What a difference a year makes

Exactly one year ago I was waking up from surgery crying when I heard them say endometriosis in the recovery room.  I was still hoping that maybe nothing was wrong.  I wish I could lie and say I handled it well and had peace in the room and yada yada yada but I didn’t.  I went in afraid and I woke up afraid.  What was I doing, all the way in Omaha to get surgery by this doctor that seemed unimpressed by our case?  I had to continuously remind myself that I wasn’t crazy, that this was the next step, that this is what we had prepared for and was what we said we’d do the previous May when I started learning Creighton.  I knit socks to mark the journey.

Now here I am a year later.  With my Samuel in my arms and a linea negra on my stomach that for the time being overshadows the scars from last year and I am continuously reminded why I am so glad we took those steps last year, as scary as it was.  Because not knowing was scarier.  I didn’t know it would help, I didn’t know it would do anything other than put me at peace that we had “done what we could.”

I just wanted to mark this day…it was such a big deal for me last year.  This year is obviously much different, but its been a “big” day nonetheless…Samuel got his first bottle from Mike.  It was sad for me but I’m proud I didn’t cry.  It was recommended to us that if we eventually plan on giving him a bottle then its best to introduce it between 4-6 weeks, and he was 5 weeks yesterday.  He took it like a champ so well that it made me almost feel a little outdated.  But I came home and cuddled and nursed him again so he wouldn’t forget me that quickly :)

Luckily he didn’t.  And he may have given us his first smiles.  Its hard to tell since they are so fleeting but I think they are coming soon and I am so. excited.

 

**edited to add, I just looked at my blog for the first time in a while and it seems messed up to me but I’m too tired to try to fix it right now.  Is it messed up to anyone else?  Thanks!**

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The first picture of “us”

I don’t know if foreshadowing is the right word, but I don’t know how else to describe it.  I haven’t told anyone else besides my husband this story so I don’t know if it will make sense but here it goes…

I want to write down all the reasons why it boogles my mind that I got pregnant the month I did.  You would think I would be used to it by now but at alllmost 12 weeks I’m still trying to comprehend it and not take any moment for granted.  Part of me feels like I was finally settling into being sub-fertile and I wrote many of the reasons that prove I was settling in was way back here, right around the time I wrote the first draft of this post.

But what really, really made me think I wasn’t pregnant was because Monday, my P+12, I took a pregnancy test.    And it was negative.  That’s pretty conclusive, right?  Negative test on a month you take HCG?  Only, I didn’t take it hoping it would be positive, I took it because I had a weird feeling.  My husband and I got into an argument that weekend, during which I realized in our quest to be a mother to imaginary children, I had been doing a pretty horrible job at my first responsibility, being a wife to a man here and now.  And so I realized what had to go.  We had had our surgery, which was our deal – fix the things that can be fixed no other way – but somewhere in there we started along the treatment path with the HCG, which I admitted made me more emotional and difficult than I already am, requiring so much out of the people closest to me.  So that’s what made me take a step back.  No more treatment, I said.

Only, there was still the issue of that month.  So that’s why I took a pregnancy test that month.  After deliberatly deciding and praying to God that this was not where we were supposed to be focused right now and that we needed to turn it back to the basics, I actually feared that I might be pregnant – because that would screw it up.

Yes, for the first month in 2 years, I decided that it was better if we weren’t pregnant.

A day after the fight I got that feeling…that what if I just prayed for the exact wrong thing and God’s messing with me and I’m actually pregnant feeling.  So on peak+12 I took that third pregnancy test, just to know it was negative and I could move on.  Of course the negative line showed up and I went about my day, not surprised at all.

Around that same time was the announcement of the perfectly planned pregnancy on Facebook, complete with a backlog of “belly pictures” dated from the beginning of the the pregnancy.  For some reason the thought occurred to me how much support those few pictures garnished, that she had such proof of her short time of ‘waiting’ and evidence of the changes she had been through.

