Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Grief

It happens to be Infertility Awareness Week.  It also happens to be almost two years since my last blog post.  So, you know, it also happens to be when I've had a little time to think and therefore post. 

I read something yesterday that stuck with me: "I feel like I relate to people who are grieving the loss of a close family member, because I regularly feel the ache of grief in my chest. Grief is a major part of what’s going on inside my mind and heart. It’s difficult to articulate because I’m grieving a lack, not a loss" ( http://www.hopeduringinfertility.com/to-my-mama-friends-infertility-niaw/.)  Grief.  It sucks.  And it really, really sucks when it is "a lack, not a loss."

Grief is how this post all ties together.  Since I live in and out of active grief, I am often processing it.  One of the fascinating (and bizarre,) side effects is that I find myself processing all sorts of grief.  I am ALL over the place.  I grieve the loss of my father at a young age and the fact that I didn't get to know him better as an adult.  That actually seems pretty normal to me.  And then I find myself grieving for all sorts of other things.  My first love, who fell in love with my roommate.  Being jealous for too much of my life.  My lack of adventurousness.  The lack of spending regular time with the friends of my youth.  A friend who, once I revealed my heart, revealed his - that he was pursuing someone else.  Being fat.  The grief and the weight of guilt, the guilt that I have carried most of my life.

In some ways, I think this is SUPER healthy - I'm a firm believer in processing things.  Also, I think that the addition of antidepressants to my life has helped my brain and my psyche become "unstuck." So, I find myself having revelations and realizations about things that happened 5, 10, 20 years ago.  (A humorous side effect of this is that when I've shared some of these with dear friends, their responses are typically, "well, yeah."  It makes me laugh and also be thankful that I have friends like that.)  In other ways, I sort of shake myself out of these reveries and make myself be present in the here and now.

The grief of the past seems easier to process.  I've processed it before, and it has some definitive answers: "they are together because they are a way better match than the two of you would have been.  Things worked out as they should."  The ongoing, new grief is agonizing.  I never know when it will pop up, and I never know when I will end up in tears.  (Cows with their calves on the side of the road?  Why not cry?) 

So, thanks to all of you who are walking with me through the crazy grief.  It helps me laugh at the days to come with you by my side!

*If you have a friend who does not have children and it is not by choice, this is a great week to give her a hug!  And him!  It is hard on both!

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Trauma of No Baby

I do some of my best thinking in the shower.  This morning, while washing off yesterday's dirt, I was thinking about how J and I have been married for almost 7 years and how I've heard that the 7 year mark is often when people separate or divorce.  Perplexed, I thought, "In some ways, I feel like I am just now getting to know J!"  This was quickly followed by the thought that we haven't experienced a traumatic event, like a major illness or the death of a close family member.  Yes, we've had some bad times, but apparently nothing that my brain equated with"trauma."  And then I thought, "well, there is the whole no baby thing."

The trauma of no baby is a real one.  It is a trauma of absence, of hope unfulfilled.  It is a longing and a struggle, and I have no doubt that it can destroy marriages.  The focus becomes the gaping hole  you imagined would "complete" your family, not on the family you have.  The focus becomes when to be intimate, when not to, and what the medical professionals think you should do next, not enjoying each other, laughing together, and thanking God for modern medicine while realizing that God is still God.

So, if you know a couple who has been dealing with the trauma of no baby, encourage them to reconnect with and enjoy each other.  Maybe you buy them a gift card to restaurant for a date night.  Maybe you offer to dog sit so they can go away for a few days.  Maybe you let them know there's a free concert in the park with some wonderful music that you think they would like.  It can be a gesture large or small in scale, but it will be appreciated.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Abraham and Sarah

My last post was just what it said it was: raw.  It made people worry and it was, even to me, somewhat melodramatic.  Not that emotion in it isn't real - it is - just that when I am writing from a very emotional place, things get a little overly expressed.

I have been thinking a LOT about Abraham and Sarah.  God had a plan for them.  Well, He had lots of plans for them, but I am thinking specifically of His plan that they would have a child of their own, even though they were very old.  The whole story is told in Genesis, and chapter 15 is where I really start thinking about the story.  At this point Abraham and Sarah are so old that Sarah actually laughs when God (through an angel,) tells her that she will have a son.  She is past child-bearing age.  There is no earthly way she will conceive.

