials because that’s exactly what they are–trials. These obstacles are difficulties we must face and no matter what they are, they do make us stronger. It’s our choice whether to bounce back after each blow.

And I have bounced back and I will continue to do so.

I’ve bounced back from the countless times I’ve gotten my period the same day someone announced their pregnancy…

I’ve bounced back from hearing a pregnancy announcement as I was simultaneously miscarrying my own…

I’ve bounced back from people asking me when we’ll be having kids and that ‘I better hurry up’ …

I’ve bounced back from feeling as if I’m a spectator to an event going on around me and feeling like an outcast…

I’ve bounced back from each surgery…

I’ve bounced back from failed fertility treatments…

I’ve bounced back from continuously feeling like I’m broken…

I’ve bounced back regardless of the imminent fear that I may never be able to carry a child of my own…

I’ve bounced back from letting infertility define who I am…

Bouncing back isn’t just a learned reaction. The ability to rise up is a type of strength, and do you know what makes us strong?  Love does.

Love for your family.

Love for your friends.

Love for your husband.

Love for God.

And don’t forget about love for yourself.

I am not a fraud because I am strong. I will rise up again and again.

Family

…Numb…

I woke up this morning praying for a day of celebration and joy. Despite the nerves and anxiety I’ve been going through the past two weeks, deep down I hoped and thought today would go so much differently.

Fifty/fifty, black and white, yes or no–that was what today would come down to. Joy or utter sadness. I’ll let you guess which answer I just received.

As most of you know, my husband and I have battled the evil wench called infertility since December 2013. Here’s a brief timeline:

  • December 2013 — officially started trying
  • March 2014 — had a gut feeling something was wrong and went for tests
  • April 28, 2014 — diagnosed with a 63 gram fibroid attached to my uterus
  • July 9, 2014 — Laparoscopic Myomectomy. Fibroid and Stage 4 Endometriosis removed
  • September 2014 — cleared to try again
  • April 26, 2015 — early miscarriage
  • May 2015 — tried everything from fertility diets, exercise, fertility massages
  • Early 2016 — Finally decided to meet with Reproductive Endocrinologist
  • May 2016 — HSG testing. Diagnosed with polyps
  • June 2016 — Polypectomy
  • July 2016 — cleared to try again
  • July and August 2016 — Medicated timed cycles (failed)
  • February 2017 — Ovarian cyst burst. Rushed to ER.
  • April 2017 — Polypectomy #2
  • May 2017 — cleared to try again
  • May and June 2017 — IUI (Failed)
  • July – October 2017 — Accupuncture
  • December 2017 — Husband and I began serious discussions about IVF
  • January 2018 — Met with doctor to discuss procedures
  • Feb – May 2018 — Prepared mentally, emotionally, financially and medically
  • June 2018 — Failed IVF

Wow! I didn’t even realize how much I’ve been through until writing it all down. All the ups, downs, tears and and hope just all sort of blend together. Now, I know (unfortunately) there are many others who have similar or worse stories and I am heartily sorry for all of them. I wish none of us had to go through this.

Sorry if this blog is a ramble, but honestly I just needed a space to air out my feelings. Where do I begin…

Funny thing is, I never even wanted to try IVF. I knew it was an option, but personally it just seemed so scary and invasive to me. It was never on my radar to do despite all my husband and I had been through.

So what changed?

Back in December 2017 I felt at a crossroads. My husband and I spent the last few years trying everything we could to get pregnant and with all of it failing we just didn’t know what to do anymore. For the first time since the journey began I was at a loss.

So I prayed.

Prayer

I prayed for guidance and wisdom, no matter what it may be. Again, IVF was never in our plan. But then something amazing happened. Friends and coworkers began speaking to us about their IVF experiences. We never asked them about it, but they just felt compelled to share with us. Notably, all of them are happy parents. Some with surprise natural births as well.

But the thing is, I was still iffy about IVF. It wasn’t only the procedure that was scary, but I wasn’t sure if we could afford it (unfortunately our insurance doesn’t cover the procedure). So, I gave it up to God and He provided for us financially in ways that I’m still in awe at. With all these signs pointing us in its direction, we finally scheduled our first information visit.

I’m not going to go through all the steps (i.e. meds and procedures) of IVF, but if you want to know about it just shoot me a message. I’ll just say it’s a lot of pills, shots, patches and doctor visits. Anyway, two weeks ago we finally had the procedure of them all – the embryo transfer. Needless to say my husband and I were excited. We were going to have a baby put inside me! It was an amazing day at best and I wouldn’t give up the giddiness and happiness he and I felt. We were full of laughter and smiles as we waited for my turn in the OR.

