Monday, February 20, 2017

Sad and Hopeful

It only just dawned on me that the mix of emotions I go through on a daily basis are so similar to what I experienced through infertility.

A constant swooping in and out of a million various feelings, all under the umbrella of sadness and hope.

I am so very thankful for your prayers, not just for me and my son, but also for my (still) husband. We all need them, very much.

I am working on something that brings me a lot of hope for the future, these days. It is taking so much of my time, energy, and focus, but its potential is limitless. To build this business from the ground up, drawing upon the experience from the cross I showed to the world, is all at once scary and exciting. I will be sure to keep you updated as things progress.

But I do feel sad that my little boy doesn't have me as a "SAHM" - at least, not as I envisioned.
Often, at the end of the day, I feel like I have failed at being both his mother and his father, individually. I pass him off to family for a few hours in the morning, and not accomplish what I thought I would be able to in that short a period of time, or I keep him home and end up not tending to really important and time-sensitive business matters. It is frustrating to feel like a failure all over again, at the end of each day, when I already feel like a Big, Fat, General Failure in life and marriage.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that what I'm doing isn't normal... I mean, working from home on my own start-up business while also having my toddler son home with me for the majority, or the whole day. I work best with a chunk of time, uninterrupted. That simply does not exist, anymore! So, I've been trying to adjust. It is DIFFICULT, and so often I want to give up, until I realize, I don't have that option. Sure, I guess I could just go get a "real job" somewhere, and put Robbie in daycare... but that would feel too much like a punishment to me and for Robbie. (Please don't misinterpret that, if you are a working mom whose children are in daycare. In many ways, I think Robbie would do incredibly well at daycare! The way I mean that sentence has more to do with the circumstances surrounding the divorce and how, through no fault of mine or Robbie's, I watched all of our hopes and dreams quickly, one-by-one, slip away. I'm just unwilling to give up hope that I can somehow, against all odds, make this last one come true - to be here, at home, with Robbie, AND support us both financially.)

What keeps coming to mind, lately, when I have these really rough days (more and more, lately), is a passage from The Consecration to Mary by Louis de Montfort. In the passage, a man throws himself prostrate before the altar of the Lord and says, "Oh, Lord, if only I knew how to persevere!" The Lord answers, "And if you did know? Do now what you would do."

When I hear myself saying out loud "I can't do this!!!" I think of that passage. And I realize, what a good friend told me - I am doing it. Maybe not well, maybe not the way I thought I would be, and maybe not with grace, but I'm surviving, Robbie's surviving, and we get through yet another day, every day.

The struggle will continue to be finding that umbrella of hope above the umbrella of sadness. Because it is just so easy to drown in the sorrow.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A New Life

And so, I'm back: This Cross I Embrace. It was weird there, for a while. A blog about the cross of primary infertility, begun in 2008 when I was convinced I'd be "switching topics" to Mommy Blog within 6 months, felt as if it had culminated in August 2014 when miraculously, that part of the cross was lifted forever. I wasn't quite sure in what vein to continue blogging. I knew it was always cathartic for me. I knew I still had plenty to say. But, just as my life was getting a brand new makeover, I knew my blog needed one, too, to survive venturing into the unknowns ahead.

Infertility I had perfected ;) Pregnancy and Parenting? Not so much.

And now I have reached a crossroads I never thought would come to pass. A time to begin talking about the new cross I embrace.
Single parenting.

You may have noticed I mentioned that infertility was only a part of the cross I embraced. And, through the past 9 years of blogging, I've subtly mentioned that there were other crosses even heavier than infertility. Multiple times, I thought those crosses had been lifted. And multiple times, I watched everything come crashing down around me when Truth stepped in.

So I come back to my old familiar safe space, and I accept this new reality of my life- it brings me to my knees, daily. I will brush off the old keyboard and put my thoughts, feelings, fears, struggles, and prayer requests out there, once again. This is so, so very far from how I envisioned my life as a mommy.

Let me back up and say, it is incumbent on me to keep the details of everything that has transpired since 2002 off of this blog. Those who know me well are probably (by now) aware of those details, but for the most part, they were kept hidden even from close family members, until several years ago. If you do know me, and want to reach out, please feel free to do so. However, and I repeat, I will not be going into details on this blog, for the most important reason of my son's privacy and ability to process things in his way, in his time. I ask that if you are privy to specific details, you respect my boundary in that (as I'm sure all of my readers would).

What I can and will share are the steps of the journey, as this is a huge reason why I wanted to re-enter blogosphere. I am currently in the midst of the civil divorce process, since September, and my God, what a horrific cross it is. My one reprieve is that I literally have no time to sit and dwell upon how everything seems to be crumbling to pieces, because I am doing everything I can to assume the roles of both provider and nurturer to my son. Finding the balance is the trickiest part of all. More on that in future posts, I am certain.