So I threw myself a great big pity party of 1 and decided it would be a great idea to take a ‘belly picture’ of me, alone, with a flat belly and a caption of X weeks waiting and still exactly the same.  So I calculated it out and I came to the number 99.  99 weeks waiting was where I was at.  99 weeks of waiting and nothing.  I actually purposely waited a bit before executing the solo photoshoot because I realized that I was being snarky and probably idiotic in taking such a picture.  But after that negative test on P+12, the next day I thought what better time than now, right after doing some morning yoga.

But a strange thing happened and I guess this is why I’m bothering to share this story with you at all.  I took a series of pictures and something crazy happened on the second one:

I promise those are in order and not photoshopped.  I took the third one after I looked at the second and saw the bright light illuminating the background, despite doing nothing different.  I took it to see if it would happen again, if maybe something was wrong with the way I positioned the camera.  But no, it went back to exactly the same as it was before.  I’m pretty sure such a malfunction only happens like, 1 in 1000 shots, where the shutter closes too quickly or something.  But for it to happen at this exact moment?  When I positioned myself to stand alone under the “Michael <3’s Alison” sign for the ultimate pity shot?  When I was feeling as alone and isolated as possible, only to have the backlight illuminated so brightly and intensely that my first thought when looking at this picture was Dear God, how can I be so selfish to ignore you?  You make it so evident you’re here with me even in my most pitiful moment.

So, I decided not to post the pictures with my snarky post.  I realized that even if I think its just me and my husband trying alone and waiting without the acknowledgement of the world and friends, God would still be there with me.  That picture was my little miracle and proof that when He wants to, He’ll make Himself known. I don’t need to proclaim announcements on Facebook or be jealous of those that do…this is enough for me.

The picture developed a whole other meaning looking back after what I found out about a week later.   I can now look upon that picture as a miraculous picture as the first “belly shot” of me and my child, at only 2 or 3 days post-implantation.

99 weeks trying...unknowingly 3 weeks pregnant

My husband got chills when I told him this story after we found out we were pregnant.  I was almost too embarrassed to tell him let alone the whole internet how far my self pity had gone that week.  But, there it remains.  And I don’t think that because I went to the brink, I somehow “caused” this pregnancy.  It amazes me when people think they can cause or earn such good fortune and this is no different.  This was just a little moment where I feel that God literally reached out to me to make Himself visible at a time He knew I really needed it.  I can’t pretend to make sense of God’s plan and I feel to try to would be to belittle His omnipotence.

Still praying for those who’s reality is harder to ‘just accept’…God is with you even if there’s no proof in the moment.

I pushed play, He pushed fast forward

I had planned on writing about how my first days of school work went this week (its going well, in case you’re interested) or maybe publishing one of the half posts that I had started this summer and never finished, but then something else happened.

Starting with the number 18.

Peak + 18.

I’ve gotten to 17 before, a few times.  But then reality always comes back, in the form of blood.

Crushing.

Saturday I started to have hope, maybe it was possible.  I knew as soon as I thought about it I’d get my period, because that’s what happens.  But I went there, because I needed that hope.  It had been so long since I even felt a little hope of pregnancy, especially these last few weeks.  The disappointment would be worth those few  moments of hope.

But I had never reached day 18 before.

This is what 18 looks like.

I still can’t believe it.  I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.  For someone to jump out from behind the wall and yell “Gotcha!” but then this.  I didn’t know these things came in positives.  One day I was preparing for the worst, scheduling my start date around my period, and the next I’m pregnant.  How can things change so quickly and yet still so slowly?  It would have been two years next month.  Two years of beautiful cycles and still nothing.

I’ve been waking up at night suddenly and then I stop, smile, and go back to sleep.  I remind myself, I am still pregnant and I enjoy the moment.  This is not a dream.  Lately, I couldn’t even dream dreams this good.

I’m pregnant.

Those words still don’t feel right together but there they are.  I get my blood test tomorrow.  It is early and if there is anything that sub/infertility has taught me its that a baby is the goal and pregnancy is only step 1, so please pray with me that we get to hold this little one on earth.