At this point in our lives, there is an incredibly slim chance that we will conceive a child.  Even if we did not have identified fertility issues, it becomes less likely each passing year that we would be able to conceive a child.  There are ways to try to combat this: fertility treatments, shots, changes to bodies, and other means to get to the big goal.  And it is so tempting.  In fact, the temptation gets easier to want to say yes to, as more and more people in our lives suggest or imply that these means are justified, that there is medical technology in place to help us.  All of that is true.  And none of those things are bad.  For some, they are the solution.

But not for us.

I don't say that lightly, and I don't say it as a never-to-be-altered declarative statement.  I say it because whenever J and I slog through the pile of emotions and thoughts that go with this mess, it becomes clear that this is not the path for us.

And I come back to the story of Sarah and Abraham.  Do you remember the other adult in the story of their fertility?  Hagar.  She was Sarah's servant, and Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her so that through her Sarah could have a child (Genesis 16:1-4).  This was, I think, an accepted practice of this time.  Abraham made Hagar "his wife," they had sex, and she conceived.  Voila!  Problem solved.  There was nothing inherently wrong with it.  It was a culturally accepted way to have a child. 

Except that it wasn't what God wanted or promised for Abraham and Sarah.

Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham AFTER God had made a huge, specific promise to Abraham:  "But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”  4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:2-6.)  God has promised an heir of their own flesh and blood, yet they still find an alternate plan, because it seems so absurd that they would have their own child.

Now, God still notices Hagar and still notices her child, and there's a different plan in place there, but my point is that Abraham and Sarah, despite having a specific promise from God, chose to go down a culturally accepted, very rational, very practical road to have a child.  It just wasn't the road God promised or preferred.  He really meant it when he said that they would have a child of their own.

"Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.  6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

It doesn't mean that God didn't use the whole situation for good.  But it did give us a whole other branch of people.  I am very rusty on my Old Testament history, but if Abraham and Hagar had not had Ishmael, how would things be different?

I'm straying from my point.  My point is that this story encourages me.  It buoys me up in the moments when I think I am going to drown.  God made a promise and He kept it.  Has God made a promise like that to me and J?  No, not really.  But every time we start to think and talk about going down a more culturally accepted road, we feel resistance.  We feel like it is not the right path for us.  And oh, how I want to ignore it sometimes!  I want to rush to the doctor before I change my mind and have them pump me and J full of the drugs they say might work.

But I don't think that is God's plan.  That is my plan.  My solution to the problem.  God's plan isn't done yet.  It may mean being childless.  It may mean adopting, which is something we are talking more about now, and I am praying that God would remove my fears about it.  It may mean having a child of our own.  It might mean something else entirely.  But I want to find out.  I want to see what His plan is, because if nothing else, I know it is good.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Raw

The first three paragraphs of this post contain one of the better descriptions I've read of how infertility feels.  (The site is set up so you cannot copy and paste text, so please click on the link to read it.)



Today is hard.  The hardest it has been in a long time and I don’t want to start the New Year this way.  I don’t want the coming year to be filled with hard.  I know life is not full of easy, but I sure would appreciate a year of not hard.

Today I want to give up.  I’m still standing, but just barely.  I feel like a shark, hurting, wounded, but still swimming because if I stop I may never get up again.  Every fiber wants to get in bed and stay there.  I don’t want to work, I don’t want to play, I don’t want to talk to anyone or pretend everything’s going to be okay and that I have some special unwavering faith and that is why God has placed us on this journey.

The truth is that my faith wavers every day.  Every day I just want to stop trying.  To find refuge in the shallow.  Sleep.  Food.  Even alcohol is tempting.  Anything that promises to make this easier.  Because it sucks.  I feel like I could cry for days on end and there would still be tears.  Tears for dreams unfulfilled.  Tears for myself.  Tears for J.  Tears for my mom and for J and E who may never know the joy of cousins.  Tears for the jealousy in my heart and the envy I feel.  For no one else I know personally has this struggle.  NO ONE in my group of friends has had any trouble conceiving.  They are the opposite, the “Fertile Myrtles” of the world.  And I know that all of their journeys are different than ours and that we aren’t meant to be the same and they all have their own struggles and private heartaches.  But this is mine.  And I don’t know if my heart will ever be okay with it.  Some days it seems like it will.  But others it feels like it is going to explode.  And then I won’t have any heart left.  Already I hide it, this heart that is fickle and hurts so much, because I don’t want anyone to see this pain.  I don’t want people to see the part of me that gives up, that finds life to be too much.  I don’t want them to see me.  I don’t want people who have no idea what this feels like to offer advice and words and possible meanings.  I want to be left alone.  And I want to be paid attention to.  It’s a lose lose situation.  No one can win with me, the way I am right now, so I hide, so that no one can even really try.  Because I don’t want them to fail, to feel badly, to know that nothing can make it better. 