And back to that son of mine. 22 months old next week. He is my sunshine, my motivation, my comic relief, and my warmth. It is at once the greatest joy I've ever known, and the greatest suffering I've ever known, to have him here in my arms in this world when I cannot shelter him from the pain of this mess. It torments me with guilt in knowing others who suffer childlessness are not headed for my same destiny, and their children will not be products of divorce, if they are ever blessed with them. My heart bleeds for those women, and to think of them reading my story, shaking their heads in saying, rightfully so, "It's just. not. fair." It isn't. Not one bit. Oh, how much I, too, wanted that fairytale ending where one cross being lifted would lead to a domino effect of all of the bigger, heavier crosses simultaneously being lifted. It's not what happened.

And yet, my son's life is the single greatest thing to have ever happened to me, and more miraculous than even I knew at the time. So, as I'm accustomed to doing, I am going to grab this bull of my new role in life by the horns, stare it in the eye, and only with God's help forge a completely new path forward and upward. Don't let my confident words fool you. I am scared out of my ever-loving mind. But I will embrace this new cross joyfully, thanking God every day for entrusting me with it, one day at a time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hey, World!

Well, that was some break. Phew! Where does the time go? (I always used to answer that question, "Into my uterus," but now, I'm at a loss... I suppose it goes into the perfecting of my coffee making and timing, these days.)

So, what the heck has been going on over here? Oh, you know, same ol' same ol' - my baby turned ONE on April 13th (I may have cried a little, just a little) and I went a tad over the top with a petting zoo. But God was smiling down on us with some amazing April weather. It was such a perfect day!

And, that was 2 months ago.  Lol. I really am pathetic.

BUT, I'm going to do better. I PROMISE this time! Because I have some big, big plans for TCIE, and getting my "real" domain back up and running, with lots of exciting opportunities to help those this blog has tried to help in a small way for the past 8 years. So, stay tuned!

What has been going on with you, readers? (Is there anybody out there, still?  Hellooooooooo?) I hope I didn't lose you all!  Drop me a line, fill me in, cuz TCIE is back, baby.

Next up, more on how to optimize your health and fertility through diet, and when NOT to go crazy doing so... stay tuned!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Glider, The Blanket, The Lamb, and The Baby

Every month on Robbie's birth date (the 13th), we pose for pictures on a glider, covered with a blanket, with a stuffed lamb.

And every month, I'm reminded of the incredible meaning of each of those things in the picture.  Things that don't mean anything to anyone else except a backdrop to a (really still crummy, but I promise, friends, I'll learn and get better!) photograph marking another milestone month in the first year of life - nothing more than another kid's picture floating across their Facebook wall, lost easily in the sea of all the others.

But to me.  Oh, to me.  Every 13th of the month sweeps me back with an emotional gust of wind, right to that cross I once embraced, and didn't always understand.

The Glider. 

I was so very hopeful in my first two years of NaPro treatment.  I was convinced I would be healed of my infertility and be one of those success stories told far and wide, particularly when I scheduled my first surgery, the laparoscopy, ovarian wedge resection via laparotomy, and the selective hysterosalpingogram (yes, my surgeon was, like me, an overachiever).  I just KNEW in my heart that once I had the surgery, and the "underlying cause" of my infertility was healed, I'd be counting the mere DAYS until pregnancy occurred.  So sure was I, that I started this blog.  Yes, while entitled 'This Cross I Embrace,'  I fully intended for the title to describe the OLD me, because the woman just starting the blog was going to be an infertility survivor, thanks to NaPro surgery.  This would, essentially, be a Pregnancy and Mommy Blog, with a healthy dose of "But, wait! I had INFERTILITY!!!" thrown in for good measure.

I made up my mind before the surgery in April of 2008, over 1.5 years into infertility and NaPro, that I'd better be ready for this baby which was guaranteed to fall into our laps pretty much the moment we came back home from the hospital.  And so, I decorated a nursery.  That's right.  I designed, researched, picked out all the furniture, and then eventually painted 4 different colored walls of my NURSERY.  The first thing I ordered was the glider on eBay.  And, it was being sold for pick-up only in PENNSYLVANIA!  Honey, do you know what that MEANS???!!!  Pennsylvania is where I'm having my surgery!!!!!  IT'S A SIGN!!!!!  You simply MUST go pick it up while I'm recuperating from a vertical incision laparotomy on a liquid diet in my first-ever hospital stay!!

Here it was in the nursery (with freshly painted walls) of our old apartment, almost completely set for a baby who would never live there.