Praise be to God.

*If you know me in real life, I still appreciate your prayers but lets keep this between us only!  We will wait to tell the rest of the world in time. 

Felices Pascuas!

Easter has finally come!  And what I learned this Lent?  Easter always eventually comes.  He is risen!  And it is a great day, the greatest day of all.  After all, we have the greatest reason for hope!

And the end of another liturgical season means the reveal of prayer buddies!  This lenten season I almost didn´t participate do to all I had going on and I didn´t want to skimp on my prayer buddy.  But I am so,  so glad I did as I got paired with a girl whose blog I´ve been reading for quite some time now.  She was one of the original blogs I started reading several years ago!

I´ve been praying for you, Catholic Mutt!

It was a very physical Lenten season of sacrifice for me and I had a lot of things to offer up, but in praying for you I especially focused on the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  There is a special shrine in the Basillica of Guadalupe in Mexico City to St. Faustina and I´ve been reading her book for the last I don´t know how many months now, so it seemed like a good choice.  The simple prayer ¨Jesus, I trust in you¨ is so meaningful for your many intentions and I offered it on your behalf as well as the Chaplet.  I will continue to pray the novena since Divine Mercy Sunday is next week!  I hope you felt the prayers this season, you have peace and meaning  in your life,  and you have a BLESSED Easter with your family!

Happy Easter to everyone else too.  I hope you enjoy the feast!

Empty arms and empty nets

Last spring we happened to share with the priest who witnessed our marriage that we were going through some issues trying to conceive.  This was still fairly early in our “attempting” so I just happened to mention in passing if he could include our desires to grow our family in his prayers (he was actually over to bless our house), especially because he had some formative spiritual direction for us when we discerned we should be open to our fertility.  Being the thoughtful and involved Father that he is, he mentioned that he had recently heard of several couples who were having the same issues and asked if we would all like to get together for mass and dinner.   A few weeks later he followed up with an email, asking if a date three months in the future was OK for us to get together. 

Sure, I thought. But I’ll probably be pregnant by then. Then I’ll probably feel really silly for agreeing to all this.

(In case anyone doubts I have the power of positive thinking).

Anyways, turns out I wasn’t pregnant, but we did have a lovely night of Mass, dinner and socializing with 3 other couples who were also experiencing difficultly conceiving.  There were two “older” couples and two “younger” couples – relatively speaking.  There was a range of “time trying to conceive”, basically ranging from almost a year (us) to 8 years.  Yes, you can bet that I felt like the weakest person in the world being there alongside couples that have carried this cross for much, much longer than I have.  At that point I was used to having my anxiety and fear being blown off for not trying long enough by fertile friends and was a little anxious at being blown off by these new infertile women.    However, it was a great experience and most of the couples understood that not conceiving is not conceiving and we all share a common bond, no matter the length of time.  They had supportive things to say, even if for part of the night I did feel like their ‘project’, with them telling me words of advice like relax because there is nothing else you can do, take one day at a time, and to have faith because that first year is the hardest.  I did start to feel a bit of a “pain Olympics” (or where infertile women like to compete over how ‘infertile’ they are), which was probably only apparent from my view, but this was to be expected I guess and minimal.  After all, I was just starting the journey as they were able to tell me about significant mile-markers and scenery changes along the way.  As with most things, it really helped having examples of other couples facing this hardship and surviving, “mentors” of sorts that could provide concrete examples of hope without diminishing the pain I felt. These couples gave me hope for my future that these tears would eventually dry up when talking about sub/infertility with strangers.

Perhaps the most miraculous moment came during Mass when the Father did a semi-introduction of us all to each other in the homily (after we had officially met but before eating dinner) and revealed the most amazing news yet – that the couple who had been married and open to life for 8 years, after at least 3 surgeries and multiple adoption failures, was yes, finally pregnant with their first pregnancy.  Praise the Lord!  They conceived sometime after the first email was sent and the date of our gathering.  They hadn’t actively tried anything in over a year, and there they sat, shedding tears of joy after waiting so long to receive this gift from God.  The whole room was in tears at this miracle.

