That middle ground

There’s a balance between taking something for granted and worrying about it that is hard to strike, particularly as it relates to fertility.

Taking for granted our fertility and our childbearing years

vs.

worrying continuously about when/how/if we will be able to conceive.

Two sides to the same coin.

Living in that middle ground, at peace with whatever outcome, is oh-so-elusive, isn’t it?  Just when you think you’ve got it, there seems to be a giant shake up that messes everything up. 

I had a dear friend find herself pregnant without that being the intention, come to lovingly accept the pregnancy, only to find out the baby passed away right after her first ultrasound.  Another friend worried that she would be unable to get pregnant, had difficulty for 4 years, and now finds herself on her third closely spaced pregnancy.  Yet another friend tried to avoid pregnancy for years, her husband even unsure that he wanted children, only to find themselves on the heartbreaking journey of infertility. 

It seems like that middle ground between taking something for granted and worrying that something will never happen is so difficult precisely because we can’t see past this exact moment we’re stuck in right now.

Managing expectations has the potential to help.  Educating oneself about the reality for how long it takes to get pregnant or the reality that fertility doesn’t last forever would help temper arriving at undesired results, but as is the case for most pieces of advice, this usually only works well for other people in different situations.  And then there is the problem of what happens when you ‘educate’ yourself and you’re still outside the standard bounds.

This post isn’t about me, but about something not about me which is not my news to share.  But since I’m writing, we find ourselves sharing that we have “no plan” going forward.  Our attempt at the middle ground as the affirmations that we’ve “finally figured out how it works now!” are received only with forced, tight lipped smiles and yet the worry for the future could needlessly consume our days.  Both places I’d rather not spend my time. 

I’m convinced that middle ground is elusive and fleeting, but its such an important place to continuously try to seek out.  That and that ultimately our hope has to rest in the Lord.  Everything else is just shifting around.  Yes, even these good intentions we have. 

My garden in May

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Strawberries and onions in foreground, peppers in the middle, huge tomatoes in the background.

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Another angle, you can see a strawberry! All the others disappeared…

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Rhubarb, cilantro (which becomes corriander, who knew?)

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Better angle on the peas. Some died. Some grew so much that o had to add another “level” on my trellis. It stands over 6 ft now.

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Cucumbers made a comeback!

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The squash were shaky for a while. I read that they don’t replant well…after I replanted them. This is the largest and you can see some little squash starting after the blooms last week!

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The tomatoes are so huge its scary. I originally bought the smallest cages because the plants looked so small (these and the strawberries were the only plants not from seeds) but they outgrew these cages so quickly! Now they are just folding out everywhere, taking over everything. Lots of green tomatoes but no ripe ones yet. Soon…

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And the watermelon. Whomp whomp. Had to replant it since they weren’t growing very well (I think the area was too shady) but they STILL refuse to grow. Maybe they will soon take off like the squash? Seems like its been long enough to declare defeat.

Thank your mother.

It’s nearing the second Sunday in May, also known as Mother’s Day.  And here is yet another reflection on a blog telling you yet another person’s take on this unfortunately controversial day that is a source of pain for many.

Celebrating Mother’s Day may be easy and fun for you. Great! You are fortunate.  This post is probably not for you, but you might learn something from it.

Celebrating Mother’s Day may be difficult and painful for you. To say it is a hard day may be an understatement. You may not want to do it at all because it brings up all the struggles in your life, but I hope you do it anyway.  Not in a “Hallmark, spend lots of money and get balloons” type of way, but in a “observe, reflect, and simply thank your mom” type of way.

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I have felt very sad and yes, even jealous readings reflections about how a particular blogger (although there are many!) was “so proud” to be standing at church and recognized on her first mother’s day.  I remember desperately wanting to have God fulfill this desire for motherhood that I was struggling with being unfulfilled.  I was desperate for the day when I could stand, not to be “in the club” or get attention, but because that would mean I had a child that I was mothering!  And that would mean God had permitted my motherhood.

However, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so pitied and marginalized as a sub-fertile as when I read reflections about how we should just get rid of Mother’s Day as a whole.  Of course the writers mean well, but it really feels like the ultimate pity party, like “If I can’t have fun, then no one should be able to!”

Its not a perfect analogy, but to me this is akin to the idea that we should just stop admiring doctors because not everyone can go to medical school and get the degree to properly diagnose or treat people.  Or stop honoring firefighters because not everyone can maintain the appropriate physical requirements necessary to do the job.  Or stop having weddings because some people can’t find a partner or others are called to the priesthood.  Or stop with the birthdays because some all people pass away.

We should just not have any celebrations if not every person can be a part of all of them.

As a society we hold up positions that we honor.  For the most part, Western society still recognizes that every person born has a mother and a father who in some way, shape, or form sacrificed greatly when we were all little and helpless, so we should take the time to honor them and thank them if we don’t do so on a regular basis.  I think we make mothers stand at church not to isolate those who aren’t standing, but to let their children see that “Hey, this person who you really, really detest sometimes because they are always telling you what to do and ruining your fun is actually a person that we ALL honor, so you should to.”  Before a child is old enough to “celebrate” in any real way, usually the father does something nice to acknowledge the mom and vice versa on Father’s day (But not always! This is unfortunate).  This should also be the case for those who have lost children, whether through miscarriage, still birth or death.  I think I’m quoting an insightful blogger here when I say that if we didn’t have such a day as Mother’s or Father’s Day, then we should have definitely invented it by now.

I’ve heard of a few women this week who are in the midst of infertility who go so far as to host a Mother’s Day brunch at their house.  This is the stuff martyrs and saints are made of.  I could never go that far when I was hurting.  One year we said goodbye to my grandma as she passed on Mother’s Day.  That made it very easy to focus on thanking and appreciating my own mom, as she was so clearly hurting.  The next year I took the day very literally, I called my mom, said “Happy Mother’s Day” and thanked her*.  I avoided everyone else.

