Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Biggest Lesson I've Learned

Thus far in pregnancy (18 weeks and a few days), especially now that I'm showing, obviously, through sweaters and winter coats (who knew?), one thing has continued to be impressed upon me.  And that is just how clueless people are to the suffering of infertility.

Most, if not all people who know or "discover" I am pregnant have either already known about our years of infertility and inability to adopt, OR are promptly told by Mr TCIE all about it :)  (He's so proud, it's so cute.)  But it is particularly the ones who stood alongside me, watching from a very distant sideline as I kicked and splashed and gasped for air, trying daily not to drown in my childlessness, who surprise me the most in how they respond and communicate with me in my pregnancy, now.

Most of the comments are from "knowing" women who have been pregnant, before.  Now, suddenly, they have something to share with me in an effort to commiserate.  "Oh, I've been there, so let me tell you about x, y, or z!"  "You think *this* is hard, just wait, you have NO IDEA!" and general commentary or implications of how I *must* be feeling, are the most interesting, to me.  Mostly because, the fact that they think they are commiserating, at all, is so far off base.  Misery?  Pregnancy?  To me, those are opposite sides of the spectrum.  Sure, there are unpleasantries, even physical sufferings, but ohmygosh, just how FAR they are from the sufferings and misery and sorrow and sadness of infertility and childlessness!!  Where before I was sputtering and fighting not to drown in the middle of icy ocean tides, now I am floating serenely in a still, peaceful, heated pool, sipping lemonade.  And I'm being asked how annoying it is that my toe keeps getting wet because my flotation device is *just* a little too short, and how irritating it is that I have no cup holder for my lemonade.

I get that most people haven't been in the middle of that icy ocean tide.  I also get that most women my age and over *have* been afloat in that pool.  I get that they want to share something with me, and for 8 years, they felt they couldn't share it, and now's their chance.  I really do get that.  And I welcome it, and I even enjoy it.  But it did drill home the lesson that unless someone has been in that ocean near-drowning, they are absolutely clueless.

It also highlighted for me how infertility can be a very compassionate place.  While in the middle of that freezing ocean, you may see others struggling right alongside you - and they will very often offer words of encouragement, messages of hope, helpful advice and support, or simply a look of "I understand."  It's commiseration, yes, but not based in the misery.  The misery is acknowledged, and immediately followed with something helpful, when you're in the ocean.  In the pool?  Not the same.  Not the same, at all.

I find myself drawn to that deep, dark ocean, not because I feel I belong there.  I know my place is now in the pool, and I cherish it.  But, moreso because I don't want to become an everyday pool lounger, oblivious to the world's oceans and deserts and sufferings never discussed poolside.  I want to stand on the shore, and walk alongside my sisters carrying their crosses, still in the ocean.

So, yes, I do have to pee all the time.  Isn't it glorious?
No, I'm not sleeping well at all, I wake up constantly and can't get comfortable.  Isn't it divine?
Yes, I dislike getting up early for appointments at the office (but it is EXPONENTIALLY better than waking up daily at 5:30am to drive to my first of 3 jobs... CHILDLESS).  Isn't it great?
No, I'm not having two, I'm just showing a LOT pretty early, and Yes, I'm sure I'm due in April.  Isn't it the best thing EVER??!!

I will take my wet toe and glass of lemonade sweating all over my hand any day.




Monday, November 10, 2014

Pregnancy Updates

After my last post, I just want to clarify that I don't plan to go away for good - but there will certainly be a change in tone and in content around TCIE from here on out.  It's *mildly* depressing, to me, that my posts always required a lot of thought, and I always tried to grasp a deeper spiritual meaning to life through childlessness, and now the posts will be more of the everyday garden variety... but it's a fleeting thought, really, because the blessing of writing about being with child is, well, still inexplicably miraculous, to me.

Of course, in the midst of these past 2 weeks, we were also dealing with a loss of massive proportion.  My dear mother-in-law, sick with cancer, took a turn and quickly deteriorated just before Halloween.  We were able to transfer her to hospice just in time, and she passed away on the Feast of All Souls.  Her funeral was Saturday.  It has been - just so draining.  Her suffering was intense, and our suffering in her loss is reprieved knowing that hers is no longer.  Please keep my husband, especially, in your prayers, as I know especially the approaching holidays will be difficult.

But with each ending comes a new beginning, and we are constantly reminded that our little blessing is coming at a time when we are prepared to appreciate it fully, without reserve.

