Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Baby We Never Met

Last February we got a call out of the blue. We hadn't talked at all about a second child, though we had always said we'd have more than one. But that call was the impetuous of this journey, a call from a social worker.

She said, "Hi Becky! How are you? How's the kid? I bet he's getting so big!". We chatted for a few minutes and she said, "there's a baby. She's at the hospital right now and is scheduled to be discharged tomorrow. I know we haven't been in contact with you guys for awhile, but we're wondering if you might be interested?". It was like a tornado blew threw me. There were all kinds of extenuating circumstances that led us to realize that this particular baby wasn't our second child (legal situation with birth father, baby's medical conditions, etc...), but even though we never met her, that sweet baby girl changed our lives in a substantial way. She made us realize that our hearts were ready to start this process again.

We've had a couple of other "situations" come up in the last 16-ish months. None of them were our baby either, for a variety of reasons. People always ask if we've specified a gender (or anything else - baby's race, etc...), but we haven't. I really want a girl, but I did when the kid was born too. Though I tried to get hubby to let me put a dress on him when he was born (shocker - he wasn't cool with that), I wouldn't trade him for any ole girl! Hubby thinks he'd rather have another boy, because he'd be too protective of a boy. We both decided to just leave it all up to God. I mean, really, it is anyway, isn't it?

So, today's lesson is only barely tangentially related...I used to firmly believe that gender roles were something we/society taught us. I now firmly believe that a lot of it is completely genetic. I mean, my kid has only started watching TV in the last 6 months (and even now it's only Sesame Street or Dinosaur Train, and not even every day), so I know he hasn't picked up gender roles from that. Our friends and (most of) our family are pretty open minded and don't, I think, perpetuate this stuff, at least not overtly (and I totally get that a lot of things we learn are done so very subtly). We give him gender non-specific toys and books. He goes to a Montessori school where they're not even allowed to wear clothes with characters on them. So tell me, why is my child OBSESSED with trucks, and dirt, and sticks, and tractors, and all things boy?! Why does he pick up sticks and pretend they're weapons??! So today's lesson is not only does nature often trump nurture, it's also that I'm also occasionally wrong. There, you got it, an actual admission.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I've been quiet for the last week for a few reasons. I've been in a training most of this week, and I'm back in school (just a couple of classes to get a certification but it's 2 nights a week), and mostly, I just have been feeling quiet. Not quiet like I no longer have anything to say, because, really, anyone who knows me knows that is quite unlikely to ever happen. But quiet because I don't really know how to say where I am right now. Where, you ask? I just don't know where I am with our whole journey to our second child. I mean, in an obvious way I know where we are. Our paperwork is done, our home visit has been completed (actually that's been done twice because it's been so long since we started), we've been approved (for almost a year), the money is in our account ready, and we're waiting, just waiting. Waiting...waiting...waiting...the damn waiting is making me crazy.

I felt such certainty last time. Once I felt that peace in church, I knew. I knew it would all be okay. I was completely confident and just knew everything would be okay. This time I feel like I'm crawling around in the dark with sunglasses on. Everyone once in awhile I bump into something that feels like it might be a rock, or a spider, but most of the time I have no idea what's around me, or what's going on. And it kind of pisses me off. I keep telling myself, as everyone else does as well, that it will happen in God's time. But, to be honest, that just makes me roll my eyes and sigh. It just sounds like crap and I kind of wish everyone would quit saying it. I think that's what people say when they don't know what else to say. Heck, I don't even know what else to say to myself.

I simply try to pretend like it doesn't exist at all. I try to stay busy. I play with my kid. I answer abruptly when anyone mentions it and hope they ask no followup questions. When hubby brings it up, I tell him I don't want to talk about it. When the kid brings it up ("Momma, when will our baby get here? This kid is taking forever!!!!!!"), my chest hurts. Our nursery is ready. Mostly I avoid the room. Sometimes, though, I go in and just look. I used to lay on the floor in the kid's nursery before he was born, staring up at the ceiling, dreaming of my baby. I could feel his soft little check, smell that clean baby smell, and hear his little cry. Now, I come up blank. I can't picture a sweet little face or how it will feel to hold him or her in my arms.

I guess that's where I am.