I realized then that this was not a short term journey and the longer I counted months by days, the more I was setting myself up for heart-ache.    My vision of thinking well, at least I’ll probably conceive in the next few years suddenly stretched to a decade.  Am I strong enough to endure a decade of this – or even more? I admit I was terrified, but I’m glad I got that reality check early on.  Heck, when I would express doubt in us being able to conceive around the 6 month mark my husband used to jokingly threaten me with “Do you want to go to that Loving Embrace group where real infertile women are so you can feel embarrassed for being so sad?”  I knew then that I was weak.  These women were warriors and their faith, so solid.  At least in hindsight.  I was so, so weak.  I am so, so weak.

Perhaps the second “Ah ha!” moment of the night was during the homily again, when Father talked about his history and involvement as director of vocations.  Some of you may wonder what a celibate priest has to say about yearning for children, but the similarities were more than obvious.  As director of vocations in a small Italian order, he moved to Texas to expand more than 25 years ago.  The house they owned that he longed to be filled to the brim with young men exploring their callings sat mostly empty.  He could count the number of vocations on one hand and they were much, much less than he desired.  That he prayed for.  He often begged God to tell him that if He desired such a good thing and was there willing and ready to serve and mentor these young men, why did He not send them?  His empty nets mirrored our empty arms.  But even our 8 year empty arms paled in comparison to 25 years but luckily, its not all about the ‘pain Olympics’.  He reminded us that our desire for children and his desire for vocations both pointed to a similar longing, a longing for God.  A love of God so strong that you want to share it with others, no matter your vocation.

They were beautiful words to help me realize that longing for God IS universal, even if the specific cross of infertility is not.  Now, whenever I pray for those empty arms out there and the parents longing to fill them, I also try to remember those empty nets and pray for God to fill them as well.

Only a matter of time

I was ecstatic when I found out in December that A Complicated Life was chosen by a birth mother to adopt a baby.  My mouth dropped to the floor when I found out another month later that the adoption was dissolved because she was pregnant.

After how many years?  Nothing short of a miracle.

What was my husband’s response, when I told him what had transpired?

When are you going to realize its only a matter of time?

I had no response.

The month went on to reveal that both girls that I have been in more personal contact with over these last months, and who have been trying for the same amounts of time as I have, are also pregnant.  Women who would help me get through those particularly hard months through lovely emails of understanding.  I selfishly wonder what I’ll do without them.  The latter woman just started her own blog and I was all prepared to announce her publicly, in order to get her a nice friendly welcome :)  It turned out she’s now accompanied by a tiny little growing baby as well, so please go say hi to Katie still!

So, when am I going to realize that it’s only a matter of time? My husband is the one that famously said, the more time that goes by, the closer we are to our family!  Huh?  My head wants to know this and I guess some days I do.  I know it, that’s why I try to use the word sub-fertility, even when my heart screams No its impossible, you will never get pregnant, because I know that it is still possible. I know eventually a day will come when this will all seem like the distant past, whether through birth/foster care/adoption we will have our family or our understanding of what else we will do and we will know with certainty that it was only a matter of time.  Because that time will have passed.  It will kind of be like cheating, ha!

But now, that is not what I feel.  My emotions follow hope up and down on a roller coaster to the point where they can’t tell which way was up and what direction I should be facing.  What I feel after a failed month is that I am foolish for hoping, for believing that I could do the same thing and expect an entirely different result.

I often find it funny that I was given this cross of ‘difficult feelings’, something that I’ve more recently tried to discount and run away from in my adult years.  Reason and rationality are the things that make this world go around, that make results appear in the world.  Emotions are the things of little girls and silly women, that made me cry when my siblings would taunt me and that made my college roommates pine after boys that would never love them.  Reactions that perpetuated endless teasing, foolishness and false hope.  Feelings aren’t based in truth, but in subjectivity by design.  But adults, they are beyond feelings.  I was once (still am?) the harshest critic of someone who didn’t feel like doing something.  Buck up, do it anyway. Feelings are that, abstract and clearly not necessarily based in reality nor truth.  I didn’t understand these feelings that could be so paralyzing, so all consuming.