Pretty much every night, I will say to DH, "Hey, guess what?  I'm pregnant."  It never gets old.  Even at 17 weeks :)

I felt the baby move (bubbles) for the first time as DH and I sat on either side of my mother-in-law on the final day we spent with her, Oct 31st.  It was such a blessing, in so many ways, to have that time together as a family with her, communicating with her (it ended up being the last time she was able to communicate, that day), and telling her about the baby moving.  She had an undeniable grin on her face when we told her :)

And since then, baby has only made tiny little bubbles every few days (that I could feel, anyway).  Until last night.  Last night, it must have been fiesta time, because suddenly I felt like my entire uterus tooted - followed by a cadence of teeny, tiny little men playing steel drums in there.  It was nothing short of awesome.

And just because no garden-variety pregnancy post would be complete without an ultrasound picture du jour, here, without further ado, is Baby TCIE, wiggling toes at 16 weeks:






Saturday, November 1, 2014

ADOPT-A-BLOGGER!!!

This month, NOVEMBER 2014 we pray for
Elisabeth@ This Blind Mouse!!


How it works:


ALL bloggers, readers, commenters, lurkers, lurchers, creepers, crazies, borings, snorings, dazed, confused, and willing - i.e., ALL OF US - will be uniting our prayers for the entire month for the blogger mentioned above. At the same time, across the country, across the Americas, heck, even across the world, our prayers will all be directed in the same place, at the same time. FOR A WHOLE MONTH! Get ready for some SERIOUS fruits, people!

Click on the blog link above to visit the Blogger of the Month's post in which they will give you a brief history of their journey with infertility/adoption/childlessness. Then, continue to follow up and check in on that blogger throughout the month, to become more familiar with them and better align your prayers with their intentions.


Why?:


The idea is to pray a Childless Blogger, one of our own, to a Childless-No-More status. To bridge that final gap, to knock down that final wall, to make them MOMMIES against all odds!! Above all else, our prayers will be for peace and joy in their hearts as only God holds the answer to these prayers.


When?:


All month long! A new Blogger will be announced at the beginning of each new month. This post will be updated on the 1st of every month, so be sure to check back!


So,... How, again??


Pray whatever prayers you'd like. Do a Novena. Say a rosary. Meditate. Say a litany. The Memorare. Whatever your heart desires, whenever it desires it. You may also choose (and this is HIGHLY ENCOURAGED!) to offer up your suffering, any suffering at all, for the Adopted Blogger. Your offering can be as small as your patience with an overtired, sugar-high toddler, or it can be as large as offering your cycle (if you are going through infertility) in the hopes that your cycle will be instead the cycle in which their child is conceived. Singles? You, too have an excellent opportunity to offer your daily wait for a spouse. Not trying to conceive? That's okay- hey, trust me, I'm sure we ALLLLLLL can find some form of suffering in our daily lives to offer up!


So, join in, one and all, and please feel free to STEAL this lovely Bloggy Button below created by our own Rebecca @ The Road Home.



The button should link back to this post on your page (steal the URL from above), so that all blog readers can learn how to join in, and WHO to pray for!
(Remember, the post will be updated on the 1st of each month, but the link will remain the same.)


Thank you for participating in the Adopt-A-Blogger Prayer Campaign!!! Your prayers are powerful, and so very much appreciated!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nothing to Offer

Yes, it's been a while.

And don't get me started on the irony (or perhaps, appropriateness) of a title that has been written and sitting here awaiting a body for about 4 weeks, now.

But that is the gist.  I just feel that lately, I have nothing to offer to this particular blogging community.

Oh, I get the whole hope thing, and how important it is, and that perhaps, for some, my story offers that intangible gold nugget - but at least for me, while I was in the trenches, what I needed most was to know that things would be ok no matter if children were a part of the equation or not.  And while I hope that my archives can still offer that to those women currently struggling with childlessness and infertility, I just don't feel like my pregnancy ramblings, ultrasound photos, and discussion of nurseries and cribs and names are serving much purpose, here.

I do want to continue writing.  But mostly, I want to be true to myself.  And my self feels that right now, in this moment, today, I have nothing to offer.  That may sound like a bad thing, but actually, for me right now, it's good.  And perhaps for the childless/infertility blogging community, it's likewise good.  Because I am embracing a new role in life.  I quite literally feel like from the moment I became a mother, my body and mind morphed from Infertile to Mother.  My body just immediately perked up and said, "Pregnancy?  Oh, yeah, we got this.  We know what to do, now."  And my mind went, "Infertility?  Childless?  Whaaaa?  What's that?  We closed that chapter, already, onto the next one."

And, I'll let you in on a little secret.  A secret I've never personally heard anyone who has crossed over admit, but a secret I ALWAYS wondered if I'd discover one day, and if so, if I'd have the gall to share it with you.

I am TCIE, after all.  So, duh, of course I'm going to share it with you.

Once you cross over?  Both an instantaneous AND a slower long-term "childless amnesia" set in.

Now, I can't assume this is the case for everybody, but I highly, highly suspect it is the case, and that it's just difficult to admit, for a variety of guilt-inducing reasons.