Oh, but that glider.  To two more homes that glider would follow us, leaving behind those colorful walls, and eventually being stuffed into the corner of a junk room to gather dust and absorb old, painful memories of hopes gone by.  In fact, I never even sat in it past 2009.  And yet, I didn't have the energy, or the desire to sever the final thread, to get rid of it.
Until August 2014, when it was resurrected to all its glory.  Slowly, but steadily, that glider learned how to rock once again.  That ottoman felt the weight of a mama's feet upon it once more.  The glider came back to life.
And every month as Robbie sits upon that glorious, OLD glider, I'm reminded of the days of my own infertility infancy.  The days I had the GALL to plan all of my hopes and dreams.  The days of innocence, before experience made me perhaps a bit too cynical.  And I know I desire the same optimism for my son as his tiny body grows, upon that glider.
The Blanket.

First, I became a FertilityCare Practitioner.  Then, I became a NaPro Sonographer.  By 2010, I had basically invented my own career in NaPro/FertilityCare, and I loved every minute of it.  I loved having a purpose for my cross that was tangible, visible to myself and to others.  I loved bringing hope to others.

But, of course, there were difficult times.  Times when I had to witness someone finding out that yet another cycle had failed, that there was NO LIFE within them.  Moments when patients and clients had all of their hopes dashed before their eyes, lessening the summit of each subsequent curve on their never-ending rollercoaster of infertility.  Days when nothing seemed to make sense as to WHY these amazing, faith-filled women with so many prayers on their side, weren't getting pregnant.  Sure, I had my own anger about my own infertility, but at least I could say God "needed me" to be there in that capacity to serve others.  What really angered me was not having the same easy answers for these women. 

One such patient, never pregnant, came so often for ultrasounds that we had each other's cell numbers to coordinate schedules.  On a particularly difficult night while I was juggling 3 jobs, she was my last patient at 6:30pm, and she showed up with a gift of chocolate bars and warm fuzzy socks!  I could have KISSED her, it was just perfect!  Despite all the pain she felt with each failed cycle, she always thought of others, and tried when she could to brighten someone else's day.

When she found out I was pregnant, I was so worried about inadvertently hurting her.  She found out through my colleagues, and the next time I saw her, she had a gift for me:  a beautiful card in which she thanked me for doing what I did for her and other patients, and... a handmade GORGEOUS and big baby blanket.  The green in the blanket that she picked out matched the green glider she had no idea I had.  I didn't know it at the time, but I instinctively laid the blanket atop the glider when I got home that night, and it has proudly stayed there ever since, adorning all of our photos with an extra dollop of sentimentality- a reminder of all those women, couples, and clients who have touched MY life and without whom I wouldn't be the same.  Which leads me to...

The Lamb.

One such Creighton client of mine had already been dealing with infertility when she found out about NaPro and Creighton, and, as God would plan it, sent her my way to learn charting and for ultrasounds.  She had not done much by way of treatments, but had resolved to the fact that they would likely never conceive - until NaPro.  I watched as each new treatment introduced offered more hope to this client, only to be dashed with another failed cycle, and my heart broke for her as I felt responsible for getting her hopes up in the first place when she had already felt somewhat resolved.  And so, of course, when I had to share with her the news of my pregnancy, I was hesitant to do so.  At her next appointment, she, too, showed up with a gift for my unborn child - a stuffed baby lamb, with a cross on its foot.  An adorably soft and cuddly toy, it was quickly joined by many, MANY other stuffed toys as the months went on through pregnancy.  But it was at that first month's picture, May 13th, 2015, when I instinctively reached for that lamb.  It had meaning beyond its liturgical reference, even though that was a really great piece.  It meant, to me, that my friend and client would contribute in a big way to the memories we were forming through Robbie's first year.  That, despite her never having conceived, she was there, represented in every one of our pictures, and that one day Robbie would know about her, as well as the woman who made him his blanket.  It meant that his mama's life prior to conceiving him was spent trying (and hopefully not failing too much) to bring others hope.

The Baby.

The Baby is a big 10 month old bouncing boy, now.  He is easy in ways infertility never was, and he is challenging in ways that infertility well prepared me for.  The challenges of being a mother to Robbie are like the challenges of the very best day of infertility - it's like the Peak Day, when you've had the best mucus cycle of your life, used all of the days, and saw 3 great follicles on the ultrasound.  There is no challenge in motherhood (for me) as a CD 1, or the 2WW in infertility.  Seeing that miracle baby upon that glider, with that blanket and that lamb every month makes my heart stop for an instant every month.  It is simply too much to take in, that all of these very important representative pieces from the past come together in one STILL unbelievable experience of taking a picture of MY SON as he grows bigger and stronger.  Without my past, and all of the people who touched it, I'm not sure that my son would be here.

And of course, there is the camera that takes all of these (crappy, sorry) pictures.

A camera I received exactly one year ago on Valentine's Day at my surprise blogger shower.

Another crucial, and representative piece to these moments - all of you.  The love, CONSTANT prayers, and generosity you've given to me since 2008 and my first blog post is, simply overwhelming.  Robbie's life has quite the backstory, and I can't wait to tell him all about it as he grows, and grows, and grows.