Sunday, September 13, 2015

Never the Same

Today, my son turned 5 months old.  Which, of course, meant the obligatory "sit here next to this stuffed animal with the corresponding month age sticker so everyone (or, just your mother) can see how much you're growing" photo shoot.

We're settling into a pretty good routine, and I am now once again bathed and presentable on a fairly regular basis, one may even say "well-groomed" for Mass on Sundays.
So, today, with baby fresh from a nap, fed, burped and diaper changed, we headed over to the church, baby in his Polo romper, Mama in her silk top, long pink skirt, full scarf veil, and Maya ring sling baby carrier.  Lookin', and feelin' like a real pro.
We get through Mass without a single hitch.  Whenever baby began to show signs of fussiness, Mama bounced, swayed, or pat the bum until all was well with the world, again.  By golly, I even heard, and absorbed, the entire homily.
After Communion, the priest closed the tabernacle, the congregation sat back in their pew from kneeling, and I was just about to let out a deep, refreshing sigh, when my sister who sat next to me leaned over and said, "You have a 5 Month sticker on your butt."
Womp Wohhhhhmmmmmmmm.
Humility comes in all shapes and sizes.  Rarely have I experienced such moments of immediate shame and embarrassment in my life - though, I have had a few.  This time, there was a big difference.
My embarrassment this time quickly faded to thoughts of "I'm sure I'm not the first mom to do something so silly!"  Key word:  mom.
I had to smile, and later, laugh about the silliness of the situation.  I joked that why, yes, my butt indeed was 5 Months post-partum, though I'm not sure I'm quite at the point of labeling it publically as such with a large, bright orange sticker.  I chuckled along with family members who shared stories of things THEY had once worn to Mass purely accidentally in a maternal haze.  I then even declared my humiliation on social media, to be met with the quickest influx of "likes" and comments since my 7-Month pregnancy picture/announcement.  It was no longer a big deal.  It happened.  The humility quickly faded, leaving only the funny memory.  And, the reality.  I am a mom.
All those other times in my life, moments of immediate shame and embarrassment, stemmed from the burning and long-lasting opposing reality of that time - namely, that I was not a mom.  Times like when I mentioned to my well-meaning priest before Mother's Day that it would be nice to include moms-in-waiting in the Prayers of the Faithful, and instead, he made an entire SPEECH at the end of Mass SPECIFICALLY REQUESTING INFERTILE WOMEN to come up along with the other mothers for a special blessing and a small gift.  (OMG, I can still feel my cheeks burning and how I couldn't wait to DART out of the pews the moment the recessional began.)  Other times, like when I ran into my ex-BFF at a mutual friend's wedding for the first time in 7 years, she asked if we were just "waiting" to have kids, I shared that we were going through infertility, and she responded, "What does that even mean?"  Other than digging a hole in the ground (preferably under the bar, with access to the bartender), I wanted to scream, "IT MEANS YOU WIN, OK??!!!!  YOU HAVE 3 KIDS, ARE ABOUT TO HAVE 4, AND I HAVE NONE, AND PROBABLY NEVER WILL!!!"  These moments all had something crucial in common.  They were pre-Robbie. 
Life pre-Robbie was, quite frankly, much more difficult.  I have said it  since he's been born, and I'll say it again:  I'm not painting a perfect, pretty little picture of life with child/ren.  I will share more of my story when the time is right, but there is more to tell that is far from pretty.  It's not about perfect.  It's not about void of problems.  It's not about ease of motherhood.
It's about life.  My life.  And his. 
My life, pre-Robbie, was undefined.  I was a wife, yes.  I was a daughter of God, yes.  But I was... unfulfilled.  I had a yearning that could not, would not go away. No matter how much I tried to focus on those other areas of my reality, my life seemed to be defined by what it wasn't much more than what it was.
And Robbie's life, well, his hadn't even begun, yet.  God was waiting for his time to come.  And when it did?  It changed everything.  EVERYTHING.
Even moments of utter embarrassment will never again be the same.  I welcome opportunities for humiliation, now, and I dare say even relish them.  (I will check back in when my kid farts loudly in Mass, or throws a holy tantrum in the middle of Good Friday service...)  But truly, the humiliation as a form of purgation is HEAVENLY compared to the humiliation involved throughout infertility. If I was the steel to God's fire, I am so blessed that much of my most painful preparation work happened already in my pre-Robbie days.  I feel stronger than ever, as a mom.  But I accomplished that strength through infertility.
It will never be the same, again.  My life, now defined by Robbie's, will never be the same.  Praise God for the perspective He has allowed me to have in carrying such a heavy cross.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Assumption of Mary - 10th Consecration

This year, at the culmination of my 10th Consecration to Mary for the Solemnity of the Assumption, I of course cannot help but remember how this date has been so powerful in my life, and my relationship with the Blessed Mother.  With our wedding being chosen around the date of the Assumption, we also celebrate our anniversary each year at the time of our renewal Consecration.  Throughout our infertility journey, there were a few times the date has had considerable importance, namely:

When I gave Mary the gift of my fertility (stopped charting)

Meeting Father Mike, and being prayed over, for a miracle of conception

and then, of course,

Finding Out...