I do now.  I guess I now understand what I dished out against, even if I only ever thought those things.  It comes full circle.  But just because I have these feelings, I still know it doesn’t make them right.  Perhaps this is why this is so hard for me.  I’m still fighting the reality of what I’ve become.

And now I’m trying hard to discount my own feelings, to push them down and out when they’re bursting at my seams, begging from some release.  To have my head understand and rule my thoughts over my heart’s fickleness.

And to truly know and believe with my whole being that it is only a matter of time.

Even if I know half the time, its that other half that always gets me. 

The day I felt the most loved

Before I tell this story, I’d just like to clarify that there are days I have felt unloved by my husband.  I am sure there have been many more days where he’s felt unloved by me.  There are days where I think, how could we ever handle a child if we argue like this without one?  No wonder God doesn’t bless us. Then there are days that are just OK.  Sub/infertility is hard on marriage.  As my husband says, its an opportunity everyday to be better than you ever thought you could be and some days you don’t meet that challenge.  Our life is by no means perfect.  But then there are days where I feel so, so loved.  This was one of them.

 

One of the harder things for me about accepting our sub-fertility has been the idea that I did or am doing something wrong, something that has caused this.  This will sound conceited, there’s no way for it not to, but I’m usually good at things.  I learn things fairly easily.  I’ve gotten good grades.  I’m usually not scared to ask questions, although I do struggle with self-confidence, particularly since starting graduate school (when I’ve learned how much I actually don’t know!).  I’m athletic and have also been involved in sports.  I’m tall, so I usually feel physically capable, even around men.  Even when I’m not good at something  (like track in high school for example – I was awful even at my small school) I have the discipline or stubbornness or whatever you call it to stick to it and at least see some improvement that I can be proud of on a personal level.  I read books on how to run faster and jump higher in high school and had a tutor for my college math courses.  Working hard has usually equated to success in my life.

Having a child is not so much “work harder and it will happen.”  In fact, many people think that it is the exact opposite.

It was common for people to remark that Mexico would be the ‘relaxing break’ we needed to conceive.  As we passed the 1 year mark right as we moved there in the fall, I naturally had a hard time swallowing this advice.  Pure length of time trying seems to point to more complicated issues that would at least involve time due to decreased probability, if not for treatment. But naturally, bringing this fact up confirms that you are indeed, stressed out.  And in spite of research showing that does stress affects conception, but only in the short term (as opposed to long term), everyone seems to have a few stories about that ‘one person they know’ who had perfectly timed adoption and conception (even my priest in the confessional told me this!) that throws all that research out the window, right?  Couldn’t they have still just needed more chances to try to get pregnant? But its all still too coincidental to believe it myself.

I would have conversations with my husband about this.  It couldn’t be just stress that was keeping us from conceiving, could it?  There were many months were I didn’t ‘dwell’ and where I just picked up and went on with my life.  We even went on some cool, relaxing trips!   Even when I did have months of unusual stress, my charts reflected no change hinting that my fertility was compromised.  Same old, same old.   But that idea haunted me.  He knew it and would ask me, what if we do get pregnant soon and all those same people say, See I told you.  Just stress for you! What would you say then?  I voiced that it would bug me that they thought that, that ultimately we’d never know for sure, but I wouldn’t care because I would be pregnant!

Still, I’d counter him that what if maybe I was too strung out and if he thought that’s why we weren’t getting pregnant.  Did he think it was my fault?  He, the person who knows me best, would know.  Maybe it sounds crazy that he could tell me something like that, but I trust him too much to not listen if he did tell me.  And he’s good at telling me something that I need to hear how I can hear it, without sugar coating it or being unnecessarily mean.  I am direct like that and that’s how I appreciate being treated in return.  And I trusted the people who told me those things too much to just get pissed off at their comments without first considering them.