It doesn’t work, you know, hiding it.  I don’t hide it as well as I think I do, and when I do I am really just doing a disservice to everyone and not trusting anyone.  There’s a lot of pain in showing it, but a lot of joy, too, when I realize that someone loves me anyway.  Someone loves me in spite of the ugly.  

I am so tired.  My soul is weary.  I pray that the year to come is not like how I feel today.
 
A shark swims to move water across its gills
Which keeps oxygen in its lungs
And life in his body.
He doesn’t stop, and if he does
He is clever about it, finding
The vents in the tanks at Sea World
And stationing himself there,
A veteran of the aquarium who no one
Dares mess with.

I move to keep the blood flowing,
To keep my heart beating
And life in my body.
I don’t dare stop, for if I do
It will be the end of my cleverness,
Of hiding the failure of my body
And of my mind.
I am a veteran of infertility who no one
Dares mess with.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

WHAM

I haven't posted in quite a while, and unfortunately this is not going to be some well thought out, deeply meaningful post.  In fact, it is probably going to by whiny and negative and probably kinda judgmental.  Not how I usually strive to be, but here it is.  (So if you're less than impressed and/or highly irritated by negativity, just skip this one.  Seriously.)

Facebook, you kill me.  I have endured more pregnancy announcements than I thought possible.  I have congratulated just about every dang person who has posted cutsie pictures, clever announcements, "aren't you all surprised (but not really)" posts, "oops, we're just SO fertile" posts, clever posts, not-so-clever-posts, and so many more ways to tell people you're going to have a baby.  Many of these people, were it not for Facebook, would never make this announcement to me especially, but because we're Facebook friends, I get it all.  And I'm never prepared for it, which makes it worse.  I'm scrolling, reading things like how expensive people's dinners were or how much they had to do today and WHAM....WHAM WHAM.  BABIES!!!  BABIES, BABIES, BABIES. 

Then there is the fact that the vast majority of my friends have children and want to Facebook brag about them.  As they should.  So, I get that, I'm coping, and then it becomes all about being a mother.  And how when you're a MOTHER, everything changes and your life is just so blasted wonderful and you can't imagine a better life.  Hmm, so if we never have children, my life can't be as good as yours?  Seriously?  And don't you think I already wrestle with that concept ALL THE TIME?  Wondering if my life will always be incomplete because I didn't have kids?  And with the election season, this has somehow gotten worse, as more and more people post more and more things and the politicians try to reach out to . . . you guessed it!  Mothers!

But tonight took the cake.  Scrolling along, seeing what's up, reading a post about my cousin getting free chicken nuggets, and all of a sudden there is a BREAST.  (A completely separate post than the chicken nuggets, in case you're trying to figure that one out.)  Granted, there is a baby attached to it and I know that breast feeding is ideal for a baby, blah, blah, blah, BUT I DO NOT WANT TO SEE A PICTURE OF IT ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE.  It was actually something someone had posted on a Pinterest board about breastfeeding, but really?  And to add insult to injury, this is someone who is recently pregnant after trying to have a baby for 8 years and recently being told it would never happen.  And then she got pregnant, as many of those stories seem to go.  So she dealt with this for 8 years and doesn't stop to think that posting a picture of a suckling infant on Facebook might be hurtful to someone??  Rub some more salt in the wound, why don't ya?

I know that NONE of this is done to hurt me or anyone else.  I know that people are proud and loving parents who want to share their joy with the world.  And I DO want to know what is happening in people's lives, otherwise I suppose I would just give up on Facebook altogether.  I have some super-considerate friends on Facebook, too.  One couple had a baby in the last year, and although they talk about her and post the occasional photo, they more often than not give a link to her photo page, so if you want to, you can look at as many pictures of her as you want.  And most friends are very balanced in their posts.  They talk about their kids, their spouses, their jobs, their exercise, their days, etc.  And truth be told, I certainly care more about their families and big life events than I do about their exercise routines, and I care about THEM. 

I guess what I'm saying is just . . . that I wish people would take a little more care, but I realize that may not be realistic or fair.  And I can always control what comes into my Facebook world.

Okay, I am done with that long negative rant.  I did have a very positive breakthrough this past weekend, so stay tuned!  I hope to get that posted over the upcoming long weekend

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Glass Half Empty Sort of Day

I'm not sure I'll get through this post, but I have fallen back into not talking about things, so I need to try to get this out.