But I am here to tell you, while my heart still aches for, my mind still becomes occupied with, and perhaps more than ever my soul still prays for all of my friends, blog readers, and strangers who are struggling with childlessness... becoming a physical mother has changed me, and my memory of just how bad it was, and still is for so many.  It was so easy for me to "dismiss" the miracles I saw around me, secretly disproving that anything miraculous actually took place, and that other people, what seemed like ALL other people, at the time, were simply lucky whereas I was not.  And then, it was just as easy for me to jump on the Miracle Bandwagon when this amazing (tangible) blessing took place in my own life.  How quickly I forgot.  How quickly I still forget, while simultaneously being super aware.  It's a very weird place to be.

For example, I planned to no longer work at my office, and concentrate more on working from home, after December - because I assumed that would be when I'd be "noticeably" pregnant.

(Pregnant belly picture warning... and giant pitbull butt warning):





And then came 12 weeks gestation.  POP she goes.  No more hiding it, and only bringing up the subject with my patients and clients when they were in a good place emotionally.  Basically they are all now greeted by my baby, who is apparently growing perpendicularly to my body.

And suddenly, ever aware of my own blessing, and ever aware of the pain it was causing others, I felt stuck, again.  I was torn between hiding it, being as sensitive as possible, announcing it verbally to patients, and NOT wanting to hide it, wanting to rejoice in my big-headed little munchkin, rolling all around in my uterus, giving me a reason to buy a new maternity wardrobe I never thought I'd be buying, and new maternity boots (yes, those are maternity boots, they are a necessary purchase for pregnant feet, that is my story, and I'm sticking to it).

I err on the side of sensitivity, always, but when a woman walks in for her first ultrasound, having never met me before, and her eyes make an almost undetectable glance downwards to my belly and her face suddenly looks like my heart used to feel only a few short months ago... I'm immediately taken back, but, again, secret-divulging:  it's not the same.  While I recognize, and sympathize, I can no longer empathize, and a large part of my pain for her is my own guilt and sorrow that I cannot offer her anything.  I cannot offer her a promise that she, too, will experience this one day.  I cannot offer her solace in that moment, when she's probably face-palm texting every one of her IF friends' on her cell phone, as for years to come, they will talk about "that time you went in for your ultrasound series for infertility and THE TECH WAS PREGNANT."  I cannot offer her anything but my sympathy.  And that stinks.

But, it's also beautiful.  It's beautiful because where I once stood as a source of comfort for those whose struggles I understood intimately WHILE going through it, myself, now is the time for my role to be filled as I move on to assume and embrace the new one.

I doubt, (especially now that I've spilled the secret), that my posts from here on out will be of any value to those currently dealing with infertility or childlessness, but I do hope that it can help those who may be where I am, now.  Mother, after infertility (and inadoption).  Trying to balance a joy I can hardly contain with a guilt and sorrow that is only a fraction of the sorrow I was once consumed by daily.  Moving forward without regret, without fear, without reservation.

Because at the end of the day, I am no longer the same TCIE, and I never, ever will be again.  I will not presume to take on an identity that no longer defines me, and I will not pretend that I currently fully empathize with those whose identities are defined in spite of themselves.  Even if someday I find myself trying, for 16 years, to adopt or conceive a second child, it will not be the same.  And I love you all too much to pretend for your sake that it will.  In fact, I think in admitting this, I'm really proclaiming just how awesome and brave you all are.  The toughest part of the cross, for me, was the unknown - and a close second was the being left behind.  Often, those same women who left me behind the first time went on to leave me behind a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time.  Obviously, that was my cross and not theirs.  Obviously, it was a way for me to try to learn humility, to not make comparisons, to trust in God's divine will for ME, and not make it about others'... which was HARD.  But TCIE with a womb full of life?  She is a new woman, a new identity - no longer suffering at all the way so many of you amazing women are.

I do hope that newcomers, and even old timer readers of my blog will go back and visit the archives of TCIE(the search tool should pick up major keywords) when you are most in need of "someone who gets it."  Because, I did.  It was ugly at times (ok, a lot of times), it was beautiful at times, it was angry, depressed, pleading, insane, jealous, happy, silly, hopeful, inspiring, and all of those at once, at times.  Past tense emphasized.

Of course life isn't perfectly void of problems now that I'm with child.  In fact, there may be more problems all happening at once this year than any year before it.  But, things have been put in a perspective that I thank my infertility for every. single. day, now.  We are blessed.  We always were blessed.  But now, we also have been blessed as physical parents to an entirely separate new human being and soul.  And, unlike in our infertility/childlessness, we will always feel that blessing in our lives.

I pray for motherhood for each and every one of you who yearns for it.  And if you can think of anything, anything at all, that I can offer you beyond prayers, please do ask.