So, other than the beauty of being able to renew my "gift" of Robbie to Mary every year on August 15th, I will now always remember it was the day she chose to show us the long-awaited gift she played a part in :)

Hail, Bright Star of Ocean,
God's own mother blessed.
Ever sinless virgin
Gate of heavenly rest.
Taking that sweet Ave
which from Gabriel came
Peace confirm within us
Changing Eva's name.
Break the captive's fetters
Light on blindness pour,
All our ills expelling
Every bliss implore.
Show thyself a Mother.
May the Word divine
born for us thy Infant
hear our prayers through thine.
Virgin all excelling,
mildest of the mild,
freed from guilt- preserve us
pure and undefiled.
Keep our life all spotless,
Make our way secure,
til we find in Jesus
joy forevermore.
Through the highest heaven,
to the Almighty Three,
Father, Son, and Spirit
one same glory be.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

It Wasn't Robbie

I think I know now why I had insomnia throughout the entire pregnancy with Robbie...

this kid can sleep like nobody's business.  He's repaying me now for the sleepless 9 months in utero ;)

Yes, I realize writing a post about it will now undo everything and he will never again sleep so beautifully, especially since he's closely approaching the dreaded "4 month sleep regression" time.

But, from birth, as soon as my supply was in and he was eating well, he was waking only 1-2 times overnight, it was down to only 1 wake around 7weeks, and then, magically overnight into the morning of July 4th (11.5 weeks), Happy Independence Day to Mommy, baby started sleeping 12 hour stretches with no wakes!!

It was amazing to watch him change his feeding patterns to accommodate for no night feeds.  How his little body and my body work so perfectly together just astounds me!  He started feeding for longer periods of time (20-30minutes, especially in the morning), and going about 2.5-3 hours only between feeds, which makes perfect sense given that he now needs to eat more and sleep less during the day.  My supply likewise adjusted IMMEDIATELY.  I definitely had some major engorgement going on the morning of July 4th, but instantaneously they adjusted to the new schedule.

So, aside from very early on during the whole nursing dilemma, Mama has been pretty well rested!  I know.  I'm counting my blessings.  I'm also knocking on all of the wood I can find.

But I write this not to brag.  OK, maybe to brag a little.  But mostly, to touch upon the bigger concept that you never know what you're gonna get.  One of the first things I always envisioned about life with my infant was sleepless nights, holding my baby, feeding my baby, and soothing my baby at some ungodly hour I had heretofore only seen in college.  During my 8 long years of waiting, this thought burned in my soul, as a desire, a need, and then, a fading dream, revived only with the surprise pregnancy. 
But my infant?  Well, he just hasn't needed that.  Sure, his needs may change as he continues to grow.  But the vision of my newborn just did not pan out that way.

random not-my-baby

Because, it wasn't Robbie I envisioned all those years.  When I dreamt of rocking my newborn back to sleep for the 5th time that evening, making pots (plural) of coffee before the crack of dawn, I wasn't dreaming about Robbie, but some other baby... or, not even a baby, but a symbol.  It was the illusion, the dream, the hope that I clung to on the darkest of days, and it was those hopes that faded as time continued to pass, and I gave up.

Only, it wasn't Robbie I was giving up on. 

It was never about Robbie.  It was about me.

My journey, my cross to embrace, my growth in my relationship with God - the life He had in store for me wasn't to wallow in the loss of what could have been, but to cherish what is in this very moment.  I admit, I didn't always do that.  It's incredibly hard to do when your vision is so different from the reality.  But if we allow ourselves to envision something far worse, just for an instant, we can come to a better understanding, and a greater appreciation, for what is.

I knew nothing of Robbie.  His life is not my blessing - it's his.  His life has made me a mother, and my role as his mother is what my present moment in this journey is now about.  But his life is his own, and his journey, his crosses in life, his relationship with God - that is all his.