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Our smiles got bigger when the embryologist gave us a photo of the embryo. I fell in love right there and then. I just knew in my heart that this embryo was a part of us and I loved her immensely. Now, I can’t scientifically say it was a girl, but the moment the embryo was transferred inside of me I just had a gut feeling.

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It was two weeks of nerves, excitement and claiming that we’d finally be parents. Throughout the painful shots that brought tears to my eyes I knew it would all be worth it. I said time and time again, “I’ll walk through fire just to hold my child”and now, I find myself in a fire of a different kind.

The call came around 1pm today. I was nervous and hopeful. The doctor started by telling me my Beta (hcg hormone) level, which really meant nothing to me. I guess she knew it would be a hard call to make and decided to go all medical before she hit me with, “At this level we don’t consider it a viable pregnancy.”

My world crashed. All these months of mentally and physically preparing, not to mention years of trying and exhausting every emotion in our bodies, failed yet again. Now, I know many women go through IVF multiple times before getting a positive, but I’m sure I speak for most of us when I say you always pray that that specific round is the successful one. I really hoped this one would be it.

My husband and I kept the whole procedure a secret as to have some privacy and to settle our nerves a bit. The less we talked about it to other people, the calmer we felt. But I’m so happy the moment I opened up to friends and family, crying once I found out it failed, they scooped me up with open arms with words of encouragement and prayers. I love you all.

Now, I’m sure there will be some of you out there saying, “Why didn’t you just adopt?”  The thing is, my husband and I never took adoption off the table. In fact, we always said regardless of whether or not we have a biological child we will adopt. The thing is, adoption isn’t guaranteed either. Also, most agencies require you to be completely done with all fertility treatments and be okay about it. And like I said earlier, we felt driven to this path of IVF.

So where does this all leave us now? Truthfully, I don’t know. I’m at a crossroads again. But I know this for sure–

Even if the embryo didn’t stay, I loved that baby with all my heart ❤

IVF

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Taking Risks

I sat in my usual seat within the church’s pews listening to our priest give his homily about taking risks–the good kind, mind you. Most of life’s rewards aren’t achieved by sitting around and doing nothing, but by putting yourself out there and trusting in God. It’s funny, but within one day I quickly realized the truth in this thought and felt the fruit of the words.

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Many of you may be wondering why I haven’t been putting out books this past year. Besides the dreaded writer’s block of 2016, we can also blame the resurgence of inspiration of 2017. I may not have any new books on the market just yet, but best believe this past year has been a busy one. I’ve not only rewritten Green, but I’ve also finished three complete manuscripts and have three more in the editing stages.

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So what does this have to do about taking risks? Well, I’ll tell you dear reader. During the past year I’ve also been diligently querying literary agents. As awesome as it is to be an indie author and as awesome as my current publishers are, I’ve always had a dream to see my books on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, Target and Books-A-Million. Beyond that, I also want to see an adaptation of my story on the big screen and/or Netflix. In order to accomplish these goals I need someone in my corner. More specifically, I need a literary agent.

For months now I have poured my heart into polishing up my manuscripts, writing the best query letters I can muster and researching each #MSWL and agency website until the SENT box of my email account was swimming with the words “QUERY” and “SUBMISSION”.

And after all that?

I still don’t have a literary agent.

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Now, I can put a frowny face here and maybe even a few tears because God knows I’ve shed a few, but honestly, as much as each rejection stings, they also help me out.

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Book 1 — Rejected but not given substantial critiques

Book 2 — Rejected and given some critiques, but none I felt comfortable with. This book is currently signed with a publisher.

Book 3 — Rejected with such great critiques and suggestions PLUS a call for future manuscripts.

Each rejection hurts, but obviously I’m growing with my writing and this growth couldn’t have been accomplished without taking risks.

Querying is a scary thing, but you know what? It’s a risk I’m still willing to take until I achieve my goals.

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What I’ve Been Up To…

So it’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated my blog and for that I am very sorry!

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But I have good reason for my absence!

After many, many, many months of writer’s block I have officially broken through the wall and started writing again.

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Manuscripts, revisions, edits — Like a broken faucet finally fixed, the waters of creativity are finally rushing out. I didn’t want to tempt fate and break the writing spell so I’ve basically locked myself in my fortress of solitude to focus on my work.

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I’ve also been catching up on a bit of light reading 😉

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If you want to keep up with my literary pursuits, please friend me on Facebook and follow me on Instagram 🙂

Miss you all!