As for today's lesson, well, I just can't come up with anything. But, for those of you who have been wondering (don't lie, you know you have been!), Georgie the fish is still alive and swimmin' - much to my amazement! This fish may last awhile yet. Go, Georgie, go. At least he's another distraction...

Friday, June 18, 2010


Happy early Father's Day to all you dads and dads-to-be out there. I so appreciate the wonderful dad my hubby is to our kid. I had/have an absent, drunk dad so it's amazing to me that hubby really does about half of the child-related responsibilities. Right now, since it's summer and he's a teacher, he's doing a lot more than that (and overall managing to keep the house clean - yay honey!!!). He loves our kid, is mostly patient when they're playing game after game of Go Fish, loves to have the kid help him cook, does "letter work" with him, and they play and play. He's a little worried about adding baby #2, especially if it's a girl, but I know he'll handle it in his generally laid back kind of way.

On another, somewhat related note, here's today's lesson. It's particularly geared towards all you dads out there. A 4yo should never, ever, EVER be left unsupervised, not even for a brief moment, with his build-a-bear and a small egg of silly putty. It can not turn out well. Being in the same room isn't even sufficient, because 4yo's are sneaky. So, stay in the same room and keep your eyes trained on the silly putty at all times. Or just remove the silly putty from said 4yo's possession so it's a non-issue. Yeah, that should about cover it.

P.S. Does anyone know how to get silly putty out of poor Bob Bear's fur???

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What *should* you say?

For those of you wondering, and I'm sure there are TONS, Georgie the fish is still swimmin' strong. He, or she, is actually kind of interesting to watch. Well, for me at least, s/he is interesting. The kid really could care less. Good thing Georgie is so low key, requiring very little attention, food, etc...

A friend asked in a comment what should people say to those of us facing infertility. So, I thought I'd address that today. This may not be what you want to hear, but it's my opinion, for whatever that's worth. As I said before, I don't think you should ask people about their baby-making plans. I mean, unless you know them really, REALLY well, as in "you're my bff-in-the-whole-world" kind of way. Even then though, unless someone brings it up first, I don't think you should.

People in hubby's family started asking us BEFORE we even got married when we were going to have babies. Now that wasn't exactly the order we had planned (babies before marriage), but it is somewhat common in his family and we were getting "old" (note: we were only 22 and 23 when we got married, people!!). Regardless, why was it any of their business?! If they were just trying to make small talk, I can think of a whole other host of appropriate questions to pose. After we got married, the questions only multiplied - we even got those kinds of questions on our wedding day! And they didn't stop. It was just plan irritating before we started trying, and painful after we realized it wasn't going as planned. And, I repeat, why is it any of anyone else's business... why does anyone need or deserve to know? Really, we don't regularly talk about other parts of people's sex lives so flippantly, so why is the topic of baby-making such fair game?

If, however, someone does tell you they're trying to get pregnant, or having fertility issues, I think it's important to show them emotional support. This, however, does NOT mean asking for "updates". At least for me, the constant questions of "how are things going?" or "do you have any news you'd like to share?" are really painful. What I really appreciated were the things people said conveying their support and offering to talk, if I wanted to. Comments like, "I've been thinking about you guys and praying for you" or "If you want to talk about it, I'm here" are much less intrusive.

There's no need to apologize for being able to get pregnant or have biological children yourself (as one friend expressed she was feeling). Some women experiencing infertility have a difficult time being around pregnant women. While this wasn't the case for me so much, I do think it's important to be sensitive to that, and try not to be offended if you're that pregnant woman (especially if you're that super-fertile-I-got-pregnant-in-just-1-try-and-I've-already-got-4-kids-and-am-not-thrilled-to-be-pregnant-again kind of girl).

I planned to address some of the ridiculous and/or insensitive adoption questions that people ask as well, but I figure this is long enough for today. I'll get around some other time. Some of the things are actually quite amusing.
But anyway, that's my advice, and today's lesson - just don't ask the baby-making question. Offer support, an ear if SHE (or he) wants to talk about it, and do be sensitive for pete's sake.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Post Adoption Depression

Sorry this post is so long (even for me), but I don't know how to tell it any shorter, so here goes...

