“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls… The most massive characters are seared with scars.” -K. Gibran
Sorry I’ve been an absentee blogger lately… I guess in many ways by putting our second round of IVF on hold while we figure our life out has left me with very little to share… which brings me to something I’ve been spending A LOT of time thinking about lately… Why do I feel like without infertility I have nothing? Have I allowed myself to be defined by infertility?
A blogger who I really enjoy following wrote the other day about getting back to herself after infertility/loss she closed her piece with “look for more of me soon…not just the belly.” And I felt like she somehow reached through the computer screen and slapped me…I’ve spent so much of my time focusing on being a mother I forgot to focus on just being a person. (Note: I have absolutely no idea how to link someone’s blog to this post because I basically failed every computer science class I ever took BUT the blogger is TheEcoFeminist.com …and her blog is all things amazing.)
The easy answer to this problem is to get back to me…the hard answer is I don’t really know who ‘I’ am.
See…I never really planned on anything else. And I don’t mean since I was 27 and started trying to have a baby… I mean in general. I was never someone who dreamed of traveling the world, having a successful career or mastering an art. I’ve never wanted to live glamorously in a big city or rough it in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Truthfully, I’ve never really been passionate about anything…except being a mother. I always imagined my life would be simple…I didn’t want to cure diseases or write the next great novel, I just wanted to marry the guy I fell in love with at 19 and have babies. And that might make you think less of me…but that was my big dream. I wanted a small, happy life…and I didn’t get it (yet). And now I’m almost 30 years old and I’m realizing I don’t know who I want to be.
So I made a list of a few things in life I really enjoy…reading a good book, writing this blog, being outside, shopping, musical theater, art.
Not a long list by any means and certainly not anything too impressive, but it’s a small, happy, fulfilled life I seek, remember?
So I’m taking my short list of simple pleasures and I’m working on expanding them:
- Reading a good book…. Starting a book club!
- Writing this blog…writing more!
- Being outside… taking up hiking! (I have a friend helping me this one, she’s an avid hiker and has promised I will find a lot of peace on a mountain top…we’re starting small)
- Shopping…I have a new house to fill with thrift shop finds just waiting for me.
- Musical theater…I live in Connecticut, there’s a ton of local theaters to visit. (It should be noted I have no intention of joining one…my musical theater days peaked as Strawberry Seller#2 in a local production of Oliver!)
- Art…my plan is to take up painting, but we’ll see how that goes.
Sure, I never planned on being almost 30 years old and giving two hoots about hiking or art. At this point in my life I planned on being enrolled in mommy and me music classes and trying to determine if teaching my 14 month old sign language was actually beneficial. But here I am, texting my friends about book clubs and comparing local theater ticket prices. I’m embracing this opportunity to figure out who it is I want to be…because let’s face it ‘infertile’ is a pretty crappy way to define oneself. (I’d much rather be the 30 year old: blog writing, book reading, mountain hiking, picture painting, thrift store junkie, musical theater nerd.)
“No one wants to mother more vigilantly than a woman who is childless and wishes she wasn’t.” –E. Berg
“Slightly battered, deeply bruised and tired of the strained days. Certainly she had the right to give up, or give in, to toss out whatever fight she had left within. But she refused. She knew it a fools fate to quit after she’d made it this far. And instead, she felt compelled to pick herself back up. Brush the dust off her spirits, and with the slightest smiles, decided that this place, right here, this space is the perfect place to start this story from.” –J. Raymond
Remember the summer of us? Well it’s been going surprisingly great…Dan and I are tanner, blonder and happier then we have been in a very long time. I’ve read about a dozen books (and not a single one has been about infertility or pregnancy loss) Dan’s been perfecting his golf game… and WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! For the first time (in a very long time) I feel like our life is moving forward and that has been exciting…it has also forced me to face the sadness, disappointment and anger I have been feeling.