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BREAKING FREE Now Available!

breakingfreenook

BREAKING FREE by S. Briones Lim
B-Boy Series Book 3
New Adult Romance
Limitless Publishing, LLC
A one-night stand that changes her life forever…
Mallory Carmichael is a pianist who just lost out on the biggest solo of her life. To ease the sting, she heads to the club, where she meets Asher Nolan—a sexy dancer with wicked confidence in his eyes. Mallory loses herself in a night of carefree passion. Little did she know that one hookup could turn her world upside down.
A man who knows what he wants, and how to get it…
Asher—or B-boy Hellhound as he is known in the breakdance scene—is a TV and movie star. He’s used to winning…until his break-dancing game spirals out of control.
After an uncharacteristic loss, Asher becomes convinced the mysterious girl from the club jinxed him. Wanting to reverse the hex, he searches for her online, and it’s not long before #Search4Mallory goes viral.
Mallory didn’t think she’d ever see Asher again, but when she discovers he’s searching for her, she agrees to meet…and quickly regrets it.
She soon discovers how crazy a man like Asher can make her…
Asher convinces Mallory to help him find a supernatural cure for the “hookup jinx.” Navigating the world of mysticism may be challenging, but it’s even harder for them to ignore their growing attraction.
Can Asher ignore the temptation to hook up with his ‘jinx’ once again?
Will Mallory find the right balance between her crazy rehearsal schedule and helping Asher?
One thing is for sure, the only way to get over this hex is by Breaking Free.
bboy3
— S. BRIONES LIM —
Thanks to her Mom’s unwavering devotion to read a childhood bedtime story to her every single night, S. BRIONES LIM’s love for books began before she could even speak.

Raised in Southern California, Lim initially dreamt of becoming an artist. After a Psychology Degree (Summa cum Laude), a stint in Art School, and a career in Advertising/Media she is finally diving back into her first love – books. As a self-renowned bookworm, Lim’s love for reading has inspired her to pen her own novels and hopes her readers will fall in love with her stories as much as she enjoys writing them.

Her obsessions include time with family, Cherry Coke, popcorn with jalapeños, watching movies and her dogs, Tobi and Roscoe. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband.

** PUBLISHER ** GOODREADS ** FACEBOOK ** TWITTER ** WEBSITE **

23e16-limitless2bpublishing2bblue2b3
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BREAKING FREE COVER REVEAL!

Check out the gorgeous cover of BREAKING FREE that Redbird Designs created! This beauty is set to release on Valentine’s Day!

breakingfreenook

BREAKING FREE by S. Briones Lim
B-Boy Series Book 3
New Adult Romance
Limitless Publishing, LLC
A one-night stand that changes her life forever…
Mallory Carmichael is a pianist who just lost out on the biggest solo of her life. To ease the sting, she heads to the club, where she meets Asher Nolan—a sexy dancer with wicked confidence in his eyes. Mallory loses herself in a night of carefree passion. Little did she know that one hookup could turn her world upside down.
A man who knows what he wants, and how to get it…
Asher—or B-boy Hellhound as he is known in the breakdance scene—is a TV and movie star. He’s used to winning…until his break-dancing game spirals out of control.
After an uncharacteristic loss, Asher becomes convinced the mysterious girl from the club jinxed him. Wanting to reverse the hex, he searches for her online, and it’s not long before #Search4Mallory goes viral.
Mallory didn’t think she’d ever see Asher again, but when she discovers he’s searching for her, she agrees to meet…and quickly regrets it.
She soon discovers how crazy a man like Asher can make her…
Asher convinces Mallory to help him find a supernatural cure for the “hookup jinx.” Navigating the world of mysticism may be challenging, but it’s even harder for them to ignore their growing attraction.
Can Asher ignore the temptation to hook up with his ‘jinx’ once again?
Will Mallory find the right balance between her crazy rehearsal schedule and helping Asher?
One thing is for sure, the only way to get over this hex is by Breaking Free.
bboy3
— S. BRIONES LIM —
Thanks to her Mom’s unwavering devotion to read a childhood bedtime story to her every single night, S. BRIONES LIM’s love for books began before she could even speak.

Raised in Southern California, Lim initially dreamt of becoming an artist. After a Psychology Degree (Summa cum Laude), a stint in Art School, and a career in Advertising/Media she is finally diving back into her first love – books. As a self-renowned bookworm, Lim’s love for reading has inspired her to pen her own novels and hopes her readers will fall in love with her stories as much as she enjoys writing them.

Her obsessions include time with family, Cherry Coke, popcorn with jalapeños, watching movies and her dogs, Tobi and Roscoe. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband.

** PUBLISHER ** GOODREADS ** FACEBOOK ** TWITTER ** WEBSITE **

23e16-limitless2bpublishing2bblue2b3