I have talked with hundreds of pregnant women and new mommies about postpartum depression, the feelings, the red flags, how to recognize it in themselves, how others around them could recognize it and be supportive, what can help, etc... I could assess whether a new mommy was experiencing symptoms, and I could even diagnose it. I knew how to talk to her about it, and what resources to point her towards. What I never knew was that it was something I could experience. I'd told women for years that a big part of postpartum depression was related to their out-of-whack hormones. I knew that I wouldn't have to deal with that (one of the pluses of infertility). I was wrong. I did experience it, even without the hormones to blame.

I can't imagine any child having been more wanted than my son. We tried for years to get pregnant and I was thrilled beyond belief when we were chosen, and when I saw him born. I was thrilled to take him home, put him in his bed, to cuddle him, to nurse him, to rock him, to read to him... But somewhere along the way things changed. Really, though, it may be more accurate to say that things didn't change, at least not how I thought they should and would.

I told moms all the time that "over half of new parents don't fall head over heels in love with their babies right away. You didn't experience love at first sight with your partner, so why should you expect it with your baby. It takes a while to get to know one another. It will come in time. Don't feel guilty if it doesn't happen immediately, but don't doubt that it will come". I never even considered the possibility that I wouldn't experience that all consuming love for my baby immediately - I wouldn't have the hormones going crazy, we were prepared, we were ready, we knew what we were doing, we wanted him so much.

I stayed home with him for about 8-9 weeks after he was born. Though hubby shared nighttime duty with me, I was taking 2 graduate level classes and I was still exhausted. In truth, I was at times a little jealous that hubby got to leave during the day (not to mention got to shower and brush his teeth before 3pm). I was rocking the baby one afternoon - it had been a difficult day for me and the 4 week old - when hubby came in from a great day at work. He leaned over the side of the rocking chair and tenderly said, "I never thought I could love anyone as much as I love you, but I sure love this little guy a lot". I could see he had tears in his eyes though I couldn't bring myself to even look at him. All that was running through my mind was, "well big effing (but it was the actual word) deal for you. How effing wonderful for you to get to feel that way?!!!". All I said out loud was "yeah".

I was pissed. At the time I thought I was angry with him, but I realize now I was angry with myself. Angry that I didn't feel that way about our son, the baby I had so longed for, the baby I had waited and prayed about for years. Angry that hubby got to feel that way first (by god, I'd done most of the work to get this baby to us, remember I'd just pulled him along), angry that I hadn't yet brushed my teeth that day, and angry that I hadn't even had a conversation with an adult in more than 12 hours.

But mostly I felt guilt, horrible, horrible guilt. Guilt that this child deserved all-encompassing love that I wasn't sure I could give to him. Guilt that I was angry which surely he could sense. Guilt that by not feeling that intense bond and attachment he would be permanently scarred. Guilt that obviously I wasn't that worthy to be a mother, which was maybe why God hadn't *let* us get pregnant, because I wasn't good enough. Guilt. Dark, ugly guilt.

Somewhere shortly thereafter I remembered a colleague (thanks, TG!) who had experienced postpartum with her biological child having said, "I looked at her and knew I loved her somewhere inside so I'd just fake it til I felt it for real". So that's what I did. I did know that I loved him, even if it wasn't as "big" as the love hubby expressed. I don't know when my love for him became that "big", though I do remember when I realized that it had. When he was about 4 months old, he and I both had a nasty stomach virus. He vomited in hubby's mouth (I know, gross, but I warned hubby not to play rough with a baby who had been puking all day) and I thought, "you show him, kid". I realized we were a duo then, this adorable baby and I, we had something that was just between the two of us, and it was strong and intense. We had that bond. I hadn't completely failed.