It is possible that I miscarried last month.  At Easter, of all times.  I have no definitive proof of this.  My period started VERY early (almost a week,) and lasted longer than usual with some odd bleeding.  Something happened and while I'll never know exactly what it was, the thought that I was pregnant, even if only for about a minute, is terrifying.

At least, today it's terrifying.  Sometimes it's awe- and thanks-inspiring.  It depends on if it is a glass half empty or a glass half full sort of day.  Today I am tired and have been working nonstop and have had very little contact with loved ones, so it is a glass half empty day and it is terrifying.

Terrifying because it means that maybe we can get pregnant, and that maybe I can't carry a baby.  That maybe we're dealing with two big issues here instead of one.  I've said all along how thankful I am that we just weren't ever getting pregnant, because I didn't think I could handle getting pregnant and losing a baby.  Which, honestly, might be part of the reason I am so unwilling to even consider IVF.  (Along with a lot of other reasons, of course, but this is one very rooted in emotion.)  And it's not good, how I feel.  It could be worse.  It WOULD be worse if I knew for sure we'd miscarried; it doesn't feel good nonetheless.

Terrifying because maybe I didn't miscarry and my body is doing something else, like early menopause or something that will completely destroy our hopes to have a child.  I know this is unlikely, but hey, it's a glass half empty day, so bring on the unlikely!

Now, if this were a glass half full day, I would say that I am so thankful that maybe we CAN get pregnant, that the maybe-miscarriage was just a fluke and J's little guys are in perfect health!  That this month or next I'll get that positive pregnancy test we long for (which, incidentally, would also be terrifying, but in a completely different way.)  That it is awesome and amazing that we have been blessed with hope, with the opportunity to conceive.

Maybe this is just the way we're supposed to be, J and I.  It's just that it is so lonely here.  And I'm so tired.  In typing that, I realized that I feel lonely for many different reasons, and that I am tired because I have been working like a maniac.  So it's not all because we don't have kids - I'd be more tired then!  But it's a glass half empty sort of day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Life Should Be Cherished

I am pro-life.  Yes, I am pro-life in the political/baby-rights sense of the word, but I am also simply for life.  All life.  One thing that I have noticed about myself since realizing that conceiving a child might not be a natural possibility for us is that I have much greater respect for life in general.

I have always been pretty sensitive to the "bigger" aspects of preserving life.  As a child, I wanted everyone to be healthy and after realizing this did not always happen, found myself afraid that eventually everyone I loved would get sick and die.  Morbid, yes, but a major fear, nonetheless.  I was so sad when people died, and I didn't like it.  This is still true today, naturally.  What I sense now is a bigger sense of the preciousness of living things.

As I got older and became more aware of what was happening outside of my immediate circle, I started to see that life should be preserved on an even bigger stage.  Life begins at conception and should be honored.  On a universal level, I began to realize that every single human life is of the same incredible value to God.  And if we truly value every life the same, why are there still people in the world dying because they don't have clean water?  Should the death penalty be an option?  Why are we punishing death with more death?  (I don't have the answers to these questions.  I just got to a point where I started to think about them.)  I became more aware of life in a more "political" way, and in a more philosophical way.

Since learning that J and I may not be able to create life, I have come to cherish life in a whole different way.  A dying plant makes me sad.  Trees amaze me, surviving through one drought, one storm after another, all the while pointing their arms toward God.  I feel attached to animals again, not just my own, but animals I read stories about or see on TV.  And, of course, any story I read or hear about a human life ending brings sadness.  Sometimes just an ache in my heart, sometimes some tears, sometimes sobs, and sometimes, incredible anger at the way we think life is expendable.

A good example has unfolded the past few weeks in Florida.  Politics, protests, opinions, and race aside, a child is dead.  A child walking home with Skittles.  While everyone tries to make their point, the tragedy that a child lost his life is getting lost.  The very thing that we should care about it getting lost in rhetoric and debate and an election year.

Another example can be found here.  WARNING!  This will haunt you.  I'm not exaggerating when I use the word haunt.  (B, I read it despite your warning.  Don't read it again!)  It is a dad's account and expression of sorrow after his wife's selective reduction.  It is awful, and after I read it, I felt numb.  Then mad, but not very surprised.  This happens all the time.  This is part of IVF and the infertility culture.  This is what I desperately want to avoid.  Life is wasted.  It is thrown away every single day.  Not just through abortion or selective reduction, but through poverty and violence and disease and people thinking that we can treat each other as though we are disposable. 

Every life is valuable and should be cherished.  Every single one.  What a challenge to live life this way.