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I am a person who likes to keep myself busy. I like to dream big. I like being involved in a lot of different activities in a lot of different capacities. If I find a new project, idea, or interest I can become obsessive. I will pour my heart and soul into it until the point of exhaustion or burn out. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy having relaxing lazy days, but let’s be honest how many of those do we really have anymore? We all have crazy busy lives and are all pulled in many different directions that seldom do we have time or allow ourselves time for relaxation. I am going to share something about myself with you all that isn’t easy to admit but will hopefully resonate with a few of you. 

I HAVE to keep myself busy. I HAVE to be involved in a million activities that take up a lot of my time. I just am a better person and function better if I do that. I have seen what happens when I don’t. It’s called “Filling the Void,” and I am a pro at it. “Filling the void” means to keep yourself so busy with different projects, activities, and ideas that you simply do not allow yourself time to feel or think about anything that is difficult or missing in your life. When described like that it doesn’t sound so bad or like such a bad concept really. Honestly, when talking to people I think that’s what a lot of people do to cope with the difficult situations life deals us sometimes. “Conceal, don’t feel” – just like Elsa in Frozen. It’s what I have done and continue to do sometimes in order to deal or actually not deal with a lot of my feelings about our infertility struggles over the years. 

I wasn’t really aware that I was doing this until my Mom pointed it out to me a few years after Jayden was born. Mom’s know best and she saw it in me long before I ever would’ve recognized it. When we moved back to Nebraska I went back to college, and had several different jobs, all while raising an infant. I was very busy and a lot of the time very stressed out. I was not at peace or content with anything. It always felt like something was missing, and I just kept searching to find it. I wanted more children so badly, and I wanted Jayden to be a big brother so much. Those feelings hurt so much that I simply had to keep stuffing them away and not let myself feel them. And the only way to do that was to stay busy.

When Jayden was four I told my family that I really did know what I wanted to do with my life and that was to finish nursing school. That was always my original plan out of high school, but it just never was completed. I needed their blessing and their support because I knew it was going to be hard. I also knew that this time I couldn’t quit or change my mind. They were all worried about how I was going to do it with a young child and that it might not be good on any of us to do this. It was the first time my Mom made me aware of my constant effort to “Fill the Void.”  While she was supportive of my decision and knew that I always wanted to be a nurse, she was worried that this was another desperate attempt to stuff my feelings about our infertility situation by keeping myself wrapped up in something else.

I did get accepted into nursing school, and it was extremely challenging and stressful. For 2 ½ years I didn’t have much time to see outside of my nursing school books and my planner. There were many times I thought I wasn’t going to make it and wanted to give up but I wouldn’t let myself. It was hard on all of us and I think we were all so happy when I was finally done. It was a really big deal for me because it was something I had wanted for so long and something I had finally finished. 

After I graduated I honestly didn’t know what to do with all of my time that I now had. I was working full-time but there wasn’t anything else to occupy my evenings that I had spent studying after Jayden went to bed. I felt lost and very out of sorts. That unsettled feeling began to lurk inside me again. It felt familiar and it was irritating to me. I had just completed one of my biggest goals for myself, and I still didn’t feel content or at peace. Something was still missing, and I didn’t have anything at the time to take my mind off of it. I wanted another baby, and this time I couldn’t think of anything else to “Fill the Void.”

Shannon Bauer

Shannon is a wife to her husband Jeff, mother to her son Jayden, 11 years old, and a Registered Nurse by day. She grew up on a farm outside of Wilcox and now resides in Hildreth, NE. She enjoys exercising, cheering for her son at his sporting events, shopping, singing, gardening, sipping a cup of coffee, Sunday dinners with her family, and spending time with friends. Her road to motherhood has been a challenging and bumpy one with many highs and lows and something she will never take for granted. Learning about infertility and helping others experiencing it is a passion she holds deep in her heart. Her journey along this road is a constant work in progress and something she is growing and learning from every day. It is her goal to one day write a book or start a blog telling her story. She and her son Jayden share their favorite bible verse Phillipians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and find great comfort in these words in life’s challenging moments.

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