I wrote this in my head a long time ago, way before I even thought about blogging. It's taken me a long time to even recognize myself what I was experiencing after my son was born, much less admit to it (and to the entire world). I've now read research and talked with other parents through adoption and I know I'm not the only one who experienced post adoption depression. I still carry some guilt about it, but I know it's nothing I can change. I also know I have the most awesome son with whom I now have an intensely strong bond. I know he wasn't harmed by the natural progression of our relationship. I'm trying to forgive myself, which I know is silly because, as I would tell any of the hundreds of mommies I worked with, it wasn't my fault.
Today's lesson is simple, though it was very difficult for me to adoption depression is real and it is no more a mother's fault than postpartum depression. It's not something to be ashamed of and it isn't a dirty little secret. And, just like postpartum depression, it's something we need to talk about so that no one else has to feel guilty or alone.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Birth Parents

You know, one of these days I'm going to have to tell you about my son. He's hilarious. I mean really funny, and not just to his Poppa and me. Like, other people actually think he's funny, too. It's interesting because thinking about that, has gotten me thinking about the whole nature vs. nurture debate. I used to think who we become was at least 75% nurture. My kid has taught me (among many things) that it's got to be at least 50% nature, if not more. I mean, hubby and I have humorous moments. But this kid is just so funny. I know it's just what he brought to the table, nothing we've ever done. Sure, we laugh at the stuff he comes up with which encourages the funniness, but I have to believe he just was born with a funny bone. It's one of the many things I appreciate about him. It's one of the infinite things I appreciate about his birth parents.

I got a call on a Tuesday at about 11am from one of our social workers saying all our paperwork had been completed and we were "officially waiting". Less than an hour later the other social worker called and I thought, "well, hell. What do they need from us now?!". I was shocked when she said we'd been picked by birth parents who wanted to meet with us that weekend. When I called hubby, all I could get out was "baby, baby, BABY!!!", and I was crying. He said, "what?! That's not funny". He thought I was teasing and it took a few tries and some big breaths to calm down enough to explain everything the social worker had just told me.

We met with our son's first parents that Sunday, Superbowl Sunday; he was born the following Thursday. We had very little time to process what was happening, but throughout it all I remember being so appreciative of his birth family. I won't go into the details of their situation, because that is my son's information, his story to tell; it isn't my mine to share. But I will tell you how I feel about them, L and D, the woman who gave birth to our son, and the man who was first his father.

I am so thankful to them for choosing us to raise their child. I can't express the depth of my gratitude to L for allowing us to be present in the room when she gave birth. I felt protective of her when she wasn't treated well by the hospital staff. My heart broke when she held our son and said "goodbye" before leaving the hospital. I think about L and D and their other children daily, wondering how they are.

However, I am also angry with L and D. We were clear from the beginning that an open relationship with them was extremely important to us; they agreed, though were a little hesitant. We haven't seen them in over a year and I'm angry that we can't ask them specific health questions (there's a possibility that the kid may have asthma - it would be very helpful to know if there's any family history). Mostly I'm angry that our kid won't have access to them as he gets older.

I struggle with this for two reasons. First, I feel guilty for being angry with them when they gave us so much. Secondly because I want the best for them and recognize that the separation from us may well be what they needed to do in order to take care of themselves and their family. But it makes me really sad for my son. I want for him to be able to look at L and D's children himself and see how much he looks like them. I want for him to be able to ask them "why?" and for them to answer in whatever way they can. I wonder if this, too, is why they've disappeared - they don't know how, or just don't want to answer this question. I'm sad that we may never know. I'm sad that I never thought to ask them myself when I had the opportunity.

Today's lesson I learned I don't know when exactly, though somewhere along our adoption journey. Birth parents are generally not teenage girls "in trouble". More often they're in their 20's or even 30's and just aren't in a position to parent this child. Birth parents don't "give up" their babies; they make adoption plans. They are still parents, whether or not they're actively parenting their children. They are not saints, nor are they horrible; they're people, doing the best they can in the circumstances in which they find themselves. I am grateful beyond belief for the choice my son's birth parents made and I hope that they know how much our son is loved. I pray, too, that they are at peace with their decision.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


You may remember that I previously mentioned that I knew when I was young I'd breastfeed my children. And I'm sure you also think that probably didn't happen, because how in the world can a woman breastfeed a child to whom she didn't give birth. Well she can, and I did. And this post is about how that happened.

So in our adoption class (which lasted about 8 weeks), we met this really cool couple who were, as my husband says, the "crunchy granola vegetarian-type". (Side note: that's actually come to be a compliment, coming from hubby. Poor man, never realized when he married me that he'd end up being "a composting, gardening, recycling, cloth diapering kind of guy", and actually liking it. To be fair, I never realized we'd end up there either, but those were all times when I dragged him along and he was happy when we finally arrived - see it's just our "thing".) Anyway, we ended up having some things in common with the couple, one of which was an intense desire to breastfeed.