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*The great part about moms is usually they understand when you don’t even do this. When you can’t do this.  I just want to be clear that I understand on a very deep level the inability to be able to partake in Mother’s Day in a specific moment, just like I understand the inability to partake in baby showers at a specific instance.  And I think we could all use a little more compassion towards people hurting.  But this doesn’t mean to misplace compassion and throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak (which is a horrible analogy, by the way, because really, we would never be so silly as to do that. We’d all grab the baby and run the opposite direction).  Misplaced compassion would be to say that we as a society should just not have baby showers.  We have them to celebrate the new life and provide communal support to someone who is about to have a major life transition.

Take the good, leave the bad, and understand when people need time to grieve. 

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The ironic part in my own story is that on my first mother’s day, I barely even knew it was mother’s day because I was so consumed with my baby.  And my church didn’t do the whole “stand up and get blessed” thing.  And it didn’t even matter at all.

An obvious part that is missing from current Mother’s Day celebrations (for the most part), especially in Church, is praying for those who are grieving on Mother’s Day.  Whether those who are trying to be mothers, those mothers who have lost children, and those who have lost mothers.  I can’t for the life of me understand why it wouldn’t be a given to include during the prayers said at mass or any church service, but I understand the oversight, will give the priest the benefit of the doubt, and I have emailed them to remind them that maybe it would be a good idea to include that petition.

If we honor the vocation of motherhood, we should obviously also pray for those trying to fulfill it.  Everyday, and including Mother’s Day. That’s just a no-brainer.  I encourage you to share that prayer intention with your pastor as well, its not too late!

Sueños

I subscribe to some travel emails that send you the latest in travel deals around the country/world, and a specific email will arrive in your inbox if your local city has a particular deal.  In all the ‘unsubscribing’ I did clearing out my email, this is one that I just couldn’t complete. I did change my settings to less frequent emails, but the idea of missing the crazy good deal on airfare to X location of my dreams was too much, so I stuck on the list.

I got an email alert for a deal today that took me back to almost two years ago.  It was for one of the same resorts we stayed at in our last Mexican ‘hurrah’ before we came back to the states.  We were in a bus station far from our home in Mexico, with nothing but our backpacks, trying to decide our next stop when we saw a deal alerting us to a resort in Oaxaca, “Dreams”.  The same resort I got an email for today. It was a crazy good deal for a last minute stop at a resort we never would have been able to afford otherwise, so we looked at each other, decided to blow our cash and take an overnight bus ride to the other side of Mexico and just do it.  We were young, free, and unencumbered. Trying to take advantage of the situation that we prayed everyday would leave us. We were giddy, jokes about our ‘sueños’ coming true abounded, and we ping ponged across bus connections in uncertain situations to make this trip happen.

When we showed up to the resort the bell boys asked where our luggage was. I guess it was not customary to get back packers at a place like this and we were certainly grimy looking from the last few days (and in need of doing laundry!).  At dinner there were so many girls in cute swimsuits and dresses, and then there was me in my same dress I’d been wearing the past few days.  I hadn’t felt so self conscious in a while!  I remember wondering how many of these family reunions I saw were for drug lords, since it seemed ridiculously expensive for locals and the juxtaposition between poverty and extreme wealth in Mexico was always astounding.  (I guess in America we hide our poverty better?)

But as much fun as the trip was, there was always the underlying ripple of emotion of infertility lurking below the surface. The conversations that would lead back to our impending “medical tourism” trip to Omaha.  The mixed feelings about partaking in the poolside drinks.  The thankfulness for the presence of the “adult only pool” sign.  The understanding that this resort of “dreams” was not my dream, but just a way to distract myself from our dreams not coming true.  If only my dream could be fulfilled so easily as a click on a button in an internet cafe in a Mexican bus station!

When I saw that email this morning, my mind flitted back to that weekend we spent there.  What a great time that was!  And I even forwarded the email to my husband to remind him of a past life when we bounced around Mexico, making memories of a lifetime in spite of our circumstances.  Or rather, because of our circumstances.  And it took a minute to hit me, it really was a good time. Even if I would have traded it for my real dreams of a family in a heartbeat, I’m so glad we embraced the moment and tried to make the most of it.  We were so fortunate to be able to take such a trip.

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The truth is, even living my ‘dreams’ now, there are really hard moments.  Times where I pray for the Lord to just get me through a particular moment and to choose the option that gives dignity to the gift I could never claim to deserve.  Parenting is about perspective and making the most of each moment, realizing that this too will pass and that there will be days when this isn’t quite so hard, so raw.  Funny thing is that it wasn’t parenting that taught me this lesson the best.

I was told yesterday by a work outside-the-home-mom that she had “no idea” how I could spend all my days with my son.  That it would be too hard for her.  It caught me off guard (partially because I had been told this woman did IVF to conceive her son in her late age…also named Samuel) and I didn’t know how to respond in a way that wouldn’t be offensive.  But the reality that this life is my dream.  This is how I get through each day, I have been given an incredible gift and when I hug this precious little body as he lunges and tries to get out of my arms to explore things more interesting (!), nothing can take that away.  I’ve been tempered by the reality of my dreams coming true, that is no lie, but…how blessed am I for that!  So I won’t stand looking longingly back at a life I once had, opportunities that were objects of circumstance, pining for those things again.  Because I have been there.  Those weren’t my dreams then, and they aren’t my dreams now.  So I smile at what I had, and on my knees I thank the Lord for what I have now.  The reality of my dreams.  And I smile as I click delete on that email.

Updated to finally add the tilde to the n…it was bugging me but I have no number pad on my laptop!