While I’ve never been a planner or an organizer, I’ve always been more of a type A personality in that I try something until its beat and I don’t usually give up on something.  If someone says something that doesn’t make sense or confuses me, I’ll think about it and take the time to look it up until I come up with a conclusion for myself.  I’m my harshest critic.  What if this aspect about me, that same thing that makes me me, was hurting my fertility?

I thought maybe there is something that I can’t see for myself here.

It was one day during these conversations that I have never felt so loved by my husband.  We were talking about stress and fertility and how what constitutes ‘relaxing’ for the purpose of increasing fertility and do you know what my husband said?  I paraphrase:

“The reason those ‘just relax’ comments directed at you bother me, is because I take it as people saying that you need to just stop being you.  ‘Just stop being you and you’ll get pregnant’ is what I hear.  Sure all those times that your drive pushed you to do things you might have given up on, it was great, but the implication that you need to change yourself or that you’re not good enough is frustrating.  It seems to me that because this is who you are and you’re valuable to the world because of that, even if you can’t be a biological mother, you have something to offer.  If those things are connected, we’ll never conclusively know, but maybe you were given the strengths you were given to do something else.”

I understand that the people who made those comments to me love me, see me hurting at my lack of motherhood, and were trying to offer suggestions to help me get what I desire and am longing for.  When you see someone hurting, you want to help fix it.

I’ve realized in our short marriage that marriage is a choice everyday.  Every day (month? year?) you learn something new about your spouse and you have the choice to keep choosing marriage with them.  With this new found sub-fertility on our plate, I wondered if it would be the easiest choice to keep choosing me, especially if other people were already concluding that I’m doing this to myself.  These qualities that he used to like about me, that made me ‘me’, maybe they’re not worth it if it means you’re simultaneously self-sabotaging your chances to have biological children.

Looking down the barrel at a future with no biological offspring and again choosing me and my traits?  It doesn’t affirm me, it affirms us.  The magnitude of that conscious decision makes me speechless.  I can’t express enough how much my husband’s words meant to me.  That in spite of everything, he truly loves, accepts, and chooses this person, still, taking these traits with the good and the bad.

Nothing has helped me relax more than knowing this.

An exchange of hope

I saw this picture today and thought, wow, I have a good looking husband did I really go to India?

Traveling is not something I take for granted and is something that I hoped and hoped for for so long.   I get giddy like a schoolgirl as soon as I plan a trip and quite literally bounce off the walls.  I always wanted to travel when I was younger and I’ve always been drawn to the idea of distant places, probably because my dad would bring back strange mementos from all over the world but pictures were few and far between. So I was left to dream.

Exactly 5 years ago I did my first (and only) international service trip.  I was thinking about applying to the Peace Corps after I graduated college and knew I needed to have more experience doing similar activities if I was going to commit to two years of it.  We were to go down to a tiny village in Nicaragua with a group called Engineers without Borders and install a solar panel at their school to produce electricity.  We’d also be performing a health survey and testing the household wells for contamination in order to plan the next trip.

I wasn’t Catholic at the time.  And it wasn’t remotely even on the radar. So imagine my surprise when I was looking back through pictures and found this one:

I’m the one chilling on top of the ladder installing wires in the church, right up next to a giant crucifix and a giant mural of Jesus.  A little foreshadowing, perhaps?  We were supposed to install the solar panel onto the school, but when we got down to the community, the residents told us they wanted it to serve their church instead.  This being a secular trip, I remember we all talked about it and eventually justified the change in plans because the church really served as their community center so we wouldn’t really be promoting their church.

I’m not lying when I said I developed a love of children on this trip.  My younger brother is only a few years younger and we never really lived around younger cousins, and although I’ve done my fair share of babysitting for neighborhood kids growing up, my experience with little kids was limited.  You know those people who just attract kids?