Throughout our journey, I'd let go of the need to actually be pregnant and give birth. Seriously, I have like the lowest pain tolerance ever, plus I cry whenever there's a needle anywhere near me. But the breastfeeding, it just wasn't something I could let go of; it wasn't anything I wanted to let go of. All the women in my family breastfeed. I mean, some of my cousins never even had the 1st bottle, not even of breast milk. It's what I grew up seeing. It's just what moms did. It's what I needed to do to feel like a "real" mom. (This is not to suggest that adoptive moms who don't breastfeed aren't "real" moms, because that's ridiculous. However, it is what I needed.)

So when A., the wife of the couple, and I realized that this was something so important to both of us, we both felt immense relief to not be the only ones! She'd done some research and knew not only that it was possible for adoptive moms to breastfeed, but how to go about it. It was like the last piece clicked into place for me. I think part of what I was feeling then was empowerment, which is, as the word itself suggests, powerful. Hubby, though he didn't understand at all why it was so important to me, got that it was, and was 100% supportive. I bawled like a baby when our son 1st nursed in the hospital. Even hubby teared up a little (yes, you did, honey. I saw you!). It was amazing and I can't wait to do it again.

So, today's lesson is only tangentially relevant to the rest of the post. I'm sure most of you already know this, but it's what I learned from my path to breastfeeding. There are some people in our lives who initially don't seem all that relevant, but end up making the biggest difference, even though they have only a short role in our lives. I am fairly certain that I would never have breastfed without A.'s knowledge, support, and solidarity. I haven't seen her in a few years, and we only email once or twice a year. But not only would I not have nursed my son without her, I don't think I would have ever felt the peace I needed to be fully present for my son when he came into our lives. I wouldn't be the pretty good momma that I know I am.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Timing is Everything

Fishwatch 2010 - So Georgie is still going strong. We've (and by "we" I actually mean my dear husband) had to change the water daily since he - or she - came to live with us. He displays gratitude by swimming around the bowl like my kid on red dye (he's allergic and runs around CRAZY for hours). Maybe the fish will last...? I've probably doomed him with that and he won't make it til the morning. Sorry, fish.

Timing...throughout the time we were deciding to adopt, and the process itself, I had an internal clock about when things needed to be done. There was this knowing and absolute certainty, a peacefulness about the process. If we hadn't contacted the agency when we did (early April), we wouldn't have gotten into the class for the fall. If we hadn't taken that particular class and finished the paperwork by Christmas, the references never would have been back in time to be considered by our son's birth parents. We needed a crib, a friend of my mom's was getting rid of one...we'll take it. We needed other nursery furniture, my mom was redecorating and wanted to get rid of the dresser/ changing table she'd used with me and my brother...we'll take it. Perfect timing.

I wish this time things were that easy. I miss the feeling of confidence about our path, our decisions. Not that hubby was there with me. As tends to happen in our relationship, I drag him kicking and screaming to our destination, and once we get there he's ready and happy to be there.

I've just now had a thought - I wonder if that's what's happening right now, only instead of me dragging hubby along, God's dragging me along because I don't see the plan, but he's working on it anyway... Hummm... So, maybe today's lesson is that we all get dragged along sometimes, lol. Actually, I guess it's reinforcement for me that my plan isn't always the best. And I guess I need to know what it feels like to be dragged along. Still, it'd be nice to have even a small smidgen of that certainty from before. That's not really too much to ask, is it?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Transracial, not Triracial

A few days after that life-shifting mass, I started looking at adoption agencies. I don't really remember whether or not I told my husband I was doing this. I do remember looking up Catholic Social Services, thinking it was a logical place to start. I remember calling my husband into the computer room (aka the dog's room - poor dog, used to have a room of his own, now he barely has a corner of a room). I showed him the website and said, "this is what we need to do". He agreed to discuss any information I may get, but I feel like it was more about placating me so I wouldn't cry again rather than agreeing adoption was the path we were meant to head down.

