Gifts for Dad ➔

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.

If Only My Mother Were Still Here

In: Grief, Motherhood
Mother and daughter on beach at sunset

My strongest memory of my momma is more of a feeling than a memory. I can see myself standing in the bright kitchen of our big yellow house looking up at my beautiful momma surrounded by sunlight. I think she was handing me a glass of saltwater for a sore throat. But the feeling is what I remember in the most detail . . . I felt safe and loved, known and seen.   I knew that even if I didn’t know what I needed, she would always know. A hug, a song, a gentle nudge of confidence, a silly kitchen...

Keep Reading

How Grateful I Am for a Mother Who Believed in Me

In: Cancer, Grief
Mother and grown daughter, color photo

It was a hot summer day sometime in the middle of high school. I was young and naive, but the ugly six-letter word was looming over our family: cancer. Although I didn’t know it then, this would be our last normal summer before my mother’s health would worsen. Cancer would give way to terminal cancer. It’s funny how something so big can seem so small in those moments. My mom and I were sitting on our back porch, encased in a narrow hedge of yew bushes. It was a yellow, lazy Saturday, and my brothers and father were at Cub...

Keep Reading

A Medical Diagnosis Challenges a Marriage

In: Cancer, Living, Marriage
Bald woman holding clippers over husband's head, color photo

It is no secret now that Albert Pujols and his wife have announced their divorce shortly after she had surgery to remove a brain tumor. As a breast cancer survivor, this news hit me in a special way. As I was reading through an article from Today, there was a quote that hit me hard, “But a marriage falling apart is far more common when the wife is the patient, researchers have found. A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is...

Keep Reading

Dear Grandmother, I’m Not Ready to Lose You

In: Grief
Elderly woman and granddaughter touch foreheads

I had a visit from my grandmother the other day. It wasn’t a regular sit on the porch with a cup of tea kind of visit. It was more of an “I have something I need to tell you” type of visit. She’s been unwell for some time, and I guess I had sort of hoped she would get better, and she would be back to herself soon enough. I noticed when she sat down and tears filled her eyes that it wasn’t going to be a normal conversation. Her eyes widened and she struggled to get her words out without...

Keep Reading

Love Carries On in the Ones We Raise

In: Grief, Motherhood
Mother and son hug

From a very young age, two of the most important men in my life were my grandpa and my brother. I never could have imagined that I’d lose them both within nine months, nor could I predict the profound effects the magnitude of those losses would have on my life. My grandpa was my father figure and shepherd. I have endless memories of him— from splashing in the ocean together to shopping each Easter season for my Easter dress. He was always there. Every choir concert, musical, or school ceremony, I could easily find his face in the crowd. I...

Keep Reading

Friends Can Be a Sanctuary

In: Friendship, Grief
Group of friends hugging

A sanctuary is defined as anywhere people go for peaceful tranquility or introspection. My friends became my sanctuary when my husband, Frank, died. They became my refuge and my safe place. Friendship is one of the most wonderful gifts in this world. It is beautiful, comforting, ever-changing, and, for me, a fixed point.  My friends seemed to know exactly what I needed and when I needed it. Their love and constant support got me through the worst of times and gave me the courage and confidence I needed to move forward.  I could never give an adequate thank you to...

Keep Reading

All I Wanted Was For My Baby To Stay Alive

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman with head in hands

Today is the day I’ve dreaded and resisted for almost a year: the day I face going through the white plastic bag the hospital sent home with me after my D&C, 10 months ago. This bag held my clothes, shoes, and wedding ring for the short time I was in surgery, but I rescued all of those precious items soon after waking. The items that remain show the paper trail of that difficult day—receipts from my hospital admittance and anesthesia, general post-operative care instructions, and a consent form for “treatment of incomplete abortion.” That last part brings tears to my...

Keep Reading

My Husband Makes Me a Stronger Woman

In: Grief, Loss, Marriage
Daddy standing over hospital crib with infant, black-and-white photo

A little over a year ago, my husband and I went through the unimaginable. We lost our child, Lillian, to a congenital heart defect. The days following that, and even to this day, people will comment on how strong I am. How well I’ve dealt with this darkness. How they can’t imagine what I am going through. The truth is I was never alone. From the day we found out I would give birth to a child who had complex heart defects, my husband has been there. Always in the background of what others saw but ever so present in...

Keep Reading

Mothers Don’t Teach Us How To Live Life Without Them

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss, Motherhood
Woman in dress with corsage, smiling color photo

When you’re a little girl, you dream of marriage, children, a career, and memories that you will cherish forever—and you want your mother by your side at all times. Our mothers teach us how to live a life we will enjoy, but they never teach us how to live a life without them in it. Our mothers don’t tell us that one day they will not be here to answer the phone when we call or go on spontaneous dinner dates. My mother never told me there will come a day when she will be gone and how bad it...

Keep Reading

When Mother’s Day Feels Awkward, Find Comfort in Community

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood

Mother’s Day can be beautiful for some women. It can be hurt filled for others. Or in my case, it can just feel plain old awkward. I felt eight years of awkward Mother’s Days. In my late 20s to mid-30s, I felt like the woman no one knew what to say to or what to do with. I felt a double whammy on Mother’s Day. My mother was home in Heaven. My womb was empty and always would be. My desire to have a child was filled with an intentional choice to go a non-traditional route to motherhood and was...

Keep Reading

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids


Proven techniques to build REAL connections