My friend reading "Huevos verdes con jamon"

Yeah, that wasn’t ever me.  That was always the other girl.

Kids didn’t scare me, I just didn’t know how to act around them.  But boy, these kids broke me down!

Helping me put together the solar panel

 

And I particularly love this one!

By the end of the trip they were flocking to me!

And then there were these most adorable little twins with strawberry blonde hair.  I was so shy around them but by the end I snatched one up because he was too adorable not to have a picture with.

I’d just met the hubs a few weeks prior to leaving on that trip and when I think back to that time, the feeling I get in my stomach is synonymous to the feeling I remember having when I first met him.  It wasn’t quite love at first sight, but after our first couple conversations I had the distinct feeling that this man would change my life.

One of the last days on the trip we had a couple hours free in town and I wanted to send him an email to let him know I was thinking about him.  I asked our translator how to say “I miss you”.  Well, somewhere along the way I messed it all up and I proudly signed the letter “Te extracto mucho” which, all Spanish speakers already know, is definitely not how you say I miss you.  Its been our little inside joke ever since.

Anyway, that feeling that I get in my stomach, those butterflies of a new love, a new approach to life, and the feeling that you can go out there and change the world, all wrap up as one for me.  I’ve decided its the feeling of hope.  Before we got to the village, we thought we were going to change the world.  And we’d do it starting with this one community.   A few tests later and we realized how contaminated their well water was.  Bacteria and nitrates, it was no mystery why the rates of disease were so high.  We sat around contemplating what would be our next project.  A health center, a better school, clean water.  They needed it all.  How could we change the world if we couldn’t fix the problems in one village?

But we had to start somewhere.  We could give them a bit of electricity.  And the next time, a clean water source.  Although the basic civil infrastructure was what was lacking, engineered solutions could only skim the surface of what was really a political and sociological problem.  We worried if what we offered would have longevity.  Electric generators were common in the town and they powered tiny TVs and radios.  They could have easily used our solar panel for the same after we left.  Would our water system made out of PVC last or would they get tired of walking all the water to the town center to get clean water and just go back to using their contaminated well water?

Towards the end of the trip, it really hit us that all we had to offer was the idea that there was someone out there who was willing to help.  A hope of something that was greater than themselves.  Of course we could help provide limited tangible assistance as well, but we were unconvinced that that was the most valuable thing we offered.  Its frustrating, seeing a situation that you can’t change even if you really, really want to.

Of course the big surprise was that they offered us hope as well and planted the idea that we worried about all the wrong things.  How could they seem so happy, didn’t they know they had nothing?  Where were our children, our families? the younger women wanted to know, as they were our age and already had little packs of children running around their ankles.  A party they threw for us actually turned out to be a lengthy, fiery sermon about Jesus.  Too bad it was lost on us as only a few of us understood Spanish.  But the music and dancing later was universally understood as a celebration.

Soon after I returned from that trip I decided to go to grad school and study drinking water treatment.  With more education maybe I could help people on a larger scale.  Soon after that trip I also started attending Mass, which led to the start of my faith journey.  And soon after that trip I followed that butterfly feeling and started dating my now-husband.

My life really did change directions from that exchange of hope.

I wonder how anyone’s life in that village changed.

A series of moments

“Just take it one day at a time.”

I’m at such a stage in the grieving process where I realize that I’m young and healthy enough to reasonably convince myself on a good day that if I want to pursue parenthood I will at some point eventually be able to get there.  Maybe biologically, but if not then through foster care/adoption.  The point is there are options out there somewhere, and although many, many moments come crashing down around me where I can’t see beyond the immediate future, in general I do have faith that someday this will end.

My problem is how to deal with today when its not yet over.  I liken it to asking what techniques does a person in solitary confinement do to not go crazy?  Telling him to relax is useless.  He still has to deal with his current situation.  Telling him that one day he’ll be free is also not very comforting, especially when you’re looking at potentially years more of staring at bare white walls.  Physically and mentally, what does he do right now to keep his mind off what is so blatantly around and enclosing him in?  He needs like, little games to keep him busy or shiny objects to distract himself or something, right?