The fact is, the miscarriage has changed me. At first I didn’t think I would survive it. I remember lying in bed thinking there was no way I would ever feel anything but sad again. Sure, I pushed myself to be positive, I wrote blogs about hope and acceptance, I implored myself to be stronger than the ache in my heart, but when I was alone…when I didn’t have to fake it for my husband, my family or my friends I saw my life stretching before me in which I never really recovered from the loss of our Warrior. I don’t feel that way anymore. I won’t lie, I still have times where the grief of our loss shocks me. I’ll be doing something completely mundane (like grocery shopping or having lunch with my mother) when suddenly I’ll remember I should be pregnant…and it genuinely makes me ache. The weight of our loss overwhelms me in these moments… every time. I’ve discovered the best thing to do is allow myself to feel that pain. I cry in the bathroom if I need to, I tell my mother how badly my heart is hurting, I tell Dan when he comes home from work it wasn’t my best day. And then I let it go. I let it go because there is nothing there for me to hold on to. The fact is, I am not pregnant. We are never going to have our Warrior. Crying for hours, ignoring my husband, closing off from friends and family isn’t going to change anything. I can spend the rest of my life being sad about the miscarriage, but sadness cannot bring back our baby. I’ve decided to work really hard to not spend the rest of my life being sad.
So, this summer while I’ve been working on my tan and reading good books I’ve also been making the decision to move forward. Dan and I talked a lot about our future and for the first time we asked ourselves “how can we plan for a happy future…even without children.” This is hard for me, I mean I was the girl writing “mom” as my dream occupation in second grade! But, the fact is I am not a mom and I need to figure out a way to be okay with that. I should mention Dan and I still have every intention of doing another round of IVF within the next year, being parents is still our number one goal. BUT, after this round and the loss we realized we based our entire existence on being parents and when we discovered we weren’t going to be parents we felt lost…we hadn’t planned on anything else.
So here we are…planning on something else.
We both agreed we wanted to buy a home. We’re excited to start this next chapter of our lives together. Dan is sketching DIY projects he wants to do in bed at night (10 years into this relationship and I’m just discovering my handsome husbands passion for DIY and art!) I am obsessing over paint color, light fixtures and linens. We sit down for dinner at night and there is this sense of hope between us…almost as if regardless of the way our future unfolds we will still be happy. That belief in happiness is something I hadn’t even realized we had lost…and yet our whole life feels different now that it is back again.
I am not naïve enough to believe a new home is going to take away the loss of our Warrior…that will always hurt. I don’t doubt I will be sitting in my dream home on November 20th and the pain of knowing our baby should have been born that day is going to destroy me, I have every intention of being overwhelmed by my sadness that day. BUT, I don’t feel that way every day. I expect bad days to happen, but I don’t feel like my future is going to be one bad, disappointing, heartbreaking day after another.
A few weeks after the miscarriage I went to see a therapist who specializes in pregnancy loss and infertility (the fact that this is even a specialty makes me depressed). I told her I felt overwhelmed by the loss, it was all I thought about it, it monopolized every moment of my day. She asked me what my greatest fear was…my answer: “I’m afraid that every good thing that ever happens for the rest of my life my first thought will always be ‘I wish our Warrior was here’”…her response was “It won’t always be your first thought.” I found that response depressing at the time, I mean she was admitting our loss was going to find its way into every happy moment of our life…but I don’t feel that way anymore. I will never forget about the child we did not get to have. Someday if Dan and I are lucky enough to have children I’m sure I will think of how they should have a big sibling. When we pack up our condo and move into our new home I know I will imagine how different it would be if we were setting up a nursery in the bonus room, instead of a home office. When Dan and I spend hours trying to think of something clever for our Christmas card, I will inevitably imagine the card I hoped to send this year. Those things will always make me sad and that is okay. A truly horrible thing happened, but I don’t have a truly horrible life. I will always mourn our Warrior and the life I had hoped for…but I am also learning to appreciate and enjoy the life I have.
Like I said…the summer of us…it’s going surprisingly great.