We went in to meet with them within the next couple of weeks as I became even more certain about adoption. Poor hubby just went along for the ride, still believing with his whole being that we were going to get pregnant. The social workers told us that they weren't going to have another class for almost a year; I was devastated, but something in my head kept reminding me that it would be okay. A couple of weeks later, the social workers called back and asked if we would be interested in transracial adoption. They would be offering a class for families interested in it in the next couple of months.

Transracial adoption is not, as one of my very intelligent social worker friends thought, an adoption involving at least 3 different races (really, KB, you should have known! Thanks for letting me laugh at you though!). Well, I mean, I suppose it could involve 3 races, but what it actually means is adopting a child of a different race. We weren't sure at first how we felt about this. Mostly we were concerned about how hubby's family would react. His grandfather, though he was deceased, had been known to use "the 'N' word"; it's a good guess that he wasn't the only one.

I think hubby was the first to say it, "I just want to be a parent". It was a huge turning point for him, and I guess for both of us. We would educate ourselves about the challenges with which transracial adoption might present us and our child. We would prepare our families (eventually). But mostly we would open our hearts to joyfully welcome whatever child was meant to be ours.

Okay, so today's lesson has absolutely nothing to do with all that stuff. It has to do with the new addition to our family, a goldfish named Georgie. And actually, the lesson is really for goldfish, not so much people. So, here it is. If you're a goldfish, try not to be so unlucky as to end up living at a county fair/carnival. You will probably be won by a 4yo boy who will poke at you, put random things in your bowl, and frequently tap on your tiny glass bowl. Please do not blame said boy's parents as they do their best to keep him away from you, but seriously, he's like Houdini when he wants something. On the bright side, he does seem to adore maybe it's not such a bad life? I mean, it'll probably be a short one, but you'll be loved.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Finally, the moment of knowing

Okay, so yesterday's take home lesson was to trust my husband more to make his own decisions about what he can handle. And I suppose that translates to more relationships than just mine, so use it as you see fit.

Okay, so where was I? Oh, yes, sobbing on the couch. Tangent moment - how come some girls get to look all adorable when they cry while I look like a red, swollen mess, with snot running out of my nose? You know what I'm talking about, the "ugly cry". I'm just sayin' it doesn't seem fair that some people get to look so darn cute, while others of us are quite unattractive. But, whatever.

Anyway, on to more relevant ramblings. When I told my husband that I couldn't do it anymore, he used a soothing voice (I'm certain he just wanted the crying to stop) and said that whatever I needed was fine. I'm pretty sure he had no idea what he'd just agreed to. Actually, I don't know that I even knew what I'd just decided.

That was a Saturday. 5+ years later I still remember what day it was. I remember how I was laying on the couch, with my husband kneeling on the floor. I remember that the day was sunny but it couldn't help my dark mood. It felt like I was at the bottom of a deep well and there was no way out.

On Sunday, we went to church. Before mass started, I knelt and prayed like I'd never prayed before. Only this time, instead of praying to get pregnant, I prayed to just be at peace with whatever God's plan was. I wanted to let go of my own plan, and didn't even ask to know what The Plan was; I just wanted to be at peace. All of the sudden, I got it. It was the most amazing thing, to have a prayer answered so quickly and so completely. It had never happened before, and hasn't since. I instantly was aware that everything would be okay. I was at peace and knew (what I had known as a child - "Finally!", you say) that I wouldn't be getting pregnant, but that I would be a mom. I've never felt so at peace, or grateful in my life.

As mass continued, hubby and I looked at each other in wonder as one of the readings talked about Joseph's experience in "adopting" Jesus. The priest then spent the entire homily focusing on the gift of adoption. I mean, really, could we have gotten any clearer of a sign?!! Though we gave each other looks of amazement, we really didn't talk about it for awhile. We just didn't know what to say. But more on that another day.

Today's lesson is to listen for the answer when you ask a question, and don't be surprised if you actually get it. Instead, be grateful. I know I am.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Deciding enough was enough

Okay, so synopsis from last post (so you don't have to read the entirely too long thing): I knew from the time I was little I wouldn't give birth, but would breastfeed, forgot that as I got older, but regained it later (I'll actually explain that in a minute, so be a little patient). And, most importantly, don't ask people when they're going to jump on the babymaking train, it's insensitive and just rude. Yup, that about covers it.