This is why the advice “Take one day at a time” originally pissed me off.  It seemed hollow.  Empty words that sound good but still leave you with nothing tangible.  But then there was that whole, this-advice-came-from-a-woman-who-hasn’t-been-able-to-have-kids-either-but-for-much-longer-time-than-I-have-been-trying thing.  Maybe there was something to it.

That day I was leaving my husband in Mexico, staring out the airplane window at the ever-expansive gray city, growing smaller and smaller below me, I realized how it just felt like yesterday that I was landing, excited to be starting our Mexican adventure together.  Now there I sat, leaving the adventure and my husband, only able to take in that single moment of being on the plane, with those weeks of past adventures just a memory yet with the knowledge that before I knew it I’d be back on a plane again to visit him again.  I think about how after our third month of trying I literally begged God that we not have infertility, because I had seen and read about it and I knew I was not strong enough to handle that type of pain.  Now that moment seems like so long ago.  I think about how when I look back and consider a month, it always seems like the moments of trying/waiting/hoping/sadness blur into whatever day I’m experiencing at that moment, because that’s all I’m ever to take in at one time.

It struck me that all we’re ever able to experience are single moments at a time.  In that sense, it lends itself that life can only be lived little moments at a time whether we want to or not.  In fact, our life is just little moments strung together to make a whole.  The only thing I ever can do and have to do is make it through today.  And that’s a little comforting to know that when the big picture is terrifying, you don’t have to look at it.

Maybe it sounds like I’m in denial.  But I realize that there’s nothing I can really do at this point besides make it through today.  And the better time that I have while doing that, well, the better for me and my husband because we have to go through it anyways.  This is not to belittle the pain that sub/infertility brings.  This waiting out an unknown sentence is precisely what starts the madness and while I do believe that everyone can enter and play the “pain Olympics”, the pain that accompanies “waiting on motherhood” is unique.  This waiting on something, someone who is so, so important, who will supposedly teach me the true meaning of life and love, but who may never come is terrifying beyond belief and it is likely that unless you’ve been a person’s exact shoes, you don’t know the pain.

If only I can make it through today though, I will be that much closer to seeing it through.

My small miracle

I was walking back to my car last night after a self-induced sucker punch from Facebook and I was counting my blessings that it was dark so other people couldn’t see the tears running down my cheeks, softly but uncontrolled.  I should do more things at night, I thought, since its easier to hide my emotions. And that’s when I literally almost got hit by a car.  As in, it swerved and I had to jump out the way to avoid death.  Apparently my tears aren’t the only things invisible at night!

I felt like that was a literal reminder from God that my self-pity may very well be the death of me.

So I sucked it up and tried not to cry the rest of the way home.  It was semi-working when I decided to turn it to the Christian station to get some inspiration (my car radio has been stuck on Tejano as my only means of practicing Spanish since I got back to Texas).  That’s when this awesome song came on:

I was thinking it was a perfect song and just what I needed to hear.  And then I turned north on the final street home and I literally heard the first chorus of “Light up the sky” right as lightning lit up the sky in a thunderstorm off in the distance directly in front of me.  It was surreal.  I just sat in my car until the song finished.  And I’m taking it as my small miracle for the day.

[And yes, I realized later that maybe the DJ saw the storm and purposely played that song, but still!  Sometimes miracles are all about timing.  I’ll take what I get.]

Also, I decided to just keep my blog the way it is for now.  I will probably not discuss medical specifics of our situation due to my lack of anonymity (at least at this point), but I will still discuss these matters of my heart and soul, because to be honest I feel like that’s what is more “at risk” at this point.  Thanks for listening.  You don’t know how much your comments mean to me.

And today is Dia de los Muertos!  Oh how I wish I was in Mexico with my husband today.  Praying for the souls that have gone before us.