It wasn't Robbie I prayed for all these years.  And yet, through the miracle of Robbie's life, my prayers continued to be answered (they had already been answered in other intangible ways) as I became a physical mother.  But he is not my doing.  Neither his temperament, nor his love of sleep, nor his humor, nor the crazy way his Lord of the Dance legs flail about during diaper changes, can be attributed to my mind's eye during those 8 years of thinking about "my baby."  He was, and always has been, only God's design.

So, it may not have been Robbie I had planned for, prayed for, yearned for, and envisioned.  But it was Robbie God planned for.  And I definitely wouldn't have it any other way.  Particularly since he's such a good sleeper ;)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Miss Him

I'll admit it.  Readily.  I didn't understand.  I really didn't.  I would see women with their babies desiring, nay, yearning for another pregnancy.  And I didn't get it.  Secondary infertility, to me, was more than just a misnomer - it was quite frankly, a tad silly.  I mean, for me it was always about motherhood.  However a child came to me, my mothering heart would be healed forever of infertility.  That I knew.  And, I was right.  Forever healed.  Robbie has made me a mother and nothing that ever happens in the future can take that away.  But the intense, and I mean intense craving for life in my womb again has completely taken me by surprise.

I do feel that I owe an apology to those women I previously did not understand.  And simultaneously, I feel I owe an apology to the still-childless women, as now my sentiments expressed publicly will likely cause the same reaction for them as they used to cause in me just a year ago.  Here I sit, with my still-fresh-outta-utero baby, yearning for pregnancy again.  In fact, I believe the first words out of my mouth after delivering Robbie (after "Let me see him!") were "I want another one!"  (Not to be confused with "I want a different one!" Hahaha.)  How could I be so selfish?  How could I not "just be happy" with the incredible blessing I have been given?

Well, let me explain what I've come to understand about this yearning in my own situation.  First of all, I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life.  Happier, more enthusiastic, more pleasant... just in general a much cheerier disposition than ever before.    Life is FAR from perfect.  In fact, there's some pretty crazy sh*t going down on a fairly regular basis, and motherhood hasn't turned everything into sunshine and rainbows.  (I do have unicorns flying out of my butt, but honestly, it's not all it's cracked up to be... the horns... ouch.)  But the perspective... THAT has made the world of difference.  There's an incredible amount of gratitude and appreciation for the miracle of life (not just Robbie's, but my own) that fills my heart every day.  Does it make every moment of every day easier? Actually, yes and no.  There are hardships to motherhood, most of which I had already heard about and been prepared for as much as you can prepare for something you've never experienced.  But, knowing these moments, these days, these weeks are so fleeting - and that my life, my husband's life, my son's life, is a beautiful gift... yes, it does make it much easier to get through.  Motherhood didn't give me this perspective, by the way.  Infertility did.

And so, why would I feel the need for MORE blessings?  The way I'm seeing it, it's not so much a greedy hoarding #givemeallthebabies mentality (even though I have written that, um, a lot all over social media), as much as it is a craving to be in that ever-present, ever-conscious state of miracle: pregnancy.  I miss being pregnant.  I do.  I tell Mr TCIE all the time.  And when I tried to dissect the emotion (because, well, that's what I do), I realized it wasn't *just* about being pregnant.  It was about being pregnant with Robbie.

I miss being pregnant with Robbie.

Right now, I am at his beck and call 24/7.  My body supplies him with food, with warmth, with comfort, with assistance in getting to sleep, with changing of diapers, with transportation, and providing places and things for entertainment, relaxation, and safety.  I am always "on."  And I love it.  But I will never be able to provide all of those things in quite the same way as I was when he was within me.  Furthermore, I will never be as close to him as I was when he was within me.

A famous blogger, Hebrews 11:1 (I'm calling her famous so she'll send me an invite to view her now-private blog, since I haven't read blogs in, oh, about 27 months give or take) said to me recently that the reason women always say they want to eat their babies is because that way they can have them INSIDE, and closer to them than they are on the OUTSIDE.  Yup.  So true.  That, and have you seen these baby rolls?

I could eat those all. day. long.

So, for a multitude of reasons, I miss my baby, my Robbie, on the inside.  And I now totally get the almost incontrollable urge to have more, and more, and more babies growing in my belly. 

I'm curious - was it the same for those of you who adopted your first child?  Because I imagine, though different, there are many similarities, and perhaps that high of the first time your child is in your arms is likewise intoxicating to the point you want to say #matchmewithallthebabies :) 

But truly, my heart is just so full of love that I want every woman who desires this to be able to experience it for themselves, with its own nuances and special moments unique to you - and Robbie and I pray for all childless couples every night, especially those who have walked this journey with us for so long (you know who you are ;) )

I miss him like crazy.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.