I'm gonna try to be not so verbose today, but no promises. After trying to get pregnant for several years (4 or 5, I think), taking medication for a couple of months, and spending lots of money to figure out what was going on (and of course getting no answers), I sat sobbing on my couch, not making any sense to my husband as he asked me what was wrong this time. I knew at that moment that I couldn't do it anymore. No more could I think about pregnancy every moment of every day, wondering if that little twitch meant anything, or if my boobs being sore was an early sign of pregnancy, or of my period about to start.

The emotional roller coaster was intense, made even worse by the fact that my loving husband seemed clueless about how difficult this was for me. To be fair, I wasn't sharing all this with him at the time. I thought I was sparing him, and I suppose I was, but that doesn't mean it was the best thing to do. As we talked about our experience several years later, I remember explaining to him how all-consuming the thought of pregnancy was, how it was something I couldn't get away from, always there in my mind. I was angry that he only really had to think about it once or twice a month, while it was with me every moment of every day. I saw the light bulb turn on as he nodded his head and said, "I'm so sorry. I had no idea it was like that. It's so much easier for guys". If only I could have heard that in the midst of the hormone craziness, it would have made it easier to shoulder.

So today's takehome lesson is that "protecting" someone by not telling them how I'm feeling is often not the best route. My husband is a big boy and capable of handling a lot, and actually he's capable of deciding what he can handle. That's not my job. Shew, one less thing to have to be in charge of. Despite popular opinion, I actually don't want to be in charge of everything; it's a relief to let some things go!

Til next time... Oh wait! I still haven't told you about my moment of remembering, have I? Well, sorry. I promised brevity (and this is the closest I get to that), so you'll have to wait til next time.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The beginning

I remember knowing as a little kid that I would never give birth to my children. I knew it with all my being, and I wasn't scared or upset; I accepted it without question. I also knew I would breastfeed. Somehow, though, through my childhood, I forgot this knowing. I was given the most amazing gift of remembering that knowing, and the peace that came with it much later in my life. But all this comes later in my story.

My life progressed about a typically as one would expect, well at least as I'd expected, as I'd planned...dealing with my divorced parents and 1 younger brother, lots of socializing through school, average violin playing though loving the music, meeting "the one" right after high school, college, marriage, puppy, job at social services, buying a house, trying to have baby... Only this was when my plan hit a snag.

We tried to get pregnant for several years without seeking any kind of medical treatment. It was fun at first, then started becoming a bit of a chore when we realized things weren't going as planned. After seeing a wonderful midwife, it became clear that there was something going on. I took a couple of rounds of medication but it made me feel crazier than I thought possible. I knew it was something I could no longer do to myself, my husband, or our relationship. We never got any answers to that all important (to me, at least) question of "why???". I think it would be easier to have an answer to that question. I'm trying to remember that my plan isn't the best one. I said, I'm trying.

The infertility permanently altered the course of my life. Shortly after we started trying to get pregnant I accepted a social work position with a parenting program for pregnant and new parents. I thought about how much I would learn about parenting, how that would benefit my family. also, I love, LOVE babies and couldn't wait to play with them. That wasn't exactly how it worked, but it was fun. Well, it was fun for awhile. In hindsight, I see it was a little hard for me to see all these babies being born to sometimes not at all prepared families. Amazingly, I never struggled with feeling bitter towards the families. I never had the angry questions such as "why them and not me?", though looking back, I'm surprised.

I certainly started avoiding other situations where there were pregnant women, babies, and those in which we'd get the inevitable "when are you going to start having kids?" kind of questions. I mean, really, why in the heck do people think they have the right to ask such personal questions?! I chose to just smile and tell people we'd get around to that eventually. I wish I'd had the guts to come up with some kind of smartass response, but I only tend to come up with those later.

My mother, who always thinks the best of everyone (with the occasional exception of me), tries to remind me that people mean no harm when they make such insensitive comments/questions. But I'm just not willing to let people off the hook just because they don't think before they open their mouths. Ignorance isn't a good excuse, is it? Yeah, well, maybe you don't agree, and that's alright. Just don't ask people anymore when they're going to start having babies, okay?

So, that's the take home lesson for today...don't ask people about their baby plans. Stay tuned (and I'll work on making posts briefer, again, I'll work on it!)...